The angel looks up at the wall.
The long climb begins.
He is halfway up the wall, on a narrow ledge, when he meets the swallowing man.
“I eat,” says the swallowing man. “I eat, and I may never have enough.”
“Share,” suggests the angel.
The swallowing man stares at him.
“You are not a thing permissible to Jeremiah Gannon,” he says. “I will devour you. This is the ethics of devouring.”
“Hunger is not an ethic.”
“You protest because you are unethical,” says the swallowing man.
Then he rolls himself up and he rolls towards the angel on the wall; and the angel cups his hands and blows upon them and there is a bomb.
The swallowing man devours it.
And the angel runs.
He runs and he runs, and he leaves behind him bombs.
And the swallowing man devours them and they are gone.
And at last he stands against the very end of existence, where the ledge gives way to sky and endless sea, and the angel says, “Why can I not destroy you?”
“Bombs are food to the swallowing man.”
And the creature charges.
“Bombs are food to the swallowing man. Angels are his meat. The rain and the sea and the sky are food, and the earth,” says the swallowing man.
And as he rolls the angel spreads his wings and draws his sword and rises backwards from the ledge and in that moment he is beautiful and he is radiant and he is joy.
Then the swallowing man rumbles past the angel and down to the tumbling sea.
On the peak of the fortress wall he finds the giant with the serpent hair.
“Not even an angel,” says the giant.
And the giant seizes him up with one great lunge, and pins arms and wings alike to the angel’s side. He drops the angel on the giant’s head among the forest of snakes, and the snakes weave together to seal the sky.
“You will die here, bitten,” says the giant:
“You will die a foul death.”
The angel looks around.
There is hissing all around him. There is the wreckage of a plane. There is the scalp of the giant and the bone of the giant and the brain of the giant beneath.
The angel puts on his heavy iron boots.
He says, “As you have sown, so shall ye reap.”
He stomps his foot and the giant screams. The snakes converge as one. But the sword of the angel is in his hand and the angel jumps and his sword spins round, kyaa! And he lands with the great iron boots of him on the giant’s head.
Everywhere there is the blood and the venom of the snakes.
The angel jumps.
The giant shrieks.
The angel jumps again.
The skull cracks. The scalp yawns open. The venom of the snakes and the bomb gift of the angel pour down into the giant’s brain.
“I am the last,” says the blind swordsman. “I am invincible.”
“All things yield to time,” the angel says.
And they dance with their swords, and again and again the angel strikes the armor of the man. But it does not break.
The angel dives down, he comes up behind the blind swordsman, he cuts at the flexible tubes that hold the armor in one piece.
They do not cut.
“Modern plastics,” says the swordsman.
The swordsman pivots.
The swordsman drives his sword into the angel’s heart. He yanks the heart back. He tastes it with his bloody tongue.
“Candy?” the swordsman asks.
“An angel has many hearts and many faces,” the green-clothed angel says.
And he leaves a bomb at the feet of the blind swordsman; and great smoke rises.
The armor is not harmed.
The swordsman presses him back and they duel in a place of great winds and only the iron boots hold the angel down.
The swordsman presses him back and they duel in a place where spears and fires burst randomly from the floor; and only the wings of the angel allow him to survive.
The swordsman presses him back, back, back, and only the bombs that break the walls save the angel from a cornering.
And even that does not endure.
The swordsman presses the angel back into a place without recourses and he says, “This time, I will take your heart in truth. But tell me your name.”
“I am Zatoichi Boromir Montoya Steampunk Savage, by the will of Jeremiah Gannon, and I am invincible. But no one has ever fought me quite so hard as you.”
“I am Link,” the angel says.
And the last duel comes in that safe and quiet place, and because he has no option the angel takes his final weapon from its place.
“You have a hook shot,” Zatoichi flatly says.
And through the heart of the great machine the hook shot fires, as it fired once before to seize the good lord from his grave; and of Zatoichi Boromir Montoya Steampunk Savage, we will speak no more.
the final canto tomorrow or Saturday.