Thursday, October 2, 2008
An Old Friend
I stared at him, half in disbelief. “You trapped an angel?”
Tim shrugged and pulled out a small tin. “What else could I do?” he said, opening it to reveal old, stinking tobacco and a packet of cigarette papers. “I can’t kill an angel.”
I nodded. “Yes, there are strict penalties for that.”
“Plus I haven’t got the tools to do it.” Tim began rolling a cigarette. “You try chopping off an angel’s head with a garibaldi.” He licked the paper, held the tube between his lips and lit it. It smelled like desiccated nub-ends he’d found on the street.
“It’s made of desiccated nub-ends I’ve found on the street,” he explained. You don’t get many tobacconists setting up stalls in a church – even if it is unconsecrated – and even if I could leave the confines of the church, technically I’m too young to smoke.”
“I can see how that might be a problem,” I said, “If you had lungs.”
“You can’t have everything.”
I walked across to the window. “How did you manage to confine an angel?” I said. “I’ve never been able to do that.”
“It’s what gargoyles are for,” said Tim. “We were made to know the True Names of everything. I commanded him by his true name.”
“And then what?”
“Confined him in a bottle like they did in the olden days.” Tim looked out of the window and pointed out the grave. “He’s in that one. It was a bit of luck, really, because there weren’t any bones in the grave to begin with.”
“They were made like that in 1859,” I said absently. “Why was it lucky that there were no bones?”
“Because he could have used them to fashion himself a body,” said Tim. “That would have been a world of trouble.”
This was an awful lot to take in. “What is his True Name?” I asked.
Tin took a long drag on his cigarette and threw it to the cold street eighty feet below. “Ebul,” he said. “Does it matter?”
Translator's note: This places the tale after 'Dead Line' where Jasfoup meets 'his old friend Ebul'