Swamped

Opposing Forces Page 6

“Why, if it isn’t my dear nephew Pine! I just heard you’re a full Olfactor now,” says the monk. “Shame I was late for dinner, I’d have hurried over if I knew you were preparing it.”

You always feel uncomfortable around Uncle Xavory – he has such high hopes for you, and that means he usually gives you more difficult tasks. You’re actually somewhat relieved he missed dinner – as he is in charge of the monastery’s sauce reserves, he would no doubt compare your aroma to the real thing.

Not that he would express disappointment – no, that is not his way. Rather, he would probably compliment you on a fine effort and boast that you’d be outdoing the smell of actual sauce within a year. And then everyone around him would laugh heartily.

Nonetheless, however difficult you find him, he is a senior monk, and so you should ask your question of him.

“It smells like eight o’clock, Uncle. Why is the clock tower showing a different time?”

He breaks out into a wide smile. Oh no. He’s about to compliment you on your observation, isn’t he.

“As always, you’ve got a keen nose, my boy! Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about it – senior monks only, you understand. Of course, you’re a clever boy, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out soon enough.”

“Can you at least tell me if the clock is wrong or if something has happened to the smell itself?” you ask. “It is very unsettling.”

“Can’t share that before the meeting, no. Not even with a very capable up-and-coming monk,” he chuckles. “All I can say to you is, remember that most basic of lessons: Follow your nose.”

And then he walks off. You doubt you will learn any more if you find another senior monk. So you are left with a riddle.

Is he saying that the smell is accurate? Or that you should investigate on your own?

Well, given his general encouragement, you suppose an investigation is prudent in either case. You do not expect to learn anything the senior monks did not already know, but it would at least help to put your mind at ease.

You start by going as close to the clock tower as you are permitted, given your rank, and then you start sniffing. Perhaps something here will bring clarity.

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