Xenofos — Words With Lankor Mhy And Sophia
????, Fire Season, Season/Death Week
Fire Season/Death week/Godday/Saiciae palazzo and Great Library. [[[s02:session-42|Session 42]]]
“Yes uncle Desdel. I understand I could ask these questions in family chapel. But it is not in my liver to hide the truth or use subterfuge or intrigue. Library feels the right place to do it and I promised Varanis I would go there. Indeed, I feel I have already tarried too long.” Xenofos explains to his uncle at the palazzo.
“Indeed. Tell me, however, what would happen to the reputation of the House?” Desdel looks interested in that.
“We would be looked on as a House upholding the Truth, even if it costs as personally.” He looks at his uncle. “Speak only Truth. That is what Sestar and you always taught me.”1 (failed loyalty saiciae, passed loyalty Temple.)
“Of course. And yet I will have to explain this to grandmother. The Truth is. It does not need to be shouted about. We can speak it, and write it. Forcing our problems on others is almost rude.”
“I can explain this to Granny, it should not be a burden that falls on you uncle Des.” He looks at the scrolls on his uncle’s study. “I do not deny the prudence in your words. But I did make a promise and I do not intend to renege on that.”
“Ah, well. That is something I can help with, then. A promise is a promise. But I do know a few people who would be helpful.” He shrugs, apparently persuaded.
Xenofos nods “If they are there today, then I don’t see why not. But I am asking my questions from the Lord of Knowledge himself, in prayer. So what role would mediators have?”
“Mostly, to stop other people from taking advantage of the house and your allies in the Temple. Even if you do not know you have them, they are many. You will have no need of mediators, of course, although we’ll arrange an altar for you. Somewhere prominent, if you like?”
“It makes no difference to me, uncle. I am as far or as close to Lhankor Mhy anyway.”
He shrugs “If he even hears my questions. But if he does not that is an answer too.”
Desdel nods, and stands from his writing desk and his padded stool. “Let me go don better attire, then, and send to tell my friends I am coming in.”
Xenofos nods. Perhaps inappropriately, he is attired in his riding clothes and cuirass.
“Let us meet after you have changed,” Desdel suggests.
He looks at his attire and shakes his head. “I think that – under the circumstances – this is probably the correct clothing for me today.”
“It certainly represents you, but if you are meeting the god, go in robes.”
“If He has forsaken me for following this way, He can confirm that while I am kitted out for it.” He casts his glance downwards.
“And if he has not?” Desdel looks genuinely irritated. “Show some respect, to those at the Library, and to the Lord of Song. You are aiming to talk to him, and on a quest for knowledge itself!”
“You are saying I am too arrogant?”
“You are not showing due respect to the Library, or the god it is gathered to honour.” Stern now. Desdel may be trying not to make this sound like a censure.
“I… don’t want to appear to be hiding behind the robes of a scholar.”
“But you ARE a scholar. You are showing a humility entirely unbecoming of one.”
“I don’t know if I am one anymore, uncle Des.” he says quietly.
“Mm. Do I see you troubled by ink-flinging pests, or spirits that steal words from you? Go get into your robes, and if the Knowledge-Seeker tells you to get out of them, then you get out of them. Until then, you are assuming, and that is almost a crime!”
“Words have been taken from me. I cannot fathom them on clay, nor can I put them on the papyrus with the reedpen.”
“Odd, then, that you continue to communicate with me using them,” Desdel muses. “Mi’rt van az?”
“You know what I am talking of. Spoken words fly and scatter, written remains. I am not mute, but my words are now tied to time, vanishing like raindrops that return to Ernalda.”
“Oh. Like songs, you mean?” Desdel puts his hands to his hips, beard bristling. He has to stare up at his nephew, but he has a good line in stares.
“Only echoing as long as someone sings them…” Xenofos says “preserved forever only when written down.”
“Lore-singing lived before marks were made on bark,” Desdel counters. “Before trees were.”
“Lankhor Mhy himself wrote notes of first song on the side of Spike the moment it was sung. People were taught this later, so they had to do with ways that were not as perfect and permanent.” Xenofos replies.
“Mm. Now go get into your robes and show respect for the learning of those who read the teachings. You were armed and armoured last time you went to the Library as well, and had no such excuse.”
He does not try to excuse something that happened seasons ago, but nods and gets on his way. He returns after a while with a robe on.
Desdel, meanwhile, has dressed himself formally, combing his beard without plaiting it, and has a little grey cap to indicate his rank to visitors and other unknowledgeable people; small shapes picked out on it are Runes and perhaps words. Symbols. Hovering at the edge of knowing.
Xenofos rubs at the Fire rune over his right eye.
Desdel nods his approval. “Well done. Now let us be on our way.”
Xenofos follows Desdel towards the Great Library. Desdel orders horses, naturally, and just as naturally leaves them in the care of the Library. This does mean the natural way in is through the back door. Naturally.
Xenofos does not comment on the use of horses on this short trip through streets filled with pedestrians. Neither does he offer opinion on this choice of door. He is just drumming his fingers on the scabbard of his rapier he is carrying on his left hand, not belted on.
Within the rear foyer, there is a group of men of about Desdel’s age, determined on putting the world to rights by their speech. Desdel hails one, they all mostly ignore him, but the man he has picked out laughs, breaks off, and goes to say, “Ah, young man! You have provided me with a rather wonderful puzzle.” He ignores Desdel totally to address Xenofos.
Xenofos nods to the man, looking at suitable altar to say his prayers on. This time of the day weekly common service is over, but several Sages have missed the official service or are too early for the one to be held at noon.
“Do walk with me. I have a few suggestions for questions you might wish to ask, but this is all in the Precedents, of course. You’re not the first. An interesting subject, and one which can be approached from several directions.”
Desdel, meanwhile, looks like he is a bit perplexed by this.
“It is not, Sage?” Xenofos notes.
“Indeed, indeed. For example, how does one even enter a Temple in the first place?” The Sage is starting to get enthusiastic. “I can show you my research of course – at some later date – but for now one should note multiple previous occurrences, including at higher levels of Rune Mastery. The first recorded instance we have is twelve years after the founding of the Temple, although we are not entirely certain of the season, which would make a difference, of course.”
“What is common to these occurences?” Xenofos asks. His right hand taps his pencase. And leaves it.
“A loss of one of the mysteries, and either a breaking of geas, or a loss of action within correct behaviour. There is a little cross-referencing with the Yelm-son sects, you see?” To this man, the connection musts be plain.
“No, sage, I do not.” Xenofos admits.
“Well, Yelmic court structure is not for everyone, alas.” The man sighs. “There are half a dozen possible losses of action, some of which have multiple optional parts, of course. Desdel, where is Desdel. Yes, I’ve ordered the fourth altar, but we might need to delay a little, so I can explain to the young man the subtleties of the many problems he might have encountered but did not.”
Desdel now looks like this is going exactly as expected.
“If there is that much variance in effect and root causes this knowledge may not help immediately in assessing this current case?” Xenofos points out “Maybe in putting it into its cultic and historical context, but not in making a prognosis on its permanent or impermanent status, or remedial actions – if any.”
“Oh, while each case is unique, we absolutely have five which are of use in this, three with recorded outcomes, and two with attested and recorded outcomes. The other, I am sad to say, went through the words of the Bard of Daral first, and the less said about that, the better. But it did at least occur, we know that much from the Deed of Marr, and the Fifth Chapter Commentaries.”
Desdel faithfully stays behind the greybeard, well out of range of commentary, deed, or indeed immediate danger of having his ears talked off.
“The fourth altar you said? Right. I think I need a bird for sacrifice uncle Des, can you ask one of the servants to bring one.”
“Of course. Sage Amant, I note that without knowing if the altars are all in use, we cannot delay others…”
“Oh, nibs to that! Can you not tell the young man is interested?”
“That will surely be of use in assessing the possible answer after the divination has been made.” Xenofos answers, making his way towards the altar.
“I do have a list of acceptable sacrifices,” Saga Amant points out. “Let me just make you a note…” He hands it to Desdel to hand on. “Your nephew is eager, wants to be back at the stacks. But still it would be a crime to let him go without due preparation…”
Desdel accepts being talked to, to let Xenofos escape.
Xenofos walks to the fourth altar and watches it carefully. He has been here numerous times, but who knows this may be the last one.
The altar does not give up secrets, despite being watched. It might or might not be watching him back. It is, of course, possible to use this altar as a writing desk – it has an angled surface as well as a top surface – when directly sending knowledge to the gods. He looks at the everburning lamps, picture of the Lhankor Mhy himself and the smaller pictures of his wife and children.
The pictures look at each other. The wife is pleasingly curvy and not like a wrestler at all.
One of the mutes comes with a reed cage holding a dove. Xenofos gives him the required renumeration and takes hold of the little bird.
Desdel is doing a fine job of talking with Amant, which may – almost by accident – be keeping people away over the hour of the Divination Ritual, assuming all goes to plan. If indeed this is his plan.
Xenofos looks at the small jar on the altar and unsheaths his penknife, short, but the curved blade is razorsharp.
The dove coos to itself, or the world, or other, imaginary doves.
Scholar feels the blade. Then he strokes the neck of the dove with his forefinger. After a while he sheaths his knife looks at the window, left open to let the breeze in. With a word so silent only the bird can hear it he lifts it to the window and nudges it to to fly away.
It does just that, the second time he nudges.
Desdel and Amant either have not noticed, or are in talks about something else. Still, no doubt this will be noted somehow.
Xenofos follows the way it flies for the short while it is visible and then returns to the altar. He places a small amount of incense on the brazier and starts the ritual. Time passes, for one of those involved. For the other, time cannot exist. Yet, for a brief eternal moment, it is possible for them to touch.23 rp all but one magic points 16, which does not really matter mechanically but feels proper.
“Lhankor Mhy Lord of Knowledge and Lore, First Scribe and Schoolmaster, Beloved of Light of Knowledge, Father of Enlightment, Keeper of Secrets, Guardian of Wisdom, answer my questions, I plead. 1) Is it your displeasure that has robbed Xenofos who thus addressess you, of his understanding of mystery of letters or some other malevolent force that has cursed him 2) will you help Xenofos gain back his understanding of this mystery 3) what should this said Xenofos do, to regain his command of written and read words.”
A voice as precise as ever he could define whispers, from inside him, so that he hears it as it tries to escape, “Xenofos himself put down my gift.” And even as the echoes of that die away, and he understands that all he ever heard was an echo of something far greater, he hears it again, with more precision, more clarity. “All who seek true knowledge are welcome at my Temple.” Each word drops into place with the solidity of stone, sharp edged and true.
And then, as the echoes of that are not fading, but folding into themselves, Xenofos is briefly given to understand a thing, by how they close. Nothing that Knowledge does is ever truly falsified. How could the words of the god, given truly, ever fade?
And then he stands in a library, an oddly familiar one, with alien markings on all of the surfaces, and a woman with long black hair just reaching up to try to get a book down. She is graceful beyond belief, but the shelf is too high, and her fingertips brush what she wants, pushing it back beyond her reach.
Xenofos walks over to the bookshelves and nods to the woman respectfully. “May I help? If I can?”
She looks up at him, eyes full of longing for what she is after. “Please. It is a tricky set of folios. Slippery.”
He looks at the shelf and carefully reaches for the book she was after.
A few scattered pieces of parchment come down in his hand, and she gives him a smile, familiar and cute, and also somehow entirely perfect, in a way that no single person could be. This is not a single person.
She leans in, stands on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. Her hand is needed to balance against him. He tilts his head to better hear her.
“Seek the mysteries of knowledge. When you fail, keep seeking.” Her lips almost brush against him. Her cheek does.
Then she takes the parchments from his hand, which is easy for her because of… because of… because of something that he almost managed to understand, but was somehow lost to him. The words remain, along with the certainty that they were once given to other seekers of knowledge, perhaps even the greatest of all.
He closes his eyes to keep hold of the words as long as possible.
The words stay, but already the edges of them are fading. The way in which she cared for him was real, but the exact details of how she murmured it are leaving him. It is true, and it is vanishing, going back to the place where she was, leaving only a memory of someone who loves when others seek her, wishes to keep them on the path that is lighted by a torch.
Bowing his head he begins singing. A song of light in darkness, a torch showing the way, of a long meandering path of which one sees only a tiny part.3pass sing Tears are falling from his eyes.
The room is warm and pleasant, the scent of incense hangs lightly still, with a touch of perfume that he is sure was not in the mix, but it fades even as he notices it.