For a second Carter took on the aspect of the fly-eyed God Yarcuba, a role he had played some three lifetimes back, which had qualified him as having enough experience being omniscient to cope with the data-streams a Reality Engineer had to handle. Quint really saw quite how alien his friend was.
Quint existed in the place, but the place was built by Carter Brecht and his kind, and what were Carter Brecht and his kind, except concrete forms given to abstract concepts. Quint felt his whole reality warp and destabilise when he was around this man.
They were in a restaurant, The Knowledge Of Salmon, being served by Finn MacCool, from the Tir Fo Thuinn Menu, prepared by one of the greatest of the Nephillim, going by the name Lob. It was a quince, and it had been prepared like a baked apple.
‘You get it right? Some get the Sangreal, and some get the salmon, and some get the quince.’
‘Is there any logic to it, Finn?’
‘Not really. He basically goes into the backroom, has a word with the Oracle of Delphi, and then comes out here and starts cooking. There are a number of master sauces to choose from, started in different places across the globe, and brought here to be continued until they find their terminus in the purpose assigned to them.’
‘So this dish is only for us?’
‘In this iteration of the collapsed wave – yes, it is.’
‘What’s up, Quint?’
‘The significance isn’t lost on me – attainment of knowledge before a fall, but who is going to fall? Where does the thread lead to, and where will the stitch be placed?’
‘That is always the question, isn’t it? And isn’t there more significance in the landing than the falling?’
‘A fruit signifying the fall, prepared by an creature that was the result of the first fall, what fall can they be talking about?’
‘I see the tower reversed.’
‘Reversed or falling?’
‘I think it’s The Pinnacle?’
‘Does that have something to do with Coran Andress?’
‘I think it might – I believe it’s the same as The Tower Of Full Stop; David Arnover’s home at the end of everything. Haven’t we also heard it talked of as Coran’s Spine?’
‘The universe, or reality, or the multiverse – everything – seems to be falling apart, and perhaps worse now than it even was when we started out.’
‘Can’t the reverse tower also signify delaying inevitable destruction?’
‘You’re right – all of this was meant to happen.’
‘Do you recall when The Pinnacle fell? Some of it’s denizens moved out into the world and hid themselves inside the shells of others. What if all this was caused because they built themselves inside the hollowed out shell of Coran Andress?’
‘What would hollow him out?’
‘The Nest is behind this?’
‘And Spay. This may be a situation like Caesar, where more than one blade is being buried in the back.’
‘Blades in Coran’s Spine.’
‘Vorpal blades and gae bolgas.’
Finn sat down and plonked a tankard of mead in front of each of the men.
‘You enjoying the food? Unpacking the truth?’
‘Good – Carter Brecht and Quint Essential, I was going to give you a layer cake, but instead, for you, I have prepared a marble cake.’
‘I don’t really do desserts,’ said Carter, and Finn smiled.
Quint ate his piece of cake with relish.
‘Out back there’s a stone. Danu’s navel, or somesuch, and it will grant you the gift of the gab – it’s been drained a little since the Ard Ri was here, but it will allow you to chat up The Sphinx two doors down, and fold through the inverse pyramid into the story you need to be in. Don’t worry about paying, the bills on me.’
The Stone Of Tara cast as a stepping stone seemed an insult to the High Kings Of Ireland, but sure enough it gave Carter the ability to pour honey in the Sphinx’s ear, and they folded out through the tesseract gate at the tip of the nipple on the inverse pyramid.’
Quint wondered some days at how far he had come since he had lived in Inn Essential.