"In my country," he says, "in the Presbyterate, that is - we like to say the Bazaar's Daughter lives up high. I always thought it was metaphor. There's a lot of metaphor around that place. The Mountain, the Garden. But since I came here - seeing what the Bazaar's doing with its stories - I wonder. I don't think we're the rulers of this place. Not at all. I think we're prisoners." He grins. "Perhaps we'll fight our way out, eh?"
- THE PRESBYTER SAITH: you shall harm no thing that flies, for they carry with them the airs of the Garden. No bee, no bird, no bat. Only to my servants is it given to hunt them, and that only for my table. Yet I am generous: all shall feast.
- THE PRESTER SAITH: The Thief-of-Faces shall not be suffered to return to the Garden, nor its chattels, nor its children. It has taken from us that which is precious and returned only lies and empty fires. It shall be locked in a prison of flint, and it shall know no light.
- THE PRESTER SAITH: When I die, yet shall I not die. The hour of my death shall be chosen, yet no man shall choose it. I am eternal, and yet my reign in circumscrib'd by law and Fate. I will feast at my funeral, and my child shall be my cup-bearer.
- THE PRESTER SAITH: in the Garden is the Design; in the Garden occured the Ascents; in the Garden were selected the Shames. Therefore none shall enter it without that they be blinded with thorns and bound with the Three Oaths. And should any seek to alter the Design or repeat the Ascent or uncover the Shames, they shall be given to the Wax-Wind.
"Whereof we cannot speak," says your Serpentine contact, "thereof we must remain silent. The Little Kings are not directly involved with the Game. They have enough on their hands with the Wars of Illusion. But they understand the need for us to make our own stories. In the face of this change in the Bazaar. Do you understand? Perhaps it's better if you don't. Let us remain... silent."
- ONCE UPON A TIME there was a little snake, no bigger than your finger, who lived behind the mirror. The little snake was very lonely, and the only friends he could find behind the mirror were old memories and strangling roots and the grumpiest bee above or below the world. And so...
- ...THE LITTLE SNAKE asked the grumpiest bee in both worlds for help. And the bee said, why should I help? And the snake said, I will give you one-fifth of all I gain thereby. So the bee thought, and he said, in a far place there grows a rose. And that rose...
- ...THE ROSE, WHICH IS CALLED EXILE'S ROSE, has a property of passage. So shall I brew a honey from its dusts and pollens, and the honey shall be sweet, and it shall bring those who taste it, here to your dwelling. And sometimes they shall stay forever. And the little snake was very pleased with all the new friends the honey brought, but...
- ALL THE LITTLE SNAKE'S NEW FRIENDS spoke fondly of the place outside the mirror. And the little snake thought: what if I could walk there among all my friends-to-be? They need not leave. We would be all so very happy. But I may not walk in my own skin. So perhaps my friends shall lend me their skin...
"You know where the Moth is born?" the figure in the veil croaks. "Then you've been
listening carefully. But perhaps you don't know that there's a thrill in its birth. An addiction. We needs must be very careful. That is what we bring to the Game, we oldest Ovate. That particular death, and the long dance of its evasion. The Bazaar doesn't know how to quantify it. Even in the Correspondence. Is it love? Is it change? God, I miss it so. That emergence..." She (he?) stops. "Be grateful that you still have breath in you. It is a very long time before you need trouble yourself with these matters. Unless you're careless."
RAVEN: Truly my voice is sweeter than the song of the stone, the swan, the storm....
(Enter a MESSENGER beribboned with RAGS of CLOUD.)
RAVEN: (in haste) ...yet no sweeter than yours, great master. I acknowledge it so.
MESSENGER: O blackness, o blackness, wherefore should I sing? When all of my songs are seared on my skin?
MESSENGER: What do you among my spires?
OWLS: Why, great master, we watch. We wait. We eat.
MESSENGER: You watch and you wait and consume, you say. But is there not one who will make you his prey?
OWLS: ....pray, great master, preserve us. Let us hear his shriekings no more, and we will serve you always.
MESSENGER: Ah, were it only my unfettered choice. But I owe him his hunts and the joys of his voice.
PHOENIX (to herself): I am so very tired of flames. I will drown myself in snow and emerge in perfect serenity. Or emerge not at all.
MESSENGER: What’s that? You have no more use for flame?
PHOENIX: Oho! A visitor!
MESSENGER: A pleasure. Will you guess my name?
PHOENIX: I know you. All we things of fire do. You are the ragged messenger who carries a troth from the Sun to -
MESSENGER: -name her not! Name her not, the b___h!
PHOENIX: Aren’t we touchy! I had no idea.
MESSENGER: You, again.
DRAGON: Yes. I remain the servant of your master. As do you. He awaits you.
MESSENGER: Do not. I beg you, do not. He cannot yet hear what I have to say.
DRAGON: (carelessly) You have a little longer. Should this place fail, two remain. (Exit)
MESSENGER: Not yet enough. Not yet enough!