Black and White
This is my doom upon you. May your face be always held in shadow. Your own name shall be turned against you, that you shall have no peace.
Selitos said those words when he was talking to Lanre, therefore Lanre is most certainly a man who has now lost his own visual identity and instead wears this curse like a hooded cloak. But Lanre has just told us that he is no longer who we think is and that he has a new and terrible name, ‘Haliax’. So who is it really hiding beneath the shadows hame? and is his true name Alaxel? Where does Encanis fit into things? Or Tarsus for that matter? And who is this Taborlin the Great to sport a similar ‘cloak of no particular colour’? These are difficult questions… but I think I have it down now :0)
Let us start at the beginning with our original man Lanre. The cloak he has just been fitted for is only really there for visual effect and nothing more since he has already declared that no door can bar his passing, this revelation is old news now and so nothing to do with this scene. Becoming so averse to the doorways of the mind was either a by-product of, or reward for, Lanre’s past dealings with dark powers. But done is done and even Lord Selitos, who was the most powerful namer in all the land, cannot alter his fate back again, time cannot be reversed, broken is broken and he agrees that Lanre is now unkillable. Furthermore we can deduce that he will also never forget anything, (which would make his memory perfect), and neither can this man be subdued by something as trifling as insanity nor be disabled by the weakness of sleep since all of these things are now and forever denied him. His own name burns with the power in him, a power that cannot be extinguished and thus Lanre is already doomed to wander the four corners for ever, immune to death or indeed any other mortal impediments. Selitos’ curse is something extra, it’s like his ball and chain, a fifth burden for him to carry on top of all of these, a mask in the form of a cloak with a deep hooded cowl which will always overshadow his old visage.
‘Who would like to hear the story of a man who lost his eye and gained a better sight?’
Since only life is affected by the four doors of the mind, and this new Lanre is now less like a man and more like a statue in his dissuasion to suffer from these afflictions, perhaps we should compare him to some other shaped but inanimate objects that we know of which can be found among Master Kilvin’s collection of old lost magics. The one which this curse most closely resembles is the ‘sheet of black glass which lacks any frictive properties at all’, except that in our case instead of touch being naturally repelled it is illumination that is reflected by this dark substitute.
Not being a namer or a shaper myself I can only speculate on such things, but for tinfoil purposes I shall suggest that the curse of Selitos is in all actuality a parallel binding between what is essentielly black and white! In essence this required a binding where the longname of the victim has been re-shaped to now reject, reflect and to repel all forms of light. It involved binding two longnames together, one of these was the name which lay at the centre of a living man and the other being a perfect understanding of the name of the sharp piece of mountain glass (and would also apply to the Dragonglass we read about in ASOIAF!!) which shares the same structural composition as our worlds obsidian qv and any research into this strange black glassy stone reveals some very unique properties.
Obsidian is so infinitely sharp that it doesn’t cut across the things that make us, but rather between them. It does this at a molecular level, and that is the level where all long names reside. The fractal properties of obsidian would give it a naturally perpetual name-pattern (like the one we see on Fela’s ring) and it’s natural name is as infinite as π making it a perfect foil to mirror Lanre’s own infinite being. But firstly Selitos would have needed to understand this longπname for himself in order to free himself from Lanre’s control over his own longname. Clearly he was not powerful enough to understand infinity yet, let alone be able to use it as his tool, since that level of understanding is the province of the Aleu themselves, Aleph and Cthaeh.
The answer was not to make it become one with him but to make himself become one with it! and so he first bound his own sight to the power lying dormant within this stone and thus split his sight in twain. Selitos has bound one eye to infinity whilst keeping the other eye focused on time passing and has therefore achieved a dual understanding of it as completely as he understands his own self. His entire being now knows the name of π and can dance with it for ever and a day and thus by using his own infinite blood as a binding Selitos has acquired the knowledge that allows him to use time as a tool and thus the power necessary to bind Lanre’s own name at an infinite level that will therefore last for all eternity.
He cast the stone at Lanre’s feet and said ‘by the power of my own blood I bind you. By your own name let you be accursed.’
In order to pin this doom upon Lanre specifically, Selitos spoke the unique name that lay in Lanre’s heart… and then turned it against itself. Now, since the outcome of this action created a cloak of shadow then whatever it was before must have been the opposite of shadow and thus we can predict with some certainty that in the original birth name which Lanre’s mother gave him must have translated into Light. Light would be a name which suited his persona perfectly since from the day he was born he has consistently outshone all others in his every deed and action and he has ever been the one shining beacon of hope for all the cities of the Ergen empire to rally around. It is also true that only light can ever hope to defeat darkness and we know that at the Blak of Drossen Tor, Lanre somehow managed to kill a terrible foe. ‘a great beast with scales of black iron, whose breath was a darkness that smothered men.’ This may well apply to other, lesser men perhaps, men with other names that meant other things, but in this instance it was Lanre who was the stronger and thus his enemy was bought low ‘after three days fighting in the light of the sun and three nights unceasing by the light of the moon.’ As long as there is a spark of light then there is hope and darkness can never truly prevail, such is the way of things.
Everyone is unique and there is only one Lanre which means that every time that we hear tales about a man without a face, then we can be 99.9% certain that we are talking about Him.
‘Selitos spoke the long name that lay in Lanre’s heart, and at the sound of it the sun grew dark and the wind tore stones from the mountainside
This description gives us three names in action, light, wind and stone. Wind and stone (Aeruh and Silanxi) were already used in the tale to subdue and bind Selitos and the use of such elemental forces would appear to be necessary when building bindings between living things and inanimate objects, they are the glue that makes things stick. Sunlight is the major ingredient in the recipe since light is in itself the ultimate source of Selitos new desire and the antithesis of everything shadow. In tinfoil science language, Selitos has turned all of the little binary switches that makes each of us what we are from on to off (or vice versa) and the result is a form of anti-light that is always as dark as a moonless night.
This new shape shall be bound by the power in the blood of Selitos to last as long as they both shall live, which is apparently going to be ‘until the world ends and the aleu fall nameless from the sky’. So far, Lanre has clocked up 5000 years and counting with no end in sight… and so has Selitos.
The first couple of thousand years which Lanre spent under the cloak were as a vehicle for the real master of all darkness (the Cthaeh) to ride around in on the mortal world and this combined form is to be used as a tool for that beings dark desires and to act in whatever way he was ordered. Encanis would probably have preferred to be able to pick his own choice of appearance, but Selitos has forever denied this zombie tool of his enemy from ever feeling the sunlight, or indeed any ‘light that rivals light of day’ ever bathing his face again. Lanre is the root of this curse and everything that once bore the name Lanre has now been bound to shadows by the blood magic of the powerful Lord Selitos himself. He spoke the long name that came before and changed it into something it was not, in much the same way as Aleph changed the names of the ruach when he created the angels and thus gave them all a new shape and form with which to fulfill their new purpose, and this change was made to also last for all aeternity. Such change is now permanent meaning that none of these new name-shapings can ever be undone by man or god. I mean, you can’t kill an angel… can you?
‘I can kill you’ Selitos said , then looked away from Lanre’s expression suddenly hopeful. ‘For an hour, or a day. But you would return, pulled like iron to a loden-stone. Your name burns with the power in you. I can no more extinguish it than I could throw a stone and strike down the moon.’
Light cannot pierce this ‘curse’ which is in all actuality a parallel binding where the longname of the victim has been shaped to now reject, reflect and/or repel all forms of light, be it moonlight or sunlight or starlight or candlelight.
This scene is Lanre’s last act before his new persona of Haliax takes full possession of the cloak. Some tiny %part of Lanre shall still be present in the whole, hidden deep inside the new form of Haliax and supplying a necessary anchor to the structure for all that is to come next, but will have no control over any of his future actions whatsoever. Thats the theory anyway, but no matter how small, there is technically still a flicker of light inside the darkness, part of Lanre is still imprisoned in there. His life is still the source of the light that allows the darkness of Haliax a physical link to the mortal world. The link is necessarily present and therefore so is the strength of Lanre, but his oppressor is stronger and any attempt by Lanre to wrest back control ‘would be as fruitless as a boy attacking a soldier with a willow stick’, and we shall assign it with a success probability factor of <0.00001% . It’s not much but it does count for something, a million to one perhaps… a billion maybe, whatever, but it is a finite number and all such numbers will eventually come to an end, unlike infinity which will not, and so if you wait long enough… you will eventually reach the end.
This means that the darkness that has >99% won the creation war is not truly 100% black, and therefore there is still some hope. At this point in proceedings Selitos is, and Lanre must also be, aware that one city still remains standing and so despite all his best efforts at total destruction, the enemy plan has failed, the light of the world has not ended and nor have the Aleu fallen nameless from the sky. There is still light and thus there is still hope for all of mankind, Lanre included. Everything living still holds a chance of redemption, no matter how small, and this would correlate with Lanre too whether he can see this or not. This chance is also visible deep within Selitos curse as some vague impression of nose and mouth and eyes does still remain, a tiny glimpse of what came before still exists and this Lanre% balances the same tiny amount of Lanre’s willpower that is left forever drowning amidst the swallowing darkness that has smothered him.
Lord Selitos may have lost the war but he is not finished yet and hope still remains in the form of one remaining city. He can see what is coming next to the last few survivors of the Ergen Empire and he has a resistance to organise. He has engineered as his final parting shot to his enemy, his own small gesture and ensured that Haliax can always be identified wherever he goes.
‘I heard a story where they were given away because their shadows pointed the same way, toward the light.’
This new ‘encarnalised’ form of man and demon combined has effectively been turned to face itself and always reflect it’s own shadow, except that it doesn’t point in the same direction as the rest of the world and always appears dark. He has changed everything that was left of the man he knew into it’s absolute opposite by binding the light that falls upon it back against itself which has also removed the possibility of any further altering of appearance, be it by grammarie or glammourie, from ever being forced upon it. He has then dispatching it back to it’s new master to play with like a broken puppet… and a broken toy will give less joy in return to an unlucky boy…