Chapter: Beadcord

Information relevant to the 9th chapter of The Chosen

the Halls of Thunder

The Halls of Thunder are a complex of palace caverns cut high into the rock of the Pillar of Heaven. It is here that the God Emperor, the court and the rest of the House of the Masks retire during the summer months to escape the heat in the crater below—they are the Eyries of the House of the Masks

The predominant aspect of the Halls is the ceremonial axis, running southwest to northeast, corresponding to the route the Rains take from the southern seas across the Guarded Land to Osrakum

Most of the main structures lie along this axis or to either side of it.

Beginning from the Creation Window in the southwest, there is a progression of: the Thronehall, the Stairs of the Approach, the Chamber of the Three Lands (where the Election of a God-Emperor is conducted), the Encampment of the Seraphim and culminating in the Sunhold and the Amber Window that lets light in from the northeast.

original design for the Halls of Thunder

The first diagram shows my initial conception for the Halls of Thunder, and includes all the structures listed above. Note the passage connecting the gallery around the Chamber of the Three Lands to the head of the Rainbow Stair to the northwest, which is how Carnelian first enters the Halls. Shown also are the horseshoe of chambers cut into the whole of the northeast end of the Pillar of Heaven. The small diagram in the lower lefthand side shows the door to the Sunhold

revised plan for the Halls of Thunder

The second diagram was a necessary refinement of the scheme that was forced on me once I calculated how large the Encampment of the Seraphim had to be to accommodate the Chosen. Additionally, I had, by then, a much better understanding of how the northeastern end of the Encampment interfaces with the Sunhold in the east, with access to the chambers used by Carnelian and the rest of the Chosen, and that now runs only along the northern face of the Pillar of Heaven

Note also the more precise articulation of the Chamber of the Three Lands with its moat and the bridges that cross it. Also the extra stairs off the second landing of the Stairs of the Approach, leading on the southeast to the chambers used by the House of the Masks (including the Dreamchamber), and in the northwest to those used by the Wise

the Sunhold
a plan of the Sunhold and the Hall of Wings

The Sunhold is a fortress built within the Halls of Thunder to accommodate He-who-goes-before and his Red Ichorian guardsmen during a divine election. That it is a fortress demonstrates the underlying antagonism that there is between the Great [whom He-who-goes-before leads] and the Imperial Power in whose domain the Sunhold is located

The Sunhold is delved into the eastern edge of the Pillar of Heaven. It connects to the Encampment of the Seraphim by means of three well-defended passages that culminate in double portcullises. Besides the barracks and the suite of chambers for He-who-goes-before and his attendants, the Sunhold also contains the Hall of the Sun in Splendour. It is here that He-who-goes-before holds court. The Hall connects directly to the nave of the Hall of Wings through the Sun-Eyed Door

the Ancient Halls of Thunder
plan of the ancient Halls of Thunder

Ancient halls underlie the Halls of Thunder that once performed the same role as the new halls above, that include the addition of the Encampment of the Seraphim (that is shown superimposed on the plan and labelled “Hall of Wings”), the Chamber of the Three Lands etc. It is these halls that Carnelian reaches by descending from the Hall of the Sun in Splendour in the Sunhold, so encountering the Moon-Eyed Door

the Chambers of the Wise
the topography of the Chambers of the Wise

When the new Halls of Thunder were constructed, the Wise continued to use the chambers they had used in the ancient halls. The diagram here shows the location of the Library of the Wise, the positioning of the ammonite arrays, as well as the chamber that is the terminus of the heliograph system that provide the Wise with a direct link to every watchtower in the Guarded Land and to every legionary fortress


Beadcord is the ‘braille’ system of the Wise. It is a form of ‘writing’ that allows the Wise to use their only sense—touch—to read and ‘write’ texts without having to use their homunculi as intermediaries

Beadcord consists of beads threaded in sequence on to a cord. The resulting cord can be woven into brocades, tapestries and wound on to reels to form books. The Library of the Wise consists of a large collection of these books that are stored and catalogued on specially constructed, portable ‘benches’

beadcord-related calculations
beadcord-related calculations

Beads are distinguished, one from the other, by shape, texture and even by how cold or warm they feel depending on the material from which they are made. The variety of materials used is consequently great: shell, amber, semi-precious stones, metals. The resulting jewelled and multicoloured strands utterly confuse the sighted

Beads used to encode particularly secret texts are often subtly shaped, and textured so that even the Wise have to imbibe haptic increasing drugs to read them

beadcord reels
a beadcord reel

A reel is essentially a large wooden bobbin [about the size of a human head], very much like those we use for thread. Beadcord reels are hollow, allowing them to be ‘threaded’ on to the spindles of beadcord ‘benches’

Beadcord reels contain books, treatises, codicils and all other manner of ‘written’ material that the Wise maintain in their Library

beadcord chairs
beadcord chair

Chairs located in the Library have a spindle on one arm upon which a reel can be placed and from which its beadcord can be spooled for reading

beadcord benches

Beadcord benches organise the 30,000 or so reels constituting the Library of the Wise into a coherent corpus

Each bench is a chest that, when open, sits upon its lid. The bench itself has ten spindles, eight of which can each hold up to three reels. The two ‘free’ spindles are used to move reels from one spindle to another as a way of giving access to the various reels in the lower two positions in a stack

beadcord benches open and closed

Lengths of beadcord hang from hooks around the chest, providing a ‘feelable’ index to the reels held on the corresponding spindle

When the lid is not being used as a base for the bench, it can be used to cover the spindles thus sealing the chest and protecting the reels during transit

the Library of the Wise
the indices that make up the Master Index
the indices that make up the Master Index
index beadcords
folding frames of the master index

As well as a location, the Library of the Wise refers to the 2500 or so benches with their more than 30,000 reels of beadcord that constitute the written works of the Wise. That said, there are two specific locations at which the Library is generally found: the Halls of Thunder and in the Halls of Rebirth. Closed for transport, the benches accompany the Wise as they join the yearly migration of the court from the Labyrinth up into the heights of the Pillar of Heaven and back again

The Library consists not only of the benches with their reels but also of a system of indices that allow the chamber in which a bench is located to be found—the particular bench itself as well as a specific reel