ARC: TWP Chapter 24

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: November 04, 2018, 07:56:39 pm »
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They strike down the weak and call it justice. They ungird their loins and call it reparation.  They bark like dogs and call it reason.
- ONTILLAS, ON THE FOLLY OF MEN
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2018, 04:27:38 pm »
Cnaiur dreams of Kellhus' words
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You, the abomination said, still command the ears of the Great
.  He remembers Sarcellus killing Serwe.

He wakes and rides to find Proyas.  He knows how to break the siege.  Akka has returned.  Proyas waves him away.

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The hunt need not end!
He understood the Dunyain's plan - or part of it... If only Proyas would have listened!

Achamian addresses the Holy War
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"You must free Anasurimbor Kellhus"

Proyas makes them listen.

Akka tells them
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..."I haven't come to tell you whether Prince Kellhus is truly a Prophet, nor even whether he's a prince of anything at all.  I've come, rather, to warn you of a different cancer... One that you've overlooked, though indeed some of you know its presence.  There are spies among us, my lords..." - a collective murmur momentarily filled the chamber - "abominations that wear false faces of skin".

The sorceror bent beneath the table, hoisted a fouled sack of some kind.  In a single motion, he unfurled it across the table.  Something like silvery eels about a blackened cabbage rolled onto the polished surface, came to rest against an impossible reflection.  A severed head?

Lie made flesh

Cnaiur notices Sarcellus, and recognises  the pattern of lines on his face.  He follows.

Eleazaras receives notice of the goings on at the Council.  He knows Kellhus can see the skin-spies.

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It hungered, the thing called Sarcellus.  For blood.  For fucking things living and dead.  But more than anything it hungered for consummation.  All of it, from its anus to the sham it called its soul, was bent to ends of its creators.  Everything was twisted to the promise of climax, to the jet of hot salt.
But the Architects had been shrewd, so heartlessly astute, when they laid its foundations...
Although subtle beyond reason, the thing called Sarcellus walked a far simpler than that walked by men.  There was no war of competing passions, no need for discipline or denial.  It lusted only to execute the will of its authors.  In appeasing its hunger, it appeased the good.
So it been forged.  Such was the cunning of its manufacture.
The Warrior-Prophet must die...

Cnaiur is on his way
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How?  How can he afflict me so?
But then that was Moenghus' lesson.  The Dunyain made disciples of all men, whether they revered him or no.  One need only breathe.
Even my hate!  Cnaiur thought.  Even my hate he uses to his advantage!
Though his heart rankled at this, it rankled far more at  the thought of losing Moenghus.  Kellhus had spoken true those long months past in the Utemot camp: his heart had only one quarry, and it could not be fed on surrogates.  He was bound to the Dunyain as the Dunyain was bound to Serwe's corpse - bound by the cutting ropes of an unconquerable hate.
Any sham.  Any indignity.  He would bear any injury, commit any atrocity, to whet his vengeance.  He would see the whole world burn before he would surrender his hate.  Hate!  That was the obsessive heart of his strength.  not his blade.  not his frame.  His neck-breaking, shield-cracking hate!  Hatred has secured him the White Yaksh.  Hatred had banded his body with the Holy Scars.  Hatred had preserved him from the Dunyain when they crossed the Steppe.  Hatred had inured him to the claims these outlanders made on his heart.
Hatred and hatred alone, had kept him sane.
Of course the Dunyain had known this...

...For this was the most paramount of the Unwritten Laws: a man - a true man - conquered, and did not suffer himself to be used.
Hence the torment of his pact with Kellhus.  All this time Cnaiur had jealously guarded his heart and soul, spitting upon the fiend's every word, never thinking that the man could rule him by manipulating the circumstances about him.  The Dunyain had unmanned him no differently than he had those Inrithi fools.
Moenghus!  He named him Moenghus!  My son!...

...There were no codes.  There was no honour.  The world between men was as trackless as the Steppe - as the desert!  There were no men... Only beasts, clawing, craving, mewling, braying.  Gnawing at the world with their hungers.  Beaten like bears into dancing to this absurd custom or that.  All these thousands, these Men of the Tusk, killed and died in the name of delusion.  Save hunger, nothing commanded the world.
This was the secret of the Dunyain.  This was their monstrosity.  This was their fascination.

He reaches Kellhus hanging from the Umiaki, guarded by the Zaudunyani.
Sarcellus is arguing with Gotian.
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"But why this moment?"  Cnaiur heard the Grandmaster cry over the growing thunder of the masses.
"Because!" Cnaiur boomed in his mightiest battlefield voice.  "He bears a grudge no man can fathom!"

Achamian debates with Conphas.
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He'd been outmatched, Achamian realised.  Conphas knew his answer, knew how the others would scoff and dismiss.  The Consult was the stuff of children's tales and Mandate madmen.  He stared wordlessly at the Exalt-General, struggling to mask his dismay with contempt.  Even with proof, they could undo him with mere words.  Even with proof, they refused to believe!

Conphas seems to convince everybody that the skin-spies belong to the Cishaurim, and that Kellhus is a Cishaurim agent. 
Why doesn't Proyas show them Maithanet's letter?

Achamian dwells on Esmenet's betrayal with Kellhus.
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Achamian remembered Nautzera, in what seemed another lifetime, asking him if the life of Inrau, his student, was worth the Apocalypse.  He'd conceded then, had admitted that no man, no love, was worth such a risk.  And here, he'd conceded once again.  He would save the man who'd halved his heart, because his heart was not worth the world, not worth the Second Apocalypse...

...Sitting speechless before the Great Names, Drusas Achamian realised that he held his Heart in one hand and Apocalypse in the other.  And as he hefted them in his soul, it seemed that he couldn't tell which was the heavier.
It was no different for these men.
The Holy War suffered, and someone must die.  Even if it meant the World/

Cnaiur calls out Sarcellus attempts to deceive Gotian.
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..."You know not what you do, Scylvendi..."  His face flexed, twitched like a dying insect.  "You know not what you do".
Eleazaras and the Javreh arrive, and demand Kellhus.

Xinemus enters the Council chamber. 
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...And suddenly Achamian understood what he had to do...
He had to tell a story.
Esmenet had loved him just yesterday.  But then so too had the world ended!

He tells the assembled Inrithi the story of the Consult and the First Apocalypse.  He thinks he may have convinced them, but Conphas mocks him, and the others join in.

The arrival of the Scarlet Spires has convinced Gotian to kill Kellhus.  But Cnaiur gets there first.

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"We worship the same God, you and I."
The breeze had calmed, and the sun's heat leapt into its wake.  It seemed to Cnaiur that he could smell rotting flesh - rotting flesh mingled with the bitter spit of eucalyptus leaves.
Serwe...
"This", Cnaiur said calmly, "is the sum of my worship."
Rest, my sweet, for I shall bear you...
He clutched his tunic about its blood-clotted collar, tore it to his waist.  He raised his broadsword straight before him.
I shall avenge

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I shall butcher
All hungered here.  All starved.
Everything, Cnaiur realised, had transpired according to the Dunyain's mad gambit.  What difference did it make whether he perished now, hanging from this tree, or several days hence, when the Padirajah at last overcame the walls?  So he'd given himself to his captors, knowing that no man was so innocent as the accused who exposed his accusers.

They fight. 
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... Suddenly, Sarcellus was swatting his blade as though it were a game.
Cnaiur is stabbed through the thigh.

But Gotian distracts the skin-spy. 
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"Sarcellus..."  "The Grandmaster's eyes were slack with disbelief.  "Where..." - a hesitant swallow - "where did you learn to fight so?"
The Knight of the Tusk whirled, his face the very mask of reverent subservience

And Cnaiur kills it and cuts off its head.
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...Gotian fells to his knees.  Eleazaras stumbled back into his slaves.  The mob's thunder - horror, exultation - broke across the Scylvendi.  The riot of revelation.
He tossed the hoary thing at the sorceror's feet.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 04:30:16 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.