Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He-Who-Must-Not-be-Trifled-With has tea with Huizong, Emperor of the Song Dynasty

An excerpt from WIP The Shift, my 2011 NaNo

 He Who Must Not Be Trifled With was back on the road. It was not really a road though, as it was actually a cow path through a pasture just east of Liberal, Kansas. He had taken some time off the trip to commune with the other more interesting denizens of the forest. This had given things out west time to simmer for a while. He had been careful to not let any more of the local people wherever he passed through see him. He knew that in this time, even more than in the past, the sight of a small hybrid dragon would cause the kind of stir he was just not interested in right  now.

 Although he often thought of himself as wyvern, probably because that was what his dear mother had been, he was actually not exactly that. He had too many legs, four of them instead of the usual two. He had fur instead of scales. He was much more intelligent than any wyvern who ever lived before. He could affect things from great distances if he so chose.

Andy, way out west, just outside of Colby, Oregon, a bit east of Portland, that bastion of high hopes, Murder Buy the Book, and awesome views was now learning to live with his new bestest friend, Bernard. Not a St  Bernard, but still a very large, friendly, slobbery and extremely(thanks to He-Who) intelligent dog. A  dog of great imagination who still kind of remembered having been a bear, and before that, something… else. He would get around to Andy and  Bernard later though.

Right now He Who Must Not be Trifled With’s feet were tired and bitchy. He had still not yet gained enough strength back to fly. He had forgotten how much he considered walking to be appropriate only as a leisure activity, a novelty, for more closely scrutinizing ground life. It was Not, decidedly not, in his informed estimation, an acceptible means of traveling long distances. At least he was getting his memory back, and with it, some of his former intelligence. He now knew why he had woken up after so many centuries of sleep.  It was about to happen again and there was, or was not, about to be a shift in the world of men.

One could say that it was a Good verses Evil thing, but he preferred to think of it as a moving forward or not thing.  The one he was going to go see, to teach, to protect and enlighten, would make a difference. If that one went one way things would move forward, as they could, to a new level of human thought and understanding, which in turn would affect the rest of the natural world. If that one were not protected, not shielded  from chaos and shown a new way, then things could go decidedly different.

 And of course there would be opposition. Like the plot of any good book or script, there seemed to always have to be that opposition. It was a question it seemed of maintaining the balance of all things. Besides, it was more fun that way.  To him personally, it would be no particular catastrophe if it didn’t go his, or perhaps their, way. He was used to things in this world not always working out to the most optimal, or the most benign way. He had seen evil empires come and go. He had seen  mass extinctions, continental drift, Pandemics – human and otherwise, all come and go again. He recalled his conversations with a certain Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty on the subject:

 At one point a a couple of millennium back Emperor Huizong in China, though they didn’t call it that there then, had sent out an edict. OK, more like a question really. He gathered all his advisers and far-seers from the land to ask what one thing would be true in all earthly mortal situations. They had gathered in their robes and their finery, deliberated, debated cussed and dis-cussed until many, many water buffalo had returned to the rice paddy, and of course, in the nature of all efforts to seek truth by consensus, had failed miserably to come up with  anything remotely resembling a right answer.

Huizong, a painter and philosopher of no small talent, needed to get back to a particularly nice lily, whose vibrant essence and delicate personage he had been attempting to capturein watercolors for a considerable time. The Wyvern had known that without this one, silly little saying, the Dynasty could not reach the next level in understanding the nature of being. Finally He Who Must NOt be Trifled With made an appearance in his austere and greatly enlightened self, before the Emperor. It was the utmost in privacy of course, as it would not do to be seen by the masses.

He had kept the Emperor on edge for a considerable and appropriate length of time. He found that the full toothy-venomous fanged smile was not needed here in this place of relative civilization(for that time). Rather, an understated medium faint grin was more than sufficient to keep the gentle(for that time) man’s attention without making any crass threats.

Finally He-Who spoke: “Do you want to know now? Do you really want to know?”  “Yes. Yes old friend, I feel it is important beyond my reckoning or surely you would not have come all this way through so much time and space, just to partake of my meager tea time offerings”. “Then I will tell you. It is…Wait, why Zhao Ji, is that a new kind of lily I see on the end table?” “Please!" said Emperor of all he beheld, except of course He-Who. "Don’t tease an old fool so unmercifully, you wicked teaser in the possession of all knowledge you!”(The emperor did tend to lose all cleverness when rattled in the most charming child like way) "I beg of you! I prostrate myself before you!” "Surely without your tutelage I and all my empire, tawdry and base as it must seem to you, shall all expire in the misery of vital knowledge Unattained, lost to all generations!"

“Heh, heh Zhao Ji, How could I refuse one so eloquent beyond both his years and his species?" smoothed the half Wyvern, many centuries Young Zhao Ji's senior and loving the rare attention (They had stopped calling Huizong that when he got to be Emperor, But He Who Must Not be Trifled With called everyone by whatever name He chose)  “Very well, young Zhao Ji,  it is not anything very complicated it’s just(pointing towards the lily) – This too, shall pass way.” “Of course it will, tea time will be over whenever we, I mean you of course, say that it is!” “But, Please, tell me!” “I just did.” said He Who-.  

“What?!”cried the Emperor, totally not getting it.  “I told you young Emperor. This. Too. Shall Pass”. “Well, yes, but – but , really I would think …wait! You are right!” And the wyvern was, at least  up to the level any human was able to comprehend at that time. Whatever you thought, whatever was happening, in it’s time, would also pass out of being, and be no more.

Oh sure, now days, at least as recently as that nice young man Al Einstein had said(such a  nice boy, and he too had passed) - As Al had said “In the end all is energy. It can be no other way.”  Something some of the more thoughtful of the human race were still wrapping their heads around, as the youngsters would say.

He who Must Not be Trifled With stayed a bit more, in fact spent the next fifteen years gently and patiently(well mostly patiently)pounding it through Emperor Huizong’s’s head that “This too Shall Pass”, while seeming almost insultingly simple, ultimately had far reaching philosophical and indeed scientific implications.

Then, just before He Who left the now truly old Emperor, he gifted him with the disturbing proclamation of “Unless of course you want to delve into physics, quantum and beyond, where everything will be up for grabs again in the One True Thing scheme of things. The Emperor was both laughing and crying at the same time as the ageless Wyvern winged his way off towards the west, where he said there was need of “some serious attitude adjustment”.