Chapter 80:     On Tour

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--

I walked back into the Cascades to escape the open dry flatness of Eastern 
Washington.  I'd met a lot of nice alternative-thinking Nokhons there and 
some of them had given me names of friends they suggested I visit and play 
music for.  These would be informal visits, hardly concerts, but I could 
usually be sure that my music would be received with a positive attitude.  

But not always, there are many Nokhontli thoroughly steeped in the strict 
tradition of Atli and hatred of everything Nokhso.  I came upon one 
family--by happenstance, not recommendation--who seemed interested in what 
I was carrying on my back, so I started to give them a demonstration.  But 
the man started screaming "Ø'skogome e'e!" and practically attacked 
me.  Well, he would have if I hadn't instinctively zapped him with a charge 
of my Syssk.  Then I felt sorry for the guy, rolling around in the dirt 
in front of his woman and kid, so had to talk him down from his anxiety 
and get him back to normal.  Guess I hadn't known my own strength. 

It was pretty embarrassing, I had learned to use the Syssk as defense 
against the world's most dangerous super-agent Adversary, but turned it on 
some poor untrained and unwitting slob who didn't have a chance.  I could 
have just wrestled him down.  Then again, he might have smashed my 
guitar...well, it was effective and he was very respectful after that. 

Normally I would approach the bakhl of the recommended persons, 
politely announce myself at a distance with the standard bird call, then 
start playing guitar until someone checked me out.  Then I would tell them 
who had suggested I visit them and we would often end up in a group of 
their friends playing music and talking.  I met a lot of nice people on 
that trip, enough to reassess my opinion of the everyday squatch's life 
out in the wilderness.  

Actually, I had secretly gone around with almost the same perception of a 
standard Bigfoot as standard Americans have: more animal than man, a 
mindless drudge and drone that just shagged around the woods all day 
because he nothing better to do with his life.  All right, some of them 
are like that, but so are lots of "humans", just replace their devotion to 
TV with Atli and you've got a match.

I tried not to offend anyone with my music, but had a mission to awaken 
the Nokhontli to the concept of a new Nokhon culture.  It was not just to 
promote my own rock star ego, I wanted to make THEM dare to be creative 
as well, just by showing them that a Nokh could do so.  I thought there 
should be more to their lives than just Atli and the response I got from 
many--especially the young--confirmed my opinion about the validity of that 
mission.  But every time I sang to a group there was always the chance that 
some would like it and some would not.

Not that there were many scenes to play out there in Squatchland.  Once I 
had gone through my list of names and "addresses" recommended to me by 
others, I found it just as hard to find any squatches as it had always been.  
They live in hiding, one rarely stumbles upon them.  But I knew where I 
wanted to go next: to Mastinta's academy for young women.

That would take me past Old Dannat's cave, but if there was anyone who 
would take umbrage at my music it was probably that dour old healer, and 
probably his equally dour woman Malla.  But I knew that Mawa would be 
happy to see me, so just for her I went that way, intending to refrain 
from playing music while there.

I hid my guitar in some bushes before announcing myself, so as not to 
compromise them by bringing skesk into their bakhl.  I gave the 
bird-call, waited, and in a few seconds heard the response inviting me to 

The only one home was old Dannat himself, it was the middle of the day and 
the women were out foraging.  However, I was surprised at the warm welcome 
Dannat offered me; he even smiled and seemed glad to see me.  Dagrolyt had 
updated him about my stay among the Nokhsoli, so he knew where I had been.  
He was even interested and concerned for my safety.

"I must warn you.  While at the moment Alutna-Jii Daklakht feels that he 
has defeated you and that your potential to become The Negotiator is 
nullified, he has ordered his Alutna to watch for any violation of Atli 
you may commit, so that he can arrest you.  Dagrolyt tells me that you 
plan to play skesk-myøsik around the land, which would give 
Daklakht an excuse to act." 

"I've already been doing that," I admitted, "and I expect Daklakht to act, 
that's the whole point."

"You wish to be arrested?"

"No, I wish to establish the principle that myøsik, or ANY cultural 
creativity is no violation of Atli."  
"But skesk is!  The Atli clearly states..."  Dannat tried for a
discussion about the nits and bits of Atli, which I could have bluffed my 
way through when I had my Orator memory for words, but that was gone.  I 
could only remember vague generalizations.  

The best I could offer was this: "I think there's a verse of Atli-- uh, 
somewhere --which allows use of hand-made artifacts for magic, which is 
what I'm doing."

"You might need to know EXACTLY WHICH verse to quote when the Alutna come 
for you," Dannat recommended.

Dannat's women returned from foraging and were surprised to find me there.  
Aunt Mawa's welcome was warmest, of course, but even Malla had finally 
mellowed toward me.  They too knew what about my quest to take on Daklakht 
in my own special way and after the usual greetings and questions it did 
not take long for them to ask to see my notorious "hollow log".  I looked 
to Dannat and he too seemed interested.  So I fetched it from the bushes.

They had all heard me sing before, but the experience of those Nokhontli 
lyrics and the clang of the guitar had an impact neither they nor I had 
been expecting.  I started out careful and discreet, still a little leery 
of Dannat, but they had me sing all thirteen songs.  Encouraged, I 
automatically went into performer mode and got them to join in, even Dannat 
learned to clap and sing along for "I Like To Run".  When I finished we 
were all exhausted and better friends than before.

I had expected Mawa to be proud of her nephew, which she was, but it 
surprised me to have won Dannat over.  He had actually enjoyed the forbidden 

I would have stayed the night, Mawa wanted me to, but just before dark 
Dannat sniffed the air and said, "Two Alutna, coming here.  Perhaps you 
should leave, Dadamet, I'll hold them back for a while."  Then he smiled 
wickedly, "Maybe I'll sing them a myøsik!"

I did some tricks to throw any normal Alutna off my trail, travelled half the night and finally allowed myself to sleep. I refused to actually run from the Alutna, although I wasn't sure what to do if they confronted me. I didn't want to fight them, like anywhere else in the world, fighting the police would only be asking for more trouble. Besides, they were usually just guys doing their job. If I could only remember that missing line of Atli to befuddle them... if there was such a verse. Like Dagrolyt, Dannat hadn't known of it either. But they didn't find me that night and I continued on to Mastinta's lair, arriving in the early afternoon. Mastinta's lair was invisible, as always, you had to know where it was because it looked like anywhere else in the forest, Raw Nature. That was the whole point of her school, she and her girls lived without bakhl, without shelter, as deep into Nature as they could get. They learned how to use the magic of Nature by becoming one with it. There was no one to be seen, obviously nobody home. I knew there were usually about ten girls studying nature ways with Mastinta, and even though they were all well-hidden Sasquatchettes as I stood on the wooded hilltop that served as middle of Mastinta's bakhl, I could smell them all. It was almost Full Moon again and their shyøma was starting to become wonderfully ripe. They knew I was here, I could tell by the smell, which became stronger because those already horny girls were getting even more excited at seeing a male squatch just standing there. Almost available for instant use--if it wasn't for the rule about no sex before the Kha-rat. They also knew who I was and they weren't coming out, which I assumed to mean that the Alutna had warned them to stay away from me. I considered Mastinta a friend, but knew she could be put in a compromised situation if she welcomed me and I didn't want to do that to her. So I didn't call out or make a move to find anyone, just stood on that hilltop, took my guitar out of the bag and began to play and sing. That was a special performance: I seemed to be alone but could smell the girls being turned on by the music, which turned me on. I was getting shyøma- feedback and that's pretty powerful stuff. No one said anything, pretended they weren't there. I pretended I was alone--well, except for my guitar and my erection--and the music kept getting hotter. Or maybe it was just me. I just got done saying I wasn't doing this because of my rock star ego, but that performance was nothing but ego. I was a horny guy playing to an audience of silently screaming chicks, doing anything I could to make them hot for me. A ruthless bounder. I'm going to use the shyøma as my excuse, like I always do. Part of it was that I wished Magga was among them. I knew she was supposed to be in Aket at the time, but couldn't help fantasizing that she had come back for a visit just before I arrived and was now out there hearing my music and realizing that she really did love me after all, with all sorts of erotic fireworks to follow. Finally I had played the thirteenth song and the concert was over. My work there done, I packed the guitar back in the bag and was ready to leave. The lone wandering minstrel on the road off to the next town and the next pack of screaming girls. I wished. In a way I was quite satisfied, this had been more erotic than any real sex could never measure up to. But just as I was about to go two Alutna stepped out of the forest to talk to me. I knew them, Dalangath and Darassath, the local constables. They had obviously heard me play and sing. I figured this is it. "Kha, Dadamet," Dalangath said, a little shy. Darassath stayed back a little. "Kha, Dalangath, Darassath, how's it going?" "Oh, pretty good, thanks. Uh, say, we have orders from the Alutna-Jii, you know..." He was clearly embarrassed. "I know, he wants you guys to get after me." "Yeah, and we couldn't help hearing you playing on that...uh, skesk-thingy..." "We couldn't help it," Darassath confirmed, "it's pretty loud," still hanging back. "What do you think about it?" I asked them. "Kha-ra man, it sounds FANTASTIC!" Dalangath exuberated, "And those.. those myøsik you sang, they were WONDERFUL! I've never heard anything like them!" "But they DO sound a little bit know, NOKHSO noises," Darassath quibbled, "I mean, except that they were CLEARLY in Nokhontli.." "It's just that it might be a slight..uh..violation of..y'know.. Atli." Dalangath stammered. These guys were in a situation: they had orders to bust me, but had liked the music too much to put a stop to it. I realized that they were on my side. "Don't worry guys," I said, "it's not a violation of Atli at all. There's a clause in one of the Secret Verses that says it's okay." I had no idea if I was lying or not, but being de-Oratored at that moment I got away with saying it anyway. "Oh good," Dalangath said, seemingly quite relieved. "So could you tell us which verse that is? You know, so we can honestly report that you are NOT in violation of Atli next time the Alutna-Jii asks us." "Well actually, it's from the Secret Verses of Atli and I'm not sure I may recite it to you guys. But I can tell it to the Alutna-Jii myself. You guys know that he's my Appointed Adversary, right?" They bobbed heads in synchronized affirmation, "Okay, so it's better that he and I work these things out ourselves, don't you think?" Dalangath agreed, but Darassath was more concerned about obeying the orders he had. "We can't just let you walk away now that we've finally found you." "No problem, just inform Daklakht that I'll be attending the Kha-rat hosted by Sha-haka Dagrolyt in two nights. He can find me there--in fact, I'll be looking forward to seeing him." The two Alutna looked at each other, Dalangath said, "Dadamet's an Orator, so he can only speak the truth." Darassath shrugged, "Ra, okay, we'll pass the word on: Kha-rat at Dagrolyt's." "Hey, you guys come too," I insisted, "I'll be doing another myøsik show." They both smiled happily, "Oh wow, sure, yeah, okay!" Then they shyly waved goodbye to me as they slipped out of sight between the trees, leaving me alone again. But not for long, eleven girls and Mastinta came rushing out of their secret hiding places to talk to me. The impact of all their shyøma at close range almost knocked me down. Even though there were two more days of required celibacy remaining, they were all promising to be at the next Kha-rat too, even Mastinta, desperate to score their new rock star. Lucky for me Magga was not among them or I would have been pretty desperate too. It was hard to leave but I knew I'd go crazy with horniness if I stayed, so I told them I'd see them all at Dagrolyt's and made my escape.
I was at Dagrolyt's bakhl a day before the Ma-mløt-klys to give myself some rest before the Kha-rat. Dagrolyt was still away on his rounds but Mrøla and Misma were there. They were ripe with shyøma too, but there were only two of them. It helped that they had properly smeared themselves with piss and shit to cover up the shyøma, at least it was easier to keep my distance from them. They too were fascinated with my guitar and wanted to touch the forbidden thing. I played a few songs for them, but saved the big performance for the Kha-rat night. I took a day just to do what a struggling Sha-haka initiate was supposed to do, meditated and reflected on the Atli...or what I could remember of it. I needed that verse, man I wished I could just do a Google search on it, but all I had to work with was my poor de-Oratored memories. I ended up going over memories of the last month since the concert in Seattle instead, at least I could remember all of that. I had tried to avoid thinking about Melly since then, the last time I saw her, afraid and disgusted by me. I knew she'd be back but didn't like where we were at now. I also knew that I would be unfaithful to her over and over again when the Kha-rat orgy began, tried not to feel guilty about it but did anyway. Then I felt sorry that Magga had betrayed me, and stupid for feeling that way about a squatch chick who couldn't help it either. Masnia was next on the guilt trip, then Lissandra, Mawa, Elaine, I was so GUILTY of so MUCH.. It finally hit me: I was being manipulated and I knew by whom. Panic replaced the guilt. I almost retaliated with a charge of Syssk, but remembered who I was dealing with and smelled a psychic trap: Daklakht could turn me inside out if I connected my haka with his, I knew that instinctively. I had to back down. I tried to sing "The Sound of Music" but there was no energy there. I felt blindly for my guitar, whisked it out of the bag and began to play something, anything, didn't know what. That helped, I let it flow and in a few minutes I felt the panic dissipate. I finally recognized the song as one of my own, realized that I had 13 mantras now. Well, good, I thought. Eventually I had to stop playing and waited to see if Daklakht's attack would continue, but it seemed to be over for the moment. And why not? he could resume his attack at much closer range tomorrow night, face to face at the Kha-rat. I knew that this was what I had planned, but I really had no plan. I had come on this quest only because it was what my Vision had said I must do, all the useful words of instruction and explanation had been forgotten. I felt another twinge of panic, but realized that it was not a Syssk attack, this was justifiable fear. It was time for one of those miracles that were supposed to happen during Heroic Quests. Coming right up. I had gone off by myself to meditate and when I returned to Dagrolyt's bakhl I was surprised to see that another guest had come early for the Kha-rat: the biggest, fattest, most irritating Orator I'd ever known. "At last, you wretched little skyøma," he greeted me, "I've been waiting for you to finally show up. Fortunately, I have had the company of these two charming ladies to entertain me." "Oh, it is YOU who have entertained US, Great Dambaraggan!" Misma gushed, Myrøla giggled. The girls seemed so enchanted by his voice and words that I felt a familiar twinge of jealousy about how he spoke so much better than me now that I was an ex-orator. Then I realized that I was reacting the same old way one orator usually does with another, and that it was totally inappropriate. Dambaraggan had proved himself to be a good friend in Aket and now that big fat old squatch had exerted himself enough to cross a wild mountain range on foot to arrive exactly when I desperately happened to need advice from an expert in Oratorical discipline. "Good to see you, Dwayarat," I said sincerely, "I am humbled that you have finally un-wallowed your ponderous bulk and staggered all the long way from Aket on your blubbery legs just to visit me." I owed him the repartee he enjoyed so much. "Oh, I simply FLEW, born upon the wind, my boy, because I hear that you are going to put on a show that I would not dream of missing." "Yes, well, we'll see how that goes. There may be a problem." The girls took that as commencement of some serious man-talk and excused themselves to go about whatever it was they had to do somewhere else. "Oh, I know, you're simply SO helpless. That's really why I am here, of course. You DO need the help of someone wiser and more mature than your skyøma-self--don't you?" "Indeed I do. You've heard about my problem?" "Sha-haka Dagrolyt has briefed me, yes. And now I can clearly hear that you no longer have the voice of an orator." "I broke a promise," I said, with shame. "Yes well, you always have been such a faithless little skyøma, but let us fix that anyway." "Fix it? Is that possible?" "Oh yes, of course. Few Orators are so flawless as to never experience a broken promise or two. I certainly have." "Really? Daklakht gave me the impression that it was permanent." "Well, he'd LIKE you to think that, wouldn't he? Now, come here." We squatted facing one another, Dambaraggan asked me quite formally: "What was the promise and how thoroughly did you break it?" He wanted to know every detail, which I told him, from Doug to Daklakht. "As I understand it, you were coerced to promise never to yøramma with your beloved Nokhso mate. Finally you could no longer resist--perhaps because Daklakht had secretly given you a psychic push--but when you tried to enter her your dakh failed. Although you had attempted to, you were still physically unable to break that promise--and thus have not." "But I DID yøramma her, later under Daklakht's spell." "That was when you were possessed by his will and not your own, the Alutna- Jii is a Master of enslaving skills far beyond your level and you are therefore innocent of whatever he forced you to do." "It felt like me when I finished inside her. I even enjoyed it." "And for that you feel guilty. Very well, the power of an Orator is in the brain, not in the mouth, and since you BELIEVE that promise was compromised, you must offer Atonement." "Atonement? How do I do that?" "HOW does not matter as long as YOU believe it to be sufficient. It is only symbolic anyway." "Sufficient? I don't know what..." "I know the ritual, let me take you through it." "Yes, please do." He became formal again, speaking sternly: "Foolish Young Dadamet, you have failed to honor your sacred promise as Orator and must Atone for that. Do you accept the punishment you deserve?" "Ra," I said, wondering how bad it would be. Dambaraggan slapped my face, a pat on the cheek, really. "That's it?" I asked. "Not sufficient?" Dambaraggan asked. "Maybe just a little TOO symbolic..." He slapped me again, but this time he really let me have it. I weigh over 500 pounds but big fat Dambaraggan had to be twice that. I went flying, saw stars, almost blacked out and found myself lying sprawled out on the ground. I shook my head to clear my vision and crawled to my feet again. My face hurt like a giant bee sting. "Is THAT sufficient?" he asked with concern in his eyes. "Oh shit yes! Any harder would break my neck." "Well, that might be too extreme an Atonement for a promise that was never properly broken anyway. Now, face me and heed my words: Young Dadamet, you are hereby reinstated as an Orator of honor and your special abilities are restored." It was true: I could feel memories flooding my brain, once again capable of remembering every word I had ever heard in my life. The volume of information staggered me for a moment, then I was fine. "Thank you, Dwayarat!" I had never before spoken to my Teacher with such respect. "Ra, ra, my boy, now don't go and get all humble on me. You are the best foil I have ever known." We both laughed, for the first time together.

Chapter 81

Adam out of Eden