ARC: TTT Chapter 5

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: January 20, 2019, 06:55:34 pm »
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To indulge it is to breed it.  To punish it is to feed it.  Madness knows no bridle but the knife
- SCYLVENDI PROVERB

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When others speak, I hear naught but the squawking of parrots.  But when I speak, it always seems to be the first time.  Each man is the rule of the other, no matter how mad or vain.
- HATATIAN, EXHORTATIONS
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 03:48:06 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 05:20:38 pm »
Conphas is slightly confused
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Strange, this feeling.  Curiously childlike, though when he racked his soul, Ikurei Conphas could find no resembling childhood memory. It was as though he'd been bruised beneath the skin, on his heart, or even his soul.  A strange sense of fragility dogged his every look, his every word.  He no longer trusted his face... It was as though certain muscles had been removed.
"For some it a defect carried from the womb"

The Nansur troops are disarmed.  Some defect and rejoin the Holy War.  More than four in five remain loyal to the Lion of Kiyuth.
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Conphas raised his forearm in Imperial salute, and his men raised theirs in thundering reply.  Tears clouded his eyes.  The bruise of his indignities began to fade, especially when he heard Proyas declare the terms extended by the Warrior-Prophet.
A fleet is coming from Momemn to pick up the Nansur - they don't have to cross the desert.

Conphas questions his staff.
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"Tell me, what man doesn't aspire to godhead"
The consensus was, not surprisingly, absolute.  All men they said, sought to emulate the Gods, though only the most bold, the most honest, dared voice their ambitions. Of course, the fools simply mouthed what they thought he wanted to hear.  Ordinarily this would have incensed Conphas - no command could tolerate sycophants - but his uncertainty made him curiously indulgent.  After all, according to the so-called Warrior-Prophet, his was a marred soul, a deformation born of the womb.  The famed Ikurei Conphas was not quite human.
The strange thing was that he understood full well what the man had meant. His entire life, Conphas had known he was different.  He never stammered in embarrassment.  He never blushed in the presence of his betters.  He never minced his words with his worries.  All around him, men jerked this way and that, pulled by hooks that he knew only by reputation: love, guilt, duty... Though he understood how to use these words well enough, they meant nothing to him.
And the strangest thing of all that he didn't care.
Listening to his officers oblige his vanity, Conphas came to a powerful realisation: his beliefs mattered nothing, so long as they delivered what he wanted. Why make logic the rule.  Why make fact the ground?  The only consistency that mattered, the only correspondence, was that between belief and desire.  If it pleased him to think himself divine, then so he would think.  And Conphas understood that just as he possessed the remarkable ability to do anything, no matter how merciful or bloodthirsty, he also possessed the ability to believe anything.  The Warrior-Prophet could hang the ground vertical, make all things fall towards the horizon, and Conphas need only point sideways to restore the order of up and down.
Perhaps the sorceror's tales of the Consult and the Second Apocalypse were true.  Perhaps the Prince of Atrithau was some kind of saviour. Perhaps his was deformed.  It simply did not matter if he did not care.  So told himself that his life was his witness, that ages had passed without producing a soul such as his, that the Whore of Fate lusted for him and him alone...
...  He told himself that the Prince of Atrithau was the most accomplished liar he'd ever encountered - a veritable Ajokli!  He told himself that the Council had been a trap, the product of through and painstaking premeditation.
So he told himself and so he believed.  For Conphas, there was no difference between decision and revelation, manufacture and discovery.  Gods made themselves the rule.  And he was one of them.

So much of this seems to reflect Kellhus' story path.  I still think Conphas is a device to help us see what Kellhus actually is.  Also note the direct reference to Kellhus and Ajokli.

He arrives in Joktha quite happily - and then sees Cnaiur.

Cnaiur is 'forgetting something'.  He is seeing things.  Dead Utemot, horses and cattle, and Moenghus.
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...The Ikurei still lives... Why don't you kill him?...
..."Because he wants me to"
The Dnyain?  You think this is a trap?
"His every word is a feint.  His every look a spear!"
Then what's his intent?
"To keep me from his father.  To deny me my hate.  To betray-"
But all you need to do is kill the Ikurei.  Kill him, and you are free to follow the Holy War.
"No!  There is something!  Something I'm..."
You're a fool

The Synthese turns up and tells him to avenge the Battle of Kiyuth.

Cnaiur tries to work out what is going on.  He has a small number of troops with him, heavily outnumbered by the Nansur.  He needs to break the will of the Nansur.  He realises that if Kellhus wants him to assassinate Conphas,the Kellhus is thinking past Shimeh and past Moenghus.

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Men draped assumptions, endless assumptions, about their acts; they could scarce do otherwise, given their errant hunger for meaning.  Since the beginning, Cnaiur had conceived their journey as a hunt, as  collusion of enemies in pursuit of a greater foe.  Their quest had always seemed an arrow fired into darkness.  No matter how deep his misgivings, he had always come back to this understanding.  But now... Now it seemed like nothing other than a collar; that Moenghus and Kellhus, father and son, were but different ends of a mighty torc that he, Cnaiur urs Skiotha, had bent about the very neck of the world.  A slaver's collar.

He beats Conphas for answering him back.  He beats the other Nansur who intervene.  He salts the hidden sorceror amongst them.
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Afterwards, he found himself screaming in his apartments.  He understood why, of course: if not for the Scarlet Schoolman's arrival, he would never have thought that Conphas too had a sorceror.  But the why of this understanding escaped him... It always escaped him
Was something wrong with him?
Enemies!  All about him, enemies! They even dwelt within...
Even Proyas... Could he bring himself to break his neck as well?
He sent me to murder myself
At night, Cnaiur drank - heavily - and the spears that lay hidden beneath every surface were blunted.  The terrors, rather, oozed from the cracks in the floor.  Despite the censers, the air smelled of yaksh: earth, smoke and mouldering hides.  He could hear Moenghus whisper through the dim interiors...
More lies.  More confusions.
And the bird - the fucking bird!  It seemed a knot, a yanking of all thins foul into a single form.  His chest tightened simply thinking of it.  But of course it couldn't be real.  No more than Serwe.
He told her as much, every night she came to his bed.
Something... something is wrong with me
He knew this because he could see himself as the Dunyain saw him.  He understood that Moenghus had knocked him from the tracks of his People, that he had spent thirty years kicking through the grasses searching for a spoor of his own passing.  For a way back.
Thirty accursed years!  These too he understood.  The Scylvendi were a forward people - as were all people save the Dunyain. They listened to their storytellers.  They listened to their hearts.  Like dogs, they barked at strangers.  They judged honour and shame the way they judged near and far.  In their inborn conceit, they made themselves the absolute measure.  They could not see that honour, like nearness, simply depended on where one stood.
That it was a lie.
Moenghus had lured him onto different ground.  How could his kinsmen not think him an obscenity when his voice came to them from darknesses unseen?  How could he rediscover their tracks when all grounds had trampled?  He could never be of the People, not after Moenghus.
He could never think or curse himself back to their savage innocence.  He had been a fool to try... Ignorance was ever the iron of certainty, for it was as blind to itself as sleep.  It was the absence of questions that made answers absolute - not knowledge!  To ask, this was what Moenghus had taught him.  Simply to ask...
"Why follow this track and not another?"
"Because the Voice demands it".
"Why follow this voice and not another?"
That everything could be overthrown so easily. That all custom and conviction could lay so close to the brink.  That outrage and accusation could be the only true foundations...  All of it - everything, that was man - perched and swords and screams.
Why? cried his every step.  Why? cried his every word.  Why? cried his every breath.
For some reason... There must be some reason.
But why?  Why?
The world itself had become his rebuke!  He was no longer of the Land, but he could not beat the Steppe from the cant of his limbs.  He was no longer of the People, but he could not wash his father from his blood.  He cared nothing for the ways of the Scylvendi! - nothing - yet still they howled within him, railed and railed.  He was not of the People!  Yet still his degradations choked him.  Still his longings clawed at his heart.  Wutrim!  Shame!
Absent things!  How could absent things remain!
Each time he shaved, his thumb unerringly found the swazond puckered about his throat.  He would track its ginger course.  Something... I'm forgetting something...
There were two past; Cnaiur understood that now.  There was the past that men remembered, and there was the past that determined, and rarely if ever were the same.  All men stood in thrall of the latter.
And knowing this made them insane.

Conphas has snuck out of Joktha.
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If only he could forget the accursed Scylvendi!  What was it about the man?  Even now, in some small corner of his soul, a beacon fire burned at the ready in case of his return.  It was as though the barbarian had somehow stained him with the force of his presence, and now it clung, like an odour that must be scrubbed rather than rinsed away.  Never had any man possessed such an effect on him.
Perhaps this, Conphas mused, was what sin felt like for the faithful.  The intimation of something greater watching.  The sense of disapproval, at once immense and ineffable, as near as fog and yet as distant as the world's rim.  It was a though anger itself possessed eyes.
Perhaps faith was a kind of stain as well... a kind of odour.

He meets the Fanim - a meeting he has arranged long before.  Fanayal acclaims him as Emperor.

Cnaiur is speaking with the Synthese.
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So what was this thing?  He had struck bargains with it.  Exchanged promises.
  What bargains and promises?

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"I eclipse you, mortal!" it replied with bird-vehemence.  "I am son of a more violent race.  You cannot conceive the compass of my life!"
Cnaiur turned his profile to it, glanced at it sidelong.  "Why?  The blood that pulses through my veins is no less ancient.  Nor are the movements of my soul.  You are not so old as the Truth".
He could fairly hear the creature's sneer.
"You still do not understand them," Cnaiur continued.  "Before all, the Dunyain are intellect.  I do not know their ends, but I do know this: they make instruments of all things, and they do so with a way beyond the ken of me or even you, Demon".
"You think I underestimate them".
Cnaiur turned his back to the sea.  "It is inevitable," he said, shrugging.  "we are little more than children to them, imbeciles drawn from the womb. Think on it. Bird.  Moenghus has dwelt among the Kianene for thirty years.  I know not your power, but I do know this: he lies far beyond it."
Moenghus... Simply speaking the name cramped his heart.
"As you say, Scylvendi, you know not my power."
Cnaoir cursed and laughed.  "Would you like to know what a Dunyain would hear in your words?"
"And what might that be?"
"Posturing.  Vanity.  Weaknesses that betray you measure and offer innumerable lines of assault.  A Dunyain would grant you your declarations.  He would encourage you in your confidence.  In all things, he would dispense flattering appearances.  He would care nothing whether you thought him your lesser, your slave, so long as you remained ignorant"...
..."Ignorant?  Ignorant of what?"
Cnaiur spat.  "Your true circumstances."
"And what are my true circumstances, Scylvendi?"
"That you are  being played.  That you flounder in nets of your own making. The circumstances you struggle to master, Bird, have long ago mastered you.  Of course you thing otherwise.  Like men, power stands high among your native desires.  But you a tool, as much as any Man of the Tusk."
It crooked its head to the side.  "How then, am I to become my own instrument?"
Cnaiur snorted.  "For centuries you have manipulated events from the dark, or so you claim.  Now you assume that you must do the same, that nothing has changed.  I assure you, everything has changed.  You think yourself hidden, but you are not.  Chances are he already knows you have approached me.  Chances are he already knows your ends and your resources.
Even the ancient things, Cnaiur realised, would suffer the Holy War's fate.  The Dunyain would strip them the way the People stripped the carcasses of bison.  Flesh for sustenance.  Fat for soap and fuel.  Bone for implements.  Hide for shelter and shields.  No matter how deep they ran, the ages themselves would be consumed.  The Dunyain was something new.  Perpetually new.
Like lust or hunger.
"You must abandon you old ways, Bird.  You must strike across trackless ground.  You must surrender brute circumstance to him, because in this you cannot hope to match him.  Instead you must watch.  Wait.  You must become a student of opportunity."

Bird is not impressed and shows Cnaiur visions of its sorcerous power.  Cnaiur tells it that Kellhus is learning sorcery - and he learnt to speak Scylvendi in four days.

Cememketri is snuck in to meet Conphas.  The Saik are waiting to be 'wielded'.


« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 07:28:01 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2019, 07:59:57 pm »
Cnaiur is speaking with the Synthese.
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So what was this thing?  He had struck bargains with it.  Exchanged promises.
  What bargains and promises?

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"I eclipse you, mortal!" it replied with bird-vehemence.  "I am son of a more violent race.  You cannot conceive the compass of my life!"
Cnaiur turned his profile to it, glanced at it sidelong.  "Why?  The blood that pulses through my veins is no less ancient.  Nor are the movements of my soul.  You are not so old as the Truth".
He could fairly hear the creature's sneer.
"You still do not understand them," Cnaiur continued.  "Before all, the Dunyain are intellect.  I do not know their ends, but I do know this: they make instruments of all things, and they do so with a way beyond the ken of me or even you, Demon".
"You think I underestimate them".
Cnaiur turned his back to the sea.  "It is inevitable," he said, shrugging.  "we are little more than children to them, imbeciles drawn from the womb. Think on it. Bird.  Moenghus has dwelt among the Kianene for thirty years.  I know not your power, but I do know this: he lies far beyond it."
Moenghus... Simply speaking the name cramped his heart.
"As you say, Scylvendi, you know not my power."
Cnaoir cursed and laughed.  "Would you like to know what a Dunyain would hear in your words?"
"And what might that be?"
"Posturing.  Vanity.  Weaknesses that betray you measure and offer innumerable lines of assault.  A Dunyain would grant you your declarations.  He would encourage you in your confidence.  In all things, he would dispense flattering appearances.  He would care nothing whether you thought him your lesser, your slave, so long as you remained ignorant"...
..."Ignorant?  Ignorant of what?"
Cnaiur spat.  "Your true circumstances."
"And what are my true circumstances, Scylvendi?"
"That you are  being played.  That you flounder in nets of your own making. The circumstances you struggle to master, Bird, have long ago mastered you.  Of course you thing otherwise.  Like men, power stands high among your native desires.  But you a tool, as much as any Man of the Tusk."
It crooked its head to the side.  "How then, am I to become my own instrument?"
Cnaiur snorted.  "For centuries you have manipulated events from the dark, or so you claim.  Now you assume that you must do the same, that nothing has changed.  I assure you, everything has changed.  You think yourself hidden, but you are not.  Chances are he already knows you have approached me.  Chances are he already knows your ends and your resources.
Even the ancient things, Cnaiur realised, would suffer the Holy War's fate.  The Dunyain would strip them the way the People stripped the carcasses of bison.  Flesh for sustenance.  Fat for soap and fuel.  Bone for implements.  Hide for shelter and shields.  No matter how deep they ran, the ages themselves would be consumed.  The Dunyain were something new.  Perpetually new.
Like lust or hunger.
"You must abandon you old ways, Bird.  You must strike across trackless ground.  You must surrender brute circumstance to him, because in this you cannot hope to match him.  Instead you must watch.  Wait.  You must become a student of opportunity."

Bird is not impressed and shows Cnaiur visions of its sorcerous power.  Cnaiur tells it that Kellhus is learning sorcery - and he learnt to speak Scylvendi in four days.

Foreshadowing of
(click to show/hide)
?
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.