001. On A Tear

He had been there for an age, cloistered, working away. Map upon map drawn and stacked. Stories compressed into placename markers attached to geological formations; he knew many landscapes like the back of his hand. He was becoming an atlas; an Atlas, holding up the world.

The knock at the door was unexpected, but not unwelcome. Coran Andress had given him The Binder to work with, and there were protocols written into the substrate of the localspace here that worked to keep it obscure. Sometimes he laughed at the fact that a mapmaker couldn’t be mapped.

He didn’t recognise the man, but he didn’t expect to. But the man looked at him with recognition. He didn’t like to have someone have the upper hand like that, but he also knew that given the people he often ended up working with, that was part and parcel of the game he was playing.

‘Hello, Martello. How are you?’

‘I’m well. Who are you? How did you find this place, and how do you know my name?’

‘I am The Tulpamancer. Coran Andress is a foreign actor in this theatre, and I am the anti-body, dispatched by the director of all actions herein, come to remove foreign bodies.’

‘What are you here for? Are you here to remove me?’

‘No, you are a control mechanism. A part of you will be rewritten. What I am here for is the map to Ardenti In Mundo.’

‘How did you know about that?’

‘I have Readers that are at my service; part of the Over-Library, who analyse the text of this world, and they read the event with you and Andress. So, where is the map?’

‘I was told that he would come for it – not that others would come for it.’

‘Well, he is not an unimportant figure, so you should not be surprised I am here. In fact, I am surprised I am the first.’

‘You aren’t, but you’re the first one not to be deterred by the barrier.’

‘OK. Look, I can find it by myself, but I’d rather you volunteered it.’

‘It’s the largest one. Top shelf.’

‘I see it.’

‘What are you going to do?’

‘I am booting up a Blue Pen Protocol – it’s going to hack the book and split it.’

‘Split it?’

‘Yes. It is going to tear AIM in half.’

‘To what ends?’

‘We cannot destroy him, but we can lock part of him away in another consciousness. We can give that other consciousness a different trajectory.’

‘What are you going to call it?’

‘The King Under It All. I’m only OK with telling you because you are going to forget it all.’

‘How does it work?’

‘Two maps, and a key.’

‘So he could be put back together?’

‘Of course. If anyone works it out in time.’

‘And what is the key?’

‘A where, not a what.’

‘Get them in the same place, and …’

‘Yes, that’s how it goes..’

‘So, when?’

‘It’s done.’

‘And me?’

‘You will lose the King and the First Dragon. Here amongst your books, you will have lost the greatest secret of this world.’

‘Pardon me, who are you?’

‘Me? No one. I just got in here by mistake.’

‘Oh,’ he said, turning back to his maps. And The Tulpamancer left. Ardenti In Mundo broken in two from that moment forward.

 

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000. The Lay Of The Land

He had been no good at poetry, and he had been no good at prose, but he could trace the lay of the land with his eye, and he could pick up a brush and move his hand in such a manner as to translate what existed in three dimensions into two. Men might follow the way after he had laid it out for them; after he had named it, and they knew what it was called, they could ask others about it.

It might be said that someone created the world, and he came along after them and tidied it up so that people might understand. From the Kingdom of Ur-Lea to the Knotlands tied about the beating heart of L’Undone. He had sat and got drunk in The Burnout’s Bar, and he had visited The Needles. He had followed Walking Houses; he had stayed in Metaphor Houses. He knew the word-engines that ran the Translation Stations at Narrative Edge, and each of them had had their position noted, and they were added to the map.

He sat there over high tea with Coran Andress, one of the Essentials in attendance, and they talked of these maps.

‘They are a spell like any other, Martello, and you have captured the universe beyond time. I will assign a guard to you, because their are men and other things at large in the universe who might steal these maps and use them for purposes other than those for which you intend them.’

‘And who would be able to protect from those who might come against me?’

‘Why, The Binder of course.’

‘It sounds like you may have someone in mind, an enemy, for your to so easily choose a defender.’

‘Of course, my friend, I am an Immaculate Author, and though I work now in matters one might consider more base, I do recall how I constructed the earlier narratives of those whose warp I wove into the weft of this story. Ardenti In Mundo will come for you when he learns of the maps – it matters not his purpose; curiosity might drive him half the way, but he will find a reason, and he will burn the world and he will set light to the maps, and he will barely know why he is doing it.’

‘And you wrote this thing into being?’

‘Yes, Martello, I did. There are writers and there are reporters. There are those who shape the land, and there are those who make maps. All of these are noble things, but if I gave the world no stories to write about, where would they be?’

‘Sitting around having a coffee and talking about the latest thing on the TV?’

‘TV?’

‘Oops, sorry, I am thinking forwards again. But I understand what you are saying. Draw enough maps and learn to read them, observe the changing lines that men draw between the fixed points and you see that there are only a few that are interested in the kind of stories that burn maps and redraw them.’

‘Well, it is as it is. You have maps and people will want them. The Binder will put them in books perhaps, but he will also defend you; it’s something he is very good at.’

‘I thank you.’

‘No need, I will see you anon. Travel well, map-maker.’