ARC: TDTCB Chapter 18

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: August 05, 2018, 06:36:34 pm »
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...and that revelation murdered all that I once did know.  Where once I asked of the God, "Who are you?" now I ask, "Who am I?"
- ANKHARLUS, LETTER TO THE WHITE TEMPLE

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The Emperor, the consensus seems to be, was an excessively suspicious man.  Fear has many forms, but it is never so dangerous as when it is combined with power and perpetual uncertainty.
- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2018, 08:20:28 pm »
Xerius' insecurities and fears are laid bare
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...The Empire has been humiliated this day.  I've been humiliated!

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"you mean... that during all this time, all these years, he could have killed... killed me?

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"The Atrithau Prince", he repeated, shuddering at the recllection of the man's composed expression.  A spy... and with a face that bespoke utter ease.  Such confidence!  And why not, when the Emperor's own Prime Counsel was one of his own?  But no more.  He would visit him with terror soon enough.
"Watch him.  Scrutinize him like no other."
He already scrutinzing you, and he's much better at it

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For once it seemed as if though his godlike nephew was perturbed.  The small satisfactions...

Akka brought to the palace by Conphas. 
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Momemn after dark - something of a nightmare...  Momemn was labyrinthine by night

And he's about to meet something from his nightmares.

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...There was something unnerving about the man's physical perfection...  There was an air about the man - something too self-assured to qualify as arrogance.  Ikurei Conphas, Achamian decided, was possessed either of a terrible strength or a frightening lack.

Should we see this as a comment on Kellhus.

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... Achamian had understood just how insignificant the Mandate had become... the Mandate was the besotted fool whose bloated claims became more and more desperate as the night waxed...
they had encountered something beyond the abilities of their own School.. or the mercenary Mysunsai to resolve...
The Gnosis made them rich fools

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They're terrified, Achamian realized.  The Ikureis are terrified.
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They truly are terrified

Xerius is at least.

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Skeaos watched him without fear, blinked the way a child, awakened in the dead of night, might blink

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... he wrenched out a toenail.
There was nothing.  No shriek.  Not even a shudder from the old name

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Xerius whirled to face his Counsel.  "What are you? he cried.
The old face grinned.  "More, Xerius.  I am more".  It was not Skeaos' voice but something broken, like many voices.
.

Obviously the Saik are to blame, thinks the paranoid Xerius.  Perhaps with reason, as Conphas earlier tells Akka that nobody trusts the Imperial Saik.

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The old face remained passionless, but the eyes glittered with a strange intensity.
"A Mandati, it said...
... And then Xerius felt it, felt the hatred emanating from Skeaos's pale form, as though the old man recognized the Mandate sorceror
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Xerius refuses to believe that there is no sorcery present.

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..." You see fear... There's no sorcery here.  Either that or there's sorcery of another sort.  One invisible to the Few..."
  Akka then 'explains' it to him

'Skeaos' starts speaking in an inhuman voice.  We hear the name Chigra for the first time.  It begins to pull its chains from the walls, and uses them as deadly weapons.  Two dead.
Akka burns it with sorcerous fire.  But it lives
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"You are the first, Chigra," Skeaos wheezed - an ambient, horrifying whisper.  "And you will be the last..."
First and last what?

Its face unfolds and grabs Achamians head.  Conphas decapitates it.

Conphas is portrayed here as a bit more 'sensible' than his uncle.

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"He would have lectured us about myths, Conphas.  About the Ancient North and the return of Mog.  They always do".
"After this", Conphas replied, "perhaps we should listen".

Conphas doesn't listen later though does he - in Caraskand?  Caught up in his own self interest.

Xerius jumps to another conclusion - with some reason perhaps.  The Cishaurim are behind it.  Again, self interest.   
There's a quote at the start of the Chapter, that Xerius can see far from the Andiamine Heights, but not far enough.  He and Conphas are both very capable, but can't see (or perhaps feel) the bigger picture.

                                                       --------------------------

Esmi has left Sarcellus and is looking for Akka.  We learn she is usually attracted to tall men (Kellhus?  the guard captain from TAE?).

She heads for Xinemus' camp, dreaming of Akka waiting for her

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... he'd drop his wine bowl in astonishment.  She'd see his lips mouth her name, his eyes glitter with tears...
...he would not turn her out.  He would wait, as he always did, for the Mandate to call him away.
And he would forgive.  As he always did.

Akka is not there, so she watches from the darkness.

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...She stood, she realized, at the very heart of the Holy War, fiery with passion, promise, and sacred purpose.  These men were more than, they were Kahiht, World Souls, locked in the great wheel of great events.  The thought of striding into their midst beckoned hot tears to her eyes.  How could she?  Awkwardly concealing the back of her hand, instantly branded for she was by their far-seeing eyes...
What's this?  A whore Here? You must be joking...
What had she been thinking?  Even if Achamian had been here, she would only have shamed him.

Xin and Kellhus go for a piss.  They joke with each other.  Kellhus seems to stare directly at Esmi.  Are his eyes actually that good?

She sleeps and dreams of a dead tree that roots her to the earth.  Does this have any wider significance?

Sarcellus turns up.  She tells him she's not going back.  He doesn't want her to, anyway.

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She thought of the cool kiss of silk against her skin, of roasted meat, steaming and peppered, served with velvet wine.  She thought of that winter in Sumna four years ago, the one following the summer droughts, when she could not even afford flour halved with chalk.  She had grown so skinny that no one would buy her... She had come close.  Very close
An inner whisper, small, snivelling, and infinitely reasonable: Beg his forgiveness.  Don't be a fool" Beg...
Beg!

Akka arrives, but

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He looked through her, beyond her, and continued walking.

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he pretended not to see me...
"Why, Akka? Why?  I c-came to s-s-ave you, to t-tell you..."
He hates you  You're nothing more than a dirty whore! A stain on his breeches!
"No!  He loves me!  H-he's th-the only one who's ever tr-truly loved me!"
No one loves you.  No one.
"M-m-my d-daughter... Sh-she loved me!"
Would that she had hated!... Hated and lived!

Whores though
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may be oppressed, but... we're never owned
.

We get right to the bottom of Esmenet's character here.  Intelligence, the attraction of material security, clear desire to be loved, fear of rejection (and the 'certainty' that it will happen), resilience.  We can see why she will leave Akka for Kellhus.  We can see why she will search for Mimara.  We can see why she survives.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 08:23:46 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.