Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The First Aleiu Aetoras

(Note: I found this manuscript in the salted fields of a dead farm. The script shifted between the cheyr'emeth and a curious variation on Istein orthography and becomes hard to read in several places, smeared with rich soil. Only four or five pages remained out of some presumably larger work.)

From the beginning I have pleaded with all ghosts. These spirits of a strange land bear down on us as if they were the strength of sickness. They fill these forests with mist and twilight. Their darkness is not our own, not the darkness of our homeland. Filled with mystery, but not the comfortable mystery of ages past. Not the gentle heaviness of history. Sharp and painstaking it illuminates every question of biology and change. What once was, is, and the aetoras still eludes us. We have violated the trackless wilderness, new and bright and humid, and have filled it with our footprints and the blue dust of the nicurei. Illness has taken some of us; as we have taken it from these ghosts, breathing in their pestilent breath and drinking the thick, rich, black blood that is the only liquid in this verdant desert. It seems like everything is secretly composed of ash. Dry and thick and caking.

Ivalis was the fourth today. Nearly a wyle of our party has vanished, buried in the insistent life of this region. We had no time to mourn or celebrate. Her corpse is left to the non-secrets that scavenge among these trees. Will she rise again, listless and bloated amongst the other natural creatures? Can I honestly ask myself that question? Uries mor at rohem seiru. Questions are meaningless unless you will ask them of yourself.

We have seen the towers of aetoras three times since landing on these occult shores; every time they seem to be no more distant, no closer. This expedition is too significant to be a fool's errand. I hope we do not have to turn back. If we do, though, it shall surely mean safety. Our path is marked with miniature la'in and we can return at any time. Find our way to our almost home, to the Eleiutierc, and then return to the shapes of the Edge-lands along Orvelai-mai-Ith.

Perhaps these ghosts will take us all, eventually. With their hunger and their thirsty blood. And we will lay down not three feet from the aetoras gates and be no more.

(The following was found on another page.)

There is no rest here, never in death, never in living. Because of all's eating... you cannot move on or leave anything in the past because it is carried inside of everything else. All blood is one blood since everything feeds on everything else. Not a mote of singularity in these forests; not a drop of individuality. It feels like we are merging... closer together in body and mind...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Defend Enarsis, Part One

I have seen the end of Creation.

I have seen the tides of unreality that threaten to consume the world. I have witnessed the Beast that crushed the Naudieri and unmade the Glorious Empire of Sesvimil. But my blind eyes have not always borne witness to tragedy. I cannot forget the age before Its coming, when the old gods, the first Keepers of the Machine, reigned from beyond the reaches of Valdial. The Far Realm was a distant nightmare. The world, though imperfect, was still whole.

In that ancient time the Iaerae, descendants of the kindred appointed as stewards of this world, had abandoned their heritage of “creator magic” for a more secret power that they had wrested from a single madman. Using this “Sol'vyr,” the Glorious Empire of the Iaerae ascended to celestial heights of enlightenment and majesty. The golden age was not without its consequences, however. The empire’s rulers perpetuated their petty conflicts, and arrogance reigned supreme.

Samornys Elaex, the lord of the Iaerae, in all his ignorance and recklessness, made war on the Es'mensis, a people who were brothers to his race. His justification - their supposed centuries-long pollution of Iaeran thought. His plan turned on him when those he made war on stole the secret of his power and took a tremendous gamble. The Es'mensis coerced four of the Keepers to yield up their servants, the Sas'arael, as soldiers in the war against the Iaerae. The lord, faced with extinction at the hand of these otherworldly conscripts, attempted to summon and bind a beast of war from the Far Realm. Though successful in calling up the creature, he failed utterly to control it. In a terrible rampage, the horror drove all of the lesser summoners hopelessly insane, and in their madness they laid waste to the Empire. As horrendous as was their fate, it was nothing compared to the doom that faced the lord of the Iaerae.

The abomination possessed the ruler of the Glorious Empire directly, subjugating him as an avatar on this world.

The creation that the Iaerae had ruled, that their forebears had helped build with their own hands, was in terrible jeopardy. Most of the old gods, the first protectors of the Machine, died in combat with the Beast. The remainder were scattered across existence. To atone for previous failures, I came to the world's defense. Through the grace of the greatest Keeper, the Iaerae and I constructed a gargantuan barrier that confined the beast within the ruins of Mirc'del, the Empire's former capital city. Maintaining this barrier were two Great Towers, Karamyr and Sharalan, the anchors that ensured the safety of Creation.

All was not safe, however, and the echoes of the Beast's invasion still rang out. A number of intrepid mortals took advantage of the celestial Machine's vulnerability and sought for themselves the secrets of the Naudieri. Unfortunately for them, the strictures of Enarsis were not so easily broken. The would-be deities achieved only a part of the power granted to the first Keepers.

Among these Second Keepers, Arsithil was perhaps the most dangerous. Dissatisfied with his semi-divinity, he sought the rank of a true god. Locked within the decimated capital of the Glorious Empire was the means to his goal, the corpses of the slain Keepers. Should he gain one of their bodies, he could consume the soul that rotted within and achieve for himself true godhood.

Blind to the consequences, he sought to breach the barrier that I had created, but Nehandra, one of the last living Naudieri, forbade his entry. Infuriated, he lashed out at one of the Towers, unmaking Karamyr's wards and guards, destroying one anchor that held the Beast at bay. The Beast stirred, and because of the barrier's nature, we were powerless to reinforce it. The haste of its construction had left no means of repair. Thankfully, the barrier held and the Beast was still contained, though less strongly than before. Arsithil's punishment was imprisonment in his own mind, a confinement that he would not escape for more than three thousand years.

The world was in a precarious position. Only Sharalan remained to prevent ultimate destruction, and if it failed...

Fortunately, a guardian presented himself. A once-righteous servant of the Keepers, the being named Helazael, was cast out of Heaven into the sunless depths of our world. In return for sanctuary, he swore to defend the last Tower. But in the most bitter twist of irony, his presence inadvertently presented the greatest threat to its safety. A revolt within the ranks of his followers almost led to the complete destruction of the anchor. The dissidents traveled to a cavern beneath the Tower and pulled the very edifice down upon themselves, ending their own lives but wreaking vengeance on Helazael as well.

It was only through my intervention that Creation was saved. I traveled to the ruins moments after the Tower's fall and began to redirect the flow of time to undo the destruction. As I labored, the Beast itself assaulted me, seeking desperately to slay me or stop my magic. Nehandra came to my aid, and it was only through her direct inhabitance of my form that I was able to complete my work. Lamentably, even with such assistance I was unable to maintain perfect concentration, and my efforts went partially awry. Though the Tower was restored to its original place, a second, duplicate Tower, manifested in the rubble beneath the surface. Much to my chagrin, my failure not only duplicated the Tower but copied the surrounding city as well. Damn my eyes for making such a foolish mistake! For now there is a city living beneath the earth, the Eye of the World, as it is called, and it is a pit of sin and iniquity.

Since the rebinding of the Beast and the restoration of the Tower I have sat here in meditation. For you see, it is only my will that maintains the Tower whole and intact. Should I suffer even the smallest distraction, it is death for us all.

And who is it that bears this burden on his shoulders? Who am I to be the bulwark between Creation and Annihilation? I am the last line of defense, the world guardian, the living lock that chains the beast. Mine is power, and knowledge, and righteous suffering.

I am the Arbiter.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Systematic Examination of Cheyr'emeth

This is a thorough and scientific examination of Cheyr'emeth, the ancestral language of the Es'mensis. I will examine in particular the Cheyr'emeth spoken and preserved in the child-cities of Peresine. The city of Llelain will serve as my primary reference and in cases of contradiction Llelaic Cheyr'emeth will prevail. For ease of comprehension Cheyr'emeth's proper script will be rendered into the Cairainean mode of writing.

First, a study of Cheyr'emeth's pronunciation:

Double Consonants - When one sees a transliteration with two consonants side by side it represents an actual, brief stop between sounds. For example, the Cheyr'emethic word rendered as muetteret is pronounced "muet" (stop) "teret." Thus, the "t" sound is articulated twice.

i - The Cheyr'emethic sound rendered as "i" as always a short sound, similar to the "i" of "bit." The front of the tongue, however, is generally higher and curved slightly backwards.

ch - /x/, The sound rendered into the Cairainean script as "ch" represents a voiceless palatal fricative. To approximate it, make the "h" sound of "horse" and then raise the tongue so that air flow through the mouth generates an audible friction.

e - /ɛ/, The Cheyr'emethic "e" is similar to that of our native tongue. However, the tongue is slightly higher and more tense.

y - /jʉ/, "Y" is a diphthong pronounced almost like "yu" in our tongue. It begins with a sound very similar to our "y" but the tongue quickly curls upward and the lips become slightly rounded.

r - /ɾ/, "R" is pronounced quickly, with the tongue tapping the roof of the mouth only briefly. It sounds like a trilled "r" but is only trilled once. Before an "i" sound it usually transforms to a sound closer to "d." Instead of tapping the roof of the mouth, coming back down, and then forming the "i" it simply blocks the air flow and then continues on to form the "i" sound.

m - /m/, This sound is pronounced as in our speech.

th - /θ/, "Th" is not as hard as it is in the language of Cairaine. The teeth are not quite as close to the tongue. Otherwise, they are similar.

s - /s/, "S" at the end of words becomes much more like a "t" sound, otherwise it is the same. No air accompanies the creation of this sound.

The Cheyr'emethic writing system:

Cheyr'emethic writing symbols actually only represent vowels. Consonants are represented by articulations and alterations to the basic vowel symbols.

Cheyr'emethic consonants each belong to a certain class. The written markings refer only to a specific class of consonants and not to specific consonants themselves. In addition, the same word can be read differently in different contexts, despite having the exact same spelling. In these cases, the consonant(s) typically vary within the same class.

The Cheyr'emethic Lexicon

Muetteret Escalon at Nisseres Rue - "The Sea's Judgment at Escalon"
Oretsec Ca - "Erosion by Time"
Uries Mor at Rohem Seiru - "I have found God's grace."

At - A conjunction that combines two related phrases. Also serves to indicate grammatical relationships between two phrases.
Ca - A temporality marker. Indicates some relation to time. The particulars of this relationship are inferred by context.
Oretsec - Erosion/wearing away/withering.
Uries - A pronoun for old things. Occasionally euphemistically used to refer to the Cairainean concept of "god," though its definition would be more precisely rendered as "it which is old."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Uries Mor at Rohem Seiru

"Uries mor at rohem seiru."

This is the keystone, the foundation of temerity and the fruit of prayer. Whether known or unknown, these five words are the object of our every hunt, spiritual or otherwise, and to utter them truthfully is the completion of a life's work.

Seek them with diligence.

And yet what we have here is not religion, neither ritual, neither superstition. Give me hierarchy, that I might crush it under heel and chain it to the promontory at Eschalon. Ask me the source of this grace. I will show you that, in the asking, there is no certain truth. Answers in this place are useless, and questions are of dubious power unless you will ask them of yourself. Only things discovered first hand have the touch of veracity.

Bound to this realization is the certainty that you must act. Truth comes only to those who find it. Certainty is an absolute, and if you do not seek then you cannot help but hide. There is truth to be found in all corners, whether it be in the granite calculi of the ordani or the a'esse poetry of the wrestrim.

Know this, and seek.
Seek this, and find.

(Translator's note: A'esse is a Cheyr'emeth word used for things that are not ancient now, but will be in the future. As such, it implies permanence or long-lastingness.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Distinctness of Cheyr'emeth Grammar (pt. 1)

Cheyr'emeth certainly differs from English in many ways. A potential list of differences follows:

1. Distinction of lexical aspect.
2. Distinction of grammatical aspect.
3. Use of particles.
4. Generally, Ceyr'emeth's use of grammatical inflection.
5. Methods of demonstrating possession.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oretsec Ca - "How Far We Have Fallen" (lit. "Erosion by Time")

Here it is at last, the object of all my labors, the aetoras of my long search. I've never seen such beauty. Truth be told, I never expected to see beauty again... but here it is. I have found my meaning in the thin pages forged lovingly out of nicurei hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years ago by my ancestors. The lithe cheyr'emeth script speaks to me from the ancient heshence and I can all but see the diligent wrestrim toiling over their engraving tools.

How noble.

Never one moment of rest, never one instant of hesitation in their practiced movements. Despite the sacrifice of time, despite the blue nicurei stains that must've covered their hands, theirs was a truly noble calling, and we in these times are reduced to nothing more than chasing after their glory.

Oh, how that chase wears on us.  We labor, struggle, strive, starve for the old glory like sustenance for the soul.  So it is.  So be it.  These hungry scholars will chase down the streets of the first city; if it be nowhere, nevertheless.  I will be hungry for knowledge and history, for I am so weary of the present.  Ages come and go, but there is always an age before.

I vowed to exhume this place, whose corners, breathing towers, melt from ages' ebb and draw.  Make home the keepers, dreaming sleepers, of this sight we never saw.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Muetteret Eschalon at Nisseres Rue - "The Sea's Judgement at Escalon"

And so he passes.

It's cold and wet here, and there are slate-grey waves in the distance. Give them a little time, though, and they'll be lapping at the dunes behind us. The top of the water will ride only three wyle above the top of the rock and more than ten u'yle above the head of the criminal chained to its base. The dark will fill the sky, and not a person will have waited to watch the murky clouds of blood fill the water as the tide smashes his body open against the stone.

In the morning we won't see the ruin that the ocean has made of him. We won't see the shattered bone that tore through the skin and muscle of his wrists and forearms to point up at the salty sky and the gore-stained rock. We won't see the huge cavity filled with blood and teeth and vomit where the lower half of his face used to be. We won't smell the stench of brine and shit and fear that lingers around his corpse when the waves finally retreat.

Chances are, when we finally make it back out here, nothing will be left. The ocean will have taken and buried him off the coast, under a blanket of silt and sea-life.

We'll take the next one out to the rock and he'll be crying or silent. He'll be dignified or petrified. He'll be ready for the end or ready to give us anything: his money, his home, his mother, if only we'll let him go. And then we'll lock the shackles around his wrists and ankles and make sure that the chains sunk into the rock are still secure.

I would ask him for his last words, but we are not permitted to give him such dignity. We do not show compassion or pass judgment. We do not honor the dead or remember their passing. We are not the hands of justice. We are the messengers and the silent jailers whose only task is to abandon the condemned in the face of a force greater than ourselves.

We are afraid.

It is not the heaviness of the water that terrifies us, nor the comfortable dread of our eventual passing. Our stomachs do not turn at the thought of ourselves in those shackles. Rather there is some other foreboding, however secret it may be, that lingers around the waxen lines of our faces. As we secure the end of a life, there is a wordless tension in the straight movements of our bodies that mirrors the straight horizon toward which the criminal will travel, lifeless on the back of the water.

The briefest respite comes only when we burn the lelerian. As we yield the shore to that other strength, we will put fire to flame and page, letting the soot from the smoldering sheets mark our path. The ash of their passing tells us that we are free, clean of this sterility and blamelessness, and we comfort ourselves with the thought that somehow words turned to smoke will absolve us of this terrible absolution. We hope against hope that these gestures will change the sea and somehow bring low the superior innocence of its ceaseless tides. Almost, we believe that our burden is not inescapable.

And yet it is a burden of our own making. Our grievance, as heavily as it tells on us, is freely chosen.

What led us here? All things conform to some nature, some gravity, and we are no different. We are the simple children of a logic deadly and inconsequential.

Yet execution is no inconsequence.

Neither is it tragedy, nor cruelty, and so it is not tragedy or cruelty that I fear. As the relentless tide swallows the promontory, I am afraid that, in all its cold sterility and innocence, I have become the right hand of death, destroyer of worlds.