chapter 15: THE LOVERS

this card, 6th of the Major Arcana, here signifies Duality, Choosing, Plans, Proof

Everyone noticed her enter the taverna: the stunning young woman 
with long flowing red hair, beautiful face, voluptuous body, red 
dress--a dream woman.  But for Clown there was a special 
attraction--she radiated an aura of intelligence.  

When Clown saw her he froze, smitten with lust at first sight.  
And she saw him too, no doubt about it, across the crowded room 
there will be a stranger etc, their eyes locked for an instant and 
then...then she looked away as some other man said something 
to her.  

He found himself on his way over to her.  Maybe it was the wine 
but he felt utterly confident about this woman.  Of course, by now 
he had also been assured that women did like him.  

There were so many people dancing that it was hard to press 
through but he finally arrived where she was sitting with a group 
of men at the card table.  She watched him come, an amused 
little smile on her lips, and just as he arrived she turned away 
to talk to another man and ignored Clown.

Clown understood that he was being challenged, led on, tempted, 
teased, seduced, and his nostrils flared with desire.

He watched a round of the game.  Absurdly simple, 2 sets of 14 
cards in a deck, red and black 1 to 10 with king, queen, prince, 
princess per set, as well as one wild card, the Jester (which 
reminded Clown of himself), and one simply had to remember where 
each card went, back and forth, across, up, down.  Another round 
and he knew that he could win this game.  The players were 
gambling for money, but they were mostly farmers, so the stakes 
were not especially high.

When a chair was vacant he sat in it, directly over from the 
redheaded beauty, laid a wager on the table for 1 Major, and 
proceeded to win everything.  She was watching his every move, 
he liked that. 

But one of the players did not like what was happening, a big 
& tough guy, as usual, called Drund.  "Hey, you must be 
cheating!" he challenged, as Clown was scooping another pile of 
money in, having won 78 Majors by now.

"No, I'm simply remembering where these cards are, that's all 
one has to do.  You could do the same."  Clown spoke politely, 
inoffensively, even meekly--he didn't really even want to take 
their money, which he didn't need.  And he certainly didn't 
want trouble.

But the big & tough guy was offended anyway, and was 
yearning for trouble anyway.  He reached for Clown's shirt, and 
Clown would have backed away, but for the press of people 
surrounding the playing table, so he was caught and yanked 
forward into range of the man's aggression. 

Clown felt paralyzed with fear; he was going to be hurt!  It all 
seemed so slow that his mind had time to race ahead and consider 
all the damage about to be done to him, helplessly watching 
Drund's heavy fist coming at his face.

But he also had time to consider the alternatives available to 
him; there were so many, but so little time to make a proper 
decision.  He had seen Agra fight well many times, there were 
techniques for dealing with this...

With a heavy SLAM! Clown realized that his time was up 
for cerebralizing this situation.  He had instinctively turned 
his head so that the blow missed solid contact, but even that 
glancing blow was shockingly painful.  He would have been fallen 
by the blow, but he was being held ready for the next one. 

Panic sent his mind into highest gear.  Thinking fast, he caught 
just one of Drund's fingers still clutching at his shirt, 
reasoning that his whole hand was stronger than the one finger, 
which he bent backwards and then Clown was in control.   

He followed the continuation of his opponent's momentum, who 
was out of balance from the blow that had not landed as planned, 
applied leverage at the most logical point and the man would 
have gone sprawling, but for Clown's grip on his finger.  The 
fight was over before it began, the big & tough guy was 
screaming for mercy.  

Clown was on his feet now, very much in balance, seemingly still, 
but in his head were rolling endless possibilities for applying 
leverage and momentum and striking points to deal with an opponent 
to extreme effect.  An entire science of physical combat was 
invented in a revelation--of course some of the techniques would 
require much training and physical discipline, even moral or 
spiritual discipline.  

He looked with anger down upon this thug who had hurt him, now
totally superior, to decide how he should punish him.  He could 
experiment, so many possibilities; pain, crippling, death...  

Then Agra was right there beside Clown, always ready for a fight.  
He had always protected Clown from people picking upon the family 
idiot who invariably got into trouble.  

And now Clown remembered vaguely the harm he had seen Agra do to 
his opponents, Agra was tough and enjoyed fighting, but could be 
more brutal than necessary.  

Clown decided what to do with this helplessly inferior big & 
tough guy.  Moral discipline must begin here, anger was destructive, 
intelligence yearns to create.  He let the man's 
finger go and walked away.

"That's it?  Just let him go?" Agra protested, "didn't you ever 
learn anything from watching me fight?"  Agra seemed surprised, 
and in fact irritated, that Clown no longer needed his protection.

"More than you know, Agra."

However, the red headed woman was quite obviously impressed by 
now, so Clown addressed her.  "What's your name?"

"I'm Ryndah," she said, smiling only slightly; slightly 
dangerously, slightly arrogantly, "and you?"

Clown suddenly realized that he really had no name.  He didn't 
want to be a "clown" to this woman, nor was he that creature 
he had been, and that name no longer fit.  No, wait, perhaps 
he did have a name...

"Hey, Clown," Agra called, a little drunk perhaps, a little 
envious for sure, "introduce me to your bea-uti-ful girl friend!"  
Agra draped his arm over Clown's shoulder as well as he could, 
being shorter.  "Clown, clown, clown, what will Wanda--your 
other girl friend--say?  "

"Clown?  An odd name," Ryndah said, "you look more like a...a 

"Oh, he IS!" announced Agra, "A hero on a quest!  Only 
he's not..."

"Agra!"  Benutio's voice was stern as he threaded through 
the crowd.

Agra shut up with a snap.  He also sobered up, quite aware that he 
was about to say too much in a crowd of strangers.  They were on a 
secret mission.  Or had been.  Agra left the room.

Benutio, who had been enjoying playing music, was not so enjoying 
being tempted by these friendly women; his mind was too full of 
another woman.  Luminata, of course.  And now Agra was becoming 
envious of the new Clown, which could be trouble, better control 
that.  And Clown: enchanted by that devilishly seductive red 
haired woman, was apparently about to be seduced from his mission 
to rescue what's-her-name.  

Benutio looked for Devo, who was flirting with an attractive woman 
in a blue dress, much older than Devo's own 16 years.  Benutio 
chuckled, that's my boy. When he looked back for Clown, Clown was 
gone, and so was that red haired woman.

They were walking in Tundtown, holding hands. It was dark but for torchlight every 50 paces, there were few people out in the night, the worn old buildings were looming shapes and ominous shadows: all a blend of scary and romantic. They walked through the center of town, past City Hall and the Police House. It was a town made of rough-hewn wood, primitive compared to Tarro, but full of potential. Clown stopped for a moment and memorized details. "I can tell that you're a foreigner by the way that you're looking at our town instead of me," Ryndah told him. "I see so much here I would like to redesign." "You're a carpenter?" "No...but I could be an architect. I can see how to make this town into a better place...most of these buildings are classic examples of inefficient utilization of materials...those open sewers really should be covered and the methane gasses used as an energy source... in fact, there are several resources here with which I could start an entirely new technology if I was staying could be fun." Clown sounded excited, and he looked back at Ryndah, "And you could be fun too." She smiled teasingly, "To redesign?" Clown had to laugh. "No, I don't think so. You might just be perfect." "Oh? Might be? Well most men think I AM perfect," she bragged with a tough little smirk. "But you have reservations about me, maybe?" "Reservations...well, perhaps I do, but not about you. How could I?--I don't even know you. Just that you're extremely pretty." "I don't know much about you either," she said, "except that you're pretty too. And obviously intelligent, although it's not easy to understand everything you say: what does tech-no-logee mean, for example?" "Oh, a science of technical processes--sorry, I tend to make up words if those I need don't exist." "Oh, really?" "One uses words to express ideas. New ideas, new words," Clown explained. She stopped and looked at Clown close-up, studying his face, his eyes. "You know, you simply radiate potential like no one I've ever met-- I could like you too, Clown--but there's something about you that feels almost...Mythical to me, just so...vast, overwhelming, come on, what are you, Clown?" "I'm...uh...I may not say, just now and I don't want to lie to you. I'm just a guy falling for a girl when I'm not really supposed to be." "So what are you supposed to be doing?" "That's what I may not tell, sorry." "So who is Wand?" asked Ryndah, with maybe a little tinge of jealousy. "I hardly know myself," Clown said honestly, "a girl they say I that I... loved, when I was... a child. "Pretty, I suppose: pretty as me?" "Probably, but I can't really remember her face." Ryndah, "How about her body?" "I never knew it," Clown said quickly, suddenly embarrassed again. "So let me guess: you're riding off to rescue some childhood sweetheart--hero on quest--probably imbued with some magical talent or talisman, as heroes usually are. In company with a band of gypsies, of course--you know, this is classic adventure." "You are a perceptive woman, Ryndah, I like that." "Yes, I'll bet that you like everything about me--I fit into this little myth too, you know--it was destined that you meet your Temptress. Right?" Clown was puzzled, "I haven't read any mythologies yet, but I assume that you're referring to some...symbolic patterns that keep showing up?" "Never mind. Clown, do you want me to tempt you? I'm perfectly willing, we can go to my place and...well, you can see what I have to offer." "Uh...well, all right."
end of chapter 15

Chapter 16: FORCE <BR> <BR> <BR> <a href="chaps.htm">List of Chapters</a>