ARC: TWP Chapter 15

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: October 14, 2018, 07:17:34 pm »
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Where the holy take men for fools, the mad take the world
- PROTATHIS, THE GOAT'S HEART
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2018, 03:31:35 pm »
Cnaiur realises the Fanim are attacking the camp - and Serwe.

Kellhus kills all three Nansur assassins without breaking sweat.  Martemus is bewildered by it all.
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Illuminated by the morning sun.  A striding vision.  A walking aspect...
Something too terrible.  Too bright.

Kellhus has to defend the Swazond Standard.  He tells Martmenus that 'war is conviction'.  This is a clear contrast with Conphas' statement in book 1 that war is intellect.  It also harks back to Cnaiur's lessons from the previous chapter, and also reflects the conflict between faith and reason that is one of the key themes of the series.

The battle has become split up in 'dozens of lesser ones'.  It appears the Inrithi will be defeated.

Cnaiur is back in the camp.  He can hear thousands of screams, and see the plumes of many fires.  He rescues a woman and baby from the Kianene.

Kellhus is dancing around the path of arrows.

Cnaiur gives the women a knife and tells her to run, then attacks the enemy.
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"who?", he roared in his sacred tongue.
He hacked at the riderless horses barring him from his foe.  One went down thrashing.  Another screamed and bucked into the knotted heathen ranks.
"I am Cnaiur urs Skiotha", he bellowed, "most violent of all men!"
His heaving black stepped forward.
"I bear you fathers and your brothers upon my arms!"
Heathen eyes flashed white from the shadows of their silvered helms.  Several cried out.
"Who", Cnaiur roared, so fiercely all his skin seemed throat, "will murder me?"

Then he feels something and grabs his Chorae.

Flashback to Ishual.  Five year old Kellhus and others of his age have been taken outside by Pragma Uan.
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"What do you see?" the old man finally asked, looking to the canopy above them.
There were many eager answers.  Leaves.  Branches.  Sun.
But Kellhus saw more.  He noticed the dead limbs, the scrum of competing branch and twig.  He saw slender trees, mere striplings, ailing in the shadow of giants.
"Conflict", he said.
"And how is that, young Kellhus?"
Terror and exultation - the passions of a child.  "The tr-trees, Pragma", he stammered.  "They war for... for space.
"Indeed", Pragma Uan replied, his manner devoid of anything save confirmation.  "And this, children, is what I shall teach you.  How to be a tree.  How to war for space..."
"But trees don't move", another said.
"They move", the Pragma replied, "but they are slow.  A tree's heart beats but once every spring, so it must war in all directions at once.  It must branch and branch until it obscures the sky.  But you you hearts beat many, many times, you need only war in one direction at at time.  This is how men seize space".

They try to hit the Pragma, but he pokes them all back with a stick.  Back in the present, Kellhus pokes away the Khirgwi with his sword.
It seems likes Kellhus is precocious even amongst the Dunyain.  The answer he gives to the Pragma seems well beyond the capacity of any five-year old to provide.  I suspect not all the kids will go on to become Dunyain, but other 'uses' will be found for them.

The Scarlet Spires have entered the battle.  Cnaiur's woman and baby have been burnt to a crisp.  He finds Proyas' pavillion, and...
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Then he saw her, kneeling naked before a towering shadow.  One eye swelled shut, blood pulsing from her scalp and nose, sheeting her neck and breasts.
What?
Without thinking, Cnaiur slipped into the gloom of the pavillion.  The air reeked of foul rutting.  The Dunyain whirled, as naked as Serwe, a bloody hand clamped about his engorged member.
"The Scylvendi", Kellhus drawled, his eyes blazing with lurid rapture.  "I didn't smell you".
Cnaiur struck at his heart.  Somehow the bloody hand flickered up, grazed his wrist.  The knife dug deep just below the Dunyain's collarbone.
Kellhus staggered back, raised his face to the bellied canvas, and screamed what seemed a hundred screams, a hundred voices bound to one inhuman throat. And Cnaiur saw his face open, as though the joints of his mouth were legion and ran from his scalp to his neck.  Through steepled features, he saw lidless eyes, gums without lips...
The thing struck him, and he fells to one knee.  He yanked his broadsword clear.
But it had vanished through the flap, leaping like some kind of beast.

The Ainoni somehow manage to hold off the Fanim attacks.
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... And each time the Fanim reeled back, astounded by these defeated men who refused to be defeated.
- war is conviction.

Everywhere, the Inrithi manage to rally, and the Fanim host disintegrates.

Cnaiur tries to takes Serwe, but Kellhus has told her...
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..."Why you beat me.  Why your thoughts never stray far from me, but return, always return to me in fury.  He's told me everything!.
Something trembled through him.  He raised his fist but his fingers would not clench.
"What has he said?"
"That I'm nothing but a sign, a token.  That you strike not me, but yourself!"
"I will strangle you! I will snap your neck like a cat's!  I will beat blood from your womb!"
"Then do it!" she shrieked.  "Do it, and be done with it!"
"You are my prize!  My prize!  To do with as I please!"
"No! No! I'm not your prize! I'm your shame!  He told me this!" "Shame?  What shame?  What has he said?"
"That you beat me for surrendering as you surrendered!  For fucking him the way you fucked his father!"
She lay still on the ground, legs askew.  So beautiful.  Even beaten and broken.  How could anything human be so beautiful?
"What has he said?" he asked blankly.

She tries to kill herself, but he takes the knife away and leaves.

Martemus is back with Conphas, and tells him Kellhus isn't human.

Skauras burns his correspondence with the Nansur, and awaits the Inrithi that are coming for him.

Kellhus is back with Serwe.  He tells her that a demon had been there before, and that he knew she wouldn't let Cnaiur take her.
He puts her into a trance called the Whelming, which seems to be a form of hypnosis.  He finds out what happened with the skin-spy and then wipes it from her memory.

He ruminates on Cnaiur.  Where the rest of the worldborn do things because they do them, without asking why this is not the case with Cnaiur.

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...Where others adhered out of ignorance of the alternatives, he was continually forced to choose, and more importantly, to affirm one thought from the infinite field of possible thoughts, one act from the infinite field of possible acts. Why upbraid a wide for weeping?  Why not strike her instead?  Why not laugh, ignore, or console?  Why not weep with her?  What made one response more true than another?  Was it ones's blood.  Was it another's words of reason?  Was it one's God?
Or was it, as Moenghus had claimed, one's goal?
Encircled by his people, born of them and destined to die among them, Cnaiur had chosen his blood.  For thirty years he tried to beat his thoughts and passions down the narrow paths of the Utemot.  But despite his brutal persistence, despite his native gifts, his fellow tribesman could always smell a wrongness about him.  In the intercourse between men every move was constrained by other's expectations; it was a kind of dance, and as such, it brooked no hesitation.  The Utemot glimpsed his flickering doubts.  They understood that he tried, and they knew that whoever tried to be of the People couldn't be of the People.
So they punished him with whispers and guarded eyes - for more than a hundred seasons...
Thirty years of shame and denial.  Thirty years of torment and terror.  A lifetime of cannibal hatred... In the end, Cnaiur had cut a trail of his own making, a solitary track of madness and murder.
He had made blood his cleansing waters.  If war was worship, the Cnaiur urs Skiotha would be the most pious of the Scylvendi - not simply of the People, but the greatest among them as well.  He told himself his arms were his glory.  He was Cnaiur urs Skiotha, the most violent of all men.
And so he continued telling himself, even though his every swazond marked not his honour, but the death of Anasurimbor Moenghus.  For what was madness, if not a kind of overpowering impatience, a need to seize at once what the world denied?  Moenghus not only had to die, he had to die now - whether he was Moenghus or not.
In his fury, Cnaiur had made all the world his surrogate.  And he avenged himself upon it.
Despite the accuracy of this analysis, it availed Kellhus little in his attempts to possess the Utemot Chieftain.  Always the man's knowledge of the Dunyain barred his passage.  For a time, Kellhus even considered the possibility that Cnaiur would never succumb.
Then they found Serwe - a surrogate of a different kind.
From the very beginning, the Scylvendi had made her his track, his proof that he followed the ways of the People.  Serwe was the erasure of Moenghus, whose presence Kellhus' resemblance so recalled.  She was the incantation that would undo Moenghus' curse.  And Cnaiur fell in love, not with her, but with the idea of loving her.  Because if he loved her, he couldn't love Anasurimbor Moenghus...
Or his son.
What followed had been almost elementary.
Kellhus began seducing Serwe, knowing that he showed the barbarian his own seduction at the hands of Moenghus some thirty years previous.  Soon, she became both the erasure and the repetition of Cnaiur's heartbreaking hate.  The plainsman began beating her, not simply to prove his Scylvendi contempt for women, but to better beat himself.  He punished her for repeating his sins, even though he at once loved her and despised love as weakness...
And so as Kellhus intended, contradiction piled upon contradiction. World-born men, he'd discovered, possessed a peculiar vulnerability to contradictions, particularly those that provoked conflicting passions.  Nothing, it seemed, so anchored their hearts.  Nothing so obsessed.
Once Cnaiur had utterly succumbed to the girl, Kellhus simply took her away, knowing the man would do anything for her return, and that he would do so without even understanding why.
And now the usefulness of Cnaiur urs Skiotha was at and end.

Kellhus finds Cnaiur raving in the sea.  He is mistaken for his father.  He cannot kill him
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What is this, Father?  Pity?
He gazed at the abject Scylvendi warrior.  From what darkness had this passion come?

Cnaiur screams at him to 'kill me', but he doesn't do it.  There are 'other uses'.  Who will murder you, Cnaiur?

The skin-spy 'Sarcellus', meets with the Synthese.  It is revealed as the 'other' Kellhus.  The Consult have learned Kellhus is Dunyain, not Cishaurim.  There is no order called Dunyain in Atrithau, so he is not from there.  It is unlikely the Nonmen have trained him.  Perhaps the Dunyain are a stubborn ember of ancient Kuniuri.  He is however a curiosity - the Cishaurim are the foe.
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"...Imagine a world where no womb quickens, where no soul hopes!"
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2018, 06:00:52 pm »
Kellhus finds Cnaiur raving in the sea.  He is mistaken for his father.  He cannot kill him
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What is this, Father?  Pity?
He gazed at the abject Scylvendi warrior.  From what darkness had this passion come?

Cnaiur screams at him to 'kill me', but he doesn't do it.  There are 'other uses'.  Who will murder you, Cnaiur?

Kellhus also doesn't (can't?/ won't?) kill
(click to show/hide)
  An emotional/ irrational side, at odds with his Dunyain training?
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.