Tuesday, September 15, 2020

House of Worms, Session 198

Having returned to their own version of Tékumel, the player characters decided they needed answers. Since Lady Srüna and her companions had come willingly to the Temple of Ages, surely she knew what was going on. Being a follower of Lord Ksárul, Srüna was unwilling simply to share information openly. She did, however, understand that she needed the character's aid and that was impossible without revealing at least a little of what she and her coreligionists were up to. Her compromise was to speak only to Aíthfo and Nebússa who, as fellow worshipers of the Azure Lord, would be obliged to keep certain secrets to themselves. Srüna made a further concession: while she would only speak to Aíthfo and Nebússa, it was entirely up to them how much of what she said they could reveal to their clan mates.

The three Ksárulites moved away from the rest of the group to begin their conversation. Znayáshu, however, was not very trusting and instructed his servant, Akhúd, to employ ESP to psychically eavesdrop on the discussion. Unfortunately, Akhúd's proficiency with spellcasting is still poor and he failed to cast the spell successfully. 

Srüna revealed several things. First, she explained that her deceased father, Shirgár hiVázhu, the previous governor of Linyaró, had been appointed to the position by Prince Mridóbu for reasons similar to those that led to Aíthfo's appointment, namely his ability to flush out trouble. Mridóbu believed that there was a cult of one or more Pariah Gods operating within the Tsolyáni colony of the Achgé Peninsula. He hoped that her father would uncover it and its goals. He was making progress, but enough and he was murdered before he could make a report to the Petal Throne. The characters, on the other hand, have been somewhat more successful and, provided they continue to avoid assassination, they might just achieve the goal Prince Mridóbu hoped they would.

Srüna cautioned the characters against triumphalism. Her own temple was currently on the verge of civil war, with four different factions contending with one another. There was the Society of the Blue Light, which sought to gather knowledge for personal and collective power. The Refulgent Blue Curtain Society, on the other hand, gathers knowledge to usher in the return of Lord Ksárul. The Ndálu Clan, in cooperation with factions within the temples of Hrü'ü and Sárku, seeks knowledge in pursuit of political power. Finally, some faction within the Inner Sphere of the temple, seemingly wishes to harness the power of Ksárul directly, no doubt to some unsavory end. Srüna stressed that this brewing internal conflict was reaching a boiling point that would soon cause trouble within the colony of Linyaró.

Nebússa found this all very interesting but pressed Srüna to explain how this related to what she and her companions were doing in the Temple of Ages. She disclosed that the purpose of her mission was to locate and bind the entity known as Muzhrán the Bearer of the Secret Crown. Nebússa already knew this name from his time in the Naqsái city-state of Miktatáin. Muzhrán escaped, along with two others, from the other-planar prison there and the characters were tasked with returning them. Since their interests now aligned, Nebússa proposed that the two groups work together toward the same end. He was still unclear of exactly why Srüna and her faction within the temple of Ksárul wanted to imprison Muzhrán but decided not to press the matter. He knew well that, at this point, it was enough that they were all pulling in the same direction. Maybe he would learn more later.

Aíthfo, Nebússa, and Srüna then rejoined the others and made their way out of the Temple of Ages. They returned to the surface, where they were reunited with Tulkésh, the Ksárul sorcerer they rescured earlier. It was decided to spend the remainder of the day and into the day resting. While doing so, Srüna and Tulkésh discussed their original plans to find and bind Muzhrán. Tulkésh explained that Muzhrán was traveling between alternate versions of Tékumel, making it very hard to locate him. However, Tulkésh had mastered an ancient Llyáni ritual that could Muzhrán to this version of Tékumel. Once here, though, they no longer had a means to bind him, since it was their companion, Khángor, who would have done this. Khángor was missing and presumed dead, somewhere within the Temple of Ages.

Znayáshu proposed that it didn't matter whether Khángor were dead. If they could locate his body, he could employ his medium spell to speak with his spirit-soul and learn the Llyáni ritual (or, if he were still alive, he could do it himself). Regardless, the goal was to re-enter the Temple during the morning and seek out Khángor. During the last watch of the night, Chiyé observed two bright lights fly over head, traveling westward across the plateau on which the Temple of Ages was located. Znayáshu felt this boded ill but there was no time to investigate right now.

The next morning, the group set off into the Temple again. Since they had explored the lowest level extensively and found no evidence of Khángor, it was decided to explore the middle level instead. With that in mind, they set off.

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