ARC: TWP Chapter 14

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: October 14, 2018, 07:16:25 pm »
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It is the difference in knowledge that commands respect.  This is why the true test of every student lies in the humiliation of his master
- GOTAGGA, THE PRIMA ARCANATA

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The children here play with bones instead of sticks, and whenever I see them, I cannot but wonder whether the humeri they brandish are faithful or heathen
Heathen, I should think, for the bones seem bent
- ANONYMOUS, LETTER FROM ANWURAT
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2018, 07:53:18 pm »
The Inrithi are getting ready for battle, and Conphas
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...the Lion of Kiyuth! - would be little more than a subaltern...
No matter, it would be salt for the honey, as the Ainoni were fond of saying.  The bitterness that made vengeance sweet.

Martemus is to be Conphas' representative with Cnaiur.  Kellhus will be there, and so will the Imperial assassins (including a Zeumi Sword Dancer).  But Martemus is the one who will bring Kellhus' head to Conphas.

The Holy War assembles for battle.  They are certain of triumph.  The God walks among them.

Cnaiur assemble his command group on a small hillock.  He has his own banner - the Swazond Standard.

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The air thrummed with the din of innumerable shouts.  The faint peal of faraway battlehorns was overpowered by the strident blare of those more near.  Cnaiur breathed deep, smelled sea, desert, and dank river - nothing of the absurd spectacle before him.  If he closed his eyes and covered his ears, he thought, he could pretend he was alone...
I am of the Land!

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What was this trade he had made?
Never had Cnaiur suffered a night like the night previous.  Why? he'd screamed at the Meneanor.  Why had he agreed to teach the Dunyain war?  For Serwe?  For a bauble found on the Steppe?
For nothing?
He'd traded many things over the past months. Honour for the  promise of vengeance.  Leather for effeminate silks.  His yaksh for a prince's pavillion.  The Utemot in their unwashed hundreds, for the Inrithi in their hundreds of thousands.
Battlemsater... King-ofTribes!
Part of him reeled in drunken exultation at the thought.  Such a host!  From the river to the hills, a distance of almost seven miles, and still the ranks ran deep.  The People could never assemble such a horde, not if they emptied every yaksh, saddled every boy.  And here he, Cnaiur urs Skiotha, breaker-of-horses-and-men, commanded.  Outland princes, earls and palatines, thanes and barons in their thousands, even an Exalt-General answered to him!  Ikurei Conphas, the hated author of Kiyuth!
What would the People think? Would they call this glory?  Or would they spit and curse his name, give him the torments of the aged and infirm?
But wasn't all war, all battle, holy?  Wasn't victory the mark of the righteous?  If he crushed the Fanim, ground them beneath the heel of his boot, what would the People think of his trade then?  Would they finally say, "This man, this many-blooded man, is truly of the land"?
Or would they whisper as they always whispered?  Would they laugh as they always laughed?
"Yours id the name of our shame!"
What if he made a gift of the Inrithi?  What if he delivered them to destruction?  What if rode home with Ikurei Conphas' head in a sack?
"Scylvendi," Moeghus said from his side.
That voice!
Cnaiur looked to Kellhus, blinking.
Skauras! the Dunyain's look shouted.  Skauras is our foe here.

Cnaiur is laid bare in the previous Chapter and this one.  We see all his obsessions and insecurities, and his madness.

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But he had no time.  War had come, and he'd agreed to yield its secrets in exchange for Serwe.  He'd agreed to surrender the last shred of leverage he possessed.  After he would have nothing to secure his vengeance.  Nothing!  After this, there would be no reason for Kellhus to keep him alive.
I'm a threat to him.  The only man who knows his secret...
So what was she, that he'd doom himself for her?  What was she, the he would trade war?
Something is wrong with me... Something.
No!  Nothing!  Nothing!

He's a tragic figure.  Driven insane by a Dunyain, not once, but twice.  And the second time, he knows its happening.

Back at camp, Serwe worries about Kellhus.  If Akka has been harmed, then so can he.  But then 'he' is there.
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"Warring is hungry business, Serwe.  Certain appetites must be attended."

The battle progresses.  Cnaiur explains things to Kellhus.
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Cnaiur snorted.  "This war", he snapped in Scylvendi, "is simply your war made honest.
Kellhus acknowledge nothing.  "Belief... You're saying battle is a disputation of belief... An argument." ...
..."So in battle, " Kellhus said, "conviction makes true".

They discuss the respective merits of the Fanim and Inrithi armies.

'Kellhus' feels different to Serwe.  He is using sex to interrogate her.  He want know why Cnaiur calls him Dunyain.

Real Kellhus notes that Skauras has not deployed his full strength.  The Inrithi are being scattered into small groups.
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A great ache filled Cnaiur's chest.  Only Kellhus' strong grip saved him the humiliation of falling to his knees.
Always the same...

Martemus is disgusted that a Scylvendi commands, but he cannot ignore glory in the field.
But as the Fanim centre collapses, Cnaiur sounds the retreat.  Some call him traitor, but his conviction seems to convince many.
Cnaiur rides off, followed by others, leaving Martemus, the assassins and Kellhus.

Other Kellhus is beating Serwe.  He wants to know what is planned for the Holy War.

The assassins approach Kellhus.
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The Prophet seemed to be ... listening.
No.  Bearing witness.
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.