Tuesday, September 29, 2020

House of Worms, Session 200

The characters pressed forward, continuing their exploration of Temple of Ages. Ahead of them lay a long corridor with multiple doors. Closer inspection revealed the doors were connected to cells. All the cells were empty but two. Each of these contained a body that showed signs of having been dead several days. One was that of a young man and one was that of an older man. Physically, they resembled the Naqsái but their clothing looked different than anything the characters had seen elsewhere in the Achgé Peninsula. 

Znayáshu decided to make use of his medium spell to speak with the spirit of the older man. The spell was successful and the older man identified himself as Teshrúna. He said he came from a city called Té Fázh, from which he was traveling to another place called Hikóshu. Hikóshu is apparently an island on which is situated "ruins of the Ancients." Further interrogation revealed little. Teshrúna knew only that his caravan had been attacked by "the snake-headed ones" – Qól – and that he had been captured and taken underground. Znayáshu used his spell again to speak with the spirit of the young man, who identified himself as Washára, the son of Teshrúna. Unlike his father, he was straightforward and arrogant, expressing disdain, even pity, for "the sons of Naháq" who lived "east of the mountains." The characters took this to mean that Té Fázh was somewhere west of the Temple of Ages and home to a totally different culture than the Naqsái with whom they were familiar. Otherwise, though, Washára was little more help than Teshrúna; he apparently died with little cognizance of what happened to him.

Pushing further into the Temple, the characters found three more Thúnru'u guarding a chamber. After defeating them, the group entered the chamber and found the partially dissected body of Khángor, one of Lady Srüna's companion and a sorcerer possessing knowledge of the means to summon Muzhrán, Bearer of the Hidden Crown. Znayáshu employed medium once more to speak with his spirit. He was briefly in touch with Khángor before communication was severed and a feminine voice took over. She asked, "Who are you to interfere with what is mine? He belongs to me!" When asked her name, the voice replied, "I am the Tracker of Stars." (A brief digression: "star" in this case refers not to a celestial object, since there are no stars in Tékumel's sky. Rather, it refers to a magical shape, such as the Seven-Pointed Star of Nmítu Tirikká spoken of in The Book of Ebon Bindings.) Znayáshu asked the voice if she was also known as Daráya and she said, "That is how the Sons of Naháq address me; you too may call me that if it pleases you." Daráya reiterated that Khángor's spirit was hers and that the characters may not speak to him. When asked why this was so, she explained, "This one stole from me and none may do that without suffering for it." 

Znayáshu ended the spell, believing that he needed to find some way to speak directly to Khángor. He and the others then took the sorcerer's body, with the aim of bringing it to the surface and then casting another medium spell the next day. Unfortunately, Daráya had other ideas. As the characters attempted to ascend the stairs to the first level, their way was blocked by a large group of Shédra, one of which spoke with the voice of Daráya, "I told you: he is mine. You may not take even his body." Negotiations then followed, in which Daráya explained that Khángor's supposedly "Llyáni ritual" to summon Muzhrán was, in fact, a secret spell of which the Tracker of Stars was a guardian. Znayáshu said that he and his clan mates needed that spell so that they could then banish Muzhrán from this plane. Upon hearing that, Daráya's attitude changed. She said that she would summon Muzhrán so that Tulkésh could use his own ritual of banishment. Why she agreed to help no one learned, but she did so.

Muzhrán appeared as a tall, thin humanoid being of pure white with no features except a large, open mouth. He said, "I am the Pale Bone. I bear the Hidden Crown. Will you take it from me?" The characters were taken aback by this. They had suspected that Muzhrán had some connection to the Goddess of the Pale Bone, but his introduction suggested a much closer connection and they were afraid. Muzhrán continued, "Llyán accepted it and now he rules eternally. Tlimastlikén rejected it and where is his empire? The Sons of Naháq, too, were offered the Crown and did not seize it. Look at them: squabbling amongst themselves over scraps, devoting themselves to weak gods, when they could rule over all."

Several characters, most notably Nebússa, were tempted by this offer, but none dared take him up on it, fearing that it was in fact a trap. They rejected "the Hidden Crown," whatever that is. "Your perceptions are limited, your vision obscured" was Muzhrán's answer. But it was too late: Tulkésh, under the direction of Znayáshu started the ritual of banishment and Muzhrán was sent elsewhere from Tékumel's plane. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I cannot imagine not accepting such a generous offer...