Tuesday, October 20, 2020

House of Worms, Session 203

After having spoken with the ambassador from Pichánmush, Znayáshu concluded that the best course of action was to return to the ruins of Pashkírigo to investigate it. The characters' previous investigations there had been stymied by the presence of numerous powerful undead beings – Hrá in a large, still-intact structure; and a swarm of Vorodlá flying about a strange maelstrom at the center of the ruins. To defend themselves against these beings, Znayáshu approached Lady Srüna. As an initiate of the temple of Ksárul, he thought she might be able to obtain for him an amlulet of peace amonsgt the servers of Ksárul, which would protect the characters from the Hrá. Srüna replied, "Why are you approaching me? Why not check with your own temple?" It was at that point that Znayáshu realized that he had been foolish: surely the temple of the god of death would have an amulet of power over the undead!

With that, Znayáshu and Keléno set off for the local temple of Sárku. While a new, larger temple is being constructed – under the patronage of the House of Worms clan and the colonial administration – the priests of Sárku maintain a small shrine near the City of the Dead. The temple commandant is Argomé hiSsánchunu, a has-been with a reputation for greed – and a member of the Black Stone clan, the clan of Chánkoru hiKhánuma, high priest of the temple of Ksárul, with whom Keléno has tangled in the past. When the pair arrived, they did so under cover of conducting an "audit" of the shrine's holdings. Argomé misunderstood this as an attempt to elicit a bribe. He summoned a slave who then brought back a large bag full of coins, presented it to Znayáshu and Keléno and said, "I hope this … gift will be more than adequate to allevaite the need for an audit."

Znayáshu rejected the bribe, explaining that they had come looking for a specific item in the shrine's holdings, a blue faience statuette. Argomé immediately knew what they were looking for. He explained that, yes, the shrine possessed such a statue but that it wouldn't be available for them to examine at this particular point in time. When asked where the statuette was, Argomé hesitated before explaining that he had "lent" it to a member of his own clan, who, he emphasized, had given an "exceptionally large donation" to the shrine in exchange for its use. When asked which member of his clan it was, Argomé reluctantly admitted that it was none other than Chánkoru hiKhánuma. Upon hearing this, Znayáshu concluded that it was proof that the temple of Ksárul was indeed present within the ruins of Pashkírigo.

Keléno ordered Argomé not to leave the shrine and said that soldiers would soon be arriving to ensure that he made no attempt to hide anything within it. Argomé was baffled by this turn of events and reiterated his willingness to offer the character a sizable "gift" in order to assuage the characters' concerns. Keléno ignored him and warned him again against attempting to leave the shrine. Together with Znayáshu, they made their way to the Black Stone clanhouse to seek out Chánkoru hiKhánuma. The clanhouse was a large and well appointed one and the characters were soon met by Trujékku hiVársha, the clanmaster. Friendly and pleasant, he received them with a smile and asked if the characters had come to discuss "the matter of Ta'ána."

The pair were confused by this question, as they had no idea who Ta'ána was. Trujékku explained that she was the granddaughter of Chánkoru and that a message had been sent to the elders of the House of Worms clan indicating the Black Stone clan's willingness to marry her to Aíthfo, "as a gesture of goodwill between our two pre-eminent clans." The characters knew little of this, as the matter had been quashed by Grujúng, who, as clanmaster of House of Worms, had the final say in these matters. Grujúng believed that, since Aíthfo's term as governor would end in less than a year, there was no point in tying him to a wife from this backwater colony. Trujékku was disappointed to hear this and hoped House of Worms would change its mind.

When told why they had actually come, Trujékku said that he would find Chánkoru and bring him to meet the characters. He left them and Znayáshu decided to head outside, keeping an eye on all obvious exits from the clanhouse, in the event that Chánkoru attempted to flee unseen. As it turned out, he did not; Chánkoru appeared and greeted Keléno with obvious contempt, "Oh, it's you." Keléno brushed off the slight and explained that they had come, humbly, to request the amulet of power over the undead. It was at this point that Znayáshu returned, enabling Chánkoru to get in another barb, "What do you want it for? To protect him (i.e. Znayáshu) from his wife?" Sighing resignedly, he said that the amulet would be delivered to the Palace before day's end. He then left.

The pair returned to the Palace to wait. Meanwhile, discussions continued with the ambassador of Pichánmush about what was happening in the ruins of Pashkírigo. The ambassador continued his line that there was no problem there that his city's legions could not handle. Side talks with the priests accompanying the ambassador reveal that this is not quite the case, which emboldens the characters' desire to sneak into the ruins to deal with it themselves. Once the statuette arrives from Chánkoru, this plan takes a greater urgency and the details begin to be worked out. The goal is to leave Linyaró within a few days, under cover of a "hunting trip" into the wilds. Because it is hurricane season, travel by sea is dangerous, so the trek to Pashkírigo will be over land.

In the midst of all this. Nebússa decided that now was the time to broach the subject of marriage to Lady Srüna. He sent a letter to her chambers, asking to speak with her about this matter. No response was immediately forthcoming.

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