Nine of One, Three of the Other

In the end of days the great Worm rose from the sea, green eyes aglow and venom dripping from every fang. And the Nations of the world¹ were gathered there upon the shore. The Worm spoke, and none might understand it, for in the centuries and the eons² beneath the waves in the pelagic depths where even Leviathan trespasses not the Worm had spun a language of his own, of polyglot complexity, riddled with slang and sly allusions.³ And the Nations said amongst themselves, “What might this mean?”

And the Armies and the Hosts of Power were armed against the Worm, and arrayed in their might, but no battle might they make without first they make a conference. Emirs they sent to the Worm, and Admirals, saying, “Make treaty with us, or make war.”

And the Worm replied, slyly, as was his wont, in a riddle. ❝How many wheels hath a blade of grass?❞ Which meant many things in the language of the Worm.⁴

¹In his interlineal gloss on this, Dionysius the Lesser notes that the Nations here denote the angels and demons in their panoply, the world the soul of the individual man.

²That is to say, months and years of a life (R. Graves, The White Goddess for more in this wise).

³See also the comments upon the difficulties of such language made by Ireneo Funes, 1868 – 1907.

⁴de Selby, in his highly disputed Codex, examines this riddle in minute, not to say microscopic detail, and comes to the surprising conclusion that the correct answer is 514. He goes on to explain the implications behind this monumental discovery, but, due to an unfortunate typesetter’s error, most of this section is gibberish. It is worth noting that in the four extant folios of the Codex this error is repeated, though each version is different gibberish. de Selby’s most encyclopedic commentator — whose name, sadly, has been lost, though his voluminous writings survive his murder by the Irishman John Dalkey — has proposed that each section is in fact one part of a much larger cypher that “hints at startling philosophical truths.” Presumably the commentator had discovered the key to these cyphers, but no trace of it is to be found in any of his printed works nor in the few effects Dalkey retained until his own death by cardiac arrest.