Issue One | Autumn 1992
The Clan of the Iron Plume
Mark Wigoder-Daniels looks inside a typical clan house
The Clan of the Iron Plume has bases in Jakálla, Thraya, Sokatis, Bey Sü, Heru (in Salarvya) and Pechano. Traditionally the clan reveres Qon, Belkhanu (especially prevalent in Thraya) and Ketengku. Members usually involve themselves in the clan occupations, becoming scribes, low-level bureaucrats, booksellers and manuscript copyists. Business is widespread through the Imperium and beyond, accounting for the clan’s far flung outposts. This article will concern itself with the clan house in Jakálla.
There are thirteen lineages, of which five are quite small.
|very high: 6
|very low: 2
|very low: 2
|very high: 6
|very low: 2
Clan gossipThe tragedy of Javak hiLemma: He has made three suicide attempts (challenged Dlaru’s lover to a duel, took a drugs overdose, and jumped off the Sakbe). Opinions vary: “Lock him up!” “Thrash him!” “Send for the priests of Ketengku!” “Send him away to Thraya!” “It’s her fault!”
The forthcoming wedding of Giu hiAigo’s daughter: It should be a good party, being such a prestigious lineage. “The last time I saw a good puppet show was ten years ago.” “They met at the Hirilakte!”
Other rumours doing the rounds include: ‘There’s a new outbreak of baby spot sickness.” “The Hma-meat is lousy this year.” “The paper dealers are crooks—the Damp Reed Clan charged three times their usual fee, and no-one else was any cheaper!”“The Governor is ordering some new books for his library.”
The clan was founded by Sholar of Purdanim, Librarian to the High Governor of Jakálla. Lemma the Green (who devised the clan’s special ink) copied the first five Books of the Prescences. His daughter married a High Governor’s younger son—who rose to be High Governor of Heru. Several clan-members were in the Legion of the Heroes of the Lord of Wisdom, drowning when Engsvan hla Ganga sank (cf Deeds of the Ever-Glorious p31)
Time of No Kings
Ghezhna the Thrayan rose to become Lord Adept of Qón. An intoxicated brawl at a wedding led to war with the Clan of the Fourth Seal. A century later the entire Clan of the Fourth Seal was poisoned by Ssúri Aigo, whose family had been murdered by them. She was impaled. Three of Metallja’s Blasphemous Accelerators were Moshan Sholar, Bazhan Lemma and Moshan Chadran.
In Heru, Thresh’sha’a Ghezhna became Lord Adept of Black Qarqa, splitting the clan-house there. Civil strife ended when he and his followers all perished of the Ailment of Arkhuan Mssa. Zoltan hiSholar fought with the Shén against the Ahoggyá at the battle of Koyluga (c1330 AS) and was also eaten (SB§1.413). The Spotted Plague (2195 AS, about a century and a half ago) wiped out most of the Ghezna, Maruttu, Sseffer and Bagusla lineages.
(founding document lost in Time of No Kings)
defaced copy of Sholar’s Scrolls of Pavar (five pages)
formula of Lemma the Green’s viridian ink
several marriage contracts
post-Engsvanyali manuscript of HolduKal hiVersenyal’s Paean to the Last Warrior (see Deeds of the Ever-Glorious p31)
a sword of the Legion of the Lord of Wisdom (with a steel-grey star sapphire inset)
two shields, one of them steel
an iron gorget
The Time of No Kings:
Ghezna the Thrayan’s Staff of Power
three silver Meshqu plaques
Ghezna’s copy of the first and second Litanies of Botzrah (see forthcoming Temple of Qón article) presented to him by the clan on his fourth marriage
founding documents of the Clan of the Fourth Seal and of the Clan of the Yellow Hands (the latter wiped out previously by the Clan of the Fourth Seal)
a damaged statue of Enome (the Bednálljan Ksárul)
the gold ring of Ssúri Aigo
the ring and quill of Zhanra the Silent (who founded the Zhanra lineage)
Picture of Metallja, with his wondrous trumpet and five of his followers, drawn by Qumal hiGhezhna during the Time of No Kings
a letter requesting aid from the Patriarch in Jakálla, written by Gyush Sholar of Heru, concerning Thresh’sha’a’s undermining of his authority
a sword of Zoltan hiSholar
The clan has some two hundred members in Jakálla, of whom these are the most likely to be met by outsiders:
|clan elder; gruff, self important, kindly
|lineage head; dignified & likes datsu
|Moshan’s bossy wife, fat, very gossipy
|jilted lover; suicidally depressed
|historian of Engsvanyali Period; sensible though a romantic; friend of Javak
|distant cousin; a kid who’d like to learn magic
|sadistic, busybody, very nosy
|very pretty Ritual Priestess of Qon, currently the Dominatrix of the Victorious Assailants
The most important clan members, other than Zoltan and Moshan above, are:
|10th circle Ritual Priest of Ketengku w/o post
|third wife of Qutmu hiDikkuna (Patriarch of nee Sholar) Qon & Inner Synod member: an ugly, pious scholar) they live in the White Crystal clanhouse
|clan treasurer: a miser, aloof, likes the epics
|clan archivist: elderly, fragile, cranky
|minor bureaucrat at the Governor’s Palace; nice title, little influence, never around
|lineage-head; librarian at the Temple of Qon
|bureaucrat at the Palace of Foreign Lands; daughter will be marrying a Rising Sun Clan member in two months time
|excellent calligrapher: work sells for 100K+
|staff officer (Kasi) in the Legion of Girikteshmu
|7th circle Scholar Priest of Belkhanu; historian away on trip to Pechano
|lineage-head; a good calligrapher
|brevet Hereksa in the Omnipotent Azure Legion
(These apply for the Jakállan clan-house only. Other clan-houses may have different customs.)
Birth: A feast is held in the apartment of either the family or the lineage-head, or in the large empty room at the end of the second floor. Gifts are first exchanged (SB§1.560), then the birth is formally registered by the lineage-head using the Ancestral Quill of the lineage (normally a Kheshchal plume, but the Sholar use an iron quill!). Horoscopes are taken for the higher lineages. Male children are circumcised and displayed by an uncle, and the pet name is announced (SB§1.560).
Naming: This usually takes place at age fourteen. The party meet in the empty room at the end of the top floor attended by the lineage-head and the clan archivist. Family and child have each selected a name. Each name is inscribed on opposite sides of a chlen plaque which is then immersed in acid. The most visible after two Yom (three minutes) is the new name. If a draw, the lineage head confers the name of the last (same sex!) lineage member to die. The name is announced and revelries begin. After one Kiren (half an hour) the individual presents his/her parents with gifts, speaks for three Yom (fifteen if a Maruttu) and announces the career chosen in the name of the appropriate deity. The lineage head repeats this to the archivist and the new adult is then gifted. The next day the individual, his/her mother and the lineage-head go to the Palace of the Realm to register the name and ratify the individual’s induction into the clan.
Marriage : The first marriage is usually inter-lineage, according to standard Tsolyáni custom. There is no formal engagement ceremony. Three bridesmaids (now witnesses) keep vigil to ward away the Nighted One of the Lonely Tomb from the groom and bride (who is dressed in the clan’s finery including a güdru gown sewn with golden Kaitars). They sit back-to-back, separated by a curtain held by some of the mothers. The lineage-head reads out the marriage contract which each then signs. The curtain is lowered and the couple pelt each other with small paper pellets (the Aigo family use yellow paper only). The first to hit will be the dominant partner! During the following celebrations the wife’s shoes are mutilated and the couple are escorted down to the copyists’ workroom and presented with a bottle of ink.
Death: A dog and a dish of Ngalu wine are left in the room. A deputy of the lineage-head (who remains absent for the entire ceremony, no matter how closely related) ushers in the family along with a priest of Belkhánu. The family then leave, while the priest supervises the preparations for the burial. Subsequently the family (dressed in yellow) escort the bier to the clan’s tomb in the necropolis. There it is buried with a quill, a scroll (relating details of the deceased’s life and notable deeds) and an offering. A short eulogy is delivered by the lineage head’s deputy, and all spit three times. On the fourth day afterwards, the family holds a brief feast and can then stop wearing yellow.
1st Hasanpor: New Year’s Day Feasting in the afternoon. The Patriarch gives each member a wax candle.
7th Hasanpor: The birthday of Ghezna the Thrayan. The Ghezna family holds a feast with readings from the archival copy of the Second Litany of Botzrah
3rd Langala: Summer Solstice feast (at night). All dress in blue and yellow. Similarly coloured sweetmeats are served as are blue and yellow powders.
22nd Fesru: Memorial of the Great Murder, mourning the massacre of two thirds of the clan by the nefarious Clan of the Fourth Seal during the Time of No Kings. A short epic is enacted depicting the event and Ssúri Aigo’s subsequent revenge. When Ssúri’s part is played by a non-Aigo, as occasionally happens, there is much Aigo sucking of teeth! River-fish (only) and Usenanu wine are served (the Fourth Seal’s last meal)
3rd Pardan: Anniversary of the Establishment of the Clan. Important friendly priests, bureaucrats, and the like are guested by the Patriarch. The noisy major common-room becomes a gambling den (Tsahlten, Den-den, Kevuk, etc) while dancers occupy the quieter small common-room. The refectory fills with lovers who can’t wait to go elsewhere. Gifts are given and the lineage-heads make important presentations.
7th Halir: Harvest Time (actually 1st-10th). A small feast is held to reciprocate the hospitality of clans who properly celebrate at this period.
end of Trantor: (27th-30th, as astrologers advise.) The annual manufacture of the fabled Lemma viridian tincture ends with the ceremonial writing of a small scroll with ink from the first batch. This comprises five stanzas of the Bednálljan Epic of Lord Hrugga. The ink is then taken by the Lemma lineage-head to the family plot (west of Jakálla in hex 3014) where it is buried. There are thousands of other pots here, dating back millennia.
9th Lesdrim: Birthday of the Seal Emperor Hirkane II. (That’s if he’s still alive in your campaign; if Dhich’uné is Emperor celebrations will be somewhat subdued.) The Patriarch and the lineage-heads hold small parties.
10th Dohala: Accession of the Seal Emperor Hirkane II. As above but celebrations involve the whole clan—gifting, feasting and so forth. Blue ribbons are hung from the balcony over the formal dining hall.
13th Dohala: Remembrance of Maruttu and Begssra. These brothers died on the same day during the Time of No Kings. The lineage heads dress in yellow and grey and visit the necropolis and the Temple of Belkhanu to light tapers and recite eulogies. Some lineage members also dress in yellow and grey.
Javak hiLemma is madly in love with Dlaru hiMaruttu, an eighteen year-old clan girl who is totally uninterested in him and by now a bit scared of him too. Her father is trying to send her to his brother in the Bey Sü clanhouse. Fearing Javak may resort to abduction, he is hiring guards to escort her. (She might fall in love with one of the player-characters!)
Javak is utterly depressed by the situation, verging from the desperate to the suicidal. He’s tried three times (see Clan Gossip). He is a IIIrd Circle bureaucrat in the Palace of Ever Glorious War, but he’s been absent for the last fortnight. His poetry is considered fairly good.
His uncle Moshan and aunt Giu (see Personalities) are very worried and may well ask the player-characters to take care of him. Javak currently suspects his uncle of being against him and has always disliked his aunt. (She thinks it’s all Dlaru’s fault.) He loathes his younger brother Zoltan who is big and beefy (into beer and sex) and works as a bookbinder. His father Bothuna has given up on him reckoning “the lad needs a good hiding,” while mother Ke’il is a good-willed simpleton. A younger sister, Giu, died at the age of three about a decade ago.