Thursday, February 11, 2021

House of Worms, Session 213

The wedding celebration continued of Aíthfo hiZnáyu and Ta'ána hiKhánuma continued into the night and the early morning. During their course, Aíthfo received numerous guests, who offered gifts to him and his new bride. First among them was Trujékka hiVársha, the clanmaster of the Black Stone clan. Witty and urbane, Trujékka had been friendly with Linyaró's previous governor, Shirgár hiVázhu (Lady Srüna's deceased father) and pledged his support for the new one, especially since he was now wedded to a member of his own clan. He was followed by Jesház Archán, the trade delegate from the nearby Livyáni colony of Nuróab. Jesház reminded Aíthfo of the continued need to smooth over relations with certain clans in Nuróab, whose traditional role was to act as middle men between Nuróab's mercantile clans and foreigner traders, such as those from Linyaró. This is an ongoing concern to the colonial administration and one that Nebússa, in his capacity as vice-governor in charge to external affairs.

Next, Garúda hiMránu of the Red Sky clan reiterated his clan's loyalty to both the governor and to the Petal Throne they both served. The Red Sky clan had within it a number of fanatics belonging to the Incandescent Blaze Society. In past months, these fanatics had acted rashly and summoned several demons known as Flame Dragons that ran amok throughout the central part of Linyaró. The damage wrought was considerable and, while it actually helped Aíthfo's plans to rebuild the city according to his own wishes, it put the Red Sky clan in an embarrassing position. To avoid suffering terrible punishments at the hands of the colonial administration, Garúda committed his clan to its mercy, resulting in its being employed in various ways by Aíthfo. The arrangement has proven very profitable to the House of Worms clan and Aíthfo was pleased to see that the Red Sky remained aware of the debt they owed him and his clan.

Rétku hiChárka of the Silver Collar clan offered the governor an unusual item as a wedding gift: a gold amulet in the form of Ngísurra, a warrior attired in Bednálljan armor. Ngísurra was a human who "wore" an aspect of the god Chegárra at the Battle of Dórmoron Plain, aiding Karakán and the forces of Stability as they contended with Ksárul at this mythological struggle. Znayáshu observed this and immediately took it to mean that, somehow, Rétku had learned of their plans to travel via nexus point to a branch of the Tree of Time where the Battle of Dórmoron Plain still raged. If true, this was worrying, as these plans were supposed to be secret. He signaled his wife, Tu'ásha, asking her to employ ESP to learn Rétku's thoughts. To her surprise, Rétku was wholly shielded from her spell, a fact that worried Znayáshu.

Orúsu hiKángmodu of the Sinking Land clan offered an immense gift of gold and jewels to the governor. The Sinking Land clan was a low status clan that, because of its ties to the Temple of Belkhánu, had nevertheless become quite influential in the colony. Earlier, Znayáshu had noted that one of the clan's most prominent members, Helúka hiAlélne, was not present at the celebration. Subsequent investigation revealed that he had stayed away from the wedding out of fear and embarrassment. He had, after all, failed to inform the governor about the presence of priests of The One Other within his temple, a very high crime. Likewise, he had earlier been unhelpful in the governor's investigations, only assisting when significant pressure had been brought to bear against him. Nebússa was pleased to learn this, as it meant that Helúka was now likely to be more tractable.

Finally, Chánkoru hiKhánuma, the high ritual and administrative priest of the Temple of Ksárul, congratulated the couple. Chánkoru is the great-grandfather of Ta'ána and had, in the past, been in opposition to the governor's investigations. He had clashed with Keléno several times, for example. Now, however, he offered the hand of friendship and indicated that he would be willing to assist the House of Worms clan in any way that he could. Znayáshu and Nebússa were naturally suspicious of his motives, but they counseled simply accepting him at his word and recommended calling upon him in the future.

The next day, Znayáshu paid a visit to the Silver Collar clan house, located not far from the Hirilákte arena and slave market. He was concerned about both Rétku's gift to Aíthfo and the reason behind his shielded mind. In the course of discussion, Rétku revealed that he had bought the amulet from a Livyáni merchant he came upon by happenstance and, upon seeing, knew immediately that he had to buy it and give it to Aíthfo. Hearing this worried Znayáshu, as it suggested – at the very least – that this was a set-up by a third party and he had no idea why. Combined with Rétku's strange ability to resist ESP, he had every reason to think that the governor was in great danger. On the other hand, he also thought it possible that Rétku himself was not knowingly involved in the plot but instead under the effect of some type of magical domination. He left the Silver Collar clan house and returned to the governor's palace.

There, he found that Aíthfo had already decided to throw caution to the wind and wear the amulet. Immediately upon doing so, he found that he had gained the ability to see magical auras, an ability he had previously possessed while under the influence of the Naqsái deity Eyenál (surmised to be a local form of Chegárra) and lost when Eyenál's power had left him. On hearing this, Znayáshu wondered whether the amulet wasn't in fact a good thing, given to Aíthfo from someone who didn't want reveal themselves for some reason. He knew of at least one such person, Toneshkéthu, a student of the College at the End of Time, whom they'd run into several times in the past (though temporally out of order each time). Unfortunately, he simply lacked the information to do more than guess and he was not happy about that.


  1. You said “temporally out of order.” There’s a pun in there somewhere.