Avatars

Daemonica

‘He was a form of darkness, black hooded cloak, black mask, black gloves. Encanis stood in front of me holding out a bright bit of silver that caught the moonlight. I was reminded of the scene from Daeonica where Tarsus sells his soul.’

This gives us two actors, Tarsus is the lead but the other player’s darkness costume is exactly like that of the demon lord Encanis. Now this is Young Kvothe we are observing who has had stage training in this very play for ten years or so. He knows the plot, he knows all the parts and he knows the costumes. He can quote from it himself which shows that he knows the story very well (whereas we only get a few odd glimpses). He knows that in the play Daeonica, the leading actor Tarsus made a deal with ‘a form of darkness’ that cost him his soul… which makes it a form of possession. Despite it being often referenced, this is a play not a lot of people know… so we are told…often.

‘Begone! Trouble me no longer. I will set fire to your blood and fill you with a fear like ice and iron. Leave this place free of your foul presence. By the power of my name I command it to be so.’

Ben knows it well enough to quote some specific lines too, his quote comes from the Exorcism scene, and whilst we don’t know the exact whereabouts in the play that this scene fits, it must surely be near the end since it can only represent the final moments of a demonic possession, and not it’s initiation. Possession first, Exorcism last, such is the way of things. But neither of these two characters would have spoken Ben’s lines, they would not belong to Tarsus script, or to that of the ‘demon’, but would actually be lines spoken by the ‘priest’ performing the rite in this later scene. This gives us at least three actors in our play, a good enough number for triangles, and then we have Felurian putting in an appearance too, which brings our cast up to four.

Ben is not an actor, instead he is a University educated member of the Arcanum and therefore has a more classical education. He is also a powerful namer and knows the truth behind many secret things, Chandrian excluded. So if he had of asked Arliden, who has played the role of Encanis himself many times at Winter pageant, if he thought that Daeonica could have any historical basis then Kvothe’s father would probably laugh and point out that Felurian is ‘just a fairy story’ and so therefore the whole play must be too. But Felurian does exist, which is a big pin in the ground to suggest that this assumption might just be wrong.The point is, the answer to Ben’s actual question ‘would you still go in to the woods?’ is very relevant here too. If this story were actually true, if Daeonica, or something that is represented by it, actually happened, then Felurian’s existence gives some flesh to her part. It may have been the reason why her name is so famous in the first place. Daeonica also features blue flame candles which would imply Chandrian involvement, another myth that we now know to be true, and Arliden himself was known to assert that ‘there is no good story that doesn’t touch on the truth.’ Daeonica is an old, old tale and gets more references than any other play, a bit like all the best quotes come from Teccam. Its true age is unknown, but it harks back to a time when demons were more commonly acknowledged as a power in the world.

‘…there were demons who hid in men’s bodies and made them sick or mad, but these were not the worst… Some demons stole the skins of men and wore them like clothes, but even they were not the worst…There was one demon who stood above the others. Encanis, the swallowing darkness.’

Good Intentions

Possession is a real thing explained more fully in Pea Soup and it has some historical roots in Temerant too from a time that has now been erased from the history books which I call the Demon Days. But if Daeonica was based upon factual historical events, then perhaps these other actors parts were once people too, real people who walked the mortal world like tiny gods, like Lyra or Selitos…or Felurian. Important names of powerful folk from a long, long time ago. Perhaps someone really did sell their soul to darkness. Perhaps this exorcism really did happen, and perhaps someone else really did cast that demon out again.

When asked what he knows about the story behind Lanre himself Kvothe replies

‘Lanre was a prince, or a king. Someone important. He wanted to be more powerful than anyone else in the world. He sold his soul for power but then something went wrong and afterwards I think he went crazy, or he couldn’t ever sleep again or…’ I stopped when I saw Ben shaking his head. ‘He didn’t sell his soul,’ Ben said, ‘That’s just nonsense.’

Which tells us that in the approved version of Lanre that Ben knows, Lanre was not deliberately making any deals with dark powers and is therefore innocent of that crime, which would make him the victim of any such possession instead.

‘Knowing Lanre’s story might give you some perspective.’

The connection here is of two similar reports of a man ‘selling his soul’ and while one man is portrayed as culpable, the other man is thought innocent of such collusion. It is a small thing perhaps but was nevertheless something that a clever young boy remembered from a dozen old stories that his inquizative father had unearthed. Ones which he thought may have a possible connection to Lanre. He had made the same link as we are making, that somebody did once actually sell their soul, and that Lanre was a prime suspect to be involved somewhere.

Agents of Darkness

Tarsus sold his soul to ‘a form of darkness’ for ‘a bright bit of silver that caught the moonlight’.

Moonlight is an important prop here since the Moon is central to all of our suppressed history. This second actor was not playing the role of mortal Tarsus though, he was dressed like Encanis, the demon lord of the Tehlin religion. He is a rich young man and was playing the lead role in this years winter pageant. Tehlu arrived hot on his heels dressed all white and pure and shiny and his own mask was silver. The two lead actors costumes here were always going to be the finest in town and all of the historical details would be as correct as could be, meaning that this is what Encanis traditionally looks like – a figure dressed head to toe as a form of darkness with a black mask to mark him as being above all the other demons. The Church approves this description, they even sell the masks and they come in different colours for different demons, but the boss demon’s face is always portrayed as being black. Shadow hamed is also a good description to use for him although that phrase has also been used elsewhere in other old forgotten lore. If everyone that gets ‘cloaked in shadow’ during these books is going to be sorted out then firstly they are going to have to get all lumped together for a while whilst we tinker with these dark forces. I am going to file them all under the heading ‘Agents of Darkness’ since ultimately they all look, dress and act in a similar manner… perhaps they are all the same person at heart.

The Agent of Darkness in Daeonica is also wearing the black mask of the leader and so this would signify him to be the actual Master of Darkness himself, up close and personal, and he is selling something described as being ‘shiningsilvermoonbright’ to Tarsus in exchange for his mortal soul as his part of the deal that is being struck. It this light was something that was apparently worth selling your soul for, then to my mind this can only mean that this deal was being made for whatever it was that Tarsus wanted the most in all of the world, his heart’s desire. Nothing else could be worth the price and the only thing that has the power to grant such desires to mortal men is the Cthaeh, our unseen and omnipotent dark presence who has a reputation for distributing his dark pearls of wisdom to all those who come asking, each one having a sting in the tale.

Casting Call

Aleph and Cthaeh should properly be thought of now as pretty much being God and the Devil. However, neither of them has any actual flesh or blood like man does, they are more of a ‘holy ghost’ sort of thing in my opinion. They created the world between them and they have watched the dawn of mankind evolve ever since the days of Old Holly.

Aleph had watched (from wherever he did his watching), as all of the demon days rolled past before him, and only rarely did he tinker with anything.

‘Now {Aleph}, who made the world and who is lord over all, watched the world of men. He saw that demons made sport of us and killed us and ate our bodies. Some men he saved, but only a few.’

Aleph has an ethereal form, and so when decided the time had come to interact more physically in the world of men he needed a link to flesh and blood, and Perial was the link that he used. In order to possess a mans body, you have to select a victim to abuse. Unlike the demons who overpowered their victim’s desires and stole their identities, Aleph actually grew his own as a physical extension of himself in the form of Menda, a necessary tool to employ over which he had absolute control and he used this extension like a puppeteer would to act out his own hearts desire. And his desire was called Justice. Menda was shaped to grow quickly but perfectly by the power of Aleph and thus Gods own will flows through his veins. He had been shaped specifically for this task into a new and original human form using a link of flesh and blood granted by Lady Perial.

This was his link to the world of man. Everything must have a link and this rule would necessarily need to apply to his opposite number the Cthaeh too, who had already taken control of his own puppet, his own choice of physical extension that is known to the world as Encanis. But at the root of Encanis was his own version of Menda, his own fleshy man puppet, his to command and control and direct as he so desired, This dark puppet was once born as a free man who had a human name of his own… and that name was Tarsus.

So, our two supreme powers have now poured their individual wills into two human avatars made of flesh and blood. In the church representations, it was Tehlu who finally banished Encanis and in doing so also broke his own links to the world of man. But in all actuality, this event was the Alar of Aleph overcoming that of the Cthaeh. Both of these supreme powers cancelled each other out and thus also made their exits in the culmination of this scene and both have now left the world of man to it’s own devices without any further godly interference. It as the dawn of a new era and all that is left of the story is a fiery pit and the first seeds of the new Tehlin religion. This raises the question ‘If the gods themselves have departed, hat happened to the fleshy parts that were Tarsus and Menda? Clearly they too must have burnt to ashes during this episode and we have confirmation of their fate from the most repeated line from the Tehlin religion that we know of where Tehlu states…

‘To ash all things return, so too this flesh will burn’

Which is a truth that applies to everything, to manflesh and godflesh, to fae and to demon alike… Tehlu’s little man puppet Menda burnt to ashes in the fiery pit of Atur alongside the demon possessed flesh of Tarsus aKa Encanis. And thus ended the story of Tarsus who has finally reached the end to the deal with the Cthaeh and passed through the fourth door of the mind that is Death. RIP Tarsus.

BUT! There is always an exception to the rule.

What would happen if Tarsus was a special kind of man, a man that could not die, no matter what? A man to whom no door could bar his passing… a man like Lanre.

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