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Friday, February 3, 2012
One Night in Thrangbek
(Transcript of the Exotic Ports O’Call travelogue newsreel on the city of Thrangbek):
Bustling and cosmopolitan Thrangbek is the exotic jewel of the Gulf of Khayam. This city of approximately one million is a city of canals: It’s so crisscrossed by waterways that many of it’s citizens choose to live on houseboats. As the capital of the Kingdom of Khayam, home to majestic temples, and a center of trade, Thrangbek gets its share of visitors. Once a year, though, it plays host to an unusual convention. Players, gamblers, and spectators descend on the city in the hopes of winning the prize of enlightenment.
Despite all the magnificent temples dedicated to long-lobed, smiling Bo, the real religion of Thrangbek seems to be shatrang. To call shatrang “chess-like” is to only scratch the surface of this game whose rules are modified by a dizzying array of conditions including the position of the planets and stars, and whose pieces are infused with thaumaturgy. Shatrang players beginning training in childhood and those that can’t memorize its rules nor master the psychic control of it’s willful pieces often wind up beggars along the canals, their minds broken.
It has been theorized by Western thaumatologists that shatrang's complicated rules are actually the formulae of series of spells, disguised. Shatrang player-adepts are said to absorb psychic energy from their opponents when they defeat them--games are popularly thought to take place not just on the Material Plane, but the Astral, as well. This accumulation of energy allows players to advance to the next level. Their ultimate goal is the achieve the highest rank possible--a title translated as “Grand Master of Flowers.”
The final match for the ultimate title occurs away from the public. At the endgame, a portal is said to open to a higher plane, and the winner steps through to greet the other Immortals of shatrang and gain the prize of heavenly knowledge and vistas beyond the mortal realm.
As far as Exotic Ports O'Call can determine, no Grand Master has ever returned to let anyone else in on any of those secrets of the universe.