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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 15
« on: March 14, 2019, 09:15:02 pm »
Rereading the summary of one of Moenghus' quotes (along with FB's recent post) makes me wonder if the Gods are unable to inhabit the Cishaurim as they can non-Cishaurim...

Note he's hiding underground like a Nonman - where the God's can't see him?

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 15
« on: March 13, 2019, 09:24:35 pm »
Soundless light broken through beads of dew.  Dark canvas faces steaming.  Shadows stretching from engines of war, slowly shrinking.  Hues of grey bleeding into t panoply of colours.  The far reacts of the sea flashing gold.
Morning.  The beginning of the world's slow bow before the sun.
Slaves stirred smoke from the firepits, used dried grass to conjure flames from buried coals.  The sleepless roused themselves, sat in the chill, watching the twining smoke, disbelieving...
The first of the horns pealed raw across the distances.
The day had come.  Shimeh awaited, black against a fan of rising light.


Kellhus arrives in Kyudea
The Warrior-Prophet wandered the debris, a future mapped with each exhalation.  His soul forked into the blackness of possibility, following the calculus of inference and association.  Thoughts branching, shoot after shoot, until he filled the immediate world and struck beyond, down into the exhausted soil of the past, out across the ever-receding horizon of the future.
Cities burned.  Entire nations took flight.  A whirlwind walked...


Achamian realises he has been used all along.
"But I'm not like the others!" Achamian had protested.  "I don't believe for my heart's sake!"
A shrug of powerful, many-scarred soldiers.  "Which is why he would conceded you your concerns... make them the ground of an even deeper devolution.  Truths are his knives, and we are all of us cut!"
"What are you saying"...

..."That even you, the proud naysayer, are his slave.  That he hunches at the springs of your every thought, draws you as ate to his cup"
"But my soul is my own!"
Laughter, dark and gutteral and vicious, as though all sufferers, in the end were no more than fools.
"He prizes no thought higher"
Achamian had found certainty in Kellhus, despite losing Esmenet to him.  He'd even made his torment into a kind of proof.  So long as his charge pained him, he told himself, it must be real.  He did not, as so many did, believe for flattery's sake.  Seswatha's Dreams assured that his importance would be more a thing of terror than pride.  And his redemption had been a thing too... abstract.
To love one who had wronged him - that was his test!  And he had been rooted - so rooted...
Now everything toppled, hurtled across steepening moments in an avalanche of hungers and hatreds, rushing toward... towards...
He knew not what.
"Truths are his knives, and we are all of us cut..."
What was happening?
To know anything was to know, in some measure, where one stood.  Small wonder he clutched his chest for fear of falling, even here on the wide ground of Shairazor- in the long shadow of Shimeh.
"Ask yourself, sorceror... What do you have that he hasn't taken?"
He had much preferred his damnation.


The Holy War begins the assault on Shimeh.  The Fanim watch perplexed, then realise the Scarlet Spires are there.  The sorceror's attack.

Proyas rides a siege tower.  He gains the walls.


Kellhus finds 'the only tree in Kyudea' and passes beneath it into the darkness.

Back down the trail, Cnaiur and the skin-spies follow.


Esmenet realises that war had given the world to men.  She has stayed in the encampment rather than go to watch.

A man arrives, and asks her to come with him.
For a moment she refused to look up.  She knew who it was.  Even more, she knew what he looked like: the desolate eyes, the haggard posture, even the way his thumb combed the hair across his knuckles...  It seemed a wonder that so much could be hidden in a voice, and an even greater wonder that she alone could see.
Her husband, Drusas Achamian.


Kellhus wanders through the ruins beneath Kyudea.  They are not the work of humans.  he is reminded of Ishual.
Kellhus forged ahead, the scattered detritus cracking beneath his feet.  he watched the walls resolve from cold blackness, studied the mad detail that thronged across them.  Statuary, not reliefs, had been carved into them: figures no taller than his knee, posed in narratives that outran the light of his lantern, and stacked one atop another, even across the vaulted ceiling, so that it seemed he walked through stone grille work.  He paused, held his lantern before a string of naked figures raising spears against a lion, then realised that another frieze had been carved behind this first.  Peering through miniature limbs, he saw deeper, more licentious representations, depicting all manner of poses and penetrations.
The work of Nonmen.

He knew only that the inhabitants of this place had celebrated deeds in all their ambivalent complexity, rather than - as was the wont of Men -reproducing only flattering surfaces

Upraised palms braced his every step.  Blank eyes studied his every angle.  The Nonmen who had authored this place had possessed more than a fascination with the living form; it had been their obsession.  Everywhere, they had cut their image into the dead stone about them, transforming the suffocating weights that hemmed them in into extensions of themselves.  And Kellhus realised: the mansion itself had been their devotional work - their Temple.  Unlike men, these Nonmen had not rationed their worship.  They did not distinguish between prayer and speech, idol and statue...
Which spoke to their terror.
Collapsing possibilities with every step, Anasurimbor Kellhus followed his father's trail into the blackness, his lantern raised to the issue of artisans, ancient and inhuman.


Akka leads Esmi out of the encampment towards the hills to the west.  He shows her the siege of Shimeh from a distance.
"We've gained the heights," she aid - a murmur that somehow became a cry.  "The city is ours!"  She turned to Achamian, who seemed to watch with the same horror and wonder - awe - that numbed her expression.
"Akka... Can't you see?  Shimeh falls!  Shimeh falls!
There had been so much in these words - far more than fervour, far more than the tears that clotted her eyes.  Love, rape and revelation.  Disease, starvation, and massacre.  Everything they had survived.  Everything she had endured.
But he shook his head, his eyes still fixed on the vista before them.
"It's all a lie".
Horns pealed to the lowing clouds.
He turned to her, his look possessed by a terrifying blankness.  She recognised it, for the same blankness had owned her eyes the night he had returned to Caraskand.
"The Scylvendi came to me last night".


The Scarlet Spires pass through the ruined walls into the city.  Eleazaras
... could sense the Chorae out here, buried in cellars, crouched in lethal vantages, waiting...
Everywhere.  Hidden enemies.
Too much... too many.
"Fire cleanses!" he cried.  "Raze it! Burn it all to ash!"

The Thunyeri follow the sorcerors, whilst the Conriyans fight across the northern battlements and the Ainonoi approach from the south.
Soon the Kianene and Amoti were dissolving in panic.  Everywhere they looked, they saw chain-armoured myriads, loosed like blond wolves into the streets.


Kellhus reaches a vast cavern with waterfalls, and a platform with braziers on.  He hears a voice speaking Kuniuric.  His father, Moenghus.


Achamian has told Esmi what he has learnt from Cnaiur.  He tells her that he thinks Kellhus wants her to give him children.
"So he breeds.  Is that it?  I'm his prized mare?"
"I know how hateful these words must-"
"Why would you think that?  I've been used my whole life."  She paused, glared at him with as much remorse as outrage. "My whole life, Akka.  And now that I've become the instrument of something higher, higher than men and their rutting hunger-"
"But why? Why be an instrument at all?"
"You speak as if we had a choice - you, a Mandate Schoolman!  There's no escape.  You know that.  With every breath, we are used!"
"Then why the bitterness, Esmi?  Shouldn't a prophet's vessel sound ex-"
"Because of you, Akka!" she cried with alarming ferocity.  "You!  Why can't you just let me go?  You know that I love you, so you cling to that, you dig in with grubby nails and you yank and yank and yank, you bruise and batter my heart, and you refuse to let me go!"
"Esmi... I asked and you came"
Long silence.
"All this," she said, her voice almost inaudible for the crack of faraway sorceries, "everything Cnaiur said... what makes you think that Kellhus hasn't already told me?"
Achamian swallowed, ignored the light that flashed across his periphery.
"Because you say you love him".


The Scarlet Spires continue the advance though Shimeh.  Nothing can stand in their way.  The Cishaurim are nowhere to be seen.

They send demons into the First Temple.  Zioz, Setmahaga and Sohorat.
They flattened like beetles against the slate.  They could sense the eyeless ones within, waiting.
Fall upon them! the Voice screeched.  Rend them!  Only in their midst will you be safe from the Chorae!

They smash through the roof and the demons feed on the Cishaurim, but then others arrive with Chorae.  Setmahaga and Sohorat fall.  Zioz flees into the sky.
Return me, manling!  Throw off these chains!
But the Scarlet Schoolman was obstinate.
One last task... one more offending eye


Moenghus speaks.  Kellhus realises his father remains Dunyain, and that he stands on conditioned ground.


"And what of you, Akka?"  Smenent said, her voice become scathing.  "Haven't you yielded your precious Gnosis as readily as I've yielded my womb?"  Why couldn't she just hate him, this drab and broken sorceror?  It would all be so much easier then.
Achamian cleared his throat.  "Yes... yes, I have..."
"Then tell me why, Holy Tutor.  Why would a Mandate Schoolman do such an unthinkable thing?"
"Because the Second Apocalypse... It comes..."
"The very world is at stake and you complain that he makes weapons of all things?  Aka, you should rejoi-"
"I'm not saying he's not the Harbinger!  He may even be a prophet for all I know..."
"Then what are you saying, Akka?  Do you even know?"
Two tears threaded his cheeks.
"That he stole you from me!  Stole!"
"Picked your purse, did he?  That's funny, because I feel more shit than gold".
"It's not like that".
"Isn't it?  You love me, yes Akka, but I've never been anything more than a-"
"But you're not thinking!  You see only your love for him.  You're not thinking of what he sees when he gazes upon you."
A moment of silent horror.
"Tell me, Esmi!  Tell me what he sees!"
She shook.  Why was she shaking?  The earth seemed like stone beneath her knees.
"The truth," she murmured.  "He sees the truth!"
Somehow his arms had scooped her to her feet.  And she clutched him, sobbed and wailed into his shoulders.
He whispered into her ear.  "He doesn't see, Esmi...  he watches".
And the words were there, at once deafening and unspoken.
... without love.
She looked up to him, and he stared at her with an intensity, a desperation, she knew she would never find in Kellhus' endless blue eyes.  He smelled warm... bitter.
His lips were wet.


Eleazaras is intoxicated on his own power.
And, yes... omnipotence.  Like liquor burning through his veins, or opium sweltering his soul.

"Behold!" he spat contemptuously.  "Behold what we - we! - have wrought."
The soot-stained sorceror stared at him in horror.  Lights flashed across his sweaty cheek.
Eleazaras turned back to exult in the wages of his impossible labour.
Shimeh burned... Shimeh.
"Our power," he grated.  "Our glory!"

Proyas stares in disbelief at the sorcerous destruction.


Moenghus continues his lecture.


Akka and Esmi make love.


As the defenders flee and the Men of the Tusk rampage through Shimeh, Proyas realises that the Fanim are only pretending to defend their city.

The Fanim have undermined their own walls, which suddenly collapse, and the Kianene horsemen race out across the plains.


Beneath Kyudea, Moenghus tells Kellhus that it was inevitable that the caste-nobility would make a move against him.
"This,"  the eyeless face said, "was where the Probability Trance failed me..."
"So you did not anticipate the visions?"  Kellhus asked.
His father's face remained absolute and impassive.
"What visions?"


The Scarlet Spires can sense Trinkets.
"There are Chorae near, Eli!  Great numbers of them... Can't you feel them?"
It would be good to bathe, Eleazaras thought inanely.  To scrub this madness from him.
"Of course,"  he snapped.  "Beneath the ruin.  held fast by the dead".


The world about him seemed black and hollow and glittering white.  Kellhus raise his palm.  "My hands... when I look upon them, I see haloes of gold."
Scrutiny.  Calculation.
"I have not my eyes with me," Moenghus said, and Kellhus understood instantly that he referred to the asps used by his Cishaurim brethren.  "I walk these halls by memory".
For all the signs he betrayed, this man who was his father could be a statue of stone.  He seemed a face without a soul.
"The God," Kellhus said.  "He doesn't speak to you?"
Scrutiny.  Calculation.
"And from whence does his voice hail?" Moenghus asked.  "From what darkness?"
"I know not... Thoughts come.  I know only that they're not mine."
Another infinitesimal pause.  He dips in the Probability Trance, the same as I...
"The mad say much the same," Moenghus said.  Perhaps your trials have deranged you."
Scrutiny.  Calculation.
"It's not in your interest to deceive me."  A stone-faced pause.  "Unless..."
"Unless," Kellhus said, "I've come to assassinate you as our Dunyain brothers have decreed... Is this you apprehension?"
Scrutiny.  Calculation.
"You have not the power to overcome me."
"But I do, Father".
Another pause, imperceptibly longer.
"How," his father finally said, "could you know this?"
"Because I know why you were compelled to summon me".
Scrutiny.  Calculation.
"So you have grasped it".
"Yes... the Thousandfold Thought".

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 14
« on: March 10, 2019, 03:19:48 pm »
Esmenet remembers her possession

Esmenet dreamed that she was a prince, an angel fallen from the dark, that her heart had beaten, her loins had ached, for tens of thousands of years.  She dreamed that Kellhus stood before her, an outrage to be blotted, an enigma to be dissected, and above all a burning question...
Who are the Dunyain?

Ever since reading The Sagas, a foreboding had grown within her, an accumulation that had filled her heart and limbs with a sense of rolling heaviness.  The night in the Nansur villa - the night of her possession - had stained this listless dread with a bewildering urgency. Every time she blinked, she saw things penetrated and penetrating. She could still feel the creature's hands upon her flesh, and the memory of her obedient lust seemed ever present. The hunger she had suffered that night!  A thirst that only terror could touch, and that no horror could slake.  At once bestial and remote, it had been a wantonness that eclipsed obscenity.. and become something pure.
The Inchoroi had taken her, but the want, the insatiable desire... those had been hers.
Of course, Kellhus had tried to console her, even as he plied her with endless questions.  He said much the same thing that Achamian had said when explaining Xinemus' torment: that the self never stood apart when one was compelled, because it was the very thing possessed. "You can't distinguish yourself from him", Kellhus explained, "because for a time he was you.  That's why he tried to provoke me into killing you, because he feared the memories you might have of his memories".
"But the things!" she could only reply. "The things I ached for!"  Grimacing faces.  Grinning orifices and gaping wounds.  The rush of hot fluids.
"Those desires weren't yours, Esmi.  They only seemed to be yours because you couldn't see where they came from...  You simply suffered them".
"But then, how does any desire belong to me?"

She bumps into a former customer, who is drunk and forgets who she now is.  She threatens to have him flayed alive, and thins about having him hunted down.
..Though she had always detested the brutality that her new station had forced upon her, the thought of his screams thrilled her for some reason.  Scenarios roiled through her thoughts, and though she knew they were both petty and absurd, she exulted in them nonetheless.
What was it? Her shame?  His smirk?  Or the mere fact that she could do these things?
I am she breathlessly thought, his vessel.

She finds Kellhus.  She is worried that he is leaving the Holy War.
No matter where they turned, men found themselves encircled by greater things.  Usually they ignored them.  And sometimes, moved by pride and base hunger, they warred against them.  But either way, those things remained just as great, and men, no matter how lunatic their conceit, remained just as small.  Only be kneeling, by offering themselves as one might offer the haft of a weapon, could men recognise their place in this world.  Only by submitting could they recognise themselves.
There was rapture in submission. The vulnerability of another towering overhead - precarious, like letting a stranger touch one's face.  The sense of profound communing, as though only those who acknowledged their insignificance could themselves be acknowledged.  The relief of surrender, the disburdening that accompanied the yielding of responsibility.
The paradoxical sense of licence.
The nattering voices fell silent.  The exhaustion of endless posturing melted away.  She found it narcotic, even arousing... the domination of another.

Kellhus tells her he loves her, and that she should fear what is about to happen.
"Fear for the future, Esmi, not me".  Fingers combed through her hair, drew tingling lines across her scalp.  "This flesh is but my shadow".
Does this imply he has been possessed?, or that he has a plan beyond his mortal life?


Kellhus heads off to Kyudea.
"I know you can hear me", he said to the world, dark and sacred.  "I know that you listen"...

..."What was I to do? Tell them the truth?"...

...He ran.  Not once did he stumble, nor did he slow to determine his bearings.  The ground was his... Conditioned.
Everywhere, all about him, one world.  The crossings were infinite, but they were not equal.
They were not equal.


Something appears in the First Temple of Shimeh.  Zioz - a Ciphrang, summoned by Iyokus.


Akka dreams again of Seswatha and Nau-Cayuti

Through endless dark they had climbed, higher and higher, knowing that sooner or later the emptiness had to yield to horrors.  It began with raining waste: urine, excrement, trailing from seams, spilling in skirts they had to leap through.  They passed wells that had once been corridors, where streams of slurry toppled down into endless dark.  They circled great pits of rotting flesh, where corpses - some fetal and malformed, others full-grown - had been thrown from unknown heights.  And once, they had even crossed a lake filled with brackish water - what must have been the accumulation of thousands of years of rain.
They had wept for relief while bathing.  It was no mean thing to be cleansing in such a place.

Eventually they find...
A city.  Thy found themselves staring across a city. The steaming hart of Golgotterath.
He should be awake!
A cavernous void opened before them.  It reminded Seswatha of a ship's ribbed hold, though pitched on its end, and far too vast to truly resemble any work of Men.  Sheer golden faces reared into obscurity, hazed by the smoke of countless fires.  Structures of mortise and hacked stone climbed their foundation, crusting their sides like stacked hornets' nests, not dwellings but open cells, squalid and innumerable.  It all would have looked like something revealed by low tide were it not for the fires and the figures teeming like mites across it.  Lumbering files of Bashrag.  Gibbering masses of Sranc.  And among them, human captives, untold numbers of them, some shackled to sledges in great groaning trains, others scattered across the open-air harems of their captors, gagging beneath convulsing shadows, their mouths working, their eyes rolled up to the dark, pink and naked and bloodied, countless men, women and children.  The bodies of the Broken choked the alleys below.
He should be awake...

Akka is awakened by Cnaiur.


Eleazaras and Iyokus watch Shimeh.
... Circles of blood had been painted across the flattened grasses...
Whose blood?

Eli has doubts about using Zioz.  Iyokus tells him the Cishaurim must fear them.


The bizarre terror of awakening to a mortal threat: a pang wrapped round with a sluggish incredulity, as though something deep believed he slept.  Like a knife probing wool.

Cnaiur wants know where Kellhus is.  Akka will give his life to protect Kellhus' trust.  Cnair offers to trade...
"The truth of him"

"You know nothing!" the barbarian snarled.  "Nothing!  Only what he has let you know."  He spat in the corner next to Achamian's uncovered feet, wiped his lips with the hand holding his Chorae.  "The same as all his slaves".
"I'm no sla-"
"But you are!  In his presence all men are slaves, sorceror".  With the Chorae clutched tight in his fist, the fist Scylvendi leaned back to sit cross-legged.  "He is Dunyain".
Never had Achamian heard such shaking hate in a word, and the world was filled with such epithets: Scylvendi, Consult, Fanim, Cishaurim, Mog-Pharau... It sometimes seemed there were as many hatreds as there were names.
"That word", Achamian said carefully, "'Dunyain'... it simply means 'truth' in a dead tongue".
"The tongue is not dead", Cnaiur snapped, "and the word no longer means 'truth'."
Achamian recalled that first meeting outside Momemn, the Scylvendi standing proud and savage before Proyas, while Kellhus had held Serwe amid Xinemus' knights.  he hadn't believed Cnaiur then, but the revelation of Kellhus and his name, Anasurimbor, had overturned all his suspicions.  What was it Kellhus had said?  That the Scylvendi had accepted his wager?  Yes, and that he had dreamed of the Holy War from afar...
"What you told us," Achamian said, glimpsing the sheen of teeth, "that first day with Proyas... you lied".

"You think Kellhus was sent," the Scylvendi said in a hollow voice, "when he was summoned.  You think he is unique, when he is but one of a number.  You think he is a saviour, when is nothing more than a slaver".

Cnaiur tells him about Moenghus.
"Shame!  Wutrim kut mi'puru kamuir!  I could not stop thinking!  I could not stop thinking!  I laid eyes upon my degradation, I understood, and I stamped my heart with that understanding!"
Without realising, Achamian wrung finger against finger, joint.  There was the Scylvendi's shadow and the pit that was his Chorae.  Nothing else existed.
"He was intellect.. He was war!  That is what they are!  Do you not see?  With every heartbeat they war against circumstance, with every breath they conquer!  They walk among us as we walk among dogs, and we yowl when they throw out scraps, we whine and whimper when they raise their hands...
"They make us love!  They make us love!

Akka gives up Kellhus
He knew the Scylvendi meant to kill him, his final, greatest student.  He knew what the two shadows behind the barbarian had been.  As they exited his tent, he had seen her face in a shaft of moonlight, as perfect as that night it had swayed and moaned above him.  Serwe...
You gave him up.  The Warrior-Prophet... You told the barbarian where he goes!
Because he lies!  He steals what is ours!  What is mine!
But the world!  The world!
Fie on the world!  Let it burn!

He redraws his word map.  Adds names, and connects them all to Shimeh, including Esmenet.
Her name he connected last of all, for he knew she needed Shimeh more than any other - save perhaps himself.  Once the black thread was drawn tight, he returned the tip of his quill and drew it out once more.  And again. And again.  And again.  Quicker and quicker.  Until he slashed the vellum sheet in a frenzy.  Cut after cut after cut-
For he was sure that his quill had become a knife...
And that flesh lay beneath the tattooed skin.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 13
« on: March 03, 2019, 04:25:52 pm »
The Shrial fleet has arrived at Atyersus, which is in uproar.  Nautzera and the Quorum watch from the heights.
"... 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?

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.
"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...

"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.

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.
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...

Prayer breaks out.

...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.

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?


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. 
"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.


At Shimeh, some are unnerved by the walls. 
...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?

Kellhus addresses a vast congregation.
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...

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.

Suggests Moenghus has sent Maithanet to Atyersus, and Kellhus knows nothing about it.

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.

...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.

The Holy War prepares to assault Shimeh

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 17
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:37:34 pm »
Faith, they say, is simply hope confused for knowledge. Why believe when hope alone is enough.

Ajencis, in the end, argued that ignorance was the only absolute.  According to Parcis, he would tell his students that he knew only that he knew more than when he was an infant.  This comparative assertion was the only nail, he would say, to which one could tie the carpenter-string of knowledge.  This has come down to us as the famed 'Ajencian Nail', and it is the only thing that prevented the Great Kyranean from falling into the tail-chasing scepticism of Nirsolfa, or the embarrassing dogmatism of well-nigh every philosopher and theologian who ever dared scratch ink across parchment.
But even this metaphor, 'nail', is faulty, a result of what happens when we confuse our notation with hat is noted.  Like the numeral 'zero' used by the Nilnameshi mathematicians to work such wonders, ignorance is the occluded frame of all discourse, the unseen circumference of our every contention.  Men are forever looking for the one point, the singular fulcrum they can use to dislodge all competing claims.  Ignorance does not give us this. What it provides, rather, is the possibility of comparison, the assurance that not all claims are equal. And this, Ajencis would argue, is all that we need.
For so long as we admit our ignorance, we can hope to improve our claims, and so long as we can improve our claims, we an aspire to the Truth, even if only in rank approximation.
And this is why I mourn my love of the Great Kyranean.  For despite the pull of his wisdom, there are many things of which I am absolutely certain, things that feed the hate which drives this very quill.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 16
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:36:08 pm »
Doubt begets understanding, and understanding begets compassion.  Verily, it is conviction that kills.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 15
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:34:50 pm »
If war does not kill the woman in us, it kills the man.

Like so many who undertake arduous journeys, I left a country of wise men and came back to a nation of fools.  Ignorance, like time, brooks no return

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 14
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:32:51 pm »
Some say I learned dread knowledge that night. But of this, as with so many other matters, I cannot write for fear of summary execution.

Truth and hope are like travellers in contrary directions.  They meet but once in any man's life

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 13
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:30:36 pm »
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

A return to a place never seen.  Always is it thus, when we understand what we cannot speak

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 12
« 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.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 12
« on: February 26, 2019, 10:06:21 pm »
Seswatha and Nau-Cayuti are in the Ark
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.

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.

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.

"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".

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.

"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?


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

She attempts to arouse him.
...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

... "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.

"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?
"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
"To make manifest", he heard himself gasp, "the Thousandfold Thought....

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

"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.

"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.

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


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.


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


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

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.


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.
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.
"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.
"Because you try too hard," Xinemus said. "And when the plate doesn't yield - " he coughed, convulsed about pustulate lungs.

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

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.
"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.
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.
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".

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC:TTT Chapter 11
« on: February 24, 2019, 07:16:20 pm »
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.

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.
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.

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.
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.

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.

The skin-spy will be 'transferred' to the Intricati.

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

The skin-spy is being 'examined' by Kellhus, Esmi and Akka.  Akka thinks the faces clinch by some inborn impulse.
"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.

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
"Yut-yaga mirzur!" ... "They believe"

The Holy War reaches the Holy Land.  Athjeari is ambushed and killed.  Kellhus leads his funeral rites.
"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.

Esmi is in bed with Kellhus.  She wonders how priests can be miserable, when Sejenus has their hearts.
"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.

Someone else arrives.
"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.

"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".

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TTT Chapter 12
« on: February 24, 2019, 01:00:16 pm »
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.

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.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC:TTT Chapter 11
« on: February 24, 2019, 12:54:00 pm »
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.

As a miller once told me, when the gears do not meet, they become as teeth.  So it is with men and their machinations

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TTT Chapter 10
« on: February 21, 2019, 08:43:53 pm »
I think you messed up the formatting. Too many quote tags, you've quoted yourself and now its all one bit quote...

Sorted :-[ 

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