If the world is a game whose rules are written by the God, and sorcerers are those who cheat and cheat, then who has written the rules of sorcery?
—Zarathinius, A Defence of the Arcane Arts
On a boat sailing across the Meneanor Sea to Sumna, Achamian awakens from a Seswatha Dream. He dreamed of the dragon Skafra. On the deck, Nroni sailors pray to the God of dice, Momas, Aspect of storm and sea.
The boat reaches the harbour of Sumna, and from its railing Achamian muses about the Hagerna, which forms the administrative centre of the Thousand Temples; and the Junriüma, the holy shrine where the Tusk rests. He remembers his former student Inrau and the excessive enthusiasm with which he spoke of the Hagerna. He realizes that Maithanet should be feared because he carries a “plague whose primary symptom is certainty.” The captain of the ship joins him at the railing and warns him that Sorcerers are not welcome in Sumna, the holiest city of Inrithism. The Inrithi view sorcerers as heretics and sinners. Achamian remembers himself as a child and the first time he “experienced” seeing the onta, the very fabric of existence which only the Few could see. He thinks about the Mandate and how its hated by the other Schools for its possession of the Gnosis, the sorcery of the Nonmen of the Ancient North.
He walks through the city and thinks about the Tusk. The Tusk is the most ancient human text in Eärwa, and the premier Holy artifact of Inrithism. It had always been installed in Sumna, making it the Holiest city in Inrithi tradition. He stumbles onto a crowd and discovers that Maithanet has called the faithful to reveal the object of the Holy War. He realizes that the Mandate Quorum must have known this and purposefully hid it from him to manipulate him into going to Sumna.
In bed with a prostitute named Esmenet, Achamian experiences the Fevers again; a disease that possessed him six years ago and almost killed him. Esmenet bitterly says that her daughter died that same year. He confides in her his plans to turn Inrau and says that he must find him the following day. Esmenet says the two of them, harlot and sorcerer, make a sad couple.
Achamian finds Inrau in a tavern the next morning and greets him. Inrau is startled and notices the Shrial Knights nearby. He thinks it’s good to see Achamian and remembers that he regretted leaving the Mandate for some time. Achamian tells Inrau that he’s been sent to spy on Maithanet. Inrau reminds Achamian that he promised to leave him alone and Achamian tearfully says that the world has a habit of breaking the back of his promises.
The two argue for a while until they are interrupted by a Shrial Knight called Sarcellus. Pretending to be Inrau’s drunk uncle, Achamian provokes Sarcellus and then falls to the ground when the latter slaps him. The tavern erupts and Sarcellus leaves them.
Later, Achamian is standing in the central square of the Hagerna among a great crowd, he’s waiting for Maithanet to declare the target of the Holy War. Maithanet appears and denounces Fanimry as an affront to the God, and the Kianene followers of a False Prophet and an obscene race. Achamian is moved to delirious wonder by the man’s voice and his Fever strikes him again. Maithanet continues on to declare the object of the Holy Way is to free the Holy city of Shimeh, the birth place of the Latter Prophet, from the hands of the Kianene and their Cishaurim priests. Achamian wonders why Maithanet would declare a war that could not be won. He becomes delirious and the crowd lifts him thinking he’s having a religious experience. He’s recognized by another former student of his, Prince Nersei Proyas of Conriya. Before the two can speak Maithanet comes before Achamian and tells him that his kind are not welcome there. Achamian flees realizing that Maithanet is one of the Few.
Proyas is outraged at seeing Achamian in the Holy city even though he once loved him. He is led to the Tusk by Incheiri Gotian, the Grandmaster of the Shrial Knights. He prays before Maithanet joins him and asks who it had been that dared to pollute his presence, referring to Achamian.
Point of viewEdit
- Seidru Nautzera
- Mimara[Notes 1]
- Ikurei Xerius III[Notes 2]
- Inri Sejenus
- Fane[Notes 3]
- Nersei Eukernas II[Notes 4]