Carmarthen Service

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This is a legendary chess set that is known to exist. The service was fashioned of the finest materials available. The board was set upon a broad table of teak, embellished with marble. The board itself alternated squares of ivory, bounded by silver, and malachite, bounded by gold. Upon the squares strange and wondrous symbols were inlaid with fine gemstones. The four posts of the set were intricately carved columns of jade, obsidian, redwood and ivory.

The pieces themselves were wondrous to see. The white set was crafted from white gold embossed with sapphires and diamonds, accented with platinum on a base of topaz. The black was represented with red H'draden gold, embossed with emeralds and rubies, and accented with gold on a base of ebony.

When the pieces are close together, the glow. They are not magical, however, so how this is accomplished is unknown.

The service is often referred to as being made up of three pieces, which are often thought to be the red pieces, the white pieces and the board. Captain Dowell, who owns the journals of Actaeon, believes that this is incorrect. He feels that there is a shroud for the service, making the three pieces the pieces, the board and the shroud.

Dowell also says that Actaeon cut the board in half to add to the confusion.

Current State

Presently, the pieces of the service are scattered, but many are working to collect and unite them. Some of these collectors are also (usually unknowingly) becoming living symbols, metaphorically representing the pieces. Thorn managed to both assemble and become a number of these pieces as the campaign continued. Thorn were probably pawns, but might have advanced towards the end.

Red White
Piece Location Embodyment Location Embodyment
Shroud Iadra Unknown
Board Agachack Unknown (right side) Dowell thinks in Kralld Unknown (left side)
King Unknown Probably White-Eyes McBride Old Wolf
Queen McBride Magista Unknown "She will reveal herself to us."
Rook Dylan Vlad Unknown Iadra Halifax
Rook Unknown Unknown Doward Vortigern
Bishop Vortigern Agachack McBride Elzgard used to be. Now Dylan Vlad
Bishop Iadra Unknown Iadra Allegra (formerly)
Knight Iadra Malachi Iadra Dowell
Knight Doward Unknown Dylan Vlad Unknown
Pawn McBride Cyrus (formerly) Iadra Unknown
Pawn McBride Cypher (formerly) Iadra Unknown
Pawn McBride Unknown Iadra Unknown
Pawn McBride Unknown Dylan Vlad Unknown
Pawn McBride Unknown Dylan Vlad Unknown
Pawn Doward Unknown Doward Unknown
Pawn Unknown Unknown Magista Unknown
Pawn Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

The Old Wolf once told Thorn that he could track down 24 pieces, and possessed seven of them (some or all of which came to be in Thorn's hands). He claimed Magista had six.


The Legend of the Carmarthen Service

The Glannaventa sent the Emperor word that their king, (?), wished to make him a gift of peace and friendship. They emerged from the forest in the brightly colored cloth that was their way, and presented themselves to his court, encamped in a village known as Carmartha. The Emperor gladly accepted the gift, and bade the Glannaventa be his guests at a feast in thanks. They declined, and made ready to leave, but for eight of the porters that had carried the service, who begged to remain with it. Their wish was granted, and the feast began.

The next night, Aladain stood before the huge game table and proposed that his commander, Nordom, play him, and that, should the soldier win, he would marry the Emperor's daughter, and the territory from Lodore (Slardloe) to Blenheim (Kralld) would be his; but should he lose, he would be beheaded in that same courtyard next dawn. The assembly was aghast, for Aladain did not bet, and further, had oft times expressed that he'd be in his graves before seeing a daughter marry. But they did fear the mighty ruler and the passion that betook him, and the match begain. It was noted after hours passed that strange fevers seemed to afflict both players, and that neither seemed fit to play the board, having neither concentration nor contemplation on their moves or the game, but almost compelled to move the pieces strangely and of another volition. Suddenly Aladain stood and with a mighty heave, for he was a large man, showed the board to the floor, scattering the pieces wide. The crowd shrank back in horror, and it took eight men to restrain the Emperor. When at last he was subdued, he looked about bewildered. Nordom quietly suggested that they leave the game, as he could not recall a single move made. He then quietly moved that perhaps the set was evil, for it had compelled the Emperer to wager upon his life. The Emperor, wholly religious, bemoaned that he knew not how to establish enlightenment when soldiers of his own army believed in such superstitition. But Nordom replied only that there were forces beyond the scope of men to understand, and that they were best left alone. But Nordom leaned forward to say that despite their skepticism, the Emperor "had felt it, too."

The Emperor admitted his lack of control, how he had burned with a rage he could not explain.

"But all things have reasons," said one of the Glannaventa. "From where we come from, the blood wager is the highest form of justice, the only way to effect purity. It is believed the wager of blood over the Shaladar is divinely governed toward its proper end."

"But a blood wager is evil!" asserted the Emperor.

"No! For the kingdom can exist in infidelity, but not with injustice! With a wager upon the game, the Shaladar becomes the Sar!"

"Shaladar is what the Glannaventa call the chessboard," said Nordom.

"And Sar?"

"A sword," Nordom whispered.

"Revenge," said the Glannaventa.

"Enough!" declared the Emperor. "We will play again, with no wager, to enjoy it as it was meant -- a game!"

The game proceeded, and Nordom enjoyed a hard-fought victory. Aladain, impressed by his skill, awarded him lands and estates. Nordom asked to be the envoy to the distant savage lands to the south, called Asturia, meaning "beyond the forest," and the Emperor consented. He bade Nordom build a stronghold, and after a time he sent his commander the chess service, now named the Carmarthen Service, for the encampment where it was first played upon, and bade Nordom name his stronghold for it.

This poem was recollected by Tanador when he heard this legend:

And there went out another horse that was red
And power was given to him that sat thereon
To take peace from the earth
and that they should kill one another
And there was given unto him a great sword
And the name of the sword was Revenge

The History

The campaigns of Actaeon are thought to be a quest for the service, as the pattern of invasions makes little sense for a general known to be a brilliant tactician.

The Secret

The secret of the service is widely speculated upon. Dylan Vlad and Ramone Peypoch believe the secret to be a formula. They believe this formula is a musical one. He said the music of the spheres is reaching enlightenment and that sound is first in the universe. He feels the secret is the key to primordial sound.

If memory serves, Dylan thought this key to be related to a knight's tour. He played a what he called "a near miss" at this key in Rollmalns in Bamphf, which had a strange effect on the audience. If was tough to grasp, and impossible to remember. It was a poem of pure sounds, 16 lines of iambic tetrameter. Tanador's guess is there is a half line for each piece. If that's right, Dylan's key may have failed by not including the board and the shroud.

Others believe the secret is a mathematical one, based on the Orrite Numbers.

Dowell feels that the shroud is the key to the whole secret.