TDTCB, Ch. 14

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« on: April 19, 2013, 03:00:24 am »
Quote from: Madness
Some say men continually war against circumstances, but I say they perpetually flee. What are the works of men if not a momentary respite, a hiding place soon to be discovered by catastrophe? Life is endless flight before the hunter we call the world.
— EKYANNUS VIII, APHORISMS

Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the Nansur Empire

§14. 1 - Running Back to Kellhus

Serwe awakes with Kellhus, reminiscing about trying to get into Kellhus’ bed, Kellhus’ protection from the Scylvendi.

Kellhus manipulation continues true to form.

“Never had she known such a man. A man who knew her, and yet still loved” (p434).

She spends some moments looking at the tree above them.

“She could feel the soul of the great tree, brooding, sorrowful, and infinitely wise, the rooted witness of innumerable suns” (p435)

I’m sorry what?

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She watches the Scylvendi for some moments bathing in a pond.

“As though aware of her scrutiny, the forest grew hushed, its silence colored by the stern grandeur of trees. Even the solitary bird fell quiet, yielding to the slurp and trickle of Cnaüir’s bathing.”

Serwe sees a small boy watching Cnaiur through the bushes and trees.

Do you have a mother? she thought, but when she realized he watched the Scylvendi, a sudden terror struck her.
Go away! Run!

Kellhus, who obviously notices Serwe scrutiny warns Cnaiur. He attempts to slowly lure the boy closer…

 “’Run!’ Serwe cried.

The boy flickered into the wood, flashing between white sun and deep green shadow" (p436).

Kellhus and Cnaiur take off after the boy. For a moment, Serwe believes that Kellhus follows to stop Cnaiur but we know and she realizes this isn’t the case.

“But a sudden horror struck her breathless, an unaccountable certainty that Kellhus also meant the child harm.
You must suffer him, Serwe.

Serwe runs through the water and up the far bank after the Kellhus and Cnaiur who she can here calling to each other from the woods.

“She caught herself on the trunk of a young ash. She looked around, heard the distant crash of someone barreling through underbrush, but saw nothing. For the first time in weeks, she was alone.



But she wasn’t a fugitive, she realized. The Empire was her land — or at least the land her father had sold her to...
I’m home. There’s no need to suffer him” (p437)

She walks on listless, thinking of only this fact for some moments.

I’m home, she would think. But then thoughts of Kellhus would assail her, curiously smeared into images of the Scylvendi’s brutality. Kellhus’s eyes as she spoke, pinched by concerns or suppressed smiles. The thrill of his hand encompassing her own, as though this modest intimacy bespoke an impossible promise. And the things he said, words that had sounded her to the pith, had rendered her squalid life a portrait of heartbreaking beauty.

Kellhus loves me. He’s the first to love me.

Then, with a shaking hand, she felt her belly through her soaked shift.”

She reminisces on how her beauty makes her a commodity in the Empire and on blue babies.

“Her stomach was flat, but she could feel it. Feel the baby.

Images of the Scylvendi’s urgent fury assaulted her; still she thought: Kellhus’s child. Our baby.

She turned and began to retrace her steps” (p438).

§14.2 - Innocence

“After a short time, Serwe realized she was lost and was once again terrified.



Kellhus... Find me, please.

The sound of cries in the woods, along with horsemen startle her.

“But when the two horsemen broke the crest, her skin pimpled with dread.



She recognized them immediately by their armor and insignia: common officers of the Kidruhil, the elite cavalry of the Imperial Army. Two of the Gaunum sons had belonged to the Kidruhil.

The younger, handsome one looked almost as frightened as she was; he sketched an old-wives’ ward against ghosts above his horse’s mane” (p439).

Serwe dropping some knowledge. Also, she’s something to be warded against ;).

The Kidruhil here? Does that mean they’re dead? In her soul’s eye, she saw the little boy, peering from behind black branches. Did he live? Did he warn...? Is this my fault?

This thought, more than any fear of the men, paralyzed her. She hissed in terror, her chin lifting of its own volition, as though she were baring her throat to their sheathed weapons. Tears sketched her cheeks. Run! she frantically thought, but she couldn’t move.”

Wow.

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Her total concern is the possible blame and atoning for it.

The man gears the younger man up to rape Serwe. But he’s already watching, says they don’t have the time.

“Cowed by something incomprehensible, the younger one followed his harsh companion’s lead. He still stared at Serwe, his eyes somehow both shy and vicious”

And again, Serwe’s first and only concern is that she bears the blood guilt for Kellhus, Cnaiur, and the boy.

They’re dead, she thought. I killed them.


You deserve this” (p440).

The old man cuts off clothing and exposes her.

 “’Leave me alone,’ she whispered, her voice pinched by burning eyes and trembling lips. The impotent demand of a child tormented by other children.

‘Shush,’ he said softly. He gently pressed her to her knees.

‘Don’t be mean to me,’ she murmured through tears.

‘Never,’ he said, his voice stricken, as though with reverence.

With a creak of leather, he fell to one knee and buried his dagger in the forest floor. He was breathing heavily. “Sweet Sejenus,” he hissed. He looked terrified.”

Cnaiur busts in. Kills the younger soldier. Demands to know if Serwe’s been hurt.

“The officer moved away from Serwe, as though to disassociate himself from his crime. ‘C-come now, friend. Hmm? T-take the horses. All y-yours —'

To Serwe it seemed that she’d floated to her feet, that she’d flown at the scarred man, and that the knife had simply appeared in the side of his neck. Only his frantic backhand knocked her back to earth” (p441).

Aspects of the Gods?

The man dies at her feet. Serwe doesn’t seem concerned about his death.

“Cnaüir loomed above her. Broad shoulders and narrow hips. Long chiseled arms banded by scars and veins. Wolf-skin hanging between his sweaty thighs. For a moment her terror and hatred deserted her. He’d saved her from humiliation, perhaps even death.

But the memory of his brutalities could not be silenced. The feral splendor of his frame became something famished, preternaturally deranged.

And he would not let her forget” (p442)

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“He glared at her with an intensity that made her sob. His eyes! White-blue in white, cold with the utter absence of mercy, bright with the ancient hatreds of his race... ‘P-please... Don’t kill me, pleeaase!’

‘That whelp you warned nearly cost us our lives, wench,’ he snarled. ‘Do anything like that again and I will kill you. Try to flee again and I promise, I’ll murder the world to find you!’ Never again! Never... I promise. I’ll suffer you! I will! He released her throat and seized her right arm, and for a moment, she cringed as she wept, expecting a blow. When it did not come, she wailed aloud, choking on her own shuddering breaths. The very forest, the spears of sunlight through forking limbs, the trees like temple pillars, thundered with his anger. I promise.

Is Serwe somehow necessary beyond Cnaiur’s obsessive need to insulate himself from Kellhus?

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 “You have killed him … You know this?”

“’Y-yes,’ … God, what now!”

With the knife, he cut a lateral line across her forearm. The pain was sharp and quick, but she bit her lip rather than cry out. “Swazond,” he said in harsh Scylvendi tones. “The man you have killed is gone from the world, Serwe. He exists only here, a scar upon your arm. It is the mark of his absence, of all the ways his soul will not move, and of all the acts he will not commit. A mark of the weight you now bear.” He smeared the wound with his palm, then clutched her hand.

“I don’t understand,” Serwe whimpered, as bewildered as she was terrified. Why was he doing this? Was this his punishment? Why had he called her by name?

You must suffer him...

“You are my prize, Serwe. My tribe” (p443).

This little tribe already marked by the Gods, both living and dead?

§14.3 - Running with the Devil

They return to find Kellhus.

“And then she was in his arms, clutching him fiercely.

Strong fingers combed through her hair. The hammer of his heart murmured in her ears. He smelled of sun-dried leaves and sturdy earth. Through her tears she heard: ‘Shush, child. You’re safe now. Safe with me.’ So like her father’s voice!”
“Kellhus said, ‘Breng’ato gingis, kutmulta tos phuira.’ Though she knew nothing of Scylvendi, she was certain he had said, ‘She’s yours no longer, so leave her alone.’

Cnaüir simply laughed then replied in Sheyic: ‘We have no time for this. Kidruhil patrols usually number more than fifty. We have killed only a dozen’” (p444)

Kellhus tells Serwe they’ll have to run now.

“Serwe nodded, more tears flooding her eyes. ‘It’s all my fault, Kellhus!’ she hissed. ‘I’m so sorry... But he was just a child. I couldn’t let him die!’

Cnaüir snorted once again. ‘The whelp warned no one, girl. What mere boy could escape a Dünyain?’”

No! In her soul’s eye, she glimpsed the child, small limbs askew somewhere deep in the forest, sightless eyes searching for sky. I did this... Another absence where a soul should have moved. What acts would the nameless boy have accomplished? What kind of hero might he have been?

Kellhus turned away from her, overcome by grief. As though finding solace in urgent action, he began rolling his sleeping mat beneath the grand willow. He paused and without looking at her said in a pained voice: ‘You must forget this, Serwe. We haven’t the time.’

Shame, as though her innards had become cold water.

I forced this crime upon him, she thought, staring at Kellhus as he bound their gear to his saddle. Once again her hand found her belly. My first sin against your father.

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“’The Kidruhil horses,’ the Scylvendi said. ‘We shall ride them to death first.’”

If the Prince of Nothing didn’t take of for you with Kellhus and Cnaiur on the plains, then this must boot it for the rest of you.

§14.4 - Delusions of Pregnancy

“For the first two days, they eluded their pursuers with relative ease, relying on the primeval forests that blanketed the headwaters of the River Phayus and the Scylvendi’s martial acumen to preserve them” (p445)

They ride. And they ride hard.

“By the end of the second day, Cnaüir allowed them to make camp, suggesting that they had lost whatever pursuers they might have had. Two things, he said, were in their favor: the fact that they traveled east, when any Scylvendi raiding party would surely withdraw to the Hethantas after meeting the Kidruhil, and the fact that he and Kellhus had been able to kill so many after the colossal misfortune of encountering them in their hunt for the boy. Serwe was far too exhausted to mention the one she’d killed, so she rubbed the clotted blood on her forearm instead, surprised by the feeling of pride that flared through her.”

Kellhus is learning from Cnaiur already – Cnaiur has definitely got his Boy Scout survival badge.

“The Kidruhil are arrogant fools … Eleven dead will convince them that the raiding party must be large. This means that they will be cautious in their pursuit and send out for reinforcements. It also means that if they encounter our eastward trail, they will think it a ruse and follow it west toward the mountains, hoping to pick up the trail of the main party.

That night they ate raw fish he speared from a nearby stream, and despite her hate, Serwe found herself admiring the affinity between this man and the open wilds. For him it seemed a place of innumerable clues and small tasks. He could guess approaching terrain from the sight and song of certain birds, and he could ease the strain on their horses by feeding them cakes of fungus scratched from the humus. There was far more to him than abuse and murder, she realized” (p446).

They ride for the heart of the Empire.

“And not for the first time, Serwe wondered why these men would risk such a journey.”

“At midday, however, Kellhus urged his mount even to hers and said, ‘You’re hungry again, aren’t you, Serwe?’

‘How do you know these things?’ she asked. It never ceased to thrill her each time Kellhus guessed her thoughts, and the part of her that held him in reverent awe would find further confirmation.”

Indeed… Dunyain’d.

“How long has it been, Serwe?’

‘How long has what been?’ she asked, suddenly fearful.

‘Since you’ve been with child.’

But it’s your child, Kellhus! Yours!

‘But we’ve not yet coupled,’ he said gently.

Serwe suddenly felt bewildered, unsure as to what he meant, and more unsure still whether she had spoken aloud. But of course they had coupled. She was with child, wasn’t she? Who else could be his father?

Tears swelled in her eyes. Kellhus... Are you trying to hurt me?

‘No, no,’ he replied. ‘I’m sorry, sweet Serwe. We’ll stop to eat very soon.’”

This for me was always the definitive go-to about Serwe’s child being Cnaiur’s, not Kellhus – if there remains any debate.
Serwe reflects that she likes to watch Cnaiur’s little humiliations during the communications with Kellhus.

“But this time she felt compelled to watch Kellhus, to note the way the sun flashed through his blond hair, to study the sumptuous line of his lips and the glitter of his all-knowing eyes. And he seemed almost painfully beautiful, like something too bright for cold rivers, bare rock, and knotted trees. He seemed —

Serwe held her breath. Feared for a moment that she might swoon. I didn’t speak and yet still he knew.

’I am the promise,’ Kellhus had said above the long road of Scylvendi skulls.

Our promise, she whispered to the child within her. Our God.

But could it be? Serwe had heard innumerable stories of the Gods communing with Men as Men long ago in the days of the Tusk. This was scripture. This was true! What was impossible was that a God might walk now, that a God might fall in love with her, with Serwe, the daughter sold to House Gaunum. But perhaps this was the meaning of her beauty, the reason she had suffered the venal covetousness of man after man. She was also something too beautiful for the world, something awaiting the arrival of her betrothed. Anasurimbor Kellhus.

She smiled tears of rapturous joy. She could see him as he truly was now, radiant with otherworldly light, haloes like golden discs shining about his hands. She could see him!” (p447)

Now I’m inclined to believe that Serwe is simply super-susceptible to self-delusion.

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Kellhus speaks to her in her father’s tongue again and she’s further deluded/confirmed.

“That afternoon they crossed a broad valley, and as they crested the summit of the far slopes, they caught their first glimpse of their pursuers” (p448).

They ride harder.

You have nothing to fear, she would think. Your father rides with us” (p449).

They met a determined foe, more determined than the Kidruhil.

 “’I’ve already seen them,’ Cnaüir replied, heaving a saddle far out into the rushing water. ‘The advantage of the pursuer: torches at night.’ There was a difference in his tone, Serwe realized, an ease she’d never heard before. The ease of a workman in his element” (p450).

They ran.

“’The River Phayus,’ Cnaüir said. ‘Very soon, we will ride, Serwe.’



As dawn gathered on the eastern horizon, Cnaüir called them to a halt. Clutched in the roots of an upturned tree, a great disc of earth reared above him. ‘Now we ride,’ he said. ‘We ride hard’” (p451).

They ride.

Some info:

“They skirted small agrarian villages and the vast plantations that belonged to the Houses of the Congregate. As a concubine indentured to House Gaunum, Serwe had been sequestered in similar villas, and as she stared at the rambling compounds, the roofs tiled in red clay, and the rows of spear-like junipers, she was troubled that something once so familiar could become so threatening and strange.

The slaves lifted their heads from the fields and watched them gallop along the dusty byways. Teamsters cursed them as they thundered past. Women dropped their burdens and yanked astonished children out of harm’s way. What did these people think? Serwe wondered, her thoughts drunk with fatigue. What did they see?

Daring fugitives, she decided. A man whose harsh face reminded them of Scylvendi terror. Another man, whose blue eyes plumbed them in the haste of a single glance. And a beautiful woman, her long blonde hair askew — the prize these men would deny their unseen pursuers” (p452).

They ride harder.

“’How many?’ Cnaüir asked Kellhus.

‘The same as before... sixty-eight. Although they now ride different horses.’

‘Different horses,’ Cnaüir repeated dryly, as though as disgusted by what this meant as by Kellhus’s ability to draw such conclusions. ‘They must have seized them somewhere on the way.’

‘You failed to anticipate this?’

‘Sixty-eight,’ Cnaüir said, ignoring his question. ‘Too many?’ he asked, staring hard at Kellhus.

‘Too many.’

‘Even if we attack at night?’

Kellhus nodded, his eyes strangely unfocused. ‘Perhaps,’ he replied at length, ‘but only if all other alternatives have been exhausted.’

‘What alternatives?’ Cnaüir asked. ‘What... should we do?’ Serwe glimpsed a curious anguish in his expression. Why does it trouble him so? Can’t he see we’re meant to follow?” (p453)

They ride harder still.

Serwe’s horse falters.

“’Leave her!’ she heard the Scylvendi bark. ‘They want us, not her. She’s stolen property to them, a pretty bauble.’

‘I will not.’

‘This is not like you, Dünyain... Not like you at all.’

‘Perhaps,’ she heard Kellhus say, his voice now very close and very gentle. Hands cupped her cheeks. Kellhus... No blue babies.

No blue babies, Serwe. Our child will be pink and alive.
‘But she’ll be safer —‘

Darkness, and dreams of a great, shadowy race across heathen lands” (p454)

§14.5 - Honest Conversation

“Floating. Where’s the knife?

Kellhus is riding, Serwe tied to his torso.

They get caught between two groups of horsemen.

Some martial struggle. More Dunyain Kung-Fu.

They fight their way to a crest. And throw themselves over its edge to slide down and escape the Kidruhil.

More riders follow.

 “’What does this mean?’ she cried, gasping at the flare of pain that punished her.

Kellhus knelt before her, his heavenly face blotting out the sun. Once again she could see his halo, the shimmering gold that marked him apart from all other men. He’ll save us! Don’t worry, my sweet, I know He will!



 ‘But you’re the promise,’ she said, sobbing” (p458).

“Then the first stallions, caparisoned in mail skirts, stamped from shade into sunlight, bearing riders in white-and-blue surcoats and heavy hauberks. As the horsemen closed in a ragged semicircle, Serwe realized they possessed silver faces, as passionless as those of the Gods. And she knew they had been sent — sent to protect him! To shelter the promise.”
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“’I’m Krijates Iryssas,’ the young man said in heavily accented Sheyic. ‘These pious but dour fellows are Knights of Attrempus and Men of the Tusk... Have you seen any fugitive criminals about?’

Stunned silence. At last Cnaüir said, ‘Why do you ask?’

The knight looked askance at his comrades then leaned forward in his saddle. His eyes twinkled. ‘Because I’m dying for the lack of honest conversation.’

The Scylvendi smiled” (p459).

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What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 03:00:44 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
This and the last chapter have consistently floored me.  It's in fact left me a bit outraged at the way Serwe has been dismissed by the misogyny/sexist theory promoters, described as a 'nothing' (which is interesting because it means they've "bought in" to her internal narrative of putting herself down, since she describes herself as a nothing as well, she primes readers to put her down in a sexist manner from the way she narrates her internal monologue from pretty much her first paragraph as a viewpoint).  There's so much to mine since the appearance of Serwe, I've had a Word doc up for weeks trying to keep up with Chapters 11-14 and I'm just unable to grapple with the speed and immensity of everything that happens.

But speaking of Serwe thinking of herself as a nothing, Kellhus is an ubermensch who journeys through a meaningful world searching for meaninglessness--and he encounters a woman who internally attempts to embody nothingness, did he find something he was seeking?

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 03:00:56 am »
Quote from: Madness
Lmao.

I agree, lockesnow. You've mentioned that there is so much info in the last couple chapters and it's so true. But then the narrative picks up quite a bit.

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 03:01:12 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
How about in TWP when Serwe remembers Cnaiur's description of Swazond in this chapter and is almost word perfect?

Also, Serwe has had all 'blue babies' what if all her children were stillborn. 

When she sees Kellhus haloed, "as he truly is," doe she see him with the Judging Eye?

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 03:01:25 am »
Quote from: Wilshire
TWP, TAE spoilers:
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 03:01:42 am »
Quote from: Madness
I'm pretty sure we have lockesnow to thank for my mind moving in that direction.

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LMAO! Maybe this is what the Priestesses of Gierra have been about all along. I assume they don't wear the whore's shell. Cultivating a more direct communion with God.

Also, Wilshire, appreciate it and by all means carry on with the spoilers. I know I will. This place is, like many other corners of the forum, a wild-west of spoilerific comments and I specifically left it up to the community to distinguish conduct as we see fit as a group - as I'm sure you'd gathered ;).

I don't want to take the time to chase down spoilers here. Especially when many themes discussed, like this one, clearly reflect Layers of Revelation.

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 03:01:57 am »
Quote from: Madness
And yet its still a spoiler.

But lockesnow, continuing notation from Ch. 13:

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 03:02:11 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote from: Madness
And yet its still a spoiler.

But lockesnow, continuing notation from Ch. 13:

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 03:02:23 am »
Quote from: Madness
Lol! Bakker! What do you see?

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 03:02:35 am »
Quote from: Church
The end of this chapter confused me a bit, just at the level of simple plotting. Why would a group of Conriyans assume that a Scylvendi would be able to help them, even if they were desperate for someone who could take the place of Conphas?

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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 03:09:59 am »
Quote from: Madness
The way I read it - aside from the World Conspires, as Serwe notes vapidly "they are there to protect," which from whence did that bauble of exactitude come from? - is that all the Great Names have factions either plundering or returning order to the countryside around Momemn as the Indenture Ploy plays out. Proyas hears about Kidruhil hunting a Scylvendi, a Ketyai, and a Norsirai through the Nansurium, riding hard towards Momemn, not back to the Hethantas...

Surely Proyas is curious and wishes to deny the Ikurei any object of their desire, especiall while not being able to partake in the, probably satisfactory, plundering of the Empire due to being Maithanet's Boy in Momemn.

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EDIT: Correction Spoiler:

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 03:10:15 am »
Quote from: Church
Yeah, it just doesn't seem that convincing to me - why would the Conriyans assume that a Scylvendi would be of help, why would they have such a familiar greeting, and why would Cnaiur just accept this new situation so readily? This is really the only plot niggle I have with the series, feels like it's one of the few occasions when it uses the kind of easy coincidences that make up the plot of series like the wheel of time...

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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 03:10:33 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
I feel like it's just a good end of the chapter.

The Conriyans decide to chase whatever the Kudrihil are chasing for the following reasons:

1) it's possible the Kudrihil are trying to cover up something that might be embarassing to the Empire, thus if the Conriyans catch them first, they might discover valuable intel.

2) it's possible the Kudrihil are chasing them for some other reason and the Conriyans might be able to swap the prisoners if they catch them first for some valuable intel, or they might be able to swap the prisoners and establish some good relations on a lower scale with the Kudrihil which would be valuable later, to have an in/source.

3) the Conriyans are really pissed at the Empire and are looking for any means to embarass them, thus if they catch whatever the Kudrihil want, there's a good chance to really make the Empire sting.

Then after they are captured, in an offscreen scene, the Conriyans are persuaded into being the fugitives protectors.  Kellhus is probably responsible for that.  I picture the Conriyan grin there at the end of the chapter as rather feral, he doesn't have any intention on being their buddies at that point, they're just a valuable prize/leverage, presumably more valuable alive than dead if they have any information (hence the 'jest' about conversation).

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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 03:10:47 am »
Quote from: Church
I can see the logic, but I still don't really buy it! Not a big plot problem, just a bit of a niggle...

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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 03:11:00 am »
Quote from: WrathOfMe
I'm a little behind the times here with this chapter - just got linked here a few days ago by Madness, though I've been a member.

Anyway, I want to talk about Serwë and the Judging Eye. Basically, in Chapter 14 she sees Kellhus with haloes hands twice. The first scene reads:
Quote
She could see him as he truly was now, radiant with otherworldly light, haloes like golden discs shining about his hands. She could see him!
Quote
Once again she could see his halo [singular here for some reason], the shimmering gold that marked him apart from all other men.

Now, this tense is kind of tough to parse. It's all written in past tense, but if you take only these quotes I think it's debatable. I think you could make a successful argument that he is being clever and hiding these quotes in a present tense. I'll need to dig out my grammar book to be more certain, but as I recall modal verbs like "could" are generally given their tense via context and the following verbs - which in this case are in present tense, although the context is in past tense.

In any case, this may be a huge stretch, but if I'm right, then we may have some evidence that Serwë has the JE, since we know Mim has it and obviously her POV is made unique by the use if present tense.