Monday, June 21, 2021

House of Worms, Session 230

Aíthfo kept his composure upon hearing this news from Menték hiChúritle, administrative high priest of the Temple of Ksárul in Béy Sü. At the moment, the high priest believed – or seemed to be believe, since one never could tell with priests of the Lord of Secrets – that Aíthfo approved and supported the seizure of the colony of Linyaró by agents of the temple. Aíthfo asked what would happen if he, the rightful governor of the colony, were to return. Menték looked puzzled for a moment before asking, "Why would you return? Surely, you can find a better position elsewhere in the Empire?" Aítho continued to press the point, suggesting he needed to return in order to "set things right." He felt that he had an obligation to deal with the consequences of his own prior actions. Menték remained puzzled. "I would highly recommend that you not return to Linyaró." 

Aíthfo thanked the high priest and returned to his comrades staying at the Black Stone clan house. He related what he had learned. Znayáshu was alarmed by what he heard. He suggested that Menték was subtly threatening Aíthfo and that the Temple of Ksárul would likely try to stop him from returning to Linyaró, possibly even going so far as to kill him. With that, they left and met up with Keléno and Kirktá. Together, they sought possible help from the Temple of Keténgku regarding the plague that ravaged the Achgé Peninsula. The temple was located in the eastern side of the capital, across the Missúma River. Along the way, they encountered Grujúng fishing along the riverbank, an activity in which he engaged to deal with anxiety (and he was suffering from great anxiety thinking about his family and clan mates back in Linyaró). 

At the temple, the characters were introduced to a young priestess named Ninggáya hiKadárta. Ninggáya, they learned, had come to the temple recently from the city of Hekéllu. She is known for her unorthodox approaches to the treatment of disease, which is precisely what interested the characters. In conversation, it quickly became clear that Ninggáya is knowledgeable and brilliant but lacking in both social skills – she is very blunt, for example – and respect for tradition and authority. Nevertheless, Znayáshu was impressed with her and explained to her that he and his companions would be heading back to the Southern Continent to deal with an outbreak of the Plague of the White Hand. Ninggáya was quite excited by this prospect, but doubted that it was in fact the Plague of the White Hand. She suggested that it was in fact something else, since the White Hand didn't last nearly as long as the ailment that was seemingly affecting Linyaró.

It was at this point that Znayáshu hit upon the idea of trying to convince various temples and clans to fund Ninggáya's work in the Achgé Peninsula (and make some money for the House of Worms clan at the same time – after all, the clan had missed a year and a half worth of peculation during their absence from the colony). To achieve this, he enlisted Keléno and Kirktá in his plan. He asked that they return to the Palace of the Realm, surreptitiously pilfer reports from the southern Tsolyáni city of Penóm so that he could doctor them to imply that there have been incidents of the Plague of the White Hand there too. The reports could then be returned to the Palace of the Realm, to be "found" later and used to support his contention that Ninggáya's mission – and that of the House of Worms clan – were vital not just for Linyaró but all of Tsolyánu.

Understandably, Keléno was reluctant to participate in this plan. Not only did he feel it mildly ignoble but he worried about the possibility of its being found out. Consequently, he enlisted Kirktá to handle the details. Kirktá had no objections to doing so, but asked that he might be allowed to remain with Ninggáya to talk with her at greater length about her methods of treating disease. Kirktá had long had an interest in such matters, but it was also clear that the young priest of Durritlámish also had an interest in Ninggáya herself, a fact that Keléno also noticed. Later, he would upbraid Kirktá for his behavior and warn him against becoming too involved with the priestess of Keténgku. 

As it turned out, Kirktá's efforts bore fruit. Ninggáya's plan involved isolating individuals afflicted with the disease in separate rooms, regularly cared for by an attendant. Kirktá judged the plan likely to succeed but at great cost. The resources necessary to scale up to a major outbreak would be immense. Rather than being unhappy about this, Znayáshu was pleased. He felt this would make it even easier to solicit large sums of Káitars from clans and temples, since this "innovative, new approach" demanded it. Others were skeptical, but deferred to Znayáshu, as he had greater experience with these kinds of financial maneuvers. He also hit upon the idea of dispatching a note to Avanthár, asking their patron, Prince Mridóbu, for funds. To his surprise, the prince replied positively, a week later, gifting them a large sum of money to support their efforts. Emboldened, Znayáshu penned even more letters, using the fact of Mridóbu's involvement to encourage others to provide more money.

Elsewhere, Nebússa was dealing with the preparation for his upcoming wedding to Lady Srüna. Much of his time was spent running interference between his imperious betrothed and his clan relations, each of whom had very clear ideas on how best to put on an affair that would be long remembered in Béy Sü. In the midst of this, one of his relations approached him in a panic. He explained that Kettukál hiMraktiné had consented to come to the wedding and that he would be bringing with him his "nephew," Kágesh. Nebússa was confused, particularly by the clear suggestion that Kágesh was no nephew of the Tsolyáni general. The relative explained that Kágesh was a pseudonym adopted by Prince Eselné when he wished to travel incognito. When in Béy Sü, he would sometimes appear at social gatherings in the guise of Kettukál's nephew so to avoid some of the usual restrictions on his movements. At the same time, he was still an Imperial prince, an heir to the Petal Throne, and there was no way one could not acknowledge this, even if it had to be done subtly and without drawing undue attention to his presence. Doing so would not be easy, given the fiasco that had occurred some months previously when Eselné attended another wedding.

On top of this, there was another delicate matter. Nebússa's Golden Bough clan is a proud, even arrogant bunch. Though pleased with Nebússa's work over the past few years, they were less impressed with some of his companions. House of Worms is, after all, a merely medium-ranked clan; under normal circumstances, there'd be no expectation that they'd receive invitations at all. However, in deference to Nebússa's long association with them, Golden Bough would allow a few invitations to be extended to them. In the course of negotiation, it was decided that Aíthfo, by virtue of his position as a governor; Keléno, by virtue of his marriage to Nebússa's clan cousin, Hmásu; and Grujúng, by virtue of his military rank in the colonial legion, would all receive invitations. Everyone else would need to stay in the courtyard of the clan house, where various "satellite" celebrations would be taking place. 

Meanwhile, Znayáshu consulted his astrological charts and ephemerides, so that he could cast horoscope for Nebússa and Srüna on the eve of their wedding. To his surprise, he saw no evidence of anything dire in their immediate future. Aíthfo, on the other hand … 


  1. Can't imagine why anyone would think anything bad was about to happen to Aíthfo...ha ha ha. Or maybe that should be mwah ha ha....

  2. I love how quickly the complications are piling up. What with the wedding plans and Kirktá getting interested in Ninggáya, this begins to become almost a soap opera (As The Worm Turns, anyone?)

    1. It definitely is a soap opera at times, but that's what I enjoy about a campaign that's been going on this long.

  3. "He also hit upon the idea of dispatching a note to Avanthár, asking their patron, Prince Mridóbu, for funds. To his surprise, the prince replied positively, a week later, gifting them a large sum of money to support their efforts."

    Swift and decisive action to deal with a plague outbreak from the highest ranks of government? Definitely fiction... :\