Monday, October 5, 2020

House of Worms, Session 201

Commemorative Portrait of Keléno hiNokór
and Hmásu hiTéshku on the occasion of
their marriage, 20 Firasúl 2354 A.S., as
drawn by Zhu Bajiee
The journey back to Linyaró took twenty-one days and, though covering difficult terrain, was largely without incident. Three noteworthy matters did occur, however. The first and most significant is that the characters observed moving lights in the nighttime sky, heading roughly west by southwest. These lights were similar to the ones Chiyé observed previously. Secondly, the rural Naqsái villages the group encountered noted that the city-state of Mánmikel was "gearing up for war," though they were not sure with whom. They advised the characters to avoid the city, since "they don't much like outsiders these days." Finally, Lady Srüna spent much of the trip quietly arguing with Tulkésh regarding the extent to which the House of Worms clan could be trusted. Tulkésh took the position that, as outsiders to the Temple of Ksárul, they should be excluded from certain deliberations, while Srüna argued that they had proven their trustworthiness, particularly Grujúng and Nebússa. The matter went unresolved as they passed through the gates to the Tsolyáni colony.

Once inside, there was much to do. The date is now 22 Fésru 2256 A.S. – a little more than a year since the characters first arrived in the Achgé Peninsula. Aíthfo's appointment as governor is for two years, with the possibilty of extension at the pleasure of the Petal Throne. As things stand now, most expect Aíthfo to surrender the governorship in a year's time so that he can return to Tsolyánu, with an eye on an even more prestigious position. It was on this basis that Grujúng, as the local clan master, argued against the position of the clan's elders that Aíthfo marry soon. They believed that, he was already "too old" to be without a wife and that now was the time to forge an alliance with a powerful local clan through marriage. This was doubly important if Aíthfo's plans involve a departure from Linyaró in less than a year's time. Grujúng let the matter lie for now, but a resolution is inevitable.

Meanwhile, Jesház Archán, the Livyáni trade delegate to Linyaró, lodged a formal complaint with the governor on behalf of the Pavilion of Fruitful Exchange clan of Nuróab. The clan alleges that the Tsolyáni Copper Door clan – to which Keléno's second wife belongs – have been behaving inappropriately, specifically by dealing directly with the Blue-Green Ocean and Sea of Glass clans. According to local custom, enshrined in law, the Pavilion of Fruitful Exchange acts as brokers for all business negotiations involving non-Livyáni. Archán explains that he brings this complaint solely because he has been instructed to do so, not because he favors it. Indeed, his own clan is Blue-Green Ocean and would benefit greatly if the matter were resolved in favor of Copper Door. To to that, however, would require changing the mind of Nuróab's governor and vice-governor. Since Nebússa and Chiyé were already planning to engage in some infiltration of the Livyáni colony's hierarchy, they suggested something might be able to be arranged.

Keléno then spoke directly with Akolána, his second wife, about her clan's dealings. She stated that they had done nothing wrong and that their Livyáni counterparts were quite pleased with the arrangement. Further, she reminded Keléno that he had told her that she and her clan could conduct their business in any way they saw fit, particularly if it enabled them to provide intelligence about Nuróab. Keléno admitted she was correct and told her to continue. He then summoned his third wife, Mírsha, whose clan, Blue Blossom, consisted of Tsolyáni-ized Naqsái. He hoped that she, as a lay priestess of the Temple of Ksárul, could provide insight into the inner workings of the temple. She was, naturally, reluctant to do so, but reiterated something Lady Srüna had said previously, namely that the temple was in the midst of factional infighting that makes it hard to say what the temple as a whole was planning. She did indicate, however, that high priest Chankóru hiKhánuma, with whom Keléno had tangled in the past, belonged to a faction that was likely working to undermine the colonial government, or at least suborn it to serve its own ends. 

Keléno also questioned her about the lands of the peninsula beyond the Ketlák Árchav mountain range. Mírsha said that those lands were reputed to belong to a people called the Hinákho, whose cities had raised up temples to "great and sinister gods." Keléno then produced a sheaf of papers that had been sent to him by an unknown person while he was away. The papers were crisp and new and written in the ancient Bednálljan Salarvyáni tongue. Mírsha recognized them immediately as random pages form the Book of Ebon Bindings, a text with which Keléno had only previously had a passing knowledge. The pages included annotations highlighting the names of certain unknown locations, which Keléno believed might be located here on the Southern Continent. Mírsha could not confirm this but admitted Keléno's theory had merit. She added that she would look into the matter on his behalf and report back to him. He thanked her and said that, in the coming weeks, it was likely that he and his clan mates would be heading westward, beyond the mountains, to visit the Hinákho lands and that he would like her to accompany him. Mírsha was very pleased by this, while Chanchayánto, his Naqsái slave translator was not.

Sánkomu hiPayáka, a representative of the Iron Helm clan, had traveled to Linyaró to collect Srüna and take her back to Tsolyánu with him. He explained that her fathers were keen for her to back home. Srüna had made it clear that she would not return to Tsolyánu until her father's murderer had been brought to justice. After more than a year of investigation, the trail had gone cold and Sánkomu felt that she was simply using this as an excuse to remain away from the watchful eyes of her fathers. It was at this point that Nebússa confessed that he had an interest in marrying Srüna, having grown fond of her during their time together. Sánkomu said his clan would have no objection to such a match, since Nebússa's Golden Bough clan was much loftier than the Iron Helm and a marriage of this sort would bring them honor. Given this, he said he would a while longer before pressing Srüna to return. He also wished Nebússa luck, saying he would need it if he was to take the headstrong young woman as his wife.


  1. James, is there a good map of the setting you would recommend for those of us who are following along?

    1. There's a map of the Achgé Peninsula of the Southern Continent in an earlier post, which is entitled simply "House of Worms." That should help a little.