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"The Nameless Ones, who think not in years, but in centuries."
―Anonymous Nameless One[src]

The Nameless Ones were an ancient cult who worshipped the Azath Houses.[1] They considered themselves the "hands of the Azath", and "the shapers of the will of the Azath".[2] It was their "task to hold all in place, to heal what is torn asunder, to lead our enemies into annihilation or eternal imprisonment".[2]

According to Trell legend, their origins dated back to the time of the First Empire.[3] They had been one of two First Empire sects that were meant to clasp together as guiding hands. But the Nameless Ones had been led astray from their god and been cast out. Now they bowed to a new master and new mysteries.[4] It had been seen as a cult even in the days of the First Empire and was believed to have been expunged.[5]

The Nameless Ones dressed in dark or grey hooded robes and carried wooden staffs whose runic etching seemed to writhe and buckle. The runes seemed ever changing as if being continuously rewritten by unseen hands.[6][7][8] Beneath their hoods they sometimes wore grey veils that hid their faces.[9]

They were well versed in rituals of binding and unbinding, and were capable of reading the positions of stars, planets, and constellations for complex rites.[9]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

Four Nameless Ones were found dead at the entrance to the maze surrounding Tremorlor in Raraku by a traveling party consisting of Mappo Runt, Icarium, Iskaral Pust, Apsalar, Crokus, Rellock, and Fiddler. Iskaral Pust, Shadowthrone's High Priest, spoke with disdain of the Nameless Ones, insisting that Dancer and the Talon had eradicated the cult at Kellanved's command. The Nameless Ones had earned the former Emperor's enmity due to vulnerable secrets (Kellanved's presumably) and their continued resentment of his entry into the Deadhouse.[10] This claim was inadvertently verified by Apsalar, based on memories she retained from her possession by Cotillion.[11] Mappo said that Kellanved's purge might have been successful within the Empire, however, Nameless Ones occasionally visited his tribe in the Jhag Odhan.[12]

Mappo admitted to Icarium that it was the Nameless Ones who had appointed the Jhag's guardians over the years.[13] The ancient Jaghut, Gothos, informed Fiddler that the Nameless Ones had been so desperate to find the last guardian for Icarium that they had destroyed Mappo's settlement and blamed it on Icarium. Mappo, walking the bone strewn town of his birth, had volunteered to accompany Icarium to prevent the tragedy from ever happening again while ignorant of its true cause.[14][15]

In House of Chains[]

It was revealed that B'ridys was an ancient monastery of the order and also that the Tanno claimed that their faith was a direct descendant of the Nameless Ones.[16]

Onrack revealed that Logros, leader of his clan of the T'lan Imass, had ordered the First Throne removed from Seven Cities because the Nameless Ones were close to finding its the location. Whoever sat on the Throne commanded the T'lan Imass and Logros feared that should a priest of the Nameless Ones ascend the throne, they would order the T'lan Imass to voluntarily accept eternal imprisonment. Since Emperor Kellanved had once assumed the First Throne, and later also spent some time in the Azath, it baffled Onrack that he had not exploited the First Throne for his own gains to a fuller extent.[17]

In Midnight Tides[]

One of the Nameless Ones long ago travelled to Letheras with five Nerek witches where her adult soul was placed in the body of a deceased girl named Kettle. The undead child, who also contained the soul of a Forkrul Assail, became the Guardian of the dying Azath Tower.[18]

In The Bonehunters[]

After Mappo's betrayal of his vow to the Nameless Ones at Tremorlor, the cult took steps to regain their control over Icarium. A group of twelve Nameless Ones, including Sister Spite, undertook a ritual of release to free Dejim Nebrahl from his ancient warded prison. After Spite placed a geas on the T'rolbarahl commanding him to seek out and slay Mappo she left her fellows behind to be devoured by the bloodthirsty creature.[19]

At the same time the cult had prepared the outlawed Gral tribesman, Taralack Veed, to serve as the Trell's replacement.[20] Veed secretly witnessed Spite's betrayal and quietly followed the T'rolbarahl's trail as it sought the Trell.[21] When Mebra, the Ehrlii spy, learned too much of Veed and their plans, the cult sent one of their priests, a Semk assassin, to murder him. Apsalar stumbled upon the crime while on her own unrelated mission to slay Mebra for Cotillion and Shadowthrone. She dispatched the priest thinking Cotillion would not like learning of the cult's involvement.[22][23]

When Dejim Nabrahl found his prey, he gravely wounded both Mappo and Icarium before being driven off.[24] Taralack Veed tended to the Jhag, while Shadowthrone sent Iskaral Pust to find and save the Trell's life. Veed quickly convinced the amnesiac Jhag that they had always been companions and Icarium was none the wiser.[25] He prepared Icarium to become the Nameless Ones' weapon as he had been instructed, emphasizing the Jhag's supposed sense of harsh justice and the many grim and unpleasant deeds it required. He claimed the Nameless Ones were the Jhag's benefactors, sending him companions like Veed to guide the Jhag's fury to a moral end. But now there was a new enemy that only Icarium was powerful enough to oppose and their other tasks had to be set aside.[26]

While Mappo recovered, he learned from Ardata that it was the Nameless Ones who had honed Icarium's terrible power over the centuries and that they intended to use the Jhag for some unknown purpose.[27] Cotillion visited Mappo's sickbed and told him that the Nameless Ones' current actions were driven by desperation because the cult sensed all the Azath Houses were failing. Through Icarium they planned some final act that Cotillion and Shadowthrone thought would only lead to more chaos and dissolution. Therefore, the two gods planned to intervene in the cult's schemes by helping Mappo heal the Jhag's fractured mind.[28]

Taralack Veed brought Icarium to the Third Edur Imperial Fleet, who ravaged Seven Cities seeking a champion to bring back to Letheras to face their emperor, Rhulad Sengar, in mortal combat. Veed told Icarium the Letherii Empire was an abomination ruled by a madman who deserved Icarium's justice.[29] Cotillion told Trull Sengar that the Nameless Ones planned to send Icarium, their finest weapon, against the emperor, but were too arrogant to admit they did not know what the consequences would be.[30]

Tales among the Nameless Ones indicated that an invasion of skykeeps had arrived on the Malazan world long ago when Human society existed only as small bands. But some opposition by the Jaghut, the Forkrul Assail, or the Elder Gods had driven them away from Seven Cities.[31]

In Reaper's Gale[]

After witnessing a hint of Icarium's true power during the assault on the First Throne, Taralack Veed was sick with worry during the Edur fleet's voyage back to Letheras.[32] He became convinced the Nameless Ones were misguided, involving him and Icarium in a war among the gods to whom they meant nothing. He was no longer sure that Mappo's choice to betray the cult in favour of his friend had been an act of evil, and he anticipated the battle between Icarium and Rhulad would lead to his own death and massive destruction.[33]

Senior Assessor told Taralack Veed the Nameless Ones were known in his homeland. The Cabalhii monk said their name came from the fact that the cult's Initiated had to 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." That Taralack Veed had been able to keep his name suggested he had been seen as little more than a tool rather than one of the cult. When they had finished using him, a cult assassin would be sent to dispatch him.[34]

Notable Nameless Ones[]

Notes and references[]

  1. The Bonehunters, Glossary
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Bonehunters, Prologue, US SFBC p.30-31
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.415-416
  5. Midnight Tides, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.535
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.100
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 7, US HC p.191
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Bonehunters, Prologue, US SFBC p.28
  10. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18
  11. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18
  12. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 7, US HC p.191
  16. House of Chains, Chapter 12
  17. House of Chains, Chapter 20
  18. Midnight Tides, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.446-447
  19. The Bonehunters, Prologue, US SFBC p.27-32
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.491-492
  21. The Bonehunters, Prologue, US SFBC p.32-33
  22. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.66-67
  23. The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.121
  24. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.265-267
  25. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.399-401
  26. The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.491-494
  27. The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.458-459
  28. The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.508-510
  29. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.687-690
  30. The Bonehunters, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.977
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.152-153
  32. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.160-165/168
  33. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.219-220/226-227
  34. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.771
  35. The Bonehunters, Prologue
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