1999-07-05: Festival’s Good Times Tainted With Conspiracy And Murder
Once again, the streets of Nujel’m were filled with throngs of brightly-dressed and garishly masked revelers. The streets were lined with tables, covered with foods of many varieties, some of which were extremely rare. Although vendors did not sell anything this year, masks were in abundance, and some kind-hearted souls were good enough to give masks to those without.
The ‘Game’, the traditional activity of the Festival, was expanded this year. In the palace gardens of the Sultan, almost a hundred chests were laid out, locked and trapped. Only one would contain the scroll that would gain the successful lockpicker the prize. When the Palace gates were finally opened throngs of treasure seekers flooded the palace and to the gardens. By the time I arrived the air was filled with the pungent smell of poison gas clouds (dispersed well enough not to harm bystanders, thankfully), the thunk of arrows, and the flash and burnt smell of explosions. In the end, though, the scroll was found by a man known as Mystic, who claimed the second prize of the Golden Headband of Ezrekot, an enchanted scarf that would grant the user night vision.
Hunting for the prize in the palace gardens The traditional ‘Game’ was also played, the bearer of the box eventually being identified and the box stolen by Angela, the self-styled ‘Queen of Thieves’. Her efforts earned her the Lantern of Ezrekot, whom used it as a magical recall device that could not be taken by his enemies or identified as such until he was long escaped. (On the subject of Ezrekot himself, a UO:Nujel’mite thief of almost epic proportions, scant little information I could find, save that he perished in the naval bombardment of his hideout by the Royal Navy. A drunk sailor, however, told me a slightly different tale, that Ezrekot began to use his skills to smuggle slaves out of NuJel’m, earning him eventual capture and execution upon the guillotine of the ruler of Nujel’m. Whether this is true or false I leave for our readers to decide or discover.)
Dark events conspired during the Festival, however. Sometime during it, a group of the cult known as the Soulblighters, and some of those of the Order of the Unseen Dagger, banished from Nujel’m a year ago, were lured to the cemetery and ambushed by men in black masks and robes. Although the battle was close by estimations, the ambush was successful. Word arrived shortly thereafter that the Cult, which had laid claim to the opulent city-state of Nujel’m. I managed to secure a brief interview with Vizier Dumont, the Master of the Ceremonies, upon the subject:
Many of my readers are unfamiliar with these ‘Soulblighters’, could you explain?
Dumont: The Soulblighters are a fanatical cult of warriors who sought to conquer our sister city of Magincia from within, by murdering and extorting it’s citizenry. I believe they are a splinter group from another larger cult known as the Fallen Lords, whom worship a deity known as ‘Dracus’.
Why was Nujel’m involved in these matters?
Dumont: The Nine, or the Magincian Parliament if you prefer the full title, asked The Sultan to aid them in ridding the island of these miscreants. In addition to the ambush this night, their holdings in Magincia were also destroyed. The remnants of them fled upon a ship in an unknown direction, and good riddance to them.
Surely the King does not approve of such tactics, though…
Dumont: Lord British may rule Britain, and the most of the cities after his own fashion, but he does not make law here in Nujel’m. And no laws would prevent us from aiding an ally in trouble. I notice he does nothing to stop the gathering of evil upon his own borders in the Great Forest.
You refer to the recent orc activities?
Dumont: Aye, the recent incursions of orcs into the southern borders of Yew does not bode well for the future. Who knows when the next horde may rise, and threaten civilization again. Not to mention this ‘Endless Graveyard’ that headquarters itself in the Crypts of Yew.
Despite the victories, however, there was one sour note. It was Ben Kahns who discovered that during the chaos of the Festival the Silver Bow was stolen from its display case in its namesake tavern. Rumor holds that one of the Order of the Unseen Dagger, greatly skilled in the arts of theft, stole it for reasons unknown. None at this time know of its properties, but in the hands of evil, it could do little good.