Friday, 8 March 2013

Tekumel - Session 12

The afternoon of the day after the attack, following a morning of the various parties involved having hasty meetings and sending runners back and forth, the PCs were summoned to the White Stone Clanhouse. The Clan Master was presiding over a gathering of representatives from all those who had been affected by the events at the Sea Blue Clanhouse and the attack on the PCs shortly afterwards. The players were naturally feeling a certain amount of trepidation at this, having had a week to consider just how bad things could get for them if the Clan Elders decided they'd made too much of a mess.

(There was a brief aside when one player asked “Where could they send us that's worse than where we started off?”, and I had to read out the various descriptions of Penom.)

The Priest of Hru'u had naturally sent a lower-level Temple flunky as a representative, to essentially start the Shamtla process. The Sea Blue Clan had a representative, because it was their Clan-house that Kemuel had started throwing spells at, and so they were also seriously considering Shamtla. The Blue Kirtle Clan had sent people to try and discover just what had occurred, and probably to also make polite but pointed (as much as status difference allowed) inquiries as to why the PCs had been lodged with them if they were involved in such dangerous affairs. And finally, the Temple of Dlamelish was represented by the highest-circle member of the White Stone Clan in Jakalla, who was naturally wanting to make sure that whatever happened to Kemuel, her temple would end up holding him.

The situation was defined as the PCs gave their testimony again, and the various claims of wrongdoing were made. One matter that was agreed on by all was that Kemuel had been irresponsible in his use of magic. To address these fears, Kemuel was fitted with a collar by the Temple of Dlamelish- made of silver and emeralds, it was elaborate enough to pass as jewellery and so avoid the stigma of wearing an Iron Collar, but contained enough metal to inhibit spellcasting in the same way. And as Kemuel tested it and found out at the first chance, it was solid enough and possessed of a lock that meant it couldn't be easily removed without the key. It has to be said that the other PCs were probably as relieved as the NPCs at this...

After the various representatives had left, the Clan Elders addressed the PCs. They were chastised for not informing them of the fact that they could be in danger, thus endangering a client Clan, and for Kemuel's reckless actions the night before (and the other's failure to prevent them). Since the PCs had demonstrated themselves to be in danger, some (rather cramped) quarters would be found for them in the main Clanhouse, where they could be properly guarded (the term “House Arrest” was never used once, but the PCs were left with the impression that leaving would be frowned upon).

The PCs freedom to enjoy the last few parties before The Enhancement of Emerald Radiance was therefore somewhat limited. That night, however, the White Stone Clan was itself hosting a party, and so the PCs would be in attendance- though warned to keep on their best behaviour, and in the case of Kemuel assigned a couple of “Minders” for the evening.

Nonetheless, the PCs took the opportunity to enjoy themselves (knowing they might be exiled from civilisation afterwards), and were able to circulate and talk with numerous high-ranking people in the Clan. Sirukel rose to the occasion here, managing (with good roleplaying backed with equally good dice rolls) to convince the several Clan-Elders that he was, in fact, a very capable young man and if he'd been there, then the sorry mess wouldn't have happened. As it was, he felt he knew how the matter could be resolved with a minimum loss of money and status to the Clan- would they allow him to try?

In the interests of not ending the campaign here, I decided that Sirukel had convinced them. He then immediately started to work on the first part of the plan that he and Gachaya had hatched, finding the highest-ranking Priestess of Dlamelish present at the gathering and making play. A meeting was arranged at the Temple of Dlamelish the following morning, and the Priestess would manage to have someone of sufficient rank present.

(Those who may have been following the discussion thread here will note that the players actually managed to come up with a solution to how to handle the corpse of their attacker that none of those involved in the discussion had thought of...)

The next day, the PCs arrived at the Temple of Dlamelish- with a suitable armed escort from the Clan- and met the gathering of high-Circle Priestesses. By now, they all knew just how powerful Kemuel could be- the fact he'd managed to cast a low-level spell with a few months of access to some books and no instruction said enough, even if his judgement was clearly questionable. But those who knew of Sorcery could tell that this was merely the sign of a very powerful Pedhetl influencing one who'd not been trained to properly control it. He was a potential asset, and the plan required that the Temple of Dlamelish be very keen to secure him.

Each PC carefully played his part in the rehearsed speeches, the players having figured out how to apply the Planning and Teamwork rules to social situations. Kemuel stated how he'd been instructed to go to Sokatis and felt that his duty, although perhaps he should offer himself to the Temple of Hru'u as penance for what he'd done. The others stressed how they had various duties to fulfil- but that they could see the advantages of having Kemuel join the Temple of Dlamelish here in Jakalla, the heart of the Emerald Lady's worship. If certain matters could be made to run smoothly for them here, then they would certainly ensure that Kemuel remained here to repay the debt they would owe...

After much roleplay, several dice rolls (one having XP burned to re-roll) and Sirukel marking down several significant favours owed to the Temple, the Priestesses agreed that the situation warranted the actions the PCs finally proposed. The body of the Priest who attacked the PCs was brought to the Temple of Dlamelish, where a Revivification spell was cast upon him (using a scroll, no Priestess wanted to be without magic with The Enhancement of Emerald Radiance so near). It succeeded, and the Priestesses proceeded to work their charms upon him. Newly Revivified and in the heart of the Temple of Dlamelish, they were able to enthral him into co-operation.

The Temple of Ksarul had taken the precaution of mind-barring him from revealing any of their secrets, but his name, Clan and Temple Affiliation were not secrets, and so were revealed. He was Firu hiChankresha of the Purple Gem Clan, and a Sorcerer-Priest of Ksarul.

Knowing full well that any confession made while Enthralled would hardly be seen as convincing, the PCs went to the Purple Gem Clan-house. Once there, they asked if anyone knew a Firu hiChankresha, of their Clan and possibly from Urmish. Finding some who did- he'd visited Jakalla before, and stayed at the Clan-house then- they asked about him, and confirmed that he was a Priest of Ksarul. They then informed the Purple Gem Clan that he was at the Temple of Dlamelish and in some trouble- the Clan should send someone there to assist him.

Naturally the Purple Gem Clan did so, and soon an Elder and his entourage was arriving back at the Temple of Dlamelish with the PCs. Once there, they made sure to have the Purple Gem people identify Firu in front of a senior Priestess. Only then did they inform the Purple Gem of what he'd done- naturally they'd heard rumours of the affair, but not yet the names of those involved. With his identity confirmed beyond doubt, the blame for at least half of their troubles was now shifted from the PC's shoulders. The Shamtla the White Stone Clan would pay to the Priest of Hru'u should be balanced out by what they could claim from the Purple Gem Clan and Temple of Ksarul, and the Blue Kirtle Clan should likewise be mollified by someone to make their own claims to.

And it was noted that the Temple of Ksarul probably owed the Temple of Dlamelish for having Revivified one of their Sorcerer-Priests, and that more specifically, the Firu himself likely owed the PCs a debt of honour for not just throwing his body into the death-pits of the Nakome to be stripped by carrion-beetles. Firu himself grudgingly admitted his debt to the PCs, and in response Kemuel tossed over the Eye of Inimitable Psychic Nullity that he'd used to defeat him. Having learned which Temples can best use Eyes and other ancient devices, he grinned and asked Firu to have it fully recharged for him.

After this, the PCs status in the eyes of the Jakalla Clan-house had greatly improved- it looked like they were actually going to break about even, so while they'd made a mess, they'd managed to clean it up as well. Kemuel at least was going to be staying in Jakalla now, so they were made somewhat more welcome- and allowed to attend that night's party, the last before the climax of the festival tomorrow, at the Rising Sun Clan-house.

It so very nearly ended in disaster for the PCs. Things were going well at the party, when Kemuel decided that it was time to go and try his hand at gambling- he even had this collar round his neck, which meant he couldn't be accused of using magic to cheat. Looking over the games, he settled on Tsalhten as sounding the most interesting. He had a small handful of Kaitars to his name that he could have gambled, but listening to the amounts the High Clan guests were betting, he would have felt embarrassed to do so. But, if someone ran up a really bad gambling debt, then the Clan would cover him, wouldn't it?

The other players looked as if they were thinking of strangling him when he loudly declared, “Five Thousand Kaitars, on the Dragon!”- betting five thousand on the hardest pattern there was. There was a mass intake of breath from the NPC observers, and people watched with baited breath as the sticks were tossed.

Kemuel's player had actually just been thinking he'd not made enough trouble this session, and knew full well that Sirukel was hiding a large sum of money from the other players by now- he hoped to force him to part from it in order to not have them all in trouble with the Clan again. Nobody was more surprised than him when he rolled the dice, and saw he'd actually made the Dragon. Paying out at five-to-one, he suddenly found himself with 25,000 Kaitars to his name. Sirukel immediately started making plans of what this could be invested into, but Kemuel knew exactly what he was going to use it for.

At dawn the next morning- the day of the climax of the Festival- Kemuel showed up at the Clanhouse of the Priest of Hru'u he'd cast the spell on. Having converted his winnings into actual coin rather than a letter of credit (“a promissory note just doesn't have the same effect!”), he made sure that enough of the Priest's Clan was watching before he launched into an abject apology. Managing to critical his Ettiquette roll, he wept and tore at his clothes as he proclaimed how ashamed he was to have offended such a person of note in the manner that he did, going on at great length and then finally having slaves pour the 25,000 Kaitars onto the ground before him as Shamtla. The Priest and witnesses all agreed that this was a more than sufficient apology, and Kemuel actually gained back all but one of the Respect points he'd lost for Terrorising the Priest in the first place for this display.

The PCs then went through the city, enjoying the festival. Whereas during the week leading up to it the festivities had been limited to evenings inside the Clanhouses, today the whole of Jakalla was celebrating out in the streets, with only an hour or so's break taken at noon (Whilst not yet at the hottest part of the year, it was still early Summer in Jakalla). Street performers of all kinds, along with the dancing throngs of citizens, milled all about.

Finally, as the sun set, the throngs began to head toward the Temple of Dlamelish, where the gates opened to admit the many worshippers. The PCs passed through the Temple grounds, the many labyrinthine gardens, courtyards and colonnades that surrounded the Temple building itself (given her importance in Jakalla, I've said that the Temple of Dlamelish is the only Temple that IS to scale on the map). Going inside and then down, being members of a Clan traditionally devoted to Dlamelish above other deities meant the PCs were able to watch the main rituals taking place in the central shrine itself. As the Priestesses danced around it, the great statue of Dlamelish started to look more and more beautiful, and appear almost alive, as the presence of the Goddess descended on Jakalla, and all gave in to her influence.

Waking up very late the next day, exhausted and with most of the night before just a pleasurable blue, the PCs made their way back to the Clanhouse.

A few days later, the PCs, along with most other people involved in the various affairs of that notorious night, were summoned to the Palace of the Realm to give an account of the matter to an Imperial Judiciary. Though those involved had settled things between them, the authorities wanted to be assured that the affair was done with- as well as to find out exactly what had gone on for themselves. By this point, the PCs stories had become very well polished, and they'd settled things sufficiently well that all involved gave them at least grudging praise. The details of everyone's account were carefully recorded by a scribe, before being filed away to gather dust in some archive.

After this, the PCs briefly mingled with the people there, and Kemuel found himself being spoken to in a quiet corner by a man wearing the emblem of the Omnipotent Azure Legion. Details of how powerful he was had reached their ears, and Kemuel ended up quickly assuring him of the fact that he and his friends were all loyal servants of the Seal Emperor- to which the OAL officer nodded and responded that he'd doubtless be given a chance to demonstrate this one day if his magical might proved as great as rumoured...

Back at the Clan-house, the Elders had Sirukel brought before them. They'd been very impressed by the way he'd handled things- clearly he was a young man with great potential, and would be wasted returning to his rural backwater of a Clan-house. To make this official- they'd noticed that he'd been getting along well with one of the unmarried Clan-girls, and he was certainly overdue for his first wife now. Seeing this as a chance to secure his escape to Jakalla, Sirukel accepted this proposal.