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?’
‘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.’