TDTCB, Ch. 17

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« on: December 27, 2013, 03:48:05 pm »
The Andiamine Heights

The event itself was unprecedented: not since the fall of Cenei to the Scylvendi hordes had so many potentates gathered in one place. But few knew Mankind itself lay upon the balance. And who could guess that a brief exchange of glances, not the Shriah’s edict, would tip that balance?

But is this not the very enigma of history? When one peers deep enough, one always finds that catastrophe and triumph, the proper objects of the historian’s scrutiny, inevitably turn upon the small, the trivial, the nightmarishly accidental. When I reflect overmuch on this fact, I do not fear that we are “drunks at the sacred dance,” as Protathis writes, but that there is no dance at all.


— DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

Straight from the Compendium we have historical notation – unprecedented event – and discourse of historicity. Also, the idea that history turns on the accidental. In the last chapter, Eleazaras quoted Iyokus as saying only madmen and historians believe their lies. 

§17.1 - The Great Names, Great Times Party


Late Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk

Finally, the contest of the Faithful vs. Ikurei’s is to be judged before the Great Names. They wander the enormous galleries of the Andiamine Heights.

Also, a Kellhus perspective, which seem to only sparsely populate the narrative.

Proyas offers us some historical notation to assuage Cnaiur’s fears or awe:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p539, 2004 Canadian paperback”
Nansur are the most ancient people of the Three Seas, descendants of the Ceneians of near antiquity and the Kyraneans of far antiquity. They live their lives in the shadow of monumental works and so feel compelled to erect monuments” — he opened his hands to the soaring marmoreal vaults — “such as this.”

Cnaiur offers some Scylvendi spit to the vaunted floors.

Kellhus reflects on the passing week since he’d joined the Holy War and his time in the probability trance. The Holy War’s domination as circumstance is proving incalculable – he’s been denied interaction with the real movers and shakers of the Holy War. Until now.

The setting:

Quote from: p540
The great contest between the Emperor and the Great Names of the Holy War had come to a head. Offering Cnaüir as a substitute for Ikurei Conphas, Proyas had petitioned Maithanet to settle the dispute of the Emperor’s Indenture, and Ikurei Xerius III had accordingly invited all the Great Names to plead their case and hear the Shriah’s judgment. They were to meet in his Privy Gardens, sequestered somewhere within the gilded compounds of the Andiamine Heights.

One way or another, the Holy War was about to march on distant Shimeh.

Whether the Shriah sided with the Great Names and ordered the Emperor to provision the Holy War or with the Ikurei Dynasty and ordered the Great Names to sign the Imperial Indenture meant little to Kellhus. Either way it seemed the leaders of the Holy War would have competent counsel. The brilliance of Ikurei Conphas, the Nansur Exalt-General, was grudgingly acknowledged even by Proyas. And the intelligence of Cnaüir, as Kellhus knew first-hand, was beyond question. What mattered was that the Holy War eventually prevail against the Fanim, and bear him to Shimeh.

To his father. His mission.

Is this what you wanted, Father? Is this war to be my lesson?

We’re offered immediate juxtaposition – the lies (truths) Kellhus has told Cnaiur suggest that Kellhus has been sent to murder Moenghus, however, Kellhus seems intent on understanding why his father summoned him.
 
Xinemus and the Palatines offer some contextual comedy in time-killing efforts.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p541”
“I have little patience for these games,” Cnauir said, and although the others heard this as a curious admission, Kellhus knew it to be a warning. This will be his trial, and I’ll be tried through him.

I really enjoy these moments when Cnaiur speaks to Kellhus’ Dunyainness purposefully.

Quote
“The game is never over,” Proyas asserted. “The game is without beginning or end.”

Without beginning or end...

§17.2 - This one time, At Ishual…

Quote from: ”p541"
Kellhus had been a boy of eleven the first time he heard this phrase.

We’re introduced to boy Kellhus and one of his instructors, a Pragma. The Pragma sits as stone on the terrace and “instructs” Kellhus.

Quote
“The Logos is without beginning or end, young Kellhus. Do you understand this?”

The instruction had begun.

“No, Pragma,” Kellhus replied.

Notation on teacher’s seeing through faces.

Historical notation:
Quote
“Thousands of years ago, when the Dunyain first found —”

“After the ancient wars?” Kellhus eagerly interrupted. “When we were still refugees?”

Pragma lesson of smackdowns. Tells Kellhus impulse is weakness.

The “instruction” continues:

- “That which comes before determines that which comes after.”
- Principle does not decay like matter.
   - “The principle of before and after is nowhere to be found within the circuit of before and after. It is the ground of what is ‘young’ and what is ‘old,’ and so cannot itself be young or old; The Logos is without beginning or end” (p543).
   - Man is different from beast because he “apprehends the Logos; possess intellect.”
   - Dunyain breed for thought, limb, and face because of the Quandary of Man.

Notation aside:
Quote from: p543
A bee had droned into the shrine, and now it etched drowsy, random circles beneath the vaults.

This is often notated as evidence of bee-keeping as diet is a puzzle with the Dunyain.

“Instruction:”
   - Quandary of Man: “That he is a beast, that his appetites arise from the darkness of his soul, that his world assails him with arbitrary circumstance, and yet he apprehends the Logos.”
- “To be utterly free of bestial appetite. To utterly command the unfolding of circumstance. To be the perfect instrument of Logos and so attain the Absolute.”
   - Kellhus is not a perfect instrument because the darkness comes before him; that darkness is called Legion.

Quote from: ”p544”
“You are about to embark, young Kellhus, on the most difficult stage of your Conditioning: the mastery of the legion within. Only by doing this will you be able to survive the Labyrinth.”

“This will answer the question of the Thousand Thousand Halls?”

“No. But it will enable you to ask properly.”

I’ve always wondered about that last bit. I don’t think we ever get a concise answer as to what a Dunyain has to accomplish in the Thousand Thousand Halls.

§17.3 - Animal Heights, or Jnan, why didn’t you say so?

We enter the splendor that is the giant room to please Great Names, Kings, and Emperors: The Privy Garden (see what he did there ;)).

Quote
the Privy Garden had been designed, Kellhus understood, to foster intimacy, to move visiting dignitaries with the gift of the Emperor’s confidence. This was a place of simplicity and elegance, the humble heart of the Emperor made earth and stone.

We get a momentary impression of the collective force that will lead the Holy War.

Quote from: ”p545”
The Lords of the Holy War. All gathered in one place.

The study deepens, Father.

Faces turned and voices fell silent as they approached. Several hailed Proyas, but most stared at Cnauir, emboldened by the open scrutiny of numbers.

Kellhus notes that Proyas has kept Cnaiur, and to a lesser extent Kellhus, sequestered from the Great Names so as to control the presentation. After flaunting his captives, Proyas draws the A-team aside. The crowd erupts such is their curiosity and Xinemas barks at them.

Kellhus begins the mental dress down of the characters. Proyas, for instance, is pious yet trained by Achamian to be wary of certainty, which the Prince only applies to others.

Quote from: ”p546”
“They seem anxious,” Kellhus said.

“And why not?” Proyas replied. “I bring them a Prince who claims to dream of Shimeh and a Scylvendi heathen who could be their general.”

Proyas speaks giving Kellhus far too much information at the beginning of such a meeting, which Kellhus breaks down in thoughts.
   - Proud men don’t make wise decisions; their lives depend on the decisions of these proud men.
   - Prince Coithus Saubon, Seventh Son of King Eryeat of the Galeoth. Kicker of Asses until Conphas lays the smackdown. Cares nothing for the Tusk or the Latter Prophet; the Prince would support them only in a correspondence of cause, when their ends are mutual.

Saubon looks to them and their eyes meet. Kellhus reads him from across the Garden:
- He fears nothing more than the estimation of other men.
- He would make a demonstration of his life, shame the eyes that measure.


   - Hoga Gothyelk, Earl of Agansanor (earls are almost as cool as barons) “elected leader” (p547) of Ce Tydonn. Proyas’ father got cut by him once. But they’re all good friends now: “According to rumor, Hoga Gothyelk is as pious in the temple as he’s indomitable on the field; He’s one of us.

Gothyelk can’t give them the cursory up and down because he’s got nephews; they drink! Great times at the Animal Heights.

Quote from: ”p548”
But far more than their drinking, Kellhus knew, had incited the old Earl’s fury.
- He’s done something... He thinks himself damned.
- He’s come to die. Die cleansed.


Quote
“And that man,” Proyas continued, daring to point, “in the center of that group wearing masks... Do you see him?”

Chepheramunni wearing wicked porcelain across his face, sporting a beard, King-Regent (Spires’ Whipping Boy) of High Ainon.

Quote
“Why do they wear masks?”

“The Ainoni are a debauched people,” Proyas replied, casting a wary glance at their immediate vicinity. “A race of mummers. They’re overly concerned with the subtleties of human intercourse. They regard a concealed face a potent weapon in all matters concerning jnan.”

“Jnan,” Cnauir muttered, “is a disease you all suffer.”

Proyas smiled, amused by the relentlessness of the plainsman’s contempt. “Doubtless we do. But the Ainoni suffer it mortally.”

“Forgive me,” Kellhus said, “but just what is ‘jnan’?”

Proyas shot him a puzzled look. “I’ve never pondered it much before,” he admitted. “Byantas, I recall, defines it as ‘the war of word and sentiment.’ But it’s far more. The subtleties that guide the conduct between men, you might say. It’s” — he shrugged — “simply something we do.”

Kellhus nodded. They know so little of themselves, Father.

… Tough luck Inrithi.

Proyas points out the Men in White Tusks. Incheiri Gotion. Grandmaster of the Shrial Knights (Maithanet’s Personal Swiss Army). He is to proxy Maithanet’s judgment in the case Proyas has brought before the Great Names; He does not feel equal to his burden. He yearns to be moved... Moved by someone more holy than he.

Quote from: ”p549”
“A good man,” Kellhus repeated. I need only convince him I’m more holy.

Prince Skaiyelt of Thunyerus and the Giant Yalgrota. Constantly geared for war. Skaiyelt is scared as though poxed.

Yalgrota measures Cnaiur and Proyas offers words against conflict.

Quote from: ”p550”
“Let’s pray his interest in you is academic, Scylvendi.”

Cnauir matched Yalgrota’s gaze without blinking. “Yes,” he said evenly, “for his sake. A man is measured by more than his frame.”

Proyas arched his brows, grinned sidelong at Kellhus.

“You think,” Kellhus asked the Scylvendi, “that he’s not as long as he’s tall?”

Proyas laughed aloud, but Cnauir’s ferocious eyes seized Kellhus. Play these fools if you must, Dunyain, but do not play me!

Cnaiur is not a mere lamb.

Proyas tells Kellhus he is reminding him of Xinemas; Of the man he esteems above all others.

Does a Dunyain soul laugh for the ease?

The Thunyeri only converted to Inrithism (I assume from the Kiunnat traditions) a generation ago. They sport shrunken Sranc heads.

Quote from: ”p551”
Skaiyelt is no exception in this regard, as far as I can tell — the man can’t speak a word of Sheyic. He’ll need to be... managed, I imagine, but not taken seriously otherwise.”

There’s a great game here, Kellhus thought, and there’s no place for those who don’t know the rules. Nevertheless, he asked, “Why’s that?”

Kellhus has Proyas inadvertently compare Skaiyelt and Cnair as illiterate barbarians, which highlights the precariousness of their position.

Then two of the Emperor’s Eothic Guardsman drag in a naked shackled man. His arms are scarred as Scylvendi.

Quote
“Cunning fiends,” Proyas muttered under his breath. The Guardsmen yanked the man into sunlight. He wobbled drunkenly, heedless of his exposed phallus. He raised a piteous face to the warmth of the sun. His eyes had been gouged out.

“Who is he?” Kellhus asked.

Cnauir spat, watched the Guardsman chain the man to the base of the Emperor’s bench.

“Xunnurit,” he said after a moment. “Our King-of-Tribes at the Battle of Kiyuth.”

“A token of Scylvendi weakness, no doubt,” Proyas said tightly. “Of Cnauir urs Skiotha’s weakness... Evidence in what will be your trial.”

§17.4 – The Logos Repeating

Back to Pragma instruction.

Sit. Repeat “The Logos is without beginning or end” (p552) until directed otherwise.

After some time, Kellhus is told to cease saying it aloud and to subvocalize, which he finds more difficult. His face becomes slack for effort. His body is still.

Quote from: ”p553”
The Logos is without beginning or end. The Logos is without beginning or end. The Logos is without beginning or end. The Logos is without...

The sun waxed across the disheveled mountainsides, mottling his periphery with the contrast of dark plummets and bright bald faces. Kellhus found himself at war. Inchoate urges reared from nothingness, demanding thought. Unuttered voices untwined from darkness, demanding thought. Hissing images railed, pleaded, threatened — all demanding thought. And through it all:

The Logos is without beginning or end. The Logos is without beginning or end. The Logos is without...

Long afterward, he would realize this exercise had demarcated his soul. The incessant repetition of the Pragma’s proposition had pitted him against himself, had shown him the extent to which he was other to himself. For the first time he could truly see the darkness that had preceded him, and he knew that before this day, he had never truly been awake.

When the sun sets, the Pragma breaks Kellhus’ meditation.

Quote
“You have completed your first day, young Kellhus, and now you will continue through the night. When the dawn sun broaches the eastern glacier, you will cease repeating the last word of the proposition but otherwise continue. Each time the sun breaks from the glacier, you will cease repeating the last word.

The battle within continues…

Quote from: ”p554”
And the proposition became something drunken, something that stumbled and staggered through a nightmarish chorus of agitations, distractions, and frenzied passions. They howled within him — like something dying.

The sun breaks his concentration and the Pragma lays the lesson of smackdown again.

§17.5 – Dreams of the Outside and Strange Faces

Kellhus ponders the Great Names:

Quote from: ”p555”
Any one of these people, he concluded, might be as easily possessed as Leweth had been — despite their fierce pride. But in their sum, they were incalculable.

They were a labyrinth, a thousand thousand halls, and he had to pass through them. He had to own them.

What if this Holy War exceeds my abilities? What then, Father?

“Do you feast, Dunyain?” Cnauir asked in bitter Scylvendi. “Grow fat on faces?” Proyas had left them to confer with Gotian, and for the moment, the two of them were alone.

“We share the same mission, Scylvendi.”

Kellhus reflects on what has come before. Claiming Royal blood secured him a position among the Inrithi ruling caste.

Quote
Acting became being.

His other claim, however — his claim to have dreamt of Shimeh and the Holy War — had secured him a far different position, one more fraught with peril and possibility … But all of them conceded Kellhus the same position.

For the peoples of the Three Seas, dreams, no matter how trivial, were a serious matter. Dreams were not, as the Dünyain had thought before Moenghus’s summons, mere rehearsals, ways for the soul to train itself for different eventualities. Dreams were the portal, the place where the Outside infiltrated the World, where what transcended men — be it the future, the distant, the demonic, or the divine — found imperfect expression in the here and now.

(click to show/hide)

As a mechanism of control, however, Kellhus had to manufacture some reason for his dreams to be special.

Why did Kellhus make the original assertion about dreaming from afar? Especially, if he had come to understand that his father succeeded by mechanism of sorcery. But Kellhus finds the balance in doubting his own dreams along with the haters.

Quote from: ”p556”
By claiming to be less than what he seemed to be, he moved men, even learned men such as Proyas and Achamian, to hope or fear that he might be more.

He would never utter it, never claim it, but he would manufacture the circumstances that would make it seem true. Then all those who counted themselves secret watchers, all those who breathlessly asked “Who is this man?” would be gratified like never before. He would be their insight.

They would be unable to doubt him then. To doubt him would be to think their own insights empty. To disown him would be to disown themselves.
Kellhus would step onto conditioned ground.

So many permutations... But I see the path, Father.

Jokes start happening in the Privy Garden. It’s all good times, especially when someone mocks the Emperor. Some plucky Galeoth thane does some faux Imperial poses. People applaud.

Saubon collects the boy and not some seconds later, Xeries and Conphas come strolling out. Everyone starts laughing again as Xerius adopts one of the mock poses and gets laughed at until a eunuch explains to him…

Lol.

Quote from: ”p557”
To be premeditated, he knew, was the most galling of insults. In this way even an Emperor might be made a slave — though, Kellhus realized, he did not know why. Finally Xerius settled on the Norsirai posture: hands braced on his knees.

Kellhus studies the imperial retinue... and happens upon:

Quote from: 558
"A different face, among the Counsels... a troubling face. It was the subtlest of incongruities, a vague wrongness, that drew his attention at first. An old man dressed in fine charcoal silk robes, a man obviously deferred to and respected by the others. One of his companions leaned to him and muttered something inaudible through the rumble of voices. But Kellhus could see his lips: Skeaos...

The Counsel’s name.



No perceptible blush reflex. Disconnect between heart rate and apparent expression —

But the drone of surrounding voices trailed into silence, and he withdrew, reassembled. The Emperor was about to speak. Words that could seal the fate of the Holy War.

Five heartbeats had passed.

What could this mean? A single, indecipherable face among a welter of transparent expressions. Skeaos... Are you my father’s work?

§17.6 – No-Thought?

Quote from: ”p558”
The Logos is without beginning or. The Logos is without beginning or. The Logos is without beginning or. The Logos is without...

Kellhus is in the depths of meditation. The Pragma pours water once and awhile. The sky wheels, sun rising and setting.

Quote from: ”p559”
Until he whispered only: The Logos. The Logos. The Logos...



When the sun reared yet again, his thoughts receded to a single word:

The. The. The. The...



The. The...

A moving soul chained to the brink, to the exquisite moment before something, anything. The tree, the heart, the everything transformed into nothing by repetition, by the endless accumulation of the same refusal to name.

A corona of gold across the high slopes of the glacier.

... and then nothing.

No thought.

§17.7 – Heathens and Skin-Spies

Quote from: ”p560”
“The Empire welcomes you,” Xerius announced, his voice straining to be mild. He drew his gaze across the Great Names of the Men of the Tusk, lingering for a moment on the Scylvendi at Kellhus’s side. He smiled.

And it begins.

Xerius compares Cnaiur to Xunnurit who is broken and a slave.

Quote
“Tell me,” the Emperor said, finding comfort in this petty brutality. “Of what tribe is this one?”

Cnauir seemed unaffected. “This one was of the Akkunihor.”

“‘Was,’ you say? He’s dead to you, I suppose.”

“No. Not dead. He is nothing to me.”

The nihilism seems to breathe strong here.

Quote from: ”p561”
“To break one man is to break nothing, I suppose. It’s too easy to break a man. But to break a people... Surely this is something, no?”

The imperial expression became jubilant when Cnauir failed to reply.

Xerius continued: “My nephew here, Conphas, has broken a people. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. The People of War.”

Again, Cnauir refused to answer. His look, however, was murderous.

Your people, Scylvendi. Broken at Kiyuth. Were you at Kiyuth, I wonder?”

“I was at Kiyuth,” Cnauir grated.

“Were you broken?”

Silence.

“Were you broken?

All eyes were now on the Scylvendi.

“I was” — he searched for the proper Sheyic term — “schooled at Kiyuth.”

Cnaiur highlights what Conphas had shown Cnaiur of his military acumen. Galeoth; pike formations against mounted charge. Kianene; channeling his opponent, false flight, hoarding calvary in reserve.

Quote from: ”p562”
“And from the Scylvendi, he learned the importance of the gobokzoy, the ‘moment’ — that one must read his enemy from afar and strike at the instant of their unbalance.”

“At Kiyuth, I learned,” he continued, turning his hard eyes upon Conphas, “that war is intellect.

Referencing the day Martemus and Conphas had moved alone among the dead of Kiyuth.

Quote
The shock was plain on the Imperial Nephew’s face, and Kellhus wondered at the force of these words. But too much happened for him to focus on this problem. The air was taut with this contest of Emperor and barbarian.

Now it was the Emperor’s turn to remain silent.

Kellhus understood the stakes of this exchange. The Emperor needed to show the incompetence of the Scylvendi. Xerius had made his Indenture the price of Ikurei Conphas. Like any merchant, Xerius could justify this price only by maligning the wares of his competitors.

Saubon demands a decision, the Emperor says it’s to Gotian to decide, Gothyelk harasses Gotion, the Emperor says they haven’t ridiculed the Scylvendi enough.

The Emperor compares Cnaiur a heathen to a heathen, says the Holy War will suffer the defeat of the Vulgar Holy War. Proyas counters that Conphas or Cnaiur, they select an advisor, not a leader.

Quote from: ”p563”
“An outrage still!” the Emperor roared. “An army with ten generals? When you founder, and you will, for you know not the cunning of the Kianene, then to whom will you turn? A Scylvendi? In your moment of crisis? Of all the absurdities! It will be a heathen’s Holy War then! Sweet Sejenus, this man’s a Scylvendi,” he cried plaintively, as though to a loved one gone mad. “Does this mean nothing to you fools? He is a blight upon the very earth! His very name is blasphemy! An abomination before the God!”

“You’d speak of outrage to us?” Proyas cried in reply. “You’d school in piety those who’d sacrifice their very lives for the Tusk? What of your iniquities, Ikurei? What of you, who’d make a tool of the Holy War?”

“I would preserve the Holy War, Proyas! Save the God’s instrument from your ignorance!”

We know of Xerius’ conspiracy with the Fanim already so this is moot point as far as the reader is concerned.

Saubon suggests that Cnaiur demonstrate his martial knowledge in his breakdown of Conphas. Emperor is too outraged (probably for reals) that they can’t see the lunacy of considering a Scylvendi.

Quote from: ”p564”
“My uncle speaks the truth,” Conphas called out, and a hush fell across the noblemen. The great Conphas had finally spoken. He would be the more sober voice.

“You know nothing of the Scylvendi,” he continued matter-of-factly. “They’re not heathens like the Fanim. Their wickedness isn’t one of distortion, of twisting the true faith into an abomination. They’re a people without gods.”



“They call these scars swazond,” he said, as though a patient tutor, “a word that means ‘dyings.’ To us, they are little more than savage trophies, not unlike the shrunken Sranc heads that the Thunyeri stitch onto their shields. But they’re far more to the Scylvendi. Those dyings are their only purpose. The very meaning of their lives is written into those scars. Our dyings... Do you understand this?”

He looked into the faces of the assembled Inrithi, was satisfied by the apprehension he saw there. It was one thing to admit a heathen into their midst; it was quite another to have the details of his wickedness enumerated.

Conphas continues along this theme. How can a Scylvendi be trusted?

Quote
Conphas looked to Proyas.

“Ask him, Proyas. Ask him what moves his soul.”

Then some reminiscence by Kellhus:

Quote from: ”p565”
As a child, he’d seen expressions in the same manner as world-born men, as something understood without understanding. But now he could see the joists beneath the planks of a man’s expression, and because of this, he could calculate, with terrifying exactitude, the distribution of forces down to a man’s foundation.

But this Skeaos baffled him. Where he saw through others, he saw only the mimicry of depth in the old man’s face. The nuanced musculature that produced his expression was unrecognizable — as though moored to different bones.

This man had not been trained in the manner of the Dunyain. Rather, his face was not a face.

Moments passed, incongruities accumulated, were classified, cobbled into hypothetical alternatives...

Limbs. Slender limbs folded and pressed into the simulacrum of a face.

Kellhus blinked, and his senses leapt back into their proper proportion. How was this possible? Sorcery? If so, it possessed nothing of the strange torsion he’d experienced with the Nonman he’d battled so long ago. Sorcery, Kellhus had realized, was inexplicably grotesque — like the scribblings of a child across a work of art — though he did not know why. All he knew was that he could distinguish sorcery from the world and sorcerers from common men. This was among the many mysteries that had motivated his study of Drusas Achamian.

This face, he was relatively certain, had nothing to do with sorcery. But then how?

What is this man?

Facking skin-spies. The Consult have been pushing for the complete destruction of the heathen the whole time.

Skeaos sees Kellhus watching him. They nod. Kellhus realizes that no own realizes Skeaos is false.

Quote from: ”p566”
The study deepens, Father. Always it deepens.

“As a youth,” Proyas was saying, “I was tutored by a Mandate Schoolman, Conphas. He’d say you’re rather optimistic about the Scylvendi.”

Several laughed openly at this — relieved.

“Mandate stories,” Conphas said evenly, “are worthless.”

“Perhaps,” Proyas replied, “but of a par with Nansur stories.”

“But that’s not the question, Proyas,” old Gothyelk said, his accent so thick that his Sheyic was barely comprehensible. “The question is, how can we trust this heathen?”

Proyas turned to the Scylvendi at his side, suddenly hesitant.

“Then what of it, Cnauir?” he asked.

Throughout the exchange, Cnauir had remained silent, doing little to conceal his contempt. Now he spat in Conphas’s direction.

§17.8 – Those that Fail, Die

Quote from: ”p566”
No thought.

The boy extinguished. Only a place. This place.

The Pragma and the boy sit motionless.

Until…

Quote from: ”p567”
The old man’s left hand forsook his right sleeve, bearing a watery knife. And like a rope in water, his arm pitched outward, fingertips trailing across the blade as the knife swung languidly into the air, the sun skating and the dark shrine plunging across its mirror back...

And the place where Kellhus had once existed extended an open hand — the blond hairs like luminous filaments against tanned skin — and grasped the knife from stunned space.
The slap of pommel against palm triggered the collapse of place into little boy. The pale stench of his body. Breath, sound, and lurching thoughts.

I have been legion...



Now I understand.

§17.9 – Kellhus and Cnaiur, the Party Starters

Cnaiur takes the stand.

Quote from: ”p567”
“You would sound me,” Cnauir said at length. “Make clear the riddle of the Scylvendi heart. But you use your own hearts to map mine. You see a man abased before you, Xunnurit. A man bound to me by kinship of blood. What an offence this must be, you say. His heart must cry for vengeance. And you say this because your heart would so cry. But my heart is not your heart. This is why it is a riddle to you.”

“Xunnurit is not a name of shame to the People. It is not even a name. He who does not ride among us is not us. He is other. But you, who mistake your heart for mine — who see only two Scylvendi, one broken, one erect — think he must still belong to me. You think his degradation is my own, and that I would avenge this. Conphas would have you think this. Why else would Xunnurit be among us? What better way to discredit the strong man than by making a broken man his double? Perhaps it is the Nansur heart that should be sounded.”

Conphas interrupts and drama ensues, accusations fly. The Imperials are trying to steal the Holy War from the God. The Scylvendi and the Spires are anathema. The Scarlet Spires balance against Cishaurim. Cnaiur can save them from the same fate as the Vulgar Holy War.

Quote from: ”p568”
“None of this is to the point!” Conphas cried.

He lies, Kellhus realized. They knew the Vulgar Holy War would be destroyed. They wanted it to be destroyed... Suddenly Kellhus understood that the outcome of this debate was in fact paramount to his mission. The Ikureis had sacrificed an entire host in order to strengthen their claim over the Holy War. What further disaster would they manufacture once it became an inconvenience?

“The question,” Conphas ardently continued, “is whether you can trust a Scylvendi to lead you against the Kianene!”

“But that isn’t the question,” Proyas countered. “The question is whether we can trust a Scylvendi over you.”

“But how could this even be an issue?” Conphas implored. “Trust a Scylvendi over me?” He laughed harshly. “This is madness!”

More drama about the Indenture over the Tractate and birthright, the words and lands of the Latter Prophet.

Quote from: ”p569”
“It’s the God’s land, Ikurei,” Proyas said cuttingly. “The very land of the Latter Prophet. Or would you put the pathetic annals of Nansur before the Tractate? Before our Lord, Inri Sejenus?”

Conphas remained silent for a moment, gauging these words. One did not, Kellhus realized, lightly enter a contest of piety with Nersei Proyas.

“And who are you, Proyas, to ask this question?” Conphas returned, rallying his earlier calm. “Hmm? You who would put a heathen — a Scylvendi, no less! — before Sejenus.”

“We are all instruments of the Gods, Ikurei. Even a heathen — a Scylvendi, no less — can be an instrument, if such is the God’s will.”

“Would we guess at God’s will, then? Eh, Proyas?”

“That, Ikurei, is Maithanet’s task.” Proyas turned to Gotian, who had been watching them keenly all this time. “What does Maithanet say, Gotian? Tell us. What says the Shriah?”

Kellhus knows Gotian isn’t ready.

Quote from: ”p570”
“I would ask the Scylvendi,” Gotian said, clearing his voice, “why he has come.”

Cnaüir looked hard at the Shrial Knight, at the Tusk embroidered in gold across his white vestment. The words are in you, Scylvendi. Speak them.

“I have come,” Cnauir said at length, “for the promise of war.”

Cnaiur tells some sweet lies until some classic Scylvendi:

Quote from: ”p571”
“Do not mistake me, Inrithi. In this much Conphas is right. You are all staggering drunks to me. Boys who would play at war when you should kennel with your mothers. You know nothing of war. War is dark. Black as pitch. It is not a God. It does not laugh or weep. It rewards neither skill nor daring. It is not a trial of souls, not the measure of wills. Even less is it a tool, a means to some womanish end. It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.”

“You have offered me war, and I have accepted. Nothing more. I will not regret your losses. I will not bow my head before your funeral pyres. I will not rejoice at your triumphs. But I have taken the wager. I will suffer with you. I will put Fanim to the sword, and drive their wives and children to the slaughter. And when I sleep, I will dream of their lamentations and be glad of heart.”

There was a moment of stunned silence. Then Gothyelk, the old Earl of Agansanor, said, “I’ve ridden on many campaigns. My bones are old, but they’re my bones still, not the fire’s. And I’ve learned to trust the man who hates openly, and to fear only those who hate in secret. I’m satisfied with this man’s answer — though I like it little.” He turned to Conphas, his eyes narrow with distrust. “It’s a sad thing when a heathen schools us in honesty.”

Slowly, this assent was echoed by others.

But still Kellhus senses that Gotian is troubled… and so makes his move. He offers some Dunyainic play by play, strumming the Inrithi like a fucking lyre. Then:

Quote from: ”p573”
“Now, I can vouch for the honor of Cnauir urs Skiotha, but then who would vouch for me? So let’s assume that both men, Emperor and Chieftain, are equally untrustworthy. Given this, the answer lies in something you already know: we undertake the God’s work, but it’s dark and bloody work nonetheless. There is no fiercer labor than war.” He studied their faces, glancing at each as though he stood with him alone. They stood upon the brink, he could see, on the cusp of the conclusion reason itself had compelled. Even Xerius.

“Whether we accept the stewardship of the Emperor or the Chieftain,” he continued, “we concede the same trust, and we concede the same labor...”

Kellhus paused, looked to Gotian. He could see the inferences move of their own volition through the man’s soul.

“But with the Emperor,” Gotian said, nodding slowly, “we concede the wages of our labor as well.”

A murmur of profound agreement passed through the Men of the Tusk.

Conphas seizes upon the fallacy too late. Gotion opens his canister and selects the scroll with the black wax seal. He turns to address the Emperor:

Quote from: ”p574”
“Ikurei Xerius III, Emperor of Nansur, by authority of the Tusk and the Tractate, and according to the ancient constitution of Temple and State, you are ordered to provision the instrument of our great —”

But the assembled go wild and begin abandoning the Garden to prepare for Holy War before Gotion can finish. Maithanet has spoken. Proyas shakes hands all around, gets some pats on the back.

Kellhus watches as the Emperor has Skeaos seized for his subtle nod to Kellhus.

Quote from: ”p575”
The handsome face of Ikurei Xerius III then turned to him, as terrified as it was enraged.

He thinks I’m party to his Counsel’s treachery. He wishes to seize me but can think of no pretext.

Kellhus turned to Cnauir, who stood stoically, studying the naked form of his kinsman chained beneath the Emperor’s feet. “We must leave quickly,” Kellhus said. “There has been too much truth here.”

HOLY WAR!

Cheers.
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locke

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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 09:14:42 pm »
new post!

:happydance:

locke

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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 07:20:52 pm »
We should ask ourselves, "What comes before Kellhus in this chapter?"  "Why is he prompted into these deep memory reflections, something he never does again, and how can he fail to connect jnan with Dunyain principles, even when the phrase from jnan, it is without beginning or end, prompts his drunken reflections and uncharacteristic outing of Skeaos.  Something or Someone comes before Kellhus in this chapter, and everyone dances to the marionettist's tune.  But who is the watcher that pulls the strings? clearly the assembled great names are the watched.

Quote
And the proposition became something drunken, something that stumbled and staggered through a nightmarish chorus of agitations, distractions, and frenzied passions. They howled within him — like something dying.

What was it, in particular that died?  The watchers?  or the watched?  Take this literally, not metaphorically, and it becomes a more important insight.

Quote
“They call these scars swazond,” he said, as though a patient tutor, “a word that means ‘dyings.’ To us, they are little more than savage trophies, not unlike the shrunken Sranc heads that the Thunyeri stitch onto their shields. But they’re far more to the Scylvendi. Those dyings are their only purpose. The very meaning of their lives is written into those scars. Our dyings... Do you understand this?”
Important, I feel, but I've not yet come up with a grand unified nerdanel connecting Swazond to the no god, are swazond stitched to the soul of the scylvendi like the sranc heads are stitched onto the thunyeri shield?  hmm?  isn't sewing womanish?  Ahh the system of the suture.

Quote
A moving soul chained to the brink, to the exquisite moment before something, anything. The tree, the heart, the everything transformed into nothing by repetition, by the endless accumulation of the same refusal to name.

A corona of gold across the high slopes of the glacier.
The Tree The Heart.  That's what you call foreshadowing motherfuckers.

And then a corona of gold across the high slopes of the glacier. Foreshadowing for the Aspect Emperor series?  For Kellhus nailed to the walls of Dagliash?


Quote
“Xunnurit is not a name of shame to the People. It is not even a name. He who does not ride among us is not us. He is other. But you, who mistake your heart for mine — who see only two Scylvendi, one broken, one erect — think he must still belong to me. You think his degradation is my own, and that I would avenge this. Conphas would have you think this. Why else would Xunnurit be among us? What better way to discredit the strong man than by making a broken man his double? Perhaps it is the Nansur heart that should be sounded.”
Sounds like Momemn is getting attacked by the Scylvendi horde in Unholy Consult, clearly taking a Scylvendi hostage prince was pointless--as Kellhus well knew, such a gesture is just to reassure and deceive those Great Names who would forget Cnaiur's words here.



cuthbertallgood

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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 10:28:29 am »
First time reader, first time poster!

I started reading the series for the first time 2 weeks ago (thanks to Wertzone!), I finished this chapter this morning. I couldn't quite understand why The Emperor has Skeaos seized and tortured. I get he is an agent of The Consult, but how did The Emperor saw he is not what he is and thought he is a spy after hearing Maithanet's decision?


 My native language isn't English -and the books aren't translated to Turkish yet- so this might be a stupid question with an obvious answer that I missed.

Duskweaver

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 10:42:06 am »
I couldn't quite understand why The Emperor has Skeaos seized and tortured. I get he is an agent of The Consult, but how did The Emperor saw he is not what he is and thought he is a spy after hearing Maithanet's decision?
The Emperor doesn't even believe in the Consult and has no idea that Skaeos has anything to do with them. He merely saw Kellhus and Skaeos share a perfectly innocent* nod of mutual acknowledgement and assumed it indicated that Skaeos and Kellhus were part of the plot to have Cnaiur chosen over Conphas.

* - (Ha!) Ironically, this perfectly innocent and natural indication of humanity was feigned on both their parts. Just not for anything like the reason the Emperor suspects. Kellhus uses it as part of his gauging of Skaeos, who as stated in the text doesn't seem quite right to Kellhus. Skaeos returns the nod as part of his attempt to appear human.

The Emperor is sort of half-right, but for all the wrong reasons, which is hilarious in hindsight. Especially given just how close the Consult's agents have really gotten...
"Then I looked, and behold, a Whirlwind came out of the North..." - Ezekiel 1:4

"Two things that brand one a coward: using violence when it is not necessary; and shrinking from it when it is."

Madness

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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 01:32:13 pm »
new post!

:happydance:

Lol. I pictured Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

We should ask ourselves, "What comes before Kellhus in this chapter?"  "Why is he prompted into these deep memory reflections, something he never does again, and how can he fail to connect jnan with Dunyain principles, even when the phrase from jnan, it is without beginning or end, prompts his drunken reflections and uncharacteristic outing of Skeaos.  Something or Someone comes before Kellhus in this chapter, and everyone dances to the marionettist's tune.  But who is the watcher that pulls the strings? clearly the assembled great names are the watched.

I actually tend to agree with you that Kellhus is being moved and positioned beyond his ken. However, I think we are so limited in our Kellhus perspective (who is to say how often he reminisces on this or that precedent in Ishual).

(click to show/hide)

Also, we do get a nod on Kellhus' acknowledging his jnanic prerequisites but he's busy analyzing:

Quote from: TDTCB, p549, 2004 Canadian paperback
"Forgive me," Kellhus said. "But just what is 'jnan'?"

Proyas shot him a puzzled look. "I've never pondered it much before," he admitted. "Byantas, I recall, defines it as 'the war of word and sentiment.' But it's far more. The subtleties that guide the conduct between men, you might say. It's" - he shrugged - "simply something we do."

Kellhus nodded. They know so little of themselves, Father.

And then the move on to introducing the next great name.

Quote
And the proposition became something drunken, something that stumbled and staggered through a nightmarish chorus of agitations, distractions, and frenzied passions. They howled within him — like something dying.

What was it, in particular that died?  The watchers?  or the watched?  Take this literally, not metaphorically, and it becomes a more important insight.

It's the inhuman beast of our unceasing thought ;).

Quote
“They call these scars swazond,” he said, as though a patient tutor, “a word that means ‘dyings.’ To us, they are little more than savage trophies, not unlike the shrunken Sranc heads that the Thunyeri stitch onto their shields. But they’re far more to the Scylvendi. Those dyings are their only purpose. The very meaning of their lives is written into those scars. Our dyings... Do you understand this?”
Important, I feel, but I've not yet come up with a grand unified nerdanel connecting Swazond to the no god, are swazond stitched to the soul of the scylvendi like the sranc heads are stitched onto the thunyeri shield?  hmm?  isn't sewing womanish?  Ahh the system of the suture.

I really liked when you connected this to a kind of Karsa Orlong conception from Malazan. I think Swazond has some surprise depth to come.

Quote
A moving soul chained to the brink, to the exquisite moment before something, anything. The tree, the heart, the everything transformed into nothing by repetition, by the endless accumulation of the same refusal to name.

A corona of gold across the high slopes of the glacier.
The Tree The Heart.  That's what you call foreshadowing motherfuckers.

+1.

First time reader, first time poster!

I started reading the series for the first time 2 weeks ago (thanks to Wertzone!), I finished this chapter this morning. I couldn't quite understand why The Emperor has Skeaos seized and tortured. I get he is an agent of The Consult, but how did The Emperor saw he is not what he is and thought he is a spy after hearing Maithanet's decision?


 My native language isn't English -and the books aren't translated to Turkish yet- so this might be a stupid question with an obvious answer that I missed.

Welcome to the Second Apocalypse, cuthbertallgood. Duskweaver has provided a more than excellent explanation. Remember, the Emperor is an exceedingly suspicious man who suspects conspiracy in the farting of slaves.
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Duskweaver

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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 04:01:38 pm »
What was it, in particular that died?
Onkis. :o

Remember, the Emperor is an exceedingly suspicious man who suspects conspiracy in the farting of slaves.
To be fair, he is probably right to do so. Is it really paranoia when the World really does Conspire? ;)
"Then I looked, and behold, a Whirlwind came out of the North..." - Ezekiel 1:4

"Two things that brand one a coward: using violence when it is not necessary; and shrinking from it when it is."

Madness

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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2014, 12:42:14 pm »
Remember, the Emperor is an exceedingly suspicious man who suspects conspiracy in the farting of slaves.
To be fair, he is probably right to do so. Is it really paranoia when the World really does Conspire? ;)

Truth.
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Francis Buck

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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2014, 02:31:55 am »
Remember, the Emperor is an exceedingly suspicious man who suspects conspiracy in the farting of slaves.

“We must leave quickly,” Kellhus said. “There has been too much farting here.”

The Sharmat

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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 08:17:28 am »
I'm sad this appears to be over. Madness' summaries/commentary was insightful and fun.

Aural

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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 01:38:08 pm »
I'm sad this appears to be over. Madness' summaries/commentary was insightful and fun.

IIRC, Madness said on the Podcast that once the series is over he plans to spend the rest of his life working on the Almanac.

Wilshire

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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 01:51:59 pm »
lol that sounds exactly like something he would do.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Madness

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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 05:23:03 pm »
Lol - you should listen to them sometime, Wilshire. But yeah, I definitely plan on continuing the Almanac between series releases as well - I'd be working on it now except I can't share them and my words and the words of the other draft readers, then editors, etc, etc, etc, will no doubt shape what becomes published and thus canonical.

But once the series is complete, I hardly think it's going to take my whole life to finish the Almanac, tinker with it, maybe even see turn it into an anthology of essays, depending on how much intention and execution has gone into Bakker's The Second Apocalypse.

Also, anyone else can keep this going ;).
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Aural

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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 05:54:51 pm »
I hardly think it's going to take my whole life to finish the Almanac,

That’s an unknown variable, though...

Wilshire

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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 06:27:22 pm »
Of course anyone else can. :P I believe I have the first few chapters of TWP annotated. Such a time investment though.
One of the other conditions of possibility.