The dragon smiled. Horrible, debauched, mouth limp and cracked, loose against the teeth as an ancient dog’s. “Now you know how they feel when they see you, eh? Scared enough to pee in their pants! He he!”
That’s where the Shaper saves them. Provides an illusion of reality—puts together all their facts with a gluey whine of connectedness. Mere tripe, believe me. Mere sleight-of-wits. He knows no more than they do about total reality—less, if anything: works with the same old clutter of atoms, the givens of his time and place and tongue.
“Things come and go,” he said. “That’s the gist of it. In a billion billion billion years, everything will have come and gone several times, in various forms. Even I will be gone. A certain man will absurdly kill me. A terrible pity—loss of a remarkable form of life.[”]