Saturday, April 22, 2017
Souldancer: Chapters 25-30
As the group navigates Kerioth's decks in the dark, Tefler reveals that he is a priest of Thera, a blasphemy that shocks Xander. Astlin interrupt when she finds the bridge and purges Thurif's flesh-crafted servitors. Since only a nexist can fly the ship. she must transfer her memories to Xander. In the process, she accidentally attempts to take her soul fragment back from Xander, overwhelming his memory and personality.
Zan and Astlin talk about the burdens and costs of being a souldancer.
Xander can fly the Kerioth, but needs additional lessons to activate its FTL drive. Fatigued by the wheel, he seeks a place to safely land. The Exarch attacks, shooting down the Kerioth.
Tefler awakes in Thera's presence. The goddess scolds him for lack of forethought and that he should have expected a spy. She says that Astlin does not have Shaiel inside of her, and that she, Thera, is all of the souldancers at once.
Xander pulls himself and Cook free from the wreck. Hazeroth greets him, taunting Xander with memories of the death of his family. Th demon prince sidesteps Cook's attack. Astlin arrives, freezes everything with her mind, tells Xander to leave, and challenges Hazeroth.
Hazeroth bests Astlin as her attacks find little purchase on him. He hacks off one of her arms. Zan and Xander join the fray, with Zan buying enough time for Xander to ram Astlin's molten metal arm into Hazeroth's gut. Then Sulaiman crests a dune, and crosses blades with Hazeroth. As the fight rolls away, Xander sits with the nearly dead Tefler and Cobb, and the bleeding out Astlin. Damus and Thurif find them, and offer a devil's bargain. Thurif will use his flesh-shaping abilities for a price.
Astlin wakes up, unarmored but not burning everything up. Tefler is present and offers to help her into her armor while the elemental Void protects everything from the Flame. Meanwhile, Xander visit's Thurif's bridge. Thurif wants to take the four souldancers to a nearby vault. Xander protests, but he will be force to remain on the Exarch to ensure Astlin's compliance.
Kelgrun... Now that's a name that has a lot to answer for, from the creation of Elena and the souldancers to the binding of Elathan into the Exodus.
Thurif appears to walking the same path that Vaun did in Nethereal, but there's a menace he lacks compared to his forebear.
It did not strike me until later to remember two important things about Thera's priesthood. First, a priest of Thera was present at the last battle of the Serapis. Second, Thera's priesthood is hereditary. Finally, Deim was Elena's lover prior to the madness of Elathan's hatching. Tefler doesn't yet realize just how strange his mommy issues are.
The nine souldancers each have a connection to a different stratum of space. Once again, Norse cosmology and its nine worlds compose some of the building blocks of the Soul Cycle's universe, with Mithgar, the home of the humans, being one of the more obvious tells, This Norse cosmology is mixed with the scala natura of Plato and the medievals, a hierarchy of being. In the alchemical realm, this being starts with earth, then water, air, fire, and then divine light. From Netheral, we known that the Fire Stratum is above Mithgar and closer to the White Well, while the Earth Stratum is below Mithgar and closer to the Void. It will be interesting to see how the beings and the Strata interact, as well as if the Chain of Being relationship will echo in the relationships between the souldancers. If so, Astlin as the fire souldancer will be the most powerful and a leader among the nine. We'll see, though. Irallel is a natural foil to Astlin, in personality and elemental affinity.
An Irminsul is a sacred tree-trunk pillar erected by the ancient Saxons. The name has some linguistic connection to Yggdrasil, the world tree that connects the nine worlds of the Norse. It is a fitting name for a giant tree on Mithgar's surface, as well as the site of upcoming divine hijinks.