Sunday December 15, 2013
Book 14: Broken Wind — Part III: Exhalation and Exit Strategies

Note: Admiral Phlessce's exclamation, "doublethrice," is an expression of dismay at the loss of control, and is a literal counting of the mechanisms by which the Prabstdi exercise control. Count one for the head, then double that for the number of hands, double a second time for the number of feet (fore and hind), and finally double a third time for the number of fingers on the hands. Idiomatically, then, it means "despite my mind, my hands, my feet, and my fingers, something happened and I don't like it."

An ancient Prabstdi religious order objected to this style of swearing as being numerologically imperfect due to its omission of the number of "toes" on Prabstdi feet, which are hooved, but which have a knobby, vestigial thumb behind the hoof. This argument resulted in the eventual renaming of that vestigial digit to "uncounted," a word synonymous with "powerless" in the Prabstdi vernacular. This in turn evolved into a gesture unique to the Prabstdi, in which the foreleg is raised and the vestigial thumb pointed at someone. It means "you're as worthless as the uncounted digit on this foot," and is the rudest expression possible in Prabstdi culture.

Historians argue that this is the reason Prabstdi wear shoes in public: a shod society is a polite society.


NARRATOR: Inside the spindle...

FPHLESSCE: *groggy, off-panel* Ungh.  Ow?

HIOEFUA: Admiral, your thinking is surfacing from your medicating.  Are feelings still being filled with pain and breaking?

FPHLESSCE: Pain and breaking?  Oh, doublethrice, I can't feel my hinds.

Oafan surgeon: Contraindicated is all moving.  Even the wiggling.

FPHLESSCE: Okay, I'll be still.  How is my crew?  Where are we?

HIOEFUA: You and accompanying Prabstdi trustees of great venerability are afoot Mialhoua-Ua, living as testimony to our rescuing.

FPHLESSCE: You rescued us?  With what?

HIOEFUA: Daring and difficulty.