Fish Stocks Limited
“Limited?” asked Leatherface. “Preposterous.”
“I think Wiseman's right,” said Ambrosius. “There was something in that fish's
eyes. It looked incomprehensibly sad. Infinitely so.”
Leatherskin's face was set into an unreadable mask. “You do realise the weight of
what you are saying? The entire of Expiscor depends on Fish. To suggest the Infinity
Fish is actually finite is political dynamite. Blasphemy even.”
“We cannot simply ignore such a portent,” said Wiseman.
“I don't believe it. I think this youth has been running round in the mist for too
long and gone bonkers. He's quite literally out of his tree.”
“Ignore the word of God at your peril!” exclaimed Wiseman. “The message is
clear: we have sinned, and for this we will be made fishless!”
“Oh stop that at once,” said Leatherman. “This is nonsense. Now at the start of our
meeting you said there was some bad news. Bad news is important news, so out with
it man, then I really must be off.”
“Yes, quite,” said Wiseman smoothing down his beard and composing himself.
“Got a little carried away there. The bad news is for young Ambrosius here.”
“Yes?” asked Ambrosius.
“Well, as soon as young Moonrise came shouting her head off about Ambrosius
being back from the mist, it immediately made me think of Pinnate Rivet's 'Booke of
Leatherskin audibly sighed. “Not more about your books, Wiseman.”
“No, this is important. We have lived according to the law for generations
immemorial. We cannot break a law that is in the literature.”
“I know very well the importance of law,” said Leatherskin, “but I am not aware
of any having been broken.”
“With respect, that is where you are sadly mistaken,” said Wiseman. “Young
Ambrosius here has unwittingly broken a most weighty of statutes.”
“Cut to the chase, please,” said Leatherskin.
“It says here that any Piscador who so happens to fall from the heights of a Hook
Tree and comes into contact with the Mist must be expelled for ever from the
company of the tree-dwellers and must walk the face of the bare earth forever. For the
Mist is death, and the breather of Mist is dead to the world.”
Ambrosius' face dropped. “But that's unfair! I didn't fall from the tree on purpose.”
“Yes,” said Leatherskin. Despite his professional detachment he couldn't help feel
sorry for this lanky, hopeless looking youth that stood before him in ill- fitting
trousers. “It does seem a little harsh, don't you think, Wiseman? Perhaps we could just
pretend that you never knew about that particular law.”
Wiseman shook his head furiously. “If this rule is broken, then the Fates will stop
the fish from biting and the whole of Expiscor will starve. I'm sorry, Ambrosius. I
know you are a man of learning such as myself, and I have a lot of respect for you
because of that. But laws are laws.”
“So just like that, you'd throw me out into the mist again?”
Wiseman hung his head in silence.
“You're not going to let this happen are you sir?” Ambrosius asked Leatherskin.
“Surely you can see this is madness?”
Leatherskin grunted. “I can and I do.” He turned to the old professor. “Wiseman
old bean, is there any time limit on this thing?”