Earwa > The Almanac: PON Edition

ARC:TTT Chapter 11



--- Quote ---Of all the Cants, none better illustrates the nature of the soul than the Cants of Compulsion.  According to Zarathinius, the fact that those compelled unerringly think themselves free shows that Volition is one more thing moved in the soul, and not the mover we take it to be.  While few dispute this, the absurdities that follow escape comprehension altogether.
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--- Quote ---As a miller once told me, when the gears do not meet, they become as teeth.  So it is with men and their machinations
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--- Quote ---They had come from the straw-floored manors of Galeoth, where dogs supped with their masters; from the frontier forests of Thunyerus, deep and great, where the Sranc waged their aimless and eternal war; from the mead-halls of Ce Tydonn, where long haired thanes denounced mongrel races; from the great estates of Conriya, where dark-eyed Palatines made prizes of their pasts; and from the sultry plains of High Ainon, where painted caste-nobles beat paths through teeming streets.  Eight seasons previously, the Shriah of the Thousand Temples had called, and they had come... the Men of the Tusk.
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The Holy War progresses through Xerash.  There are no atrocities committed.

Kellhus encounters an old blind men, who whispers something in his ear, and is then executed.

We get a POV from Aurang.

--- Quote ---For decades, the Consult had assumed that the alien metaphysics of the Cishaurim had been responsible for uncovering their children in Shimeh.  This had made the prospect of the Empire's fall to the Fanim intolerable.  Half the Three Seas immune to their poison?  The Holy War had seemed a rare opportunity.
But the plate had changed all too quickly.  To realise that the Cishaurim were but a mask for a far more ancient foe.  To come so very close, only to discover their sublime deceptions subverted by something deeper.  Something new.
The Dunyain.
There was more to this than a son hunting his father - far more.  Their devious methods and disconcerting abilities aside, these Dunyain were Anasurimbor.  Even without the Mandate prophecies, enmity was a fact of their accursed blood.  Who was this Moenghus?  And if his son could seize the armed might of the Three Seas in a single year, what had he accomplished in thirty?  What awaited the Holy War in Shimeh?
Despite the rank disorder of his soul, the Scylvendi had been right about one thing: these Dunyain had seized too much already.  They could not be allowed the Gnosis as well.
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The Consult plot some sort of trap, one involving Esmenet.

Eleazaras has caught a skin-spy.  Esmenet has learnt of this and has come to find out what is going on.

--- Quote ---The fact that she had learned of their discovery so quickly spoke not only to her ability but to efficacy of the organisation she had assembled following the Warrior-Prophet's ascendancy.  He would not make the mistake of understanding either her or her resources again.  This whore-cum-consort.
This Esmenet...

...Eleazaras wondered if she even grasped the outrageousness of her presumption.  Sweet Sejenus!  They were the Scarlet Spires!  No one simply intruded upon their affairs, no matter what their writ or who their lord and master.  Especially a woman.
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--- Quote ---There was strength in ignorance, Eleazaras realised. All his life he had thought knowledge a weapon.  "The world repeats," the Shiradic philosopher Umartu had written. "Know these repetitions, and you may intervene".  Eleazaras had taken this as his mantra, had used it as the hammer with which to pound cunning into his wit.  You may intervene, he would tell himself, no matter what the circumstance.
But there was knowledge beyond hope of intervention, knowledge that mocked, degraded... gelded and paralyzed.  Knowledge that only ignorance could contradict.  Iyokus and Inrummi simply did not know what he knew, which was why they thought him castrate.  They didn't even believe.
Perhaps it was inevitable that the Intricati appear here  and now.  That the Warrior-Prophet intervene.
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The skin-spy will be 'transferred' to the Intricati.

Eleazaras, who is drunk and fantasizing about fucking Esmi, taunts her.

--- Quote ---"Don't you see the irony?"  he drawled on.  "Surely you do... I was the one who ordered that Achamian be abducted.  I was the one who stranded you with... with him.  He snorted.  "I'm the reason you're here at all, am I not?"
She didn't sneer - her face was far too beautiful - but her expression burned with contempt nonetheless.  "More men", she said evenly, "should take credit for their mistakes".
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The skin-spy is being 'examined' by Kellhus, Esmi and Akka.  Akka thinks the faces clinch by some inborn impulse.

--- Quote ---"No," Kellhus said. "You're understanding them by reference to men".  He shot Achamian a chiding smile that Esmenet found herself returning.  "You're assuming that they posses some self to hide.  But whatever subtlety of character they possess, they steal.  Apart from that, they have only the bestial rudiments of self.  They're shells only.  The mockery of souls".
"More than enough," Achamian replied grimacing.
The implications were clear: more than enough to replace us...
"More than enough", Kellhus repeated, though his intonations - regret, sorrow, foreboding - made them seem entirely different words.
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The skin-spy was a chorae-archer - nobody is more scrutinised by the Scarlet Spires. An act of desperation - or deception?
Esmi realises that the Consult will do anything to deny Kellhus the Gnosis.

The skin-spy screams in the dark
--- Quote ---"Yut-yaga mirzur!" ... "They believe"
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The Holy War reaches the Holy Land.  Athjeari is ambushed and killed.  Kellhus leads his funeral rites.

--- Quote ---"Inri Sejenus came after the Apocalyse," he told the grieving caste-nobles, "when the world's had nee of healing.  I come before, when Men have need of warlike strength.  Of all the Hundred Gods, far-striking Gilgaol burns brightest within me, but not so bright as He burned within Coithus Athjeari, son of Asilda, daughter of Eryeat, King of the Galeoth".
Afterwards, the surviving priests of War washed his body and dressed him clothing belonging to his recently arrived countrymen, so he wouldn't suffer the indignity of burning in the khalats of his enemy.  He was laid upon a great pyre of cedar and set alight - a lone beacon beneath the arch of heaven.
The dirges of the Galeoth echoed long into the night.
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Esmi is in bed with Kellhus.  She wonders how priests can be miserable, when Sejenus has their hearts.

--- Quote ---"They think misery inconsistent with faith," he continued, "and so they start to pretend.  They act as others act, thinking they alone have doubts, they alone are weak...  In the company of the joyous they become desolate, and hold themselves accountable for their own desolation".
He became hard and long beneath her touch, curved like strung bow.
"But I have you," she murmured. "I lie with you.  I bear your child."
Kellhus smiled, gently disengaged her hand.  He leaned forward to kiss her palm.  "I'm the answer, Esmi.  Not the cure".
Why was she crying?  What was wrong with her?
"Please," she said, clutching his member once again, as though it were her only purchase, her only possible hold on this godlike man.  "Please take me".
This one thing I can give...
"There's more", he said, drawing back the sheets and placing a shadowy hand upon her belly.  "So much more".
His look was long and sad.  Then he left her for Achamian and the secrets of the Gnosis.
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Someone else arrives.

--- Quote ---"Walking between Wards is easy," a voice hummed, "when their author practices other arcana".
She awoke suddenly, if not completely, and through blinking eyes watched yet another man walk to the side of her bed...  He was tall, dressed in a black cloak over a silver brigandine.  With relief she realised he was quite handsome.  There was compensation of a different sort in -
His shadow had hooked wings.
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--- Quote ---"My children", he said, "only imitate what they see..."
She whimpered into his hand - tried to cry out even as her legs slackened to the touch of his probing fingers.
"But me, he murmured in a voice that ran tickling over her skin, "I take".
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