Friday, April 12, 2013

‘K’ is for ‘Ky,’ OR, Splendid Master in Hiding



This post is a mash-up between the A-to-Z Challenge and Friday Flash. It's a flash story set in the Empire of Gold and Jade, centering around one of the many people named 'Ky.' 'Ky' is the name you swap to if you're trying to get away from your family, debts, or in this case, fame.

It took the boys three seasons to find him. He’d gone reclusive in the modern wilderness: slums. It would have been easier to track of the man on a mountain top or distant island. In a sea of scrawny, old foreigners, with names in another alphabet, he was almost invisible. Having stripped himself of his wealth and proper name, he wore only the rag of an honorific, “Ky.” There were over two thousand others named “Ky” in the slum, and forty-two in his apartment building.

That was on purpose. Ky refused to train them, even when they offered him their entire inheritances. They sent him ten newly-sewn suits, and ten handmaids, and ten immaculate meals from the master chefs of the Cloud Hills. He left their gifts unworn, unsullied, and uneaten. The boys found their food rotting in the alley, supped upon by stray imps and tentacle monsters.

They did not give up easily. They accosted him every time he stepped outside – for the latrine, for his morning walk or sunset meal. He ate once a day, and refused anything but the smallest container of raw rice, and he refused conversation when they took supper alongside him, spurning their money.

On the third sunset, while he was out at his meal, they bribed the landlord and broke into his apartment. Ky returned home to find no cracks in his ceiling, no vermin in his walls, and for the first time in twenty-one seasons, that his lonely lantern actually glowed. They’d left it on for him. He sat up with the light on all night long, though he did not invite the boys in.

He invited them inside the next morning. Their Splendid Master Ky would begin their training just as soon as they donned more practical clothing.

The first lesson was of Stamina. The boys would pick up every piece of trash in the adjacent street, which stretched for four empirical lengths. No clod, turd or broken bowl could be left behind, and they had only two hours to collect all of it. Being boys of unfairly fair youth, they managed it, even if they collapsed at the end.

They thought it unfair until the next day, when they were assigned the second street over, and only an hour and a half. Every consecutive day drew another street of waste.

After four days of the exhausting work, Splendid Master Ky added a second lesson: Perception. The police of the city were needlessly abusive to non-human parties, running them out or collecting extortion from triclopic shops. The boys were not allowed lunch until each could find at least one police-servant who had broken the code of conduct and reported them. In a week, he increased their assignment to three a-piece. In three weeks, they found it much harder to find such police-servants, much as the police-servants found it quite difficult to retaliate against the children of the rich.

Every day they had their lessons in Stamina and Perception. They chaffed to learn exotic fighting styles, of the Charred Fist and the Unknown Walking. Yet as quickly as they could clear a street of refuse, this Ky said they were not ready. He introduced the third lesson: Agility. It seemed that serpents and rats infected with tentacalia had beset the slum in recent seasons, and were often snatching babies or otherwise tearing up tenement ceilings. The only way to combat them was to scale the very structures they tormented.

Building upon their existing stamina and cleverness, the boys had to dispatch a dozen tentacled fiends per afternoon, and doing so meant either flying along scaffolds or swinging from ropes. Often Ky took his sunset meal on the sidewalk while watching the boys in their spectacular fights with the tentacle monsters. He was seldom alone; they drew great crowds of the poor, myriad Ky-folk who could always use a little more entertainment.

Their Splendid Master Ky was the only one not enjoying the spectacle. He had to make up a fourth exercise for them before they got too good. Eventually the boys would realize what you already have, and they would be quite angry about it. Perhaps some mysticism about Patience? He hoped that would take, or if it didn’t, that they finished cleaning up the slums before killing him.

28 comments:

  1. This made me laugh when I read the final paragraph! Thank you for writing it. Good job!

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  2. with names in another alphabet... Love that. Raw rice (ewe!). Ky is quite cunning, isn't he? I enjoyed this.

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  3. Interesting. I have to take some time and read past posts so I can catch up on the story.

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  4. This is such a treat - and has brightened my afternoon. Thank you.

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  5. Nice one John, blends the traditional ancient master tale with your humour perfectly. Personally I think Ky's pretty sage.

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  6. Deep, intense, vivid. Masterfully done.

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  7. I love it. Like a twisted Mr. Miyagi, replacing waxing the car with the disposal of tentacle monsters. This was so much fun.

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  8. Very creative. "rats infected with tentacalia" :) I'd love to see art for this one.

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  9. Loved this, the labors of the Zen master's apprentices, and Ky making it up as he goes. It fit so well. I think a lot of the kind of training Ky's students want is, as you say, "what you already have." Let's hope his students realize it.

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  10. I laughed at that last line too! Hope those boys figure it out ;)

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  11. This is great -- I laughed too. I also enjoyed your amazing descriptions of their labors. You are a marvelous writer!

    jean

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  12. This is amazing. I can't even...I don't even know where to start with how amazing it is.

    Wonderfully done.

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  13. I remember this one - love the way it does double (triple?) duty for you on "K" day.

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  14. The lessons in Stamina sound pretty tough.

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  15. Loved the ending. Poor Master Ky, or brilliant. One of the two.

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  16. Ha! That's one way to clean things up!

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  17. Quite a neat world you have here. And I have a feeling ol' Ky is smart enough to keep piling on lessons to get the slums cleaned up soon enough. Hopefully he's smart enough to get out the trouble at the end of it, too.

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  18. What an effecient way to hide, where everyone has the same name. Great story.

    Rinelle Grey

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  19. Very cool, I liked this post a lot, an extremely creative story. Now I'm curious to look through your earlier pieces and catch up.

    Thanks,
    Dan Miller

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  20. This story sounded familiar to me - have you shown it before? Maybe I'm dreaming. ^_^

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  21. Have I read this before? Either way, I still enjoyed it :-)

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  22. What a fun snippet into your fictional world. Reminds me of the Karate Kid where seemingly trivial chores are prep for fighting skills, although the ending seems to indicate clever Ky doesn't have any fighting skills to impart.

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  23. Love these glimpses into the fictional wolrds of Wiswell. Would you ever post a chart or timeline outlining everything?

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    1. I have a crude timeline running back to the Apocalypse of Sauropods. Everything before that I keep in my head, since it ought to be secret until the books uncover it. Would you like a T is for Timeline post this month? I think that seems valid!

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    2. Yes, please! I think a T is for timeline post would be fun and well received, I'll look forward to it!

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  24. I remember this one! Or at least a version of it. Still loads of fun, and a series of lessons I wouldn't mind giving the leading party of a certain Parliament I may or may not be currently governed by.

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  25. Fun, creative and new to me! Enjoyed reading this! I think I might be a pro in the fighting style of Unknown Walking...

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