ARC: TTT Chapter 12

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TheCulminatingApe

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« on: February 24, 2019, 01:00:16 pm »
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Death, in the strict sense, cannot be defined, for whatever predicate we, the living, attribute to it necessarily belongs to Life.  This means that Death, as a category, behaves in a manner indistinguishable from the Infinite, and from God.
- AJENCIS, THE THIRD ANALYTIC OF MEN

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One cannot assume the truth of what one declares without presuming the falsity of all incongruous declarations.  Since all men assume the truth of their declarations, this presumption becomes at best ironic and at worst outrageous.  Given the infinity of possible claims, who could be so vain as to think their dismal claims true?  The tragedy, of course, is that we cannot but make declarations.  So it seems we must speak as Gods to converse as Men.
- HATATIAN, EXHORTATIONS
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2019, 10:06:21 pm »
Seswatha and Nau-Cayuti are in the Ark
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It was a many-chambered mountain, wrought in a gold-gleaming metal that could not be scored, let alone broken.  A city rolled into the warped planes of some misbegotten fish.  A ruin that the world could not stomach, that the ages could not digest.
And, as Seswatha and Nau-Cauyuti discovered, a great gilded crypt.

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Never had Seswatha suffered such a horror, diffuse enough to ignore moment by moment, but possessing a tidal profundity, as though all that he cherished lay exposed, not just to harm, but to some horrifically contrary truth.  Intellectually he understood the why and the wherefore even as his viscera quailed.  They walked the pits of Min-Uroikas, a place where the Inchoroi, in their wickedness, had gnawed at boundaries between the world and the Outside for thousands of years.  And now the howl of their damnation lay near... very near.
This was a topos, a place where hard lines of reality had become shading.  They could hear it in the cavernous echoes.  Gibbering screams in the scrape of their steps.  Groaning multitudes in the rattle of their coughs. Inhuman roaring in the ring of their voices.  And they could see it, as though images had been stitched to their periphery.  many-jawed faces, snapping out of the black.  Weeping children... Achamian lost count of the times he saw Nau-Cayuti abruptly whirl, trying to catch apparitions in the certainty of direct sight.

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He could feel them, piling labyrinthine into the distances above and below him, the consuming hollows.  It seemed hell itself roared inaudible about them.
This place.

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"There are some," Achamian whispered, "who argue that the entire Ark is a thing of bone, that vein and skin once pulsed across these walls".
"You mean that the Ark once lived?"
Achamian nodded, even as he swallowed for dread. "The Inchoroi called themselves Children of the Ark.  The most ancient Nonmen lays refer to them as the Orphans".
"So this thing.. this place... mothered them?"
Seswatha smiled.  "Or fathered... The fact is, we haven't the words for such things.  Even we could pierce the shroud of millennia, I fear this place would remain beyond our understanding."
"But I understand full well," the young Prince said.  "You're saying that Golgotterath is a dead womb".

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Nau-Cayuti peered through the surrounding gloom.  "Obscenity," he muttered.  "Obscenity.  Why, Seswatha?  Why would they bring way against us?"
"To close the world," seemed all he could muster.
To seal it shut.

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"Come", the High King's son said, standing tall in the dark.  "I fear the dreams sleep might bring".  Expressionless, he resumed picking his way through the black.
After a breath that seemed more ice than air, Seswatha stumbled after him, Nau-Cauyuti, heir to Tryse, the greatest light of the dynasty that called itself Anasurimbor.
The greatest light of Men.

Who is dreaming here?  Is Achamian possessed by Seswatha, or the other way round?

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Esmenet comes to Kellhus.  She asks him in Kuniuric who the Dunyain are.
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"We are Men," he replied.  "Like other Men"

She attempts to arouse him.
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...He could even see the swelling of her breasts, the heat of her womb.  But her thoughts... It was as though the strings between her face and soul had been severed and refastened to something both sleek and alien.
Something not human

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... "You cannot kill me," he said.  "I'm beyond you".
She smirked.  "How could you say this?  You know nothing of me or my kind".
Though the roots of her tone and expression escaped him, the incipient sneer was unmistakable.  It despised condescension.
It was proud.
She laughed.  "Did you think Achamian's stories could prepare you?  What the Mandate dream is but a sliver of what I've lived - of what I've seen.  I've walked in the No-God's shadow.  I've looked across the void and blotted your world by holding a fingertip before it... No, you know nothing of me or my kind."
Pupils dilated.  Nipples erect.  An imperceptible flush about her neck and chest.  Fingers curling the downy hair of her sex.  Kellhus thought of the Sranc and their rutting frenzy for blood, of Sarcellus hardening to the promise of violence that night about the Galeoth fire...
So similar
They were the template of their creations, he realised.  They had implanted their own carnal longings, made their own appetite the instrument of their domination.
"So what are you then?"  Kellhus asked.  "hat are the Inchoroi?"
"We", she cooed," are a race of lovers"
The expected answer.  Recollections cycled through his soul, not explicit and singular, but implicit and innumerable.  Everything Achamian had said regarding these abomination... He slackened his face in the simulacrum of profound sorrow. "And for this you are damned".
Flaring nostrils.  A faint quickening of the pulse.
"We were born for damnation's sake," she said with deceptive calm.  "Our very nature is our transgression.  Look at this exquisite body.  The heights of her bosom.  The temple of her sex.  I climb and I enter because I must".  She  fingered her pubis as she spoke, clutched tight her left breast.  "And for this?" she gasped.  "Fr this I am to heave and scream in lakes of fire?  Because of boundaries of skin?"
Kellhus knew not the length of beam of its inhuman intelligence, but he knew it counted grievances.  All souls, almost out of necessity, armed themselves with arguments and accusations of misunderstanding.  A circle, after all, could only have one centre.
"Denial is the way," Kellhus said. "Boundaries are written into the order of things".

She matched his gaze in a way Esmenet never could, stared as though he were something pathetic and execrable.  It sees what I'm trying to do.
"But you," she said with breathless sarcasm, "you could rewrite the scripture of my doom, hmm, Prophet?"  She barked with laughter.
"There is no absolution for your kind".
She had raised her hips to the liquid flutter of her fingers.  "Oh, but there isssss..."
"So you would destroy the world?"
She shuddered, her body afire with arousal. She lowered her buttocks, crossed her legs about her fingers.  "To save my soul, hmmm?  So long as there are Men, there are crimes.  So long as there are crimes, I am damned.  Tell me, Dunyain, what track woudl you follow?  What woudl you do to save your soul?"
Track, it had said... The Scylvendi
I should have killed him.

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"Love is the Way... And yet these little demons you call Gods decree otherwise?  Dole out their rewards in proportion to our suffering?  No".  She paused before him, her slight form magnificent in the play of gloom and light.  "I would save my soul".
She reached out to trace his lips with a shining fingertip.  Esmenet burning for congress.  For all his breeding, all his conditioning, Kellhus could feel the ancient instinct rise... What kind of game.
He caught her wrist.
"She doesn't love you", she said, tugging her wrist free.  "Not truly".
The words jarred - but why?  What was this darkness?
Pain?
"She worships," Kellhus found himself replying, "and has yet to understand the difference".
How many secrets could it see?  How much did it know?
"Such a marvel", she said, "what you've accomplished... So much stolen".
It spoke as though knowing much warranted knowing all.  It tries to lure me, draw me into open discourse.
"My father has been here thirty years".
"Long enough to require a Holy War to overcome him?"
"Long enough".
She smiled, drew two fingers across her sweaty breastbone.  Though her body remained young, her eyes possessed an age not her own.  "Again", she simpered, "I don't believe you... You are your father's heir, not his assassin".
And the air reeked of sorcery.
Her hands found him through his robe, began fondling... Kellhus stood bewildered.  He wanted to seize her, thrust deep into her burning centre.  He would show her!  Show her!
His robe had been hiked - and by his own hand!...

It asks him what is Moenghus' intent
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"To make manifest", he heard himself gasp, "the Thousandfold Thought....

Something triggers a ward.
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For a heartbeat the world stopped.  He saw it, old hoary and rotted, staring out from his wife's eyes.  The Inchoroi...

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"Across the world in Golgotterath", Kellhus gasped, still stamping out the coals of his manic lust, "the Mangaecca squat about your true flesh, rocking to the mutter of endless Cants.  The Synthese is but a node.  You are no more than the reflection of a shadow, an image cats upon the water of Esmenet.  You possess subtlety, yes, but you haven't the depth to confront me".
Achamian had told him of this creature, that its capacities would be largely restricted to glamours, compulsions, and possessions.  The great shout that was its true form, the Schoolman had said, could be heard only as whispers and insinuations at such a distance.  I must own this encounter!

"Come," she said, springing to her feet, stalking him as he retreated across the verandah, "kill me, then.  Strike me down!"
A mask of counterfeit horror.  Once again Kellhus unlaced the bindings of selfhood, rolled open the inner surfaces of his soul.  Once again he reached...
The past possessed weight.  Where the young were like flotsam, forever drawn spinning into the current of passing events, the old were like stone.  The proverbs and parables spoke of sobriety, restraint, but more than anything it was boredom that rendered the aged immune to the press of events.  Repetition, not enlightenment, was the secret of their detachment.  How did one move a soul that had witnessed all the world's permutations?
"But you can't", she cackled, "can you?  Look upon this pretty shell... these lips, these eyes, this cunny.  I am what you love..."
What was more, the Scylvendi had school it.  The non sequiturs.  The sudden questions.  The thing made whim the principle of its action - just as Cnaiur had...
Kellhus reached.
"After all," she said, "what man would strike down his wife?"
He drew his sword, Enshoiya, pressed its point against the white tile floor between them.  "A Dunyain," he replied.
She stopped above the blade, close enough to pinch the tip between the toes of her right foot.  She glared with ancient fury.  "I am Aurang.  Tyranny!  A son of the void you call Heaven... I am Inchoroi, a raper of thousands!  I am he who would rear this world down.  Strike, Anasurimbor!

Kellhus reached...
... and saw himself through the obscenity's eyes, the enigma who would draw out his father, Moenghus.  Kellhus reached, though with fingers lacking tips, palms without heat.  He reached and grasped...
A soul that had snaked across all the world's ages, taking lover after lover, exulting in degradation, spilling seed across innumerable dead.  The Nonmen of Ishorial. The Norsirai of Tryse and Sauglish.  Warring... endlessly warring, to forestall damnation...
A race with a hundred names for the vagaries of ejaculation, who had silenced all compassion, all pity, to better savour the reckless chorus of their lusts.  Stalking, endlessly stalking, the world they would make their shrieking harem...
A life so old that only he, Anasurimbor Kellhus, was unprecedented.  Only the Dunyain were new.
Who were these Men - these Anasurimbor - who hailed from Golgotterath's very shaodw? who could see through masks of skin? who could subvert ancient faiths? who could enslave Holy Wars with nothing more than words and glances?
Who bore the name of their ancient foe...
An Kellhus realised there was only one question here:  Who were the Dunyain?
They fear us, Father.

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"The No-God," he said, advancing, "He speaks to me in my dreams".
"I", Esmenet replied, spitting blood as she pressed herself from the floor, "don't believe you".
Kellhus seized the black maul of her hair, heaved her to her feet.  He hissed into her ear.  "He says that you failed him on the plains of Mengedda".
"Lies!  Lies!"
"He comes, Warlord.  For this world.. for you!"
Strike me again," she whispered.  "Please..."
He threw her back to the floor.  She writhed at his feet, thrusting her sex like an accusatory finger.  "Fuck me," she whispered.  "Fuck me".
But the lustful glamour fell from him, deflected by the Dara Ward.
"Your secrets have been uncovered," he said in high oratorical tones.  "Your agents are scattered, you designs overthrown... You've been defeated, Warlord".
And for the first time she replied according to his anticipations.
"Ahhhh... but there are as many battlefields as there are moments, Dunyain".
Pause.  The cycling of possibilities.
"You're a distraction..." Kellhus said.

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"Achamian", Kellhus whispered.
"Is already dead," the thing sneered.  It rolled her head like  doll, then slumped across the cold stone.

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Something spider-like emerges through a slot in an ancestor shrine.  It becomes Fanashila, kills Opsara, becomes Esmenet.  It enters Achamian's chambers, and goes to him, half naked.  Achamian is there, but it isn't him.  Captain Heorsa kills the skin-spy, which crushes his windpipe as it dies.

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Achamain dreams of the Ark.  he is woken by Proyas.  Xinemus is calling for him.

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Esmenet is 'awake'. 
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... she not only remembered, she remembered as though she herself had spoken what was spoken, said what was said...

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She clutched cheeks, scratched welts across them.  "Always the whore!  Why must I always be the whore?"
He looked through her, past her bewildered hurt, down to the beatings and the abuse, to the betrayals, and beyond, out to a world of rank lust, shaped by the hammers of custom, girded with scripture, scaled by ancient legacies of sentiment and belief.  Her womb had cursed her, even as it made her what she was.  Immortality and bliss - this was the living promise all women bore between their things.  Strong sons and gasping climax.  If what men called truth were ever the hostage of their desires, how could they fail to make slaves of their women?  To hide them lie hoarded gold.  To feast on them like melons.  To discard them like rinds.
Was this not why he used her?  The promise of sons in her hips?
Dunyain sons.
Her eyes were like silver spoons in the gloom, shimmering with scarcely held waters.  He looked through them and saw so much he could never undo...
"Hold me", she whispered.  "Hold me please".
Like so many others, she bore his toll.  And it was only the beginning.

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Akka remembers when the Mandatecame for him.  His father said no - he needs his son at sea.  The men at arms beat him up.  Akka gloats.  His father is broken.
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Only afterward, as they trundled up the coast in the Schoolman's cart, would he cry, overwhelmed by loss and delinquent regret.
far, far too late

Xinemus is dying of the lung-plague.
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"Remember how it was?" Xinemus asked.  "The way you would wait in the dark while I took council with the Great?"
Yes... I remember".
"Now it's I who wait".

Akka never beat him at benjuka.
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"Because you try too hard," Xinemus said. "And when the plate doesn't yield - " he coughed, convulsed about pustulate lungs.

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Then he went slack.  For several heartbeats all Achamian could do was stare.  Without his eyes Xinemus seemed so...sealed in.

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It seemed that his heart slowed, hesitated, like a boy unsure of the sincerity of his father's permission.  his lips tightened, and a great void slowly opened in his chest, at first tugging and then lunging - demanding that he breathe.
With a shameful reluctance, he watched him in the darkness, Krijates Xinemus, this man would be his older brother, this corpse with the face of an only friend.  The first of the lice found him - Achamian could feel them.  like the tickle of insight.
He breathed, drew the rank air deep.  And though his cry reached out across the plains, it fell far short of Shimeh.

In the morning he meets with Kellhus.
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"no!" he cried, leaping to his feet.  "Why didn't you heal him?"
For the briefest instant Kellhus seemed taken aback - but then all was as it should be.  Comfort glittered in his eyes.  Understanding shouted from the lie of his smile, sad and faint.
Achamian's ears roared with such violence that he heard nothing of Kellhus' reply, save that it was false.  He literally stumbled, such was the force of the revelation.  Strong hands drew him upright.  Kellhus - grasping him by the shoulders, staring intently into his face.  But the intimacy, that eroticism of awe that had braced all their exchanges, had vanished.  A vacancy, cold and heartless, shouted from the beloved face.
How?
And somehow, unaccountably, Achamian knew that he was truly awake - perhaps for the very first time.  No longer was he that hapless child in this man's gaze.
Achamian pulled away - not horrified, just... blank.
"What are you?"
Kellhus's gaze did not falter.  "You flinch from me, Akka.. Why?"
"You are not a prophet!  What are you?"
The transformation of his expression was subtle enough that someone standing three or more paces away would have missed it, but for Achamian it was enough to send him stumbling back in horror.  As one, Kellhus' every facial nuance went dead - utterly dead.
Then , in  voice as cold as winter slate:
"I am the truth"
"Truth?" Achamian struggled to regain his composure, but the horror spilled through him, unlooping like entrails.  he fought for his breath, to see past the glaring sky, to hear through the buzzing world.  "Tru-"
An iron grip around his throat.  his head yanked back, his face thrust to the sun, like a doll hoisted to the sky.  he hadn't even seen Kellhus move!
"Look," the dead voice said.  No strain.  Nothing of this physical cruelty in his voice.  Nothing.
The sun speared Achamian's eyes, seemed blinding even with them clenched shut.
"Look," without added emphasis, except for the finger which caressed his trachea in such a way that bile began to burn the back of his throat.
"Can't... see..."
Abruptly he dropped face forward against the ground.  Before he'd regained his knees, he'd begun his arcane muttering.  He knew his capabilities.  He knew he could destroy him still.
But the voice would not relent.
"Does this mean the sun is empty?"
Achamian paused, turned his face from the grass and scree, squinted at the figure looming above.
"Do you think", a voice crackled across every possibility of hearing, "the God would be anything other than remote".
Achamian lowered his forehead to the biting weeds.  Everything spinning, slumping..
"Or do I lie, in that since I am all souls, I choose the one that will turn the most hearts?"
And tears answered.  Don't hit me... Please, papa, please.  Don't-
"Or should it speak of treachery that my purposes move beyond yours?  Encompass yours?"
He raised shaking hands to his ears.  I'll be good! I swear!  He fell to his side, sobbed against hard, bristling earth.  The road so long.  So painful.  The hunger... Inrau... Xinemus dead.
Dead.
Because of me!  Oh dear God...
The Warrior-Prophet sat next to him as he wept, gently holding one of his hands, his face impassive, eyes closed and turned to the sun.
"Tomorrow," he said, "we march on Shimeh".
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 07:54:20 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.

Madness

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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 12:47:01 am »
Wow, sorry, I don't have the time to get into it, TCA, but damn this was a loaded chapter.

Lots of good S/N stuff and of course the meeting of the Inchoroi and the Dunyain but that moment between Kellhus and Achamian where Achamian experiences the manipulation viscerally for the first time after three books of Cnaiur shouting it at the reader is so unbelievably cathartic.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 12:48:50 am by Madness »
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TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 07:53:57 pm »
It was indeed a great chapter.  All kinds of stuff happening.

Contrast between the dead womb of the Ark and the live womb of Esmenet.

Nau-Cauyuti fears going to sleep and dreaming, but he is part of the dreams that Achamian fears having.

The Consult want to seal the world shut.  Xinemus seems sealed in since he lost his eyes.  The No-God of course cannot see.

Kellhus the man - struggling to resist Aurang-possessed Esmenet. 
Kellhus the 'Truth' (doesn't Dunyain mean truth?) with his dead voice and dead face - no emotions?
But, Kellhus feels pain when Aurang tells him Esmi doesn't love him.

A ward deflects Aurang's 'lustful glamour'.  The Inchoroi are very materialist and use sex to get what they want - a comment on the modern world?

The whole thing is a set up by both sides.  Aurang comes to Kellhus to distract him.  Kellhus knows this.

Akka realises Kellhus is not a prophet - he cannot heal Xinemus (which Xin has told us in previous chapter). 
Kellhus' reaction - I think he reacted similarly to Cnaiur back in TDTCB.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 07:56:38 pm by TheCulminatingApe »
Sez who?
Seswatha, that's who.