D&D 3E/3.5 [Kulan] Crisis in Bluffside PBP Campaign Guide

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Rebuilding this thread to only be for the Bluffside pbp Campaign. Kanpur as a whole is getting its own thread in my World of Kulan subforum -KF

Bluffside cover.jpg
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Moved here from my World of Kulan Maps thread

ISHAMARK REGION

On the other side of the World of Kulan, as far away from the Lands of Harqual as can be, are The Ancient Lands of the continent of Kanpur. It is from here that civilization first grew, and even Harqual owes its current history in part to Kanpur.

By far the most detailed area of this massive continent in my mind is the Ishamark Region. If that name seems familiar to you and you're not sure why then go into your d20 system collection of books and find your copy of Bluffside: City on the Edge. Ishamark is the name of the Sea beyond Bluffside, and I use that same name for my campaign world. I have also included the region known as the Burning Sands, which is also part of the Bluffside campaign setting. (Dry Lands: Empires of the Dragon Sands.)

However, the Ishamark Region takes into account a lot more than just Bluffside. It also includes the City of Parma, which is detailed in the d20 reference Streets of Silver. I only use that reference from the Twin Crowns Campaign Setting so only the cities noted in that book made it onto my map; although, the whole area northeast of Parma is, basically, an altered version of Novarum (with the serial numbers filed off, so to speak). It will be very different than Living Imagination's creation.

The cities of Ciudad Talan and Ciudad Fal are the major cities of a power known as the Talangrán Empire. This empire is based on the adventure "The Lady Rose," by Steven Kurtz, in DUNGEON Magazine #34. That adventure doesn't describe a lot about Talangrán, but it gave me just enough of an overview to become fascinated with the Castillian way of life.

There is a lot more on the map (see next post) than I can describe here as most of it is brand new, designed to flesh out the region in more detail. Many of the city names are based on real world cities, but I've tried to use the more obscure spellings or ancient names. I've also simply modified some names to be more unique. For example, Alekandra is based on the city of Alexandria in the Teleorman County of Romania. (Wikipedia has become a great resouce in finding appropriate names for cities, fortresses, towns, characters, and the like.)

The city named Barcino comes from a legend of the founding of the city of Barcelona. The city named Scopula is from an issue of the old Ethos e-zine. The city named Tânger is the Portuguese spelling of the city of Tangier, in northern Morocco. The city named Thaurus comes from the Zodiac sign named Taurus. The city named Wolfach is an homage to the city of the same name, which is in the Black Forest in Germany.

The city named Casteiz is an homage to the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz in northern Spain. (Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capitial city of the province of Álava and of the autonomous region of the Basque Country.) The city named Jurral is an homage to to Jura, a department in the east of France. (Departments are administrative units of France and many former French colonies, roughly analogous to English counties.)

Also of note on this map are the non-CC2 symbols that I used on it. The base map was done in CC2, but I added everything else using Photoshop. The symbols were part of the map provided for the online OGL Tempest Campaign Setting. I felt like doing something a little different for this map, so I modified some of the symbols for use on this map. (I had to shrink them.)
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Up next... a closer look at the Bluffside Region... Kulan style!
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
BLUFFSIDE REGION
As promised, here is a quick look at my version of Bluffside and its surrounding locales. You'll find all the classic Bluffside communties on this regional map -- Kirkwood, Perten, Sordadon, and Waymicol -- as well as some new places that I've added.

Since the map shows a larger area than on the official Bluffside map you get some extra tidbits on this one that includes Batertown, the Granite Kingdom, Porta Rossana, Scopula, and Várad. Most of these cities and towns are from Bluffside: City on the Edge; Dry Lands: Empire of the Dragon Sands; or Streets of Silver. (I think only Várad is one I created myself of those listed above.)

I'm going to be creating all my "detailed" Kanpur maps in this new style. I've wanted to come up with a new look for my other continents so that when I post a new map to my maps thread that it will be apparent (to all of you) which continent a new map is for.

I haven't really given too much thought to the new points of interest on this map as of yet. After all, it is brand spanking new. I will say that the two communties on the eastern shore of Coldwind Lake are allied to Várad while Kytlen on the other side of the lake is allied to Bluffside and Perten.

________________________________________

BLUFFSIDE REGION
Bluffside Campaign Map.jpg

Old Bluffside Region Hex Map
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
VILLAIN
One of the main foes the first group of PCs faced:

Oarsen, Agent of House Del Cannitha, human male, Ftr3: CR 3; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 3d10+6; hp 28; Init +2; Spd 20 ft. (4 squares; base 30 ft.); AC 21 (+2 Dex, +6 armor, +2 shield, +1 ring), touch 13, flat-footed 19; BA/Grp +3/+6; Atk +7 melee (1d8+4/x3, +1 battleaxe) or +7 melee (1d8+3/18–20/x2, mwk. longsword); Full Atk +7 melee (1d8+4/x3, +1 battleaxe) or +7 melee (1d8+3/18–20/x2, mwk. longsword); SA chill touch 1/day (DC 12, CL 2nd); AL LE; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +4; Str 16 (+3), Dex 14 (+2), Con 14 (+2), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 12 (+1).

Skills and Feats: Climb +8 (+4 armored), Intimidate +5, Jump +8 (+4 armored), Listen +2, Move Silently +7, Sense Motive +4, Spot +2; Aberrant Dragonmark (chill touch) 1, Dodge, Iron Will, Weapon Focus (longsword).

Possessions: +1 battleaxe (taken from Rande ), +1 chainmail, masterwork longsword, ring of protection +1 (taken from Rande), heavy steel shield, masterwork manacles, explorer's outfit, dust of tracelessness, potion of cure light wounds (taken from Rande, already used), potion of cure moderate wounds, thunderstone (taken from Rande), key to the inn, boots of elvenkind (taken from Max *), and a belt pouch.

Languages: Cliff Speak, Brelish.

He died aftet his 'master' unleashed a fireball (from a safe distance) in the middle of the fight. The PCs still don't know his background and full name, so I won't post that here.

* Rande is the PCs patron.
** Max is a barman who works for Rande.
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
My Bluffside PbP game has hit a wall over on The Piazza, as two of my current players can't continue. I'm looking for, at least, two new players for the game. Here's the link
[Kulan] Recruitment for Bluffside PBP Campaign [Semi-Open] - Page 2 - The Piazza

FYI, this game has been going on, off and on, for some time now and many players have come and gone. Right now, I have one player who is still in, but I'm not sure if he'll be okay with the idea of converting the game to use the D&D 5E rules. Doing so would be hard for me, as I don't have experience DMing 5E. But I'll consider it to keep the game going.

If I don't get any takers, the game will have to end.

Here is the IC thread: [Kulan] D&D 3.5 PbP: Western Kanpur|Bluffside Campaign [IC] - The Piazza
OOC Thread: [Kulan] D&D 3.5 PbP: Western Kanpur|Bluffside Campaign [OOC] - The Piazza
v.3.5 Campaign Guide: [Kulan] Western Kanpur|Bluffside PbP Campaign Guide - The Piazza
Now that EN World has been upgraded, I might be willing move my Bluffside game from The Piazza to here. It would be a reboot from where it left off with a new cast of PCs taking over if I can't get my last two players for the game to move over here.

The main reason is that I can't attach images and files there easily or at all. With the new upgrades here, it will be so much easier to run another pbp game here.

Of course, I still have to get my Realmsian Dragonstarfinder pbp game going again, but that's a whole other concern. I might have bit off more than I could chew converting the game from Dragonstar v.3.0 to Starfinder on the fly. :confused:
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
QUICK CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW [POST 1]
dfryer36 said:
"Relgar, do you have any magic that will help us bypass this?" Terger asks.
willpell said:
"I do not habitually use spells which are useful for bypassing barriers; I like having my privacy respected, so I have made no effort to duplicate the feats of those mages who trend toward arcana-assisted burglary. Whatever I or any of the rest of us can do about this gate, I caution that we will be opening an egress which has already been sought by someone, or something, capable of inflicting this level of damage on what looks to have been a solidly-forged piece of ironwork. Whatever did this is still in there; if we are not able to contain it, then perhaps we should leave it imprisoned."
"If its been sealed all this time," Custodio says. "Whatever was sealed in there might be dead."

"That assumes it didn't enter through an opening deep in the earth," Elkgrar adds. "Of course, anything that could tunnel through woudn't be stopped by a portcullis."

Tellerian Hawke said:
After examining the portcullis, and determining that opening it will be a noisy task, Tim looks back at his compatriots, and says, "Does anyone mind the noise? Want me to try it?"
MacConnell said:
Seeing that there is not enough room for him to lend assistance, Thersean steps aside.
"With the amount of time and exposure we have accrued thus far, the element of surprise is likey moot. I say, give it a go."
Tellerian Hawke said:
Tim gives it a go, but is unable to budge the portcullis.

"Rat farts," he curses.
"I will take a look at this barrier," Elkgrar suggests. He waits for Tim to step back and then he moves in an takes a look at the bent iron egress. "Hmm, it doesn't appear that this portcullis should be here. The design of stonework is all wrong." He pushes against it and listens to it scrape on stone. He tries to dig at the stone around its edges and then backs up confounded. "This should not be here. It makes no sense!"

"Magic then," Rhodes says. "We are dealing with a sorcerer after all."

If it's an illusion, I don't see it," Elkgrar replies.

He steps back and lets Relgar shuffle in and take a look. It should be a simple thing to detect whether or not a spell is in place. He studies the damaged egress fom top to bottom, wary for anything that might be lurking on the other side. The thought of a massive beast lurking in the dark, eying him as a meal distracts his mind. He tries his best to determine the tangibility of the metal, but if it is false metal, he cannot see it. It would be easy to determine with a detect magic spell, but does not have it prepared. He says as much to the others but that he could try an area dispel, if it could be confirmed their is magic active.

"I try to detect if there magic here," Custodio says. Relgar and the others step back and the Vanquisher cleric intones a prayer to the Purifier. His eyes shimmer and he directs his senses on the portcullis. "There is definitely magic auras here." He looks closer. "I see two auras. "One is faint and hard to read. I can't get anything else about it. The other is moderate in strength and it is definitely an illusion-based spell."

"So, it is an illusion," Elkgrar says. "It's well crafted."

"What worries me is the second spell," Custodio says. "It could be a trap of some kind."

"If it was, it would have gone off by now, I think," Rhodes says. "Or it's tied to the bastard's name like in the Golden Lantern."

"Wait!" Custodio interrupts. "The faint aura, it seems to be fading. Yes, it's dissipating."

"Great, an alarm of some kind. 'Waldo' will know we're here," Elkgrar notes.

The group debates whether or not Relgar should attempt to dispel the illusion. The vote is split but they decide to risk it. Custodio casts resist fire energy on Relgar, just to be safe. He gives the geometric wizard a detailed description of the aura and its strongest points before he and the others step back out of the way. Relgar wonders how he came to be in the forefront, but he relents to peer pressure and casts his dispel magic. His mind focuses on the maddening figment, and he centers the spell on the key pinpoint that Custodio mentioned. As the spell comes into effect, he holds his breath.

The portcullis shimmers and twists and then it is gone. The spell pushed the illusion back to unreality. The way is clear for them to continue. The others thank him, which he find oddly unsettling. 'It was easier than it should have been', he thinks.

Tim takes the lead into the tower once again. He soon finds that the illusion had given a false view of what had laid beyond the 'figment' portcullis. The dimensions are the same but the weapon rack he'd previously noted is gone. The sconces are there but they are broken. There isn't a unlit torch. What he does see makes his skin crawl, however. Writing on almost every inch of surface of the interior walls. He can see that some of it is in Draconic but the rest of it is in a language he's never even seen before.

The writing continues down to the next level of the tower, which he can see through the opening in the floor. There are stone stairs that lead down but he's not sure if the stairs are physically sound. Elkgrar studies the stonework and assures him and the others that while the stairs are worn, there isn't a risk of collapse.

"Relgar, don't read anything," Custodio suggests. "While I don't see any new auras, it's better to be safe."

"This is not good," Rhodes adds. "This sorcerer has been working here for quite some time."

"We should tell Commander Oakfirst what we've found," Elkgrar suggests.

Terger, however, takes the lead and descends down the stairs to the next level. Tim quickly follows suit and the stairs do indeed hold. There is more writing on the next level and an old, broken chest that sits in the center of the room. It is mundane and rotted. Another stairwell leads down to the bottom of the tower. The only creatures they find are tiny spiders sitting in cobwebs in high corners of the tower's bottom level. The writing ends just before the landing of the stairs. The wall facing towards Old City is empty of writing while the wall that connects to the northern part of the wall is full of arcane sigils and representations of the cosmos.

"Be careful," Custodio suddenly warns. "There is an overwhelming aura on that wall!"

Everyone looks away or dives to the floor, but nothing happens. Custodio risks a glance to study the aura. "I have no idea what that is, but I don't think it's a spell."

"We should go," Rhodes suggests. "While I hate to admit it, we need the Wizard Council to take a look at all this scrawling."

"This is definitely the place," Custodio adds. "But it's not very clean or organized for an arcanist's lair. And there's no real work space. It's just an empty mystery."

As you look around the bottom level of the tower, carefully, you see that Custodio is right. There are no workbenches or chairs or anything, really, except a few broken crates and a small barrel that looks like it could have been used to sit or work on. Relgar does find traces of ink on its surface. While the writing on the wall is quite fascinating, he resists getting to close to study the sigils and arcane formulas written almost everywhere, at first.

"How can this be down here without anyone knowing about it?" Rhodes wonders. "There isn't any other way in but the bricked up door."
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
SUMMARY (Cont.) [POST 2]
Meanwhile: At Oakfirst Manor...
Commander Reginald Oakfirst limps up the steps of his old home. 'Was it might my fault?', he asks himself. 'No, there was no way from me to know there were so many of them'. He should have retreated with the others. But hindsight is the skill of clerics and wizards. He sighs as he opens the door and enters the manor. Lavia is there to greet him.

"Lord Oakfirst, what happened to you?"

"There was an ambush out in the ruins," he replies. He stumbles to the hall and finds the nearest chair. His knee is in ruins. It would take days to mend even with the aid of a skilled healer.

"I thought you were going to recruit Lady Thistle?"

"Yes, I did. But, I convinced her to come with me through the ruins. A small sidetrek on the main road, nothing dangerous."

"Obviously it was more dangerous than you thought it would be," Carter appears silently. The halfling starts checking his lord's wounds.

"There were diggers out there who went into the ruins without a proper escort," Oakfirst replies angrily. "If Lady Thistle and I hadn't come across them, they would have all died — several of them did anyway. Betrayed."

"Betrayed?" Lavia asks.

"Their supposed Headman," Oakfirst replies. "He wasn't who they thought he was... he was an impostor. He convinced them to go into Sem La Vah without Cephalous' permission."

"Where is Lady Thistle?" The female halfling asks.

"Dead."

"No."

"Aye," Oakfirst replies. "She died protecting the diggers and a young guard. The attackers were flying reptilian beastmen with fiendish ancestry of some sort. Initially, there weren't that many but more came at us out of nowhere."

Lord Oakfirst goes over it in his mind. There had been at least ten more of them. If the two Elites, Tinna and Denitian, hadn't been there and called out for more Elite guards, they all would have died. The woman Sofija was okay (barely) as were two of her peers. The others didn't make it to the Temple District's gate, however. And the fake Headman, he just disappeared in the confusion. He hadn't been in league with the attackers, as the beastmen had tried to kill him too.

'The reinforcements arrived in time to save me but not her', he thinks.

"After everything she had already gone through, to die," Lavia says.

"She died as she lived," Oakfirst replies. The last thing she had said to him as the lifeblood poured from her was 'I'll be with you soon, Bran'. "And she saved the diggers. I had too many of them on me to be able to help her."

"Perhaps she can be raised from the dead," Carter suggests.

"No, I don't think that's what her soul would want," Oakfirst replies.

All of a sudden, the door to the manor bursts open and several members of the Elite rush in with Lady Samantha Pomander in their midst. She quickly rushes to the commander's side in the hall and asks him if he's okay.

"I'll live," he replies.

"What the hell happened out there?" Her tone quickly becomes demanding.

Lord Oakfirst tells her everything without leaving out any details. He knows that she'd find out everything through her Dark Lantern agents in the Regulars. She listens intently while pacing slowly.

"Did you ever find the body of the man they called Roland?" She asks.

"I don't know," he replies. "I left Mr. Denitiian in charge of the situation. He fought bravely and deserves some recognition. I recommend he be promoted to lieutenant."

"If he finds Roland's body, I'll make him a captain!" She exclaims. "Gods, this is awful. Roland... is Roland Aalisar."

"Aalisar," Oakfirst's day just became worse. "A noble, a digger?"

"It's his hobby, but he's never to go out in the ruins alone," Lady Pomander replies.

"From what I understand, this fake digger, the one pretending to be Headman Jago, he convinced them the artifacts were worth the risk. In truth, he wanted them for himself."

"Do you have any idea what he found? Who he was?" Lady Pomander asks.

"An idol and an ancient bowl with mystic writing on it. One of the survivors told me it looked like Draconic or possibly Old Dragori," Lord Oakfirst replies. "And I have no idea who he could have been? I was too busy trying not to die."

"Oh wonderful," Lady Pomander says. "That's the last thing we need. The dragori are already showing too much interest in Bluffside."

"Yet, you sent me their attache for Terger's group."

"What were we supposed to do, say no?" She paces faster while shaking her head. "Where are they right now?"

"They went to Wyndlasmere House to check out the old Growers' Gate, mum," Carter replies. "There is evidence that Phelix's hideout might be in one of the towers."

"I doubt it," Lady Pomander replies. "I doubt old Alel would miss a renegade's lair that close to his post."

"Mr. Rhodes thought it was a good lead," Lavia says while blushing.

"I can't believe we had to let that man out of his cell," Lady Pomander says bluntly. She pauses. "How'd he look?" She asks Oakfirst.

"The same old Rhody but older. And leaner," Oakfirst replies. "I bet he could lift me over his head."

"Gods," Lady Pomander stops pacing. "This had better work."

"What do you want to do about Lord Roland?"

"Let's keep this as quiet as we can until we're sure he's dead," she replies. "But pull guards from anywhere you can to join the search. I'll send in the Lanterns to check the more dangerous areas."

"We'll lose some of them," Oakfirst replies. "We're already bleeding guards everywhere. If it gets any worse, we'll have to call out the militia."

"I'm already planning to do that," she says. "If I can get the rest of The Five to agree." She pulls chair up next to Oakfirst and puts a hand on his arm. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I feel like I should have done more to save her," he replies.

"The paladin. What was her name again?"

"Thistle. Thistle Ravenwood."

"The people will mourn her," Carter says. "They loved her."

"I'll try to arrange a state funeral for her," Lady Pomander says. "It's too bad that the gnome and the cleric of Ahto have left the city already."

"I could try to send them a message," Oakfirst suggests.

"No, they chose to leave, and we'll respect their wishes. But make sure Terger attends and anyone else who knew her."

"I know that Custodio Vecchi knew her. I don't think the wizard ever met her," Oakfirst says with a grin. "That would have been as interesting to watch as Relgar's first meeting with Rhodes."

"Agreed," Lavia says with a tinkering laugh.

"What happened?" Lady Pomander groans, then she waves her hands. "No, wait! On second thought I don't want to know."

"Sam," Oakfirst says.

Lady Pomander is shocked by his informality. "What!?"

"Never mind," he says with a sigh.

"Find Lord Roland and any of the other missing diggers," she insists as she stands and becomes 'The Lady' once again. "Alive or dead. Call out every guard you can from the Military District. I want those ruins scoured and if there are any more of the reptilians in there, put them to the sword."

"Yes, Lady Pomander," Oakfirst replies.

She leaves as quickly as she arrived with guards in tow. Lavia and Carter attend to Lord Oakfirst as best as they can, leading him upstairs to his father's room. They lay him down on the bed before Carter rushes off to find the nearest cleric.

Carter's mind buzzes. 'Why didn't mi'lord go to the Temple District?'
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
SUMMARY (End) [Post 3]
In the Chamber of The Five:
dfryer36 said:
"Lords, Lady, in my opinion Towermaster Monderand did not fail in his duties," Terger says. "It is my understanding that he is not trained in the arcane arts and the illusions were simple enough; appearing to be a portcullis separating the ruins of Wyndlasmere House from the guard tower. There are such barriers on other levels of the tower where they connect to the ruins and so the illusion would not have seemed out of place. Even Master Aspergim, a trained and, as I understand it, skilled arcanist was initially fooled by it until we physically interacted with the illusion. Perhaps more patrols through the ruins could be recommended but that is only clear in hindsight. As far as the towermaster's conduct is concerned I do not see how he could have done more with the information he had at the time."
"I concur," Elkgrar adds. "The renegade likely gained entry into the old tower through magical means that the towermaster could not have known about. There are many arcane spells that could allow access simply by shifting to an adjacent plane such as the Ethereal."

"The walls of Old City are protected against such intrusions," Lord Blander replies. "No, more than likely someone under Monderand's watch is in league with this renegade."

"I agree with the Lantern," Lord Wellington says. "We shouldn't blame the guards stationed at Wyndlasmere House without some sort of proof. Many of them are the sons and daughters of Old City's best families."

"A few zone of truth spells will determine innocence or guilt," Lord Varian muses. "A simple enough thing to set up."

"Let's not start subjecting the guards to unwarranted scrutiny," Lady Pomander insists. "They are our first line of defense." she looks at Terger. "I'd much prefer for the Lanterns to find the truth of it, quietly."

"Yes, the last thing we need is the Regulars to strike because we go on a witch hunt through their ranks," Lord Wellington adds. "But it would be good to have a plan in place in case things go bad."

"I thought of that," Lady Pomander replies. She leans back in her chair. "We need to call out for the Bluffside Militia."

"That's almost as bad a plan as bringing in the Sectarian Guard!" Lord Blander shouts.

"Oh please," Lady Pomander replies. "You just don't want to cut into the city's profits by taking able-bodied men and women out of the mines and off the farms."

"And with good reason," Lord Blander growls. "We can't risk the city's coffers. I insist."

"Then it's a good thing it's not up to you alone to decide," Lord Varian notes. "And we can't decide that without Lord Hollingsworth here. His is deciding vote in the case we are deadlocked. I vote for activating the militia."

"There is no way I will vote to take diggers off my projects," Lord Wellington says plainly while studying his documents.

"So, it will come to the Lord Mayor to decide," Lord Varian says with a grin.

"Damn it!" Lord Blander exclaims. "We all know he'll vote for it! That's why we all agreed not to bring it up since the last time! Trade will be hard hit! I must insist we put this aside before he finds out its even under consideration!"

"I've already sent a runner to his estate with an official request," Lady Pomanders says triumphantly.

"What!"

"That was quite shrewd of you, Sam," Lord Varian replies. "How'd you know he wasn't going to be here?"

"I didn't," she says. "I sent a runner to each of your estates with a similar request, just in case someone wasn't here."

"You presumptuous little b-," Lord Blander fumes.

"You will not finish that sentence, Wilton Blander!" A voice echoes through the chamber. "Or I'll cut your tongue out!"

"Who dares-" Lord Blander gets up from his chair and looks towards the main doors leading into the chamber. The doors are still firmly closed.

Terger knows that voice and he is the first to see his uncle, Lord Commander Roose Simonis, enter the chamber through a partially-concealed side door.

"Lord Commander," Lady Pomander is as shocked by any of them that the man has appeared in the chamber suddenly. She quickly regains her composure. "While I appreciate you coming to my rescue Simonis, Lord Blander is just blowing hot air like a gnomish steam engine."

"You called in your attack dog, did you," Lord Blander mocks. He pulls a whistle from his pocket and blows a sharp blast. The main doors and several other side doors open and the personal guards of the Blander Estate burst into the chamber. The guards swarm towards their master but several of them stop short when they see Lord Simonis. For while his true position isn't commonly known in Bluffside, he is still a renown warrior and is highly respected in the city.

Lady Pomander whistles with two fingers and several Dark Lanterns appear, as if out of nowhere. Lord Varian calls for his own personal guards while Lord Wellington just sits and reads. Once all weapons have been brandished and the shouting finally stops, Lord Wellington sighs and shakes his head in disgust.

"You all know that bloodshed can't happen in here," he says. "This room is warded, remember."

"But if the wards of Old City can be bypassed by a renegade," Lord Varian spouts. "How do we know we are safe here, eh?"

"Lanterns!" Lord Simonis orders. "Put your weapons away. I did not come here to start a coup." He walks over to Lady Pomander and hands her a document. "Lord Major Horatio Hollingsworth is dead."

"What!" She exclaims. She takes the document from Lord Simonis and pours through its contents. "This, this cannot be."

"He wasn't that sick!" Lord Wellington bolts from his chair and rushes over to Lady Pomander's side.

"He was murdered," Lord Simonis states flatly. "Killed in his estate by someone or something that went unseen. His wife, Damania, is missing. I consider her the prime suspect since it is very unlikely someone got into the estate without her blessing. Those active wards would have prevented it."

"This, this terrible," Lady Pomander says in shock.

"Lord Revel Varian," Lord Simonis turns to the man. "You are now acting Lord Mayor, as tradition dictates and as long as no evidence is found to connect you to this murder, you will officially become Lord Mayor of Bluffside in ten days time. Do you accept?"

"Aye, I do."

"Good, now we must either find a son or daughter to take Lord Hollingsworth place either among The Five or a new member from one of the other noble houses."

"Wait," Lord Blander says meekly. "This is all happening to fast. We need time to think."

"No, that is not tradition."

"Damn it, Roose!" Lady Pomander yells. "Screw tradition! One of The Five has been murdered in his own home!"

"It does not matter," Lord Simonis intones calmly.

"If no living son or daughter can be found, I nominate Lord Roose Simonis for a position on The Five," Lord Wellington shocks everyone with his words.

"And I decline the nomination, as you knew I would," Lord Simonis says with a dry chuckle. "This is not my arena."

"If- if no living son or daughter can be found, I- I nominate Lord Telchal Ashhand for a position on The Five," Elkgrar says quietly.

"Well said, young Ashhand," Lord Simonis replies.

"He can't nominate anyone!" Lord Blander barks. "He's not one of us!"

"Ah, but tradition says that anyone present during the declaration of the death of one of The Five, as long as he is of noble blood, can nominate one candidate. Young Lord Elkgrar is quite within his right to do so, and I'm sure his father will accept the nomination."

"It doesn't matter," Lord Varian says. "Horatio will have a bastard somewhere in the city who can take his place."

"Nay, it has to be a child of his and his legal wife's loins," Lord Simonis points out. "And I'm fairly certain he and Damania have no children. But if she is innocent in his death, then she can take his place among The Five, if she so chooses."

"Gods, please let her be guilty," Lord Blander mumbles. "The last thing we need is that crone in here."

"Agreed," Lady Pomander replies bluntly. "But until the truth can be discovered, back to business." She looks at Lord Varian. "We must still decide about calling out the Bluffside Militia."

"Wait, you can't have him vote twice," Lord Blander complains.

"Quite true," Lord Simonis notes. "But someone else can vote as proxy for Lord Varian and then he can decide as acting Lord Mayor."

"The only person present who can do that is you, and you know it," Lord Blander whines.

"Wilton," Lord Wellington turns to look at the other member of The Five. "It doesn't matter anymore. I am changing my vote to yes." He looks back at Lady Pomander and motions to see the death notice. Once he's read it, he looks at her and says "Call out the militia, Samantha."

"Damn you all!" Lord Blander shouts. He storms out of the chamber with his guards in tow.

Lord Simonis barks out orders and the Lanterns 'escort' the rest of the personal guards out of the chamber. No one complains. The time for posturing is at an end. Lord Wellington hands the document back to Lord Simonis before gathering the museum documents and heading out of the chamber as well.

"You should remain in the Palace under guard until we can be sure your estate hasn't been compromised," Lord Simonis says to Lord Varian.

"A- a good precaution," the acting Lord Mayor replies.

"I will see to your security personally," Roose adds. "With all that has been going on, I only trust the Dark Lanterns to guard you. I will have a dozen discreetly assigned to work in the Palace. The scribes and other bureaucrats won't even know they are there."

"Thank you."

"And I will have word sent to Lord Ashhand about his nomination," Lord Simonis nods to Elkgrar. "Very shrewd of you to think to nominate your father. I hope he wins. The Five could use some new blood. No offense to those here."

"None taken," Lady Pomander replies somberly.

"Things must change, it seems," Lord Varian states. "It is the will of the Great Teacher."

"I must tell you Lord Varian that if you try to turn Bluffside into a Theocracy, I will take it very personally," Lord Simonis replies. He crosses his arms defiantly. "While I have no desire to rule, I will not allow you or anyone else to turn Bluffside into a religious state. Remember that and that the Dark Lanterns answer to me and Lady Pomander."

"I feel safer already," Lord Varian replies calmly. "And don't worry, I will not try to make any sweeping changes without the consent of The Five. And you should really reconsider Lord Wellington's nomination of you for the Fifth position, if their truly isn't a legal Hollingsworth heir."

"I agree," Lady Pomander adds.

"It is not my desire to be anything else than what I am, but if you must nominate a Simonis, it should be my brother, Lord Kai," Roose notes the look on Terger's face at the mention of his father.

"So be it," Lord Varian replies.

"Now wait, I don't think that's a good idea, Roose," Lady Pomander replies nervously.

"Nonsense, he's the perfect person for such a nomination. And he will accept wholeheartedly. Whether or not he can win is another matter."

"There will have to be at least one other nomination from Lord Blander," Lord Varian notes. "And Lady Pomander, you are free to nominate someone as well."

"Bah! I don't think so," she says shaking her head. "There isn't anyone I trust that much, except maybe... something I forgot to mention. Lord Oakfirst was nearly killed out in the ruins of Sem La Vah today. He and Lady Thistle Ravenwood were attacked but what I believe were dark reptilians. They were coming to the aid of several diggers who went out into the ruins without permission. Lady Thistle was killed."

"Dark reptilians," Lord Varian sits down in dismay. "They haven't been around for over a 100 years!"

"I know," she replies.

"I'll have to push my Lanterns a bit harder it seems," Lord Simonis adds. "This is the first I'm hearing of this attack."

"It just happened an hour or so ago, Roose," Lady Pomander says. "While Terger and his team were checking out the old Growers' tower."

"Yes, that I heard about already," he looks at Terger. "You have done well, young Lantern. But your work is not yet finished. Go and find the renegade and bring him directly to me. Alive if you can, dead if you must!"

"He should be put on trial, Roose," Lord Varian insists. "The people will want a spectacle for his crimes."

"Then they can hang a raised corpse," the Lord Commander says bluntly. "Or they can burn his body in effigy for all I care. He dies one way or the other." He points to the doorway. Now go and do your duty, Terger. You too, Lord Elkgrar. Until this mission is finished, you and all the others in your group are now considered temporary members of the Dark Lanterns. If you live, we might talk about bringing you and the others officially into the organization. Now go!"
 
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