The Hidden Hand

Interlude 2

Interlude 2

Delamor has been poring over the maps laid over the table for several hours, familiarising himself with the movements of the undead horde that has descended from the mountains upon his beloved Cormyr. As he ponders what Szass Tamm and his loyal henchman Diker Thane aim to achieve, beyond general death and mayhem, with these attacks, he hears footsteps on the stairs leading to his study. A familiar voice echoes up the stairwell.

“Look, I’m not saying you didn’t have it under control, or that the wyvern would have definitely killed you if I hadn’t leapt on to its back and distracted it for a moment, but I still think that a ‘thank-you’ isn’t too much to ask.” Delamor looked up from his studies. Aradon.

Sure enough, his old comrade was even now entering the room, walking backwards and holding his arms wide in the very image of peaceful argument. And, a moment later, hands on hips and having none of Aradon’s reason, Zyanne strode into view.

“If anything, Aradon, your leaping on its back threw off my aim, meaning that you owe me an apology.” Aradon made as if to argue further, but by now Zyanne had seen Delamor. The thief cut off any further disagreement with a curt motion and raised an eyebrow. “You took your damn time.”

“I came as soon as your request for reinforcements came through. We’ve ended up wrapped up in some interesting and annoying politics in Baldur’s Gate. Even as we speak Athon is leading the other core members and a new rogueish character in a mission to gain the 2nd Narselkin and hopefully rescue your father at the same time. Speaking of fathers I understand mine has been released to work with you in defending the kingdom. Any idea where I might find him?” asked Delamor.

“Downstairs, with his ‘escort’. I don’t think he knows you’ve arrived. Shall we?”

Delamor followed his comrades down the stairwell and into the main hall of the building. Following Aradon’s lead into a sideroom, Delamor saw his father sitting on a leather armchair, reading reports. A burly and bored guard stood next to him. His father looked up, and he almost leapt to his feet to embrace his son.

“My boy! How goes the world outside Cormyr?”

Delamor approached his father and clasped his hand firmly. “Far more interesting than your cell must have been all these years. It is good that they have finally seen fit to let you out even if it has been under escort.” Delamor inclined his head politely acknowledging the guards presence and took an insightful measure of the man. Facing back towards his father he said, “Perhaps when this war is over we can finally return with Aradon to Wheloon and clear both your names. We can speak of more personal matters later but, for now I’ve been reviewing the charts and other documents but, I’d really like to hear how things are going from the mouth of those that have been out there.”

“Well, the dracoliches started appearing a few weeks ago, coming down out of the mountains and burning a few villages. The Royal Family sent a token force out to patrol the area. They camped close to the only village in the area that hadn’t been razed to the ground, hoping to catch the undead beasts while they attacked the next logical target.”

Aradon took up the story. “The force was annihilated overnight. The dracoliches attacked the village, and then ten times their number joined them from who knows where, descended on the patrol, two hundred men strong, and killed them all. After that, the Royal Family took things a little more seriously. A militia was raised, and the army started gathering folk from outlying towns and villages, drawing them into the defensible cities. Since then, the undead dragons have laid siege to our cities, but have not yet taken any. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say they do not want to, and their purpose is something else.”

Zyanne spoke up. “Szass Tamm directs them, and Diker’s Earthmote appeared once our forces were withdrawn into the cities to achieve who knows what in the mountains. From what you’ve said, it’s possible that he seeks the third sword up there, intending to get his hands on it before you do. The dracoliches keep Cormyr busy while he plunders the mountains, no doubt looting the dragons lairs he finds there in an effort to find the sword. Still, I think this is more than that. He could achieve the same result by stealth. No: there’s something more to this. Szass Tamm wants Cormyr pinned to its cities for some reason. I believe the Royal Family has sent couriers with requests for aid in all directions. They have high hopes that aid will raise the sieges and allow them to fight back on a more aggressive footing.”

Delamor nods sagely. “I think you are right. It could be just ego that makes Szazz Tamm attack so openly hoping to scare all the fight out of the goodly people before they can make a move but, given the history of his history of subtefuge in the past with Devlin and the citizens of Netheril it is likely a feint of some kind. You three have all been out there and seen the front lines. What hope do you think a small force may have in infiltrating the earthmote itself? Perhaps while another elite force goes after the third Narselkin? If we can put spies upon the earthmote who can communicate back information of upcoming action or just the layout of the mote perhaps they can meet up with the other force once the 3rd Narselkin has been found and we can put an end to Diker Thane’s part in these awful occurances.”

After a quick meal with his father and his friends, including his newest, his father’s “bodyguard” Hamesh Delamor set about putting some plans into motion. He sent off a messenger to arrange a meeting with the Royal Family asking his father and Hamesh come with him he also selected from the roles two devout members of the Company of the Purple Eclipse to accompany him first to the capital and then on a recruiting drive. He asked Zyanne to form as stealthy a squad as she could so that she could lead it into the very heart of Diker Thane’s territory and Earthmote, supplying her with one of the captured message pads which he has had one of the Company’s wizards retune to work for its members and not for Diker Thane himself. “Aradon, my friend, it is you that shall lead the armies and guide them to whatever victories you can. Remember though that the main goal is to protect that which we have and not necessarily to capture new lands. Coordinate your efforts with the Purple Knights of Cormyr and whatever additional allies we can procure for you on our travels”.

Delamor and Aradon working together later did all they could to recruit as many goodly clerists as they could to their side. Knowing beyond all doubt that the radiance of Sehanine and Amaunator combined would be the best weapon against Szass Tamm and his undead armies.

Delamor and Aradon held a joint religious ceremony at midnight and at noon the next day celebrating both their dieties and praying for their help in this struggle against the undead, an affront to both the god and the goddess.

Delamor also chose to donate to the Company of the Purple Eclipse and to the local church of Sehanine all of his personal wealth, including magic items, excepting only the Orb of Sehanine which he has taken upon his travels to act as a beacon for himself and a symbol for what he hopes will be many newly found allies to gather around.

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