ARC: TTT Chapter 9

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: February 17, 2019, 12:49:35 pm »
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In the skins of elk I pas over grasses.  Rain falls, and I cleanse my face in the sky.  I hear the Horse Prayers spoken, but lips are far away.  I slip down weed and still twig - into their palms I pool.  Then I am called out and am among them.  In Sorrow, I rejoice.
Pale endless life. This, I call my own
- ANONYMOUS, THE NONMAN CANTICLES
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2019, 03:34:07 pm »
Cnaiur awakens to memories of carvings in Shigek, showing an ancient Scylvendi kissing the
heel of an outland king.
Conphas is giving it the full Bond villain, but Cnaiur doesn't recognise him.
Quote
The man smiled.  "I know you aren't human.  I know that we're kin."...
..."Are you," Cnaiur rasped, "a god?"...
..."I know you love me... Men often beat those they love. Words fail them , and they throw their fists into the breach"...

..."I know also," the man continued, "that you hate him"
Him.  There could be no mistaking the word's intensity.  The Dunyain.  He spoke of the Dunyain - and as though he were his enemy, no less.  "You do not want," Cnaiur said, "to raise arms against him..."
"And why would that be?"
Cnaiur turned to him, blinking.  "He knows the hearts of men.  He seizes their beginnings and so wields their ends."
"So even you," the nameless General spat, "even you have succumbed to the general madness.  Religion...  He turned from the table, poured himself something Cnaiur couldn't see from the ground.  "You know, Scylvendi, I thought I'd found a peer in you."  His laugh was vicious.  "I even toyed with the idea of making you my Exalt-General."
Cnaiur scowled.  Who was this man?
"Absurd, I know.  Utterly impossible.  The Army would mutiny.  The mob would storm the Andiamine Heights!  But I cannot help but think that, with someone such as you, I could eclipse even Triamis."
Dawning horror.
"Did you know that?  Did you know stood in the the Emperor's presence?"  He raised his wine bowl in salute, took a deep drink.  "Ikurei Conphas I," he gasped after swallowing.  "With me the Empire is reborn, Scylvendi.  I am Kyraneas.  I am Cenei.  Soon all the Three Seas will kiss my knee!"
Blood and grimaces.  Roaring shouts.  Fire.  It all came back to him, the horror and rapture of Joktha.  And then there he was... Conphas.  A god with a beaten face.
Cnaiur laughed, deep and full-throated.
For moment the man stood dumbstruck, as though suddenly forced to reckon the dimensions of an unguessed incapacity.  "You play me," he said with what seemed genuine bafflement.  "Mock me".
And Cnaiur understood that he'd been sincere, that Conphas had meant every word he said.  Of course he was baffled.  He had recognised his brother; how could his brother not recognise him in turn?
The Chieftain of the Utemot laughed harder.  "Brother? You heart is shrill and your soul is plain.  Your claims are preposterous, uttered without any real understanding, like recitations of a mother's daft pride."  Cnaiur spat pink.  "Peer? Brother? You have note the iron to be my brother.  You are a thing of sand.  Soon you will be kicked to the wind".

Conphas kicks him unconscious and leaves.
'General Sompas' enters and frees Cnaiur.  They walk out of the camp without being challenged once.

Quote
A word dogged Emperor Ikurei Conphas, a word he had always regarded from the outside.
Terror...
...What was it about this man - this fiend?  How had he affected him so?  For all the hatred the Nansur bore towards the Scylvendi race, they were perversely enamoured of them as well.  There was a mystique to them, and a virility that transcended the myriad rules that so constricted the intercourse of civilised men.  Where the Nansur wheedled and negotiated, the Scylvendi simply took - seized.  It was as though they had embraced violence whole, while the Nansur had shattered it into a thousand pieces to set as splinters across the multiform mosaic of their society.
It made them seem.. more manly.
And this one Scylvendi, this Utemot Chieftain.  Conphas had witnessed it, as much as any of the Columnaries who'd quailed before him in Joktha.  In the firelight the barbarian's eyes had been coals set in his skull.  And the blood had painted him the colour of his true skin.  The swatting arms, the roaring voice, the chest-pounding declarations.  They had all seen the God.  They had all seen dread Gilgaol rearing about him, a great horned shadow...
And now, after wrestling to the ground like some lunatic bull, after the wonder of capturing him - capturing War! - he had simply vanished

There is no sorcery involved - could it be the skin-spies?
Quote
They weren't Cishaurim, but did that make them Consult as the Mandati had insisted?  Were these truly the opening hours of the Second Apocalypse?
Terror.  How could he not be terrified?
All this time Conphas had assumed that he and his uncle had stood at the root of all that happened.  No matter how the others plotted, they but thrashed in the nets of his hidden designs - or so he thought. Such errant conceit!  All along, others had known, others had watched, and he hadn't the slightest inkling of their intentions!
What was happening?  Who ruled these events?
Not Emperor Ikurei Conphas I...
...Were he one, were he alone, it would be hopeless.
But he was not one.  He was many. The ability to cede voice and limb to the will of another - herein lay the true genius of men.  The ability to kneel.  With such power, Conphas realised, he was no longer confined to the here and now.  With such power, he could reach across the world's very curve!  He was Emperor.
How could not cackle?  Such a wondrous life he lived!
He need only make things simple...

Cnaiur flees through the night with the skin-spies.  One of them is Serwe, one of them is Moenghus, or Kellhus?
Quote
"I'm forgetting something," he said.
She nodded and smiled the blithe and jubilant way she always did when she knew some answer.
"The one you hunt," she said.  "The murderer."
He felt his face darken.  "But I am the murderer!  The most violent of all men!  They slouch forward in chains.  They ape their fathers, just as their fathers aped their fathers before them, all the way back to the beginning.  Covenants of earth.  Covenants of blood.  I stood and found my chains were smoke.  I turned and saw the void... I am unfettered!"

They question him, try to prompt him to tell them what he knows about Kellhus.
Quote
"Tell me... what do you see?"
"The one", Cnaiur grated "that I hunt."
"Yes," Serwe said from behind him.  "The murderer!"
"He murdered my father with words!  Consumed my heart with revelation!"
"Yes..."
"He set me free".

Quote
...They called themselves the Last Children of the Inchoroi, though they were loath to speak of their "Old Fathers".  They claimed to be Keepers of the Inverse Fire, though the merest question regarding either their 'keeping' or their 'fire' pitched them into confusion...
...They carried, Cnaiur could see, the spark of the void within them.  Like the Sranc...

Quote
Men were like this, Cnaiur realised, binding their manifold roots then branching in a thousand different directions, twining into the greater canopy of other men.  But these things - these skin-spies - were something altogether different, though they could mimic men well enough.  They did not bleed into their surroundings as men did.  They struck through circumstances, rather than reaching out to claim them.  They were spears concealed in the thickets of human activity.  Thorns...
Tusks.
And this leant them  curious beauty, a dread elegance.  They were simple in the way of knives, these skin-spies.  He envied them that, even as he loved and pitied.

Quote
They wandered red-eyed, exchanging moon-pale landscapes for sun-bright, and Cnaiur fell to reckoning the oddities of his soul.  He supposed he was insane, though the more he pondered the word, the more uncertain its meaning became.  On several occasions he had presided over the ritual throat-cutting of Utemot pronounced insane by the tribal elders.  According to the memorialists, men went feral in the manner of dogs and horses, and in like manner had to be put down.  The Inrithi, he knew, thought insanity the work of  demons.

One night during the infancy of the Holy War - and for reasons that Cnaiur could no longer recall - the sorceror had taken a crude parchment map if the Three Seas and pressed it flat over a copper laver filled with water.  he had poked holes of varying sizes throughout the parchment, and when he held his oil lantern high to complement the firelight, little beads of water glinted across the tanned landscape.  Each man, he explained, was a kind of hole in existence, a point where the Outside penetrated the world.  He tapped one of the beads with his finger.  It broke, staining the surrounding parchment.  When the trials of the world broke men, he explained, the Outside leaked into the world.
This he said was madness.

At the time, Cnaiur had been less than impressed.  He had despised the sorceror, thinking him one of those mewling souls who forever groaned beneath burdens of their own manufacture.  He had dismissed all things him out if hand.  But now, the force of his demonstration seemed indisputable.  Something other inhabited him.
It was peculiar.  Sometimes it seemed that each of his eyes answered to a different master, that his every look involved war and loss.  Sometimes it seemed he possessed two faces, an honest outer expression, which  he sunned beneath the open sky, and a more devious inner countenance.  If he concentrated, he could almost feel its muscles - deep, twitching webs of them - beneath the musculature that stretched his skin.  But is was elusive, like the presentiment of hate in a brother's glance.  And it was profound, sealed like marrow within living bone.  There was no distance!  No way to frame it within his comprehension.  And how could there be?  When it thought, he was...
The bead had been broken - there could be no doubt of that.  According to the sorceror, madness all came down to the question of origins.  If the divine possessed him, he would be some kind of visionary or prophet.  If the demonic...

The sorceror's demonstration seemed indisputable.  It accorded with his nagging intuitions.  It explained, among other things, the strange affinities between madness and insight - why the soothsayers of one age could be the bedlamites of another.  The problem, of course was the Dunyain.
He contradicted all of it.
Cnaiur had watched him ply the roots of man after man and thus command their branching action.  Nursing their hatred.  Cultivating their shame and their conceit.  Nurturing their love.  Herding their reasons, breeding their beliefs!  And all with nothing more than mundane word and expression - nothing more than worldly things.
The Dunyain, Cnaiur realised, acted as though there were no holes in the sorceror's parchment map, no beads to signify souls, no water to mark the Outside.  He assumed a world where the branching actions of one man could become the roots of another.  And with this elementary assumption he had conquered the acts of thousands.
He has conquered the Holy War.

The insight sent Cnaiur reeling, for it suddenly seemed that he rode through two different worlds, one open, where the roots of men anchored them to something beyond, and another closed, where those selfsame roots were entirely contained.  What would it mean to be mad in such a closed world?  But such a world could not be!  Ingrown and insensate.  Cold and soulless.
There had to be more.

Besides, he couldn't be mad, he decided, because he possessed no origins.  He had kicked free of all earth.  He didn't even possess a past.  Not really.  What he remembered, he always remembered now.  He - Cnaiur urs Skiotha - was the ground of what came before.  He was his own foundation!
Laughing, he thought of the Dunyain and how, upon their fatal reunion, this would overthrow him.

He tried - once - to share these ruminations with Serwe and the others, but they could offer him only the simulacrum of understanding.  How could they fathom his depths when they themselves possessed none?  They were not bottomless holes in the world, as he was.  They were animate, yet they did not live, not truly.  They, he realised with no little horror, had no souls.  They dwelt utterly within the world.
And for no reason, his love of them - his love of her - became all the more fierce.

The Kidruhil attack.  They are driven off, but Serwe is killed.
Quote
"We must bury her", he called.
Serwe helped him.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 06:56:54 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

Dora Vee

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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2019, 04:43:22 pm »
"..."I know you love me... Men often beat those they love. Words fail them , and they throw their fists into the breach"..."

HEH! Conphas so crazy. I can't help but like him.
Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.   
                          -Ajencis, the fourth analytic of man

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2019, 06:58:56 pm »
And this one Scylvendi, this Utemot Chieftain.  Conphas had witnessed it, as much as any of the Columnaries who'd quailed before him in Joktha.  In the firelight the barbarian's eyes had been coals set in his skull.  And the blood had painted him the colour of his true skin.  The swatting arms, the roaring voice, the chest-pounding declarations.  They had all seen the God.  They had all seen dread Gilgaol rearing about him, a great horned shadow...
And now, after wrestling to the ground like some lunatic bull, after the wonder of capturing him - capturing War! - he had simply vanished

Quote
All this time Conphas had assumed that he and his uncle had stood at the root of all that happened.  No matter how the others plotted, they but thrashed in the nets of his hidden designs - or so he thought. Such errant conceit!  All along, others had known, others had watched, and he hadn't the slightest inkling of their intentions!

Tricked, deceived and deluded - a different horned God, perhaps?

Quote
"Did you know that?  Did you know stood in the the Emperor's presence?"  He raised his wine bowl in salute, took a deep drink.  "Ikurei Conphas I," he gasped after swallowing.  "With me the Empire is reborn, Scylvendi.  I am Kyraneas.  I am Cenei.  Soon all the Three Seas will kiss my knee!"
The Empire will be reborn.  But not with you, Conphas
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2019, 07:01:28 pm »
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Men were like this, Cnaiur realised, binding their manifold roots then branching in a thousand different directions, twining into the greater canopy of other men.  But these things - these skin-spies - were something altogether different, though they could mimic men well enough.  They did not bleed into their surroundings as men did.  They struck through circumstances, rather than reaching out to claim them.  They were spears concealed in the thickets of human activity.  Thorns...
Tusks.
And this leant them  curious beauty, a dread elegance.  They were simple in the way of knives, these skin-spies.  He envied them that, even as he loved and pitied.

What is the Tusk reference implying? It's very obviously a deliberate analogy.
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 07:12:30 pm »
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They wandered red-eyed, exchanging moon-pale landscapes for sun-bright, and Cnaiur fell to reckoning the oddities of his soul.  He supposed he was insane, though the more he pondered the word, the more uncertain its meaning became.  On several occasions he had presided over the ritual throat-cutting of Utemot pronounced insane by the tribal elders.  According to the memorialists, men went feral in the manner of dogs and horses, and in like manner had to be put down.  The Inrithi, he knew, thought insanity the work of  demons.

One night during the infancy of the Holy War - and for reasons that Cnaiur could no longer recall - the sorceror had taken a crude parchment map if the Three Seas and pressed it flat over a copper laver filled with water.  he had poked holes of varying sizes throughout the parchment, and when he held his oil lantern high to complement the firelight, little beads of water glinted across the tanned landscape.  Each man, he explained, was a kind of hole in existence, a point where the Outside penetrated the world.  He tapped one of the beads with his finger.  It broke, staining the surrounding parchment.  When the trials of the world broke men, he explained, the Outside leaked into the world.
This he said was madness.

At the time, Cnaiur had been less than impressed.  He had despised the sorceror, thinking him one of those mewling souls who forever groaned beneath burdens of their own manufacture.  He had dismissed all things him out if hand.  But now, the force of his demonstration seemed indisputable.  Something other inhabited him.
It was peculiar.  Sometimes it seemed that each of his eyes answered to a different master, that his every look involved war and loss.  Sometimes it seemed he possessed two faces, an honest outer expression, which  he sunned beneath the open sky, and a more devious inner countenance.  If he concentrated, he could almost feel its muscles - deep, twitching webs of them - beneath the musculature that stretched his skin.  But is was elusive, like the presentiment of hate in a brother's glance.  And it was profound, sealed like marrow within living bone.  There was no distance!  No way to frame it within his comprehension.  And how could there be?  When it thought, he was...
The bead had been broken - there could be no doubt of that.  According to the sorceror, madness all came down to the question of origins.  If the divine possessed him, he would be some kind of visionary or prophet.  If the demonic...

The sorceror's demonstration seemed indisputable.  It accorded with his nagging intuitions.  It explained, among other things, the strange affinities between madness and insight - why the soothsayers of one age could be the bedlamites of another.  The problem, of course was the Dunyain.
He contradicted all of it.
Cnaiur had watched him ply the roots of man after man and thus command their branching action.  Nursing their hatred.  Cultivating their shame and their conceit.  Nurturing their love.  Herding their reasons, breeding their beliefs!  And all with nothing more than mundane word and expression - nothing more than worldly things.
The Dunyain, Cnaiur realised, acted as though there were no holes in the sorceror's parchment map, no beads to signify souls, no water to mark the Outside.  He assumed a world where the branching actions of one man could become the roots of another.  And with this elementary assumption he had conquered the acts of thousands.
He has conquered the Holy War.

The insight sent Cnaiur reeling, for it suddenly seemed that he rode through two different worlds, one open, where the roots of men anchored them to something beyond, and another closed, where those selfsame roots were entirely contained.  What would it mean to be mad in such a closed world?  But such a world could not be!  Ingrown and insensate.  Cold and soulless.
There had to be more.

Besides, he couldn't be mad, he decided, because he possessed no origins.  He had kicked free of all earth.  He didn't even possess a past.  Not really.  What he remembered, he always remembered now.  He - Cnaiur urs Skiotha - was the ground of what came before.  He was his own foundation!
Laughing, he thought of the Dunyain and how, upon their fatal reunion, this would overthrow him.

He tried - once - to share these ruminations with Serwe and the others, but they could offer him only the simulacrum of understanding.  How could they fathom his depths when they themselves possessed none?  They were not bottomless holes in the world, as he was.  They were animate, yet they did not live, not truly.  They, he realised with no little horror, had no souls.  They dwelt utterly within the world.
And for no reason, his love of them - his love of her - became all the more fierce.

Cnaiur's chapter's are always engaging and well worth quoting - and there's always lots to quote.
This seems to imply that he might be possessed, and the reference to the 'great horned shadow around around him' from the Conphas paragraphs, tells those who have read TAE who it might be.  I don't think this can be inferred from anything in PON to date, but seems to be clear foreshadowing of future events.

Also, clear pointers to the fact that the Dunyain are
(click to show/hide)
  again foreshadowing TAE.

Are the skin-spies therefore, an analogy for what humanity would become in a closed world, animate, but not truly living?

This also suggests Cnaiur has become a self-moving soul.  Therefore Moenghus and Kellhus have inadvertently achieved the Dunyain mission without realising it - how ironic.
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.