ARC: TTT Chapter 8

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: February 08, 2019, 07:53:17 pm »
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That hope is little more than the premonition of regret.  This is the first lesson of history.
- CASIDAS, THE ANNALS OF CENIE

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To merely recall the Apocalypse is to have survived it.  This is what makes The Sagas, for all their cramped beauty, so monstrous.  Despite their protestations, the poets who authored them do not tremble, even less do they grieve.  They celebrate.
- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, THE COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2019, 09:10:56 pm »
The Holy War is converging on Gerotha, the capital of Xerash.  The city agrees to surrender, but then there is a coup and the Fanim loyalists take over.  A veteran called Hebarata comes out to harangue Kellhus.
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...Then at the end of the tirade someone fired a crossbow bolt...
The Warrior-Prophet snatched it from the air just short of his neck.  To the wonder of all, he raised the missile aloft.  "Hear this, Hebarata,"  he cried.  "From this day I count!"  A cryptic statement that troubled even the Inrithi.
What is he counting?

Athjeari ranges further eastwards on a 'Pilgrimage' from holy place to holy place.

Esmenet begins reading The Sagas, to the sound of Kianene music.
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She still thought of reading as "practice", though she'd found it quite effortless for some time now.  In fact, she not only hungered for opportunities to read, she often found herself simply staring at her humble collection of scrolls and codices, suffused with the same miserly feelings she harboured toward her cosmetic chest.  But where the paints merely balmed the fears of her former self, the writings were something altogether different - something transformative rather than recuperative.  It was as though the inked characters had become rungs on a ladder, or an endlessly uncoiling rope, something that allowed her to climb over higher, to see ever more.
"You've learned the lesson," Kellhus had said on one of those rare mornings when he shared her breakfast.
"What lesson might that be?"
"That the lessons never end."  He laughed, gingerly sipped his steaming tea.  "That ignorance is infinite".
"How," she asked, at once earnest and delighted, "can anyone presume to be certain?"
Kellhus smiled in the devilish way she so adored.
"They think they know me," he said.

Her old self is a stranger to her.  Kellhus...
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...had rewritten the world down to this very foundations.  A world where all were slaves of repetition, of the twin darknesses of custom and appetite.  A world where beliefs serve the powerful instead of the true.  The old Esmenet would be astounded, even outraged.  But she would come to believe - eventually.
The world indeed held miracles, though only for those who dared abandon old hopes.

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Like The Third Analytic, The Sagas were one of those works familiar even to illiterate caste-menials such as herself.  She found it strange recalling her impressions of such things before Achamian or Kellhus.  The "Ancient North,"  she knew, had always seemed weighty and profound, a phrase with a palpable, skin-prickling air.  It lay like cold lead among the other names she knew, a marker of loss, hubris, and the implacable judgement of ages.  She knew of the No-God, the Apocalypse, the Ordeal, but they were little more than curiosities.  The Ancient North was a place, something she could point to.  And for whatever reason, everyone had agreed that it was one of those words, enunciations that, like "Scylvendi" or "Tusk", bore the whiff of overarching doom.  The Sagas had been little more than a rumour attached to that word.  Books to be certain, were frightful things, but in the way of snakes to city dwellers.  Something safely ignored.

Achamian and the Mandate disparage The Sagas.  They are like 'pearls strung across a corpse
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...With Achamian, the "Ancient North", which for all its dread had remained blank and obdurate, became something intricate and encompassing, a frame for what seemed an inexhaustible litany of extinguished hopes.  By comparison, The Sagas had come to seem something foolish, perhaps even criminal...

The Sagas are nine in total, with more than one author.  Some are verse, some are prose.
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Once again she'd found complexity where she expected simplicity.  Was that not always the way?

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...Both the style of the script and the diction and tone of the translator's dedicatory seemed bent to the sensibilities of some other kind of reader.  For the first time she found herself appreciating the fact that this history was itself historical.  For some reason she had never considered that writings could part of what they were about.  They always seemed to hang... outside the world they depicted.

The Kelmariad tells the story of Achamian's dreams and of Kellhus' blood.
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...These times and places, she realised, were neither so ancient nor so faraway as she might have wished.

The history of the Ancient North and the Apocalypse is set out.  Celmomas has a still born twin who 'everstalked his brother's side, chilling his heart even as he quickened his intellect'.

She reads for four days.

Seswatha keeps popping up.  He is the stalwart of a mighty king, a teacher and surrogate father, a powerful and resented voice in council, a shining beacon, a scheming foreigner, hope incarnate, a lunatic refugee, and the saviour of the world.  The true hero of The Sagas.
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...And each time Esmenet encountered some variant of his name, she would clutch her breast and think, Achamian.
It was no small thing to read of war, let alone apocalypse.  No matter how pressing her daily routine, images from The Sagas dogged her soul's eye: Sranc armoured in mandible freshly cut from their victims.  The burning Library of Sauglish and the thousands who'd sought refuge within her hallowed halls.  The Wall of the Dead, the cloak of corpses draped about the seaward ramparts of Dagliash.  Foul Golgotterath, her golden horns curving mountainous into dark skies.  And the No-God, Tsurumah, great winding tower of black wind...
War and more war, enough to engulf every city, every hearth, to sweep up all innocents - even the unborn - into its merciless jaws.
The though that Achamian continually lived these things oppresed her with an evasive, even cringing, sense of guilt.  Each night, he saw the horizon move with hordes of Sranc; he shrank beneath the pitch of dragons swooping from black-bellied clouds.  Each night, he witnessed Tryse, the Holy Mother of Cities, washed in the the blood of her bewildered children.  Each night, he literally relived the No-God's dread awakening, he actually heard tehmothers wail over their stillborn sons.
Absurdly, this made her think of his dead mule, Daybreak.  She had never understood, not truly, how much weight that name must have possessed for him. Such poignant hope.  And this, she realised with no little horror, meant that she;d never understood Achamian himself - not truly.  To be used night after night.  To be debased by hungers vast, ancient, and rutting.  How could a whore fail to see the outrage that had been heaped upon his soul?
You are my morning, Esmi... my dawn light
What could it mean?  For a man who lived and relived the ruin of all, what could it mean to awake to her touch, to her face? Where had he found the courage?  The trust?
I was his morning.
Esmenet felt it then, overpowering her, and in the strange fashion of moving souls, she struggled to ward it away.  But it was too late.  For what seemed the first time, she understood: his pointless urgency, his desperation to be believed, his haggard love, his short-winded compassion - shadows of the Apocalyse, all. To witness the dissolution of nations, to be stripped night after night of everything cherished, everything fair.  The miracle was that he still loved, that he still recognised mercy, pity... How could she not think him strong?
She understood, and it terrified her, for it was a thing too near love.

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She could see it all clearly now.  The derelict cities.  The smoking temples.  The strings of dead that marked the slave roads to Golgotterath.  She followed the Nonmen Erratics as they rode across the countryside hunting survivors.  She saw the Sranc digging up the stillborn and burning them on raised pyres.  She watched it all from afar, more than two thousand years too late.
Never had she read anything so dark, so despairing, or so glorious.  It seemed poison had been poured into wonder's own decanter.  This, she thought time and again, is his night...
And though she tried to beat the words from her heart, they rose nonetheless, as colds as accusatory truth, as relentless as earned affliction.  I was his morning

A strange scene where she watches Akka sitting by the side of a river, and then Kellhus is putting his hands over her.  Akka weeps.
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The horror in Achamian's eyes.
Who was that base and treacherous woman?  For Esmenet knew she could never do such a thing.  She simply wasn't capable.  Not to Akka.  Not him!
Then she recalled her daughter, somewhere out there across the seas.  Sold into slavery.

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She wept and she whispered, "Akka".  For she was his world, and all lay in ruin.

Achamian dreams.  He is with Nau-Cayuti.
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Lying prone, they stared over the lip of an upturned ledge, across what could only be a mighty chasm.  Entire chasm.  Entire mountains seemed to hang about them, cliff from towering cliff, plummet from plummet, dropping down into blackness, reaching up to pinch a great curved plane of gold.  It loomed above them, impossibly immense, wrought with never-ending string of text and panels, each as broad as a war galley's sail, engraved with alien figures warring in relief.  The lights from below cast a gleaming filigree across its expanse.
They looked upon the dread Ark itself, Sesawtha knew, rammed deep into the sockets of the earth.  They had reached the deepest pits of Golgotterath.

He wakes.  Esmi has come to him.  She tells him he is strong, then flees.

The Synthese soars above.  Cnaiur has told it of the Dunyain.
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Golgotterath would not be pleased with this new disposition of pieces.  But the rules had changed.
There were those who preferred clarity.
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2019, 06:45:05 pm »
The miracle was that he still loved, that he still recognised mercy, pity...

and by inference is different to the other Mandate sorcerors.  This has been told us by Akka before, but Esmi is 'confirming' it for us. 
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.