Lu Mīn was horribly embarrassed and broken hearted about his meeting with the Elder.
Feeling he had done something terrible and untrustworthy, he resolved to do as the Elder had commanded, and with a renewed vigour he followed the instructions in Signs, and how to read them.
He practiced, from the beginning of Se-Lim’s passage to His end, foregoing his usual fun and games.
Little was his bell heard ringing about the community.
In Se-Lim’s absence he was eager to get to his rest—which surprised his Na-Shizu.
Lu Mīn was lost in hopes of having a repeated dream, the chance to wake again in the Presence.
He developed a method of finding sleep even when his body was not in need of it. By regulating his inner wind and practicing the Emptying of Thoughts. Later in life, Lu Mīn could fall asleep laying on a sharp rocks or even holding himself upside down.
The Presence did not show itself for many, many passages. Gradually Lu Mīn’s hope of seeing it faded, and the pleasure he got in his studies and the memories of the Presence replaced the pleasure he once enjoyed in playing games.
At this time Lu Mīn was no good fighter, and the other young ones enjoyed beating him at all manner of physical challenges. Many were the young Na-Shime, their muscles beginning to bulge and tempers flare from the consistent training, who subjected Lu Mīn to mockery.
But Lu Mīn did not allow his shame to overcome his reserve, and he would face challenges and mockery without an intense response.
Such was his lack of response that some young ones grew afraid.
—He does not fight back and yet he does not cower, flee or hide!—they would say to one another. –Surely he is not well?—
But other young ones became filled with wrath, for they assumed Lu Mīn did not respond out of arrogance.
So they resolved to teach Lu Mīn a lesson by taking away one of his prized possessions, the golden bell given to him by the Elders of the community.
One passage after the School of Signs had finished, Lu Mīn walked towards his dwelling. In a forested part of the path, away from the other dwellings, the group of young Na-Shime descended upon him.
Hopelessly outnumbered, Lu Mīn realized that the time had come for him to resist, or else risk losing his life.
He fought hard and like a wild animal, biting, scratching, pulling hair. But these tactics were nothing compared to the masterful training of his young enemies. Soon Lu Mīn was naked, broken and bloody, laying upon the ground alone, without his bell.
The sky had opened up and brought with it strong rains. These turned the ground to mud, which grew softer and softer, threatening to swallow Lu Mīn whole.
As Lu Mīn sank, a traveller, swaddled in cloth, made his slow and careful way along the path.
He saw Lu Mīn and, without a moment of consideration, picked him up to carry him.
Lu Mīn became aware at this and began to howl ecstatically.
—Wait! Wait! Before It goes away!—
The traveller did not wait. Swiftly he carried Lu Mīn to a small abandoned dwelling, normally used for the resting of visitors to the community.
There the traveller lit a fire and inspected the bruised limbs of the young one.
—Who did this to you, young one?—the traveller asked
—I cannot say.—replied Lu Mīn.
—Why can’t you say? Surely you must know. Those who acted must be punished.—
But Lu Mīn said nothing more.
The traveller, after making certain Lu Mīn was comfortable and had some sustenance, then went to the community to seek out help.
Help came, despite the rains, and soon the entire community was in shock over the Beating of Lu Mīn.
Grown ones questioned their young ones, some of whom shamefully tried to conceal their own bruises and blemishes from the fight. But many were found out, their Na-Shime and Na-Shizu shocked, resolved to bring their children to justice.
The next passage, Se-Lim shining brightly overhead, a Council meeting was put together to judge the event.
Most of the community had gathered, including the traveller that had helped Lu Mīn recover who had insisted on keeping watch over him in the guest dwelling. They all looked in shock as Lu Mīn’s hobbling form appeared before the Enquirers. Beside him stood a row of the young Na-Shime who had been caught with signs of the fight.
Despite his evident suffering, Lu Mīn was calm and collected. His features smooth and without a hint of anger or any other emotion.
The Elder who instructed him stood silently with the other members of the Council not named enquirers.
The Master Enquirer began the proceeding, asking Lu Mīn to explain what had happened to him and to name his attackers.
Lu Mīn sat in the position of Go-na and stared at the Master Enquirer for a long while. Though his physical form was battered and weak, he appeared strong and resolute.
The Master Enquirer waited a short while, growing more confused by Lu Mīn’s silence, raised his voice to address the same question within the hearing of all those gathered, who had begun to whisper with tense anticipation.
Finally Lu Mīn closed his eyes, bent his head forward respectfully, and responded.
What occurred to me
Is this: I was on the road
From the school of Signs
And a group of my friends gathered
To give me a gift.
The gift they gave
Was of such value
That I gave them my bell
—Surely this young one is hiding some crime more terrible than the one he has already suffered!—the Master Enquirer shouted in shock to his fellow Enquirers.
—But his words are calm! Behold his face!—exclaimed the others.
A great commotion swept through the crowd. Only the young Na-Shime standing with Lu Mīn were silent.
When the crowd had regained composure, the Master Enquirer spoke again.
—Lu Mīn, your testimony forms only one part of this enquiry. You are called before the Authorities to speak truth. Deception, where proven, can itself be punished.—
Lu Mīn remained silent and solemn, which provoked another Enquirer to speak.
—But in the case of a victim refusing to accuse his attackers? Such a case I have no recollection of hearing.—
The enquiry continued, others were called to supply testimony, including the traveller who had found Lu Mīn.
Finally the Enquirers confronted the young Na-Shime, calling them one by one to testify as to their wounds and the wounds of Lu Mīn.
Each Na-Shime came forward and explained their wounds resulted from a game of war. Some claimed Lu Mīn took part, others said they did not know what caused the severity of his wounds.
It was the last Na-Shime who came forward, the largest and strongest of them all, who remained silent when questioned.
—It is a great crime to not answer the questions of an Enquirer.—said the Master Enquirer.
—It is for shame that I hold my tongue.—replied the young Na-Shime.—For by speaking I condemn myself and my friends. For truthfully it was like this: We planned to attack Lu Mīn, though he had done nothing to us except demonstrate his own strength of character. We beat him and took his bell. Then we left him by the path, to die. This is what we have done, this is what I did, and I deserve to be punished severely for my act.—
The Master Enquirer responded to this first.
–Your testimony is a valuable addition to this enquiry. It is well known that in most enquiries, truth makes itself known. But I must now ask a question of the victim, the cause of these proceedings. Lu Mīn, account for your words. You had the opportunity to speak earnestly and truthfully, and you did not.—
Lu Mīn struggled to rise to his feet.
In speaking to you
I have told no lies
I did receive a gift
Though you cannot see it
What you see is not the gift
But the Way I received it
Therefore I ask
Not to punish my friends
Let them go their way
For they have shown me Mine.
The Master Enquirer looked closely at Lu Mīn, as did the other Enquirers. When they were satisfied that he was of sound mind, and calm, they decided to proceed with the enquiry.
Each of the young Na-Shime was invited to speak their testimony again, in light of what had been revealed. None chose to, for shame and fear lay deep within them. So the Enquirers retreated for the Conference.
It was a long Conference, and the attendees were restless by the time the Enquirers returned to issue their judgement.
The Master Enquirer stood to read the verdict:
—The following punishments will be meted out as the payment for the beating of Lu Mīn: For every attacker, there will be 20 lashes. For every attacker who lied about their actions, there will be 20 lashes. Since the victim requests clemency, the Enquirers have decided to deduct from each punishment, 20 lashes. Let the assembly speak.—
The assembly stood silently for the required time and then solemnly began preparing for the punishment.
This was when the young Na-Shime, the largest and strongest of all, spoke out.
—Blessed Elders, Please do not let my crime go unpunished. I ask to be included, and if in your Wisdom, you find it correct, let me take lashes meant for the others.—
—It is well to consider this.—replied the Master Enquirer—For every offender listed here, we will therefore deduct two lashes. That make two octaves and two for each one of them, and three octaves for you.—
Se-Lim was more than half-way through his path when the punishments began. The community fashioner of weapons, a Na-Shime with limbs as big as a Ki-mera tree, was the one called upon to inflict them.
Lu Mīn, who was very tired at this point, was allowed to return to his dwelling to rest, and he did not hear the screams of the young Na-Shime as they were lashed.