Saturday, 9 July 2016

A History of Eärwa Part 5: The Holy War

After the great disaster at Eleneöt Fields and the resulting fall of Kûniüri, the house of Anasûrimbor was presumed destroyed and its line extinguished. But this was not so. Anasûrimbor Ganrelka survived the disaster and managed to escape to Trysë. There he gathered his household and retreated to Ishuäl, the stronghold that Celmomas II had constructed high in the Demua Mountains as a last redoubt. After their arrival, a sickness spread through the refugees and killed them all, one by one, until only Ganrelka's bastard son and his court poet, a man of dubious repute, survived. The poet was hurled to his death from the ramparts of the fortress by the young boy, but the prospects for his survival were bleak. Only the arrival of more survivors saved him.

The Holy War was declared by Maithanet, the Shriah of the Thousand Temples, in Sumna in the spring of 4110 Year-of-the-Tusk. The vast army spent almost a year gathering in and around Momemn before departing in 4111. Shimeh fell to the Men of the Tusk over a year later, in the late spring of 4112. The most important battles were at Mengedda, Anwurat, Caraskand and Shimeh itself.

These survivors called themselves the Dûnyain. Their true origins are unknown, but are theorised to lie in the ecstatic sects that arose across the Ancient North prior to the Apocalypse, prioritising reason and intellect ahead of passion, sentiment or emotion. They believed that true volition and control - a union with the Absolute - could only come through the Logos, or reason unmarred by sentiment, and the ability to adapt to circumstances rather than clinging to them out of ideology or obstinacy. Their primary belief was that if a person can master "what comes before", they can control and predict all the outcomes that follow. Before the Apocalypse they were, reluctantly, part of the world and its problems. But, fleeing the shadow of the No-God, they stumbled across Ishuäl. Its utter isolation gave them a chance to fulfil what they saw as their destiny.

The Dûnyain and Ishuäl fell out of history for almost two thousand years. Left alone in the high peaks, they continued to develop their skills of reading faces and voices and developing the skills of pure reason. Things may have stayed that way, but in the 4070s Year-of-the-Tusk they were discovered by a roving band of Sranc, unusually driven into the high peaks. The Dûnyain destroyed these creatures, not knowing what they were (having lost their own history along the way). Concerned that Ishuäl's location had been compromised, they selected one of their number to go out into the world and investigate. They chose Anasûrimbor Moënghus.

Anasûrimbor Moënghus after blinding himself and becoming a Cishaurim, known as Mallahet. His lack of emotion and passion meant that he was unable to fully master the Water of Indara.
Moënghus's exploration of the outside world confirmed that Ishuäl remained safe, and that the lands were filled with these ravaging Sranc for hundreds of miles in all directions bar to the south, where a city of men known as Atrithau lay at the feet of the Demua Mountains. The Dûnyain were satisfied that they were secure, but became convinced that Moënghus had been "polluted" by his contact with the outside world. He was accordingly sentenced to die.

Moënghus survived the execution order and fled into exile. He travelled south, past Atrithau and across the Sranc-infested lands of Suskara to reach the Jiünati Steppe. There he was captured by the Utemot tribe of the Scylvendi and forced into servitude in the household of their chief, Skiötha urs Hannut. Moënghus had soon seduced Skiötha's wife and turned his son Cnaiür against him. Cnaiür murdered his father, securing his leadership of the Utemot, but Moënghus soon departed, disguised as a Scylvendi warrior. Cnaiür, realising the depth of his betrayal, became enraged and vowed vengeance. Moënghus passed south into the Kianene Empire but was soon taken prisoner and sold into slavery.

Again, Moënghus rose to a position of power and influence. He travelled to the Holy City of Shimeh to learn the Psûkhe, the ways of channelling the Water of Indara, but even after putting out his eyes he discovered that he was unable to use more than a trickle of sorcery. Too late, he realised that the Psûkhe relied on passion to empower it, the very trait the Dûnyain had bred out of themselves. However, in this process of trying to master the Water he also trained his other senses to compensate. During a discussion with one man, he noted many discrepancies in his manner of speech that could not be explained by simple lying or emotion. He subjected this man to torture and eventually discovered the truth: the man was a "skin-spy", a creation of the Consult. For three centuries, since the last Consult agent was publicly slain by the Mandate, the Consult had infiltrated these creatures into positions of power across the Three Seas as part of their plan to bring about the Second Apocalypse. Moënghus learned from the skin-spy that the Consult believed they could resurrect the No-God and unleash the end of the world in a matter of decades, at best.

For three centuries the Consult infiltrated the Three Seas through the use of their skin-spies, such as this one taking the appearance of Esmenet of Sumna. The skin-spies were defeated by Dûnyain analytic conditioning, which allowed them to be identified through inconsistencies in their skin and bone structure.

Moënghus determined that the destruction of the world would not be an optimal outcome for the Dûnyain struggling to master the Logos and it should be prevented. He sent in motion a multi-pronged plan to this end. He had sired a number of children by world-born women but all but one of them had shown significant defects, abnormalities and mutations (the Dûnyain had experimented on themselves in far Ishuäl and may not be considered entirely human any more). He had them all put to death apart from one: Maithanet. Although not a true Dûnyain, Maithanet was intelligent and canny with considerable skills at manipulation. Moënghus ordered him to enter the Thousand Temples in Sumna and rise to a position of power and influence. Maithanet complied, within a matter of years rising far through the religious orders thanks to his intellect, reason and expertly-feigned religious fervour.

As Maithanet rose high in the ranks of the Temples, Moënghus used the little of the Psûkhe he had mastered to send a Cant of Calling to Ishuäl. Speaking to the Dûnyain in their dreams, he demanded that they send his son, Kellhus, to his side. The Dûnyain debated and decided that Moënghus had gone insane and was a danger to the security of their order. Anasûrimbor Kellhus was dispatched with a simple mission: to find and kill Moënghus. The Dûnyain knew he dwelt in a distant city called Shimeh, but nothing beyond that.

In the rest of the Three Seas, controversy had arisen around the rise of the hitherto unknown Maithanet to the rank of Shriah of the Thousand Temples. Maithanet exposed and defeated three plans to assassinate him, and using his considerable charisma and power he soon had the fractious religious leaders of Inrithism unified as they had not been in centuries. The leaders of the Mandate learned that Maithanet planned to announce a Holy War, but they feared this would be directed against the sorcerous schools. They ordered one of their number, a worldly agent called Drusas Achamian, to travel to Sumna to investigate further.

In Sumna Achamian reunited with his lover, a prostitute named Esmenet, as well as several political allies. They awaited the news of the Holy War's target and were relieved to learn that it was to be directed against the heathen Fanim of Kian. As thousands of warriors from across the northern and eastern Three Seas converged on the Nansur Empire, which guarded the frontier with Kian, a shocking alliance was announced: the Thousand Temples had forged an agreement with the Scarlet Spires, the sorcerous rulers of High Ainon, to provide a counterbalance to the Fanim Cishaurim (with whom the Spires had been fighting a secret war for a dozen years). These great and unthinkable events saw Achamian ordered to accompany the Holy War and spy on it for the Mandate.

Meanwhile, the Nansur Empire had instigated a military confrontation with the Scylvendi. At the Battle of Kiyuth, early in 4110 Year-of-the-Tusk, a Nansur army under Exalt-General Ikurei Conphas, the nephew and heir to the Emperor, defeated a significant Scylvendi army under the overconfident King-of-Tribes, Xunnurit. The defeat was unprecedented, the Scylvendi driven from the field in disarray with tremendous loss of life and Xunnurit taken in chains back to Momemn. Among those forced to flee the battlefield was Cnaiür urs Skiötha. In the years since the betrayal of Anasûrimbor Moënghus, Cnaiür had become the chieftain of the Utemot, famed for his both his savage intelligence and his unrelenting skill at war, the self-declared "Most Violent of All Men", but despised for the perceived treachery against his father. In the aftermath of Kiyuth, Cnaiür visited the graves of his ancestors only to find a wounded man of the north, surrounded by hordes of dead Sranc. Helping him heal, he learned that this man was Anasûrimbor Kellhus, travelling to south to kill his father, the hated Moënghus. Cnaiür decided to travel with Kellhus to help him achieve this goal. Crossing the steppe and approaching the Nansur border, they slaughtered a band of Scylvendi slavers and freed a young woman named Serwë. Serwë revealed that the armies of the Three Seas were gathering around Momemn, the capital of the Nansur Empire, in preparation for the gruelling march on Shimeh, eight hundred miles or more to the south.

The Holy War gathered its strength, tens of thousands of soldiers - Men of the Tusk - marching from Galeoth and Thunyerus, Ce Tydonn and Conriya, High Ainon and the Nansurium itself. However, the Nansur Emperor, Ikurei Xerius III, saw a chance to manipulate the Holy War to his own purpose. He agreed to provide the Holy War with his armies, the support of his sorcerous school, the Imperial Saik, and the leadership of his famed general Ikurei Conphas, in return that the lands conquered by the Holy War should be returned to Nansur control, as the heir to Cenei. This demand proved incompatible with the notion of a Holy War fought for one religious purpose, with thousands of troops from other nations potentially slaughtered for the gain of the Emperor in Momemn. As the debate raged, the first contingent of the arriving armies decided to march on Shimeh immediately rather than wait for the rest of the host to assemble. The so-called Vulgar Holy War was destroyed at the Fourth Battle of Mengedda, the heads of its leaders sent back to Momemn. Xerius attempted to use this knowledge to press home the need for experienced Nansur leadership in the war to come.

During this controversy, Cnaiür, Kellhus and Serwë arrived at the city, as well as Drusas Achamian, who had attached himself to the retinue of Krijates Xinemus, the Marshal of Attrempus. In his youth, Achamian had served as tutor to Crown Prince Nersei Proyas of Conriya. Although Proyas loved Achamian, he became a devoted follower of Inrithism and severed his ties with the schoolman, whom he considered damned. Although Proyas refused to talk to Achamian as their retinue marched on Momemn, he permitted Achamian to travel with them under Xinemus's parole. Achamian and Proyas met the three strangers from the north and Proyas saw an opportunity to outflank the Emperor's unreasonable demands.

Meanwhile, in Sumna, Esmenet was visited by a man who somehow bewitched and seduced her to gain intelligence on Achamian's activities. Horrified by the ease of the man's success and believing that he may be linked to the Consult, Esmenet travelled to Momemn to try to find and warn Achamian. Along the way she was almost stoned to death in an Nansur village for bearing the caste-mark of a prostitute, but was saved by a Shrial Knight named Sarcellus. He offered her protection on the road to Momemn.

In Momemn the leaders of the Holy War gathered to discuss the situation. To everybody's shock, Nersei Proyas proposed that the Holy War accept Cnaiür as their battle commander. Cnaiür had helped engineer a great Scylvendi victory over the Kianene at the Battle of Zirkirta several years earlier and knew the ways of their mutual enemy. Cnaiür also unexpectedly acquitted himself well in a verbal battle of wits with Ikurei Conphas (Ikurei was unaware that Cnaiür had overheard his victory speech after Kiyuth and was able to turn his own arguments back against him). Kellhus, posing as a Prince of Atrithau who had foreseen the Holy War in his dreams, offered a reasoned analysis of the situation which cut to the heart of the matter, whether the Holy War should be polluted to worldly, political and unholy ends by the Emperor. The assembled nobles agreed to accept Cnaiür as their commander and the delegate of the Holy Shriah commanded the Emperor to provision as the Holy War as required under religious order. Outmanoeuvred, the Emperor was forced to stand down. So as not to appear petty, he also allowed the imperial forces to join the Holy War under Ikurei's command. However, during the meeting Kellhus visually identified one of the delegates, Skeaös, as having something wrong with his face. The Emperor noted Kellhus's interest and had Skeaös seized and interrogated. In this way, the Emperor came to learn of the existence of the skin-spies, and that the mad old stories of the Mandate may have some truth to them.

The Holy War marched from the Nansur Empire, crossing the mountainous frontier with the northernmost Kianene province of Gedea. However, attempts to delay the march to allow consolidation of the main army with late-arriving elements met with disapproval from the leading forces, most notably Prince Coithus Saubon and his headstrong forces from Galeoth. On the advice of Kellhus, whose intelligence, keen analysis and prophetic dreams were the talk of the army, Saubon marched and secured an early victory at Mengedda. This battle was hard-fought, with many of the Shrial Knights slain and the Kianene only withdrawing once the bulk of the rest of the Holy War arrived, but the victory enhanced Saubon's position and made him more trusting of Kellhus.

The rest of the Holy War consolidated. Esmenet was reunited with Achamian, who, in violation of Mandate law, declared her his wife, but Kellhus immediately identified Sarcellus as a skin-spy. He chose not to give this information away, knowing it risked exposing himself as well.

Gedea and the northern half of Shigek fell to the Holy War, the Kianene armies retreating south of the Sempis. Kellhus gave a series of sermons under the famed Ziggurats of Shigek which attracted thousands of listeners. More than a few of the army began to refer to him as the Warrior-Prophet.

Drusas Achamian, a sorcerer of the Mandate, turns the Gnosis against his captors from the Scarlet Spires.

Achamian taught Kellhus in the ways of the world, finding him a quick and formidable study in history, mathematics and philosophy. Achamian soon discovered that Kellhus was one of the Few and could use sorcery, but refused to betray his school by teaching him the Gnosis. Torn by his respect for Kellhus, his desire for Esmenet and his loyalty to the Mandate, Achamian sought solitude to think things through, but was captured by the Scarlet Spires. The Spires had long desired mastery of the Gnosis, which eclipsed their own sorcery, and had now learned of the existence of the skin-spies. Eleäzaras, the master of the Spires, put Achamian to the question, even blinding his friend Xinemus to try to get Achamian to talk. He failed: part of Seswatha's gift to his school was an immunity to torture so the secrets of the Gnosis could never be surrendered. Achamian was eventually able to escape and turn the full might of the Gnosis upon his captors.

The Holy War marched on without Achamian (an absence that caused Esmenet great distress), crossing the Sempis Delta and fighting a major battle under the fortress walls of Anwurat. Despite heavy losses the Men of the Tusk prevailed and marched on into Khemema. This was the most dangerous part of the journey, as Khemema was where the Great Carathay Desert met the Meneanor Sea. No food grew there and no water could be found. The Holy War had to brave the desert coastlands southwards for almost two hundred miles. To survive the crossing the army had to be resupplied with food and water by the Imperial Nansur navy. But the Kianene Padirajah had anticipated this move and deployed the Kianene fleet to intercept. In a great battle in Trantis Bay, the Nansur armada was defeated and put to rout. The Holy War was cut off from succour and left to die in the burning wastes.

But the Holy War survived. Anasûrimbor Kellhus found great reserves of water far below the desert sands and the army was saved, although much-reduced. The army burst from the desert and besieged the great, ancient mercantile city of Caraskand. Although ravaged by disease and starvation, the Holy War was able to take the city, helped by treachery, and sacked it savagely. No sooner was this done, however, than the Padirajah himself took to the field. Kascamandri ab Tepherokar led a vast army out of the south to besiege Caraskand and starve the Men of the Tusk into surrender or death.

Around this time Kellhus received a message from his father, borne by a Cishaurim. Moënghus told Kellhus that soon he would grasp the Thousandfold Thought. The nature of this concept eluded Kellhus, save it was an extension of the Dûnyain method of foretelling future events through probability trances, predicting the future by mastering what comes before. He was forced to execute the Cishaurim to maintain his cover before he could learn more.

The Holy War had become torn between traditional Inrithi, led by Sarcellus and Ikurei Conphas, and those who revered Kellhus as the Warrior-Prophet. The former became known as the Orthodox and the latter, led by Nersei Proyas and Coithus Saubon but with Esmenet placed high in their ranks, as the Zaudunyani, the Tribe of Truth. The tensions between the two sides rose resulting in a failed assassination attempt on Kellhus and a failed counter-assassination attempt on Sarcellus and Conphas. The chaos finally resulted in a trial. Sarcellus and Conphas won this trial and had Kellhus denounced as a false prophet. Serwë, whom Kellhus had taken as wife, was executed and her body was tied to Kellhus, who was then hung upside down from a tree on a massive iron ring, a circumfix. Achamian returned at this point, learning that Esmenet was pregnant by Kellhus (and that Serwë has borne a son, named Moënghus for Kellhus's father, given to Esmenet to raise). Furious, he confronted the dying Kellhus only to be told that many skin-spies had infiltrated the Holy War and only Kellhus could identify them. Reluctantly, Achamian begged for Kellhus's release but was rebuffed by Ikurei Conphas.

But in this moment Cnaiür exposed Sarcellus as a Consult skin-spy by defeating him in battle and severing his head. This causes the creature's face to return to its normal appearance, to the horror of the witnesses. The Holy War repented, lowering Kellhus from the Circumfix to find that he had survived. During his ordeal Kellhus had nearly been broken, weeping and having visions of the Apocalypse, including hearing the voice of the No-God. He recovered swiftly.

The Warrior-Prophet, now hailed as something more than a man, led the Men of the Tusk from Caraskand in a direct assault on the Padirajah's army and, despite their starved frames and lesser numbers, defeated it, with Kellhus himself killing Kascamandri. Fanayal, Kascamandri's son, was declared the new Padirajah and fled the field with as many surviving Kianene forces as possible. The Holy War had triumphed and the road to Shimeh lay open.

At this time the Consult descended upon the Ancient North. From the Neleöst to the Cerish Sea and beyond hordes of Sranc suddenly acted with purpose, turning on remote tribes of men who had survived - or been allowed to survive - on the Plains of Gâl or the Istyuli Plains. Caravans daring the great crossing from Sakarpus to Atrithau were taken prisoner and everywhere one question was asked, again and again: "Who are the Dûnyain?"

Rested and, to an extent, resupplied, the Holy War issued forth from Caraskand and marched south, though ancient Xerash and Amoteu. Kellhus, now universally accepted as the Warrior-Prophet, had grasped what his father called the Thousandfold Thought: a web of probability and consequence designed to defeat the Consult and halt the resurrection of the No-God and the destruction of the world. Kellhus again asked Achamian to teach him the Gnosis and this time Achamian complied. Kellhus told Achamian that the time for sorcerers to be hated and feared and damned was over. In addition, Cnaiür's public revelation of the skin-spy Sarcellus, Achamian's relating of the Celmomian Prophecy (confirming that an Anasûrimbor would return at the end of the world) and the awe that Kellhus was now held in combined to convince the Men of the Tusk that the ancient stories were true: the Consult was real and working to bring about the return of the No-God. The Mandate overnight were transformed from a joke to prophets and guardians standing against the Second Apocalypse. At this time Maithanet himself visited Atyersus and forged an alliance with the Mandate, exposing several Consult skin-spies in their ranks.

Meanwhile, Cnaiür was given the task by Kellhus of arranging the death of Ikurei Conphas, whose mad dreams of becoming emperor and bringing about the rebirth of Cenei and Kyraneas now posed a threat to the Warrior-Prophet. The deed was to be done in the port city of Joktha, but Conphas turned a trap on Cnaiür and almost killed him. The Scylvendi was rescued by a detachment of Consult skin-spies, eager to win the allegiance of one of their former minions (the Scylvendi having fought for the Consult in the Apocalypse), and fled into the wake of the Holy War, with Conphas in pursuit.

Meppa, the most powerful Cishaurim to survive the Holy War.

The Holy War marched on. Mighty Gerotha, capital of Xerash, fell. To avoid a brutal sacking the masters of the city were commanded to killed four-tenths of the city's population. Twenty thousand were put to the sword to appease the Men of the Tusk. This example spread ahead of the Holy War and cities and fortresses and towns the length of Xerash and Amoteu threw open their gates to avoid the same fate. Fanayal's forces skirmished with the Holy War, eventually destroying their main scout formation, but ultimately had to fall back on Holy Shimeh, leaving the way open for one last push by the Holy War.

And at that moment, the Inchoroi came before Anasûrimbor Kellhus.

Using a vessel known as a Synthese, taking the form of his lover Esmenet, Aurang spoke to Kellhus, trying to divine the nature of the Dûnyain and that of Kellhus himself. Instead, it gave up more of itself and its goals. Kellhus learned that the Inchoroi considered themselves a race of lovers, consumed by appetites of the flesh. This was their nature and they were damned for it by the metaphysics of the universe, condemned by the Hundred Gods to burn for all eternity in scouring fire. To avoid this fate the Inchoroi had to rob the Gods of their belief, the thing that gave them substance, and the only way to do this was to destroy the source of that belief: the people of the world. By slaughtering the population of the world and bringing about the return of the No-God, the Inchoroi would seal shut the world from the Outside (the domain of the Gods), barring it from the view and the judgement of the gods. Only then could the Inchoroi die, satisfied that they would not suffer eternal damnation as their slain kin had and as sorcerers still did.

Kellhus gave little in return, but told Aurang that the No-God spoke to him in his dreams, that Mog-Pharau blamed the Inchoroi and the Consult for his defeat on the plains of Mengedda and he would have his revenge.

The confrontation yielded little useful intelligence for the Consult, but it served to distract Kellhus whilst an attempt was made on Achamian's life, to deny Kellhus the Gnosis. This also failed.

The Holy War reached Shimeh and prepared to assault the city. The Scarlet Spires summoned a Ciphrang, a demon of the Outside, to cause panic and terror in the city and divert the attention of the Cishaurim. A final push would ensure victory, but the Men of the Tusk were divided by the need for a rapid, final assault and the need for caution: less than a sixth of the forces that set out from Momemn over a year and a half earlier survived. Any prolonged siege or assault would sap their strength dangerously. At the moment of the great battle, however, Kellhus left them. He commended the battle to the valour of the Men of the Tusk, but he had a task to attend to elsewhere.

Kellhus struck west for Kyudea, an ancient and ruined city built near the remains of an old Nonman mansion. In that mansion Kellhus finally found his father: Anasûrimbor Moënghus, known to the Kianene as Mallahet. Moënghus told Kellhus that he knew that Kellhus's journey would open his eyes to the secrets and mysteries that he had encountered himself, setting out from Ishuäl thirty years earlier, and he set the Holy War in motion to clear the way for Kellhus's journey. However, Moënghus was unable to predict what would happen when the Holy War turned on Kellhus and tried to kill him. When Kellhus explained how he survived, through having visions of the Apocalypse and the No-God, Moënghus concluded that his son had been driven insane. Kellhus, as befitting a Dûnyain, analysed the possibility but rejected it.

Moënghus revealed that twelve years earlier the Cishaurim had discovered the first skin-spies. Reasoning they were the creations of the Scarlet Spires, they assassinated the Grandmaster Sasheoka, beginning a clandestine war between the two orders. He then interrogated the skin-spies and learned of the Consult and the threatened Second Apocalypse. Kellhus realised that if his father accepted that he was damned to eternal torment he may take the same view as the Inchoroi, that destroying humanity may be the only way to seal the Outside and end the threat. To remove the danger, Kellhus stabbed his father and then left, using a Cant of Transposition to transport himself to Shimeh.

In the meantime, Cnaiür had returned to the Holy War and sought out Achamian. He told the sorcerer of the Dûnyain and the true nature of both Kellhus and Moënghus. He and his skin-spy liberators then left, following Kellhus's trail to the dying Moënghus. Achamian tried to convince Esmenet to abandon Kellhus's cause but she refused.

Drusas Achamian uses the Gnosiss to defeat Zioz, a Ciphrang demon unleashed upon Shimeh by the Scarlet Spires.

The Holy War launched its assault on Shimeh. Initial successes turned sour when it was revealed that Fanayal and the Cishaurim had prepared a trap, allowing part of the Holy War to enter the city before trapping and destroying it. The ferocity of the Men-of-the-Tusk again took the Fanim by surprise, but their numbers were no longer enough to deliver them victory.

Ikurei Conphas's Nansur columns, pursuing Cnaiür, prepared to enter the fray. Having learned of the death of his uncle in Momemn, Conphas had declared himself Emperor and prepared to use his military might to end the threat of the Warrior-Prophet once and for all. However, Conphas overreached and was killed on the battlefield by Saubon. His forces were then redeployed against the Fanim of Kian, helping deliver a shocking defeat to them. Elsewhere on the field the Scarlet Spires, driven into an enraged frenzy to avenge their slain Grandmaster, drove the Cishaurim to the brink of defeat, aided by the late-arriving Imperial Saik. But victory was still poised on a knife's edge. It was only gained when Kellhus translocated himself into the midst of the last surviving Cishaurim, slaying them before they even knew what was happening.

The Warrior-Prophet delivered Shimeh to the Men of the Tusk.

For this last, great victory, Anasûrimbor Kellhus was proclaimed Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas, acclaimed so by the Holy Shriah, the Thousand Temples, the School of Mandate, and all the princes and kings who had followed the Holy War on its great journey. He was acclaimed by one.

Drusas Achamian came before his former pupil and repudiated him. He renounced his role as tutor and advisor to Kellhus, his place in the Mandate, he renounced his prophet and his wife before going into exile. Kellhus told him that the next time he came before the Aspect-Emperor, Drusas Achamian would kneel.


The artwork for this article was created by Jason Deem, known as Spiral Horizon, and used with his permission. You can find more of his spectacular work here. The maps are from Scott's website, adjusted by myself.

The Prince of Nothing Wiki was helpful in providing spelling checks and putting the timeline of events in better order.

Unlike the first part, I didn't request any new information for this third installment, so any errors or confusion are on my part.

Scott Bakker wrote the Second Apocalypse novels, for which this history is merely the backdrop and the scene-setting that comes before. Those novels are:

The Prince of Nothing
The Darkness That Comes Before (2003)
The Warrior-Prophet (2004)
The Thousandfold Thought (2005)

The Aspect-Emperor
 The Judging Eye (2008)
The White-Luck Warrior (2011)
The Great Ordeal (2016)
The Unholy Consult (2017)
There will be a final part recounting the story of the Great Ordeal and its struggle to reach Golgotterath, but that will not be written until before The Unholy Consult is published a year from now.


Unknown said...

I love reading these. Bravo sir.

Kilgore said...

Great stuff! Thanks for putting this together.

I've always wondered if Moenghus truly believed that Kellhus had gone insane or if that was a desperate attempt to regain control.

fanfarian said...

Great, Thanks for putting it together.

Jorro said...

Again, awesome stuff! Thanks for this :)
I had forgotten some parts - I don't at all remember the Inchoroi fearing damnation for their vices of the sin, and spilling this information to Kellhus during their meeting - isn't this some new info from TGO?

The showdown between Kellhus and Moenghus has always been very underwhelming to me, partly because it has always felt clumsy how Bakker describes the TFT (i.e. vaguely by design), partly because Moenghus didn't act very rationally at all, and for that matter neither did Kellhus.

Anonymous said...

You must have an incredible memory or take extensive notes to be able to write such an in-depth summary, bravo.

However, I just recently reread them before The Great Ordeal came out, so I'm pointing out a couple of things that are slightly off:

"However, during the meeting Kellhus visually identified one of the delegates, Skeaös, as having something wrong with his face. The Emperor noted Kellhus's interest and had Skeaös seized and interrogated. In this way, the Emperor came to learn of the existence of the skin-spies, and that the mad old stories of the Mandate may have some truth to them."

Achamian didn't even mention the Consult as he knew everybody would scoff at his delusions. The Emperor and the others present were sure the skin-spy was part of a Cishaurim ploy. Who else?

"Elsewhere on the field the Scarlet Spires, driven into an enraged frenzy to avenge their slain Grandmaster, drove the Cishaurim to the brink of defeat, aided by the late-arriving Imperial Saik."

It's in fact the other way around: The Cishaurim were vastly superior to the Scarlet Spires and were summarily decimating them. In the appendices, there's mention that the Schools believe the Psûkhe to be inferior to the Anagogis: it turns out that's actually untrue, and the highest ranking Cishaurim might even be a match for the Mandate's Gnosis. Only Kellhus' arrival is enough to defeat them, as he takes on the 5-6 highest ranking Cishaurim by himself and bests them.