The Silver Princes Awash in Crimson
XX. Adiwan the High Seneschal
Voice of the Princes
Adiwan is of the first clutch of the Pènglong – many of his brothers and sisters long ago felled in battle or retired behind the glittering walls of the College Antumbrial. The Voice had a path all together different for he had always struggled for a place. When hatched, Prince Shushshu raised him up telling stories and legends of demon, god and spirit. The Devil Prince showered his attentions on all of this first brood and they formed the foundations for those trades they are known for today: warrior-priests, peerless craftsmen, chroniclers, willworkers and thaumaturges. Adiwan had no gift for any esoteric mysteries – going silent and retreating into himself with each failure.
Prince Shushshu was distressed by this turn of events. One of his godblooded children had not his spark and none of his gifts. Heartbroken, he brought Adiwan as a boy of ten and two of his brothers to Prince Wanshang, that the boys might hone their blades and learn the songs of the skalds. Such art in blade and song took root readily, in the other two, but Adiwan was only passable with a blade and the lengthy sagas escaped him. He would often begin their telling, passionately, but before the second stanza they would become a tale all his own. Some were impressed that while he could not memorize the heroic ballads – he could craft his own tales with skill and ease. At the end of the second year his brothers were apprenticed to Skalds on the path to becoming sword saints…but Prince Washang, shoulders heavy with shame, brought the child by gloom of night to the dark tower of Prince Arcturian.
This time the child came alone. For the first time in his life there were no Pènglong by his side, no brothers nor sisters. In the tower of Prince Arcturian, there were no children, only aged and trusted servants and the scratching of claw upon black marble. Candles lit upon a spiral stair, the only light, dark tunnels fanning out on each floor, the only path – upwards. At the top of the tower, exhausted, the world opened out and all the world could be seen in shades of gray lit by a million stars. In that chamber open to the sky, upon one of the dozen columns, Prince Arcturian glides down, a patch of night that held no stars. In a voice that chills blood, “Tell me child, I would hear the tales of your brothers and sisters – for there is little doubt you know your own…and there is little enough to tell of that.” Adiwan breathed deep, and if one were to see into the dark one would see the devil crow smile, for Arcturian drinks of suffering and failure, “Your Highness, I know you speak not of my brothers who train under the skalds with swords that sing – nor of my own feeble voice. I know you speak not of sisters I can scarcely remember nor of my failures under my father.” Adiwan now stood directly under the devil prince, his voice a storm in the dark that echoed out and over the city, “You speak of all my kin! A question I could not possibly answer – the only pazuzi I have seen are the ones below. They wore masks of station and girded themselves against the eyes of a stranger. The only centrati -”. In a flurry of onyx feathers that dispersed that storm, the Devil Crow came to land beside him with a wing about his shoulder, “Adiwan, you are not without gifts. You have an ear to hear the words beyond sound. You have a voice that would maker banners flutter and dust fly,” the prince balls his claw and thumps it hard on the small serpent’s chest, “and you have a fire in here beyond all your kin. Only when we have been scoured with failure, and the truth of ourselves revealed, can we take that raw core of ourselves and attain true greatness.”
So it was that the voice came to know all the great races of the Silver City. So it was that he came to know all the princes better than any Melioran. So it was that he came to speak for all the princes and all his people.
“By ones birth do we each bear the blood of a prince, but by the grace of our brothers and sisters might we bear the blessings and gifts of the trinity!”