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Map of Seven Cities

Tesem was an abandoned monastery in Seven Cities that was formerly sanctified to the Queen of Dreams and was now a Temple of Shadow and the residence of Iskaral Pust.[1][2]

The temple was located within a deep fissure on the side of a limestone cliff rising four hundred arm-spans above the Pan'potsun Odhan. Beyond the cliffs rose the mountains which marked the start of Raraku, the Holy Desert, whose heart was only ten leagues away.[3][4] The cliffside was teeming with Bhok'arala who nested in its fissures.[5]

Main floors[]

The tower itself was a hundred and fifty arm-spans high and could only be entered by use of a rope thrown from the tower's single arched window[6] at its topmost level.[7] The main floor of the monastery was carved from the limestone rock. It radiated in a circular pattern from a central room containing a circular stone staircase leading down into darkness.[8] One of the room's flagstoned hallways led to an altar chamber containing a dusty altarstone.[9]

Within the temple were numerous small mendicant chambers containing only a raised stone slab that served as a bed and a soot choked fireplace. A small squat room served as a kitchen, library, and laundry room. The library contained tomes of erotica left behind by the nuns as well as what Pust claimed to be his personal collection of books. Each of Pust's book was thousands of years old, written in a strange braided script, and made of high quality materials. When Icarium visited he was astonished at the money that would have expended on such pointless and trite subjects:

A Treatise on Irrigation Planning in the Fifth Millenium of Ararkal
Seed Dispersal Patterns of the Purille Flower on the Skar Archipelago
Diseases of White-Rimmed Clams of Lekoor Bay[10]

The script and twisted staff rune on the books' spines indicated a connection to the First Empire and the Nameless Ones.[11]

Somewhere within the temple, in a chamber carved almost a third of a league into the cliff's heart, was a single-masted fishing barque.[12]

The temple was home to hundreds, if not thousands, of bhok'arala.[13] They kept Tesem's halls free of vermin,[14] but littered the floors with their droppings.[15] Elderly bhok'arala occupied to the tower's top level with its lone window. Scattered bones in the chamber suggested it was where the creatures went to die.[7]


The main floor's stairwell was saddlebacked from centuries of use and showed evidence of once being tiled with marble. It descended through a passage of cyclopean cut granite blocks that was much older than the temple above. After seventy steps the stairwell ended in the center of an octagonal chamber. It was decorated with friezes depicting dark and ancient forests of thick fir trees inhabited by hulking, four-legged beasts with glowing eyes. The chamber's original patterned tile flooring had been disturbed when the nuns converted the dry and cool room into a crypt. It was honeycombed with rectangular pits, each containing a shrouded corpse.[16][17]

On the far side of the crypt was a portal completely blocked by the stones that had been removed from the chamber's floor. Beyond the blockage was a colonnaded hallway three hundred and fifty paces long whose columns were ancient cedar trees whose trunks were at least an arm-span in diameter. The hallway ended at another octagonal chamber decorated with octagonal flagstones. Each flagstone was carved in intricate images resembling those of the Deck of Dragons that were later defaced by gouges and scoring. The room stank of old sorcery and magic bled like waves of heat from the flagstones. Icarium thought the place had the feel of Kurald Galain and Mappo Runt noted that the carvings resembled and Elder version of the Deck that used Holds, not Houses. The subterranean complex resembled a First Empire temple discovered by Kulp, Heboric, and Felisin Paran.[18][19][20]

Somewhere in the temple, a stairwell led down to a circular chamber with multiple sealed doorways suggesting tombs. One unobstructed opening led to a runnelled ramp leading downwards. The ramp levelled off before twisting to the left and forming a corridor twenty paces long. At the end of the corridor was a doorway opening to a rough-hewn stone-walled chamber with a vaulted ceiling.[21]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

Icarium and Mappo Runt stumbled upon Pust and his temple of Shadow in their trek across the Pan'potsun Odhan.[22] Invited inside, they explored Tesem and discovered the hidden gate which they deduced was sought by followers of the Path of Hands.[23] The presence of two powerful guardians served Pust's need to protect the gate.[24]

When the Jhag and Trell left to defend the Azath House Tremorlor, guardianship of the gate was assumed by the undead dragon Soletaken known as The Unwelcome.[25]

In House of Chains[]

Mogora joined Pust in the temple as his wife, although they rarely saw each other as Pust kept himself hidden.[26] In the weeks leading to the Battle of Raraku, Tesem was visited by Kalam Mekhar as well as Cutter and Apsalar. Kalam recuperated in Tesem from an attack by a bull enkar'al possessed by a demon.[27] Cotillion transported Cutter and Apsalar's boat from Drift Avalii into one of Tesem's basement chambers.[28]


The warren that Icarium sensed underneath Temsen that had "the feel of Kurald Galain" was likely Kurald Emurlahn. This appeared to be substantiated by the murals of dark fir forests invoking the home of the Tiste Edur. Additionally, the defaced tiles may have been similar to the Cedance found in Letheras. Author Steven Erikson seemed to confirm these conclusions in a 2021 interview.[29]

Notes and references[]