dfryer36 wrote:"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 an idea 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 but 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.
"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. "The place 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. The 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 amongst The Five or name a new member from one of the other noble houses."
"Wait," Lord Blander says meekly. "This is all happening so 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 amongst 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 Blander 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."
"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!"