As those of you who were following the cage match already know, Bast couldn’t pull off the win against Rake.
What can I say? Dude can eat a *ton* of pie.
And before you ask, no, I won’t be writing up the Bast vs. Zaphod fight anyway. I was surprised at someone’s post on Wednesday’s blog when they said something along the lines of, “After he mentioned something like this, how can Pat not write the scene?”
The answer is this: “Quite easily.”
You see, *not* writing things is really, really easy. Believe it or not, there are an infinite number of stories that I don’t write every day. Adding one more to that list won’t appreciably increase the not-burden of that not-writing.
What I did find oddly galling were some of the comments along the lines of, “Bast could never win against X. X has a power level of 9000!!1!”
This bothered me for two reasons:
First, you have to realize that any time something like this is an open vote, it’s ultimately a popularity contest.
Here’s a mnemonic to help you remember: “When the internet votes on who will die, it comes down to Vox Populi.”
But vastly more irritating to me is the odd opinion that strength/power is the key factor when two people come into conflict.
The truth is, I find that sentiment more than irritating, I find it troubling. It means a lot of you haven’t been paying attention to the books I know you must have read.
If power is the only important thing, then Frodo loses against Sauron. Hell, if power’s the only important thing then Gandalf loses against Sauron. If magic is the deciding factor of a fight, then four plucky kids from England get their asses turned to stone by the White Which.
So yeah, Rake can turn into a dragon, but the point of fairy tales is that they teach us that dragons can be beaten.
I see too much fatalism these days, folks. The truth is that the world is full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks. But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.
Man. I don’t know if this is going to make any sense to anyone. I meant this to be a lighthearted blog. A quick lead-in to the story below.
But the truth is, folks, tonight wasn’t a good night for me. It was one of those nights where I wake up and can’t go back to sleep because I’m worried about things. I worry about so many things. The environment. The concealed carry law. Kids not having food to eat. Parents who have to work so much that they don’t have time to be good parents. The fact that people vote based on television ads. The fact that some guys out there want to kiss other guys, and some girls want to kiss girls, and other people really have a huge fucking problem with this, to the point where people get killed over it.
There’s just so much shit that is really wrong in the world. And it’s so big.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s big. What are you going to do? You can lie in bed, staring at the dark. Or you can get up and do something. Even if that something is as small as writing a blog that might make people smile.
Or, in this particular case, you write a blog that ends up as a great rambly mess that makes you look like a homeless guy preaching on a street corner. I should probably just erase this and start over. But fuck it. If I can’t write what I want in my own blog, then what’s the point of writing anything at all?
Okay. Back onto topic.
Simply said, I’m not going to write up the Bast vs. Zaphod fight. But when I wrote Wednesday’s blog, I dug out the scene I wrote for the Kvothe vs. Aslan match. What’s more, I was surprised at how well it held up. I wrote it two years ago sitting in a hotel lobby when I woke up in the middle of the night and, coincidentally enough, couldn’t get back to sleep.
I’m pretty sure it’s okay for me to post this up. While I am using a character that is Lewis’ intellectual property, I think it falls under fair use, as I’m not making any money off it.
Anyway folks, for those of you who wanted to see it, here it is:
* * *
There wasn’t any snow on the ground, but the early morning air was chill as the cloaked and hooded figure moved through the forest, brushing aside the fir branches as he went. Eventually the trees thinned and the figure stepped from the pale blue of early morning into a warmer, richer, light.
The cloaked figure smiled fondly and ran one hand over the iron lamppost. Then sighed and walked past it, moving deeper into the forest. After the better part of an hour he found a clearing where a small stream cut through the thick grass, making a gentle sound as it rolled over the stones.
Still wearing his hood, the figure looked around for a long moment. Then he spoke: “Aslan,” he said, and though he did not speak loudly, his voice was strangely resonant, striking the air like a bell. “Aslan.” He looked around, drew a breath, and squared his shoulders. “Asl–.”
“You cannot bid me come,” came a deep, sweet voice from the edge of the clearing. It was like distant thunder laced with honey. “Neither can you bid me go.”
“Of course not,” the cloaked man said. “You’re not a tame lion.”
There was a low, throbbing sound that almost sounded like a purr, and a lion padded softly out of the trees, his huge feet making no noise in the grass. The sun came out from behind a cloud, warming the air, and when it struck the huge animal he shone as if made from molten gold.
“Nice entrance,” Kvothe said pushing back his hood. His hair caught the sun as well, shining like copper and fire. He looked younger than his voice sounded, a boy just on the verge of becoming a man.
“I will admit,” Aslan said. “I did not expect you to come here.”
Kvothe unclasped his cloak and lay it carefully on a nearby tree and looked back up at the lion. His clothes were threadbare, only a half step away from being truly ragged. “I thought we should talk.”
“We are to fight,” Aslan said. “It strikes me as odd that you should come here and give me the advantage of the home ground. It seems your best hope would be hold your ground, force me to come to you, so you might catch me with some trick or trap.”
Kvothe smiled. “That reminds me of a joke,” he said. “How do you catch a unique lion?”
The lion cocked his head.
“You neek up on it,” Kvothe said with a straight face.
Aslan’s tail stopped its restless motion. He turned his head slightly to look behind himself.
Kvothe continued, “How do you catch a tame lion?”
The lion turned back to look at him, but said nothing.
Kvothe gave a slightly embarrassed smile. “Tame way.”
There was a moment of silence, and then the clearing was filled with a low thrumming noise that could conceivably be the sound of a lion chuckling.
“It’s been a long time since anyone told me a joke,” Aslan said, then shook out his great golden mane. “But we still have to fight.”
“We do,” Kvothe agreed. “Though it might be more accurate to say that we are forced to come into conflict.”
“And you know you cannot win, especially here,” Aslan continued. “The only question is how much you might hurt me before the end.”
Kvothe shook his head seriously. “No, the real question is how much will winning cost?” The young man smiled a small, sad smile. “Believe me, this is something I have some personal experience with.”
“I… I don’t know if I follow you,” the lion said.
“If we fight, you’ll kill me,” Kvothe said matter-of-factly. “You’ll win, but there will be a cost.”
“You would bring your death curse upon me?” Aslan said.
“That’s Harry Dresden,” Kvothe said, obviously irritated. “Come on now. Except for point of view and a respect for thermodynamics we really don’t have much in common.”
“Oh,” Aslan cleared his throat. “Right. Sorry.”
“There’s nothing I could do to you if I lost,” Kvothe said. “And honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to. I’m not really one of those ‘from hell’s heart I stab at thee’ types.’”
“Actually,” Aslan said, “From what I’ve heard, you’ve…”
“Don’t believe everything you hear,” Kvothe interrupted, his eyes narrowing. “My point is this: if you kill me, there will never be a second book.”
Aslan was silent for a moment. “So you’re threatening me with reprisal from your fans?”
Kvothe shook his head again. “You’re missing my whole point. I’m not threatening you at all. I’m just saying that if you kill me now, people will never get the chance to read the rest of my story.”
Aslan looked thoughtful. “And the result is…”
“Despair,” Kvothe said. “Terrible despair in the hearts and minds of thousands.” He gave the lion a frank look. “You’ve always struck me as the sort of person…”
“Sorry… You’ve always struck me as the sort of lion that was trying to make people happy in the long run. Not the sort that would actively cause despair.”
Aslan lifted one huge paw from the ground and then pressed it down again. He cleared his throat. “Tricky.”
Kvothe nodded. “Your books are all finished. You’re immortal in ways more important than the obvious. I’m not quite there yet.” He sighed. “That’s why I figured we should talk.”
After a long moment, the lion looked up. “So what’s the other option?” his voice was low and uncertain.
“Forfeit,” Kvothe said. “Just walk away.”
“*You* could forfeit,” Aslan pointed out.
Kvothe shook his head. “It’s not in my nature to give up or walk away. I’m psychologically unable to back down from something like this. Hell, I’m a short step from feral.” He ran his hands over his ragged clothes, half embarrassed.
Then he made a sweeping gesture to the huge lion. “You, on the other hand, are a noble creature. You have a precedent for martyrdom. It’s consistent with your character. You better than anyone know that sometimes the only way to win is to concede.”
Another pause, then Aslan spoke. “You’ve thought about this a lot, haven’t you?”
Kvothe smiled again, and for a moment his face was almost boyish. “It’s all stories,” he said. “That’s what I do.”
Aslan looked up and swished his tail. He drew an impossibly long, deep breath. “Fine. Fair enough. I concede.”
Kvothe sagged with relief. “Thank God.”
“You’re welcome,” the lion said as he turned his massive head and began to walk from the clearing.
“Um…” Kvothe said. And for the first time since he came into the clearing he looked unsure of himself. “Before you go…. I was wondering…. Could I?”
Aslan gave a great gusty sigh that was more amused than exasperated. “Very well.”
Kvothe stepped closer to the lion, moving hesitantly. Then he raised his hands slowly and sank them deep in the thick golden mane. He leaned forward and gave the huge lion a hug, burying his face in the lion’s fur.
After the space of a deep breath, Kvothe pulled his face away, but left his hands where they were. “I’ve wanted to do that forever,” he said softly, his voice a little choked. “My mom used to tell me your stories.”
“I would lick your face,” Aslan said gently. “But it looks like it’s been a while since you’ve washed it.”
Kvothe laughed and stepped back from the lion.
“When is the second book coming out, by the way?” Aslan asked. “I’ve been waiting frikking forever.”
“Soon,” Kvothe said.
“What does that mean?” Aslan said. “In a couple months? Sometime this year?”
“I call all times ‘soon’” Kvothe said.
Another deep, thundering chuckle. “I suppose I deserve that,” Aslan said, and turned to pad silently out of the clearing, where he was quickly lost to mortal sight.
* * *
That’s all for now, folks. Be good to each other.
P.S. I’m going to be on WPR this morning with Veronica Rueckert from 10-11. I‘ll be chatting with her and Laura Miller about heroines in literature.
I think I’m going to need some serious coffee before I sit down to that….