Earwa > The Almanac: PON Edition

ARC: TTT Chapter 13



--- Quote ---What frightens me when I travel is not that so many men possess customs and creeds so different from my own. Nay, what frightens me is that they think them as natural and as obvious as I think my own
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--- Quote ---A return to a place never seen.  Always is it thus, when we understand what we cannot speak
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The Shrial fleet has arrived at Atyersus, which is in uproar.  Nautzera and the Quorum watch from the heights.

--- Quote ---"... They made a ludicrous sight: seven old men - two in nightshirts, one still wearing an ink-stained scriptor's apron, and the rest, like Nautzera, in full ceremonial garb - waving liver spotted hands as they bickered back and forth.  Most of them assumed the obvious: that the ships were part of a blockade meant to prevent their imminent departure for Shimeh.  But just who were they?  The colours and tusks suggested the Thousand Temples... Did the Shrial ingrates think themselves a match for the Gnosis?
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Simas want to attack immediately.  Nautzera urges caution.  A launch boat comes towards shore - they agree to treat with the newcomers.

Maithanet gets off the launch, and grabs Simas by the base of the skull - which is how you incapacitate skin-spies.

--- Quote ---"And if you wait", Maithanet continued, no staring directly at Nautzera, "if you wait, their true aspect will be revealed".
The old sorceror struggled for his breath.  There was something about the way Simas shook.  Something not old.  Something not...
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--- Quote ---"A skin-spy with the ability to work sorcery," the Shriah of the Thousand temples said, grimacing with exertion.  "A skin-spy with a soul".
And the grand old sorceror realised he had known all along.
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How does Maithanet know there is a skin-spy in the Mandate?  Has Moenghus told him, or Kellhus? and how would either of them know?


Proyas and the rest of the Holy war approach Shimeh.

--- Quote ---At first he struggled with a dismaying sense of banality.  For days know he'd known this vista lay just beyond the horizon.  Unseen, it had seemed something at once dark and golden, a monument so terrible with holiness that he could do naught but fall on his when confronted by its aspect.  But now...
He felt no urge to fall.  In fact he felt no urge to do anything whatsoever, save to breathe and to watch.  When he glanced at his fellow Men of the Tusk, they seemed little more than brigands appraising a victim, or wolves watching the herd that would fatten them for winters to come.  He found himself wondering if this was always the way when dreams confronted the actuality that conceived them.  He felt the customary wonder of sighting a great city from a great distance, he supposed, the sense of standing far from the carnival of brick and humanity that would soon encompass him.  Nothing more.
The tears struck before the passion.  he tasted them first.  When he reached up to wipe his lips, the length and thickness of his beard surprised his hand.  Where was Xinemus?  he'd promised to describe...
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Prayer breaks out.

--- Quote ---...A great city occupied the heart of the plain, gathered about a pair of promontories overlooking the Meneanor.  Her curtain walls, which had been tiled in white, gleamed in the sunlight.  Great eyes, each as tall as a tree, marred their circuit and seemed to stare back.
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--- Quote ---From the four corners of Earwa they had come.  They had hungered about the walls of Momemn.  They had survived the great bloodlettings of Mengedda and Anwurat.  They had cleansed Shigek with their fury, walked the furnace plains of the Great Carathay.  They had endured pestilence, starvation, and insurrection.  They had nearly murdered the  God's own Prophet.  Now at last, they apprehended the purpose of their heartbreaking labour.
For the pious and the sentimental, this was a moment of consummation.  But for those scarred by their innumerable trials, this could only be a time of measure.  What could be worth what they had suffered?  What could repay what they had exacted?  This place?  This chalk-white city?
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Biaxi Sompas hunts Cnaiur and the skin-spies.  Conphas has threatened his family with extermination - he would do it, Conphas was capable of anything.  At some point the tables have turned and now the Nansur are the hunted.  Sompas kills his sorceror to prevent bad reports getting back.  'Serwe' and Cnaiur attack the camp. 

--- Quote ---"She saw you murder the other," the Scylvendi said, wiping spattered blood into a warm smear across his cheek.  "Now she wants to fuck."
A warm hand snaked along the back of his neck, pressed against his cheek.
That night Biaxis Sompas learned that there were rules for everything, including what could and could not happen to one's own body.  These, he discovered, were the most sacred rules of all.
Once, in the screaming, snarling misery of it all, he thought of his wives and children burning.
But only once.
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At Shimeh, some are unnerved by the walls. 

--- Quote ---...The longer the Inrithi pondered them, the more Shimeh took on the aura of a living thing, until she seemed some great and unfathomable beast, like a vast, ramshackle crab sunning onshore after crawling up from the deep.  It made the prospect of assaulting the city.  uncertain.
Who knew what living things might do?
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Kellhus addresses a vast congregation.

--- Quote ---He could remember, perfectly, what it had been like those three years past, stepping from the shadow of Ishual's Fallow Gate.  Countless tracks had fanned out from his feet, leading to countless possible outcomes.  But unlike a tree, he could war only in one direction.  With every step he murdered alternatives, collapsed future after future, walking a line too thin to be marked on any map.  For so long he had believed that line, that track, belonged to him, as though his every footfall had been a monstrous decision for which he alone could be called to account.  Step after step, annihilating world after possible world, warring until only this moment survived...
But those futures, he now knew, had been murdered long before.  The ground he travelled had been Conditioned through and through. At every turn, the probabilities had been summed, the possibilities averaged, the forks impossibly predetermined...  Even here, standing before Shimeh, he executed but one operation in the skein of another's godlike calculation.  Even here, his every decision, his every act, confirmed the dread intent of the Thousandfold Thought.
Thirty years...
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--- Quote ---What he wrought here had to be perfect.  There had been no mistaking the words of the old man who had accosted him in Gim.  The sails of the Mandate fleet could appear any day now, and the Gnostic Schoolmen would not yield their war lightly.  Everything had to be inevitable.  If they had no hand in the work that they witnessed, they would be that much more reluctant in advancing their claims.  "Your father bids me tell you," the blind hermit had said, "There is but one tree in Kyudea..."
The question was whether the Men of the Tusk could prevail without him.
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Suggests Moenghus has sent Maithanet to Atyersus, and Kellhus knows nothing about it.

--- Quote ---A wind dropped into the silence, and the scent of the onlookers filled his nostrils: the bitter of rotting teeth, the ink of armpits, the honey of unwashed anuses, all shot through with strands of balsam, orange, and jasmine.  And for a moment it seemed he stood within a great circle of apes, hunched and unwashed, watching him with dark and dumbfounded eyes.  Then he glimpsed another circle, this one far different, where the Men of the Tusk stood as they stood now, only with their backs turned to him so that they looked outward, while he occupied the shadowy heart of them all - unseen, unguessed...
He knew their incantations.  The words that could burn them, that could bring them down their cyclopean walls.  But more importantly, he knew the words that could wield them, that spoke from the darkness that came before.  He need only speak to make men blubber, to make them cut their own throats.  What did it mean to make instruments of men?  And what did it matter, so long as they were wielded in the name of the God?
There was only mission.
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--- Quote ---...Only Achamian stood apart from the spectacle...
...Only Achamian yet dared look at him in alarm...
...Again the look from Achamian.  Again the need to subdue the man's endless misgivings.
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The Holy War prepares to assault Shimeh


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