Lore: Consort Collection/C

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I pen this now to honor the life of my queen, the Great Mistress of the Many Faced God, Tethys, Mistress of Light and Shadow. My liege and lover for whom I have dedicated my short life.

In my time with her there was a great sorrow about my queen, as if she knew her age would come to pass. A premonition perhaps of her own fate at the hands of paxultek. Perhaps this is why she honored me with her tales, that I might put ink to paper.

Countless stories were told in the quiet of night as we lay in peace, but I found those of her consorts to be the most illuminating of her own life and virtues. That I may lay one day in that hallowed ground amongst great company is an honor unimaginable.

And so, here, in these pages I write the tales of those whom my great mistress loved... Myself omitted, for what great folly is there in telling the tale of one’s self?

The Mysterious Marquis

Ohu’et was the only honest trader in the Age of Rebellion. He sided with no army and supplied only the innocents caught between, trading under his family crest—the Sigil of the Fatebound Hands.

An honest Pan in a dishonest age? Such a fellow could not last long. Led by one called Beht, Ohu’et’s competitors became conspirators. Ohu’et was accused of treason and jailed—without trial—beneath the darkest ziggurat.

It was an age gone on when the Marquis of Night came to court. He was by turns dashing and brooding… and possessed of a great fortune. Jinas welcomed him, for by this time the imperial coffers were growing bare. He joined the merchant's circle...and Pan-by-Pan the circle began to shrink.

Could it be coincidence that those who sat the circle were those same Pan who had framed Ohu’et? That they had used an honest man’s disgrace to gain favor with Jinas and grow fat? Tethys thought not. She confronted the Marquis at sword point on a rainswept rampart.

But Tethys’s weapon never found the Marquis’ heart, for his words struck hers first. In the end, she kept Ohu’et’s secret to her grave—yes, even from your humble author.

And when they found Beht’s corpse...two swords had pierced his heart.

The Widow’s Widow

Little is known of Chenh K’Schee’s youth. Where and how she was raised are mysteries she took to the bottom of the Dark Sea. Even her name is uncertain, for Chenh K’Schee is but a sailor’s vernacular for “wife of K’Schee,” and it is under that name—Chenh, or “sailor’s wife,” that she sailed ‘til the day of her death. For Chenh possessed great beauty and greater cunning, one or both of which caught the eye of sharp-edge K’Schee, master of the Black Fleet.

Of the pirates who stalked the Dark Coast in days of yore, none was so admired or feared as K’Schee, save the one that he took to be his bride. Shipboard life was harsh, and sailing was feared by many Pan (e’en ages after our sea swept exodus). Yet K’Schee and Chenh K’Schee sailed two black galleons at the head of fifty more, until K’Schee passed sweetly in his age-ed sleep.

Chenh and Tethys met in war, for Jinas had her fill of piracy, and seeing K’Schee’s passing as a sign, she had sent our lady to stop the Black Fleet. The battle raged for three days before the parley was called. The light of the setting sun set Chenh on fire as she swung by rigging from her ship to Tethys’s. She lit a fire of her own in the hearts of all the onlookers.

Their conference in the captain’s quarters went until the sun was seen anew. And when Tethys and Chenh emerged, two things were certain—the Black Fleet would sail as the empress’ Most Royal Privateers, under the Sigil of the Bowsplit Wave...and Tethys’s latest consort would lead them.

The Philosopher in Rags

How does a pauper find his way to the bed of a queen? Tau-Fadim was born on the outmost edge of Great Jinas’s empire, in the winding warrens of Pram. Despite the remoteness of his homeland, Tau-Fadim enjoyed a childhood of wealth and privilege—the only son of Pram’s sole mint. Yet this led to an adolescence of utmost disgrace—Tau-Fadim’s parents were caught amalgamating coin, stripped of their wealth, and hung by a mob. Penniless, Tau-Fadim fled to Oblissk with only loincloth and sandals to his name.

In this era Oblissk was home to the great Sokrehtz School of Pan Philosophy. The rebellion was an age of ages off, and that school’s master had not yet betrayed Her Highness. Wearing naught but ragged loincloth and his own fur, Tau-Fadim demanded entry to Sokrehtz’ hallowed school...and was turned away. Undeterred, Tau-Fadim set up residence—in a barrel outside the great institution’s portcullis. Day upon day, he would regale the learned master with discourse on life and death, sun, and moon, even the plight of the Wrin. Ere long, Tau-Fadim’s barrel was moved into the auditorium—and Tau-Fadim had a new title: instructor.

It was Tethys’s habit to attend the school’s annual festival of thought, for our queen possessed a great thirst for knowledge. Each year, she would take conference with Sokrehtz and his best instructor. This habit led her to Tau-Fadim, who was sunning himself atop his barrel.

Our Queen was shocked, and demanded of Sokhretz,“This is your greatest teacher? Clad in rags? Why has no one offered this man silken robes?”

“He does not wish it,” replied the schoolmaster.

“Then why has no one brought him a divan, so that he may recline in grace?”

“He does not wish it,” Sokhretz repeated.

Now Tethys addressed Tau-Fadim directly. “Learned One, your queen, Tethys’s, the most powerful Pan in Oblissk asks you now: is there nothing I may do for you?”

Tau-Fadim thought a moment, then smiled. “Highness… you could move out of my light." Tethys’s unlikely dalliance with Tau-Fadim is perhaps best encapsulated by his sigil. Tethys offered to restore the philosopher’s family sigil—that of the Fireforged Coin—but Tau-Fadim accepted only when Tethys agreed to modify it. Thus, the Fireforged Coin became that beloved symbol for the absurdity of life: the Sigil of the Fireforged Snowflake.

The Archivist

Ullis Gozmerr was a scholar of great renown. One could fill a tomb with tales of his thousand travels, and better pens than that of Your Humble Author have done so. Instead, let us take a more narrow view. Let us speak of how he was summoned to Blissk Gadul.

Ullis lived a life of irony, for his brightest time was the Age of Shadow, that woeful epoch when the grandeur of the Pan was sinking below the waters of memory. Ullis himself spilled much ink upon the decline—unflinching chronicles of the lowest acts of the highest born. In Ullis’s histories the proud and the powerful are consumed by the preservation of their pleasures. They are complacent or complicit as the treasures of Pan life—our music, our craft, our very society—were dulled by the hoarding of portions, which dwindled to scraps, and thence to crumbs. Ullis saw it all and held nothing for propriety’s sake.

The People’s Queen was seldom seen in that age. The empress had called upon the Red Widows to anoint a permanent guardian of the Many-Faced God, and Tethys had been quick to volunteer. Some say it was duty. Those who knew her best say she simply wished to mourn the world she loved in private. Either way, the most divine beauty and best ruler of the Pan shunned the eye of the world and shut herself within the Holy Ziggurat.

Imagine the great surprise then, when word went out that Tethys had summoned Ullis to her side. Would he not savage her as he had a half-dozen others of her station? But Tethys saw in Ullis’s work a gift—he could see past crumbling, past fading, past dimming to the beauty that used to be. He mauled his subjects not for glee, but because he could see what they had squandered!

Tethys commissioned a complete history of Blissk Gadul. Ullis rendered this work with such delicacy that one can gaze into his charstick sketches and see the glitter of the Golden Way, taste the wine of the banquet, and feel the hum of the crystal court. It is enough to make at least one reader who had known these at their height weep. Ullis saw past the predations of time and malfeasance. He saw the city as it once was.

And perhaps he saw its queen that way, too. He dedicated every subsequent work to her, always the same inscription beneath his sigil—the Sigil of the Fractured Looking Glass:

To My Only Subject Whom Time Could Not Tarnish,
Ever as we were,
One day might we be again.