Tuesday, April 17, 2012


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Chax twirled the pendulous egg cluster with a flick of his foreclaw. One strand of webbing snagged on the sharp stick that Aun had affixed to him days ago. The strand parted with a quiet snap. His impulse was to sever the remaining strands and complete the job, but he thought it prudent to consult with Aun first so as not to upset him further. Chax smiled slightly—Aun seemed to require a measure of protection from reality... physically as well as mentally.

The problem of preserving Aun from the night creatures was challenging, but it resembled a larger issue that had occupied Chax for days: how was Aun to be given the best chance of making it to Botaram? More precisely, how could Chax be complicit with this without being a traitor?

He had listened between the words of the Craisht, as it spoke to him in a dream borne of desperation. He understood that there was some Precedence for what he was doing, even if the Craisht did not wish to openly acknowledge it. At some time in the past, then, an Oistrem had resisted the urgings of the Craisht, and sometimes this trait was deemed useful... Had an Oistrem ever accompanied a Strasmin? Had an Oistrem ever actually stood on that sacred slope, alight with the Grand Radiance, in unbearable proximity to the spire of Botaram itself, and watched as a Strasmin calmly defied all of morality, ethics, and common sense, and simply walked into Botaram to contaminate the Eternal Purity with its irreverent corpus...? Had that Oistrem even... followed after?

It was ridiculous to state it. But Aun had said it was true. Not a spine on Susekho carried the Name of any Oistrem who would dare such an impious act.

But... perhaps that made sense. Perhaps those who dared to do so lost their Names.

Chax knew that a Namespike was not a perfect and eternal object. He had seen the signs of wear on the older spikes, many thousands of Cycles old. Some got brittle and lost their tips, some became worn along their lengths with the tracings of uncountable numbers of curious Oistrem, so that access to the spikes at last had to be restricted to keep the record from being damaged. And he had seen the round scars on some branches, the gap where it seemed a spike should be. Some maintained that these were just old warding spikes that had fallen away, but others said that when you become a traitor (and what treachery was worse than defiling Botaram?), your spike fell off and your Name vanished forever. All of your deeds, every echo of your bravery and craft, all that you strove to achieve... gone to dead dust, without even an echo to reach the coming generations.

Chax was unable to bear the concept. He winced and shook his head to clear it of these thoughts.

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