Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Game Yacta

The game of Yacta is played throughout the Realm of St Khuz. It arrived at least a century ago from Wallachia where the inhabitants claim it developed from earlier games played by the legionaries of the Old Empire. The name Jacta may indeed derived from a word in the Old Imperial language.

The game is played with dice which have the numbers and pictures on each side. Each player seeks to make the dice fall into five distinct 'hands' and the winner is the first person to make all five 'hands' Usually five coins are wagered by each player and these are placed in the midst of the table. For Bors and Pa-mosz the coins will be Denar or perhaps Poltura. For craftsmen, shopkeepers, etc. crajczar are used. Rich merhants of course play for Thalers. As is hand is achieved a coin is placed to signify this and the first player to complete all five take all of the coins wagered. Inns often have tables with the hands marked on each edge with symbols which may be covered by a coin to denote the hand has been scored.

The dice are cast, but not disclosed to the other players and each player in turn states which 'hand' he has. He may dissemble (called 'bluff') but unless challenged the call is accepted. The most difficult 'hand' bid is the only one which scores. If a player challenges another's call then bidding stops and the challenged dice are revealed. If the hand is valid then the challenger revokes his highest hand already scored and the challenged hand also scores. If not the challenged player must revoke his highest hand scored.

In some places players are allowed to select some dice already rolled in secret and re-roll these in sight of the other players. This has often lead to alledged cheating, unseemly brawls and sometimes fatalities and so is banned entirely in Crown Lands

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Death and Worse

Nagyolaszi, 25 Byad, YT330

On being shown into the under-croft of the Merchant's hall Olorin and Tolarr were confronted with the disfigured and recently deceased body of an innocent townsman of Nagyolaszi. Their guide cursed loudly and informed them that their ceremonies will have to be rushed forward as a result. They were them shown into the hall above and thence by gallery steps up to Ivarssons chamber. This looked much as described by Voltarr with two additions. Namely, a pentacle was now visible on the floor and on a chair against one wall sat the goldsmith Hanveyd, clearly drugged or in a trance.

The figure in scarlet and purple robed arreared wearing the Torc and racked with pain and terror summoned what at first seemed to be small ass to appear in the room before them. Then, using the beings hideous name he forced it to assume human-like appearance. The demon uttered foul curses and imprecations but was compelled to begin to a horrible and unholy ritual on the person of Hanyeyd. Ivarsson began to whisper nervously to Olorin. He informed Olorin that part of the reason for their presence is that they had knowledge of the infiltration of the Faction by the Death Rune cult. Ivarsson told them that this ritual is but a trial and the coven plan to repeat the process to revive the power of the Liche Hring. He believed that if Hanveyd survived he could be revived but if not he could still be of use to Hring. After considerable time had passed the two Khazad realised that the end of the ritual was approaching. They were compelled to watch as the demon drew all of the life from the goldsmith, leaving in his place an undead monster. The demon was then released and vanished from the chamber.

A clash of weapons and shouting came from the Hall below. Seconds later one of the ill-favored ruffians seen earlier burst in, looking severely battered. With the demon gone Olorin and Tolarr set about the cult mage, Ivarsson and the new arrival. The undead Hanveyd escaped via a trapdoor and the Merchants privy,. Even the town guard and Michaeline Knights fail to find undead-Hanveyd

In the fighting in the under-croft a fire had been started, and as the captives, bodies and other evidence were taken from the building, townsmen and guards fought to extinguish it. The smoke and flames, shouting, bleating, squawking and some looting, fistfights and even cheering, seemed just as described by Brother Dyarran at St Thygra two days earlier

Flies like a Winged Chariot

Nagyolaszi, 25 Byad, YT330

As night approaches Olorin and Tolarr were shown to Ivarsson's premises. But their streetwise guide seemed to smell trouble and let them there by sundry alleys and side-streets. When they arrived in Sheepgate it was from the end which they had believed to be blocked.

The others had watched them leave the Dark Tower and slipped out quietly a few moments later. They reached Sheepgate quickly but not sighted Olorin and Tolarr. For some reason the paladins and town guard do not arrive as soon as anticipated. An hour or more passed before help arrived in Low Street and they could finally take action

The false Hue and Cry started with Gorann acting as the miscreant. Perhaps because it was late or perhaps because of wary townsfolk, no-one else seemed remotely interested. Gorran however ran into the courtyard within the Merchant's building. The guard in the courtyard feigned nonchalance as Vowselaw demanded help in apprehending the 'criminal' Until a lightning blow from Voweslaw's sword severed his right hand and a few more battered him to the ground. Another cultist appeared to investigate but Nicolai's mace smashed his hip and he too fell to the ground without even having time to prepare a weapon. Arriving behind the rest Voltarr staunched the first guard's bleeding allowing him to be captured alive by the authorities a few moments later.

The companions burst into the hall and quickly set about subduing (in several cases permanently) a crowd of cult worshipers who few seconds before had been waiting in rapt anticipation of some immanent event. Gorran, Nicolai and Voweslaw all deal heavy blows to the stunned cultists. In less than a minute one has fled, three are badly injured and the remaining seven are dead.

As the fighting in the hall began to subside, the rear entrance of the Hall opened and a figure in armour with white and gold livery appeared and began assist the companions. At one point his sword shattered but he swiftly prepared a battleaxe and laid into the last visible cultist. Outside in the alleys and beneath their feet they could still hear fighting going on.

Moves at Leisure

Nagyolaszi, 25 Byad, YT330

On the morning of the fore-ordained day, Olorin and Tolarr were invited to the Forrester to meet again with Sgurd and there consume various potable beverages. Sgurd offered the pair cups in proportion to their stature but Tolarr drained Sgurd's larger beaker with a huff. Sgurd seemed genuinely surprised by their capacity to imbibe without any apparent effects. After a while the pair became restless and asked to be shown to the ceremonial site. After considering matters Sgurd sent them off with the Merchant Ivarsson who offered to kill time with some games of dice at whatever Inn they chose.

Olorin and Tolarr went with the Merchant to their familiar Dark Tower Inn. Ivarsson introduced them to a dice game which was new to them called Yacta. It was not new to Ivarsson, he being in his own estimation adept at it. Unfortunately for him he found it difficult to read the impassive faces of the Khazad and lost 60 Thalers to them.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Holy Orders

The Holy Orders of the Church of St Khuz were formed for two purposes. The militant clerics of the Order of the Archangel Michael and the Order of the Archangel Raphael were founded to combat the dark magic and the cults which came into existence in the time of Tzar Vozin. The monastic clerics of the Brotherhood of Gabriel and the Brotherhood of Ariel were founded to look after the well-being of the bors and pa-mosz. The militant orders are typified by the fearsome paladins in their white and gold or blue and silver liveries. There are however only three hundred of these and the order has many more clerics and lay bretheren. The Brotherhoods in their plain brown and grey habits are more numerous and perform many important roles in addition to their spiritual offices: healers, alms-givers, teachers, advocates, etc.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Drained to the Dregs

Carpenters in Nagyolaszi who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of aqua vitae while renovating a storeroom ran from the building in terror when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel.

According to Borrec the herbalist, workers in a vintner in Oldgate Lane tipped it over after they had drained it. Two of the workers required potions to recover from their agitated state. None showed any sign of intoxication.

The authorities believe that the body of the man may have been put there years ago by his wife in order to avoid the cost of a proper burial. The workers told Borrec that the liquid in the hogshead had a "unusual savor" and so they had decanted a few bottles.

Monday, May 01, 2006


What do bargees on the great rivers of the realm, all Aeyep males and Wallach bayars have in common? A raffish air and a rebellious view of the forces of the crown - certainly. A level of distrust and suspicion by bors and nobility alike - often. A gold adornment piercing one earlobe - also true. But the fashion of wearing these and the detail of the item can distinguish one group from another and also one clan or band from another of the same race. Rivermen have the least ostentatious rings, with only enough gold to placate ancient river beliefs. Aeyep give and receive rings as part of their own complex family rituals and the age and quality are significant to them. Why Wallach outlaws wear them is less clear. Perhaps in their own land it causes some of their victims to panic. Who knows? But Wallach rings usually have the mark of their band of cut-throats incised on the gold.