Xenofos — Defence
????, Earth Season, Illusion Week
Earth Season, Illusion Week, Waterday. [[[s02:session-17|Session 17]]]
It is afternoon and in the house of Hulta there must still be weeping. Yelm’s light comes faintly through soft autumn rain, with his light made melancholy by the necessity of arguing with the rebel Orlanth. The Great Library’s many doors and windows are closed on the windward side. The wind is from the sea, a bad time for sailing. Still, the day is pleasantly warm, for all the rain. Yelm has not yet died, and Esrolia is a place of warmth and nurture.
Xenofos looks at the huge hall. It seems his travels have left mark for he checks the eaves of the Library routinely though a tad absentmindedly. Rain drums on his helmet, runs in rivulets to his ridingcloak. He does not mind for his writings are securely in a leather cylinder on his belt, well protected from the elements.
Failed Scan: Why, between columns and architrave there could be another set of ornaments. Symmetry might require it in fact.
There is relief from the rain inside, and a servant hands Xenofos a towel for his hands, face and beard. A couple of other scholars coming in ask if they can have one too, but the servant – a mute man to tell from how his beard is trimmed – just shakes his head.
Xenofos looks at the servant and nods. He walks towards the Chief Priests antechamber to inquire if he can be met, expecting to be stonewalled again.
A fine plan, but not one that is without its problems. For one, the servant bows, and beckons, just at the same time as a matronly woman in a grey beard that seems natural bears down on him. “Dear Xenofos. You’re almost late for the defence!” She gives him a chiding look. “Hurry along!”
The servant gives her a deadly look, and indicates the path Xenofos should take.
Raised eyebrow, but follow the indicated route.
“Oh, dear me no. You can’t take Xenofos. He’s defending his writing!” Her voice is a natural-seeming tenor.
The servant, devoid of the ability to speak exactly what he wishes, and therefore a poor sort, folds his arms, taps his foot at her, and puts his head to one side in challenge.
The woman with the beard was either blessed by Lankhor Mhy naturally, or heroquested and gained it. She has the ties and tags and mien of a Sage. The servant does not, but… no scholar is offered a drying cloth by accident.1With a pass on Cult Lore but a fail on INT, Xenofos knows the high status of this woman but cannot recall her name, or why she might be here with such exquisite timing.
Xenofos looks at both. He nods to the Sage and tells to the mute. “What ever it is you want, I suppose it must now wait… “
“I was not aware there would be defence today – where should I be?”
The mute man shakes his head in slow alarm, and points, urgently, the way he was going to go. When Xenofos asks his question, the pointing is repeated, more urgently yet. Gesticulation is a well practiced art with this man.
“It is not far,” says the matron. “I will show you the way.” She gives the servant a quelling look.
Xenofos nods again to the matron “Thank you Sage” He shrugs to the mute “I will return…”
The mute coughs. He gives Xenofos one last look of appeal while his shoulders sag, and the matron offers Xenofos her arm.
Xenofos gives his vambraceclad arm, tucks his helmet on other one and follows the matron. He is oblivious to how out of place he looks in his armour and riding clothes.
On the way, the matron says, “There has been some question of the details of your account of the Lightbringer’s Quest in Sartar of late. Be sure you have it all to mind.” Her lips hardly move as she talks. Perhaps it’s the beard. Still, she walks with the sway of a satisfied woman leaving with something she wants, even if her voice is pitched a little more quietly than he would expect.
Raised eyebrow. “Since I have not left a thesis in, I was indeed wondering… “
She does not falter as she walks, but turns him suddenly up a narrow staircase. “Did you leave the tale itself in? Could there have been errors of grammar or metrical problems?” Halfway up the stair she pauses, and looks down.
“There is a report of events in. Meter…” shrug “followed as well as I could M’lady, but far from perfect I am afraid. I am decent, but not master in wordsmithing.”
“Well. Still. A defence.” She looks at Xenofos. “You are a little young to be a Sage, certainly. So this is not that sort of defence, I am afraid. You will no doubt be cross-examined.” She glances down, and then says, “Silly me. Wrong way.”
“Well, that kind of defence should be no problem. When writing Truth has been my only guide.” young scholar sounds naively confident.
“That’s the spirit.” She walks him downstairs and through a few halls and around in another loop before she opens a door for him. As she walks in, a tableful of bearded Sages look up, some rather impatient, some with the expression of having eaten too much and wanting sleep. “Well, finally you make an appearance,” says the man at the centre of the table. “So, recite your tale that we all know the True version as you wrote it.” Not so much as an offer of water.
“To the dark gates of Humakt’s Hall strode Varanis Vingan
To save Prince Kallyr, to bring back spark of Sartar’s Flame…”2A pass on Singing, inspired by Truth. A special on Cult Lore as a proxy for how well he handles the interview.
Scholar is not looking at the sages. Slowly his voice gains strength as he recalls the meandering otherworld journey.
The row of beards slowly gains interest over the course of the song, and at the end there is a grudging nod from the man in the centre of the table. “Now, we have some questions,” he says, and leans forward to catch the eye of one of the fatter members who seemed to be asleep, but who rouses himself to say, “Ah, yes. The main one of course…” He clears his throat and in the key of somewhere near bass, sings, “Where are the trials of Orlanth? Why was this not performed? Whose suffering was brought as sacrifice?” The three-part question requires a three-part answer, although he has rather kindly put it very plainly rather than hiding his meaning.
“Excellent questions. One might argue that trials of Orlanth were begun by meeting of Humakt earlier, but that would be sophistry and obfuscation of Truth. Trials of Orlanth were largely bypassed on advice of Sword Eril, as a measure to accomplish the aime of this deed in time to have desired effect on internal politiks of Sartar, which in these days have repercussions throughout the Pass. And as sacrifice was brought life of my liegelady Varanis.”
“Then could it be the titles is inaccurate?” comes the deep baritone reply in song. “An implication is before us by the nomenclature. Were you truly Lightbringers in deeds as well as words?”
“Orlanth correcting error, following dead Yelm, with the Five companions, Issaries was there and Eurmal, and Fleshman and Ginna Jar of nets and Lhankor Mhy too, bringing back Yelm and her fire from the realm of the Dead – Deeds are there, what other word would be True.”
“But Yelm was not dead,” trills a soprano voice from his left. “Only undone in battle, not by Orlanth!” It is a statement not a question, but also a challenge.
“Who else dwells in hall of Humakt but the Dead And if called Yelm in the other Hall of Truth what else could she be? And if brought back by Orlanth questing, with Fire lost when Boldhome fell what else but Lightbringers quest?”
“But was it the True or a Lesser quest?” It’s that damned Baritone again. But again, the question is put plainly.
“Shorter it was than full wandering of Orlanth, and yet no less True.”
“Indeed, indeed,” says the low Baritone, and his voice says he is satisfied. However, for a moment it sounds to Xenofos as if the voice is coming twice. Then without other warning the full weight of the Wyter falls on him. Every voice raised in the library is suddenly in his head and his heart and his spirit. The echoes of the baritone on the edge of bass, and muttering under her breath of the Soprano, the quiet inquiry in speech of one of the sleepier members just why this Leaper Court has been convened, and a thousand scholars talking. Incredibly, most of it bounces off his mind, unprepared as it is. The intelligence of the whole community is turned on him, questioning his being, his existence, his right to be here. “Of course he definition (Xenofos) Saiciae: cross-reference (Desdel) Saiciae, will implication survive this process of examination,” says a voice, and it is not from this room, and not one he recognises. And the Wyter looks into him.
Xenofos blinks when the voice starts to echo but does not avert his gaze when noticing the spirit.
Gaze? Spirit? This comes from within… Only the memory of having a body that is not made of pure knowledge keeps that body from falling. The scrolls of the library and their secret knowledge and their number and their weight hold him down.3A pass on Truth and on Stasis, a fail on Devotion (Lhankor Mhy).
“He aforementioned (Xenofos) is no doubt well suited,” says the voice, “But-“
The living knowledge collection sees devotion to the way, if not the form, and withdraws. Xenofos is standing in the same room as before, with the minor difference that he now knows all the names and positions of everyone who was talking in there, and feels the measured, calculated disappointment of the community. Tested, and found insufficient as yet. Not a failure, but … not sufficient to the task.
A good… candidate.
Scholar looks at the room of sages with his head held high. Having been to Hell – and back – he does not feel a need to prove anything to this sedentary lot. 4Passed Fire: Yelm is lofty and so is Xenofos.
A couple of people are looking at him with new eyes, like they too just shared that experience. The mutterer about the Leaper Court gets elbowed into silence. His name is Ethurtl, and he is an expert on form and the laws of scholars. This whole room is packed with experts, even if they are not currently showing it. But it is not packed with young people.
At the rolling of a distant bell, Ethurtl says, “Well, that settles it. Time enough spent here, and we have found no errors. I move we note that this was a Lesser Lightbringer’s Quest and performed as sung with no error.” He looks slightly irked now he is speaking out. He is speaking, not singing.
Xenofos looks at the last speaker and wonders how long these proceedings continue.
There is a short discussion in which the chief of the table, Argranat, points out that Ethurtl is speaking out of turn and is viciously precedented at. The Parting Bell, even if it is not for the proceedings here, indicates the end of any sessions and Ethurtl does not intend to have a new session started on the same day.
Finally Argranat turns to Xenofos to ask, “Did you intend this matter to be filed as a Greater Quest? I ask only for information and not as part of your defence, you are to understand.”
“I had not made the distinction, Sage. I only intended to record and tell the events like they took place.”
“Of course,” he replies. “And it shall be so noted.”
People are beginning to rouse themselves. The Great Scribe of Patterns comes to Xenofos to bow. It is slight, but polite. She was the soprano. It seems the defence is over.
Xenofos returns the bow. He scans the crowd and checks if Chief Priest is present.
… And who was that matron who led him in?
The chief priest is absent, although he is THE chief priest and Argranat is A chief priest. Rank is represented here, at least.
The matron is…. is… is not in the room. Has not been for some time. She was not there when knowledge revealed itself, or he would know her name.
Xenofos waits peacefully until he is told to leave ( or that becomes apparent.)
People are leaving, and Ethurtl comes up to Xenofos, stares upwards so his beard bristles with the angle, and says, “Well come, Lightbringer. And well gone. If you want to make sure there is not a session opened tomorrow, you have the option of a memorandum of business, a speech of parting, or a quiet word in the ear of Sage Argranat. He’s not so bad if you approach him right.” The short, tubby little man indicates the door. “I can direct you to either of the patterns for writing, but I think Argranat will come to the right conclusion.”
“Thank you, Sage. Protocol or purpose of this session was not quite clear to me so a word with Sage Arganat might be the most efficient way of finding clarity.”
The Sage nods. “He must first go and write these proceedings verbatim, but we might perhaps tack on a verbal addition. It will not tax his memory. The proceedings will be entirely open to you, I am sure, but the protocol was clear enough, I hope. You did well anyhow.” He has stopped trying to steer Xenofos to the door.
Argranat is just putting together the ritual items he had out on the table. It’s very important to have that screwed up ball of parchment, surely…
Xenofos will wait quietly.
Arganat gives him a brief nod on the way to the door, and Ethurtl chooses that moment to amble into motion and go hold the door, letting Xenofos choose his own moment.