So what do we know about Illien? Aside from him having red hair.
Fact 1. Felurian has heard of him yet she has not heard of Oren Velciter or Taborlin the Great. Oren Velciter is understandable, he is a famous hero but Chronicler has interviewed him and so he is a modern day mortal hero and only a recent speck in her eternal timescale, she also laughs at stories of modern Amyr church knights, an older sort of ‘hero’. Taborlin the Great is a mythical figure but clearly one from the mortal world given her ignorance of him. Whilst his time scale is undoubtedly more ancient than modern, she still hasn’t heard of his infamy. Visitors are rare and who would have told her about any of them anyway? She likes sex, not stories. Which makes Illien quite a paradox. Either He came to visit Her in Fae or she had heard of him ‘long ago’ during her time in Murella, or rather during her time in the cities of the Ergen empire, before it all fell apart.
Fact 2. When it was suggested by Kvothe that Illien was the greatest man who ever lived, Master Lorren blinked. Everyone agrees that getting any reaction out of our suspect Amyr Lorren is nigh on impossible to achieve meaning that Kvothe’s answer must have struck a raw nerve there. Lorren also knows of Arliden the Bard, an archaic term that would suit Illien better. Illien’s name is a famous name, so much so that even children in bars ask for stories about him.
Fact 3. He was one of the Edema Ruh, a group that Felurian had no reason to know of either. A troupe of travelling mortal folk, shunned by society at best and despised as a rule. Something about them is simply ‘unwanted’ around ‘normal god fearing folk.’ The ravel ruh are even described as ‘more trouble than they are worth.’ They are not generally given the time of day so how one ever become so famous at all is a mystery in itself.
On these three facts we can begin to build our latest tinfoil triangle. Hold on to your hats folks…
Illien was an Edema Ruh, all of their oldest and best songs were his. In order for this to be true, Illien must have been one of the earliest ever members of the edema ruh. A master luthier, he redesigned the neck on the unwieldly court lute, and cut it’s two dozen strings down to the more robust and portable seven-string troupers lute, his own instrument was said to have had eight. He then taught the world to play it by writing all of the best music and lyrics. There have always been ruh, since the first travellers sat around the first campfires, and one of these earliest was Illien, a very long lived Illien who had experience of courtly music and it’s craft. The most obvious way of linking these things together would be to assume that Illien was an original and famous citizen of Ergen society, a respected court musician who somehow survived it’s fall from grace. This would mark him not only as Ruh, but as Ruach. Perhaps that is where the name comes from.
Not all the ruach became angels or amyr, most were afraid to get involved with serious matters. After Aleph’s meeting was concluded what were they to do next? I strongly suspect that most of the ruach went out and made a new beginning for themselves in a bid to recapture the kind of power they once enjoyed in Ergen. Modegan is the oldest royal line and I would suggest that ruach bloodlines are at the heart of that nations heritage, as they are with the Loeclos family of Tinuë. But none of them became a famous patron to Illien so perhaps he took his musical knowledge and went chasing the wind into the ruins of the broken world to find a more appreciative audience. It appears that he found such a place telling the first stories and singing the first songs around the first campfires with the first common people. So why would he choose a life stringing along with ravel like them? That name was coined much later in history and we get its etymology from Kvothe but they have always been called the Edema Ruh, it is an old name from an old forgotten language.
If Illien had owned a court lute it would be impractical for the road, and common folk appreciate simpler things. Eight strings were said to be on his own personal instrument but seven is a lucky number for the troupers lute. Lutes have bloodlines every bit as noble as racehorses. Skarpi and Selitos are already proven as survivors from that time, and Illien would make three. They share a common view of all history unfolding across the ages. Skarpi knows the truth about all things, he has lived the one great story in the world. The children in the Half-Mast even ask Skarpi for stories of Illien, a favourite being ‘Illien and the bear.’ Skarpi knows all the best stories. The former Lord Selitos might have also enjoyed musical entertainment, for the discerning player Illien composed the fiendishly complex étude Tintatatornin and his masterpiece Sir Savien…, a song for six or seven strings, it is an epic production that moves people of all classes. It is a love song about one of the Aturan Amyr, one of Selitos companions, but the upper classes of Atur hate Ravel like him and Selitos and the Amyr were now busy pulling their own strings, deep at the heart of great matters from their Atur base, great matters that the remaining Ruach members were too afraid to become involved in. So why would a famous singer, master luthier and the ‘greatest man who ever lived’ choose a life among outcasts? Was he an outcast himself? he may have achieved his fame in Yll before some scandal tarred his name, after all, Yll with it’s red hair, lilting language and string stories of it’s own was ancient before the Imperial Aturan Army trampled it under it’s boots. It is worth noting that Yllish folk mix comfortably in Vintish high society. Perhaps the Yllish were telling the wrong sort of story knots. It was also Atur which launched a pogrom on the ‘travelling ravel’ of the Edema Ruh that he was the most famous member of. Atur is not a friend to either group, in fact it sounds like Atur might have had it in for Illien personally, a long standing grudge for a long lived ruach for long forgotten reasons. His one family could be only guilty by association.
Illien would have crossed the world many times over as an eternal trouper and so would not have to explain his ancestry or longevity to anyone. On the surface he would be assumed as being Yllish, just like Kvothe’s matching hair suggested the same thought to Viari. Illian may have even founded the country which so closely resembles his name, but that may just be a red Hairring. But in many ways he most resembles Sceop, the old man who joined the Ruh at Faeriniel, which would be far down times long journey from Ergen, years ago and miles away on a night with no moon.
I’m not speaking…
Kvothe’s tale is less of a story and more of a history lesson. One which tells us about of all the different peoples of the land. As Simmon complained it is based upon their exaggerated stereotypes.
First up are the Cealds. Four horses and three men. All the men are dark-bearded merchants with wealth to flaunt. They would happily make a deal with Sceop or indeed with anyone, but at a customer level only for their own financial gain. Sceop is not Cealdish, wrong colour.
Then there are four Adem. They are fierce fighters with a history but do not welcome any outsiders. The old man is not one of them either, he hasn’t the eyes for that, although Sceop is almost certainly an adem word. In the old language of the world Sceopa would mean ‘to speak’. This part also contains the source of Kvothes ‘interesting fact’, which is later debunked by Tempi, although not by Caceret.
There are no Modegans present, which is typically aloof of them, but why would anyone bother to explain that there is no royalty older than the Modegan royal line? who doesn’t know these things. They are remembered by Sceop who was in Modeg years ago where he witnessed the kings guard displaying their arrogant superiority and their devotion to bloodlines both. They are also desribed as lewd, which politely sums up our impression of Modegans in general. There blood goes back generations, older than tree or stone. Sceop has no bloodline to speak of.
The Aturans were the worst. They desired servitude, domination and power which they see as their natural right to impose upon any they can. A fitting description of Aturan Impirialistic ideals. They may have welcomed a fellow Aturan but Sceop was not one of them.
The six Vints may have been more outgoing on another day, but it was a night with no moon and they were scared and superstitious of what they didn’t understand so didn’t take any chances, which sounds a lot like the ruach. They each held different opinions like a group with no firm leader, much as modern Vintas is an amalgam of many kingdoms and farrels and houses. Sceop may also be of Vintish stock, come from the cradle of cizilization. Our closest match yet.
The single Amyr had his own private mission and none must be allowed to interfere with it’s execution. Neither Sceop, nor indeed any of the various races of man were important to to the order.
There were also no Chandrian present for him to confound… we hope, It was a moonless night though…
Only the nomadic Edema Ruh welcomed the traveller. They didn’t have a land to call home, they don’t want one, they are too common for most common folk. The Ruh asked him to join their extended family as they felt a kinship to him. Undesirables all they saw themselves reflected in him and his origins were not an obstacle to being ‘One Family’. They also believe it best to stick together to help each other against the many dangers of the road. Sceop, with his vast stock of worldly knowledge then began to teach them all the stories of the world, stories such as this one, stories that reveal to us all the true shape of the world. They were heading to Belenay next, which is in the Commonwealth, a land which was always there but with no history, common land for civilized people. The countrymen there fought for their right to be free.They resisted the Empire for love of their land, just like it’s least famous son, Lord Lanre of Belen,famously did many years before.
Two and Seven.
But back to Faeriniel, our polytravellers are both globally representative and are oddly numbered.
Numerically, we have a meter running through the campfires. We have Zero moon, One Ex-Ergen Amyr, Three Cealds, Four Adem, a handful (!) of Aturans, Six Vints, and Eight Edema Ruh, who camped around the central stone circle. But there is a break in the circle, and that is in itself significant as it is the mark of the outcast. To complete the equation there ought to be a Yllishman or maybe a representative of the vast scattered Loeclos Family in order to mend our broken circle and make our casting call for all the diverse peoples you may meet in Temerant complete. A red headed lackless relative would be both, and 1+1=2.
That would put the break in the circle firmly at the feet of the Seven.
The irregularities regarding the missing two are best summed up within Sceop himself. We are told that he barely even owned his own name and even that had been worn thin and threadbare through the years. When pressed he has almost forgotten it himself, he gives a name with a meaning from the secret language of the Adem. This is the language that was used by those who fought at drossen tor making it a language not spoken anywhere in the four corners of civilization since the time of the deliberately forgotten Ergen empire. Any who still speak it have been antagonised off the map, a long way to go to find real answers as the Cthaeh would say. Sceop has bright blue eyes and a white beard, just like our ex-ruach friend Skarpi does another who would know the old words for things. He hasn’t finished explaining his own presence yet. There is a lot to link Skarpi’s performance with an Edema Ruh performance. A masterful delivery, with a little bit of money involved.
Skarpi is also odds on to be what the ruach would call a speaker.
‘I’m not speaking…’ I listened to the words I was using, ‘Sceopa Teyas.’
It is a fact that whilst many people go grey haired with age, red hair cannot do this. It doesn’t have the right pigments and so Instead, it turns snowy white. This little known fact is casually alluded to by the University educated physician Caudicus who says he knows a tale that will send Kvothe’s own red hair white. A small thing in life but one that applies to Pat’s world as it does in our own. Our old man had walked around the world for years until he found Faeriniel, not a place any man has ever found by searching. It is not a place you travel to, it is a place you travel through on your way to somewhere else. It is a crossroads where friends are found, greystones abound and where all the roads in the world come together just like our clues are also now doing. Sceop and skarpi and Illien all come across as knowledgeable wandering outcasts of Ergen. Equally unwelcome in much of Temerant they are all without a firm link to any part of the cizilized world, save possibly it’s eldest family.
Sceop might be what his name means but the calling name by which we know him today is almost certainly Skarpi. And I will bet my tinfoil hat that once upon a time he was known to the other ruach as Lord Illien Loeclos, the first lord of Tinuë.