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      A strange smell of fish

      Well, what a coincidence! Ann had woken up to find herself scribbling notes in her dream notebook, nonsensical words and phrases as usual, not that she was complaining, she loved the nonsense riddles and clues. The Fermented Village, she’d written, and Shopping for Parasites. The Fermented Village had reminded her of her childhood so many hundreds of years ago in Baelo Claudia and the stench of rotting fish in the garum factory down by the beach.


      In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


        I’m amazed at the sense the cloud makes sometimes:

        land told merely remember
        environment focuses individuals
        feeling trust face nonsense
        dream pig Angela shut bag fur
        closer himself tried probable


          Ann Tattler groaned. Perhaps listening wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The latest novel was degenerating rapidly into trivial nonsense, in large part thanks to the collaborative writing efforts of her publisher, and the cleaner, Daisy. It was hard keeping quiet when confronted with such an outpouring of nonsensical rubbish.

          She wondered despondently whether even the erudite Eremurus Lemon would be able to help her this time. She opened his latest book, “How to Sing Like a Bird in Fifty Three Relatively Easy Lessons” at random.

          Take advantage of the Beast’s sleep to have some.

          Of course! Duh! How could she have doubted Lemon. Didn’t he always come through? She should be taking advantage of this time of silence! While her inner noisy beast was sleeping she should be having some.

          But some what?


            “Hey, Asp” Phildendron was still chuckling at her sister Aspidistra’s reaction to the piglet news “Why don’t you make a deal with Lavender, tell her you’ll only accept the piglet if it comes with a years supply of that DMT stuff.”

            “So I can share it will you, Phil?” Asp raised an eyebrow. “I don’t like haggling though, you know what I’m like. Looking a gift horse in the mouth and all that, no accidents and all the rest of it. I mean, I must be creating this piglet gift myself, and acceptance is key, is it not?”

            “Acceptance doesn’t mean literally accepting gifts of piglets, silly!”

            “Well what DOES it mean then?”

            “It means accepting that everything is fine, whatever you choose ~ whether you say yes to the pig, or no to the pig, you’re supposed to accept that it’s the perfect choice.”

            “Well how the devil is a person to know which is the right choice then?”

            “Well that’s just it, it doesn’t matter which choice you make. Not only that, it’s not a case of just one choice, either.”

            “So what you’re trying to tell me, which sounds like absolute nonsense, is that if I choose to accept the pig gift now, I would have to choose tomorrow that I accepted the pig gift today, otherwise I would be choosing…..” Asp’s voice trailed off as she lost her thread.

            “Yes! And not just once tomorrow, but in every moment you would have to choose that you chose the pig gift ~ otherwise you’d be choosing that you didn’t accept the pig ~ and that would be a choice too.”

            “Oh don’t be silly, Phil, with so many choices to make in each moment you wouldn’t ever be finished choosing before it was the next moment, then you’d have to start choosing again ~ You’d never get anything done!”


              Siobahn had a few more cages to rattle before she she made her way to the meeting. The Freakus management had invited a spokesman from the S.E.C.R.E.T. department (otherwise known as Special Exploration Corps of Really Entertaining Trivia) to give a speech on the art of C.R.A.P.S. (also known as the Coordinated Redistribution of Ambiguously Protected Secrets). All staff were expected to attend the meeting, which unfortunately meant that Siobhan had to refuse an invitation to the F.U.N. picnic (otherwise known as Foundation of Unimportant Nonsense to Those In The Show, which, dear reader, you will recall are also known as T.I.T.S.)

              Siobhan rattled the last few cages on her list, and made her way back to her caravan. She had an hour to relax before the meeting so she turned the portable channelvision on and settled herself comfortably on the sofa to surf through the channels. The first channel she landed on was twitching and shouting, ‘The present is not a result of the past, orlright? Orlright, orlright’; the next channel was chuckling and saying with a sly grin, ‘…that would be your choice…”. Flicking through a few more channels, hearing the words ascended higher density love and light and light and love and all is one stuff, Siobahn kept surfing. Sheesh, they are all just saying the same thing, over and over again, she thought to herself, same old same old, blah blah blah… what she wouldn’t have given for some new channel to say something completely different.

              Pfft. Siobahn turned off the channelvision and stood up. She made up her mind in the moment to go to the F.U.N. picnic anyway, and bugger the meeting. Maybe she would even start channeling something completely different, just for some bloody variety. Cage Rattling was in her blood, after all, she was a born Cage Rattler and it seemed to her that the whole channelvision empire was getting altogether too samey.


                “Can we go home now?” Arona asked the dragon … “I don’t know what we came here to do, but I miss Buckberry and Yikesy (and his nanny), even old grumpy Mandrake. And it feels like we’ve been gone for months!”

                “You’re not interested by knowing more about this place , are you?” asked Leörmn

                She didn’t answer lest she might hurt the dragon’s feelings —if he had any, that is.

                “Well, I don’t want to get home so soon!” said Irtak who was usually keeping quiet, but obviously was taking it all in here, being on this place like a grake on a lake.

                Leörmn took a deep breathe, pondering the situation and the many other probable realities verging on this one, and told Arona:

                “I believe there is a cave, at a day of walk from the shore, inside this land. This cave was used by the Guardians, long before you were born, and is known to dragons and nirguals from this time. From this cave, you shall be able to travel where you want. You may even meet the zynder to guide you.”

                Arona was thinking that the dragon was surely becoming senile talking all that nonsense she could barely figure out, but she was too considerate to mention it.

                “Do you remember your glubolin?” the dragon continued abruptly, but her mind was sharp, and she answered with certainty

                “I sure do. Why?”

                “Please take a moment to feel the remembrance of it”

                Well, sure, if that can please you she had learnt not to contradict old dotty dragons, so she tried her best to remember herself and Mandrake playing with the glowing ball filled with coloured sands ; that would surely not bring her back home, but at least the dragon couldn’t accuse her of not complying.


                As she remembered it, she felt how delicious and strange that object was, and how she’d loved it, and suddenly, it was here. In her hands!

                “The old dotty dragon still has a few tricks up its scales, young lady” Leörmn said with a slight smug on his snout (or whatever it is called).

                “Oh, that’s all very nice, but what’s the point of dragging this along?”

                “It’ll show you where to go” Leörmn answered, “use it as a compass; I’ve imprinted it with the location of the cave, so that you won’t be lost, and can find your way to the cave, or wherever you want to go. We are continuing here with the boys. Have a safe trip. We will meet again.”

                Arona blew a kiss in the direction of Irtak and the dragons, and without hesitation went in the direction of the dense tropical forest.

                “Well, that dragon is an odd ball, but at least, I don’t have to wait for them to finish whatever they’re doing on that weird place.” Arona was glad to be finally alone for the next days.

                “Will she be safe here?” asked Irtak

                “I believe she will, she has got resources. Besides, the Murtuane is a place filled with a certain peace and blessed with a slow unraveling of time; it helps take the measure of the events, and find one’s own truths.”


                  Of course, there were probable versions of Snettie and Snooter that remained in Spreal, as well as probable versions that left Spreal much earlier. There was a probable reality in which Snooter and Snettie, and their freinds Spagwan and Illiofilly (sometimes spelled Iliophile) journeyed north a decade previously, as indeed there are probable realities in which Snooter and Snettie journeyed north, but Spagwan and Iliophile stayed behind.

                  “This could go on ad infinitum Godfrey, I better rein myself in” remarked Elizabeth, more to herself than to her friend Pig Littleton, who appeared to be engrossed in scrutinizing peanuts one at a time before popping then into his mouth and chewing them thoughtfully.

                  “Where were you planning to go with it, anyway?” asked Godfrey, inspecting another peanut.

                  “Well, I didn’t have a plan actually. I just started writing, really. And kept on writing until I reined myself in, and then….”

                  “And then what happened?” asked Godfrey, a trifle mischievously.

                  “And then the writing stopped.” Elizabeth laughed.

                  “How very singular, Liz dear” Replied Godfrey wryly. “You’re not making very good progress on Volume Two, I must say.”

                  “Anyway, Godfrey, I’ve got a bone to pick with you!” Elizabeth pushed her keyboard away and turned to face her publisher. “You’ve been tampering with my vowels again! It’s jolly well not cricket you know, old bean.”

                  Godfrey Pig Littleton focused on Elizabeth’s keyboard, a single peanut held alot as he concentrated, and the keys started to type on their own. Elizabeth swung round and read:

                  “…Oonyway Goodfrey, Oo’ve goot a boon to pook wooth yoo! Yoo’ve boon toompering wooth moo vooells agoon! Oot’s jooly wool noot crookit yoo knoo, oold boon….”

                  GODFREY!!” shouted Elizabeth. “Stop it! Nobody’s going to understand that Nonsense!”


                    Becky sipped her coffee nervously, chain-smoking as she waited for Al and Sam to return from the crystal shopping excursion. She wasn’t sure if Al would approve of yet more characters in the Reality Play with so many loose threads already, all getting tangled up and dusty like so many balls of wool under the bed. Like dust bunnies, Becky thought with a chuckle. It was funny how the play had so many different moods, almost as if it had a life of its own. Well, I suppose the play itself is a sort of focus of attention in its own right, a conglomeration of the energies of a variety of essences, creating its own reality from its own perspective. But wait a minute, thought Becky, lighting up another cigarette, how is that different from me, for that matter? I am a conglomeration of the energies of fragmented essences creating my own reality from my own perspective too. Does that make me nothing more than a Reality Play —or, does that make the play a Focus of Essences?

                    The line of thought was giving Becky a bit of a headache so she flicked through Al’s latest entries. Clever old Al had been tapping into his Spreal focus when he came up with those silly names, funny how it often worked out like that. A nonsense word here, a bit of gibberish there, none of it meaningless, and none of it meaning anything absolute, either. The secret of life, Becky decided, was in Not being Afraid Of Nonsense. People were so afraid of Nonsense, as if to be caught speaking Nonsense was a heinous crime, or at best a severe handicap, possibly resulting in some form of custody or social alienation. All you had to do was find other people who resonated with your own version of Nonsense, which happened automatically anyway vibrationally. There are thousands variations of Nonsense, and none of them make any more sense than any other, thanks to the Equality In Nonsense underground movement a few decades ago. Equality In Nonsense was started by a group of online friends a few years after the Ministry Of Common Sense had disbanded through lack of interest. It caught on quickly, making a mockery of common sense, which went underground, a few die-hards hanging on with grim faced tedium to the old tenets. Over the years, as the Acceptance Of Nonsense Rights was established, the Equality In Nonsense brigade disbanded to get down to the business of creating new variations of Nonsense, just for fun —which was of course, The Point. Nevertheless, or should I say, notwithstanding, Becky smiled, there still remained a degree of common sense in the general populace, which possibly wasn’t altogether a bad thing.

                    It all got a in a bit of a muddle for awhile, until some enterprising folks published the handy guide books ‘Cooperation Within Nonsense ~ How To Communicate In Your Chosen Nonsense’, and ‘Accepting Total Nonsense ~ How To Deal With The Nonsense Of Others’.


                    “Roots” exclaimed Elizabeth “I forgot the theme word!”
                    “No doubt you’ll come up with an ingenioos way to slide it in, Liz” replied Godfrey with a smirk. “Pass the poonuts.”

                    A disgruntled Elizabeth rewrote:

                    “Rats!” I forgot the theme word!”

                    Unfortunately, Pig Littleton insisted on using the OOh dimension vernacular, and Elizabeth tutted and hit send.


                      Lady Theresa Eaglestone, know as T’Eggy to her friends, waited in the potting shed at Pilston Manor (which was how the locals pronounced Pillaughpiffleston).

                      “There” said Becky with a grim smile “Much easier. As if I would remember how to spell that!” Not for the first time, Becky wondered if it might be a good deal easier to write her own Reality Play and forget all this collaborative nonsense. It was hard enough to remember her own story lines, never mind trying to keep track of all the other bizarre additions as well. “Now who the devil is Hector Coon?” Thankfully this Pillaughpiffleston thread was a new one, and Becky had a fairly free rein with it: nothing was yet decided regarding the location and time frame, so if she was quick about it, and made her entry before the others, the ball was in her court.

                      T’Eggy (Becky continued to write) shivered in the cool breeze that was blowing into the draughty old potting shed. She turned the the carved watermelon rind over and over in her hands, puzzling over what possible significance it may have. Surely it was a clue, or at the very least a symbol of some aspect of inner reality, but what? And what did Hector know that she didn’t know?


                        Best known in Oorth (Dimension of Ooh) for his best selloor Words of Comfort for the Descending, a groot philosoopher and wool of wisdoom, Erwin P Lemone has made a few delightful and abysmally profoond aphorisms that needed a proper anthology.

                        Be it the place for such an endeavoor.

                        A few quotes

                        “Sometimes it takes a single sniggly thorny path to go through to reach Elysian avenues much more efficiently” — ID850

                        “rainy wedding, merry marriage” — ID1183

                        “Better speak nonsense than be dead or sorry” — ID1644

                        “It’s not the writer’s job to piece the stuff life is made of together, it’s the job of the reader.” — ID1661

                        “A new-born book is like a little baby, except it smells only of ink, and doesn’t make spurious sounds” (said at an interview with journalist Finckle Frettle on Oo-TV)


                          This I Ching business wasn’t very convenient to figure out, Al was thinking.
                          For Becky’s draw, he had more than a handful:

                          entry 3 (id:1610) #835
                          entry 2 (id:234) #171
                          entry 1 (id:1275) #638

                          All he had to do was relax, and know that the magic would appear by ways of his interpretation of these numbers.
                          He wanted to get 6 numbers out of these 3 comments. So, for each of the comments, he would make 2 numbers.

                          So, for the original comment IDs:

                          • 1275: 1 (odd) and 2 (even) gives (odd) ; then 7 and 5 gives (even)
                          • 234: 2 and 3 gives (odd) ; 3 and 4 (odd)
                          • 1610: 1 and 6 gives (odd) ; 1 and 0 gives (odd)

                          odd-even-odd-odd-odd-odd (what a bunch of odds, he thought, though barely surprised remembering the numbers came from Becky)
                          that’s 1-0-1-1-1-1 or |¦||||

                          From now on, he would spare everyone the maths, and play some interlude music while working out the magic.

                          (some lalala music) :yahoo_party:

                          and for the mutation (835,171,638): 1-0-0-0-1-1 or |¦¦¦||

                          And the result: ‘Fellowship of Men’ mutating to ‘Increase’

                          Bah… this is more fun to add more nonsense than try to figure out what it was all about. Al was finding it the moral of the story for today.


                            Hang on Al!, said Tina, although there was really no need as Al, still pondering, did not seem to be in any particular hurry to enlighten her on all this I-Ching business. I think Becky is trying to telepathically communicate a limerick to me.

                            Oh well, said Al philosophically, Better to speak nonsense than to be dead or sorry.


                              Elizabeth knew there must be something profoond in today’s “Words of Comfort for the Descending” quotation, after all, it was a Lemone quote:

                              Better speak nonsense than be dead or sorry

                              But for the life of her she could not find the significance. She sighed. Her brain felt so lifeless lately.


                                Sure aliens… Why not aliens? Becky said with a funny maniac laughter that sent chills through Tina’s back.
                                After all, we’ve been talking to dead people for so long, we’ve forgotten all about alien lives… I want to believe!

                                Well, Tina shrugged in complete abandon, I suppose that would not be your last eccentricity after all… But now that Al starts to believe such utter nonsense is beyond my understanding. I think I need to get more sleep too.
                                See you tomorrow, and have fun with your rugrats darling pooh… she said with a sugary smile while closing the videoconf window.

                                Phew… Becky sighed, with an anxious side glance at the silent cradles that may not stay silent much longer.

                                The rugrats have names you know Tina, she said, more to herself than to the benefit of anyone else.
                                And hell if I remember what they are now…


                                  Primary Becky, for the first time in decades, felt completely relaxed. Suddenly free of all responsibilities, she lost all sense of linear time, and lost all sense of meaningfulness. She felt as though she had suddenly burst through the imposing double doors of logic, continuity, and meaning, into a vividly colourful world of meaningless nonsense. With no structure or no meaning, no commitments, no limpet- like others, she felt a liberation that was beyond meaningless words and explanations.

                                  As the doors of meaningfulness flung wide the dazzling light of The Elsespace Arrangement flooded over her, causing a temporary tottering in her frivolous teetering sandals. Whoa! she exclaimed, grabbing the doorframe to steady herself. With a meaningless whoa, an equally pointless wow, and a quick glance back over her shoulder at Meaningwhere (which looked dreadfully constraining and complicated from this new perspective), Becky entered The Elsespace Arrangement.


                                    So how do we proceed? asked Armelle a bit weary of the transformergence.

                                    — Easy peasy, answered Yuki, all we need to do is focus on the aspects we want to bring into alignement
                                    Wait, wait, wait! the tone of urgency in Rafaela was baa’ing in their ears What did you say?… How do we do?! Why do you say we have to focus, I say, bee, Focus on Fun and reel in nonsense, and with gusto,… and pesto too, if there is! What do we care about facts, it’s all in your head, You Create your Herbality, and Go with the Fawn!… Unless it is “You are Goat Also”… I think I’m lost here! But really, what did you say, speak clearly, it’s awful, I can’t hear you! Loud and clear Cotton-tail, Load and Clean! Oh, bugger the typos, There are No Secretions,… and why are those frigging mottherflies all around my side whiskers when I can’t put them on my Chimera?!

                                    :goat: :yahoo_nailbiting: ~~~ :bunny_head: :yahoo_surprise: ~~~ :y_orly: :yahoo_rolling_eyes:

                                    What? Rafaela said after an awkward instant.

                                    Err… Nothing, I think we’ll improvise on that one answered Yuki, a bit overwhelmed.
                                    Good thinking Einski Armelle retorted. That way, we know for sure we will end up something ridiculous and —how do they say?— mentally challenged?
                                    Yeah, yeah… As they say, Follow Your Passiflora… encouraged Rafaela with glinting eyes, her whiskers now full of perched yellow mottherflies.

                                    Okay… At the count of fifty-seven!
                                    Ahaaha, that’s a joke… at the count of five



                                    Can we go now Yurmaela? Akayli was asking to his new reconfigured friend.

                                    Indeed… answered the great winged big-eyed, long-eared, thick-haired creature that had appeared after the three essences had merged together. We’ll fly Claude and Anita on our back to the wortex, on top of the cleared trail. Akayli, you follow our lead with Anita’s parents, and we can all jump to the other dimension and kiss these spiders bye-bye!


                                      Blimey O Riley, said Becky when she read what she’d written the previous evening. As she read it over again, though, a picture began to form in her mind, a character was starting to form.

                                      I was connecting to a focus, she surmised, A focus as a simple country washerwoman. A simple person, choosing to experience a life of simple pleasures, not bogged down with deep meaningful thoughts or ideas; not striving for insights or accomplishments, a pure and simple life for a pure and simple soul.

                                      The washerwoman used words differently, she didn’t use words to communicate with anyone, she simply used the bubbling gurgling endless stream of sounds to amuse herself…endlessly babbling, always smiling, infinitely amused with the sheer joyous nonsense of the sounds tumbling from her lips, broadcasting seeds of absurdity in the cornfields and the meadows of the hay hoo down dooly…..


                                        START! said Tina.

                                        Becky and Tina were doing a meditation together, and Becky decided to just write whatever popped into her head. She could always delete it afterwards, or edit it, she reasoned.

                                        “Bagpush got out of the washtub”, Becky scribbled, “ And scooted down along the river line to the marks butty big one by the farm. Heavens above, fishly, what’s that brown thing on the water butt? Gawbsmacker said, don’t be talking like that, shekeltons in a hide to ho where and its first light, fair bright and hey ho the wash go. Abbon Ipswich, slaty flats of corncake, hey dee on the wash bucket, spittin in the hole hey down dooly. Margaret Apsworth laying on the white cotton cake spread, fair dooly down the one hooly. Ay and its a hey ho fair fooly down by the wash pooly, drum rolling in the har fool haley, down by the dash darnly. I said, hey ho the brown tooly, hoggin all the raw tooly, stewing in the far fooly for eight pence an hour. Said Mavis of the green sportwear, theres may flowers in the far horse hair, weel butter in the spar for tucker and muck down in the cow butter, said bree in the bird barny, a flying for the far fooly, well its knees up and out your dooly for the green hay beer fair. Its a fine night for a hooly in the row bottom in the far fooly, said mavis of the tom fooly, in the wash bucket down stairs. Once more, sell a nickel farthing, in the morning and in the darning, and say way more is in the star sign than a wash bucket down stairs.”

                                        Good greif, exclaimed Becky, What was all that about?

                                        What a load of twaddle, Becky, said Tina with a laugh.

                                        Well you know what? It was kind of fun and refreshing to just write nonsense
                                        I am sick of things MEANING something, Becky said, and then, warming to her subject:

                                        Lets have some good old fashioned MEANINGLESSNESS!


                                          There was a tantalizing scent of wildflowers and meadowgrass in the still cool air of the cave, and as Sanso rounded a bend in tunnel a gentle breeze ruffled the folds of his robes. He quickened his pace, gladdened by the welcome promise of an adventure outside of the endless labyrinth. The air felt cool and warm at the same time, and deliciously fresh and clean as it wafted towards him, and with a feeling of immense joy, he heard a snatch of birdsong.

                                          It seemed like many long years that he’d been trudging around in the gloom and the stale air of the caves, although he suspected it wasn’t as long as that. Time played tricks on him, he knew that, while he was wandering around in the darkness. He’d missed Arona, and that strange baby, when he’d first set off alone again, but not for long. He knew when it was time to move on, and so he’d left them. From time to time he wondered if he’d encounter them again, and knew he would.

                                          A shaft of sunlight spilled into the tunnel and Sanso stepped out into the light. The breeze was fluttering the birch leaves high above him, as he squinted up at the pale blue sky. Grinning happily, Sanso took his time adjusting to the light. He sat cross legged on the soft green grass, feeling it springy beneath his hands. Hundreds and thousands of red and yellow spotted toadstools stretched out as far as he could see, carpeting the forrest floor with polkadots of colour.

                                          Sanso looked down at his hands. The creases of his skin and under his nails were engrained with reddish dust, and he wanted water more than anything, gurgling bubbling fresh clean water. He stood up, and shook his robes a bit, and set off into the woods.

                                          Intuition told him which way to go to find water. He marvelled at tiny flowers, and scampering insects along the way, squashing fungi beneath his bare feet which oozed up through his toes with little squeaky noises.

                                          A rabbit ran accross his path and stopped momentarily to stare at him and Sanso laughed out loud.

                                          Oh! Who’s there?

                                          A girl in bright flowered skirts was sitting on the grass in a clearing just ahead, rubbing her eyes.

                                          Whoa, I must be dreaming, she said, and rubbed her eyes again. She peered at the apparition in indigo robes, with skin the colour of tobacco and wild matted hair. Am I dreaming? she asked Sanso.

                                          Perhaps, perhaps not, replied Sanso, who wasn’t really sure. I may be dreaming myself. My name is Sanso, anyway, what’s yours?

                                          Zhana, the girl replied, Well, Uncle Grishenka calls me Zhanochka, but I…but I….I hate him, and I’m not going back! And much to her surprise, she burst into tears.

                                          Sanso was momentarily non-plussed, and wondered what to do next.

                                          Well, dear, if you don’t want to go back, why, then don’t go back! He wasn’t quite sure what the problem was; after all, he’d been wandering for so many years on impulse and whim he hardly knew any other way to go about it.

                                          I don’t know where to go instead though, Zhana said tearfully. The long dark cold will be here again soon, and I must have shelter somewhere…..who will have me, besides Uncle Grishenka?

                                          What long dark cold? asked Sanso. It seemed light enough and warm enough here.

                                          Oh, my! Zhana was astonished. You ask me what long dark cold? Where have you come from? How is it you don’t know of the long dark cold? Oh! Are you from Nishanti’s place?

                                          Zhana stood up in some considerable excitement. Can you take me to Nishanti’s place? Oh please say yes!

                                          Well, I, er, um…..well, I suppose so. Well, yes! Sanso didn’t want to let the girl down, although he wasn’t altogether sure he knew where Nishanti’s place was. But he was game to give it a try, and the company of the girl would be a welcome change.

                                          Tell me about Nishanti, then, Zhana, and what her place is like. Sanso was hoping a few clues might ring a bell, perhaps.

                                          Nishanti has been my friend for as long as I can remember, Zhana said. We dream together mostly, well, Zhana blushed, Uncle Grishenka says it’s all in my head…he say’s it’s nonsense….

                                          Zhana squared her shoulders and carried on. Sanso had a kind look, and nodded encouragingly.

                                          She hardly wears any clothes, and her skin is warm and brown. The sun always shines and the sky is always deep blue in her place and we play outside all year long. There’s always warm ripe fruits to eat, not turnips and noodles, colourful juicy berries and plump pink fishy things, and there are flowers all year long, and the water isn’t frozen, we can play in the water and it doesn’t turn our hands blue…..

                                          Ah, the other side of the world…hhhmmm…..Sanso rubbed his whiskery chin thoughtfully.

                                          Ok, I can’t promise we can find Nishanti, but I think we can find the other side of the world. But first, I’d like to find some water, and perhaps a little fresh food?

                                          Zhana whooped with delight, and flung her arms around Sanso. Yes, yes!


                                            It’d been two hexades that the Abbot Hrih Chokyam Lin’potshee had been laying in bed in poor condition.
                                            At first, he had wanted to be as strong as he had always been towards hardships, but he’d finally admitted that quelching the pain wasn’t doing any good to him. So he had agreed to be taken care of by a young monk, and to lay in bed as long as was necessary.
                                            He knew that he was very likely not to get out of that bed but with his body covered by a white sheet, nevertheless, the thought was still something distant. The pain in his body was making him so present to himself that the only thing that was still blatant was that he was.
                                            More than the body, it was all his faith that was shaken. He had thought he would leave this life without mess, without pain, probably very discreetly in his sleep… But now, his head was wincing at every noise, even the nature’s sounds that once felt like music to his ears, he was eschewing them now as much as he could. His very skin was hot and couldn’t bear even the soft contact of the bedsheets.
                                            What was the point of all of this? He had never doubted that everything had its purpose, but now, he was doubting…
                                            He was even trying to find some reasonable reasons for what was happening, he who never trusted in reasonable reasons in the first place. Perhaps that was because of his seating under the chilly air and the warm sun in front of the Meditation Wall, reading for all of the poems that had been written by the monks who had dared to write. Perhaps he had “taken cold”, whatever that means…
                                            “Perhaps not” the voice kept saying softly in his head.

                                            Now, his whole succession was feeling like a moot point. After all, he was not even capable of saving himself from anything, then how could what he created make the slightest difference? These were all like an extension of his body, bound to decay and come back to Earths.

                                            Not so many monks had dared write upon the Wall about their highest truth. A few jokesters had begun at first, helping the others to participate.
                                            One in particular had had Hrih laugh for quite a while.

                                            A toad is a toad
                                            Unless kissed
                                            Endless Bliss

                                            Then a dozen of others had flourished upon the wall, until Aum Geong decided to write his own. He’d not wanted to go first, to allow the others to express without the burden of comparison, and also to have some more time to write something deep and thoughtful. But that profusion of nonsense between some occasional pearls of wisdom made him write his own.

                                            Unattainable is the Truth
                                            For in the Dust of things
                                            All in our View is bleak

                                            Doing Wrong we forswear
                                            For Dust to be lifted
                                            And Wisdom we seek

                                            In the deed of the Elders
                                            And the Faith in the Community
                                            Light and Trust bespeak

                                            All the monks had been quite impressed, but Hrih had not been entirely satisfied by it… To be honest, he even completely disagreed with it.
                                            Now, however, stuck in this bed, the poem was playing in his head and suggesting that the Worlds were something terrible that he had not yet understood, or be willing to avoid seeing. Perhaps Aum Geong was wiser than he was.
                                            Perhaps all that Hrih had put as foundational to his life had all been Dust…
                                            “There is no Dust, and you know that” the voice whispered softly.

                                            Now that he is about to die, what difference will it make anyway…
                                            He reach out for a bowl of water, and almost let it fall, as the weight of it surprised him. He was becoming so weak… He never had been so self-conscious in many many many years.

                                            After he had propped himself up to drink a few burning swallows of the lukewarm water, he noticed something folded on his bedside, that had been put under the bowl… Young Franiel had been the one attending him with Jog Lam, so it must have been the doing of one of them. He intuited that was Franiel.

                                            As he read the stanzas, tears were in his eyes…

                                            I am the driftwood
                                            the wave carried me
                                            I was buried in sand

                                            I am the flower
                                            the butterfly touched me
                                            I fell in love

                                            I am the raindrop
                                            the cloud released me
                                            I became the ocean

                                            The Young monk had probably not dared write it on the Wall, especially after most of the monks’ vocal appreciations of Aum Geong’s poem…
                                            “Perhaps not” the voice again spoke.
                                            Another reason for it formed into Hrih’s mind. Franiel perhaps didn’t feel ready for such responsibilities and his role and fulfillment in this community was not form rules nor to continue it.
                                            It was more to inspire them, and perhaps to start his own discoveries.

                                            Hrih wrote a note behind the paper. He wanted to leave something for Franiel, for him to keep faith in his coming adventures during these coming times of change.
                                            After a deep breath, he took another paper that was with him for already such a long time, wrote down some words, and signed it, the aura of his hand burning a glyph that was his signature in the paper. He then called for Jog Lam.

                                            — Jog Lam, my friend…
                                            — Elder?
                                            — I’m dying…
                                            — I know Elder
                                            — Let me continue. (Jog Lam nodded)
                                            First, will you give that paper to Young Franiel after the cremation ceremonies. (Jog Lam nodded again)
                                            Second, I want you to relay that I have made my decision, and that Aum Geog will succeed me (Jog Lam’s surprise was noticeable in his eye). He is, to date, the most adequate successor for this monastery.
                                            — I will do as you want.
                                            — Thank you my friend.
                                            — Elder…
                                            — Farewell, my friend, I am always with you.

                                            When Jog Lam stoically left the room, Hrih Chokyam laid down, his eyes on the ceiling. His body was so weak that all he could do was to project behind his closed eyelids and see the starry sky, even if he would have wanted something different for his death. He would have loved something like a nap in a sunlit meadow with a little singing brook.
                                            But seeing the actual World was something even more precious to him. The barren mountains of the icy season, the clear unclouded sky. His mind was so full of energy that his body lacked.

                                            With a deep feeling of gratitude for his body, he bid it farewell.

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