It has been quite a while since I last wrote of anything Temerant but as the year turns to face the future once more I find myself approaching my own anniversary with a little more purpose again. Two years ago today, when I began putting these notes down, I could only dream of what might come out the other end, but now I have built some form and structure to work around and with much of the groundwork out of the way, things don’t seem quite as daunting now and I might even dare to dream of seeing the finishing post before 2022.
This post has a quite simple ‘join the dots’ technique which can be easily followed by anyone who owns a copy ot WMF and is as fascinated by the intricacy and depth of Pat’s knotwork as I am. I gathered all the pieces in the correct way (as will often occur during a good long solid re-read) and have now arranged them into a more complementary shape with which to bind them together more easily into a kind of story knot. This is probably going to finish life as a stand alone piece that asks further questions of the reader. I chose it for my reintroduction because it is a nice way to ‘prime the pump’ as it were, before I slowly immerse myself back into my writing mode and it should help me re-acquaint myself with all the dusty corners of my sleeping mind before I set out to tackle Lanre again.
The Lock ~ Sleeping Bear
Sleeping bear is the name given to the twelfth movement of the sword tree’s Ketan and it appears to be the go-to move to incapacitate an opponent when it comes to Pat’s fighting scenes. Seven times we encounter it and from these seven angles we can piece together enough to write a small paper about it, perhaps a single page in a book about many things… The shape of the first six pieces can be placed into three parallel bindings which will form a nice strong triangle to use as a solid framework to build comfortably upon and so point towards the lucky seventh clue and a new puzzle to solve which will be revealed at the end.
Our first actual mention of Sleeping Bear comes from a remote angle as Kvothe watches two young Adem boys sparring together.
‘It finally ended when one boy caught the other’s wrist and shoulder in SB. It was only when I saw the boy twist his opponents arm and force him to the ground that I recognised it as the grip Tempi had used in the bar fight in Crosson.’
so following this signpost we can turn back the pages for a second view of SB in action.
‘There was a flurry of movement and Tempi was left gripping the man’s wrist and shoulder. The bald man snarled and struggled. But Tempi simply twisted the man’s arm until he was bent over, staring at the floor. Then Tempi kicked the mans legs out from under him sending him tumbling to the ground.’
This pair of descriptions shows us the general overview from two remote angles but for a more technical assessment we need to try it for ourselves and so witness SB from a Kvothe perspective. Enter Celean.
‘My left hand missed but the long strong fingers of my right hand wrapped all the way around her slender wrist. I didn’t have her in the proper submission but now it was a game of strength, and I couldn’t help but win. I already had her wrist, all that remained was to grip her shoulder and I’d have her in SB before–‘
This third example gives us our first indication of which hands are used for which move. It should be noted that the Ketan is a set of classical moves passed down from teacher to pupil across the long ages of the Latantha. It does not change to suit the body, the body moves to accommodate it. Height, for example, is taken into consideration during the training and is not used as an excuse for poor perfomance. Therefore it will be true to say that the Ketan does not care if someone is left-handed or not. In this dance it is the strong right hand which will always grip the wrist meaning that all Adem fighters are right handed. Tempi tells us that the strong right hand is always the dominant hand in Adem culture as they use their clever left hands for speaking.
As Kvothe’s teacher, it is only correct that Vashet gives us our next lesson. In this instance we discover what it is like to have SB used against you as recounted when Vashet places Kvothe under her complete control by using it upon him.
‘Vashet frowned, then reached out casually to grip my wrist and shoulder, twisting me into SB. Her right hand held my wrist over my head stretching my arm at an awkward angle, while her left pressed firmly against my shoulder.’
Having already ascertained from Celean’s input that it is the right wrist that is grabbed Vashet now reveals that it is also the Right hand which does the gripping. This is important as it is the best image we get of how SB exerts full control over your opponent. It has the potential to do great damage to the body and the control it gives the user is absolute. SB is all about control as is emphasised in the line…
‘Right now you are mine to do with as I wish. I can move you or break you, or let you free.’
Lesson learnt, Vashet releases Kvothe but later, at his stone trial, Tempi warns Kvothe that Carceret is planning revenge and that she would not be so merciful if she catches him in SB saying that he heard her say that she will pull his arm from his shoulder given half the chance. Sure enough this movement appears to be exactly what is about to happen to our hero when Carceret does indeed catch his wrist with her hand tight as a band of iron and so we can deduce without it being specifically stated that in making SB in this ancient Ketan it will always be an action of strong right hand on strong right hand leaving us the users clever left hand to be the one that will hold and control the shoulder.
Our penultimate mention of SB comes from two fingers, or Naden as he is properly called. He lost half of his right hand to a sword stroke and whilst he can still speak using his left he can no longer wear the red.
‘Holding a sword is not enough. A proper mercenary requires two hands. I could never make lover out the window or SB with only one….’
This small mention should be obvious to anyone studying the move in closer detail and is a fine example of exactly how all of the individual observations can be gradually woven together into a nice secure knot of top grade tinfoil. This is how the game works, and it is a game between DM Pat and his readers. He didn’t write these lines randomly, he deliberately placed them there ‘just so’ for us to find and elaborate upon until we reach the correct conclusion. He has even highlighted its importance for us with one of his signature endings,that of a four dot ellipsis…. which, if you keep your eyes open for them (amongst other things), you will soon discover that they can be recognised as a big Pat signpost to keep pointing you in the right direction. Keep your eyes open for them and they will start to give you a good feel for further things which are usually important.
The direction that this particular cryptic indication points is towards the future, far away from Kvothe and the Adem as our new bread-crumb trail crosses the boundary of miles and years over to connect us with the interludes that feature Kote, Landlord at the Waystone Inn. In these pages the ‘narrator’ takes over the chronicling of the scene and (for reasons as yet unknown) the name used for the barman during this interlude is Kvothe the innkeeper, not Kote. That is a further mystery to explore another day but for now we are here to analyse the scene where he is seen to be fighting with the two soldiers, late on the second day…
‘Then Kvothe stepped close, caught the bearded man’s shoulder, gripped his wrist, and twisted the outstretched arm at an awkward angle. The big man was forced to bend over grimacing in pain. Then he jerked his arm out of the inkeepers grip. Kote had half a moment to look startled before the soldiers elbow caught him in the temple.’
The Key ~ Break Lion
Break lion is a movement of the Ketan used to disengage yourself from your opponent. Celean had invented her own twist to this ancient move with a variation which incorporates both hands. This means that the classic Break Lion which Carceret and all the other mercenaries know is only a one handed movement. Sheyehn once used break lion to dismiss ‘thunder upwards’ but the two-hand technique is a secret thing known only to small girls and red haired musicians. Since it is most effective in freeing a pinned right wrist by a strong right hand we can assume that Break Lion (standard) is therefore a single clever Left hand move used to free your pinned strong Right hand. Break Lion (Cub version) likely uses both clever left and strong right working together in concert to obtain some extra leverage to achieve its aim.
Back at the Waystone Inn, Kote clearly made Sleeping Bear on the soldier and so regardless of whom he might be holding in submission, they were his to move, to break or to let go as he chose. Once you find yourself in this position resistance is futile as you have already missed your only chance at using either version of break lion and the result is now a foregone conclusion. Yet the soldier, who obviously knows nothing about any Ketan, somehow manages to force his way loose! So either Kote deliberately let him free, (which he didn’t) or there is something else going on here which we are not being told the full story of…. Something which may be broadly hinted at in many interlude lines but never explained.
The Ketan is like a dance which is practised and repeated faithfully, over and over again, in order to train the body to follow the steps more naturally. (Think of mister Miyagi and his wax-on wax-off method of teaching.) Once learnt it becomes almost reflex in it’s execution and requires almost no thought, Right hand wrist, Left hand shoulder. But this is not quite what Kote actually does. He clearly caught the shoulder first and the wrist grip came second. What’s more we are told that it was the grip which was broken which means that, as far as we can deduce, it was Kote’s apparently strong right hand which simply wasn’t strong enough to do the job required of it. Kote does, however, possess strength of arm in abundance as is evident in the vice-like grip that he had earlier employed upon Bast, a grip which was strong enough to leave behind a bruising mark.
‘Kvothe’s long fingered hand caught Bast’s wrist. Unaware or uncaring, Bast leapt toward Chronicler only to be bought up short, as if Kvothes hand were a shackle. Bast struggled furiously to free himself, but Kvothe stood behind the bar, arm outstretched, motionless as steel or stone.’
‘He’s stronger than he looks’ Bast confides to Chronicler afterwards but when we put all the clues together it is plain that to see that he could not have done this damage using his weak right hand. This can only mean that, as a person, Kote actually has a strong LEFT hand, and one that is incredibly so it would appear in order to restrain one of the fae so calmly, meaning that it was this hand which he used to constrain Bast with a grip of iron. This line of thinking might also explain how Kote defeated the scrael, he just had to remember which of his hands to hold his iron bar with.
When it comes to using other Adem moves, Kote also failed when he attempted to use Celean’s two handed version of Break Lion to free himself from the soldiers wrist grip.
‘Kvothe struggled to free his wrist. Dazed, he made a quick motion with both hands, then repeated it, trying to pull away. His eyes half-focussed and dull with confusion, he looked down at his wrist and made the motion again, but his hands merely scrabbled uselessly at the soldiers scarred fist.’
Now, it is inconceivable that the barbarian soldier has a more powerful Ketan of his own which somehow supercedes that of an Adem trained warrior. Moreso, it is equally unlikely that Kote accidentally got his hands mixed up and performed this move cack-handedly. It would therefore seem more logical (however unlikely) that Kote is making the correct moves with the correct hands but crucially he is now making them with (what we must consider to be) the opposite strength of hand that he learnt with from his training, almost as if he is now fighting as a South-Paw. The overall situation suggests that his once strong right-hand has somehow been ‘transformed’ into his naturally clever side, and that his once clever left hand is likewise trying to perform as his stronger arm should.
What I am now proposing here is this: When Kvothe changed his own name into Kote, some kind of ‘accident’ occurred during the translation process and instead of what came out the other end being a replica of Kvothe, exact in every detail, and with a perfect new name to boot, he has instead become a mere reflection of himself… and everything looks backwards in a mirror.
The implications that this change would have on his musical performance goes without saying….
So, the question we have arrived at is now this:
‘Are we reading about a left-handed barman with a clever right hand or a right-handed musician with a clever left hand? Or are we looking at both together?
Wishing you all a Brighter 2021. Don’t Let the Light go Out.