Jo Clayton: A Gathering Of Stones

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Jo Clayton A Gathering Of Stones
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    A Gathering Of Stones
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Jo Clayton


A Gathering Of Stones

Impetus: The Drive Toward Rebirth Begins:

The Chained God looked at h/itself and found little to like in what h/it saw. Even as h/it watched, cells died and h/its intelligence diminished by that much. Wits LIFE diminished. Time is, h/it thought. The harvest is due. Bring forth the Tools. Draw in the Catalysts. Let the Rebirthing commence.

Bring Forth The Tools:

COME THE GENIOD

THEY-


(plural in the limited sense that there were many discrete units and in the fuzzier sense that there were a number of agglomerations of these units with varying degrees of self-awareness)


THEY-


were hunger and desire in a self-created void. They were fierce with life but already beginning to die, turning in a frenzy on each other, the stronger devouring stray units and smaller agglomerations. They had been too greedy here, had eaten life with an appetite never satisfied, breeding and breeding, splitting and joining until the reality they occupied was filled with them, the geniod, a name they’d swallowed with some long-forgotten life-form and adopted along with the knowledge of NAMING.


THEY-


knew despair as their numbers dwindled.


A LIGHT appeared in the darkness, a pinpoint, then a fire.


THEY-


drew back, frightened; density increased, desire rose and drowned fear.


A VOICE called: COME AND FEED.


THEY-


hesitated. They had been stung before, their units, their ogienowad, were trapped and consumed by the creatures they were grazing on, food rebelling against its destined role.


The LIGHT expanded to a shimmering oval.

IT screamed: LIFE! ENERGY! COME AND TAKE.


THEY-


milled about a second longer, then the largest geniod leapt for the GATE and swept through it, the rest swept along behind it, exploding into a new reality-dropping into a forceweb that closed around them, the trap they’d feared.


I HAVE A BARGAIN FOR YOU, GENIOD: AGREE AND LIVE: REFUSE AND DIE.


We agree. We agree. We agree.

What do you want?

We serve better when we work for ourselves as well. What do you want?


LISTEN.


We hear. We hear. We hear.


ASSEMBLE. COLLECT. DELIVER

.

What do we deliver?


THE STONES.


What do we get for doing this?


FREEDOM. FOOD. A WORLD TO GRAZE ON.


You can promise this?


I CAN.


We accept.

##

These assemblages of ogienowad merged and grew larger, took the forms of men and women and traveled about the World, dining on the sly, their greed constrained by fear-fear of the GOD who’d summoned them. He told them where to go and what to do, he found them a place to rest and ruminate, a cavern of crystals like the inside of an immense geode where they could hover and glimmer and wake in those crystals fantasies of light and color.

These are the tools the Chained God used to break the stonebearers loose and send them out to acquire the Stones, these are the geniod


– First among the assemblages, the strongest in will and skill and power:

PALAMI KUMINDRI geniod Who took the form of a Jorpashil courtesan

– Her servant and Housemaster:

CAMMAN CALLAN geniod Who took the form of a Temueng wrestler

– Another Courtesan, not so intelligent or powerful as the Kumindri:

TRITHIL ESMOON geniod Who took the form of a Phrasi courtesan

– The last of the named geniod (unimportant, except for his effect on Settsimaksimin):

MUSTEBA XA geniod Who took the form of Settsimaksimin’s teacher and master

– Numerous others, unnamed but very busy at the Chained God’s work.

Draw In The Stonebearers: They Are The Chosen-By The God And By The Stones Themselves.

1. BRANN

2. YARIL and JARIL

3. SETTSIMAKSIMIN


4. KORIMENEI


5. TRAGO


6. DANNY BLUE

1. Brann, The Drinker Of Souls, affinity: Massulit

Called (by friends and those fond of her), Bramble, Bramble-all-thorns, Thornlet.


She was born in the mountain valley called Arth Slya, her father a potter of genius, her mother a weaver of tapestries. When Slya Fireheart thought up a plot to get at some Kadda witches who were too powerful for her to touch directly, the god reached into the realities and plucked forth two juvenile energy beings, JARIL and YARIL; Brann was changed so she could feed them and in that changing became DRINKER OF SOULS and effectively immortal. In the course of Slya’s plot, she rescued her people from slavery, opened a Gate for Slya who came stomping in and destroyed her enemies. Then she was turned loose to live how she could, an elevenyear-old girl in the body of a woman in her twenties.

She wandered about the world for a hundred years, settled for another hundred years as the Potter at Shaynamoshu. At the end of that time another God-the Chained God-meddled in her life and drew her into his scheme to acquire the Great Talisman BinYAHtii, using as instruments KORI PIYOLSS and the sorceror/king SETTSIMAKSIMIN along with the sorceror Ahzurdan and the out-reality starman Daniel Akamarino. In the final battle between Brann and Settsimaksimin, the God acquired the Talisman, Settsimaksimin’s heart gave out and he nearly died. Because she’d found much that was admirable in her enemy-disregarding a little thing like repeated attempts to kill her-Brann healed the wounds BinYAHtii had inflicted on him and the weakness in his heart; having saved his life, she carried him off to a lovely island (Jal Virri) in the heart of the Myk’tat Tukery where they spent the next ten years in friendship and peace.

2. Jaril And Yaril, The Changers, affinity: Churrikyoo

Petnames: Jaril called Jay; Yaril called Yaro


Juvenile energy forms drawn from one of the layered realities.

Their base forms were lightspheres (at first just big enough to fit within a man’s circled arms, later larger), Yaril’s slightly paler than Jaril’s, but they could take many shapes and appear convincingly solid in them though the eyes they saw from were clear crystal and marked them as demon. At first they were completely dependent on Brann; she drained life energy from men and beasts and fed it to them to keep them from starving. In the course of the action against Settsimaksimin, Brann won their freedom from the Chained God; he changed the Changers so they could once more feed directly on sunlight and similar energy sources. They were still linked to Brann by strong ties of affection, but they were no longer her nurslings. The two hundred years on the World have brought other changes; they passed through their equivalent of puberty and acquired sexual drives and needs that they could not satisfy without others of their kind and age. After Brann took Settsimaksimin to the island Jal Virri, Jaril and Yaril ranged restlessly about the World, trying to work off the energies that threatened to destroy them.

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