Mind Your Language
Perial then, and despite the fame and fortune that goes with being the Mother of God, there are only a few tiny scraps available for us to work with when it comes to tracking her down. Trapis’ rambling story must be taken as a vaguely accurate truth which does align Perial’s name into the accepted Tehlin faith version of things somewhat. Marten calls upon Menda and Perial when he is praying to everything that is holy along with the holy names of Ordal and Andan, two of the angels we see written about in Nina’s copy of the Book of the Path. And then there is that one line about our infamous Lady Perial and her hat.
Calling on the Holy Name of God (Tehus antausa eha) is the classical thing to do if you find yourself in trouble with demons, perhaps if one has stolen your own hat during the Seven Days of High Mourning and you were calling upon some divine intervention from above, although Bast just laughs off this traditional line from the Old Tema when Kote tries this demon banishing approach on him. This faith in such a prayer calling for help extends to Tehlu, His angels or even His mother to aid you in times of danger. But there is a time and a place for using such language and saying the unremarkable ‘Tehlu Anyway’ is an everyday occurrence in Pat’s world, it’s not really blasphemy, or swearing as such, just a shocked expletive that everyone uses depending on the cause. There are a lot of different ways of getting your emotions across which vary from mouth to mouth, occasion to occasion, and from place to place. There is definitely some kind of sliding ettiquette scale on what to say and when, and why, and to whom depending upon whether you are showing mild surprise or shocking behaviour, whether in praise as a blessing or in anger as a curse there is a different, usually religion based approach for covering every level of outburst. It is just like in our own lives are where we should always choose our own words carefully to match your company.
One weird thing that my old notebooks recorded was the time when I wondered if there might be anything to be gleaned in noting who swears, by what name, and in which location, and to see if could conform to Teccams Theory of Narrative Septagy… nerd stuff, but being a nerd with nothing better to do, I decided to check up exactly how different people swear, and so I got the books out again and made copious notes and lists during yet another Rothfuss re-read.
Tehlu’s name is the most commonly used for swearing, as in Tehlu Anyway, Great Tehlu, Merciful Tehlu, Tehlu hold and over-roll us…Tehlu’s tits and teeth! Then there are all the occasions when he is implied more generally as in Holy God, God above , (or gods below), God’s body, God’s ball’s, etc. It is easy to add further nuance with the very common Blackened (or burnt) Body of God, which takes us down the path to the rather extreme Black hands, although that one may be more aimed at Encanis rather than at Tehlu….hmmm
All these ‘curse words’ and more are used in many shapes and forms by all sorts of folk sounding off about many different things across all of the lands to get their own feelings to circumstance across. But then we have just a couple of very minor references to one specific person in one specific location when common folk are heard swearing by God’s Mother, and that can only mean Perial. Penny, the landlady from the Penny’sworth inn uses this term in shock horror at seeing a faerie tale coming true before her eyes and a boy in Levenshir turns it into Mother of God in a different kind of shock horror after Kvothe casually broke his arm. They are both so stunned that they can only be reflexively using the curses that come most naturally to members of such a local community, ones that they have grown up with, the ones their parents used when they were younger, and their parents parents too. The ones they know the best, and believe in the most, namely a reference not to the more recent oaths based upon the arrival of The Book of The Path and authourised by the Tehlin church, but to the far older and more local folk heroine and holy woman, the Lady Perial.
This small anomaly appears quite specific here since these are the only times this line is heard anywhere in the known world and both occasions happen in rural Vintas, giving a spot of local colour to their colourful language. That the local tracker Marten, who appears to be Vintish himself, also uses her name specifically in this part of the world gives us a small triangle made of small clues to reinforce the larger theory that Perial was a local Vintish legend. This is how common folk speak, local knowledge for local people. Before the church arrived on the scene some four hundred years ago with their book of the path and their iron law, Lady Perial was the focus of some authentic Vintish prayers going back for centuries. A small crumb perhaps, but if someone is following a breadcrumb trail then we must asssume that since it is DungeonMaster Pat laying the way as carefully as ever then ancient Vintas is where our trail is meant to lead us. This would also tally up with our suppositions on Perial’s faith stemming from her mothers teachings of this last remaining lethani remembering corner of Ergen, long before Menda’s exploits happened in far off Atur. Kote uses both ‘Mother of God’ and ‘God’s Mother’ during the Waystone interludes which makes her his favoured deity too although he might just be following local custom and cleverly blending in to unremarkable nuance in the village. This last idea may also hint at the elusive Newarre being located in rural Vintas too, which is a nice thought to file away for later.
Lords and Ladies
So what did I glean from all this incessive note making? The most prevalent of all ‘swear words’ usage, not including those crafted in Siaru which is a totally different thing, (shit in gods beard etc) is actually Lord and Lady, a phrase uttered by no less that Ten different characters across both books, which is twice as much voice as it’s nearest rival gets. This group can further be split into three subsets as it is also found to be the single most used ‘swearphrase’ at the Waystone Inn where it is used by Aaron, Graham[twice], and Old Cob for everything from Cob’s comlimenting good whiskey to Aaron complimenting Mr Kote’s ability as a liar, although, perhaps surprisingly, it is not used by modern day Kote himself. At the university, however, young Kvothe does indeed call upon the Lord and Lady, as do a trio of other very powerful folk who know all sorts of secret and important things, ‘Demon’ Devi and the multiple name knowers, the masters Elxa Dal and Elodin.
The final triad are all from the Severen nobility, the trio of Alveron, Stapes and Bredon, which gives this ‘Lord and Lady’ a bit of class.
‘Lord and Lady’ he swore under his breath, ‘I hate to be seen doddering about’
‘It’s good to have you back. Lord and Lady but I’ve been worried about you.’
‘Lord and Lady’ he said, ‘Tell me you got this from some old fashioned farmer?.’
All these men have the blood of assorted historical Vintish Lords and Ladies running through their own veins. Stapes is a manservant and he is undoubtedly common but the much more refined nobility of Alveron and Bredon should never be expected to resort to swearing anymore than master Lorren would, but Kvothe seems to have an effect on such people and in his presence, they do both swear once each, and this exact same ‘Lord and Lady’ is the only instance of these lords letting their mask slip and uttering any such vocabulary aloud. The mysterious Bredon’s response is the most useful of the three in pinpointing a possible source to this enigmatic phrase since we are also told that Bredon’s estates are found to the North of Severen, as are those of ancestral Vint where Alveron and Stapes were boyhood friends. The North is also where we find the Lackless family estates, which starts to focus our search a little more closely. I should also point out that Southern Vintish Ambrose Jakis also only deigns to ‘swear’ once, and that is a very refined ‘Praise Tehlu and all his Angels’ a sentence that is unique to just him… and Denna.
So who are the mysterious Lord and his Lady? After all, they must be a specific couple to excite such a general reference, and one so ingrained in Vintish society. Lanre and Lyra were proclained as Our Lord and Our Lady respectively, but that is ancient, forbidden and long forgotten history from Belen, far away down the old stone road from here and also harking from the unremembered days of Ergen and they cannot in any seriousness be considered as this Vintish based husband and wife. The current ruling monarch and his new queen might fit, but it turns up on the Maer’s lips before his own wedding day, and this is an old saying about old things. He might have meant Roderick? Perhaps… although Maer thinks that the king is a bastard which cocks that idea up quite a lot. Stapes family name is quite old, but lacks any pedigree to go on but given that our search is focussing upon Vintas then the most likely scenario is that they are actually talking about Lady Perial and her son Lord Tehlu. These are the two most universally acknowledged Important names from Vintas and atur both, and with a history as old as the four corners themselves, but then again, they were mother and son, not husband and wife. Of course, Tehlu has departed the world now, he only spent seven span in his birth village, but Lady Perial with her Ergen roots and Holy reputation is still a renowned local Vintish figurehead who’s name would also be quite an acceptable blasphemy to use in front of the Tehlin Church and the invading Aturan Empire both.
Now you see the levels that we have to resort to to prove a point. The Lady in Lord and Lady is becoming 99% certain to be reference to Holy Perial …and probably to her hat too. But Lord Tehlu was her Son, not her husband, and so that puts a bit of a spoke in our wheel, and as Trapis tells us Perial was an unmarried mother at the time of her annunciation. Menda came and went from her life in only seven span, and then spent seven years off chasing Encanis before he died on the wheel in foreign Atur. So what was Perial up to in during all this time? I think I can feel a new tin-foil story coming on…one that might even reveal the truth about the Princess Aerial… perhaps?