Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Invoking Tash after the battle

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings. Rabadash makes a big deal about being decended from Tash. He's not the only to have such ancestry, though.]
[Underlined text is taken from the original book. I'm trying out a new thing to see how it looks as I've traditionally used bold italic for that.]
[Reverted to using bold italic for text directly taken from the original.]

"I know you. You are the foul fiend of Narnia. You are the enemy of the gods. Learn who I am, horrible phantasm. I am descended from Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible."

"As am I!" shouted Aravis.

All heads turned to Aravis, Aslan's with an eyebrow raised.

"You have come into a foreign land, made war upon it, and lost," Aravis said, walking toward Rabadash as she did. "You are now counted amongst the battle spoils and can be dealt with as the victors please. The only claim you might have laid is that you are the son of the Tisroc, may he live forever as his son is an unworthy successor, but that claim was eradicated when you set out to abduct, with the intent of raping, the ruler of another country: High Queen Susan of Narnia, ally to Archenland."

Aravis and Rabadash were now scarcely more than an arm's length apart.

"I am still the descendant of Tash, traitor," Rabadash spat, "and if you side with these barbarians then the curse of Tash is upon you. Lightning in the shape of scorpions shall be rained on you."

"No," Aravis said firmly. "No, I call upon our common ancestor --Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible-- to deal with you. If you wish to bring our gods into this land then let them come. If you wish to act as though we are still within Calormen then you will answer to the authority that can lawfully destroy even a Tisroc.

"Tash, inexorable and irresistible, I, Aravis bint Kidrash ibn Rishti ibn Kidrash ibn Ilsombreh ibn Ardeeb al-Tash, call on you to judge Rabadash,"

"Judge me!?" Rabadash shouted.

From the clear blue sky a bolt of lightning in the shape of a scorpion descended, followed almost immediately by a bone rattling crack. It was so brilliant every mortal was dazzled for a moment, and when they blinked the visible world back into existence they beheld a figure floating above where the lightning had struck the earth.

It seemed to be made of smoke rather than of solid flesh. Its shape evoked, rather than resembled, creatures more familiar. A head that called to mind some bird that rent flesh with its beak, a body not entirely unlike that of Dionysus or his ilk, arms that would not have been out of place on a satyr, though four in number, long slender fingers that brought forth thoughts of the toadstool people, each finger tipped in a wicked claw that called to mind the talons of a hippogriff.

That hippogriff talons would never fit on the fingers of a toadstool person, and the hands of a toadstool person did not belong on the arms of a satyr did not seem to matter. The smoky figure was a model of perfection, looking at it one couldn't imagine it being shaped in any other way. Every aspect of it was clearly exactly as it should be, indeed the only way it could possibly be.

Rabadash was first to speak. "Tash, inexorable / inescapable, show these barbarians the price for acting against your scion!"

Aravis looked on with a satisfied smirk.

Tash and Aslan looked to each other. Some wordless conversation took place between the two gods, then Aslan bowed his head and took a step back.

Many there assembled gasped. Neither Narnian nor Archenlander expected to see Aslan simply back down. While he had surrendered once before, that was after parlay and with clear concessions made to him in exchange.

Tash approached Rabadash, and only then did those watching realize how much larger he was than a man. He was no giant, yet adult humans seemed as children when he stood near them.

"Rabadash," Tash said, his words seeming to echo forth from within the skulls of those looking on, "I have come. Do you, mortal who shares my blood, truly wish for me to act regarding this matter, or were your words empty?"

"I truly wish you act, Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible," Rabadash said.

"And you," Tash said, turning to Aravis, "Aravis, also of my blood and devotee of Zardeenah, who have called me forth into a foreign land, wish me to act regarding this matter."

"I do," Aravis said. "Prince Rabadash has refused local judgement, and far away armies may support his refusal, but judgement must be rendered. He, and his father across the sands, must both accept the judgment of Tash, the inescapable.

"I believe this is fitting, my lord," Aravis said as she knelt down and bowed her head, in a show of submission to the will of Tash.

"Very well," Tash said, "mortals of my blood."

Tash returned his attention to Rabadash.

"You have annoyed me, future Tisroc," Tash said, and a feeling of dread radiated from him until it seeped into everyone's very bones. "I will not bend my will to your command and attack those you were unable to defeat yourself.

"No, I see no reason to make war on strange lands with strange gods," Tash paused for a moment, "but I do see reason to deal with you."

Rabadash seemed to shrink in fear for a moment, then the moment passed and he exploded in outrage. But no sound came from his shouting mouth.

"You have used your voice unwisely, so I have taken it from you," Tash said, almost casually.

The feeling of dread deepened, now accompanied by a growing horror.

"I do not think this is enough," Tash said. Then he looked around as if noticing his surroundings for the first time. His eyes settled on the donkey, which Shasta hugged tightly in sudden fear. "Yes," Tash said, then looked back to Rabadash and added, "that will do nicely.

"Strange, inexplicable, undeniable, arbitrary," Tash continued; "it will do nicely indeed."

Tash touched a talon to Rabadash. Rabadash seemed to turn into smoke, which dispersed into a cloud and then reformed into the shape of a donkey. When he became solid again, Rabadash was indistinguishable from an actual donkey.

Seeing Rabadash as another of its kind and taking no heed of Tash, the donkey gave a bray of greeting and tried to approach Rabadash. Shasta, recovering from the fear that Tash would do something to the donkey, loosened his hold on the donkey but pet it in a way that meant "stay".

Shasta pointed to Rabadash and said, "Bad donkey," to the donkey, then stroked the donkey and said, "Good donkey," to the donkey.

Some of those standing very close to Rabadash, Aravis, and Tash thought that Tash made a slight sound of amusement, though none would ever be able to agree on what that sound had been. Neither Rabadash nor Aravis ever commented on it. Tash has, likewise, maintained silence on the matter.

"You have annoyed me," Tash said again, beginning to move in a casual, random way (which some would call pacing, while others maintain that one's feet must touch the ground for that), "but I am not without my share of mercy. When you stand before my altar in Tashbaan at the Great Autumn Feast this year, I will return to you your form.

"As for your voice, which you used to call Aravis, descendant of mine, a traitor," Tash said, "it shall be returned to you when you pay tribute to her patron, Zardeenah."

Tash looked about, this time his eyes settling on Aslan. The sense of a smile, one at having an idea that pleased oneself, was conveyed to all who could see Tash's face, though Tash obviously did not smile. A beak cannot create a smile. Yet all those who could see his face felt as though Tash had smiled.

"For all the remaining years of your life you will give Zardeenah a tithe, delivered to her temple on the longest night of the year, however on the longest night of this year you will do more. You will give a tenth of all that you own to the temple of Zardeenah. When you have done this, your voice will return to you.

"Do not worry that you will be taken as livestock or slaughtered for food," Tash said. "I have placed a mark upon you that ensures none shall hinder your return to Tashbaan. You will come to no harm, save that which you bring upon yourself.

"As to how you will make the journey," Tash said, "I care not. Perhaps you should throw yourself on the mercy of foreign powers," Tash glanced to the present royalty, "or foreign gods," Tash glanced to Aslan. "It matters not how, but if you wish to regain your former form, get there you shall. My altar in Tashban at the Great Autumn Feast. Remember this. Remember also that you have an appointment with the Tashbaan Temple of Zardeenah on the longest night of the year.

"Oh," Tash stopped moving about, "there is one more thing. Tash locked eyes with Rabadash, "there are limits to my mercy. Once you have regained your form and voice, you will never again venture more than two parasangs from my temple in Tashban. That is the extent of my mercy."

Tash turned his back on Rabadash and faced Aravis. Placing the first non-opposable talon on his lower left arm under her chin, he lifted her head so her eyes met his own. Then he addressed her, "You have not annoyed me. You have, however, called on me. A payment must be made. It is simple, and it is small, yet it is as great as any task one can be given.

"You will ensure that any children you may have know the ways and gods of your homeland. Likewise for any children, not your own, that you may raise."

Tash looked to the south, and his smoke-like form dissipated on the winds.

-

Ok, that was way longer than I expected. Original concept was more like:

Rabadash: I'm a descendant of Tash!
Aravis: Well, so am I.
Rabadash: Whatever, you're not awesome like me.
Aravis: Why don't we have Tash decide what to do? Then you can't make such a fuss.
Tash: Hey, I'm here.
Aslan: The jerk's yours, do what you will.
Tash: Rabadash, I'm the creepy god. You could have called on any of the gods of Calormen and you picked me: the creepy god who doles out death and punishment. So, you know what I'm going to do? Creepy punishment.
Rabadash: Woo!
Tash: To you.
Rabadash: What!?
Tash: Be happy it wasn't creepy death.

1 comment:

  1. Story still amazing!!!

    I do not like the underlining.

    ReplyDelete