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1
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 10
« on: February 21, 2019, 08:43:53 pm »
I think you messed up the formatting. Too many quote tags, you've quoted yourself and now its all one bit quote...

Sorted :-[ 

2
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 10
« on: February 20, 2019, 08:42:59 pm »
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Souls can no more see the origins of their thoughts than they can see the backs of their heads or the insides of their entrails.  And since souls cannot differentiate what they cannot see, there is a peculiar sense in which the soul cannot self-differentiate.  So it is always, in a peculiar sense, the same time time when they think, the same place where they think, and the same individual who does the thinking.  Like tipping a spiral on its side until only a circle can be seen, the passage of moments always remains now, the carnival of spaces always sojourns here, and the succession of people always becomes me. The truth is, if the soul could apprehend itself the way it apprehended the world - if it could apprehend its origins - it would see that there is no now, there is no here, and there is no me.  In other words, it would realise that just as there is no circle, there is no soul.
- MEMGOWA, CELESTIAL APHORISMS

Head on a pole?

Gerotha surrenders and the heads of its leaders are brought to Kellhus.  This is not enough - the siege lasted four days, so one in four Gerothans must die.  This Holy War is not very holy.

Athjeari  reaches the Sacred Lands - Holy Amoteu. Some of the natives (who are presuambly Fanim) come out to cheer him.
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For such hearts, they told one another had to be holy
Why?

Kellhus and Esmenet discuss things
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"Men are simple," he replied.  "They think primarily in terms of things, not relations.  This is why they think it's the gold or silver that makes coins valuable, not the obedience they command.  Tell them the Nilnameshi use pottery for their coins and they scoff".
"Or", Esmenet said, "that the Warrior-Prophet uses a woman"....
..."Exactly", Kellhus said.  "They ask, 'Where's the gold?'".  He grinned at her sidelong.  "Or in you rcase..."
"Where's the thumb?" Esmenet said ruefully.
Thumb.  Sumni slang for 'phallus'...
...Kellhus grinned.  "They cant see that gold is only relevant insofar as it plays a role within our expectations - insofar as we make it relevant..."  He paused, his eyes sparkling with mirth.  "The same," he continued, "might be said of thumbs".

The Lords of the Holy War gather in the Charaoth - the stronghold of the kings of Xerash.
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The original walls had been pulled down, so that from within Gerotha's bone-coloured expanse could clearly be seen.  The voluptuous imprint of Nilnamesh was unmistakable, in the bellied columns and pilasters, in the curving stairs that ended nowhere, and in the four-winged Ciphrang that flanked every threshold.  Even roofless and ruined, the architecture seemed over-heavy, though in a manner strangely at odds with the post-and-lintel monstrosities of ancient Kyraneas or Shigek.  But the heaviness was different, as though everything had been constructed to bear weights unseen.
Could it simply be that Shikol had once ruled from this place?  like most Inrithi children, Achamain had been weaned on tales of the lecherous old king.  "Behave," his mother had always warned, "or he will find you, do unspeakable things!"...

...He saw nothing of Kellhus, though he spied something, a point of fluttering black, hanging over the distant network of streets and alleyways that rose up into the haze.  He blinked, frowning... Was that the Mark he sensed?
A sorcerous bird?

Shikol seems a bit Consult-y.

Kellhus addresses the gathered Lords.
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"... Even now we rewrite the scripture of this place!"...
..."We are the God's own knife, cast in the crucible of plague, thirst, and starvation, tempered by the hammers of war, doused in the blood of countless enemies!"...
..."Even still, what is, is... War watches through our eyes.  Doom itself echoes in our call.
"What is, is.  The glory of our undertaking will outshine that belonging to any of our forefathers.  It will be a beacon through the Ages.  It will astonish and gratify, and yea, it will even outrage.  It will be recited by a thousand thousand lips.  It will be committed to memory.  And the children of our children's children will take up their ancestor lists and invoke our names with reverence and awe, for they shall know their blood is blessed - blessed! by our greatness.
We, we Men of the Tusk, are more.  We are giants!  Giants!"...

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Without exception, men submitted to the hierarchy of the moving and the immovable.  They stood upon the earth, they travelled over the land.  But with Kellhus, even this fundamental orthodoxy was upended: with his every step, he seemed to carry the world with him.
So when he descended the dais and gestured to Incheiri Gotain to lead  the Lords of the Holy War in prayer, it seemed the world itself was bent.  As the intonations boomed between the walls, Achamian blinked the sweat from his eyes, breathed deep the humid air.  He thought of Esmenet lying with such a man, and he found himself fearing for her, as if she were a petal falling into a great fire...  He's a prophet.
So what did that make of Achamian's hate?

Plans are made to assault Shimeh.  It is assumed that the Cishaurim will not abandon the city. For Achamian
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...the strangeness of it dawned on him, the way the Holy War, which had been little more than a migratory invasion led by a raucous council of chieftains, had somehow reorganised itself into an imperial court.  This was no Council of Great and Lesser Names; Kellhus merely consulted his generals, nothing more.  All of them had been... redeployed.  And true to benjuka, the rules governing their conduct had been completely rewritten.  Even the ones that held Achamian motionless, here, as vizier to a prophet...
It was too absurd.

Suggests that Kellhus will become Emperor, and not Conphas.  Also is a subtle comparison with the Consult made (consulting the generals)?

Proyas find Akka and tells him he should see Xinemus.  Akka cannot (or will not) leave Kellhus.

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The thought struck Achamian without warning.
I'm alone
He knew nothing of his family, save that his mother was dead.  He despised his School almost as much as his School despised him.  He had lost his every student, in one way of another, to the blasted Gods.  Esmenet had betrayed him...
...He though of Xinemus.  I should see him...

Kelhus comes for his lessons.  Akka asks why Shimeh, and not Golgotterath?

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"Did you know", Kellhus said, "That there was a time when I listened to the world and heard only noise?"...
..."I know different now...  There's more than noise, Akka.  There is voice".
Shivers unrolled like wet strings across Achamian's skin.
His etes fixed on the horizon, Kellhus pressed his palms across his thighs, drawing folds into arcs.  Against the silk, Achamian thought he glimpsed the golden discs about his fingers.
"Tell me, Akka," Kellhus said.  "When you look in to a mirror, what do you see?"  He spoke a s a bored child might.
Achamian shrugged.  "Myself".
A teacher's indulgent look.  "Are you so certain?  Do you see yourself looking through your eyes, or do you simply see your eyes?  Strip away your assumptions, Akka, and ask yourself, what do you really see/"
"My eyes," he admitted.  "I simply see my eyes".
"Then you don't see yourself".
Achmain could only stare at his profile, dumbfounded.
Kellhus's grin shouted intellectual mischief.  "So where are you, if you can't be seen?"
"Here," Achamian replied after a moment of hesitation.  "I'm here".
"And just where is this 'here'?"
"It;s..." He frowned for a moment.  "it's here... inside what you see".
"Here? But how could you be here,"  Kellhus laughed, "when I'm here, and you're over there?
But you play games with words!" he exclaimed.
Kellhus nodded, his expression at once cryptic and bemused.  "Imagine," he said, "that you could take the Great Ocean, in all its immensity, and fold it into the form and proportion of a man.  There are depths, Akka, that go in rather than down - in without limit.  What you call the Outside lies within us, and it's everywhere.  This is why, no matter where we stand, it's always here.  No matter where we dare tread, we always stand in the same place".
Metaphysics, Achamian realised.  He spoke of metaphysics.
"Here", Achamian repeated.  "You're saying here is a place outside place?"
"Indeed.  Your body is your surface, nothing more, the point where your soul breaches this world.  Even now, as we look upon each other from across this span, from two different places, we also stand in the same place, the same nowhere.  I watch myself through your eyes, and you watch yourself through mine - though you know it not".
Somehow, at some point, insight had become a species of horror.  He fairly stammered.  "W-we're the same person?"  Kellhus was speaking this madness... Kellhus!
"Person?  It would be more precise to say we're the same here...  But in a manner, yes.  Just as there's but one Here, there's but one Soul, Akka, breaching the world in many different places.  And almost always failing to apprehend itself as itself."
Nilnamehi Foolishness!  It had to be...
"This is just metaphysics,"  he said, the very instant Kellhus whispered, "This is just metaphysics..."
Achamian gaped at the man, utterly dumbstruck.  His heart hammered, as though struggling to recover its rhythm through violence of action.  For a moment he tried telling himself that Kellhus alone had spoken, but the taste of the words was too fresh on his tongue.  The silence whined with a strange horror, a sense of dislocation unlike any he had ever experienced, a sense of things once sacred and intact now broken... Just who had spoken?
The world reeled through refracted sunlight.
He is me... How else could he know what he knows?

They go on to discuss sorcery - why can some do it any others can't?
Akka says it is the meanings, which are somehow different
Kellhus answers...
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"That the meaning is different because what it recollects is different"...
... "So you're suggesting that sorcerous words recollect something other words do not?"  Achamian asked this with more heat than he'd intended.  Derision had stolen across his expression.  "But what could words remember?  Words aren't..."  He trailed, his voice silenced by sudden understanding.  One soul...
"Not words, Akka.  You.  What could you remember that might make miracles of mere words?"
"I-I don't understand..."
"But you do".
Achamain blinked at the preposterous tears in his eyes.  He thought of the Scarlet Spires and their compound in Iothiah, of the world flying apart beneath his outstretched fingers.  And he remembered the meanings that has thundered from his chest and soul, his world-racking song, compelling fire from empty air, light from black shadow, and the obliteration of all that offended.  The words!  The words that were his calling - his curse!  The words that exacted the impossible...
Penance from the world.
How could a mere man say such things?
"We kneel before idols," Kellhus was saying, "we hold open our arms to the sky.  We beseech the distances, clutch at the horizon... We look outwards, Akka, always outward, for what lies within...  He splayed a hand against his chest.  "For what lies here, in this Clearing that we share."...

..."The God," Achamian said, but the voice was not his own.  "You're saying that this... this one soul that looks out from behind all our eyes is the God."  Even though he spoke these words, even though he knew quite well what they meant, they escaped him somehow, fell from him without force of though or comprehension.  Achamian clutched his shoulders, felt a shudder pass through his portly frame.
"We are all God," Kellhus said, now both solemn and enthused - like a father heartening a beaten son.  "The God is always here, watching through you very own eyes, and from the eyes of those about you.  But we forget who we are, and we begin to think of here as another there: detached, isolate, abject before the immensities of the world.  We forget...  But we don't all forget equally."  Kellhus fixed him with an implacable look.  "Those who forget the least, we call the Few."...

..."To speak sorcery, Akka, is to speak words that recollect the Truth".
"Truth", Achamian numbly repeated.  He understood what Kellhus said, he knew, and yet something within him refused to grasp.  "What truth?"
"That this place behind our face, though separated by nations and ages, is the same place, the same here.  That we are the God we worship...
...How else could one explain the Cants of Calling or Compulsion?  How else could one explain Seswatha's Dreams?...

..."Because you're a pious man born to a world unable to fathom your piety.  But all that changes with me, Aka.  The old revelations have outlived the age of their intention, and I have come to reveal the new.  I am the Shortest Path, and I say that you are not damned...

..."A sorceror's words work miracles because they recall the God... Think Akka!  What does it mean to see the world as sorcerers see it?  What does it mean to apprehend the onta?  The many see the world through one pair of eyes; they grasp Creation from but a single vantage - one angle among many.  But the Few- those who recollect, no matter how imperfectly, the God's voice - possess an intimation of many angles, a memory of the thousand eyes that look out from this clearing we call 'here'.  As a result everything they see is transformed, shadows by insinuations of more...
...It seemed so obvious.  All the analogies of sorcerors as blasphemers, as abusers of the divinity within, as those who ape the God's sacred song, were but crude approximations, tenuous glimpses of a truth that Kellhus held in his lap!
"And the Cishaurim," Achamian found himself saying, "what of them?"
The Warrior-Prophet shrugged.  "Think of the way a fire will shroud the world in the course of illuminating a camp.  Often the light of what we see blinds us, and we come to think there is one angle and one angle only.  Though they know it not, this is why the Cishaurim blind themselves.  They douse the fire of their eyes, pluck the one angle they see, to better grasp the many they recollect.  They sacrifice the subtle articulations of knowledge for the inchoate profundities of intuition.  They recall the tone and timbre, the passion, of the God's voice- to near perfection - even as the meanings that make up true sorcery escape them...

...The Warrior-Prophet turned to him, clutched his shoulder with a shining hand.  "The Truth of Here is that it is Everywhere.  And this, Akka, is what it means to be in love: to recognise the here within the other, to see the world through another's eyes.  To be here together."...
..."And this is why you suffer so... When what was here turns away from you, as she has turned away from you, it seems there's nowhere you might stand"...
..."Why are you telling me this?"  Achamian cried.
"Because you are not alone".

Fanashila, one of Esmi's slaves is brought to worship before the Inrithi Gods - but remains Fanim at heart.  She is approached by Werjau, who asks her if there is truth in the rumours that Esmi and Akka are still lovers.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 9
« on: February 17, 2019, 07:12:30 pm »
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They wandered red-eyed, exchanging moon-pale landscapes for sun-bright, and Cnaiur fell to reckoning the oddities of his soul.  He supposed he was insane, though the more he pondered the word, the more uncertain its meaning became.  On several occasions he had presided over the ritual throat-cutting of Utemot pronounced insane by the tribal elders.  According to the memorialists, men went feral in the manner of dogs and horses, and in like manner had to be put down.  The Inrithi, he knew, thought insanity the work of  demons.

One night during the infancy of the Holy War - and for reasons that Cnaiur could no longer recall - the sorceror had taken a crude parchment map if the Three Seas and pressed it flat over a copper laver filled with water.  he had poked holes of varying sizes throughout the parchment, and when he held his oil lantern high to complement the firelight, little beads of water glinted across the tanned landscape.  Each man, he explained, was a kind of hole in existence, a point where the Outside penetrated the world.  He tapped one of the beads with his finger.  It broke, staining the surrounding parchment.  When the trials of the world broke men, he explained, the Outside leaked into the world.
This he said was madness.

At the time, Cnaiur had been less than impressed.  He had despised the sorceror, thinking him one of those mewling souls who forever groaned beneath burdens of their own manufacture.  He had dismissed all things him out if hand.  But now, the force of his demonstration seemed indisputable.  Something other inhabited him.
It was peculiar.  Sometimes it seemed that each of his eyes answered to a different master, that his every look involved war and loss.  Sometimes it seemed he possessed two faces, an honest outer expression, which  he sunned beneath the open sky, and a more devious inner countenance.  If he concentrated, he could almost feel its muscles - deep, twitching webs of them - beneath the musculature that stretched his skin.  But is was elusive, like the presentiment of hate in a brother's glance.  And it was profound, sealed like marrow within living bone.  There was no distance!  No way to frame it within his comprehension.  And how could there be?  When it thought, he was...
The bead had been broken - there could be no doubt of that.  According to the sorceror, madness all came down to the question of origins.  If the divine possessed him, he would be some kind of visionary or prophet.  If the demonic...

The sorceror's demonstration seemed indisputable.  It accorded with his nagging intuitions.  It explained, among other things, the strange affinities between madness and insight - why the soothsayers of one age could be the bedlamites of another.  The problem, of course was the Dunyain.
He contradicted all of it.
Cnaiur had watched him ply the roots of man after man and thus command their branching action.  Nursing their hatred.  Cultivating their shame and their conceit.  Nurturing their love.  Herding their reasons, breeding their beliefs!  And all with nothing more than mundane word and expression - nothing more than worldly things.
The Dunyain, Cnaiur realised, acted as though there were no holes in the sorceror's parchment map, no beads to signify souls, no water to mark the Outside.  He assumed a world where the branching actions of one man could become the roots of another.  And with this elementary assumption he had conquered the acts of thousands.
He has conquered the Holy War.

The insight sent Cnaiur reeling, for it suddenly seemed that he rode through two different worlds, one open, where the roots of men anchored them to something beyond, and another closed, where those selfsame roots were entirely contained.  What would it mean to be mad in such a closed world?  But such a world could not be!  Ingrown and insensate.  Cold and soulless.
There had to be more.

Besides, he couldn't be mad, he decided, because he possessed no origins.  He had kicked free of all earth.  He didn't even possess a past.  Not really.  What he remembered, he always remembered now.  He - Cnaiur urs Skiotha - was the ground of what came before.  He was his own foundation!
Laughing, he thought of the Dunyain and how, upon their fatal reunion, this would overthrow him.

He tried - once - to share these ruminations with Serwe and the others, but they could offer him only the simulacrum of understanding.  How could they fathom his depths when they themselves possessed none?  They were not bottomless holes in the world, as he was.  They were animate, yet they did not live, not truly.  They, he realised with no little horror, had no souls.  They dwelt utterly within the world.
And for no reason, his love of them - his love of her - became all the more fierce.

Cnaiur's chapter's are always engaging and well worth quoting - and there's always lots to quote.
This seems to imply that he might be possessed, and the reference to the 'great horned shadow around around him' from the Conphas paragraphs, tells those who have read TAE who it might be.  I don't think this can be inferred from anything in PON to date, but seems to be clear foreshadowing of future events.

Also, clear pointers to the fact that the Dunyain are
(click to show/hide)
  again foreshadowing TAE.

Are the skin-spies therefore, an analogy for what humanity would become in a closed world, animate, but not truly living?

This also suggests Cnaiur has become a self-moving soul.  Therefore Moenghus and Kellhus have inadvertently achieved the Dunyain mission without realising it - how ironic.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 9
« on: February 17, 2019, 07:01:28 pm »
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Men were like this, Cnaiur realised, binding their manifold roots then branching in a thousand different directions, twining into the greater canopy of other men.  But these things - these skin-spies - were something altogether different, though they could mimic men well enough.  They did not bleed into their surroundings as men did.  They struck through circumstances, rather than reaching out to claim them.  They were spears concealed in the thickets of human activity.  Thorns...
Tusks.
And this leant them  curious beauty, a dread elegance.  They were simple in the way of knives, these skin-spies.  He envied them that, even as he loved and pitied.

What is the Tusk reference implying? It's very obviously a deliberate analogy.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 9
« on: February 17, 2019, 06:58:56 pm »
And this one Scylvendi, this Utemot Chieftain.  Conphas had witnessed it, as much as any of the Columnaries who'd quailed before him in Joktha.  In the firelight the barbarian's eyes had been coals set in his skull.  And the blood had painted him the colour of his true skin.  The swatting arms, the roaring voice, the chest-pounding declarations.  They had all seen the God.  They had all seen dread Gilgaol rearing about him, a great horned shadow...
And now, after wrestling to the ground like some lunatic bull, after the wonder of capturing him - capturing War! - he had simply vanished

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All this time Conphas had assumed that he and his uncle had stood at the root of all that happened.  No matter how the others plotted, they but thrashed in the nets of his hidden designs - or so he thought. Such errant conceit!  All along, others had known, others had watched, and he hadn't the slightest inkling of their intentions!

Tricked, deceived and deluded - a different horned God, perhaps?

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"Did you know that?  Did you know stood in the the Emperor's presence?"  He raised his wine bowl in salute, took a deep drink.  "Ikurei Conphas I," he gasped after swallowing.  "With me the Empire is reborn, Scylvendi.  I am Kyraneas.  I am Cenei.  Soon all the Three Seas will kiss my knee!"
The Empire will be reborn.  But not with you, Conphas

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 8
« on: February 17, 2019, 06:45:05 pm »
The miracle was that he still loved, that he still recognised mercy, pity...

and by inference is different to the other Mandate sorcerors.  This has been told us by Akka before, but Esmi is 'confirming' it for us. 

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 9
« on: February 17, 2019, 03:34:07 pm »
Cnaiur awakens to memories of carvings in Shigek, showing an ancient Scylvendi kissing the
heel of an outland king.
Conphas is giving it the full Bond villain, but Cnaiur doesn't recognise him.
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The man smiled.  "I know you aren't human.  I know that we're kin."...
..."Are you," Cnaiur rasped, "a god?"...
..."I know you love me... Men often beat those they love. Words fail them , and they throw their fists into the breach"...

..."I know also," the man continued, "that you hate him"
Him.  There could be no mistaking the word's intensity.  The Dunyain.  He spoke of the Dunyain - and as though he were his enemy, no less.  "You do not want," Cnaiur said, "to raise arms against him..."
"And why would that be?"
Cnaiur turned to him, blinking.  "He knows the hearts of men.  He seizes their beginnings and so wields their ends."
"So even you," the nameless General spat, "even you have succumbed to the general madness.  Religion...  He turned from the table, poured himself something Cnaiur couldn't see from the ground.  "You know, Scylvendi, I thought I'd found a peer in you."  His laugh was vicious.  "I even toyed with the idea of making you my Exalt-General."
Cnaiur scowled.  Who was this man?
"Absurd, I know.  Utterly impossible.  The Army would mutiny.  The mob would storm the Andiamine Heights!  But I cannot help but think that, with someone such as you, I could eclipse even Triamis."
Dawning horror.
"Did you know that?  Did you know stood in the the Emperor's presence?"  He raised his wine bowl in salute, took a deep drink.  "Ikurei Conphas I," he gasped after swallowing.  "With me the Empire is reborn, Scylvendi.  I am Kyraneas.  I am Cenei.  Soon all the Three Seas will kiss my knee!"
Blood and grimaces.  Roaring shouts.  Fire.  It all came back to him, the horror and rapture of Joktha.  And then there he was... Conphas.  A god with a beaten face.
Cnaiur laughed, deep and full-throated.
For moment the man stood dumbstruck, as though suddenly forced to reckon the dimensions of an unguessed incapacity.  "You play me," he said with what seemed genuine bafflement.  "Mock me".
And Cnaiur understood that he'd been sincere, that Conphas had meant every word he said.  Of course he was baffled.  He had recognised his brother; how could his brother not recognise him in turn?
The Chieftain of the Utemot laughed harder.  "Brother? You heart is shrill and your soul is plain.  Your claims are preposterous, uttered without any real understanding, like recitations of a mother's daft pride."  Cnaiur spat pink.  "Peer? Brother? You have note the iron to be my brother.  You are a thing of sand.  Soon you will be kicked to the wind".

Conphas kicks him unconscious and leaves.
'General Sompas' enters and frees Cnaiur.  They walk out of the camp without being challenged once.

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A word dogged Emperor Ikurei Conphas, a word he had always regarded from the outside.
Terror...
...What was it about this man - this fiend?  How had he affected him so?  For all the hatred the Nansur bore towards the Scylvendi race, they were perversely enamoured of them as well.  There was a mystique to them, and a virility that transcended the myriad rules that so constricted the intercourse of civilised men.  Where the Nansur wheedled and negotiated, the Scylvendi simply took - seized.  It was as though they had embraced violence whole, while the Nansur had shattered it into a thousand pieces to set as splinters across the multiform mosaic of their society.
It made them seem.. more manly.
And this one Scylvendi, this Utemot Chieftain.  Conphas had witnessed it, as much as any of the Columnaries who'd quailed before him in Joktha.  In the firelight the barbarian's eyes had been coals set in his skull.  And the blood had painted him the colour of his true skin.  The swatting arms, the roaring voice, the chest-pounding declarations.  They had all seen the God.  They had all seen dread Gilgaol rearing about him, a great horned shadow...
And now, after wrestling to the ground like some lunatic bull, after the wonder of capturing him - capturing War! - he had simply vanished

There is no sorcery involved - could it be the skin-spies?
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They weren't Cishaurim, but did that make them Consult as the Mandati had insisted?  Were these truly the opening hours of the Second Apocalypse?
Terror.  How could he not be terrified?
All this time Conphas had assumed that he and his uncle had stood at the root of all that happened.  No matter how the others plotted, they but thrashed in the nets of his hidden designs - or so he thought. Such errant conceit!  All along, others had known, others had watched, and he hadn't the slightest inkling of their intentions!
What was happening?  Who ruled these events?
Not Emperor Ikurei Conphas I...
...Were he one, were he alone, it would be hopeless.
But he was not one.  He was many. The ability to cede voice and limb to the will of another - herein lay the true genius of men.  The ability to kneel.  With such power, Conphas realised, he was no longer confined to the here and now.  With such power, he could reach across the world's very curve!  He was Emperor.
How could not cackle?  Such a wondrous life he lived!
He need only make things simple...

Cnaiur flees through the night with the skin-spies.  One of them is Serwe, one of them is Moenghus, or Kellhus?
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"I'm forgetting something," he said.
She nodded and smiled the blithe and jubilant way she always did when she knew some answer.
"The one you hunt," she said.  "The murderer."
He felt his face darken.  "But I am the murderer!  The most violent of all men!  They slouch forward in chains.  They ape their fathers, just as their fathers aped their fathers before them, all the way back to the beginning.  Covenants of earth.  Covenants of blood.  I stood and found my chains were smoke.  I turned and saw the void... I am unfettered!"

They question him, try to prompt him to tell them what he knows about Kellhus.
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"Tell me... what do you see?"
"The one", Cnaiur grated "that I hunt."
"Yes," Serwe said from behind him.  "The murderer!"
"He murdered my father with words!  Consumed my heart with revelation!"
"Yes..."
"He set me free".

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...They called themselves the Last Children of the Inchoroi, though they were loath to speak of their "Old Fathers".  They claimed to be Keepers of the Inverse Fire, though the merest question regarding either their 'keeping' or their 'fire' pitched them into confusion...
...They carried, Cnaiur could see, the spark of the void within them.  Like the Sranc...

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Men were like this, Cnaiur realised, binding their manifold roots then branching in a thousand different directions, twining into the greater canopy of other men.  But these things - these skin-spies - were something altogether different, though they could mimic men well enough.  They did not bleed into their surroundings as men did.  They struck through circumstances, rather than reaching out to claim them.  They were spears concealed in the thickets of human activity.  Thorns...
Tusks.
And this leant them  curious beauty, a dread elegance.  They were simple in the way of knives, these skin-spies.  He envied them that, even as he loved and pitied.

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They wandered red-eyed, exchanging moon-pale landscapes for sun-bright, and Cnaiur fell to reckoning the oddities of his soul.  He supposed he was insane, though the more he pondered the word, the more uncertain its meaning became.  On several occasions he had presided over the ritual throat-cutting of Utemot pronounced insane by the tribal elders.  According to the memorialists, men went feral in the manner of dogs and horses, and in like manner had to be put down.  The Inrithi, he knew, thought insanity the work of  demons.

One night during the infancy of the Holy War - and for reasons that Cnaiur could no longer recall - the sorceror had taken a crude parchment map if the Three Seas and pressed it flat over a copper laver filled with water.  he had poked holes of varying sizes throughout the parchment, and when he held his oil lantern high to complement the firelight, little beads of water glinted across the tanned landscape.  Each man, he explained, was a kind of hole in existence, a point where the Outside penetrated the world.  He tapped one of the beads with his finger.  It broke, staining the surrounding parchment.  When the trials of the world broke men, he explained, the Outside leaked into the world.
This he said was madness.

At the time, Cnaiur had been less than impressed.  He had despised the sorceror, thinking him one of those mewling souls who forever groaned beneath burdens of their own manufacture.  He had dismissed all things him out if hand.  But now, the force of his demonstration seemed indisputable.  Something other inhabited him.
It was peculiar.  Sometimes it seemed that each of his eyes answered to a different master, that his every look involved war and loss.  Sometimes it seemed he possessed two faces, an honest outer expression, which  he sunned beneath the open sky, and a more devious inner countenance.  If he concentrated, he could almost feel its muscles - deep, twitching webs of them - beneath the musculature that stretched his skin.  But is was elusive, like the presentiment of hate in a brother's glance.  And it was profound, sealed like marrow within living bone.  There was no distance!  No way to frame it within his comprehension.  And how could there be?  When it thought, he was...
The bead had been broken - there could be no doubt of that.  According to the sorceror, madness all came down to the question of origins.  If the divine possessed him, he would be some kind of visionary or prophet.  If the demonic...

The sorceror's demonstration seemed indisputable.  It accorded with his nagging intuitions.  It explained, among other things, the strange affinities between madness and insight - why the soothsayers of one age could be the bedlamites of another.  The problem, of course was the Dunyain.
He contradicted all of it.
Cnaiur had watched him ply the roots of man after man and thus command their branching action.  Nursing their hatred.  Cultivating their shame and their conceit.  Nurturing their love.  Herding their reasons, breeding their beliefs!  And all with nothing more than mundane word and expression - nothing more than worldly things.
The Dunyain, Cnaiur realised, acted as though there were no holes in the sorceror's parchment map, no beads to signify souls, no water to mark the Outside.  He assumed a world where the branching actions of one man could become the roots of another.  And with this elementary assumption he had conquered the acts of thousands.
He has conquered the Holy War.

The insight sent Cnaiur reeling, for it suddenly seemed that he rode through two different worlds, one open, where the roots of men anchored them to something beyond, and another closed, where those selfsame roots were entirely contained.  What would it mean to be mad in such a closed world?  But such a world could not be!  Ingrown and insensate.  Cold and soulless.
There had to be more.

Besides, he couldn't be mad, he decided, because he possessed no origins.  He had kicked free of all earth.  He didn't even possess a past.  Not really.  What he remembered, he always remembered now.  He - Cnaiur urs Skiotha - was the ground of what came before.  He was his own foundation!
Laughing, he thought of the Dunyain and how, upon their fatal reunion, this would overthrow him.

He tried - once - to share these ruminations with Serwe and the others, but they could offer him only the simulacrum of understanding.  How could they fathom his depths when they themselves possessed none?  They were not bottomless holes in the world, as he was.  They were animate, yet they did not live, not truly.  They, he realised with no little horror, had no souls.  They dwelt utterly within the world.
And for no reason, his love of them - his love of her - became all the more fierce.

The Kidruhil attack.  They are driven off, but Serwe is killed.
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"We must bury her", he called.
Serwe helped him.

8
The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 10
« on: February 17, 2019, 12:55:38 pm »
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Souls can no more see the origins of their thoughts than they can see the backs of their heads or the insides of their entrails.  And since souls cannot differentiate what they cannot see, there is a peculiar sense in which the soul cannot self-differentiate.  So it is always, in a peculiar sense, the same time time when they think, the same place where they think, and the same individual who does the thinking.  Like tipping a spiral on its side until only a circle can be seen, the passage of moments always remains now, the carnival of spaces always sojourns here, and the succession of people always becomes me. The truth is, if the soul could apprehend itself the way it apprehended the world - if it could apprehend its origins - it would see that there is no now, there is no here, and there is no me.  In other words, it would realise that just as there is no circle, there is no soul.
- MEMGOWA, CELESTIAL APHORISMS

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You are fallen from Him like sparks from the flame.  A dark wind blows, and you are soon to flicker out.
- SONGS 6:33, THE CHRONICLE OF THE TUSK

9
The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 9
« on: February 17, 2019, 12:49:35 pm »
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In the skins of elk I pas over grasses.  Rain falls, and I cleanse my face in the sky.  I hear the Horse Prayers spoken, but lips are far away.  I slip down weed and still twig - into their palms I pool.  Then I am called out and am among them.  In Sorrow, I rejoice.
Pale endless life. This, I call my own
- ANONYMOUS, THE NONMAN CANTICLES

10
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 8
« on: February 13, 2019, 09:10:56 pm »
The Holy War is converging on Gerotha, the capital of Xerash.  The city agrees to surrender, but then there is a coup and the Fanim loyalists take over.  A veteran called Hebarata comes out to harangue Kellhus.
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...Then at the end of the tirade someone fired a crossbow bolt...
The Warrior-Prophet snatched it from the air just short of his neck.  To the wonder of all, he raised the missile aloft.  "Hear this, Hebarata,"  he cried.  "From this day I count!"  A cryptic statement that troubled even the Inrithi.
What is he counting?

Athjeari ranges further eastwards on a 'Pilgrimage' from holy place to holy place.

Esmenet begins reading The Sagas, to the sound of Kianene music.
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She still thought of reading as "practice", though she'd found it quite effortless for some time now.  In fact, she not only hungered for opportunities to read, she often found herself simply staring at her humble collection of scrolls and codices, suffused with the same miserly feelings she harboured toward her cosmetic chest.  But where the paints merely balmed the fears of her former self, the writings were something altogether different - something transformative rather than recuperative.  It was as though the inked characters had become rungs on a ladder, or an endlessly uncoiling rope, something that allowed her to climb over higher, to see ever more.
"You've learned the lesson," Kellhus had said on one of those rare mornings when he shared her breakfast.
"What lesson might that be?"
"That the lessons never end."  He laughed, gingerly sipped his steaming tea.  "That ignorance is infinite".
"How," she asked, at once earnest and delighted, "can anyone presume to be certain?"
Kellhus smiled in the devilish way she so adored.
"They think they know me," he said.

Her old self is a stranger to her.  Kellhus...
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...had rewritten the world down to this very foundations.  A world where all were slaves of repetition, of the twin darknesses of custom and appetite.  A world where beliefs serve the powerful instead of the true.  The old Esmenet would be astounded, even outraged.  But she would come to believe - eventually.
The world indeed held miracles, though only for those who dared abandon old hopes.

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Like The Third Analytic, The Sagas were one of those works familiar even to illiterate caste-menials such as herself.  She found it strange recalling her impressions of such things before Achamian or Kellhus.  The "Ancient North,"  she knew, had always seemed weighty and profound, a phrase with a palpable, skin-prickling air.  It lay like cold lead among the other names she knew, a marker of loss, hubris, and the implacable judgement of ages.  She knew of the No-God, the Apocalypse, the Ordeal, but they were little more than curiosities.  The Ancient North was a place, something she could point to.  And for whatever reason, everyone had agreed that it was one of those words, enunciations that, like "Scylvendi" or "Tusk", bore the whiff of overarching doom.  The Sagas had been little more than a rumour attached to that word.  Books to be certain, were frightful things, but in the way of snakes to city dwellers.  Something safely ignored.

Achamian and the Mandate disparage The Sagas.  They are like 'pearls strung across a corpse
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...With Achamian, the "Ancient North", which for all its dread had remained blank and obdurate, became something intricate and encompassing, a frame for what seemed an inexhaustible litany of extinguished hopes.  By comparison, The Sagas had come to seem something foolish, perhaps even criminal...

The Sagas are nine in total, with more than one author.  Some are verse, some are prose.
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Once again she'd found complexity where she expected simplicity.  Was that not always the way?

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...Both the style of the script and the diction and tone of the translator's dedicatory seemed bent to the sensibilities of some other kind of reader.  For the first time she found herself appreciating the fact that this history was itself historical.  For some reason she had never considered that writings could part of what they were about.  They always seemed to hang... outside the world they depicted.

The Kelmariad tells the story of Achamian's dreams and of Kellhus' blood.
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...These times and places, she realised, were neither so ancient nor so faraway as she might have wished.

The history of the Ancient North and the Apocalypse is set out.  Celmomas has a still born twin who 'everstalked his brother's side, chilling his heart even as he quickened his intellect'.

She reads for four days.

Seswatha keeps popping up.  He is the stalwart of a mighty king, a teacher and surrogate father, a powerful and resented voice in council, a shining beacon, a scheming foreigner, hope incarnate, a lunatic refugee, and the saviour of the world.  The true hero of The Sagas.
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...And each time Esmenet encountered some variant of his name, she would clutch her breast and think, Achamian.
It was no small thing to read of war, let alone apocalypse.  No matter how pressing her daily routine, images from The Sagas dogged her soul's eye: Sranc armoured in mandible freshly cut from their victims.  The burning Library of Sauglish and the thousands who'd sought refuge within her hallowed halls.  The Wall of the Dead, the cloak of corpses draped about the seaward ramparts of Dagliash.  Foul Golgotterath, her golden horns curving mountainous into dark skies.  And the No-God, Tsurumah, great winding tower of black wind...
War and more war, enough to engulf every city, every hearth, to sweep up all innocents - even the unborn - into its merciless jaws.
The though that Achamian continually lived these things oppresed her with an evasive, even cringing, sense of guilt.  Each night, he saw the horizon move with hordes of Sranc; he shrank beneath the pitch of dragons swooping from black-bellied clouds.  Each night, he witnessed Tryse, the Holy Mother of Cities, washed in the the blood of her bewildered children.  Each night, he literally relived the No-God's dread awakening, he actually heard tehmothers wail over their stillborn sons.
Absurdly, this made her think of his dead mule, Daybreak.  She had never understood, not truly, how much weight that name must have possessed for him. Such poignant hope.  And this, she realised with no little horror, meant that she;d never understood Achamian himself - not truly.  To be used night after night.  To be debased by hungers vast, ancient, and rutting.  How could a whore fail to see the outrage that had been heaped upon his soul?
You are my morning, Esmi... my dawn light
What could it mean?  For a man who lived and relived the ruin of all, what could it mean to awake to her touch, to her face? Where had he found the courage?  The trust?
I was his morning.
Esmenet felt it then, overpowering her, and in the strange fashion of moving souls, she struggled to ward it away.  But it was too late.  For what seemed the first time, she understood: his pointless urgency, his desperation to be believed, his haggard love, his short-winded compassion - shadows of the Apocalyse, all. To witness the dissolution of nations, to be stripped night after night of everything cherished, everything fair.  The miracle was that he still loved, that he still recognised mercy, pity... How could she not think him strong?
She understood, and it terrified her, for it was a thing too near love.

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She could see it all clearly now.  The derelict cities.  The smoking temples.  The strings of dead that marked the slave roads to Golgotterath.  She followed the Nonmen Erratics as they rode across the countryside hunting survivors.  She saw the Sranc digging up the stillborn and burning them on raised pyres.  She watched it all from afar, more than two thousand years too late.
Never had she read anything so dark, so despairing, or so glorious.  It seemed poison had been poured into wonder's own decanter.  This, she thought time and again, is his night...
And though she tried to beat the words from her heart, they rose nonetheless, as colds as accusatory truth, as relentless as earned affliction.  I was his morning

A strange scene where she watches Akka sitting by the side of a river, and then Kellhus is putting his hands over her.  Akka weeps.
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The horror in Achamian's eyes.
Who was that base and treacherous woman?  For Esmenet knew she could never do such a thing.  She simply wasn't capable.  Not to Akka.  Not him!
Then she recalled her daughter, somewhere out there across the seas.  Sold into slavery.

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She wept and she whispered, "Akka".  For she was his world, and all lay in ruin.

Achamian dreams.  He is with Nau-Cayuti.
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Lying prone, they stared over the lip of an upturned ledge, across what could only be a mighty chasm.  Entire chasm.  Entire mountains seemed to hang about them, cliff from towering cliff, plummet from plummet, dropping down into blackness, reaching up to pinch a great curved plane of gold.  It loomed above them, impossibly immense, wrought with never-ending string of text and panels, each as broad as a war galley's sail, engraved with alien figures warring in relief.  The lights from below cast a gleaming filigree across its expanse.
They looked upon the dread Ark itself, Sesawtha knew, rammed deep into the sockets of the earth.  They had reached the deepest pits of Golgotterath.

He wakes.  Esmi has come to him.  She tells him he is strong, then flees.

The Synthese soars above.  Cnaiur has told it of the Dunyain.
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Golgotterath would not be pleased with this new disposition of pieces.  But the rules had changed.
There were those who preferred clarity.

11
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 7
« on: February 10, 2019, 03:18:55 pm »
In Joktha, Cnaiur dines with the Nansur generals.  He asks Conphas about Kiyuth.  The response from Conphas and his staff seems to be one of mockery.  Cnaiur has them all leave, except Conphas.

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"Repose," Cnaiur snorted.  "That is because the world is your trophy room.  Your soul makes flattery of all things - even me.  You make mirrors of all that you see"...
...Cnaiur struck, cuffed him so hard he toppled backward.
"You act as though you live this life a second time!"  Cnaiur leapt into a crouch upon the table, sent plates and bowls spinning.  Eyes as round as silver talents, Conphas scrambled backwards through the cushions.  "As though you were assured of its outcome!"
Conphas had turned, was fighting his way clear of the depression.  "Somp-Somp-!"  Cnaiur vaulted across the table, hammered the back of his head.  The Exalt-General went down.  Cnaiur unfastened his belt, snapped it free.  He yanked it about the sobbing man's neck, hoisted him to his knees.  He wrenched him back to the table, threw him onto his chest.  he smashed his face against its own reflection - once, twice...
He looked up, saw the slaves cringing in the shadows, their arms upraised.  One of them wept.
"I am a demon!" he cried.  "A demon!"
Then he turned back to Conphas shuddering on the table beneath him.
Some things required literal explanation.

Cnaiur wakes at sunrise.  Blood and soil (shit?)  are smeared across his thighs.  Nansur ships are in the harbour.  The fleet has arrived too soon.
The Nansur Generals know what Cnaiur did - but he does not.
The ships are empty.
Conphas is nowhere to be found.  He has escaped through a tunnel.
The Nansur reinforcements have disembarked further north.

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"You were supposed to kill him," Sanumnis said.  "You were supposed to kill Conphas."
Weeper!  Faggot weeper!
Cnaiur frowned.  "I am not an assassin," he said.

The Saik are hidden on the ships.

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He strode to the wall's inner brink, held out his arms in grand address.  "Listen to me.  I will not lie to you.  The Nansur can afford no quarter, because they can afford no Truth!  We all die this night!"
He let these words ring into silence.
"I know nothing of you Afterlife.  I know nothing of your Gods or their greed for glory.  But I do know this: In days to come, widows shall curse me as they weep!  Fields shall go to seed!  Sons and daughters shall be sold into slavery!  Fathers shall die desolates, knowing their line is extinct! This night, I shall carve my mark into the Nansurium, and thousands shall cry out for want of my mercy!"
And the spark became flame.
"Scylvendi!" they roared.  "Scylvendi!"

Cnaiur has his men knock down hundreds of walls to create a labyrinth, and then they all lie in wait.
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This was not, Cnaiur realised, what the Dunyain woudl do.
Either Kellhus would find a way - some elaborate or insidious track - that led to the domination of thee circumstances, or he would flee.  Was that not what had happened at Caraskand? Had he not walked a path of miracles to prevail?  Not only had he united the warring factions within the Holy War, he had given them the means to war without.
No such path existed here - at least none that Cnaiur could fathom.
So why not flee?  Why cast his lot with doomed men?  For honour?  There was no such thing.  For friendship?  He was the enemy of all.  Certainly there were truces, the coming together of coincidental interests, but nothing else, nothing meaningful.
Kellhus had taught him that.
He cackled aloud when the revelation struck, and for a moment the world itself wobbled.  A sense of power suffused him, so intense it seemed something other might snap from his frame, that throwing out his arms he could shear Joktha's walls from their foundations, cast them to the horizon.  No reason bound him.  Nothing.  No scruple, no instinct, no habit, no calculation, no hate... He stood beyond origin or outcome.  He stood nowhere.
"The men wonder," Troyatti said cautiously, "what amuses you, Lord."
Cnaiur grinned.  "That I once cared for my life."

The Nansur invade Joktha.
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Cnaiur had not the arms for the swazond he earned that night.

Eventually only Cnaiur and a nameless Thunyeri are left standing.  He is overwhelmed and taken.  Conphas comes to gloat.
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Afterward, they cleared a path for their all-conquering Exalt-General.  Smoke towered into the firmament beyond the battered beauty of his face, shrouding stars.  His eyes were the same, though they appeared unnerved - very unnerved.  "No different," his broken lips spat.  "No different than Xunnurit after all".
And as the darkness came swirling down, Cnaiur at last understood.  The Dunyain had not sent him to be Conphas' assassin...
He had sent him to be his victim.

12
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 6
« on: February 08, 2019, 08:04:19 pm »
Akka tells Esmi about the Cants of Compulsion.
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..."Zin lost more than his eyes in Iothiah"...
..."Souls compelled", he continued, "are souls possessed"...
..."They used him against me"...
..."The great paradox of the Compulsions is that their victims in no way feel compelled.  Zin sincerely meant everything he said to me, he chose to say them, even though others spoke the words"...
..."He said that pity was the only love I could hope for"...
...Of all the world, only she truly understood.  Of all the world.
Longing crashed about the pilings of his resolution - to crush her in his arms, to press her back tenderly then kiss the faint saddle of freckles across her nose...
..."H-he said things," Achamian continued, coughing against a voice-cracking ache.  "He said things without hope of forgiveness.  Now he can't bring himself to stop."...
...Blinking, Achamian looked to the sky, saw the Round of Horns glittering in an arc over the northern hills.  It was an ancient Kuniuric constellation, unknown to the astrologers of the Three Seas.  "Think of the soul as a network of innumerable rivers.  With the Cants of Compulsion, the old banks are swamped, dikes are washed away, new channels are cut... Sometimes when the floodwaters recede, things resume their old course.  Sometimes they don't".

Is the Round of Horns actually there in the sky above Xerash, or is Akka seeing with Seswatha's eyes?
What would a third inutteral do to the Cants of Compulsion (we later find out what it can do to the Cants of Calling)?

13
The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 5
« on: February 08, 2019, 07:59:57 pm »
Cnaiur is speaking with the Synthese.
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So what was this thing?  He had struck bargains with it.  Exchanged promises.
  What bargains and promises?

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"I eclipse you, mortal!" it replied with bird-vehemence.  "I am son of a more violent race.  You cannot conceive the compass of my life!"
Cnaiur turned his profile to it, glanced at it sidelong.  "Why?  The blood that pulses through my veins is no less ancient.  Nor are the movements of my soul.  You are not so old as the Truth".
He could fairly hear the creature's sneer.
"You still do not understand them," Cnaiur continued.  "Before all, the Dunyain are intellect.  I do not know their ends, but I do know this: they make instruments of all things, and they do so with a way beyond the ken of me or even you, Demon".
"You think I underestimate them".
Cnaiur turned his back to the sea.  "It is inevitable," he said, shrugging.  "we are little more than children to them, imbeciles drawn from the womb. Think on it. Bird.  Moenghus has dwelt among the Kianene for thirty years.  I know not your power, but I do know this: he lies far beyond it."
Moenghus... Simply speaking the name cramped his heart.
"As you say, Scylvendi, you know not my power."
Cnaoir cursed and laughed.  "Would you like to know what a Dunyain would hear in your words?"
"And what might that be?"
"Posturing.  Vanity.  Weaknesses that betray you measure and offer innumerable lines of assault.  A Dunyain would grant you your declarations.  He would encourage you in your confidence.  In all things, he would dispense flattering appearances.  He would care nothing whether you thought him your lesser, your slave, so long as you remained ignorant"...
..."Ignorant?  Ignorant of what?"
Cnaiur spat.  "Your true circumstances."
"And what are my true circumstances, Scylvendi?"
"That you are  being played.  That you flounder in nets of your own making. The circumstances you struggle to master, Bird, have long ago mastered you.  Of course you thing otherwise.  Like men, power stands high among your native desires.  But you a tool, as much as any Man of the Tusk."
It crooked its head to the side.  "How then, am I to become my own instrument?"
Cnaiur snorted.  "For centuries you have manipulated events from the dark, or so you claim.  Now you assume that you must do the same, that nothing has changed.  I assure you, everything has changed.  You think yourself hidden, but you are not.  Chances are he already knows you have approached me.  Chances are he already knows your ends and your resources.
Even the ancient things, Cnaiur realised, would suffer the Holy War's fate.  The Dunyain would strip them the way the People stripped the carcasses of bison.  Flesh for sustenance.  Fat for soap and fuel.  Bone for implements.  Hide for shelter and shields.  No matter how deep they ran, the ages themselves would be consumed.  The Dunyain were something new.  Perpetually new.
Like lust or hunger.
"You must abandon you old ways, Bird.  You must strike across trackless ground.  You must surrender brute circumstance to him, because in this you cannot hope to match him.  Instead you must watch.  Wait.  You must become a student of opportunity."

Bird is not impressed and shows Cnaiur visions of its sorcerous power.  Cnaiur tells it that Kellhus is learning sorcery - and he learnt to speak Scylvendi in four days.

Foreshadowing of
(click to show/hide)
?

14
The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 8
« on: February 08, 2019, 07:53:17 pm »
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That hope is little more than the premonition of regret.  This is the first lesson of history.
- CASIDAS, THE ANNALS OF CENIE

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To merely recall the Apocalypse is to have survived it.  This is what makes The Sagas, for all their cramped beauty, so monstrous.  Despite their protestations, the poets who authored them do not tremble, even less do they grieve.  They celebrate.
- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, THE COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

15
The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 7
« on: February 08, 2019, 07:50:19 pm »
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Every woman knows there are only two kinds of men: those who feel and those who pretend.  Always remember, my dear, though only the former can be loved, only the latter can be trusted.  It is passion that blackens eyes, not calculation.
- ANONYMOUS LETTER

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It is far better to outwit Truth than to apprehend it.
- AINONI PROVERB

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