Klukelunnen didn’t trust Professor Angelus Margev, so he’d rather the door was left open, if only a crack, lest he needed to run. Except, where exactly would he run to? There was no escape from the professor’s apartment, its outer doors closed, their latches and locks far above Klukelunnen’s head, well out of his reach even on tiptoes. Yet to leave this door to the professor’s ‘inner sanctum’ open allowed him to reach Daisy and her relative safety. If he needed.
If he needed? Aye, and what did he think the professor intended in coaxing him into this place, alone, without Daisy?
“You may close the door,” said Professor Angelus Margev.
“I’d rather it’s open,” Klukelunnen said. “The draft, the air … my chest.” He forced a cough. Though in truth this ‘inner sanctum’ was less heavy with incense than the previous room, the professor’s study: the study where Daisy was trawling the intranet, whatever that was, hunting for folklore references to the gobelings, or the Stones, as Klukelunnen knew his folk.
“I said close it,” the professor repeated and, without rising from the seat he’d already taken, the door behind Klukelunnen whispered shut, the only sound the click of its catch.
Perhaps it was the draught; these old places … But how now to escape? He looked at the cram of furniture, more like a storeroom than a place for sitting. Chests tall, wide and low, tables large and small, chairs of several designs and ages. Yet all had legs, none sat flat on the floor. With a fleet smile, Klukelunnen acknowledged the plethora of hiding places here. He heaved a breath and let it go. He felt more confident now.
“Well,” the professor said in impatient tone, “are you to stand at that door? Or are you to venture further in? Come, I’ll help you on to one of these chairs.”
Klukelunnen quirked his mouth, an appraising eye cast at those seats. To sit was comfier than to stand. And he’d be able to slip down easy enough and run. And run to where? To beneath any of these high-legged pieces of furniture of course. Klukelunnen nodded assent, eyes scanning for what looked the comfiest.
“That one,” he said, and walked towards his chosen chair, a fabric-covered deep cushioned seat with wrapped around wings. It was near to the window; beyond was the Masters’ Garden, all colourful around a patch of green.
Now, if the window were open …
“Might we open that window?” He tapped on his chest, he really was poorly.
And the fool of a professor agreed it. He scooped Klukelunnen up and onto the chair (gently done) and in a continuation of movement, he opened the casement.
“Oh, much better,” Klukelunnen sighed, genuinely said for now if he must he could jump out of the window. Though the fall was off-putting
Professor Angelus Margev sat, taking now the chair nearest the door.
“And what do you want us to talk about?” Klukelunnen asked. He might be vertically challenged (a phrase learned from Daisy) but he’d not allow this professor, who anyway reeked of lies and disguises, to grand it over him. No, he would not. Moreover, he’d bluster his way out of any talk that wound around his own true name.
“We might start with Grandma,” said the professor. “How is she these days? Quietly retired now her acts of creations are done?”
“Gran … retired? What do you know of Grandma?” Klukelunnen frowned hard at the professor. Grandma was far from retired. Her misnamed ‘acts of creations’ were far from done. In truth, there’d been but the one and that was still slowly unfolding.
Klukelunnen felt a little uneasy at the smile that crept across Professor Angelus Margev’s deeply graved face.
“As I understand it, my Lord—may the Light of His Heavens shine forever—rolled her into a cloak, no more to create. For is it not my Lord, now, who is this world’s sole creator?”
“Er?” What the crazies was the man talking about? “I know nowt of your lord. And none but Grandma is our world’s creator. She’d smite your arse, she would, if she heard you say that.”
“And my Lord would smite you, and consign you to Hell, and shrivel you to a crisp, if He heard you say that,” the professor returned.
“And who is your lord?” Klukelunnen asked, now jumped to his feet, though his balance was iffy, stood as he was on the soft deep cushion. Still, he wouldn’t sit still for that kind of talk. Though he did admit to himself, much of what the man said had slipped straight over his head.
“My Lord,” the professor blustered. “He of the unspeakable name!”
“Ah.” Now it clunked into place what the man was about. But was it a wonder at first it had left Klukelunnen dumbfounded. That was a story terrifically old; no jawman cared to tell it now for it only yielded him disinterested yawns. “But you have it all upside down. It was Grandma drew that cloak over herself, saying she’d have no more truck with the Usurper. We thought the Usurper now was dead, so long with no tale told of him.”
“U…sur…per? And do sit on that chair, not stand there with your dirty feet. And dead? DEAD! My Lord is not dead. He—may the Light of His Heavens shine forever—appointed me to watch over his Children, his own creation.”
Now that Klukelunnen had recalled the old story, the rest began to tumble in. This Land of Giants wasn’t a place outside of Grandma’s Magnificent Unfolding Creation (two could play at that Capitalising Game). This Land of Giants was merely the upper storey to the Four ‘earthen’ Dol-lands. The attic above the attic, so to speak. A lately-come sort of addition: a post-diluvian loft conversion.
With no thought of obeying the professor, Klukelunnen dropped to his bum, the landing soft upon the deep cushion. He needed to think more on this for there was more to it than that.
Grandma created the Whole from the Four Strands, Rock and Water, Breath and Fire. And from each strand sprang the first tribes: the Stones, alias the Kupies or if you will, the Gobelings; the Water Sprites, aka the Nixies; the Wind Sprites, alias the Pixies; and the Fire Sprites, also known as the Fernamon. And these First Tribes did inhabit that Whole of Grandma’s Creation.
But it was true what Klukelunnen had said: Grandma’s act of creation was a continuous unfolding. And after the first tribes unfolded, more did come. It was said, by those ancient jawmen when they told this tale, that Grandma, having got the hang of fashioning living, breathing forms with the Kupies, Nixies, Pixies and Fernamon, now thought she might try combining the strands, thus creating more complex forms. And that’s when the giants were born. Oh, their varieties! And how fast they came. Though she didn’t always get it right, and over the eons there had been many a terrible creature made by mistake. But in the end, she struck on a way of combining all the best qualities of the first tribes. She called these best-made forms, Man and His Kind, and held them separate from her first-made tribes for fear they would fight. Her first-made took the lower stories; the last-made took the upper: this, the attic’s attic.
And then had come the Usurper.
But that must have been after the Giants (Man and His Kind) had named the stars. For that’s where Grandma had long ago been born.
The Usurper arrived in a great flash of light, rumbling his jealous commands across the sky.
The sky, thunder, lightning, all features of Man’s world not known to the first tribes, now dwellers beneath the topmost attic (Though some did stray, and some did know. How else came the jawmen to tell of it?)
“Johnny-Come-Lately,” Klukelunnen said. “Your lord-with-the-unspeakable-name is a fraud!”
There, he had said what hadn’t been said since Grandma drew her cloak over their heads, so they’d no more be troubled by all that squittery-jittery nonsense.
Aye, Grandma had thrown it over them, not this professor’s nameless lord.
Klukelunnen stood again on the chair, fists now shoved into his hips, hard and challenging.
The professor wasn’t unmoved; his face turned decidedly red. “With just one word I could have you grovelling at my feet; begging for me to keep quiet of this.”
“Oh, aye?” Klukelunnen challenged. He knew what that word was, but did the professor? So many precious stones for him to choose from.
As the professor began to smile in gloatish fashion so the skin on his face began to change. It plumped-out. The graven lines of age disappeared. He stood taller. That shock of white hair fell now like a wondrous bright light around the professor’s shoulders and down to his waist.
Where had been an aged man now stood a being most-perfect. And if there was one thing Klukelunnen disliked above all else, it was perfection. A perfect façade too likely hid a nasty innard. Besides, perfection rankled him, a reminder of his long-ago accident that left him physically marred. He turned his head so as not to see.
“Does sweet little Daisy know what secrets you hold?” asked Professor Angelus, servitor to the Usurper, guardian of Man and his Kind. “Sapphire, Saturn’s Beloved.”