October 7th, 2007

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Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne: The Clanless Trilogy Part one, Episode One

[I recently joined a local games club that structures its game play into eight week rotations. So I offered to run something for a full session and have got five players for Patrick Brady and Edwin Voskamp's The Clanless Trilogy. Of the five, only one is a Tékumeli, but none of them have played before. This first session was actually run in the last week of the previous
rotation, simply as a quick hour or so to get everything set up and to give a little taster. I missed some of the minor details of scenario up until the attack, but that was due to it being run from memory.]

In the Foreign Quarter of Jakálla -- "The Princess of the River," several individuals each receive an invitation to attend a meeting in the Pé Chói enclave. In turn, each is a rising star within the Foreign Quarter, known for their skill and capability, but beyond its walls, is unknown and always will be. For each of them, as is every individual in the Foreign Quarter, is
nakomé, without either clan or status, and will never be regarded as anything more than foreign scum by the Tsolyáni citizens outside of their current circumstances.

The invitation has been extended by the Clan of the Standing Reed and offers promise of a high risk, very high payment undertaking. The meeting is to be held in a warehouse in the Pé Chói enclave, and is attended early that day by five disparate nakomé. They include a hobbling Livyáni scholar-priest; a Tsolyánu clanless warrior carrying a long sword and a black shield, and wearing plain armour that has been scoured free of all symbols; a tall gangly man with oddly light coloured hair, carrying a walking staff capped by a heavy worked stone head and wearing a piece of heavy bejewelled vambrace on his forearm; a lithe Tsolyáni woman of muscular build; and finally, a black-scaled saurian Shén with a huge axesword on his back, the most notable feature about him being his bronze-sheathed claws.

Out of the warehouse's gloom comes a bone-white Pé Chói who explains that they are safe here pointing to the simple dais of mats and the tray containing bottles and several cups. The quintet, knowledgeable already of Tsolyáni customs know to take their place on the lowest mat whilst the dancer considers the contents of the bottle, identifying it as Dsách-nn-ek,
a Pé Chói liquor that tastes a little strange on the human tongue which she knows to sip gently. Several of the others carefully follow her lead.

Suddenly the low light of the warehouse is blocked out by largest human that anyone of them has ever seen. A great N'lüss warrior, wearing ornate heavy armour marked in orange and yellow and with the clan symbol of the Clan of the Standing Reed, a Tsolyáni clan. When he removes his helm, he is revealed to be old and grey, but still with an unwavering gaze. He announces himself as Hrug of the Clan of the Standing Reed and states that he was once clanless.

Over the next few minutes, Hrug explains that he has come looking for the best amongst the nakomé of the Foreign Quarter to make an offer from an honourable and important Tsolyáni. It involves a highly dangerous job for which their talents are highly suited that must take place inside the Foreigner's Quarter against Mu'ugalavyáni gang. He tells them that the job must be done within two days and that if they wish to take up the task, his employer wishes to see them at midday.

Finally, Hrug says, "There is also the matter of payment. I think that it is excessive, but for successful completion of the task payment is sponsorship into my clan, the clan of the Standing Reed. If you succeed, I think you are the sort of people we want in our clan. So think of this as the entrance exam. On my honour, I say that I have spoken the truth to you in all that I have said..."

At the suggestion of the Livyáni the five introduce themselves. He as Arduvaz, a scholar-priest devotee of the Shadowed One and then Mikúsa as a warrior before Núromen announces that he is a hero of his tribe and bound for a great destiny. The woman gives her name as Rayána and says that she is a dancer. Finally, Shén simply states that his name is Shek'nass.

Hrug gets up to leave, but before exiting the warehouse, hands Arduvaz a roll of parchment. Everyone recognises this as a pass that will enable them to leave the Quarter and get themselves to the next meeting. With that he leaves.

The quintet follow, but cannot keep up with the giant stride of the N'lüss as he is joined and flanked by two fellow N'lüss warriors. Ahead of the quickly moving trio, Mikúsa notices that the boundary between the Pé Chói enclave and the next ghetto is oddly empty of people and as he scans his surroundings spots a dark shape on a nearby rooftop. Before he can utter a warning, the N'lüss warrior on Hrug's left gurgles and coughs blood, his throat skewered by the dark length of a crossbow bolt, as Hrug drops to one knee, his hand clutching his shoulder, pierced by another projectile.
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