ARC: TWP Chapter 18

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: November 04, 2018, 07:37:40 pm »
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To piss across water is to piss across your reflection
- KHIRGWI PROVERB
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 04:04:25 pm »
The Holy War enters the desert of Khemema.  All the wells have been polluted.
Water will be transported from the Imperial Fleet.
The Khirgwi attack and cut water bags

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The Holy War continued its nocturnal march.  Despite the blood-curdling raids, many found themselves awed by the beauty of the Carathay.  There were no insects, saved the odd crazed beetle rolling its ball of dung across the sands.  The Inrithi called them "shit chasers".  And there were no animals, except of course the vultures circling endlessly above.  Where there was no water, there was no life, and apart from the heavy skins draped about the shoulders of the Holy War, there was no water in the Carathay.  It was as if the sun had burnt the whole world to sterile bone.  The Men of the Tusk stood apart from the sun, stone and sand, and it was beautiful, like a haunting nightmare described by another.  It was beautiful because they need not suffer the consequences of what they witnessed.

This description is reminiscent of Blood Meridian to me.    Also, note the crazy beetle reference - Ajokli?

The Fleet does not make its scheduled rendezvous.  Kellhus tells them its a trap.

They can reach the oasis of Subis - if everything
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mules, slaves, camp-followers
are left.  Many thousands are butchered.

Horses are to be put down, except those of the caste-nobility.  This sparks a mutiny amongst the Cengemi, which is put down by the Tydonni.

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Very little water remained the ensuing night, and the Men of the Tusk, their skin like parchment, overcome by irritability and fatigue, began casting away their food. They no longer hungered.  They thirsted, thirsted as they'd never thirsted before.  Hundreds of horses collapsed and were left to snort their final breaths in the dust.  A strange apathy descended upon the men.  When the Khirgwi assailed them, many simply continued to walk, not hearing or not caring that their kinsmen perished behind them.

They reach Subis which has been poisoned, but drink anyway.  Many become ill, and many are abandoned.

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Wherever Prince Kellhus and his two women went, men crowded about them, begging to be touched, to be cured, to be forgiven.  Stained by dust, his face bronzed and his flowing hair almost bleached white, he seemed the very incarnation of sun, stone, and sand.  He, and he alone, could stare into the  endless Carathay and laugh, hold out his arms to the Nail of Heaven and give thanks fo their suffering.
"The God chooses!" he would cry.  "The God".
And the words he spoke were like water.

He commands his followers to dig a hole, and they find water - spring-fed wells.  Many hail him as the Warrior-Prophet. The Great Names argue about him.

How does Kellhus know there is water there?  Is this intellect?  I can't see that he just got lucky.

The Khirgwi are massacred, by men with renewed faith.

The Holy War is battered by a sandstorm, and it is implied that much of the new water and their baggage is lost.

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They passed beyond the sea of dunes and entered land like a burning plate, a flat expanse where the air fairly hissed with heat.  Once again the water was strictly rationed.  Men became dizzy with thirst, and some began casting away armour, weapons, and clothes, walking like naked madmen until they fell, their skin blackened by thirst and blistered by sun.  The last of the horses died, and the footmen, ever resentful that their lords tended to their mounts more faithfully than their men, would curse and kick gravel at the wooden corpses as they passed.  Old Gothyelk collapsed and was strapped to a litter made by his sons, who shared their rations of water with him.  Lord Ganyatti, the Conriyan Palatine of Ankirioth, whose bald head looked  so much like a blistered thumb jutting from a torn glove, was bound like a sack.
When night had at last fallen, the Holy War continued its march south, once again stumbling along the backs of sandy dunes.  The Men of the Tusk walked and walked, but the cool desert night proved little relief.  none talked.  They formed an endless procession of silent wraiths, passing across Carathay's folds.  Dusty, harrowed, hollow-eyed, and with drunken limbs, they walked.  Like a pinch of mud dropped in water they crumbled, wandered from one another, until the Holy War became a cloud of disconnected figures, feet scraping across gravel and dust.
The morning sun was a shrill rebuke, for still the desert had not ended.  The Holy War had become an army of ghosts.  Dead and dying men lay scattered in their thousands behind it, and as the sun rose still more fell.  Some simply lost the will, and fell seated in the dust, their thoughts and bodies buzzing with thirst and fatigue.  Others pressed themselves until their wrecked bodies betrayed them.  They struggled feebly across the sand, waving their head like worms, perhaps croaking for help, for succour.
But only death would come swirling down.
Tongues swelled in mouths.  Parchment skin went black and tightened until it split about purple flesh, rendering the dying unrecognisable.  Legs buckled, folded, refused one's will as surely as if one's spine had been broken.  And the sun beat them, scorching chapped skin, cooking lips to hoary leather.
There was no weeping, no wails or astonished shouts.  Brothers abandoned brothers and husbands abandoned wives.  Each man had become a solitary circle of misery that walked and walked.
Gone was the promise of sweet Sempis water. Gone was the promise of Enathpaneah...
Gone was the voice of the Warrior-Prophet.
Only the trail remained, drawing out warm, thrumming hearts into an agonized line, desert thin - desert simple.  Frail heartbeats stranded in the wastes, pounding with receding fury at seeping, water-starved blood.
Men died in the thousands, gasping, each breath more improbable than the last, at furnace air, sucking final moments of anguished, dreamlike life through throats of charred wood.  Heat like a cool wind.  Black fingers twitching through searing sands.  Flats, waxy eyes raised to blinding sun.
Whining silence and endless loneliness.

Again, the style is reminiscent of Blood Meridian. 

Kellhus sees a river in the distance.

Meanwhile, back in Shigek, Xinemus, Dicnh and Zenkappa have managed to sneak into the Scarlet Spires compound.  All three have Chorae.

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The figure was thin, but dressed in voluminous scarlet silk robes, with deep sleeves embroidered with golden herons.  His face was the clearest, because it was bathed in impossible light.  Rutted cheeks lost in the slick curls of a lavishly braided beard, bulbous eyes, bore by the tedium of waking from place to place, all illuminated by a teardrop of candlelight suspended a cubit before his forehead, without any candle.
Xinemus could hear Dinch's breath hiss through clenched teeth.
The figure and the ghostly light paused at a juncture in the corridor, as if he had stumbled across a peculiar smell.  The old face scowled for a moment, and the sorcerer seemed to peer into the darkness at them.  They stood still as three pillars of salt.  Three heartbeats...  It was as though the eyes of Death itself sought them.

They enter a large chamber and are surrounded.  The Spires could sense the Chorae all along.

Dinch and Zenkappa are burnt alive.  Xin is taken alive - because he is Akka's closest friend.

In the ruin of the Sareot Library, the Wathi Doll crawls out of the debris. 
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Someone had spoken its name
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

Oberstul

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2018, 06:30:05 am »
I really liked this chapter. It seemed like everything that could go wrong for the Holy War happened.
I suspected that it was intellect on behalf of Kellhus to find water in the desert.
The thing that got me like, "aw man, come on" was the Spires sensing the Chorae. That was bad-ass, but I was under the impression that the Chorae have been around for a while now - how come people use them and don't know their full properties (like that any wizard can sense their presence). You'd think that would be a good thing to learn about Chorae before start using them.
Once again, mad props to TheCulminatingApe - mate, your synopsis posts are the stuff the community needs. Cheers!
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TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2018, 07:49:34 pm »
I suspected that it was intellect on behalf of Kellhus to find water in the desert.

I googled it. Apparently, in the desert water is likely to be found at the bottom of a depression.  It could be that Kellhus worked it out himself.  To me its more likely that he just asked the right people in Shigek.  The real question is, why didn't anyone else in the Holy War know?
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

Oberstul

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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2018, 06:57:32 am »

The real question is, why didn't anyone else in the Holy War know?


Aside for any information revealing this in the latter Aspect-Emperor novels (which I'm slowly getting through) I'd say it's either plot-armor (plot-intellect, in this case) or just good old Dunyain training that makes him superior to the rest of the Luddite plebs,
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