What had happened to them wasn’t like losing your best friend so much as it was like losing your shadow or your soul; you barely knew it was there sometimes, but you knew it was crucial to you.
Rosie could feel him thinking, but he was silent for long enough that she had the opportunity to notice that he was the only one of all of them who was not blundering over his own feet. She felt him notice her noticing—there was a certain sense of “at last” about it—and then he said: The things that aren’t there are not there in different ways. Some of them are almost there and some of them are nearly not-there.
Narl said slowly, “Yes. This seems to be a—neither here nor there sort of place. And the things here are neither here nor there either.”
“Only they don’t seem to—upset Flinx’s sense of balance,” said Rosie.
“Perhaps cats are neither here nor there all the time,” said Narl, and Flinx, picking up the gist of this through Rosie, gave Narl a thoughtful look before returning to his tail.
…But the wing had not healed as it should, and so it was given the vaulted height of the Great Hall to live in, where no one dared trouble it, and it was fed by a falconer with a very long pole.
The merrel also knew its wing had not healed. But I could reach a great height once more before it failed me, it said. And from there I would fold my wings and plummet to the earth as if a hare or a fawn had caught my eye; but it would be myself I stooped toward. It would be a good flight and a good death. And so I eat their dead things cut up on a pole, dreaming of my last flight.
“I asked you earlier if you saw yourself reflected in your tale.”
“I do not. I MAY not. I am Prince of Stories, Will; but I have no story of my own. Nor shall I ever.”
“Why did you not want a tragedy? Something lofty, something dark, a tale of a noble hero with a tragic flaw?”
“I wanted a tale of graceful ends. I wanted a play about a King who drowns his books, and breaks his staff, and leaves his kingdom. About a magician who becomes a man. About a man who turns his back on magic.”
Ben: So…tell me about your new play. Does it go well?
Will: Not really, no. I am writing a scene in which Miranda, our virginal and innocent heroine, sits and listens as her father Prospero, the exiled and deposed Duke of Milan, and a wise magician, laboriously explains the plot to her.
I trust they will finish soon, and allow me to get on to more interesting matters.
That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be un-dreamed.
Only the phoenix arises and does not descend.
And everything changes.
And nothing is truly lost.
Tools, of course, can be the subtlest of traps. One day, I know, I must smash the emerald. … But that day can wait.
I have no liking for prisons, Master Li. Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while.
Death’s a funny thing. I used to think it was a big, sudden thing, like a huge owl that would swoop down out of the night and carry you off. I don’t anymore. I think it’s a slow thing. Like a thief who comes to your house day after day, taking a little thing here and a little thing there, and one day you walk round your house and there’s nothing there to keep you, nothing to make you want to stay. And then you lie down and shut up for ever. Lots of little deaths until the last big one.