Monday, June 14, 2021

House of Worms, Session 227

The characters found themselves in what appeared to be the same place they had just left, albeit one that was significantly darker and less well maintained. That in itself was no surprise. The characters had observed that the alternate Tékumel in which they had spent the last few weeks seemed to have retained more of the technology of the Ancients than had their home. What concerned them was the possibility that this was not their home branch of the Tree of Time, despite Toneshkéthu's assurances. What if this were yet another parallel Tékumel?

Aíthfo and Nebússa decided to put the matter to the test quickly. They sneaked out of the chamber in which they found themselves, moving ahead in the shadows to see if anyone were present in the tubeway car station beyond. They found no signs of guards or indeed almost anyone present – certainly nothing to match the bustle they observed in the Evú Nithóru of the other Tékumel. Instead, they saw a trio of men walking, seemingly unguarded, one of whom bore clan insignia that identified him as a member of the White Stone clan, a high ranking clan devoted to Avánthe that they knew well from their home city of Sokátis.

Opting for a direct approach, Nebússa approached the trio from behind, tapped one on the shoulder and, after a start, spoke to them in Tsolyáni. They replied in kind, shocked to find anyone else present in this place. Nebússa introduced himself and Aíthfo. The leader of the trio, after composing himself, asked how they had come here and if they were alone. Continuing to speak plainly, Nebússa stated that they had come here by means of a nexus point from an alternate Tékumel. He added that they were not alone but in the company of a large number of his fellows, including Aíthfo, whom he now presented as "Imperial Governor of the colony of Linyaró." The leader didn't seemed fazed by this, but he soon turned to his two companions and told them, "Fetch the guards … immediately."

Before long, the characters and their companions were rounded up by many guards attired in the distinctive blue armor of the Omnipotent Azure Legion. They were led through a series of chambers and up several flights of stairs to a large apartment, where they were told to wait. The men whom they'd met previously returned, along with a slave secretary. He told the characters his name was Chúrisan hiValúra and that he would be conducting the first of several interviews with them, first to determine who they were and, second, to determine if they posed any threat. They had, after all, somehow penetrated the defenses of the imperial fortress of Avanthár, home to the Petal Throne itself. By all rights, their unauthorized presence here should result in their immediate impalement – but there was something about Nebússa's story of having traveled from an alternate Tékumel that intrigued him.

Nebússa thanked Chúrisan for his indulgence. He then set out to explain all that had happened to them since they left Linyaró – from the plot of the Temple of Ksárul on the Achgé Peninsula to their travel to Dormorón Plain and thence to the Citadel of Sighs before reaching an alternate Tékumel where the Bednallján Imperium had never fallen. Nebússa also made certain that Chúrisan understood that he was himself an agent of the Omnipotent Azure Legion and had been sent, like most of his friends, by Prince Mridóbu to the Southern Continent in order to investigate rumors of activity by cultists of the Pariah Gods. Once again, Chúrisan took all this in stride, asking brief but probing questions of Nebússa and his comrades. It was clear that Chúrisan wanted, above all, to get to the truth.

He left the characters for a time, returning later, bearing what he claimed was good news. Chúrisan explained that he had been able to independently verify many aspects of their story, starting with their identities. He added that no one had had any contact with Linyaró in six months, the last report having been sent by its acting governor. This confused the characters as, given the distance between Tsolyánu and the Achgé Peninsula, there's no way anyone in Avanthár should have been in contact with the acting administration they left in charge. 

That's when it became apparent that, while only a few weeks had passed from their perspective, more time had passed on their Tékumel – eighteen month, as it turned out. It was now early 2357 A.S. and much had happened in their absence. Two more imperial princes, Surundáno and Mirusíya, had been revealed, while Prince Dhich'uné had seemingly disappeared; no one has seen him or heard for him in several months. The tensions with Yán Kór had briefly erupted into armed conflict with Tsolyánu, before abruptly ending. The eastern Yán Koryáni city-states rebelled against Baron Ald, refusing to participate in his vendetta against the Second Imperium. Ald then withdrew his forces from Tsolyánu and marched east to quell his rebellious subjects. Since then, a war involving Yán Kór, Sa'á Allaqí, and Milumanayá is under way, with Tsolyánu on the sidelines, deciding how best to take advantage of the situation.

This, Chúrisan explained, is where his good news came into play. Prince Mridóbu had originally tapped the characters for their ability to "stir things up." While he had originally hoped they might do that on the Southern Continent, an opportunity now arose that they might be able to use their unique talents in eastern Yán Kór, acting as spies and agents provocateurs. That is, if they were amenable. After only brief discussion, the characters stated instead that they wished to return to Linyaró and finish what they had started there. After all, there were still two strange other planar entities on the loose – Daráya and Sodrásh Fán – not to mention the mystery of the Hinákho people on the west of the peninsula. Chúrisan found this answer odd, not least because, as he explained, the infamous Plague of the White Hand had supposedly spread from Livyánu to the Southern Continent and was devastating its inhabitants. Odds are that the colony at Linyaró was lost.

This news disturbed the characters, but it also served to strengthen their resolve. They asked permission to make use of a tubeway car. They had in their possession a disc programmed with the coordinates of the Naqsái city-state of Miktatáin, located about a month's travel southeast of Linyaró. If they could get there, it would be, by comparison, a short trek to the Tsolyáni colony. Chúrisan said that he would check with the prince about this plan. If he approved, he would authorize their journey to Béy Sü, whose tubeway car station was operational and capable of transporting them to their destination. Not unexpectedly, Mridóbu approved the plan and the characters were sent by ship southward to the capital of the Imperium and the first step on their way back home.


  1. So while they were gone, the events of The Man of Gold took place?

    1. No! Something different, though the full details of which they don't yet know. They have some suspicions, based on prior events in the campaign, however.

    2. I figured you would change it somehow.

    3. My attitude has always been "this is my Tékumel, not Professor Barker's." The whole point of the Tree of Time metaphor is to encourage referees to make the setting their own.

    4. Alt-canon but back on the "right" timeline? Makes sense to me!

    5. But still close enough to Professor Barker's that the broad political fallout is the same (Surundáno and Mirusíya revealed, Dhich'uné gone).

    6. That remains to be seen. The war with Yán Kór, for example, seems to have been averted or at least, if it occurs, will happen in a very different way (with the eastern theater predominating). Likewise, all the canonical Imperial heirs have appeared more or less on schedule, but there's an additional one – Shaíra of the Temple of Avánthe – in my version of Tékumel.

  2. Any day you're not summarily impaled for appearing in Avanthar without permission is a good one, right? :)

    Not sure I'd go rushing into an area with a plague ongoing, but the characters are invested in the situation down there and it's not like playing agent provocateur in Yan Kor would be safe as houses either. Also, they didn't just go through 2020 the way I did. Sigh.