The main characters for 1604 are:
Rana Allmother, Busybody and Terrible Cook, Charmer of Men and Vingans
Forshator Quilwright, Scribe and Legalist
Glenning Stoneheart, Cowardly Bard
The Tenth entered the city of Furthest late last year. The Dark Season was temperate compared to Sartar, and the darkness less impenetrable due to the glow of the Red Moon. You hear tales of a Lunar defeat in the Holy Country, but war seems farther away now. Now it is Sea Season, a new year, and the Maboder welcome a large crop of new children. However, many of them emerged shimmering with Moon runes that fade after a few days. Rumors spread that either many were fathered by Lunars, or that these children were created by supernatural means, spread through the district. The Lunar army is happy with either theory, but some would like bring up the charge. Chaker, newly promoted to City Judge, is only too happy to oblige. He issues a summons for all new Tenth babies to stand trial for bastardry and chaos-spawn.
Forshator takes the legal case defending the babies. Chaker says: "What evidence do you offer in the babies' defence?"
Rana Allmother gathers several Earth priestesses from the Tenth and performs a divination to determine the parentage of the babies.
The Earth priestesses gather over the babies and channel Ernalda recognizing her children. The faded moon runes flash again with no sign of Chaos. Instead, small suns are visible rotating around the moon runes.
A bystander Lunar soldier gasps: "They are children of Yelm and the Red Goddess. Truly, they are twice blessed." Forshator submits this as evidence.
Chaker responds: "I am satisfied with dropping the charge of Chaos spawn, but the presence of Sun runes is still irregular. The punishment for bastardry is exile unless you have further evidence."
Rana suggests to Forshator that he petition to have the children's situation resolved according to Maboder custom, as a claim the mother's spouses may have against them for adultery, but not as bastardry, as they were still (mostly, anyway, I presume) born to wedded mothers.
Meanwhile, Glenning is confronted by his (former?) lover Jemeel Greyeyed and learns that he has a child, a girl. But since Chaker has declared exile for any bastard children, she wants Glenning to step forward and claim the child. He agrees. Glenning goes to Forshator to explain the situation and ask that any claimed children be exempt from exile.
Forshator puts together a case. He submits that their non-chaotic origin and birth to wedded mothers means that they are lawful residents of the Maboder Tenth on Tarsh. Furthermore adoption rites for the child wipes away any social disorder from Bastardry. This is also consistent with Maboder customs.
Judge Chaker weighs the arguments and finds Forshator persuasive. A precedent is set in Tarsh law: a member of two communities may be tried under either set of laws as they choose. The children may remain, as Maboder children under Maboder law.
Jemeel rejoiced and asks Glenning to take an active role in his baby’s life.
New Bands and the Remainers
A season passes, and the Maboder find new professions and trades. The Lunar empire is always in need for auxiliary troops that can serve its legions. The Maboder might also join one of the crafts in Furthest - although that would require negotiating with the Guide-Houses. Or will the Maboder find another route to economic security, legal or not?
While Glenning is grateful to have his daughter in his life--her mother named her Iorba--he really, really wants to get away for a while. He itches to do something, something to inspire new poems and songs. Glenning asks among his people who would join him in forming a Mabdoer band in the Lunar forces. Glenning is particularly keen on getting Aralla to join, as he wants to follow her exploits and put them to song.
During this season Helma seeks out a Tarshite herbalist to learn from, learning of local plants and practices.
Glenning sways many youths to form "Glenning's Maboder Band" and pledge their service to the Lunar Army in exchange for gold. Among the Lunar soldiers, the Maboder Band quickly gain a reputation for their poetry. Late in Sea Season, they depart for Hendrikiland under the command of Fazzur Bookworm of Tarsh Clan Orindori.
Most of the Maboder are left behind. Some are bitter for their partners leaving on a Lunar adventure, while others are envious of the opportunity to see Sartar again. A group of Maboder start to gather at night to share their complaints. They call themselves the "remainer clubs" and swear to keep the Maboder traditions alive and return to Sartar as soon as possible. Jemeel is known as one leader. Not everyone gets along with the remainers - folks like Raganor Redbeard left their homes willingly to join the Tenth and the remainers' exclusionary conduct offends them.
Early in a mild Summer season, an incident sparks the growing conflict. A Morokanth artist, Vagar Steady-Toes, returns to Tarsh after a long time wandering the world. "The Lunar empire has recovered much land from the Telmori since the annexation of Sartar. These lands need people to settle and make them fertile. I plan to start a colony dedicated to art, beauty, and crafts. I wish to purchase slaves who will serve me on this colony, with manumission after ten years of service. Those who are familiar with the local terrain are especially helpful. What say you?"
Some remainers are interested in Vagar's offer. Others are enraged by the idea of selling their own into slavery.
Rana has been growing increasingly frustrated with the remainers' complaints and fantasies of returning to Sartar, for several reasons: 1. complaining openly to a bunch of other people is not how you solve your problems, 2. it's breeding disharmony among the Tenth, 3. the clan's elders agreed to send the Tenth to Tarsh, and going against that will be bad for the whole tribe, 4 (though she'd not admit it). she's annoyed that they're being mean to her spouse.
She barges in one night on one of Jemeel's gatherings, and speaks to the group, berating them and scolding Jemeel like a disobedient child. She criticizes them for their not having the pride to handle their complaints properly (either personally or by appealing to the deputies for legal resolution), for wanting to renege on the tribe's treaties, and for some of their willingness to enthrall themselves to Vagar. "Don't you young ones know what Morokanth do to their human slaves? Do you want to be a beast of burden? A herd-man? Herd-men are like beasts, not even aware there's anything wrong with that! In Prax, where Morokanth come from, even the humans eat the meat of herd-men without giving the matter any thought! If you are fool enough to aspire to be the chattel of Vagar Steady-Toes, then maybe you should go, and the Tenth will be better off for it!"
The Remainers club erupts in outrage. How dare Rana lecture them? Did not people tell the same scary stories about the Lunars? And now the Tenth are visibly see assimilating and even joining their armies!
Rana manages to sway a minority of the club, but many still accept Vagar's offer. The Tarsh courts also take the opportunity to make some money, and sell Targian Iron-Worker to Vagar. The Morokanth takes a few weeks to prepare for the south-bound journey.
Meanwhile, Glenning's Band move south through occupied Sartar toward Hendrikiland. They take a boat down to the marsh and then continue on foot. The reception is frosty - many who fought against the Lunars thought the Maboder were traitors for not fighting, but now joining the Lunars? That is too far.
Fight on the King's Road
On the King's Road, a group of local Colymar toughs blocks the road. "You dishonor Sartar with your service, and your swords spoil the names of Orlanth and Humakt We challenge you to a duel of swords. The loser must yield their weapons. Name your champion."
Fazzur says, "We have no time for these petty tribal politics. Kill them all or ignore them. I delegate to you."
Aralla considers this. “Fazzur, We Are All Us. We may have no time for petty grievances, but tribal politics brought us all together under the Red Moon’s light. I sense opportunity.”
Aralla addresses the toughs. “We are a busy war band, and no oath compels the duel you ask. But swear to us that if you lose you will join us for at least a season, and bring any kin you may speak for or command, and we will name a champion.”
“Yes, we are honorable. Whoever wins gains both the swords and the arms of the loser, in service for a season.” A champion steps forward: Kielubok the Vegetarian, a giant hulking initiate of Storm Bull. “I volunteer for all loyal Sartar.”
Glenning looks at the strongest members of his band. "We have many capable warriors here. But perhaps none so renowned as Aralla Brightspear. She entered the God-Time and returned! She is a chosen defender of our people! She bears weapon and armor of the gods! Let her prove herself once more." Glenning thumps the end of his spear on the ground and starts chanting "Brightspear! Brightspear! Brightspear!"
Seeing that no one else is taking up his chant, Glenning slows to a stop. He sighs. "Right. 'Glenning's Band.' Okay. Sure." He peeks between two of his comrades to look at the hulking Kielubok. He takes a deep breath and calls upon Orlanth Adventurer and His boastful spirit, grasping the talisman around his neck. "IT IS I," he bellows to the Colymar, "GLENNING STONEHEART!! WARRIOR-POET OF GREAT REPUTATION, CRAFTER OF BALLADS, SKEWERER OF MEN, BELOVED OF ORLANTH ADVENTUROUS!" Looking directly at his opponent, he cries, "Take up your sword, Kielubok, and prove to the gods that your favor is greater than mine!"
And he's fucking sweating bullets.
Kielubok and Glenning take up their swords. Kielubok's stance is wild, unpredictable, dangerous. Glenning tries his best to stay calm - he paces his steps to the rhythm of an old song.
The two duelists circle each other for a moment. They are surrounded by the Maboder and the Colymar. Even Fazzur is drawn in. Thunder cracks in the distance as clouds roll in.
Kielubok attacks first. He tears off his cloak, revealing a naked body covered with Beast, Air, and Death runes. Dashing, almost running on all fours, Kielubok swats aside Glenning's parrying sword and tackles his opponent to the ground.
The two struggle, hand in hand, too close for swords to be useful - and Glenning is clearly the weaker. Kielubok is all power and rage. He sees nothing but Chaos in Glenning, and Storm Bull destroys Chaos. With a great heave, he lifts and throws Glenning across the open ring, with Glenning barely holding on to his weapon.
Kielubok is not the only one with Air runes, however. Orlanth Adventurous cannot be tied down, Orlanth Adventurous cannot be predicted, Orlanth Adventurous goes where he wishes. Glenning catches himself and rolls to his feet.
There is another pause in the duel. Glenning narrowly avoided falling twice just now. He returns to the old song, which he is now singing aloud: a old story of Orlanth tricking Storm Bull, and an old story of the Maboder tricking the Colymar. Offer the bull an apparent sacrifice, and the bull will soon find itself the sacrifice.
Glenning slowly approaches the gloating and confident Kielubok, keeping in step to the song. Kielubok tosses his head and his muscles ripple down his body. He begins to charge. Glenning also advances - he knows now that Kielubok tries to win by grounding or disarming his opponent
As the two are about to collide, the poem changes meter. Maboder epics have this tendency - when the gods step into the story, time breaks. Glenning surprises Kielubok and leaps up at Kielubok with a hand in his face.
With his other hand, he reaches behind Kielubok and cuts his hamstring.
The bull roars. Kielubok catches the last two fingers of Glenning's hand and bites them off. Glenning screams and dives away.
The circle is amazed. Glenning, now hoarse, blood dripping from his hand onto his sword, finishes the song. Kielubok's crys devolve into whines and whimpers as he struggles and fails to get up.
Someone shouts: "The champion of the Maboder is victorious! We pledge our arms to Glenning's Band! For Glenning! For Glenning!"
Glenning raises his sword to the air as the stormclouds edge closer. "For Orlanth Adventurous! For the Maboder!" He almost forgets to not include For Sartar! His heart is pounding still to the rhythm of the ancient songs, but he clutches his hand, now two fingers short. Glenning walks over to Aralla, trying to hide his exhaustion. "You, my friend, must learn to use the sword." Then he goes and takes a long nap.
The two bands merge into one that night around the fire. Someone breaks out an amphora of Esrolian wine. People take turns composing poems about the day’s events - they get worse as everyone gets drunker. Kielubok trades a night’s companionship to the Ernalda priestess Montevo in exchange for healing his leg.
The next morning, a very hungover Fazzur collects the band and reveals their mission: to raid and pillage Hendrikiland, as a diversion for the Lunar invasion of the Holy Country. The Colymar toughs cheer - raiding your neighbors for glory and profit is an old tradition for the Orlanthi!
Glenning bandages his wound and picks up his drum, drinking and singing through the night's revelry. He's careful not to rustle the feathers of his new comrades by singing about today's events, or any exploits over the Colymar. Instead, he sings songs mocking the Hendriki. He eventually passes out and is carried to his tent by some friends.
Back in Furthest, a lunar duke from the Heartlands arrives in town with pomp and circumstance. He is a worshipper of Daka Fal and his agents begin selling ancestor fetishes to anyone and everyone in Furthest. "Feed the fetish and your ancestors will be full! Dress the fetish in fine robes, and your ancestors will be proud!" The fetishes take on a following among the Tenth.
The Lunar hierarchy is unhappy - they would prefer the Tenth continue their march into worship of the Seven Mothers, not get bamboozled by some Heartland con man. They initiate a crack down on fetishes which sparks into isolated incidents of violence - and could grow into more if unchecked.
Glenning's Band conducts a successful diversionary raid into Hendrikiland, with the aid of the Colymar toughs. They gather significant loot, including tribal totems, precious furs, and an ancient scroll from the time of the EWF describing how to construct artificial soldiers known as golems. A tight bond is also built between the band, the Colymar, and General Fazzur.
On their way back from Hendrikiland, they encounter Vagar's company of slaves on their way to his artist colony. Glenning spots Jemeel and Iorba in the crowd, and Aralla notices Targian walking free.
Edited by Bahntah