Five hexes southwest, four northwest of Alakran.
The village of Maraku is large (400 people) and prosperous, surrounded by grain fields and orchards. The sexes have come to an arrangement there, by which women whocan claim three or more grandchildren join a ruling council. This governing body shuns physical coercion, but is empowered to administer a highly effective punishment in which the forehead is marked with an unwashable dye and the stigmatized individual must dwell in the wilderness for a week and forage for their own food.
For their part, men who have three or more grandchildren are initiated into the secret of brewing karaanu, a liquor made of calabash pulp and flavored with grains of Selim. The men drink karaanu in drab, designated tents, and shame each other about getting drunk, so that there is much left over for export.
An adventure in this village begins when, on its outskirts, you encounter a dye-marked man and woman bickering over an edible cactus. The man, Shu-Turul, has been censured for drunkenness outside the designated tent. The woman, Humusi, grew violent in a Council meeting. She will explain the worry convulsing the town. The Council has been made an offer to enter into an exclusive contract supplying the Wahatti military, breaking off their trade with Targatana to the south. This will change their diplomatic relations forever and the Council has been debating the issue for months intractably and, as Humusi laments, often violently.
Shu-Turul favors the military contract, while Humusi, because she is married to a Targatan man, is against. In town, the Wahatti side is represented by the daily visits of the dashing axe-beak cavalry officer Kadashman "The Sweet-Maned Lion," and opposingly by the basket-hatted, mysterious woman sent from the secret conspiracy, "The Obscure Stair," whose goal is Targatan independence from Wahattu. Both are willing to offer gold in the three-digit range to help get their way.
On the Council of thirty-one, three pro- and five anti-contract votes will not be changed no matter what; six pro- and four anti-contract can be changed only by threats; three pro and four anti-can be changed by persuasion or additional facts, as can the five true waverers. The true difficulty lies in bringing matters to a vote, as the motion to vote must carry by a majority; therefore, at least some of the ultimately losing faction must be lured into thinking they can win.