This is the seventh installment in a serialization of my novel, Dirk Destroyer’s Less Destructive Brother. If you don’t understand what’s going on, you could go back to the first posts and read them. I’m not saying that would help so much, though. I wrote the stupid thing and I only understand a sentence here and there.
The Planet Two
This might be a good time to tell you about the planet Two.
All right, whatever you say.
Showr Rinn Pi
The Ministry Of Innocent Sheep Toleration headquarters was located just five minute’s walk from where Dirk and I grew up. I always thought that was suspicious, but it never fazed Dirk.
“Paranoia’s no help when they’re out to get you,” he told me.
Well, it keeps my story moving anyway, though I could have used more time to get to know Ono and Mage-e-not before we arrived.
“So,” I said to Ono, “I find telekinesis challenging. It really takes some effort. How is it for you?”
“Oh no,” said Ono, “I don’t swoosh thump telekinesis. I do sparkle whizz magic.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well telekinesis is snarl growl whack. Magic is zip zing kerplunk.”
“I don’t do telekinesis either,” said Mage-e-not.
“I see. So what can you tell me about this Light Bringer?”
Neither wizard said a word at first, then Ono said, “He’s swoosh thwack ugh.”
“He’s pushy,” explained Mage-e-not.
“He’s a man who knows what he wants, and gets it,” said Akwar, who I could have sworn was two paces in front of me, but now was at my shoulder.
“I’ve met some pushy Light Bringers before,” I said.
“Not like Brachenhun,” said Akwar over her shoulder from two paces ahead.
“It’s not that bad,” I said, “you just have to draw the line.”
“I tried drawing the line,” said Mage-e-not, “Brachenhun just blitzed right over it.
Ono blushed. “I usually slither whoosh.”
“That’s probably the best policy,” said Akwar from behind me.
“Be careful now,” said Mage-e-not. “We’re approaching a Showr Rinn monastery.
I’d run across the Showr Rinn many times in the past. When I was much younger, somewhere around three thousand, and Dirk had just been banished to oblivion forever for the first time – before I learned that forever in oblivion was only a couple of centuries, I made the mistake of angering a Showr Rinn initiate. The initiate might have killed me (assuming I’m not immortal,) but instead, I ended up spending six weeks contemplating my navel before I could untie the knots he’d made of my arms and legs.
That was an initiate. I have no idea the mayhem that a master could dish out, and I don’t want to know. I’ve known every Light Bringer there’s ever been on Two, and not a single one of them impressed me as being formidable. I shouldn’t say that; Lenny Bruise could throw an insult like nobodies business, but not even Lenny could stand up to the smallest, spindliest Showr Rinn novice that ever lived.
Not surprisingly, Showr Rinn come from Phasia, and so they are polite, diligent, and very good at math. The can also meditate and fight like a house on fire – assuming a burning house decided to meditate its future and kick ass.
“There’s one!” said Mage-e-not.
“Showr Rinn loves showerin’” said Swampy, and he was right. Whether it had always been so, or that a name has an effect on people, the Showr Rinn were excessively clean, even among the cleaner than normal classification of fighting monks in general.
I could tell this monk was an initiate, not just by his youth, but by the way his braid was woven from three cords. He was sitting on the side of his hand, and his third finger was extended down to rest on the pedal of a spring flower. He wasn’t a small monk, and the petal wasn’t even bent. He opened his eyes and bowed his head, causing a tiny ripple to run through the delicate spring flower.
The four of us bent our heads in return.
“I am called, Lip Ton Tease, said the monk. I know three of you, and I know of the destroyer’s brother, and his swamp-rat bird.”
“Pretty bird,” said Swampy, as if he was a common house mimic.
I bowed my head. “I am called Elmer.”
Lip Ton Tease pressed his thumb and forefingers to the lobes of his ears. I’d always wondered why Showr Rinn made this gesture. Maybe it was to get water to leave the ear canal after so many showers. I never dared ask.
“The Showr Rinn,” said Lip Ton Tease, “are responsible for the security of MOIST. I must ask you some questions, Elmer.”
“Do you plan violence against the ministry?”
“I do not.”
“Do you recognize the futility of violence?”
I always hated that question. Of course I didn’t recognize the futility of violence. Sometimes you meet some bone-head who just needs a thumping, and nothing else will do, but I knew the answer I had to provide to enter, so I changed his question in my mind to – do you recognize the futility of violence against the Showr Rinn?
“I do,” I said with perfect conviction.
“Will you insult the ministry, or the Showr Rinn?”
“I will not.”
“Will you challenge the ministry, or the Showr Rinn?”
This was a trick question, and it got me the first time as it got most people. The Showr Rinn, in addition to appreciating meditation, non-violent thumping, cleanliness, and balancing on flower pedals, really loved a challenge.
“I will challenge,” I said.
Lip Ton Tease jumped off his flower and rubbed his hands together. “Who will you challenge, the ministry, or the Showr Rinn?”
“I will challenge the Showr Rinn.”
If Lip Ton Tease’s permanently placid monk face could smile, it would be doing so from ear to ear. “In what category will you challenge the Showr Rinn?”
“In meditative mathematics,” I said.
A guttural grunt, not unlike a chortle escaped the monk. “Tell me, are you aware of the number required for finding the area of a circle?”
“I have heard of such a number,” I said.
“The great Jus Fo Fun was once able to meditate on the number and through the power of his meditation, find its value to fifteen places.”
“Truly a challenge,” I said, and I sat on the ground, closed my eyes and folded my hands.
For all the fine skills of the Showr Rinn, originality was not one of them. They had asked me the same question for the last five millennia, and though I know barely enough about mathematics to count the cigars in my fanny pack, I have no problem with memorizing a string of numbers. I hummed lightly for effect and began my recitation.
“Three point one, four, one, five, nine, two, six, five, three, five, eight, nine, seven, nine, three,” I said in a droning voice. I sat up and met the monk’s wide eyes. He stepped back and crushed the spring flower. Beads of sweat broke out on his brow, and he bowed very low to me.
I returned a shallow bow. In a life as long as mine, very few things never get old. Among them is the smell of a fine cigar, and seeing a Showr Rinn monk sweat. At one point I tried to teach Swampy to recite the circle number. Either his tiny rat-bird brain wasn’t capable, or he just wasn’t interested.
We aren’t through with Lip Ton Tease and his Showr Rinn, but I must pause here for reasons that have something to do with lotus blossoms and short attention spans. In the meantime have a nice shower, recreationally calculate PI, and return refreshed next Friday.
I couldn’t find a video of one hand clapping, so…