ARC: TTT Chapter 7

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: February 08, 2019, 07:50:19 pm »
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Every woman knows there are only two kinds of men: those who feel and those who pretend.  Always remember, my dear, though only the former can be loved, only the latter can be trusted.  It is passion that blackens eyes, not calculation.
- ANONYMOUS LETTER

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It is far better to outwit Truth than to apprehend it.
- AINONI PROVERB
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 03:18:55 pm »
In Joktha, Cnaiur dines with the Nansur generals.  He asks Conphas about Kiyuth.  The response from Conphas and his staff seems to be one of mockery.  Cnaiur has them all leave, except Conphas.

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"Repose," Cnaiur snorted.  "That is because the world is your trophy room.  Your soul makes flattery of all things - even me.  You make mirrors of all that you see"...
...Cnaiur struck, cuffed him so hard he toppled backward.
"You act as though you live this life a second time!"  Cnaiur leapt into a crouch upon the table, sent plates and bowls spinning.  Eyes as round as silver talents, Conphas scrambled backwards through the cushions.  "As though you were assured of its outcome!"
Conphas had turned, was fighting his way clear of the depression.  "Somp-Somp-!"  Cnaiur vaulted across the table, hammered the back of his head.  The Exalt-General went down.  Cnaiur unfastened his belt, snapped it free.  He yanked it about the sobbing man's neck, hoisted him to his knees.  He wrenched him back to the table, threw him onto his chest.  he smashed his face against its own reflection - once, twice...
He looked up, saw the slaves cringing in the shadows, their arms upraised.  One of them wept.
"I am a demon!" he cried.  "A demon!"
Then he turned back to Conphas shuddering on the table beneath him.
Some things required literal explanation.

Cnaiur wakes at sunrise.  Blood and soil (shit?)  are smeared across his thighs.  Nansur ships are in the harbour.  The fleet has arrived too soon.
The Nansur Generals know what Cnaiur did - but he does not.
The ships are empty.
Conphas is nowhere to be found.  He has escaped through a tunnel.
The Nansur reinforcements have disembarked further north.

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"You were supposed to kill him," Sanumnis said.  "You were supposed to kill Conphas."
Weeper!  Faggot weeper!
Cnaiur frowned.  "I am not an assassin," he said.

The Saik are hidden on the ships.

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He strode to the wall's inner brink, held out his arms in grand address.  "Listen to me.  I will not lie to you.  The Nansur can afford no quarter, because they can afford no Truth!  We all die this night!"
He let these words ring into silence.
"I know nothing of you Afterlife.  I know nothing of your Gods or their greed for glory.  But I do know this: In days to come, widows shall curse me as they weep!  Fields shall go to seed!  Sons and daughters shall be sold into slavery!  Fathers shall die desolates, knowing their line is extinct! This night, I shall carve my mark into the Nansurium, and thousands shall cry out for want of my mercy!"
And the spark became flame.
"Scylvendi!" they roared.  "Scylvendi!"

Cnaiur has his men knock down hundreds of walls to create a labyrinth, and then they all lie in wait.
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This was not, Cnaiur realised, what the Dunyain woudl do.
Either Kellhus would find a way - some elaborate or insidious track - that led to the domination of thee circumstances, or he would flee.  Was that not what had happened at Caraskand? Had he not walked a path of miracles to prevail?  Not only had he united the warring factions within the Holy War, he had given them the means to war without.
No such path existed here - at least none that Cnaiur could fathom.
So why not flee?  Why cast his lot with doomed men?  For honour?  There was no such thing.  For friendship?  He was the enemy of all.  Certainly there were truces, the coming together of coincidental interests, but nothing else, nothing meaningful.
Kellhus had taught him that.
He cackled aloud when the revelation struck, and for a moment the world itself wobbled.  A sense of power suffused him, so intense it seemed something other might snap from his frame, that throwing out his arms he could shear Joktha's walls from their foundations, cast them to the horizon.  No reason bound him.  Nothing.  No scruple, no instinct, no habit, no calculation, no hate... He stood beyond origin or outcome.  He stood nowhere.
"The men wonder," Troyatti said cautiously, "what amuses you, Lord."
Cnaiur grinned.  "That I once cared for my life."

The Nansur invade Joktha.
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Cnaiur had not the arms for the swazond he earned that night.

Eventually only Cnaiur and a nameless Thunyeri are left standing.  He is overwhelmed and taken.  Conphas comes to gloat.
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Afterward, they cleared a path for their all-conquering Exalt-General.  Smoke towered into the firmament beyond the battered beauty of his face, shrouding stars.  His eyes were the same, though they appeared unnerved - very unnerved.  "No different," his broken lips spat.  "No different than Xunnurit after all".
And as the darkness came swirling down, Cnaiur at last understood.  The Dunyain had not sent him to be Conphas' assassin...
He had sent him to be his victim.
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.