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  • Andrew M. Trauger

August Blanchard

The "phantom" of Wilder Tower is rumored to have walked among the people of Westmeade. Always in hiding, cloaked, and hooded, this elusive figure is often overlooked as a normal person. But some claim to have seen through the disguise, past the phantasmic visage. Whether lurking in shadow or procuring salt at the market for his next meal, more than a few citizens of Wilder District claim to have seen "August Blanchard" back from the dead.

Which, of course, has unsettled them.

August Blanchard was born about sixty years ago in Wilder District, and like every other child in that part of town, he was born into poverty. He lived by meager means, made worse when his father abandoned Blanchard's mother and five siblings. He grew up a nobody: a dirty, skinny boy with a bland past, a dismal present, and bleak future.

But all that changed when he wandered into the middle of town and solved a local riddle. A jeweler had posted a particularly difficult puzzle on a signboard that several of the brightest minds in Westmeade could not solve. But Blanchard solved it in under thirty minutes. Everyone was astounded at his insights, and the jeweler promptly gave the young August the prize: a gold ring inlaid with a diamond. One of the town's nobles who witnessed the event offered to pay for the boy's tutelage and apprenticeship at the Guild of Magicks, and Blanchard eventually became a brilliant arcanist.

He never married, living in seclusion and preferring to study and hone his craft. He enjoyed the quietude, in which he could experiment with theoretical magic without interruption. He liked people--from afar--watching them and learning patterns in their behavior. From this, he discovered that the folks in Wilder District, the people he grew up with, were devoted to the empty tower that had long ago served as a watchtower and military outpost. Though abandoned, it was a treasured part of their heritage. Blanchard petitioned the city to preserve the tower as a monument and even drew up plans to convert it into a museum.

When the post of elected noble for Wilder District became open, Blanchard was nearly the unanimous choice of the people from that district. Though reluctant, August Blanchard accepted the post and faithfully served as representative, fully intending to bring his plans for the tower to fruition.

Just a few years into his tenure, Blanchard was murdered. While the city mourned his untimely death, the Council began the process of finding his replacement. This man, once chosen, was also murdered. A third choice was waylaid en route to another city, and fourth selection simply went missing. By this point, the Council was convinced that even Blanchard's death was no accident, but four years of investigations have turned up nothing.

Now, Wilder Tower is said to be haunted by a phantom of August Blanchard, or possibly is occupied by a person who looks an awful lot like the noble himself. Neither option is good, for the people of Wilder District have come to fear the Tower they once loved.

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