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On Diagrams

“Dominic! Open the door Dominic!”

Brother Rudyard pounded on the door of Brother Lapis’ apartment after hearing the characteristic scratch of chalk on the floorboards as it followed the arc of surveyor’s compass. 

“I know what you are doing, Dominic. Open up.”

The sound of chalk scraping against board didn’t so much as hesitate, he tried a different tactic, “Dominic! If you won’t stand down, at least answer me!” when that failed to get a response he slipped the dagger from his boot and slipped it along the edge of the door until it caught the bolt. 

“Builder’s Sake, Dominic! Do you have to do this when the students are around?” Rudyard surveyed the wreck of Brother Lapis’ sparse one room apartment, already covered with a tangle of string tacked from one wall wall to another, under which Brother Lapis crouched, laying out a diagram on the floor with his compass, the shadows of the string on his bare skin indistinguishable from the tattooed diagrams on his back. Lapis looked against the far wall as the door opened to observe the shadows, noting the skewed heptagram that was nearly complete. 

“I need more string.”

“You need to put your shirt on and get some sleep.”

“What do you think I’m trying to do?” Lapis barked back at him. “Here,” said Lapis, holding a string out to Rudyard. “Hold this end while I find the angle.”

Rudyard found himself holding a piece of string while Lapis snaked the other end through the room, then stayed watching while Lapis lit a candle to check his work. They watched the polygrams that projected onto the wall as Lapis moved a candle through different points in his array, Rudyard quietly jealous that he could not have created such a thing in his head. 

“How do you do that?”

“Arctangents and intersections.”

“You can do arctangents just by looking at them?”

“Yeah, sure. Easy. Can’t you?”

“Trigonometry was never my…… dammit Dominic, you will not distract me!” Rudyard said, pushing away the string. “Put on a shirt and go get some sleep, or I will put you to sleep until you’re done with this. I can’t have you freak-out the students…and your arm is bleeding.”

“It’s Lionheart. He’s found a way to get past my defenses.”

“You’re delusional.”

“I saw him. Perfectly flat, like a living tangent. It kept itself on my normal, no matter which way I turned that is how I know I was aimed for me.”

“Dominic, get your act together, or I will put it together for you. I need you to listen to this with both ears now. Put your macrame away, put a shirt on and GO SLEEP.”

“Can’t you see? That is just what he wants me to do! I can meditate through it. It is just as good as sleep.”

“Dominic, we are NOT going through this again. Either listen to me now, or I’m putting you to sleep for a few days until you’re done.”

“You’re playing right into him Eli. You have to see that! He has found a way around it.”

“My contract is air tight. A hobgoblin could not find a way out of it! This is Cairo all over again.”

“This is NOTHING like Cairo!”

“This is EXACTLY like Cairo. You go a few days without sleep, you start seeing things and then you’re weaving spider’s webs around yourself to try and keep out invisible boogymen.”

Lapis ducked under his work and drew himself up to his taller brother. “I need to meditate. You know that. You can’t deny me that.”

“But do you need to do it half naked surrounded by string and chalk?”

Lapis chewed on his cheek for a moment and thought before answering. “Yes.”

“Why can’t you just draw circle on the floor with a piece of string and mark it into fifths like a garden variety  nutjob?”

“Because it’s not precise. If they really believed in what they were doing they’d learn geometry instead of trusting their souls to asymmetric scribblings.”

Brother Rudyard sighed and braced himself for the inevitable lecture on degrees of error in measuring instruments versus the elegance of euclidean constructions, then decided to cut him off. “Can’t this wait another week until the students are gone?”

“I know what I saw. It was Lionheart. He has found a way to project himself.”

Rudyard took a breath and analysed Lapis’ body language. His eyes had a wild look to them, but he had seen Lapis look worse. He didn’t look dangerous, at least, not yet. “What if I let you do it this time, but you promise to keep it out of sight? No pestering the students for supplies. No mad rants in the common room. No chanting at midnight.”

Brother Lapis nodded quickly, but his eyes were still surveying his work. 

“But I see it spilling out into the commons again,” continued Rudyard, “ and I’ll just do what I usually do.”

Lapis’ head whipped around to meet Rudyard. “You wouldn’t dare. Father wants me sober.”

Rudyard crossed his arms. “Father can kiss my ass after that little incident earlier this week. None that we have worked under have ever gone that far, Dominic.”

“Oh come on, Eli. It was just a demonstration. They are old enough to need to start preparing for it. And Riddler has been much more interested in fencing practice since then. That’s not a bad thing.”

“Yes, terror has that effect. Why is it Pizzaro failing when it should be Moonwall?”

Lapis took a step forward and lowered his voice. “I. Need. To. Meditate. I’ll leave the damn door unlocked. Just …. I know what I’m doing!”

“That’s what you said last time.”

And with that Brother Lapis shut his door and meditated.


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