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ooc: There are three scenes I've used from the book The Throne of Madness to make Karakael and Ellorans most recent video post. I cannot do the scenes justice - not by a long shot! So, in reference, here they are in full, as the original author wrote them.

-----------
A voice, cynical, familiar, said, "Illusion, Rikeh, all is illusion."

"Karakael!"

Arryk could not know for sure; for beneath the four masks was another mask, of course, a mask of gold in whose cheeks were incised scars f iridium, and whose eyebrows were set with hair-thin crystals of diamant.

"Quite the hysterical performance you gave, lad, for your friends' benefit!"

Arryk looked at the floor. Plastiflesh was seething as it dissolved into the floor. The hair was writhing as thought it were alive. "Why have you come?" he said. "Why did you try to trick me?"

"I want to know where you stand, Arryk, in a game of makrugh, that I am preparing. You're invited, of course; any Inquestor who dares to brave my vicious endgame is welcome at Kilimindi. But first, the Convocation has a mission for you: a utopia hunt."

"I have a different game to play now, Ton Karakael. I am on their trail."

"The utopia which you are to hunt, lad, is their trail. It is called Shtoma, and is at the far periphery of the Dispersal of Man. A dozen Inquestors have failed to crack its secrets; I trust you will succeed."

"Shtoma...where Davaryush..."

"Exactly. If Shtoma is the source of this terrible heresy, son, you will probably also find there the way to destroy your enemies, Kelver and Siriss."

"They are not my-"

"Yes. You loved them once. Now you no longer love them. Don't you remember the void?"

"I remember," said Arryk, feeling once more the talons of that terrible pain. "I no longer love them." But as he spoke he realized that he had obeyed without thinking, without feeling, as a sevocorpse obeys.

---------

And now Varuneh spoke again, after the commotion had died down a little:
"Listen, all of you. There will be war; brutal war, a war of lover against lover. The story of the Inquest is the story of that brutalized boy who will not show his face." She pointed at Karakael. "For we have turned away from our private pains; we have masked ourselves as gods, thinking that we do good by confining our hatred and our anger into an elaborate game. I, too, thought as you do once. It was I who invented the game of makrugh, Inquestors. But now I, its creator, turn my back on it. We never banished our dark selves. We only chained them deep within us, and they fed well, and grew strong. We are no longer of the light. But now the boy has come. And as we once sought to be saviors of the universe, he will be our savior. Now we will all shed our masks. When we can hate again, we will be able to love again. That is why we will have this war; not nameless soldiers, not peasants on a distant planet, but we, the gods. Some will fight for the control of this pocket universe of ours; others will fight for the right to relinquish that control. And it is this war in heaven that will free our myriad earths, and bring back the homeworld of the heart."

One by one the last Inquestors unmasked themselves. They had taken sides now, mostly; those on Arryk's side of the chamber, beyond the chariot of the sun, were about equal in number to those who stood behind Kelver. Then the one who had been wearing the Mask of the Fool spoke: "Oh, Kaarye. You should know who your true friends are. I could never have been so treacherous as you imagined." He took off his mask; it was Elloran. "I came today only out of deference to our old friendship, and from simple curiosity..." He walked over to Karakael and touched him tenderly on the shoulder.

And Karakael whispered - it was inaudible, but Siriss could lipread the words - "Atta heng, Hokh'Ton; you have vanquished me."

"Never, Kaarye, never," said Elloran. And Siriss herself wanted to say some little word of comfort; but she was moved beyond words, beyond tears.

------

The lights were dim now; only Varuneh and Karakael were left in the cavernous hall.

"The time for masks is over, Kaarye," she said softly.

"Yes." But he did not move.

"You fool! You foolish child! Here you stand in the ruins of your own vulgarity. Come to your senses!"

The mask of gold and ivory fell to the floor. It rested on the shimmercloak where the ashes of Ynyoldeh lay, still smoking a little. Poor Ynyoldeh, Varuneh thought. In her own twisted way she was the most compassionate.

And wonderingly she looked into the face of Karakael, whom she had once found weeping in an alleyway five hundred years before.

"Not much to see, is there, Vara?" Karakael said, and he smiled a little.

"You will heal." She could not be cruel to him. She had used up her last reserves of cruelty. She put her hand to his face, then flinched involuntarily. For she had touched some rough fabric. Yes, it was still there, the mask of sackcloth; skin had grown over it where it had clung too long, and the mask and the face where meshed together, inextricable.

"Poor Kaarye. What will you do now?"

A small voice: "The breaking of joy is the beginning of wisdom."

Varuneh wept.

-------

Notes: To put the last two scenes into perspective: They take place at the end of the event that Karakael spoke of in the first scene. During the course of the game, Varuneh tells a story that is reveled to be Karakaels history. It involves how he had been abused and scarred as a child. (A history that forced this mun to abandon the book series for two years, as it was a bit too traumatizing for a kid to understand.) When Karakael reveals his face in the last scene, it is the first time he has been 'unmasked' in over five hundred years.

There were only two people in all of the Inquest that knew his history - one being Varuneh, the Inquestrix who discovered and elevated him, the other being his lover, Ynyoldeh. Since both of those women were presumed dead during the course of the game, Karakael honestly thought that it was Elloran who was revealing his secrets for political gain, having learned them from Ynyoldeh.

So during the course of 'his' party, Karakael finds out his lover has committed suicide, has the past he was trying desperately to repress exposed in front of an entire room of people to make a point, and believes himself to be betrayed by his best friend.
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Karakael

May 2016

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