Marielda 14: The Killing of the King-God Samothes By The Traitor Prince Maelgwyn Pt. 4

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Background[edit | edit source]

Episode description[edit | edit source]


The Illustrated Concordance of Marielda, Second Printing

No chronology will be observed here, nor could one ever be observed—Marielda resists sequential arrangement. Where other atlases and dictionaries seek to duplicate the facts of a culture, treat this text instead as a replica of Marielda’s constant reconfiguration.

Thus, the reader should use this concordance as if they were wandering through a city street on the afternoon of an empty day. Follow the the capricious arcs of the written characters from one entry to the next, like the scent of an unseen cafe in the distance. Or, move from entry to entry with the speed and purpose of a busy hour of errands.

But understand that neither of these methods will bring you to more truth than any other. As with a mirror, you will get out of this text only as much as you put into it.

But if I may make one recommendation: Begin with the entry on dreams. Though there may be no worse place to begin than the reveries of those poor citizens, there is neither any better.

-Semiotician Emeritus Uklan Tel, Ed.

Cold open[edit | edit source]

You ever had one of those long days, where nothing seems to fall into place? Huh? Where it feels like everything you work for, everything you touch, ain't nothin'? Or reverse that, that it is nothin'. That nothin' is all there is. Cause I feel like that. I felt like that for more years than you know, and when we feel like that, we rush for cover. It's like an involuntary defense: who or what can we blame for this? Maybe, maybe we blame something immaterial. Sin, evil, the machinations of things greater than us. And we seek salvation, action, in prayer, in holy violence. Is that what you were looking for, Hadrian? When you killed that man Jericho? Or maybe, like a fiddler on a bad night, we blame the instrument. You know something about that, Lem. Hella does too. How much you blamed on that blade, that blade in the dark? You think that led you to kill Angelo, Calhoun? The son of my kin, remember. You think I missed that? There ain't a damn thing I don't know about, remember? Or maybe, like Adaire, you blame others. That farmer who didn't pull his weight, the church that demanded tithes but did not shepherd its people. The village that turned on your family. Or, like me, on my bad days, you blame your family itself. It's so easy for me to do, to wonder if this cancer began when I raised Samot from shadow to light, if when I gave that boy flesh, maybe, he took something from me in exchange.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The killing[edit | edit source]

Immediate aftermath[edit | edit source]

Well, Lem, from that perch above Marielda, The Six watched as two things happened that would reshape Hieron forever.

The first thing is what Charter Castille noticed as she rose to her feet. She saw a struggle in the erratic energies of the room, as Samothes wheezed sitting in that throne of clay and blood and fire, his divine life fled from his physical form. And as it fled, it was torn in four different directions. Partially, it was pulled by a gentle force into the blade that Samothes himself had forged, a shining thing, bright like the iron sun in its true form. That fool loved me, loved Hieron so much, and had his confidence shattered so thoroughly that he figured how to make his own demise a panacea for what ailed the world. For the cancer that was killing me.

If… if Maelgwyn had used that that blade to slay his father, it would have become a weapon strong enough not only to hold off the Heat and the Dark, but to defeat it utterly, to fill it with the force of will of Samothes' own life. It would've replaced the void of emptiness with the breath and love of Ingenuity Alive.

But Maelgwyn did not use that sword. He used the Blade in the Dark. A tool crafted under shadow by the apocalyptic scholars of the Yellow House. And theorized by some members of the University, including the esoteric Charter Castille, to be able to use the power of the Dark to hold off the coming of the Heat. And while the sword of Samothes tugged gently on the spirit of my son, that hungry blade dragged the god of invention with a startling hunger.

But I swear to this day, if all of this had happened just a year or so earlier, everything would be different. Even in the force of that power, even under the hunger of the Blade in the Dark, normally, Samothes would've been able to resist. But with Tristero… well… you see, back then, it was the case that when you try to kill a thing like Samothes, like me, our demise would not last long. The Lord of Death, Tristero, was the one who stood at the door to Void itself and he and us, well, we're on what you might call a first-name basis. So he'd stall the ravenous pall of Nothing long enough for us to gather our strength and use our divine authority to rewrite history such that we were not killed at all. But Tristero… well, he'd abdicated his throne by then, seeing the world at war and anticipating the terrors that the desperate and powerful would soon unleash, he'd moved to a little seaside resort town that he loved, a place called Nacre, where he used all the strength of his divinity to protect that city, and those in it, from what was to come.

Or—or things might've been different if… if I'd made it there in time. I was stronger then than I am now, but… I was tired, and I thrashed through the city, rushed towards that tower all fins and scales and whatnot—you should have seen me as a younger man, I tell you. But I moved too slow. I failed to stop it. No man in the door to the void, it reached through, and sapped the strength of Samothes, my son. And under that shade of Nothing, well, I can't quite be sure exactly what happened to him. I don't know if he was split, if some of him still lingers on in that waiting room near the void, if—if some of it walks Hieron in a spiritual form I can't detect. Or—or maybe some of it did make it into that holy sabre. Though I'm not sure quite where that sword is. What I do know is, a large amount of his selfhood was captured by that blade. By that blade you carry now, Hella.

As for the fourth direction Samothes was pulled, well, that's tied tight to that second thing The Six witnessed in the tower. Samot, Maelgwyn, the mages; they were right. When Maelgwyn saw his error, he did have a holy desire, the sort of thing that results in the creation of a new divine power. Except, seeing his father there, bleeding, dyin' slow, well. With his confidence shattered, the only thing Maelgwyn wanted was his daddy back. And so The Six watched as my grandson's glowing hair turned ashen. Watched as his figure gained a childish approximation of the bulk of his father. And so Maelgwyn, in his final act, turned around and faced The Six, and there he was, Samothes alive again.

But ah, there was that fourth pull, that last little hungry thing. Desperate for the soul and strength of Samothes. Like I told Sige, Samot and Maelgwyn believed that the tomb would have an artifact of power, somethin' to hold off the Heat and the Dark. What they did not understand was that the tomb was the artifact. And seeing this new Samothes, naked and distraught, it found what it needed and it bound him to that tower, leading him by force of will into a deep chamber underneath the surface of Marielda, where it held him down and began siphoning not only his power, but our entire divine authority, in a way that changed everything forever.

You know, sometimes I hear you talk about divine authority, you mortals, in a way that's metaphorical, as if to say that, you know, this king or that queen has the divine authority, that is, the right, to do this or that. But the sort of authority we wield is not metaphorical. It ain't about rights, it's about ability. We weren't authorities because we were allowed to change the world. We were authorities because we were authors, because we wrote and rewrote history and materiality as it pleased us. But that was before the tomb. That tomb, Maelgwyn, Samothes… it took all of our authority from us, it concentrated it, and it stabbed it through Marielda itself, pinning the city in place, safe from the hunger of the Heat and the Dark. You know, other folks tried similar things, all throughout Hieron. Some of 'em are still tryin' now. Sometimes it didn't go so well. But that's another story.

The fate of The Six[edit | edit source]

Closing narration[edit | edit source]

And well, you seen the work them boys did here. Good work. They lived good lives. Helped people. Helped themselves. Really, they did. But ever since that day in Marielda, well, speaking personally? I never felt the same.

And I think it was on that day, all those years ago, that Maelgwyn saw the truth of it. Maelgwyn learned what drives us into those long nights. It isn't other people. It isn't your family. It isn't even yourself. It's the fact that all of this is built on nothing. All of our achievements, and all of our misdeeds, the things that turn us sleepless, all of it lost in a void that does not care, that does not know how to care, that does not know how to know.

Velas. Ordenna. Rosemerrow. The Archives and The University both. Marielda, the City of First Light. Hieron itself. Funny story, Hieron. You know why they call it that? Cause someone misheard me once. "What is this place?" they asked. And I laughed, thinking about the nothing below us, the nothing that bore me. "Oh, you know," I said. "This is someplace higher on." We float on nothing. There is no foundation, there is no fundament, there is only us.

And listen to me close. For a while, I hoped, I prayed that there was something above. That something would rescue us. And that day all those years ago, when the stars first showed up in the sky, I thought, maybe, just maybe, we would be saved. But now I have seen the stars, too. And they will not save us.

Cast[edit | edit source]