Thursday, July 1, 2021

House of Worms, Session 231

Preparations for Nebússa's marriage to Lady Srüna proceeded apace. This kept Nebússa away from his comrades in the House of Worms clan, who were largely left to their own devices while moving about Béy Sü. Chief among these was Kirktá, who hoped that he might somehow be able to wrangle entry for himself into the "inner" celebrations at the upcoming nuptials. Tsolyáni weddings, especially among high clans like Golden Bough, are huge affairs, attended by hundreds of people. There's no "guest list" as such, since there are multiple parties and festivities occurring at once. However, some of those parties are more exclusive, reserved for people of the right status and influence. 

The only characters who were deemed appropriate for those exclusive affairs were Nebússa (of course), Keléno, by virtue of the fact that his first wife is a member of the Golden Bough clan; Aíthfo (as an imperial governor), and Grujúng (as a general). Kirktá wished to find a way in as well, if only so that he might set eyes upon an imperial prince and similarly high-ranking personages rumored to be attending. To that end, he hurried around Béy Sü seeking appropriate attire that might be suitable for the occasion, on the off-chance he could slip into the "better" celebrations. He brought with him Ninggáya hiKadárta, since there had been chatter about her attendance at the wedding too; while there, she might be able to find wealthy sponsors for her researches into disease.

At the same time, Aíthfo was likewise making his way throughout the capital. Like Kirktá, he was looking for garb fit for the wedding, but he took a very different approach. In his travels, he made a point of identifying himself as governor of far-off Linyaró, a position to which he'd been appointed by no less than Prince Mridóbu. This had the desired effect of making him a minor celebrity among the well-to-do and those wishing to be seen as "in the know" about affairs beyond the borders of Tsolyánu. Aíthfo thus had no trouble finding patrons among the tailors and clothiers of the capital, wishing that he wear their attire to the upcoming wedding. 

Of course, this approach had a side effect of increasing gossip about him and his companions. Before long, most of the high and middle clans were seeking out Aíthfo and his entourage. Among those who did so were the following: Táksuru hiViridáme of the Cloak of Azure Gems clan, whose clan cousin, Alída hiVaisonér, was working on a book about the flora of the Southern Continent and wished to know more about it firsthand; Wésmu hiChúritle of the Black Hand clan and brother to the high administrative priest of the Temple of Ksárul, who has an interest in the gods of foreign lands; and Elué hiDlarútu of the Green Malachite clan, the so-called "Belle of Béy Sü" renowned for her wealth and beauty and whose celebrations at her mansion in the northwest of the city are reputed to be the best the capital has seen in a generation. All of these people and more made it known that they wished to meet Aíthfo, preferably before the wedding, to discuss matters of mutual interest. Quite rapidly, the governor's social calendar was filling up.

Grujúng kept largely to himself, dividing his time between the barracks of the common guards of the Temple of Sárku and fishing on the banks of the Missúma river. Grujúng was uncomfortable in high society and half-hoped that there was some way he could extricate himself from his obligation of attending the wedding. He was much more comfortable with the temple guards, whose simple ways he better understood. Chiyé, on the other hand, had concluded that he would have a much better time making connections – and perhaps some money – by mingling with the middle-ranked clan members excluded from the inner festivities of the wedding. These social climbers would be keen for any angle that might enable them to increase their rank and influence and, as a companion of Nebússa, Chiyé felt he could use his own position to his advantage. Znayáshu simply counted the days till all this nonsense was over and they could all make their way back to the Southern Continent.

Keléno and his third wife, Mírsha, remained within the Golden Bough clan house, poring over the documents and texts they'd been given in Avanthár. Keléno had requested whatever information could be dredged up on short notice about the strange beings they'd been assigned to capture in Miktatáin. From these texts, he learned a little about all three of these demons. The one called Muzhrán is mentioned in The Book of the Tàkôn Dé in conjunction with beings known as "They Who Come Willingly to the Isle of Eyes." The Isle of Eyes is located in the Deeps of Chanayága, south of western Salarvyá and west of Háida Pakála. Muzhrán has a dark reputation as being a place from which no visitors return – a kind of "Bermuda Triangle" place that sailors avoid. The Book says nothing whatsoever about Muzhrán epithet, "Bearer of the Hidden Crown," however. Sodrásh Fán is also described in the Fifth Harmonic of True Being which calls her "destroyer of Tì-Usáro" and "most devoted servant of Kúu Tép." The epithet "She Who Is Garbed in Blue" never appears anywhere in the text, but the section mentioning her is written in a deep blue ink, unlike the rest of the tome. Finally, Daráya is described in The Pandects of Those Who Journey Beyond as a demon of the Seventeenth Circle, perhaps even as its ruler. Though her appearance is not described, she is noted as having the powers of ascertainment (finding the location of a hidden place or object), gathering (collecting items or persons into one place), and pansophism (knowledge of all that transpires). However, the Fifth Harmonic of True Being asserts that Daráya is, in fact, an aspect of Lord Ksárul and that her epithet, "the Tracker of Stars," refers to her ability to locate demons ensnared by means of sorcerous sigils (like the Seven-Pointed Star of Nmítu). Keléno took note of all of this and hoped to share it with Znayáshu.

The wedding was still two weeks away.


  1. "The epithet "She Who Is Garbed in Blue" never appears anywhere in the text, but the section mentioning her is written in a deep blue ink, unlike the rest of the tome."

    Weird coincidence. One of my old homebrew campaigns had a deity whose various and sundry names and sigils could only be written in shades of blue (changing the inks/dyes/paints to suit) and which stained the surfaces they were placed on the same hues over time. Made it very difficult for outsiders to read older texts devoted to the god on a blue-on-blue background, although the church knew a way to differentiate the characters by nearly-imperceptible variations in shade. God of magic, mysteries and secrets, of course. "Master of Seven Million Shades of Sky and Sea" was one of its titles.

    Two weeks to go yet. Plenty of time to get into trouble.

  2. I keep picturing Grujúng lounging on the bank with a fishing pole, but it occurs to me that I have never read anything about fishing in Tsolyánu. Do they use nets or spears? What do they catch? Did the Lords of Humanspace stock the terraformed planet with Terran species? Are there dangerous alien beasties to contend with?

    Fishing might be an adventure all by itself.

    1. I don't think there's ever been a discussion of fishing as such, but there is a description of one of the Undying Wizards "fishing" for parallel universes that involves a pole like that typically associated with the mundane activity. So, fishing poles do exist and that's what I've always assumed Grujúng uses.

    2. Given that multiple human cultures across the planet developed fishing rods and some of the records of them date back 4000 years from now, it seems likely that some kind of rod fishing persists on Tekumel. How edible the fish (if that's even the right word) are is up for debate, of course. Terraforming would probably require the replacement of many native species but clearing whole oceans completely seems like a big ask, and some of them may have rebounded like the Food of the Ssu has on land. Regardless, there are fishing boats so something in teh water can be eaten - and given any excuse whatsoever, some people will find an excuse to go dangle a hook in any accessible body of water.

      Be interesting to see what innovations Tekumel has made in the technology - you could make running rings out of chlen hide instead of metal easily enough, but modern-style reels would be trickier. Lines would probably be less sturdy than today's synthetics but maybe there's some other xenofauna or xenoflora-derived alternative that has similar performance. IIRC bamboo was transplanted to Tekumel along with many other Terran plants, so the rods themselves are easy.