The Temples of Palau-of-the-Iron-Hand

It's my birthday (Ed.: This was originally posted Aug.24), so I get an aside. I think it's really dumb to dislike game rules. I don't care who you are; if you don't like games because they have rules, and they're good rules, you're a dumbass, and I cannot take you seriously.

Yetyem Lédh once stole the sword of Rakaui. It did not go well for him. It was hardly a century, or what passed for one in the time before the gods had won their Names, before the sword in its indignation sliced off his hand. He thought to repay the weapon for its insolence by melting it down and forging of it an iron hand, for which he has become named, but the weapon's soul fled before he could complete his revenge.

Yetyem Lédh, frustrated, began to build temples, each one a studied insult against another god, a spell to subvert and poison the other's power. Of these, the most famously beautiful are Míkhi Nén'dh, the Vapour Spindle at the mouth of the sacred River, and Phalai Pí, Tide Floor, the moving temple that was said to be hung from the ankles of the moon.

Míkhi Nén'dh

She murmured, nédhhiul, methne kirikkíssne lésesen, O mists, that you would clear! Obediently, the plumes of cloud folded themselves, closed their wings, and when finally settled, the black-beaked crane dipped its head in greeting.

Feneng was not prepared for this. After some time, she recovered her composure with some embarrassment and bent to stroke the bird's strong, cold back. She had been shocked; Míkhi Nén'dh's reputation did not do the temple much justice. At the top of its single tower, more mistcranes wheeled around a dance floor, each carrying a lantern that shone with strangely steady purple light. Eight bridges reached out to the land on either side of the River's gorge. Below the bridges, the temple narrowed to a point, like the root of a tree. The uttermost base of the temple, where it leaned on the stone River-shores, was no thicker than a man's femur. It ended in a tiny fist. It was much more imposing than Red Cliff, whose golden stucco walls were beginning to feel like home.

"This is the great monstrosity that so offends the principalities of ocean and sky?" Feneng asked the crane this, not expecting a response.

This contributed to Feneng's surprise when the bird gestured at some obscure architectural detail with a foot, and turned its head to the side, to get a better look. She took this to be an answer, as the bird's legs were not, as one would normally expect, the legs of a bird, but rather appeared to be scaled, webbed, plated imitations designed by some overeager crab. Seen in full face, the bird's eyes were iridescent but unintelligent, unmoving, glassy, and ultimately fishlike. When it opened its beak to cry, Feneng caught a glimpse of gill slits, and recoiled in horror and disgust at its branching, feathery tongue.

Phalai Pí

I went to Phalai Pí once, said Resmeváracje, when the rains had not favoured my family's lands I still had the hope that Our Lord The Maimed could corrupt the natural course of things to serve us better.

It is the tallest thing I have yet seen, so tall that its peak is wrapped in clouds even though the lower levels are flooded at high tide. It's woven of fish bones and silver wire, so from a distance it is as though a geyser or a great wave struck the shore and instantly froze. She paused. Things eat it. Everywhere you go, you can hear them, crunching at its foundations. You can see them moving, though the gaps in the latticed floors. Their great hall's sacred icons are all gnawed at the edges.

She shut her eyes and shook her head as though to clear it of the unpleasant memory, and went on...

Their priest demanded that I defeat an acolyte in single combat efore they would hear my plea. I was young, not yet having taken up the scarlet, and so I did not have káaládh, the way of cutting fingers. They gave us each a white dagger, made of milky glass or perhaps fish ivory. It was hard to tell because no sooner was the dagger in my hand than the acolyte flung himself at me.

He was not a good fighter. I gutted him before his hood could fall, which turned out to be for the best because if it had, I could not have killed him. He was my eldest sister's eldest son.

She-Rips-Error-to-Pieces is my name. Phalai Pí does not belong on these shores; by this name I have sworn to remove it.


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