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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Dae Dae'mar Lesson #2


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Standing at the front of the classroom, Gera wrote on the chalkboard.

      1. Cairhien
      2. Andor
      3. Borderlands
      4. Tear, Mayene, Illian
      5. The far westlands

 

She had broken down the nations into the five categories that made the most sense to her. Another player might break them down differently, but Gera could only teach what she knew, and she only knew what she’d been taught.

 

When the girls arrived, Gera welcomed them all in. Once everyone was seated, she motioned to the board. “These are the five sections of today’s lesson. Please take notes throughout the lesson.”

 

Pausing for a deep breath, Gera turned back to the class. “Cairhien is the nation I am most familiar with, and we discussed it fairly thoroughly yesterday. As I said before, everyone plays a variation of the Game. Each and every person in the nation plays at some level. Even if all they do is sell information to another player, they are still playing the Game. A large part of the Cairhienin mentality is that each person must find their own level. Obviously, it would be difficult for a beggar or a street merchant to play the Game against the King or one of the high nobles, but that beggar could easily play against other beggars... buying information about them, paying other street people to harass them. By the same token, most nobles don’t bother playing against those too far below their social level. On the one hand, there isn’t much they have in common, so playing doesn’t make sense, and on the other hand, if the noble should lose to a player from a much lower social class, it would shame them. Their loss would be socially devastating. The Game is a fact of life there, and if you lose too frequently, you will lose allies. Merchants will avoid you so that better players don’t think they are allied with you. Eventually, you and your House will be penniless and unwelcome in all but the least desirable of circumstances.”

 

“So, are there any questions about Cairhien?” After waiting for questions, Gera continued.

 

“Andor is an interesting beast. By its mere proximity to Cairhien, their nobles and upper class peasants must be at least familiar with the Game. Most of the nobles think they can play as well as any Cairhienin, but they are missing the simple fact that the Cairhienin all live the Game, breathe the Game. Andorans only play when they think it is necessary... usually when playing with other nobles, the Queen, or visiting Cairhienin. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Some Andorans play the Game as skillfully as any Cairhienin. Due to the many wars between Cairhien and Andor over the centuries since Hawkwing reigned, there exists significant intermingling between the nobles along both sides of the border.”

 

“And we have Andor. Questions?”

 

“The Borderlands... Saldaea, Kandor, Arafel, Shienar, and until recently Malkier. The nations further to the West play the Game the least, while those closer to the Spine of the World play a bit more due to their proximity to Cairhien. Truly, the closer a nation is to Cairhien, the more they have to play the Game themselves.” It made her grin, just a bit, to think how her home nation affected the world around them. “The rulers of the nations all play the Game to some degree, but in the Borderlands, it is seen as a necessary evil for their national leaders, not as a regular pass time or an expected behavior of the noble class.”

 

“I realize that was a brief comment on the Borderlands, but their involvement with Daes Dae’mar is infrequent. Are there any questions?”

 

“Next, the South... Tear, Illian, and Mayene. Of the three, Illian is the least involved with Daes Dae’mar. There are of course minor Games between the Council of Nine and the Assembly, and between those bodies and the King. Tear, like Andor, plays Daes Dae’mar due to its interactions with Cairhien. Its nobles are vicious in their Games with each other, and quash any peasants or merchants who try to play the Game with them. In Tear, only the nobles are allowed the freedom one needs to be a true Player. Of course, people from the lower classes can serve as informants or minor merchants of information. To the East of Tear is the small city-state of Mayene. It has no significant army or navy, and survives Tear’s frequent efforts to absorb it by playing the Game against Tear. It is a point of national pride to out do a tairen. The First of Mayene frequently must play the Game against all of Tairen High Lords and many of the Lords of the Land. But here, as in most other nations, the Game is limited to the nobility and merchants who deal with outsiders.”

 

“Questions? Good...”

 

“Now, lastly, we shall discuss the nations of the West. The nations most active in the Game are Ghealdan, Altara and Murandy, all of which have weak monarchies. Their nobles are always scheming to either supplant the current monarch or to better their own position. They play the Game, but not with the skill that one finds in Cairhien. Amadicia, as a nation itself, barely plays the Game at all. The reason for that is that their nobility and monarchy have very little real power. The true power in Amadicia is the Children of the Light. Their ranks are rife with amateur players of the Game. Few have traditional training in the Game, but their structure encourages playing Daes Dae’mar to advance in the ranks. Their Lord Captains and the Lord Captain Commander are frequently excellent players. Further to the west, we find Tarabon and Arad Doman. The Taraboners rarely play the Game, leaving it to their nobility. The King and Panarch, when they work together use the Game to control the lesser nobility; and when they work against each other use the Game to attack each other. The Domani, have an interesting variant on the Game. Their nobles barely play the Game, instead it is their Merchants who play. In fact, their monarch is selected by the Council of Merchants, who scheme against each other as much as any Cairhienin noble. Their merchants all use the Game, but frequently inject it with sensuality and flirtations. It is a remarkably successful strategy, and I do suggest studying it from a local, if you ever get the chance. With powders, inflections, and a few motions, Domani women are able to melt opposition and dominate trade deals.”

 

Walking to the desk at the front of the room, Gera took a sip from the glass of water she kept there.

 

“Well, that is all the material I intended to cover. Do you have any questions? For our next class, please prepare an essay of five hundred words describing in your own words how one of the nations we discussed uses the Great Game. You may do extra research in the Library if you want, but it is not required.”

 

OOC: For your replies, write what your character thinks about the different variations on the Game, ask any questions she might have.

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Auriane hurried down the hallways of the Tower to her next classroom. She had been dreading this class all day: the Daes Dae’mar class. She wasn’t exactly late, but would be if she did not hurry. The librarian, a kindly Brown, for whom she had been sorting papers, had let her out before finishing her work. The woman had come up behind her, taken a look at her handwriting and said with a smile: “Auriane, child, I see you are struggling with this work. Now, I would not like you to be late for your class, so you may leave early. I don’t see you finishing this any time soon, dear.” A very pleasant woman, but Browns tended not to be very expert in subtlety.

 

Arriving at the class, Auriane took a seat near the middle once more. She felt a tap at her wrist and turned to see a beaming, freckly face. “Good afternoon, Riana! These classes are very interesting, aren’t they?” It was the girl with whom she had gone to the kitchens after the previous lesson. A very nice lass, she was much newer to the Tower than Auriane herself. She smiled, agreeing, and looked forward attentively for the beginning of the class. She hoped she looked attentive.

 

The Cairhienin Accepted arrived, and wrote the names of five areas on the blackboard. Of course, her own nation was at the top of the list. Auriane scrawled the list in her notes, presuming that there would be more to add. The Accepted Gera told the girls just how deeply integrated into her nation was the Game of Houses. Oh, no, Auriane thought to herself, this is another culture lesson. She wrote next to Cairhien on her list, in big capital letters: “Universally Manipulative.” She hoped her spelling was correct. Her lessons with that Brown were coming on very well. She really was a good teacher. Unfortunately, that meant she had been taught about where the Game was played, rather than how one played it.

 

After the Accepted talked about Andor and the Borderlands, Auriane scribbled: “Nobles Do It.” Next were the southern nations. She concluded that Tear and Illian seemed to rely more on brute force rather than communicatory subtleties, and wrote, “Mayene: Necessary Manoeuvring.” Auriane checked her spelling the Light knew how many times. She did marvel at how those Firsts did what they did. They must have immense skill to fend off a huge bully such as Tear. Her Brown tutor had told her that Mayene often struggled to maintain an economy under the thumb of Tear -- but miraculously managed successfully. The nations of the west were described in a way that very much reminded her of her own home -- except she herself had had no monarch. Her country was a harsh land, difficult to tame or till. There were few visitors and no rulers. She wondered why those nobles struggled for power when, if they got it, the posts were weak. A young coppery-skinned girl near her grinned proudly at the mention of her nation’s skilful merchant women. No doubt her own mother had taught her all those skills.

 

At the end of the class, Auriane really did need to hurry. She had work in the gardens to do, and not much time before the skies would darken.

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Caillean settled into a seat in the middle of the classroom ready to take notes, tucking her hair behind her ears and glancing at the board. She hoped today’s class would prove interesting although the concept still felt somewhat distant from her. What lords and higher nobles did or did not do seemed of little concern to her now, but Caillean knew that this knowledge might come in handy someday if she was to become Aes Sedai. So she was determined to persevere even if the course did seem dull and foreign to her.

 

She quickly wrote down the different regions and was somewhat surprised to find Andor in the list. Of course Cairhien was first. It seemed that Cairhien was the center of the whole game. Even the poor in Cairhien play? She found that fascinating enough to make it into her notes. Living in Cairhien Caillean thought musty really be very stressful if everyone at every level was involved in Daes Dae’mar. But she supposed you would get used to it if you were born there.

 

When Gera reached Andor Caillean paid rapt attention. She hadn’t even been aware that Andor was involved in Daes Dae’mar at all. She made note of the difference in the way Andor played, only involving themselves in the game when they deemed it necessary. Well that seems a lot more reasonable., she thought with some satisfaction.

 

As Gera began talking about the Borderland nations it seemed increasingly clear that the closer a nation was to Cairhien the more they were involved in the Great Game. But were they forced to play because of their proximity, or did the game just sort of spread on its own? Caillean didn’t have an answer for that but she made note of the question for later.

 

Eventually discussion moved to the South and then the West. Caillean was very surprised to hear about the Domani version of the game and nearly had to stifle a giggle at the description of Domani women because it reminded her of a rather rowdy song she had heard once. It seemed the song was not so far off after all.

 

Caillean groaned inwardly at the assignment. Unlike some of the novices in the class, she knew so little about the game to begin with that it was going to take hours in the library to catch up her knowledge, hours reading dreadfully boring texts describing minute details of this or that lord in this or that nation playing the game. Oh light I have enough to do as it is!, she thought to herself as she gathered her things. There was nothing for it but to head to the library right away.

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