Puzzler's Space - Lesson 2 Concluded

Puzzler's Space - Lesson 2 Concluded
That night, Liu Kui was given the task of lighting the sighting-lamp on the top of the wooden cottage. This was the custom of those who had seen Desolation with their own eyes - for if no sighting-lamp were lit afterward, Desolation would return and create an infestation in that which had seen it.

A ladder was dropped against the side of the wall, clattering: A rickety thing creaking in the night wind. Liu Kui set one foot before the other upon its rungs and slowly reached the rooftop.

A bird flew down from a faraway cloud and pecked at Liu Kui's hands.

Now, Liu Kui had brought up a torch to light the sighting-lamp, and so desperately held on, intent on avoiding unnecessary arson. With a tightly-gripping hand, knuckles white as the flame it held, Liu Kui crawled forward despite the pecking bird and touched the fire to the wick of the sighting-lamp.

With a soft puff, the oils ignited and began to smoke. Sighing in relief, Liu Kui retreated from the roof and descended the ladder. The bird's talons were sinking into the meat of Liu Kui's hand.

Throughout all of this, Liu Kui did not cry out in pain.

But then the bird flew away, and Liu Kui fell off the ladder, screaming in frustration.

Puzzle 4: Many have sought to quantify authority by measure of those that it commands. For instance, judging the authority of a ruler by the number of subjects, or creating an ordering of logic describing its applicability. After the Indefinite Authority incident which ended the two-month reign of Mikthiparak Yivi-Sharsa, it was apparent that doing so was unquestionably incorrect. Name two of the corrections which were implemented in the following decade and the necessity of their creation.

"Tell me - the night sky, is it not too bright?" Thus spoke Ban Songqi, who was sitting outside the cottage. "Each of the stars which is torn into its thick covering is allotted its reign there, given power and will. Still in their dominion they are isolated like rulers of the overseas cities, surrounded by great unfriendly waters, where meeting, they shall consume each other without goodwill. Invariably there are too many; a great number will be destroyed."

A silence sat momentarily.

Liu Kui, nursing the wounds on that bitten hand, continued: "Then the stars are as lions. They sleep in the cosmos, nestling at the centers of their claimed territory, and in meeting another will circle about until one is consumed."

Ban Songqi responded: "And what is the life-span of a lion? It is measured by the coming and going of the seas, of the clouds and the sun. The seas of the stars, do they come and go? The clouds of the firmament, where do they travel from, from which waters do they arise? Where is the sun of stars? What manner of light does it cast the lighters? Indeed, what is the life-span of the stars, if they are like lions?"

"The life-span of the living is not determined when they are born, for it is often interrupted by both nature and nature through life. That is - the nature of the Earth and the Skies. Have you seen the stars interfere in the realm of the land?"

Ban Songqi knew that this question was best left unanswered.

The night began to grow cold - many questions were left to linger outside, where they drifted away on the smoke of the sighting-lamp.

Puzzle 5: The rocks of the earth cannot witness that they are not alive; They cannot get up and say "I am not living, for I am a mere rock! I am dead, and not alive." No-one knows if any might say to the lives of the ocean and the exhale of the earthly shell, which houses the deep-fire of the ground, that we live as they do. Is there any method to do so? What would be the consequences if it were to exist?
Puzzle 4:
The authority of the ruler cannot be measured by the number of which they command, nor the ordering of logic of applicability they created for those are useless and can render a ruler weak if they were to betray and be disloyal to their ruler. What makes a ruler authoritative is how loyal their subjects are and how supportive and unquestioning they are to their reign. But loyal subjects mean nothing when the subjects themselves are unwell. The authority and strength of a ruler is also determined by how well their subjects are in body and mind. A subject is useless if they were physically unwell to follow orders, nor will they be useful when their minds are diseased with jealousy, doubt, and unhappiness for their fellows and ruler.

Puzzle 5:
To know which is living and which is not, we must first know what makes something living. The rocks and corpses that litter our sorroundings are not living not because they no longer possessed the essense of life but rather because they do not possess what makes things living. A living entity does not necessarily breathe, move, or think, but rather changes accordingly. But comes conflict for many things in the world comes in many degrees of living and non-living. To some, the oceans that seemed to breathe and swell and the earth that seemed to quiver and vomit are non-living while to others, it might as well have been. What makes a living being is what it needs for it to change. A rock is not living for it does not simply change when everything around it is changing. A fowl is living for the it eats, the water it drinks, and the air it breathes changes it one way or another. A corpse is not living for its state of degradation does not easily change to something else when everything else changes. A plant is living for the earth it's planted it and the sun that shines upon it makes it change and grow.

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Puzzle 4: The Ruler's Revision: The authority of a ruler is not determined by its length, but by its accuracy.
This is actually two separate statements, which is more obvious in the original language, but by a coincidence, the translations of both use the exact same words.
The first Ruler's Revision refers to measuring devices. A longer ruler is of limited use if a shorter one is more accurate.
The second Ruler's Revision refers to regimes. A regime's authority is not determined by how long it lasted, but by how well its laws and proclamations matched the needs of its people. A regime that cannot provide what its people actually need is failing to use its authority, and so even if it survives, it is in a diminished capacity.
The necessity of both revisions was demonstrated by the fall of Tu Long, when the people stormed the gates while the Emperor was fixated on making a one-mile stick with no markings on it.

Puzzle 5: The only method of knowing is to become a rock oneself. However, in doing so you lose the ability to share your knowledge with others. As such, only teachers who have finished their service have ever pursued this path, choosing it as the conclusion to a lifetime of learning.
Puzzle 4: To understand the short-lived reign Mikthiparak Yivi-Sharsa, one must remember the thousand-year reign of Huankipo Virisa-Miradan. Mikthiparak Yivi-Sharsa was trying to repeat the rule of Huankipo Virisa-Miradan by incorporating laws, rules, and units of measure from the latter's reign. This had the dual effect of disturbing the spirit of Huankipo Virisa-Miradan and agitating the kingdom's subjects. Two of the Seventy-Two Corrections of The Ruler's Revision are as follows:

#23 - A ruler, regent, or leader should not seek to so closely emulate a previous ruler, regent, or leader that they forget to show respect to the time and peoples in which that those previous laws, rules, regulations, and/or units of measure were enacted. For to do so disturbs the spirits.

#71 - A ruler, regent or leader should consider closely the needs of those they seek to reign over or control within the times they currently live with an eye towards living in future times. For focusing too much on meeting the needs of the past or the future disturbs the peasants in the present.

Puzzle 5: Yes, methods to converse with the Ocean or Earthly shell do exist but their consequences are too severe for wanton use. The least dangerous consequence to a method of conversing is, in fact, to become a rock oneself and thus lose their life. The most dangerous consequence to a method of conversing is that a star in the night's sky shall fall from the heavens and interact with nature of the Earth and the Skies.
The following morning, a cloying fog appeared from the earth and suffused the lower air.

Liu Kui and Ban Songqi were a ways into a lakeside stroll when this occurred - it seemed that the lake had reached up from its trough and was emptying itself out across the earth. The nearby grove took on an eerie grey hue as if covered in dust.

"Ban," noted Liu Kui, "Before us is the dominion of the stones."

But they proceeded forward all the same.

The shadowed twigs and saplings began to encircle them from all sides as the path went on. The already-occluded sun faded among the brambles into a dripping slop.

At this point they happened upon a straggler hiding from the elements in a large, burlap sack.

"Don't you see how dangerous it is!" Exclaimed the straggler. "The sky has frowned upon life itself!"

Ban Songqi looked upward - but the clouds were hidden behind the branches of the surrounding trees.

Puzzle 6: I was a boulder rolling down the mountains, crushing villages which obstructed me. They spoke of this: "To cage it is to wither. To describe it is to invite destruction." When I was brought to court, they would not charge me. Yet this was correct - how could it be so?

Then from the thicket arrived a stone-faced lion with a body of granite. Its eyes blazed, for they were coals in its face, and its mane burned with a ferocious roar.

The straggler jumped back in surprise, though the motion was rather a half-trip, half-roll into the side of the brush. "My punishment! You are here, and I will surely be destroyed!"

Ban Songqi stepped forth to console the straggler, but indeed - it was too late. The clumsy fumbling had brought the miscreant away and outwards into the shadows and mists. With a hiss, the sack also was given to emptiness, and was known no more.

The stone-spirit that took on the shape of a lion stood menacingly over the former crouching place.

Liu Kui pointed at the stone-spirit. "That is the fabled - "

The hedge was whole and ordinary. A plum and apricot fell from the trees of the grove and nearly struck the two upon the head.

Puzzle 7: Describe how a pan must be heated properly to, in following, shear the wind, house seven myriad frogs, and produce an excellent dish.
Puzzle 6: They were too busy evacuating the courthouse before it was crushed by the boulder.

Puzzle 7: Do not heat the pan at all. Shear the wind with it, and the frogs will come out of hiding, happily staying in the pan. Do not disturb them, and in one week's time they will reward you with a meal far greater than any human could ever produce.
Puzzle 6: They could not charge the boulder. for it was not the boulders fault. A stone does not usually roll on its own, especially not one so large to crush villages. Either someone or some God had pushed the boulder to start it on its path. The court did not know who originally moved the boulder, so no decision could be made. Since no decision could be made, the boulder could neither be contained to wither nor set free to destroy. In short, "If to contain it is to wither and to describe it is to invite destruction, simply pick it up so that it may do neither."

Puzzle 7: It was found that a pan needs not be heated to shear the wind nor to house the seven myriad frogs, this is true, but one may do so. Heat the the pan until it is glowing then strike the wind in a downward slice. This works especially well on a northern or winter wind and less so on a southern or summer wind. Doing this several times will cause the wind do shift for, as the saying goes, "The fickle winds tarry not for the heat of a cook." The pan will quickly cool and the seven myriad frogs, grateful to be free of the harassing wind, shall make home upon the utensil that vanquished their tormentor. Finally, to make an excellent dish, one must first add some water (or cooking oils) to the pan for the frogs to adjust their temperatures with. Then one should slowly, over the course of an hour at least, increase the temperature of the pan. As you are doing so, provide the frogs with various gifts of vegetables (grated burdock, carrots, and whatever seasonal vegetable or seasonings are available). The frogs, vain creatures that they are, will appreciate the gifts and stay a while longer and enjoy the onsen bath that you providing. They will enjoy this so much that they shall award you the most coveted possession of the seven myriad frogs, the Plate of Friendship and Warm Baths. The finest of dishware in the multitudes. More pure than porcelain. Studier than ceramic clay. And colored with the seven colors of friendship. Or, if one desires a meal, simply increase the heat a tad further and make Seven Myriad Frog Stew, a palatable and extravagant dish.
Puzzle 6:
They could not charge the boulder, for it's an inanimate object, lacking volition. The boulder is like a knife used to kill a man; we do not blame the knife but the one holding it because a knife, like the boulder, is inanimate and lacks volition. When they said "to cage it is to wither," they meant that it would be set to earth, immovable, and consumed space that would otherwise be useful. When they said, "to describe it is to invite disaster," they meant that it was so terrifying that merely warning everyone of it caused panic and mayhem.

Puzzle 7:
Set a pan above a fire outside where the wind can reach it. The pan and its set with block the wind and shear it, and the wind will keep your flames from choking. The flames will heat the pan until it is ready to house the seven myriad frogs. The pan is to be oiled, and the frogs be set on it. The frogs will leap and fall out, so put a roof to cover the pan. Put some vegetables and spices with the frogs so they wouldn't be lonely within. Wait until the frogs had turned brown and gone to sleep. Stir it well, and serve on a plate and you'll get yourself your dish.
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Several uneventful days had passed since their last journey to the less typical and more interesting.

Like congealing porridge, time had begun to accumulate into a semi-solid slop, its nutrients diffusing uselessly into inseparable detritus and miscellany.

And then, suddenly, like the worms which grow in the neglected harvest, the unsustainable burden of time had begun to fester, and fell through.

That day, a person was sitting on the ground before the cottage, tearing at coarse clothes and bawling with great force.

"I wish for death! There is nothing in this world!" proclaimed this figure.

Liu Kui was woken up by this ruckus, and opened the door to go outside.

But the person was at a short distance from the door, and when it opened, it struck at the head and caused it to bleed.

The figure fell, knees against the ground, and cried out once more. "See! There truly is only pain in the world."

Puzzle 8: There may be pain in the world. Recently, pain was also discovered outside of the world. Despite the controversy surrounding these discoveries, scholars agree that the upcoming investigations into the nature of pain may unite domains of thought previously thought to be separate. Propose some possible unifications and their hypothetical avenues.

Then, without a word, Liu Kui dragged the person into the cottage, and draped about that hunched figure a spare cloak from the wall.

Ban Songqi at this time was roused from slumber by the intrusion. "Where did this rabble come from?"

Liu Kui replied, "From the street."

But Ban Songqi had seen through this immediately. "No - rather, they instead hail from the scholars of the faraway rivers."

"Though they purport to teach the way of the heavens, they are instead moved by the heavens. And when they shall say that they will alter the course of the waters, while entering their feet to the rapid streams, they will be ripped into the current."

"All the while they scream at these proceedings, and afterward they will be self-assured. They will claim the teachings of nature like a thief in the gallery."

Then Ban Songqi stood from the bed, still wrapped in the bedding, and took an empty flask to Liu Kui.

"Fill this with water."

So Liu Kui wordlessly did.

Then Ban Songqi drank half the water, and returned to bed.

Seeing this, Liu Kui immediately rose, incensed at this apparently callous attitude, and stumbled forward, but tripped on the cloak of the stranger and became tangled in the cloth and unable to see.

The stranger, having secretly kept one eye open throughout all these events, grabbed the flask, and drank the remainder in one gulp.

Puzzle 9: Identify the truth, the flaw, and the hazard in the following: (Sample from the texts of the faraway river school, dated approx. 291 years prior) - Quick is the lightning when it strikes - what invites it but our regrets? Thus, have no regrets. Then when the lightning shall strike regardless, know that it is not by your cause, nor another's.
Truly, these are insightful questions, and this humble student knows not the answer to either.

All the same my fellow pupils, know you this -- just as the stranger was struck by the door and Liu Kui became entangled in their cloak, so may the flesh of the man who expects lightning to strike his head and that of the man who rightly stands unafraid be equally seared by the bolt of the heavens.
Puzzle 8: It may be that the world is itself outside of the world, and the pain discovered outside of the world is also in the world at the same time.
This would suggest that something can leave the world while staying within it, which would have consequences for every field of study.
If a human were to enter such a state, it might qualify as enlightenment. Perhaps Ban Songqi returned to bed in pursuit of it.

Puzzle 9: The truth, the flaw, and the hazard are all the same thing: the lightning strikes not by your cause, nor by another's cause, but rather by many others' causes. To fixate on whether one individual's action is the source of your distress leads you to overlook the ways that society as a whole is at fault.
Puzzle 8: Pain is a phenomenon that exists both within and without the world, but is fundamentally different when outside the confines of the material. Pain in the material is a response to a stimuli that indicates some change (good or ill) taking place against a living thing (and some inanimate things that have been shown to respond to threats of pain, both physical and mental, see: the Tale of the Skittish Kettle of the Great Crane King from Gao-xi Yuan's Greater and Lesser Known Artefacts of Interest). Pain in the immaterial, specifically pain within the Spirit and Divine realms is found to be the basis from which all other emotions are built. The Divine feel pain, but not physically, from any number of causes and thus seek to abolish pain from their realm by shunting it into the Material. In doing so, they also give us sorrow, love, and other emotions. also Conversely, pain in the Spirit is mostly physical but is celebrated as it reminds the dead of when they were alive and of their families, so the Spirit realm shares its pain with the Material and, in doing so, unleashes hatred, suffering, and a multitude of yokai, spirits, and monsters into the world. It can be surmised, based on these findings, that since the primordial realms of the Divine and Spirit (first and third realms to enter existence according to the findings of Ban Xiaoxi) are primarily comprised of pain then the universe is naught but different shades of pain. Pain is the universe and it is through pain that we experience the worlds around us and know both the love and enmity of the Realms Beyond. If true, this provides a path for a mortal to ascend to the Divine if they experience enough emotional pain themselves or for a mortal's soul to return to the Material from the Spirit if they've caused enough physical pain to others within their lifetime. Thus it is possible to explain both phenomenon that could previously only been explained by attributing it to the Divine or the 32 Creational Laws that first formed the 9 Great Realms (which then, themselves, formed the Lesser Realms).

Puzzle 9: There is only one Lesser truth present: Quick is the lightning when it strikes. There is one Greater truth to be taken from the saying and that is: People will seek to blame others for things that are outside of their control, mostly to make themselves feel better about their misfortunes and pain. The major flaws are: having no regrets, for a life without regret is a life not lived; and lightning shall strike regardless, because lightning has a set of conditions that need to be met before it strikes and can be diverted from its course so it may not strike where it originally intended. The truly hazardous part is its entirety, since it is one of the Forbidden Teachings of the Antipathetic Sage of Fouled Time, whose name was lost to the rotted annals of time. It spreads antipathy and apathy to the untrained who read it or hear it spoken.
Answers to Lesson 2 Puzzles

Puzzle 1:

Many responses considered various tongue-less languages to be suitable methods of addressing the Hunger of Many Tongues. Indeed, the beast of the name, hearing sound, will seek out the speaker's tongue to devour. Those less knowledgeable, however, will conflate its hunger with an unknowing, mindless desire for merely the fleshly tongue.

Still, it is acceptable to take only this first precaution, as keeping silent will not expose your tongue in total - but it should be known that neither language nor tongue should be shown freely to the Hunger of Many Tongues, lest it be devoured and given to destruction.

Puzzle 2:
The answers were presented by the students.

Judge 1: See! These answers are unformed. Where shall the student and teacher talk? When shall they exchange? The level of interaction is not to be permitted.

Judge 2: See! Instead, the street-creature has been misinterpreted. As they have suggested that the confusion should exert itself outward from the question, they have subjected themselves to the same confusion. And now in exposure, we have been poisoned by it also.

Judge 3: See! And the answer was ceased in its formation, and so correctly became unformed. For its answer was not brought forth from its idea, but was given from its ending. From that was its being described. I do not see fault in their answers.

A street-creature appears.

Street-creature: See! And gaze upon it! Does your satisfaction in yourselves act to decide correctness?

Judge 2 was eaten.

Street-creature: Yes, now my confusion has evaporated as water-smoke. It is as it was.

The street-creature leaves.

Judge 1: It seems there will not be time for an answer.

Judge 3: Consider that! Now there is no longer the answer.

Puzzle 3:
Congratulations to the students who ably conducted and documented their attempts to coax forth dissatisfaction and want again from its fulfilled form.

The results were forwarded to the Bureau of Redirected Desire and the Overarching Confluence Culinary School, Third Branch for preliminary evaluation, and the findings were as follows:

Regarding the flame of desire: We also found that dissatisfaction was prone to ignite at the smallest perturbation. It provided an inconsistent source of harm against others, though it was eventually decided that to induce it in the enemy was more worthwhile for that end. Several of our students found it an economical method of heating their foods, but only after a moderate number were inexplicably hospitalized with severe burns. These burns were remarkably deeper than those received by our preliminary targets.

Regarding willful ignorance: Following the final step of one student's particularly thorough exploration, we attempted to reproduce the outcome. As a result, a large amount of our student body was incapacitated, which we deemed to be a successful outcome, regardless of the initial report. We have nominated the student for the Sunken Bar Award.

Your class has received the Sunken Bar Award!
Examine your classroom activities and outcomes for more information.

Puzzle 4:
Tales of the fall of Tu Long are often recounted as the cause of the The Ruler's Revision. As it follows, the Revision itself is almost entirely recounted in only the interpreted or modified form: That a ruler must be considerate of the subjects.

The original, of course, is: "A ruler must be considerate of the subjected." From this were derived the two corrections.

One must consider the temporal application - that a ruler in a given time is given its subjects in that time - the categorical application - that a ruler in a given domain is given its subjects in that domain - and finally, the political application - that a ruler in given power is given its subjects in that power.

The edict served to improve the quality of measuring devices of all sorts, and keep the rulership in greater check - at least until the reign of Lakikhatip Sipak the Before-First and Halved.

Puzzle 5:
Is it foolishness for our selves to descend to an unknowable place in search of that unknowable experience? The subject and definition of living itself, being embroiled in controversy for all centuries since its initial conception, is now considered as mostly consisting of diversions.

The few who explore the limits of living consider it a forbidden art, and therefore continue freely in their exploration. The cycles of the earth and the stars, the roaring of the seas and undulations of population are open to them.

Alas - it is also true that the knowledge is lost.

They continue freely - for it is only freedom which is then given to them - freedom and no more.

Puzzle 6:
The boulder was left alone, for it could not properly be assigned fault. Those who attempted to suggest it were discredited - those who attempted to do so were crushed.

The remainder, who knew not of the boulder, did not pass judgement, as the boulder was out of sight and influence. The incidents repeated for some time until the boulder had found a low-lying crevice within which to nestle.

Puzzle 7:

It is considered improper to serve the frogs themselves - such an event led to the Five Plagues Collapse which ended the ancient e-Bilam Conclave Wreathed in Eight Waters. More recent approaches have involved teaching the frogs pottery, among other technologies.

As for the consistent portion: Shearing is - appropriately - rather a simple motion of the pan itself, though the extra heating is an extraneous operation.

Puzzle 8:

The answers were received by the judges.

Judge 1: See! What admirable answers! This student knew that the question was not meant for them, and answered accordingly instead of stumbling first into the occult. To that extent, the other answers also commendable.

Judge 3: No, no. This was not meant for these students, yet it drifted into the lesson. Now you have exposed them to True Esoterica, and by reading their answers we have exposed ourselves to it as well.

Judge 1: But have not seen this brilliance? That the ascending realms as defined under the Northeastern Thought - the Nine and Ten of the Great Realm Cycle - are the emanation of a cycle of ever-purifying pain? Yes - consider it!

A stone-spirit strolls into the room.

Judge 3: Now you have done it.

Judge 1, oblivious: I do not know what I have done.

Judge 3, predictably, ceases to exist.

Judge 1 walks to the stone spirit, and sits upon its back.

Judge 1: See! I have known this truth! The ways are opened to me, and heaven has smiled on my fate.

Stone-spirit: Let us excise them of their pain. Let us concentrate it in this wretched realm.

Judge 1 exits.

Puzzle 9: 

lightig, strike on when it want, when i want. it hurt the silly and dont care who i hitt. silly say thig that lightig hurt on silly onli but i hhit any, the's who i hit. them then silli hit other sily which evem more silly. see!
The silence of the missing judges slowly diffuses over the room.

"So..." begins one student.

Several strained minutes pass by.

A branch outside snaps.

A student sitting in the back ranks tentatively stands up. "As.... as the judges seem to be occupied for now, we could consider moving on with the lesson plans ourselves. There was one portion of the Edict of the Fallen Wall, which allows students to assume responsibility for a lesson in the unlikely case that the judges are entirely unable to - so long as we agree on it first."

Several steps on the hardened floor - fair bit of walking - and a slide-crunch of a stone drawer.

"It looks like their lesson plans for our class are - missing? There's only the practical courses from previous years. Oh, this is risky. If we vote to continue ourselves, for now, we'll get to be responsible guides for a stranger by applying what we've learned directly. There's still the other option of waiting until Judges come back. What do you think?"
We should, perhaps, take the time to teach ourselves until such a time as a judge or guide returns. I see no harm in picking up when there is need. After all, one must attend to idle hands.