Is There In Death No Beauty?

High in the mountains of Cimoníë lies the black-spired citadel of the Aellakhassren, the Order of Beautiful Death, the finest students of ktenology the Empire has to offer.  Not death-worshippers, they would have us be clear; their order takes Ithával and Kalasané as exemplars, save those few who, by profession, look to Pétamárdis or Gaëlenén, or Olísmé the Consoler, and there are but few devotees of Entélith among them.  Rather, the Aellakhassren are dedicated to the principle that even the darkest practices, if they must be done, should be done well, and with their proper excellence.

In the voluminous Outer Court the warrior-poets of the third degree abide, along with the many who seek to learn from them.  The cadre of the Legions study elegance, ease, and beauty in pistol, carbine, and grenade as their forefathers learned it in sword and clockbow, and how to enter battle with song and quip ready to the lips.  Assassins study the artistic use of knife, drug, and thought-virus.  Bodyguard-courtesans learn the subtle arts of killing with the edge of a silken fan, or death concealed in the seasoning of a drink.  And in the Pavilion of Unfalling Shadows, the euthanatrists learn the art of easing the dying out of life with gentleness, dignity, and grace.

The Inner Court is the preserve of the masters of these arts, the warrior-poets of the second degree, who have learned to turn their beauty and elegance themselves into weapons; who can paralyze an opponent with a meaning-laden gesture, or with an artistically composed chelír ease the passing of the dying or cast an enemy into doubt and self-defeat.

The Onyx Spire is the dwelling of the few warrior-poets of the first degree, who are reputed to have refined their order’s arts until they are able to kill with an idea, a choice of dress, a single question.  Few enter there but the masters of the second degree.

None return.