TDTCB, Ch. 15

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What Came Before

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« on: April 19, 2013, 03:21:51 am »
Quote from: Church
Many have condemned those who joined the Holy War for mercenary reasons, and doubtless, should this humble history find its way into their idle libraries, they will blast me as well. Admittedly, my reasons for joining the Holy War were "mercenary," if by that one means I joined it in order to procure ends outside the destruction of the heathen and the reconquest of Shimeh. But there were a great many mercenaries such as myself, and like myself, they inadvertently furthered the Holy War by killing their fair share of heathen. The failure of the Holy War had nothing to do with us.
             
Did I say failure? Perhaps "transformation" would be a better word.

                               -Drusas Achamian, Compendium of the holy war

Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.   
                          -Ajencis, the fourth analytic of man


Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-tusk, Momemn

1: Xinemus, Achamian and Proyas
Achamian visits Proyas, seeking to restore their relationship and to discuss the consult. Achamian has his usual what-is-the-role-of-the-mandate angst, him and Proyas bicker about faith, politics etc. Proyas implies that faith in the Inrithi religion is equivalent to Achamian's faith in the consult existing; this leads to him very quickly saying that he can never see Achamian again as they have no common ground.


2: Xin and Proyas
Short section, with Xin and Proya discussing Proyas's behaviour to Achamian. More confirmation that Proyas is a zealot


3: Achamian
Begins with a dream, but this isn't immediately Seswatha's dream. An interesting little intrusion (and this is before Kellhus has had anything to do with Achamian):

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That night Achamian dreamed of Esmenet, lithe and wild upon him, and of Inrau crying out from the Great Black: "They're here, old teacher! In ways you cannot see!"

So is this Achamian's subconscious happening on what occurred with Inrau? Or is this Inrau communicating from the outside? The first bit with Esmenet would seem to indicate subconscious, but the bit with Inrau ties up too neatly with what he would actually say to Achamian if he was still alive.

The dream of the first apocalypse is of Celmonas's death. Several great bits:

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[this is Celmonas speaking]: "Yes! Yes... The darkness of the No-God is not all-encompassing. The Gods see us yet, dear friend. They are distant, but I can see them galloping across the skies. I can hear them cry out to me."

[again Celmonas]: "They say my end is not the world's end. That burden, they say, is yours... Yours, Seswatha"

[Celmonas]: "The sun! Can you see the sun? Feel it upon your cheek? Such revelations are hidden in such simple things"

[Celmonas, after saying that he can see Nau-Cayuti again, riding across the sky]: "He says that one of my seed will return, Seswatha. An Anasurimbor will return [...] at the end of the world"
   

After the last part of the quote Celmonas dies, and at that very moment the sun disappears. Which probably indicates that what he's saying about the sun and his son are probably not just the ravings of a dying man...


4: Esmenet

She goes on a visit to the market, feels confusion about her identity (as Sarcellus has been taking her to places such as the Andiamine heights which she would never have been allowed to go to before; she also acts with fairly casual brutality to a female slave). She's been with Sarcellus for months now, but she can't resist being the prostitute again. Is RSB saying that this is what we want from the Esme character? We can't allow her to drop her past that easily? Anyway, her encounter with a John ends with him running away in disgust, when he finds black "seed" all over her thighs.


5: Esmenet

When she returns to Sarcellus he is suspicious, after examining her he slaps her. He asks if it was Achamian she slept with; she says yes to spite him, and he then begins crying. Not quite sure why - is this just a deeper ploy to manipulate her?


6: Achamian and Proyas

Proyas has quickly repented of his vow never to see Achamian again, as he needs him for advice. This gives Achamian the pretext to lecture Proyas on the priority of doubt over certainty (when I first read this I found myself completely agreeing with what Achamian says, it's pretty much the standard western liberal gospel of tolerance etc. But what's RSB's purpose in putting this here?). However, Proyas quickly makes clear his views haven't changed, and that he needs Achamian to offer advice on... what to do with a Scylvendi who may be a substitute for Ikurei Conphas (and a male and female companion who probably aren't that important...).


7: Achamian, Proyas, Kellhus, Serwe, Cnaiur...

Achamian briefs Proyas on what to expect, he described the Scylvendi as:

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As savage as Sranc, and far more cunning.

Though given what we've already seen in the series, and what we know is coming, it seems it's not only the Scylvendi who act like Sranc when they get the chance.

When the group arrives we see Kellhus already making himself part of the group, with one of the Conriyans already treating him like a "bond brother". After some back-and-forth they establish that Cnaiur is presenting himself as a mercenary, claiming that he had to because the Utemot have been wiped out. Cnaiur then goes on to set out his credentials as a warrior, and a warrior who knows how to fight the Kianene. Introductions of the others are made, including Kellhus, which understandably causes Achamian to almost keel over sideways. A close intersection of the dream he had with Celmonas earlier in the chapter and this, given the whole "An Anasurimbor will return [...] at the end of the world"  thing. Then finally Kellhus planting a seed, explaining his presence by saying that he had been sent dreams that he should take part in a Holy War...

What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 03:24:09 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
Quote
But inevitably, the other dreams stirred beneath, the hoary nightmare that always reared its dreadful frame, shrugging away the tissue of lesser, more recent longings.

Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (p. 439). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Anyone note this and connect it to the other things we're learning about frames in the Aspect Emperor?

Is Seswatha like the wight in the mountain?

And yes, that Inrau calls out to Achamian from the GREAT BLACK is fascinating, as is Achamian's image of Esmenet, both tease us with the suggestions that there is more going on in this supposedly 'mundane' dream than the typical western interpretation of dreams as the fiddlings of subconscious would suggest.   It seems that Inrau is literally warning Achamian in this fleeting moment--which suggests either that Inrau is alive and attempting to dream walk/warn Achamian or it suggests that Inrau is dead and has found oblivion but is still able to connect to Achamian.

If Inrau is in the Outside (which is an interesting assumption given we are given the unique phrase Great Black, which may not be a synonym for the Outside), why can he connect to Achamian?  I feel like we've been given some instruction on dreams in the later books that probably put dreams as being closer to the outside.  But it's also the TIMING of the dream of Inrau's warning that is suspect.  It comes moments before Achamian experiences a Seswatha dream.

And he prefaces that Seswatha dream with the above quote.  A new frame is being dragged into place over Achamian's consciousness/identity.  And seconds before that new frame is placed, Inrau is able to contact him.  My theory is that due to the frame transition of Seswatha's interference, Inrau has a tiny window of opportunity to shout a message through before the Seswatha frame overwrites everything, I'm suggesting he's piggybacking on Seswatha's communication to try to slide a communique in first, once the new frame's gate has opened the way.

(or sorcerer's use of magic causes them to become a topos and the bruising of the onta and subsequent damnation they carry is a reflection of a topos being created out of the fabric of a soul, and because they are a topos, they are a black hole to the outside in the manner of a topos).

Also of interest is the Esmenet section because of the Black Seed.

Does anyone know if Esmenet ever thinks about fucking Sarcellus or otherwise whoring herself to him?  In otherwords, does she have any black seed encounters with Sarcellus, or is this encounter with this John her first sexual encounter after the interrorape by the inchoroi/synthese?  If this is her first fuck after the inchoroi then the black seed may have been lingering  unexpelled inside her.  It's possible that the black seed means something else, perhaps this John was a skin spy?  But if the skin spy has black seed, then why doesn't Esmenet ever note black seed from Sarcellus and identify him as Consult.  Indeed, black seed from a skin spy might seem to defeat their purpose as it would be a good way to identify them--and would cause them to be identified often since they seem to have a less than stellar control over their sexual impulses.  So if the John is not a skin spy, then why did he have black seed?  If he was a synthese, that might explain it, or perhaps if he were possessed by the inchoroi that might explain it, but neither of those really explain his autonomy, or expressed regret at the end of the encounter, and if he were under the control of the inchoroi, what have they to gain by this public fucking, it's a pointless play.

In all this entire scene makes no sense in the context of a reread, it's easy to overlook a first time through, but amidst the knowledge bestowed by future books this one scene stands out as an especially incomprehensible anomaly.

Though perhaps the best explanation is that the black seed and the "what have I done" are disconnected units of experience.  they are not on a continuum.

That is to say, perhaps Esmenet sees Black Seed because she this was particularly transgressive behavior, so her mind punishes her with guilt and imagry it finds most offensive, something in proportion to her transgression and the black seed is merely an illusion of her consciousness, it's not actually there, she just thinks it is because the trauma memories help her punish herself for her desire.  Her perspective is not broken by the man's discontinuous 'what have I done' she just thinks its in response to the black seed.  But he didn't see any black seed, he just now came to his senses and realized he just fucked like a wild animal and broke a vow or moral belief that he had previously not transgressed.  His 'what have I done' was a normal guilt reflex, and his fleeing was related to his own internal narrative, and not the black seed, he never even saw the black seed.

for some reason that 'simplest' explanation seemed really difficult and complex to explain.  :-p it seems I had an illusion of simplicity when I thought it up.

What Came Before

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 03:24:37 am »
Quote from: Madness
It has been a journey but in my mind, we are over the hump and the Prince of Nothing picks up in earnest after this. Welcome…

To the Holy War.

Many have condemned those who joined the Holy War for mercenary reasons, and doubtless, should this humble history find its way into their idle libraries, they will blast me as well. Admittedly, my reasons for joining the Holy War were “mercenary,” if by that one means I joined it in order to procure ends outside of the destruction of the heathen and the reconquest of Shimeh. But there were a great many mercenaries such as myself, and like myself, they inadvertently furthered the Holy War by killing their fat share of heathen. The failure of the Holy War had nothing to do with us.
Did I say failure? Perhaps “transformation” would be a better word.

— DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.
— AJENCIS, THE FOURTH ANALYTIC OF MAN

Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, Momemn

§15.1 – Pious Proyas & Blasphemous Achamian

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“’Remember what I said,’ Xinemus muttered to Achamian as an aging slave led them into Proyas’s immense pavilion. ‘Be formal. Be cautious... He’s seeing you only to shut me up, nothing more’” (p463)

Snap back to the Holy War. We last left Achamian when he heard word that Proyas would not see him upon the Prince’s arrival in Momemn. Achamian has taken to drink and hashish.

Achamian and Xinemus exchange some banter about instructing Proyas in the Prince’s youth. Achamian mentally notes some disarray suggesting us Proyas at odds to his person.

Quote
“’Turmoil and crisis,’ Xinemus said by way of explanation. ‘Ever since his arrival... He has more than half his staff out in the field, counting chickens.’

Achamian has some momentary doubts when he’s on the cusp of finally harassing Proyas.

Some Conriyan Custom:

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“Censers hazed the interior with the scent of aromatic woods. Carpets lay scattered about a central fire, making the ground a cozy jumble of Ainoni pictograms and stylized scenes drawn from Conriyan legend. Reclined among cushions, the Prince watched from the far side of the shining hearth. Achamian immediately fell to his knees, bowing.



‘Rise, Schoolman,” Proyas said. “Take a cushion by my hearth. I won’t ask you to kiss my knee’” (p464)

Despite his tutorship, Proyas obviously wasn’t happy to see Achamian at Sumna, at Maithenet’s knee, no less.

Quote
“You have honored me beyond estimation, my Prince, by granting me this audience.’

‘Perhaps more than you know, Achamian. Never in my life have so many men clamored for my ear.’

‘Regarding the Holy War?’

‘What else?’”

A little back and forth between Xinemus and Proyas.

Xinemus is another hypothesis about the motif of the everyhuman.

(click to show/hide)

In this instant, I mean, Leweth, Geshrunni, Martemus, Anissi, Pirasha, etc… through to Xinemus. Representive Humanity.
I particularly enjoy Xinemus’ practicalities. Proyas taken in by the groupthink of BoysAtWar.

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Proyas scowled and waved his hands. ‘Enough! You say this, while I say that, over and over again. For once I’d rather hear Achamian speak! Did you hear that, Zin? You’ve irritated me that much...’ (p465)

Achamian daydreams a bit – you can get killed for delaying ritual...

Quote
“’Achamian...’ Proyas said when he did not immediately speak, ‘I have a nation of migrants to feed, an army of bandits to restrain, and an Emperor to outwit. So let’s dispense with the niceties of jnan. Just tell me what you want’

Proyas’s face was a battleground of expectancy and impatience. He wanted to see his old tutor, Achamian guessed, but he did not want to want this. This was a mistake.

Involuntary intake of breath. ‘I wonder whether my Prince still recalls what it was I taught him those many years ago.’

‘Those recollections, I fear, are the only reason you’re here.’

Achamian nodded. ‘Does he recall what it means to think in terms of possibilities?’

Impatience regained the heights of Proyas’s expression. ‘You mean to think ‘as if?’’

‘Yes, my Prince’

‘As a child I tired of your games, Achamian. As a man I simply have no time for them.’

‘This is no game’”

I best stop here before I quote the whole chapter. It’s real good stuff.

Proyas, knowing full well the Mandate’s mandate, asks Achamian why he’s here. I love the Philosopher’s Plight arguing abstraction against mundane realities but Achamian attempts to execute his duty.

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“I would merely remind you, my Prince, that when we’re most certain, we’re most certain to be deceived” (p466)

Bakker Platitude.

Some contention between Faith and Doubt. Proyas is a fanatic Disciple (no relation), atm – having given himself as God’s Instrument before the Tusk.

Proyas asserts that the Holy War is complicated enough without Mandate Nightmare.

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“It’s a possibility that saves me, that drives me to continue. What if? I ask myself. What if this Holy War is in fact divine, a good in and of itself?” (p467)

And so Proyas continues to distinguish himself as our Pillar of Faith within the narrative.

Achamian admits doubt, of course, and Proyas feeling bad recalls Coithus Saubon killing an entire village. He is a man besieged. Yet Proyas doesn’t communicate with the Shriah.

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“Suddenly Achamian understood.

‘You defy him,’ he said. ‘Maithanet has forbidden these raids!’ Achamian could scarce conceal his jubilation. If Proyas had defied his Shriah...

‘I like not your manner,’ Proyas snapped. ‘What care you —‘ He stopped, as though struck by a realization of his own. ‘Is this the possibility you wish me to consider?’ he asked, wonder and fury in his tone. ‘That Maithanet...’ A sudden gallows laugh. ‘That Maithanet conspires with the Consult?’

‘As I said,’ Achamian replied evenly, ‘a possibility.’

‘Achamian, I’ll not insult you. I know the Mandate mission. I know the solitary horror of your nights. You and your kind live the myths we put aside with childhood. How can one not respect that? But don’t confuse whatever disagreements I may have regarding Maithanet with the reverence and devotion I bear the Holy Shriah. What you’re saying — the ‘possibility’ you’re asking me to entertain — is blasphemous. Do you understand?’(p468)

Proyas asks if Achamian has more than his Dreams… more than faith?

Inrau’s death? Penalty for spying in the Thousand Temples. Maithenet’s of the Few? So have other Shriah’s been like the College of Luthymae. Forceful dreams?

Then Proyas says it, Faith vs. Faith via a little seeding:

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“’Faith is the truth of passion, Achamian, and no passion is more true than another. And that means there’s no possibility you could speak that I could consider, no fear you could summon that could be more true than my adoration. There can be no discourse between us.’

‘Then I apologize... We’ll speak of this no more! I didn’t mean to offend —‘

‘I knew this would pain you,’ Proyas interrupted, ‘but it must be said. You’re a blasphemer, Achamian. Unclean. Your very presence is a trespass against Him. An outrage. And as much as I once loved you, I love my God more. Far more.’

Xinemus could bear no more. ‘But surely —‘

Proyas silenced the Marshal with an upraised hand. His eyes reflected fervor and fire. 'Zin’s soul is his own. He can do with it what he will. But, Achamian, you must respect me on this: I don’t want to see you again. Ever. Do you understand?'

No.

Achamian looked first to Xinemus, then back to Nersei Proyas.

It doesn’t need to be like this...

‘So be it,’ he said” (p471)

Achamian asks only that Proyas check on the truth of Inrau’s death. Proyas asks why he should to which Achamian replies because Proyas loved him once.

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”Dead, Achamian thought. My students are all dead” (p472)

A little melodramatic Achamian…

§15.2 – Five Finger Moral Punch

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“’Ask yourself, Proyas — for once set scripture aside and truly ask yourself — whether the feeling within your breast — now, at this very moment — is wicked or righteous.’

Earnest pause.

‘But I feel nothing’” (p472)

§15.3 – Dreaming Dead Souls

Quote
”That night Achamian dreamed of Esmenet, lithe and wild upon him, and then of Inrau crying out from the Great Black: ‘They’re here, old teacher! In ways you cannot see!’”

Always love this one:

Clearly, Dead Inrau speaking to Achamian, which gives us some hints at Dreams being a connection directly to Seswatha’s Soul or the Outside/Both.

But inevitably… the Dreams:

Quote
‘He says... says such sweet things to give me comfort... He says that one of my seed will return, Seswatha. An Anasurimbor will return —‘ The High King winced and shuddered. Spittle hissed through clenched teeth.
‘— at the end of the world.’

Then the shining eyes of Anasurimbor Celmomas II, White Lord of Tryse, High King of Kuniüri, grew slack and dull. The evening sun flashed then flickered out, and the gleaming bronze of the Norsirai host paled in the No-God’s twilight.

‘Our King!’ Achamian cried to the grim knights about him. ‘Our King is dead!’” (p474)

The Celmomian Prophecy… again...

An Anasurimbor is returning to the Three-Seas yet it is the second return, if not third, fourth, or Nerdanel…

§15.4 – Derogatory with Derogatives

Quote
”She found herself wondering whether such games were common to the Kamposea Agora”

Esmenet and Achamian are so close… Yet she doesn’t seek him out and he doesn’t know she’s in Momemn.

Lol, Bakker… Worldbuilding at its finest.

Esmenet has a ‘gentleman caller’ following her in the Agora and she leans to give him a glance of her form in a:

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“a traditional hasas … A hasas was little more than a long bolt of linen cut with an intricately embroidered collar and joined at the waist by a leather girdle. Though it was the garment of choice for free-wives on hot days, it was also popular among prostitutes — for the obvious reasons”

Then:

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”But she was no longer a prostitute. She was...

She no longer knew what she was”

The two girls who are sent to watch Esmenet watch the man as well and despite Esmenet’s inner protestations, she’s angry?

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"The network of blue tattoos along his arms meant he was an officer of some kind in the Emperor’s Eothic Guard. Other than that, Esmenet knew him not at all” (p475)

She reminisces about an encounter that must have been but moments ago, where she’s seducing the man but doesn’t quite no why.

Esmenet and the girls start to snark at each other before a Merchant:

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“’She is your mistress!’ he cried.

The sunburned girl cringed. Hansa clutched her shoulders.

The spice-monger turned to Esmenet, raised a palm to his neck and lowered his right cheek — a caste merchant’s gesture of deference. He smiled at her approvingly.

Never in her life had she been so clean, so well-fed, or so well-dressed. Aside from her eyes and her hands, she looked, Esmenet knew, like the wife of some humble caste noble. Sarcellus had given her innumerable gifts: clothing, unguents, perfumes — but no jewelry" (p476)

The Consult has done what no one has for Esmenet ever. Again she’s been delivered to the Summit of Worldly Wonders, as far as Knight-Commander of the Shrial Knights goes.

Esmenet uses the situation to her advantage and as one of the girls, Eritga, retorts and Esmenet takes advantage of the merchant to chase her handlers away.

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”But Esmenet could only think, I’m alone.

She blinked at the tears threatening her eyes. ‘Thank you,’ she said to the old man.

The gnarled face softened. ‘What you buy?’ he asked gently. ‘Pepper? Garlic? I have very good garlic. I winter it very special way.’

How long had it been since she was last alone? Since that village months ago, she realized, where Sarcellus had rescued her from being stoned. She shuddered, suddenly feeling horribly on her own. She hid her tattoo in the palm of her right hand.
From the day Sarcellus had saved her, she had not once been alone. Not truly. Since she’d arrived in the Holy War, Eritga and Hansa had been ever-present. And Sarcellus himself had somehow managed to spend a great deal of his time with her. In fact, he’d been remarkably attentive, given the selfishness that seemed to characterize so much of his life otherwise. He’d indulged her on many occasions, taking her here, to the Kamposea Agora, several times, bringing her to worship at the Cmiral, spending an entire afternoon with her in the Temple of Xothei, laughing as she marveled at its great dome and listening as she explained how the Ceneians had built it in near antiquity.

He had even toured the Imperial Precincts with her, teasing her for gawking as they walked in the cool shadow of the Andiamine Heights.

But he had never left her alone. Why?

Was he afraid she’d seek out Achamian? It struck her as a silly fear.

She went cold.

They were watching Akka. They! He had to be told!

But then why did she hide from him? Why did she dread the thought of bumping into him each time she left the encampment? Whenever she glimpsed someone who resembled him, she would instantly look away, afraid that if she did not, she might make whoever it was into Achamian. That he would see her, punish her with a questioning frown. Stop her heart with an anguished look...” (p478)

This is some extreme dissonance. From this perspective it almost seems as if the Consult has intended it.

Esmenet realizes she has no money with which to purchase anything and begins to eye up the man who’s been following her little entourage.

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I want this!

She leads (read lures) the man to an alley and hurries to get after him.

At first, in the embrace, he thinks she simply admires him until…

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“’No!’ she exclaimed, pushing him back.

‘What?’ He leaned against her elbows, searching for her mouth.

She turned her face away. ‘Coin,’ she breathed. False laugh. ‘No one eats for free’” (p479)

They barter for Esmenet’s body and as the man realizes she is a Sumna whore, the price drops considerably. She demands it, rather than none at all; she simply seeks the comfort of “reliable circumstances?” (I’ve been involved in plenty situations where something terrible is comfort compared to something worse)

The deed is done quickly and in the end the man seems to regret.

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”’By the God,’ he gasped.

He withdrew, pressed himself from her arms. He seemed to look through her. ‘By the God...’ he repeated, differently this time. ‘What have I done?’”

Running from Esmenet:

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”For the first time, it seemed, she could smell the stink of the alley. She saw the glint of his half-silver among withered, eyeless fish.

She rolled her shoulder against the mud brick, looked to the bright agora. She dropped the coppers.

She pinched shut her eyes, saw black seed smeared across her belly.

Then she fled, truly alone.”

The ambiguity is such here that I’ve always suspected this man as a skin-spy who crosses biological thresholds… But, honestly, in light of the two preceding opinions, I've come to conclude, he's just be a man.

§15.5 – Knight-Commander Dick

Esmenet returns to the Shrial Knights camp, to Sarcellus. He is her patron in the Holy War – What are everyone’s interpretations of her dissonance?

She sees the girls and walks into the Knight-Commander Skin-Spy’s pavilion.

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”Sarcellus was waiting for her inside, sitting in the gloom.

‘I missed you,’ Sarcellus said.

Despite his strange tone, Esmenet smiled. ‘And I you.’

‘Where have you been?’

‘Walking.’

‘Walking...’ He snorted air through his nostrils. ‘Walking where?’

‘In the city. In the markets. What’s it to you?’

He looked at her curiously. He seemed to be... smelling her.

He jumped up, seized her wrist, and yanked her close — so fast that Esmenet gasped aloud.

Staring at her, he reached down and grabbed the hem of her gown, began pulling it up. She stopped him just above her knee.

‘What are you doing, Sarcellus?’

‘I missed you. As I said.’

‘No. Not now. I have the stink of —‘

‘Yes,’ he said, prying her hands away. ‘Now’” (p481)

Sarcellus seems to clue in to Esmenet’s… transgression, though I don’t necessarily think that Esmenet owes him anything. She joined him a free woman, albeit, one who was about to die. Demands who…

He hits her when she doesn’t answer immediately.

Quote
“‘Was it Achamian?’ he asked.

Never, it seemed to Esmenet, had she hated a face more. She felt the spit gather between her lips and teeth.

Yes!’ she hissed.

Sarcellus lowered his hand, released her. For a moment he looked broken.

“Forgive me, Esmi,” he said thickly.

But for what, Sarcellus? For what?

He pulls some amateur Kellhus manipulation, leaving Esmenet to wonder…

§15.6 - Contract Mandate

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"The sorcerer joined Proyas at the appointed hour on a knoll overlooking the vast, squalid expanse of the Holy War. To the east, cupped within the far-flung walls and turrets of Momemn, the sun smoldered like a great coal, rising" (p482)

Proyas has summoned Achamian for some gamble, on this day.

The sorcerer is understandably bitter about having been summoned so soon after having been banished from Proyas’ presence.

On the note of previous speculations, Proyas seems to think that any Scylvendi is better than an Ikurei...

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“’I have an army of rumors to chase, Proyas,’ the Schoolman said. ‘So please, dispense with the jnanic pleasantries and just tell me what you want’”(p483)

A nice retort from earlier in the chapter.

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“The bitterness I can understand, Akka, but you will defer to my station. A covenant binds the School of Mandate to House Nersei, and if need be, I will invoke it”

Achamian and Proyas have some back and forth about history until:

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“’I didn’t summon you!’ Proyas cried. ‘I summoned a Mandate Schoolman under the auspices of the treaty my father signed with your handlers. Either you abide by that treaty or you breach it. The choice is yours, Drusas Achamian’” (p484)

Proyas desperately wishes to focus on the problem at hand – in my experience, problems are people and Achamian is the problem at hand. Some scripture quoting thrown back and forth, which Proyas feels is little more than a cheap trick.

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“’Do not dare judge me,’ Proyas grated.

‘Why have you summoned me, Proyas?’ Achamian asked wearily. ‘What do you want?’”(p485)

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“’Last night I received word from Zin’s nephew, Iryssas. He’s found someone of interest.’

‘Who?’

‘A Scylvendi.’

Now there was a name that gnawed children’s hearts.

Achamian looked at him narrowly but otherwise seemed unimpressed. ‘Iryssas left only a week or so ago. How could he find a Scylvendi so near Momemn?’

‘It seems this Scylvendi was on his way to join the Holy War.’

Achamian looked perplexed. Proyas remembered the first time he ever saw that look: as a youth, playing benjuka with him beneath the temple elms in his father’s garden. How he had exulted.

This time the expression was fleeting. ‘Some kind of hoax?’ Achamian asked.

‘I don’t know what to think, old tutor, which is why I’ve summoned you’”

Achamian is understandably suspicious – perhaps, Scylvendi are just so rare in the empire.

Quote
“When they found the man and his companions, they were being pursued by the Emperor’s Kidruhil. Apparently Iryssas thought it prudent to return as quickly as possible. It seems the Scylvendi has made some rather provocative claims” (p486)

Achamian wants to know about claims (Lol, some nice philosophic homage there – sorcerers are philosophers, assessing claims is the first use of logic ;)).

Quote
“He claims to know the Fanim manner of war. He claims to have defeated them on the field of battle. And he offers his wisdom to the Holy War”

§15.7 - The World "Contrives"

;)

Quote
At last Achamian understood. The agitation. The impatience for his own concerns. Proyas had seen what benjuka players called the kut’ma, or the ‘hidden move.’ He hoped to use this Scylvendi, whoever he was, both to gall and to defeat the Emperor. Despite himself, Achamian smiled. Even after so many hard words, he could not help sharing something of his old student’s excitement”

Again, clearly, the Nansur are one of the few peoples who deal on the regular with the Scylvendi.

Quote
“’You’ve been to Shimeh!’ Proyas blurted.

Achamian scowled. Like most teachers, he despised interruptions. ‘I’ve been many places, Proyas.’

Because of the Consult. When one did not know where to look, one had to look everywhere.

‘I apologize, Akka. It’s just that...’ Proyas trailed, as though mystified.

The Prince, Achamian knew, had transformed Shimeh into the summit of a holy mountain, a destination that required warring thousands to achieve. The idea that a blasphemer might just step from a boat...

‘At the time,’ Achamian continued, “there was a great uproar about the Scylvendi. The Cishaurim had sent twenty of their own to Shigek to join a punitive expedition the Padirajah was preparing to send into the Steppe. Neither the Padirajah’s army nor the Cishaurim were ever heard from again’” (p487)

A little corroborative infodump here to add to what Cnaiur has told Kellhus. Achamian’s big question is why a Scylvendi would share anything with an Inrithi.

Quote
“’Does a Momic Priest hate the bull whose throat he cuts? No. For the Scylvendi, remember, the whole world is a sacrificial altar, and we’re simply the ritual victims. We’re beneath their contempt, which is what makes this so extraordinary. A Scylvendi joining the Holy War? It’s like... like —‘

‘Like entering the sacrificial pens,’ Proyas finished in a dismayed tone, ‘and striking bargains with the beasts’”

I always loved this quote, in context.

But Kellhus makes the fucking difference, doesn’t he… And, of course, Moenghus before him. The Dunyain.

Achamian gives Proyas a little guilty reassurance and then they see Iryssas.

Quote
"Achamian swallowed, tasted dust on his teeth. Habit, especially when combined with dread, made it easy to ignore the future. But this was something he could not do. With so many warlike men gathered in one place, something catastrophic simply had to follow. This was a law as inexorable as any in Ajencis’s logic. The more he remembered it, the more prepared he would be when the time came. Somewhere, someday, thousands of the thousands about me will lie dead" (p488)

Achamian becomes winded, remembering that the last time he has seen a Scylvendi is in his Dreams. Then the further realization that he stands in the lands of his Dreams.

Quote
A Scylvendi. It seemed too bizarre to believe. Was there a greater significance to this? He’d suffered so many dreams of Anasurimbor Celmomas of late, and now this, a waking vision of the world’s ancient end. A Scylvendi!

’Don’t trust him, Proyas. They’re cruel, utterly merciless. As savage as Sranc, and far more cunning.’

Proyas laughed. ‘Did you know the Nansur begin every toast and every prayer with a curse against the Scylvendi?’

‘So I’ve heard.’

‘Well, where you see a wraith from your nightmares, Schoolman, I see the enemy of my enemy.’

The sight of the barbarian, Achamian realized, had reignited Proyas’s hopes.

‘No. You see an enemy, plain and simple. He’s a heathen, Proyas. Anathema.’

The Crown Prince looked at him sharply. ‘As are you’”(p490)

Achamian stumbles again politically, clearly unsuited for the inherent dishonesty of jnan. The riding party pulls up in front of the pair and entourage.

Quote
"Proyas afforded Achamian a final glance before greeting his guests. Be what I need you to be, his eyes warned.

‘So rarely is the look of a man a match for the rumor,’ the Prince said in Sheyic. His eyes lingered on the barbarian’s sinew-strapped arms. ‘But you look every bit as fierce as your people’s reputation, Scylvendi.’

Achamian found himself resenting Proyas’s congenial tone. His ability to effortlessly swap quarrels for greetings, to be embittered one moment and affable the next, had always troubled Achamian. He certainly did not share it. Such mobility of passion, he’d always thought, demonstrated a worrisome capacity for deceit.

The Scylvendi glowered at Proyas, said nothing. Achamian’s skin prickled. The man, he realized, bore a Chorae tucked behind his girdle. He could hear its abyssal whisper" (p492)

Proyas tells Cnaiur he knows he speaks Sheyic. Achamian offers Proyas some informative asides to which Cnaiur responds. He clearly doesn’t appreciate witches ;).

Quote
”’But it’s not your place to question,’ Proyas continued. ‘My men delivered you and your companions from the Nansur, and I can just as easily have them deliver you back. Do you understand?’"

Proyas starts 21 questions… which we know are lies, lies, and Dunyain truths.

Quote
As limited as his knowledge of the Scylvendi was, Achamian had heard of the Utemot, as had every other Mandate Schoolman. According to the Dreams, Sathgai, the King-of-Tribes who had led the Scylvendi under the No-God, was Utemot. Could this be another coincidence?

Quote
’As a mercenary?’ Proyas asked. ‘I think not, my friend. Achamian tells me there’s no such thing as Scylvendi mercenaries.’

Achamian tried to match Cnaüir’s glare. He could not” (p493)

Achamian keeps getting in Cnaiur’s way. Cnaiur must prove valuable to Proyas…

Quote
These were the kind of responses, Achamian knew, that Proyas despised. But then the Scylvendi simply played the same game the Prince did. Proyas wanted to know what the Scylvendi knew about the Fanim before revealing just how much he needed him to know. Otherwise the man might just tell him what he wanted to hear. The evasive reply, however, meant the Scylvendi had sensed this. And this meant he was uncommonly shrewd. Achamian ran his eyes along the scarred length of the barbarian’s arms, trying to count his swazond in a glance. He could not. (p494)

The 21 questions continues and we get some more infodump.

(click to show/hide)

Quote
“Eight years ago, the Kianene invaded the Steppe much as the Nansur did, hoping to put an end to our raids on Gedea. We met them at a place called Zirkirta. Crushed them. These here … are that battle. This one is their general, Hasjinnet, son of Skauras, the Sapatishah of Shigek”

They continue talking and it becomes clear that Proyas isn’t getting the milk for free.

Quote
“The Holy War is paralyzed, Scylvendi. A host, especially a host as great as this, marches on its belly. But Ikurei Xerius III, despite agreements forged more than a year ago, denies us the provisions we need. By ecclesiastical law the Shriah can demand that the Emperor provision us, but he cannot demand that the Nansur march with us" (p496)

Proyas describes his straits to Cnaiur – who offers some pertinent and obvious advice the young Prince.

Quote
“’Without Conphas, your Shriah fears the Holy War will be entirely destroyed. So he refuses to demand the Emperor provision you, dreading a repeat of what happened earlier.’

Proyas smiled bitterly. ‘Indeed. And the Emperor, of course, has made his Indenture Conphas’s price. The only way for Maithanet to wield his instrument, it seems, is to sell it’”

Quote
“My hope,’ Proyas continued, ‘and it’s just a hope, is that Maithanet might accept you as a surrogate for Conphas. With you as our adviser, the Emperor can no longer argue that our ignorance will doom us’” (p497)

Achamian finally manages to awake Proyas to the precarious circumstances.

Quote
”‘Ask him! Why has he come here, and who are the others?

Proyas glanced at Achamian, the chagrin in his eyes overmatched by the admission. His ardor had almost duped him, and he knew it. He had almost brought a Scylvendi to his hearth — a Scylvendi! — without any hard questions.

Quote
“’One thing still troubles me, Scylvendi... I understand that your tribe was destroyed, that your land turned against you, but why would you come here? Why would a Scylvendi cross the Empire, of all places? Why would a heathen join a Holy War?’

The words swatted the humor from Cnaüir urs Skiotha’s face, leaving only wariness. Achamian watched him tense. It seemed a door to something dreadful had been unlatched.

Then from behind the barbarian, a resonant voice declared, ‘I am the reason Cnaüir has traveled here’”

And Kellhus speaks.

Quote
”’And just who are you?’ Proyas asked of the man.

The clear blue eyes blinked. The serene face dipped only enough to acknowledge an equal. ‘I am Anasurimbor Kellhus, son of Moenghus,’ the man said in heavily accented Sheyic. ‘A prince of the north. Of Atrithau’”

A name to shake Achamian’s already shaky composure.

Quote
“’A powerful name.’

‘I cannot speak for my blood,’ the Norsirai replied.

One of my seed will return, Seswatha —

‘You don’t look a Prince. Am I to believe you’re my equal?’

‘Nor can I speak for what you do or do not believe. As for my appearance, all I can say is that my pilgrimage was hard.’

An Anasurimbor will return —

‘Pilgrimage?’

‘Yes. To Shimeh... We have come to die for the Tusk.’

... at the end of the world.

‘But Atrithau lies far beyond the pale of the Three Seas. How could you have known of the Holy War?’

Hesitation, as though he were both frightened and unconvinced by what he was about to say. ‘Dreams. Someone sent me dreams.’

This cannot be!

‘Someone? Who?’

The man could not answer”



Dreams…from Moenghus. One man's revelations are another's mundanities.

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 03:24:59 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote
heavily accented Sheyic
Interesting, hadn't noticed that and when does that accent die out? None of the other characters notice when it does?

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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 03:25:11 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
he learned Sheyic from Cnaiur and probably modified it somewhat from Serwe, but neither would be likely to know Sheyic well enough to lose their native accents.  So he probably had a muddled accent.  His accent probably dropped within 24 hours.

Just how firmly is Kellhus' identity stamped within him that he gives his real name so readily to all who ask it.  Leweth, Mekeritrig, presumably in Atraithau, the Utemot, Serwe, and now in Nansur.  Moenghus changed names, why does Kellhus not? ;)

Quote
‘But Atrithau lies far beyond the pale of the Three Seas. How could you have known of the Holy War?’

this comment comes just after proyas has clarified the Holy War has been stuck for over a year.  And this is with trade routes presumably safer than ever due to Kiyuth.  Yet it seems that Proyas considers it un-possible that there be any communication to Atrithau over this timespan.   Interesting that the elite seem to think there is no trade between Atrithau and the Three Seas, that the two are completely cut off from each other.  Yet Leweth contradicts this...

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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 03:25:25 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: lockesnow
Just how firmly is Kellhus' identity stamped within him that he gives his real name so readily to all who ask it.  Leweth, Mekeritrig, presumably in Atraithau, the Utemot, Serwe, and now in Nansur.  Moenghus changed names, why does Kellhus not? ;)
A curiosity of efficiency. It's simply the shortest path.

More's the question why Moenghus DID change his name?

Perhaps not as in tune with the shortest path - gave in to old instincts of deception?

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 03:25:34 am »
Quote from: Madness
"He thought it was a good thing he was disturbed by the northerner's flawless Scylvendi. It was his reminder. As soon as the northerner no longer disturbed him, he knew, he would be lost" (p380).

lockesnow, §15.7 really seems to highlight the cultural tunnel-vision, at least about the Scylvendi, neh?

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 03:25:46 am »
Quote from: Church
Quote
Does anyone know if Esmenet ever thinks about fucking Sarcellus or otherwise whoring herself to him? In otherwords, does she have any black seed encounters with Sarcellus, or is this encounter with this John her first sexual encounter after the interrorape by the inchoroi/synthese? If this is her first fuck after the inchoroi then the black seed may have been lingering unexpelled inside her. It's possible that the black seed means something else, perhaps this John was a skin spy? But if the skin spy has black seed, then why doesn't Esmenet ever note black seed from Sarcellus and identify him as Consult. Indeed, black seed from a skin spy might seem to defeat their purpose as it would be a good way to identify them--and would cause them to be identified often since they seem to have a less than stellar control over their sexual impulses. So if the John is not a skin spy, then why did he have black seed? If he was a synthese, that might explain it, or perhaps if he were possessed by the inchoroi that might explain it, but neither of those really explain his autonomy, or expressed regret at the end of the encounter, and if he were under the control of the inchoroi, what have they to gain by this public fucking, it's a pointless play.

In all this entire scene makes no sense in the context of a reread, it's easy to overlook a first time through, but amidst the knowledge bestowed by future books this one scene stands out as an especially incomprehensible anomaly.

I agree that it doesn't make much sense. Seems unlikely that she and Sarcellus wouldn't have sex -she would have presumed that that was what he wanted, and given skin-spies' impulse control i doubt he would have resisted. So then if he has black seed, why didn't she notice earlier? Seems more a plot device than anything else...

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 03:25:58 am »
Quote from: Madness
Just to reiterate - I think Esmenet imagined the black seed from the John.

Sarcellus having black seed is more important question...

Perhaps, Esmenet and Sarcellus haven't slept together. Perhaps, we assume this on previous knowledge of the Consult's depravity.

Perhaps, Sarcellus simply hosts Esmenet as a Priest would/should, and not like those Shrials in Esmenet's past.

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 03:26:06 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
shouldn't we notice this shit, we're doing a reread, :p have Esmenet and Sarcellus slept together?

It makes sense Esmenet imagined it.  Being a prostitute for the first time since Achamian left her, first time since the interrorape, caused her to remember what she was doing here, it was the trigger that sent her to find Achamian, right?

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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 03:27:14 am »
Quote from: Madness
+1 lockesnow.

So if the John is a Skin-Spy, the Consult want Esmenet to seek out Achamian?

How does this jive with Aurang's comments earlier (Ch. 9, I think) about it being a positive that Esmenet doesn't seek out Achamian?

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 03:27:28 am »
Quote from: lockesnow
1. If skin spies have black seed they would be discovered with extreme ease

conclusion: skin spies do not have black seed.

2. Whether or not the John is a Skin Spy, the coupling with the John caused Esmenet to seek out Achamian, this probably has nothing to do with the wishes or wills of the Consult. 

conclusion: the world conspires, based on TJE, it could well be that Gierra or Fate sent Esmenet that John as a way to push her to Achamian, if Esmenet is Gierra's avatar.

3. The Consult doesn't want Esmenet to seek out Achamian for several reasons.

3a: she's met the Consult, and they would be exposed if she successfully meets up with Achamian
3b: there's something about her that disturbs them, but they know not what, perhaps they recognize the potential.... (whatever that means)
3c: they plan on Sarcellus replacing her and haven't finished an effective debrief to replace someone known to Achamian so well.

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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 03:27:41 am »
Quote from: Madness
This is something that marks Aurang/Esmenet encounter as different than, neh?

What is up with 3b? Why is the Consult interested in Esmenet?

Lmao - wow.

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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 03:27:54 am »
Quote from: Duskweaver
Quote from: lockesnow
1. If skin spies have black seed they would be discovered with extreme ease
I don't agree with this. I think black seed would be much easier to obfuscate than
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 03:28:04 am »
Quote from: Madness
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