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Request for a Reckoning
Word of the death of Symzynzalak spread quickly, and fairly predictably. Among our first visitors were Luigi and Max, now visiting in an “official” capacity as representatives of the Fellowship of the Pouch. Naturally, the Fellowship knew of our conquest and subsequent haul of treasure. To us they offered “protection”, safeguarding of our haul from their own kind, in turn for a cut. My stomach roiled at the thought of sharing anything with the Fellowship, who already benefitted from our relationship, but Thaljun had a better idea. In the horde of Symzynzalak, there had been immense sums of copper and silver coins. We would offer them a cut, but our terms were that they take from that. They agreed, and so the matter was settled.
Next on the docket was another matter, that of the castle and the lands we had won from the Ethengar. I wondered how many households were graced with the visit of one Prince, let alone multiple as we now had. And two visits in as many weeks. We were becoming more popular, or perhaps infamous, in the country. I stood quietly by while Thaljun and the Princes Jharek, Jagger and Etienne discussed the issue. Thaljun laid forth our proposition: castle and lands for payment of cash, a tax break, and the recommendation of a noble to be assigned to rule the area. The Princes there considered the offer, and agreed in Principle to our terms, with the cash component being the sum of 1000 crowns. Naturally, it would have to be ratified by the Council.
As the matter was concluded, Prince Jharek asked to see me outside. I followed him out the door, where we stood on the patio, alone except for a few of his guards. He turned to me and indicated that he wished to see the Lady Sinaria Verlien punished for her kidnapping of his son, and that the time was at hand. He briefly outlined his plan, and the help he needed from me. Lady Verlien was an accomplished wizard, and strong, but she also had a strong greed for the deeper powers, particularly those dealing with the Radiance, as I understood from Thaljun. The Prince planned on using this against her. His plan was to have his informants leak information back to her that I was in possession of a book that dealt with the Radiance. He believed that, upon learning I had it, she would seek to have me kidnapped and brought to her personally. When she did, I should bite down on the object, and break it. The resulting explosion should be enough to destroy us all, and her tower. He reached out, and handed me a dark piece of wood, which at first looked like a toothpick. Upon closer examination, I saw that the piece possessed tiny flecks of jewels. I marveled at it. While I did, the Prince explained further that the object was a Staff of Power, an object that is powerful even unto wizards. This staff was charged, so that certain abilities expended those charges until it contained no more. This staff, however, was fully charged. If broken, would cause an immense explosion that would destroy everything within 20 feet of the origin. As for the person breaking the staff, the outcome was not so simple. One might simply be consumed with the others in the resulting explosion, or transported to a different plane of existence. I knew from my own experience that there were many such planes, and not all of them suited for humans.
I had told the Prince at the Tournament that I would help him and his family see vengeance done, and I would not shirk my request now. I told him I agreed. He withdrew a dagger, and asked me to bare my arm. As I did so, he indicated that if I were transported to another plane, it would be a simple matter for him to find and retrieve me. If I were to be destroyed, that was another option entirely. As he cut into my arm, he explained that he was taking some of my flesh, from which he could grow a clone of me, essentially a copy. This copy would be a vessel for my being if I were killed, a way back for my soul. With that, he and his guards climbed into an awaiting gondola, and sped away, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I considered the Staff. Such a small thing, to cause the devastation that the Prince indicated. I was nervous. Not the kind of nervous preceding a battle, when a man checks his steel and his armor, and prepares to ride down his enemies. This time I would be surrendering myself to the mercy of my enemy, entering her lair, with perhaps nothing to protect me but this tiny piece of wood. I suddenly felt very foolish. The Prince cared little for my life. However, I would honor my word, I would kill this woman. I hoped that another means might be revealed to me.
The next day, I set about enacted the first part of the plan. I was to go to the Golden Imp, where I would be met by someone who would pass me the book. It was easily, as planned, and with no mishap. I almost expected to be taken right then. I took the book I was given and went back to the estate. The remainder of the day passed uneventfully. That night, I went to bed, with the next day bringing our last trip to the castle to finish clearing it out before the move to Glenargyl. As I slept, I began to have strange dreams of a woman, lovely, but with a sense of danger. She bent down to kiss me, and I became aware that I wasn’t dreaming. A woman was in my room and trying to kiss me. As she did, I felt a power try and overcome me. I fought back, alarmed. A ruckus ensued as I began to see the witch for what she was; a succubus. I yelled out to my comrades awaken them, and soon heard them coming up the hall. In the meantime, I continued to fight with the demon. As my friends entered the room, the succubus grabbed me, and altered her appearance to look exactly like me. My evil twin grinned at me while my comrades looked on, completely bewildered. I yelled at them to let them know it was me, but they couldn’t seem to get a handle on the situation. They elected to try and sort us both out, which eventually caused the succubus to retreat, leaving the tower without further trace. Although I sensed I may have missed an opportunity, I knew the Countess would not give up so easily. I also got an early reinforcement that that Staff must stay with me, at all times, until I completed my mission. I could not get captured without it.
As planned, the dawn brought preparations to travel west to the castle, then to Blofeld, and finally to Glenargyl so that Thaljun could claim his new county. We set off on the airship, making the trip out west. As we approached, I saw the men below drilling, making ongoing repairs to the castle walls, and otherwise maintaining the order of the area. The word was that there had been no further assaults since the trap near Estoniarsk. I wondered how long the quiet would last. The upside was that if Glantri actually did annex the area, they would have the needed military support. We landed on the castle deck, and disembarked. I and the others set out to reclaim the last of our possessions here, ensure that matters would remain smooth until the transition, and for me to see what Kvor intended to do. Afer collecting and loading my possessions, and biding farewells to the men I had fought alongside in battle, I finally went to address Kvor. I found him in the yard, looking after training of some cavalry replacements. He was instructing them in tactics, and I sat down to listen for a few minutes, not wanting to interrupt. As I looked at the men watching Kvor as he instructed, I saw one common trait: respect. Kvor had earned it, from each and every one of them.
I waited until he completed his instruction, and approached. I congratulated him on his accomplishments, and the spoke plainly to him regarding our departure. I wanted him to know that he had earned his own, and that if he wished to stay with the castle and his troops, I would support him. I was pleasantly surprised when he indicated that he wanted to remain with us. I told him to collect his possessions and make his farewells, and to join us on the tower when he was done. A short time later he arrived at the airship, and we left. I wondered when we might return, if ever. We set out to Blofeld.
The trip to Blofeld was also challenging. It seemed a far cry from when we arrived. The effort and money we had put into the place shone; the town was already continuing to expand. In time, perhaps, it would support the population necessary to consider an enfiefment. I sighed, wondering what the incoming noble might bring. I made a note to remind myself to ask Thaljun to have a chat with whomever arrived. I would brook no recession to the way things were here before. It was much harder to part ways here. The Burgermeister and some of the citizens had come out to bid farewell. We met them, and they thanked us for looking out for them and Thaljun’s leadership. Gathering our possessions wasn’t necessary here, we had seen and paid for a professional move, so our stay was brief. Soon, we were on our way to Glenargyl.
It wasn’t long before our airship was over the new county. The area had some similarities to Blofeld, but seemed more naturally hospitable. We had brought a significant number of the horses we captured from the Ethengar, and I felt that this might be a suitable locale to further our new horse-breeding venture. Thaljun had asked if I thought my family might be suited to run that venture for him. My father had agreed, and was seeing to the herds and his new role even as we flew over. The citadel of Glenargyl was indeed impressive. I thought it would be a difficult place to assault, taking note of strengths and weaknesses of the region from above. We landed, and began our approach to the citadel. It was said that incoming nobles often left certain challenges for each other when arriving into a new county. I wondered what the Prince might have in store for Thaljun. As we approached, Thaljun consulted a scroll. We stopped at a point, and Thaljun uttered some keyword. As he did, he was immediately struck with some sort of dark ray, after which he dropped to his knees. I stepped forward to help him, but saw the ground splitting around us, as dead hands reached up from the earth, freeing themselves from their prisons of dirt. I swore, cursing the Klantyres and their love for necromancy. We engaged them, and were able to dispatch them fairly easily, but I was annoyed by the ridiculous spectacle.
The citadel proved to be as impressive on the inside as out, but we did not encounter any further surprises as we toured the place. Now attuned to Thaljun, we felt confident to bring in the remainder of our things, and personnel that were associated with the household. The movers were not far behind, and we spent the next couple of days directing the moving of people and things. The administrivia was monotonous, and so I was somewhat grateful when a summons came; the government was being convened and Thaljun’s presence was required. I left Kvor in charge, and the remainder of us left for Glantri City.

As always, the gathering of the Princes, representatives and spokesmen was a spectacle. I’ve never attended any such meeting elsewhere, so I often wondered if every land was such a circus. We took our seats and awaited the arrival of the Princes. In the meantime, I watched the various factions debate one another and be demonstrative. Finally, the Princes arrived, and the meeting began in earnest. As expected, it was announced that the region we had taken would be annexed, in a barony called Montressore. It also came as no surprise that Rayd Varian was made Baron. Despite Thaljun’s trust, I still had misgivings about the man. I hoped that we would not regret Thaljun’s decision. In typical fashion, all the other Princes wanted to annex lands as well ,as to keep the balance of power in place. Several additional new counties were announced, with alignments to the various families. I shook my head. The circus continued with the normal amount of bickering and accusations, but eventually reached a conclusion. At least Arcanium was nearly upon us. I hoped that it would be an enjoyable one for us, but knew that it was also likely to be very eventful.

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