Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12) - Page 114




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  1. #1131
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    ř Ignore tleilaxu
    i came on to post the following, but was joyful to see a new posting!

    ---
    a meditation
    the muse is ursula le guin, daughter of alfred kroeber.

    'light is the left hand of darkness, and darkness the right hand of light'

    the lot of the right hand of light is woe. all decisive blows are struck by the left.
    ---

    wonderous!
    have you ever retired a human by mistake?

 

  • #1132
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    ř Ignore grodog
    Quote Originally Posted by grodog View Post
    Based on my (likely faulty) intuitive analysis, it seems like Shomei is Eadric's only long-term route for happiness here, although I can easily see him choosing any of the three by preference. Hrmph.

    Need to think more
    Hmmmm:

    SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME
    I-THOU
    BEING-NONBEING-BECOMING
    KNOWING-UNKNOWING SEEKING-FINDING-LOSING-FINDING
    TIME-BEING
    ETERNITY-NONBEING
    NOW-BECOMING
    EVERYTHING-NOTHING
    IDENTITY-DIFFERENCE
    RELATIVE-ABSOLUTE.

    NOTHING IS.

    NOTHING IS NOT.

    NOTHING BECOMES.

    Hmmm.
    Last edited by grodog; Friday, 16th December, 2011 at 09:22 PM.

  • #1133
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    ř Ignore tleilaxu
    "now i am going to make a statement here. i don't know whether it fits into the category of other people's statements or not. but whether it fits into their category or whether it doesn't, it obviously fits into some category. so in that respect it is no different from their statements. however, let me try making my statement.
    there is a beginning. there is a not yet beginning to be a beginning. there is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. there is being. there is nonbeing. there is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. there is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. suddenly there is being and nonbeing. but between this being and nonbeing, i don't know which is being and which is nonbeing. now i have just said something. but i don't know whether what i have said has really said something or whether it hasn't said something"
    -zhuangzi (watson trans.)

    have fun kids, just don't hurt each other.
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  • #1134
    I...

    Wow.

    Sepulchrave II, I am beyond amazed. Again.
    You'd think, after learning from Mostin's notions of infinite becoming, I would stop being surprised by this.

    Oh, but I suppose once I stop being surprised, the process is at an end; by it's nature I'd have to be surprised again by the next beginning for I to he a surprise beginning, and thus count...

    Ach.

  • #1135
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    ř Ignore Sepulchrave II
    Midwinter Goddess – Final Part



    There was a barely audible sound; a persistent hum, which suffused perception.

    Are you asleep again already? The peasant-girl from Trempa looked up at him. Ah, but I know this dreamscape well: you have been drinking kasshiv.

    The flat of his sword lay across her shoulder, two feet from the quillons. She smiled and raised an eyebrow as she turned the weapon slowly upon its edge with her fingertips; its weight broke her skin, causing her to hiss. A trickle of blood stained her white tunic.

    His hands shook. She reached forward and clasped them, steadying them.

    Like this. She drew the blade toward herself, gradually opening a wound; cold iron sank down into muscle and sinew. Her breath became rapid, and she clenched her teeth. Blood flowed freely over her. He moved to pull his hands free, but her grasp tightened. Do not stop.

    He felt the blade bite into bone, and turned his face away from her. His stomach churned and heaved.

    Look at me. Eadric…please…

    He forced his gaze back to meet her eyes, and her grip threatened to crush his wrists. Press. He drove down hard, shearing through her collar-bone. She sighed, and shuddered gently; Void glazed over, and she collapsed in convulsion. Blood pooled rapidly around her.

    This is too much, he thought.

    No. It is the same. She crawled forward, insensible, and clung to him.


    Eadric awoke at two in the afternoon in a cold sweat. His head pounded.

    *

    “In Shűth.,” Nwm handed him a glass of mint tea, “kschiff was originally considered a sacrament. It is unfortunate that it has achieved the status of an inebriant amongst wealthy aristocrats in the Thalassine and further north.”

    The Preceptor poured himself a small glass of the astringent liquor, savored its aroma, took a sip, and placed it aside.

    “I might add,” he continued, “that attempting to match Shomei’s prolific consumption is a losing proposition – this would have been true even before her recent metamorphosis.”

    Eadric moaned and sat up, shivering. He pulled his ermine robe around himself.

    Nwm gave a wry smile. “But I am glad to see that the worldly goods which she bestowed upon you are also functional.”

    Eadric groaned and lay back down again.

    “And how goes the dialogue with Cheshne, Ahma?”

    Eadric gestured him away.


    **


    “Ah, the Goddess,” Nwm’s eyes twinkled merrily. “What can one say? She is elusive, yet ever present; demanding and forgiving; cold and passionate. Mother, lover, sister, daughter. She is flirting with you; presenting her many faces. You should feel blessed.”

    Eadric grumbled. His face was still pale. “Since when have you included Soneillon – or Shomei, for that matter – in your ever-expanding category of Goddess?”

    Nwm smiled, and popped a fig into his mouth. “I am not the Ahma.”

    “And Gihaahia?” Eadric asked. “Do you include her too?”

    “I am not a wizard,” Nwm shrugged.

    “Shomei’s taste in furnishings cannot be faulted,” Ortwine observed calmly, uncoifing her hair and relaxing into a couch. “And you have an excellent selection of wines and victuals – some of these are the finest diabolic vintages and are no longer available. I think it’s time you placed this childish desire for frugality firmly in your past; and I see no particular need for abstemiousness whilst you are campaigning.”

    “The chestnuts are rather good,” Nwm agreed. “And these little pistachio confections are simply delightful.”

    “For an ascetic, you have expensive tastes,” Eadric said sourly. “Also, you seem overly eager to deify any female who crosses your path.”

    “Not I,” Nwm laughed. “This conversation will inevitably lead to an examination of the Ahma’s psyche. Do you still wish to proceed?”

    Eadric grunted.

    “Shomei’s case is well-made,” Ortwine seemed serious. “And it is high time you began to look to marriage as a means of securing power, Eadric. You are an eligible bachelor-godling; you are saintly, with impeccable credentials. You have your pick of any number of immortals and goddesses as a potential mate – most of whom are admittedly depraved or mad. Or of poor estate, such as Lai. Shomei is a fine prospect, in comparison.”

    “Indeed,” Eadric stood abruptly and opened a dresser, pulling out a doublet and hastily donning it.

    “She has a superb sense of style,” Ortwine looked on approvingly. “And someone certainly needs to manage your wardrobe.”

    Eadric turned. “It is an article of clothing, Ortwine. Or perhaps you’d like to marry me and see to my fashion needs?”

    “I am haughty and aloof. I am also fastidious in matters of personal hygiene. We would make an unhappy couple.”

    “Of that, I have no doubt.”

    “Consider the military leverage offered by the Wyrm, Eadric,” Ortwine continued. “As well as Shomei’s conjurations. They would bring a massive strategic advantage in any dealings with the Cheshnites. You said yourself that Shomei would take any matrimonial duties seriously; as your wife there is no question that she would lend her full support to your cause. Hell is no mean dowry.”

    “Keep talking, Ortwine,” Eadric pulled Lukarn over his shoulder, fastening his baldric.

    “I am not persuaded that you are really listening,” the sidhe sighed. “What is this sudden urgency about?”

    Eadric exited the tent. Dusk was falling, and hundreds of campfires had already been lit. Narh was waiting for him; he flung his saddle over the stallion’s back, and swiftly tightened the cinches.

    Ortwine followed. “Where are you going, Ahma?”

    “Home,” Eadric replied.

    “Do I really need to point out to you that home is the arbor of a highly questionable scion? Eadric. Use your head.”

    He mounted Narh and rode away.

    “He is unstable,” the sidhe remarked.

    Nwm smiled. “The thought of her gnaws at him. Or have you altogether forgotten what it’s like?”

    “To be ruled by irrational, seething passions? Of course not. But he, of all men, needs to master them. His political responsibilities far outweigh all other considerations. And she can’t be that good.”

    Nwm guffawed, and slapped Ortwine across her back. “Responsibilities? A word I thought I’d never hear pass your lips in a hundred incarnations; the World is truly on its head. Come: while Eadric seeks annihilation we should avail ourselves of his wines; I fancy that I spied a bottle of almond liqueur. And as an ascetic, I am dependent upon the largesse of my feudal master.”

    “Will you make no effort to intervene in this absurdity? He’ll listen to you.”

    “No,” Nwm replied. “He won’t.”

    “Very well,” Ortwine sighed. “Just don’t touch me again.”


    **


    [Faheth]: Are you then set on this course of action?

    [Ahma]: Yes.

    [Faheth]: I would say that you are one who experiences pleasure from bestowing it; from seeing and knowing that it is felt. That you do not derive satisfaction from causing suffering.

    [Ahma]: I would certainly hope that to be the case.

    [Faheth]: And when inflicting pain also elicits joy? Can you still feel happiness in the same measure?

    [Ahma]: I do not know.

    [Faheth]: And can you tell the difference between deriving pleasure through causing suffering, and deriving pleasure from evoking bliss which is caused through suffering?

    [Ahma]: That would seem to be the pertinent question.

    [Faheth]: This is no parlour game, Ahma, practiced by the bored wife of some thane from Hethio for her idle amusement; nor a wanton thrill offered by a drunken streetwalker. No brand of masochism is so extreme: she will ask you to do great violence to her; to push her repeatedly to death and beyond. It may break your mind.

    [Ahma]: You dubbed her insane and evil, yet still you asked me to find a way to her.

    [Faheth]: She is insane by your standards, not mine; as to evil, who can even say what that means anymore? And I ask and have asked for nothing; but whatever you ask, I will grant it to the extent of my power. The Eye of Cheshne will be blinded by the Sun for a few days more; but understand that the Sun is weak: place your trust in the Eleos.

    [Ahma]: And if my efforts prove inadequate, what then? Nothing is lost. She has her demons to look to.

    [Faheth]: Demons are sadistic, Ahma. It is not the same thing at all. And Nothing will be lost.


    **

    Narh reached the Blackwater Meadow and crossed the Nund two hours before midnight. The road to Trempa was thronged with tents and makeshift hovels; those displaced from Deorham and Hernath. A sickness had descended on them: Urgic mendicants moved amongst them, administering aid where they could. They implored him; Eadric remained for the best part of an hour, emptying himself, before resuming his journey.

    Ten miles from Kyrtill’s Burh, and reality darkened; not yet within the inner ambit of the scion, but beneath a wider compass which the ludja itself had set around its sapling. The presence of Nehael vanished from his mind; he knew that she was now blind to what transpired, unless the Blackthorn itself were to grant her vision.

    He cast around for some sign; his eyes were drawn to The Follower, a star considered auspicious and which – in marriage with the Sun – marked the fullness of spring. It shone, steady and calm, close to its zenith. He took it as a portent, even as a glamour settled over him: a mantle of darkness – bequeathed, he knew, by Soneillon – to protect him from the warp which emanated from the scion at the keep.

    His gaze penetrated the night, and he entered a twisted phantasmagoria, where angle and distance seemed meaningless; things crawled and festered and rotted: the Blackthorn was the quintessence of putrefaction. The town of Deorham had become a shadowy parody of itself, and although shapes and rumors intimated that many of its inhabitants remained there, all, the Ahma knew, were changed. He shunned it, and spurred straight for the Burh. For home.

    As he crossed the bridge, Narh’s hoof fall seemed muted and empty. The shadow of the Steeple fell on Eadric and the stallion shook, unwilling to go further: a vast shape roosted there, a guardian of terrible power recently bound by the mistress of the Urn for her protection. Carasch, he knew, for what other could it be? The great chthonic was crouched in silent vigil; the Ahma felt the demon’s scrutiny settle upon him as a lance of pure malice. He dismounted, whispering words of reassurance, and slowly led Narh forward.

    At the gate, Mazikreen stood waiting. Eadric said nothing, but fixed her with his gaze as he pressed the steed’s reins into her hand. She lowered her eyes. The courtyard beyond was dim and hazy; all sound was subdued. He passed beneath the arch and trod swiftly to the keep proper, averting his eyes from the place outside of the chapel where he knew the scion reared. Opening the heavy door, he made his way through the hall, up the companionway, and to his rooms.

    All within was darkness: profane, silent and absolute. At the centre, a naked singularity churned in space; a deeper void into which ens vanished, and around which madness accreted in tendrils. It contorted, seeming to fold outwards from within, assuming more apprehensible form.

    “Welcome home, dear.” Soneillon manifested in the shape of the peasant-girl, and struck a light. A fire ignited in the hearth. His chambers seemed unchanged since his last visit, many months prior. She smiled. “I notice you did not bring your cherub’s eye: is there something which you did not wish to see?”

    “I was not sure what you’d want to show.”

    “That is considerate of you. Are you here to play, then?”

    “No, I am here to reach you.”

    She cocked her head and raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Well…the Ahma is bold; perhaps he has been drinking kasshiv again. That is no trivial undertaking, by any measure. She – the first one, that is – knows that you have come, of course?”

    “Yes.”

    “And she offered some kind of blessing, I presume; an article of empathy and compassion, couched in terms of my need?”

    “Soneillon, does it matter?” Eadric asked. “That is a perspective which I must hold true in any event. You know this.”

    “From you, I will endure it – at least, provisionally. But not from her: she understands me better than you. And consider your supplication to Cheshne and the Void, because make no mistake: that is what this is. If you have doubts or would prefer lighter fare tonight, now would be the time to articulate these feelings.”

    He remained silent.

    “Will you then do as I beseech of you?” She inquired.

    “Yes.”

    “And will you trust me?” She asked archly.

    “I must.”

    “You need not sound so enthused, Eadric. Do you speak out of feeling, or from some misplaced sense of obligation?”

    “It is a choice, Soneillon.”

    “Very well, then.” Her mood became at once both serious and playful. She approached, drew a thin stiletto fashioned of cold iron, and pressed it into his hand.

    *

    At Deorham, the Sun reached its nadir on Midwinter’s night, even as, at Khu, the Eye of Cheshne did likewise and Soneillon waxed to power. Above, The Follower – the star of the Eleos – shone serenely at the midheaven, and the Dragon coiled yet tighter around the Tree.

    In Nizkur, Nehael awoke to her full potential; to Sovereignty. Her sight penetrated the World.


    **
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Sunday, 18th December, 2011 at 09:17 AM.

  • #1136
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    Entirely awesome. Damn.
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  • #1137
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    ř Ignore carborundum
    He chose Soneillon over Shomei? Or did I misunderstand as usual? ;-)
    D&D, frankly, is the most fun when you get your ass handed to you but you still manage to find away to come out on top of the pile of corpses, looking like a typical Conan novel cover. - joachim

  • #1138
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    Excellent. Excellent. EXCELLENT!!!!
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  • #1139
    Quote Originally Posted by carborundum View Post
    He chose Soneillon over Shomei? Or did I misunderstand as usual? ;-)
    Of all the girls there Ahma had affair with only Soneillon.

  • #1140
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    Sadomasochism - the path to transcendental power. Who knew?
    Pursuing irrational ends by any means necessary.

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