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The Nameless Ones

Page history last edited by Eloth 10 years, 3 months ago

The Nameless Ones


A cult from the time of the Human First Empire.  Priests of the Azath  

Physical Description


'a Nameless One...grey-faded robes...hood drawn back to reveal a stern woman's visage. Pale eyes...The staff she held in one hand seemed to writhe in her grip.' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.294)


In his mind’s eye he saw another face, this one human, thin and pale, raindrops tracking runnels down the withered cheeks. Flat, grey eyes  reaching up, finding Mappo’s own beyond the rim of elders. -(DG UK MMPB, p. 294)


'... around its dark eyes was a mass of white-etched tattoos against black skin'  - (BH, UK Tpb, p.42)


'The tattoos continued, covering every part of him. A common enough trait among warriors of the South Clan, yet the style was not Semk. Arcane script would across the assassin's brawny limbs, similar to the carving she had seen in the ruins outside the temple. The Language of the First Empire. With growing suspicion she rolled the body over to reveal the back. And saw a darkened patch, roughly rectangular, over the Semk's right shoulder blade. Where the man's name had once been, before it had been ritually obscured.  This man had been a priest of the Nameless Ones'  - Apsalar -(BH, UK Tpb, p.43)




“The Nameless Ones are known in my homeland.  Do you know why they are called that?  I will tell you as I see that you do not.  The Initiated must surrender their names, in the belief that to know oneself by one’s own name is to give it too much power.  The name becomes the identity, becomes the face, becomes the self.  Remove the name and power returns.” - Senior Assessor - (RG UK Mmpb, p. 1173 )


"'Cast out, cast down. In the time of the First Empire which was not, in truth the first - for the T'lan Imass claimed that title long before. They were the left hand, another sect the right hand - both guiding, meant to be clasped. Instead those who would come to be Unnamed, in their journeys into mysteries -' She chopped with one hand, gesture Mappo had not seen before among the tribe's elders. A gesture, he realized with a start, of a Jhag. 'Mysteries of another led them astray. They bowed to a new master. That is all there is to say.'" -(DG, UK mmpb, p.649-50) 


Purpose as Servants to the Azath


They came upon the four bodies at the edge of an upthrust of roots that seemed to mark the entrance to a vast maze. The figures contorted, limbs shattered, their dark robes twisted and stiff with dried blood.

Nameless Ones. . . Priests of the Azath, if such entities can have priests. - (DG, UK mmpb, p.738)


The sixth Nameless One spoke,  her accent strange, otherworldly,  “All that unfolds in the mortal realm gives shape to the ground upon which the gods walk.  Thus, they are never certain of their stride.  It falls to us to prepare the footfalls, to dig the deep, deadly pits, the traps and snares that shall be shaped by the Nameless Ones, for we are the hands of the Azath, we are the shapers of the will of the Azath.  It is our task to hold all in place, to heal what is torn asunder, to lead our enemies into annihilation or eternal imprisonment.  We shall not fail.  I call upon the power of the Shattered Warren, Kurald Emurlahn, and invoke the ritual of release.” -(BH UK HC, p. 10)


History with Kellanved


'They are known on the Jhag Odhan ,' Mappo said, 'as the Nameless Ones.'

'That cult,' Apsalar muttered, 'is supposed to be extinct.'  .......'My master scoured them from the Empire, yes. A task for the Talons, as Dancer will tell you. A necessary cleansing, a plucking of a thorn from the Emperor's side. Slaughter and desecration. Merciless. Too many vulnerable secrets - corridors of power - oh, how they resented my master's entry into Deadhouse -'" - (DG, UK mmpb, p.738)


This was the proper manner in which to make bargains, and Taralack found himself admiring the Nameless Ones.   No matter how dread-filled the tales he had heard of the secret cult, his own dealings with them had been clean, lucrative and straightforward.  It had survived the Malazan conquest, and that was saying something.  The old Emperor had displayed uncanny skill at infiltrating the innumerable cults abounding in Seven Cities, then delivering unmitigated slaughter upon the adherents. - (BH UK Tpb, p 141)



Rituals of the Nameless Ones


'seven robed and hooded figures approached. Each held a staff...those staves seemed to writhe...the wood like serpentine roots, or perhaps those parasitic trees that entwined the boles of others, choking the life from them...the twisted madness of the shafts was in fact runic etching, ever changing, as if unseen hands continually carved words anew with every breath's span' - Mappo  - (DG, UK) MMPB, p.149)


“The Nameless Ones are known in my homeland.  Do you know why they are called that?  I will tell you as I see that you do not.  The Initiated must surrender their names, in the belief that to know oneself by one’s own name is to give it too much power.  The name becomes the identity, becomes the face, becomes the self.  Remove the name and power returns.” - Senior Assessor - (RG UK Mmpb, p. 1173 )


Among the rituals of inculcation the Nameless Ones had intoned in the course of Mappo’s vow, were tales of the sky keeps, the dread K’Chain Che’Malle fortresses that floated like clouds in the air.  An invasion of sorts, according to the Nameless Ones, in the ages before the rise of the First Empire, when the people who would one day found it did little more than wander in small bands -- not even tribes, little different, in fact, from mortal Imass. - (BH UK HB, p.121)


"The gift of the Nameless Ones shrouds you, the longevity haunts your eyes like scratched gemstones, worn far past beauty, far past even the shimmer of conceit.” -Ardata to Mappo - (BH UK Tpb, p,399) 


The release of Dejum Nebrahl.


The twelve lean figures, bodies swathed in ragged, stained linen, their heads hooded and faces hidden behind grey veils, well understood the risks entailed when driven to precipitous acts.  Alas, they also understood desperation.

All were destined to speak at this gathering, the order specified by the corresponding position of various stars, planets and constellations, all unseen behind blue sky yet the locations known nonetheless.  Upon taking their positions, a long moment of stillness passed, then the first of the Nameless Ones spoke. - (BH UK HC, p.7)


“Oh it hunted all right,”  Hedge said.  “They set it free, under a geas, then gave their own blood to it -- the blood of six High Mages, priests and priestesses of the Nameless Ones -- the fools sacrificed themselves.” - (BH UK Tpb, p.343)




The Twisted Staff


'She raised the staff...The twisting, buckling wood seemed to reach hungrily...growing, filling his world until he was lost in a tortured maze' -(DG, UK MMPB, p.295)


 'seven robed and hooded figures approached. Each held a staff...those staves seemed to writhe...the wood like serpentine roots, or perhaps those parasitic trees that entwined the boles of others, choking the life from them...the twisted madness of the shafts was in fact runic etching, ever changing, as if unseen hands continually carved words anew with every breath's span' - Mappo  - (DG, UK) MMPB, p.149)


 'The sheer...frivolity, Mappo. The materials alone for this tome are a craftsman's annual wage. No scholar in their right mind would waste such resources - never mind their time - on such a pointless, trite subject...Look, Seed Dispersal Patterns of the Purille Flower on the Skar Archipelago...And I am convinced that these works are thousands of years old. Thousands ...The civilization that brought forth these works must have been appalingly rich. The language is clearly related to modern Seven Cities dialects, although in some ways more sophisticated. And see this symbol, here in the spine of each such tome? A twisted staff...' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.148-9)


Tools or Servants of the Namess Ones


Mappo Trell - Mappo was deceived by the Nameless Ones into becoming Icarium's guardian.  They destroyed the town he was brought up in whilst he was away on a raiding party with other Trell.  The Nameless Ones told Mappo that Icarium had destroyed the town and in order to prevent it happening again they wanted him to guard Icarium.  He reluctantly agreed, even though he had his doubts at the time that the destruction of the town was caused by Icarium.  After undergoing their life-extending rituals he travelled with Icarium for a thousand years.


The ruins of the trader town where he’d been born were now visible. A month had passed since its destruction. The bodies of the fifteen thousand slain – those that had not burned in the raging fires – had long since been picked clean by the plain’s scavengers. He was returning home to bleached bone, fragments of cloth and heat shattered brick.

The ancient shoulder-women of his adopted clan had divined the tale from the flat bones they burned, as the Nameless Ones had predicted months earlier. (DG UK MMPB, p. 203)


The ritual that would purge him would destroy all that he was. You will be an unpainted hide, Mappo. The future will offer its own script, writing and shaping your history anew. What was done to the town of our kin must never happen again. You will ensure that. Do you understand?

Expressions of dreadful necessity. Yet, without the horrific destruction of the town of his birth Mappo would have defied them all. .......


.....The Trell slowly gazed around, squinting at the ruins. ‘It has more the feel of a raider’s army – it’s said that such forces exist south of Nemil—’

Her sneer surprised him with its unveiled contempt. ‘One day he shall return to his home, as you’ve done here and now. Until that time, you must attend—’

‘Why me, damn you!’  Her answer was a faint shrug. ‘And if I defy you?’  ‘Even that, warrior, will demand patience.’ She raised the staff then, the gesture drawing his eye. The twisting, buckling wood seemed to reach hungrily for the Trell, growing, filling his world until he was lost in its tortured maze. - (DG UK MMPB, p.204)


However on their journey to find Tremorlor the Azath House in Raraku. Icarium says something that makes him realise that the Nameless Ones have some other purpose for Icarium and that it was in fact they who had destroyed his village. They wanted Mappo  to lead Icarium into Tremorlor so that he could be taken and imprisoned within it.


‘I arrive,’ the Jhag continued in dry tones, ‘at the outskirts of a town. A Trellish town on the plain. It has been destroyed. Scars of sorcery stain the ground . . . the air. Bodies rot in the streets, and Great Ravens have come to feed – their laughter is the voice of the stench.’


‘And then a woman appears, dressed as are these here before us. A priestess. She holds a staff, from which fell power still bleeds.

‘“What have you done?” I ask her.

‘ “Only what is necessary,” is her soft reply. I see in her face a great fear as she looks upon me, and I am saddened by it. “Jhag, you must not wander alone.” ‘Her words seem to call up terrible memories. And images, faces – companions, countless in number. As if I have rarely been alone. Men and women have walked at my side, sometimes singly, sometimes in legion. These memories fill me with grief, as if in some way I have betrayed every one of those companions.’ He paused, and Mappo saw his head slowly nod. ‘Indeed, I understand this now. They were all guardians, like you, Mappo. And they all failed. Were, perhaps, killed by my own hand.’

He shook himself. ‘The priestess sees what lies writ upon my face, for hers becomes its mirror. Then she nods. Her staff blossoms with sorcery . . . and I wander a lifeless plain, alone. The pain is gone – where it had lodged within me, there is now nothing. And, as I feel my memories drift apart . . . away . . . I sense I have but dreamed. And so awaken.’ He turned then, offered Mappo a dreadful smile.

 Impossible. A twisting of the truth. I saw the slaughter with my own eyes. I spoke with the priestess. You have been visited in your dreams, Icarium, with fickle malice. -  (DG UK MMPB, p. 531)


Once Mappo decides that he will not help the Nameless Ones to imprison Icarium they realise that they will have to remove him and replace him with another guardian who will complete the task, therefore they arrange for the release of Dejim Nebrahl and the appointment of a new guardian - Taralack Veed.


The fourth Nameless One said,  “We must acknowledge grief for the impending demise of an honorable servant.  It must, alas, be a short-lived grief, and so unequal to the measure of the unfortunate victim. " - A Nameless One on the release of Dejim Nebrahl whom they sent to hunt down Mappo Trell - BH UK HC, p.9)


“Because you are little more than a tool, no different from that sword in your hands.  Needless to say, the Nameless Ones do not give names to their tools.  And in a very short time you will have outlived your usefulness --” - Senior Assessor to Taralack Veed - (RG UK Mmpb, p. 1174)


"You are named Taralack Veed and they have taken of its power.  From the name, the face.  From the name, the self, and with it all the history, and so by your own power -- so freely given away long, long ago -- you are slain.” Senior Assessor  - (RG UK Mmpb, p.1174 )


His predecessor, Mappo -- the Trell -- had long ago left such struggles behind, Taralack suspected.  Choosing to betray the Nameless Ones rather than this warrior before the gate.  An evil choice?  The Gral was no longer so sure of his answer. - (RG UK MMpb, p.334)




The Nameless Ones, with their charges and hints and visions, their cowled purposes and shrouded desires. Creatures of fraught antiquity, if the Trellish legends held any glimmer of truth. -(DG, UK MMPB, p.175)


The Nameless Ones, who think not in years, but in centuries.  -(DG, UK MMPB, p.294)


The Trell sighed. ‘They have taken it upon themselves to recruit your guardians, Icarium, and have done so since the beginning.’


‘That I do not know. Now that you ask it—’ He frowned. ‘An interesting question. Dedication to noble vows? Protection of the Azath?’ Mappo shrugged.

‘Hood’s stubby ankles!’ Rellock growled. ‘Might be guilt, for all we know.’

All eyes swung to him. - (DG UK MMPB, p.532)


“The Nameless Ones are fools for the most part.  Said proof to be found in your presence here, with your Jhag companion.  Even so, we share certain understandings, which is not too surprising, since we both came from the same civilisation.  From the First Empire of Dessimbelackis.” - Senior Assessor on the Cabalahii monks (RG UK Mmpb, p. 1174 )


The Nameless Ones had knelt on the threshold of stone for too long.  Worshipping a house, its heaved grounds, its echoing rooms -- why not the living, breathing ones who might dwell within that house?  Why not the immortal builders?  A temple was hallowed ground not to its own existence but to the god it would honour.  But the Nameless Ones did not see it that way.  - Taralack Veed - (RG UK Mmpb, ch.



Attributed Works


Patterns in the Azath


Tremorlor, the Throne of Sand

is said to lie within Raraku.

A House of the Azath, it

stands alone on uprooted soil

where all tracks are ghosts

and every ghost leads to

Tremorlor's door.

Patterns in the Azath

The Nameless Ones

(DG, UK MMPB, p.657)


See Aren for a larger than life representation of the spiral staff


Cults, Cabals and Mercenaries

Comments (1)

Rallick said

at 2:45 am on Jan 6, 2010

Once it's understood that the Nameless Ones are priests of Azath, it becomes clearer why their staffs are described in such a manner: It seems as if the wood of the gardens around any given Azath is described in the same manner. Since the principle purpose of any given house is to control the widely powerful and destructive forces in the world, it only seems natural that the Nameless Ones would then put themselves in charge of controlling Icarium.

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