The Court looked on expectantly as Indoril walked in, hood flung down and tousled, medium length, mud-brown hair bouncing as he moved. When he stopped at the foot of the dais and knelt, the watching nobles muttered amongst themselves, noting especially the lack of guards. People noted the absence of Prince Farin, but put it down to his role within the armies of Kerin-Curan, and the entire nation knew of the treachery of Dagren.
“Indoril, formerly of House Aerenhert,” said one of the King’s stewards, as if the kneeling man needed an introduction to any present. The King waved him away with an impatient air.
“In the past month you have performed an invaluable service for this country, one that places all those here in your debt.
“As such, I hereby renounce all claims to your life, and remove any bounties or rewards placed on you, as my powers as King allow!” The King’s voice rose to ride the wave of disbelief that came from the Court by way of muttering and a few outraged calls.
“You shall be given a role which suits your skills within the Palace and High Keep. Beyond that, I hereby bestow upon you the title of Master, and from henceforth you shall have a reasonable estate in the city.
“Rise, Lord Indoril Aereskern, the Swift-Handed.”
Indoril stood when ordered, and once the king had finished speaking, he bowed deeply. “Thank you, Your Grace. I plan to show you, and all those gathered here, that I am worthy of the position you have granted me so generously!” With a theatrical second bow, the thief-turned-spy-master turned and bent his head to the entirety of the Court. He looked up and caught his father’s eye, but the lord just stiffened and raised his chin loftily, before turning on his heel and walking out.
‘There will be no repairing the damage done there, it would seem,’ he thought sorrowfully. He was truly sorry for the pain and humiliation he had caused his father when it was found he was not only a prolific philanderer but also an accomplished thief who had been stealing from the nobles of Kazel for years. No few lords had called for his head after it was found their daughters had been drawn to him and then abandoned.
The newly-appointed Spy Master strode confidently through the halls of the High Keep until it merged with the Palace, and then left the main corridor he had been following, meandering his way through a series of web-like passageways, until he came to a room, long unused and far beneath the Great Hall, where a number of other people of import stood around a circular table ten feet across.
There was already a discussion in progress when he entered, but speech ceased when they heard the slap of his supple leather boots on the stone floor, which he had emphasised - if he had so wished, they would never have heard him. The king was present, looking hale and hearty despite the rumours of poor health. Indeed, he looked like he was in his prime. Indoril suppressed a smile. He had a feeling this was due to the situation with Dagren.
“Lord Indoril ... At last; I was afraid you had become lost in our labyrinthine passages,” said Prince Farin caustically; he had not approved of the methods his father had employed by making use of the man’s talents.
“My prince,” he replied, bowing his head, “I am afraid it would take a much more convoluted route to throw me off.”
The king tried to disguise a laugh as a cough, and was thrown a dirty look by his son. “Do not look at me like that, boy. He was the most renowned thief in the city; I’m sure he could find our deepest vaults. Not that he’d want to.” A throwaway remark, but accompanied by a sidelong glance at him as it was and the tone of his voice, and Indoril felt it was better to leave the rest unsaid. “Now, Lord Indoril. Repeat your findings for this Council to hear.”
Looking around, the Spy Master decided that, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t say half the things he had been asked to. There were political schemers, those who had their own vested interests and other reasons they shouldn’t be there. As far as he was concerned, only the King should know the full extent of his illicitly-gained knowledge.
“As you wish, your grace,” he began, leaning on the table palms down and spread. On the table before him was a map of Kolnur, with markers to denote who controlled what and troop dispositions. “I have managed to establish relationships with several informants and managed to place some of our own people on each island of Dagren. Currently, the enemy forces are composed entirely of conscripts. There are about one hundred thousand on each isle.
“We have also established, due to messages sent both to Jenine Guyere and the Pirate Lord Ilkin Avci - separately - that the Pirate Lord has been deposed, by one Captain Tyrion. I have heard of him - a nasty piece of work, but elusive. A Captain Yelik, recognised by one of our men, appears to be his second. He has a small contingent of loyal soldiers left; the best of Dagren, but what that means is anyones guess. We have been assured that Ilkin Avci will aid us when we land on the Eastern Isle. We have assured him we will land there first and cleanse the island for him.
“On each of the islands, it seems we have survivors from our original expeditions. I am not sure about the ships. Whilst we have people there, they are too few in number to be of any great threat to Tyrion’s plans.
“Yelik is on the Western Isle. So far, it appears that we cannot locate Tyrion. Regardless, we cannot take him out individually. Though I feel personally he is the glue holding this rebellion together, I have been warned by my people that his death may martyr him ... I get the distinct impression that any intervention there by Kerin-Curan will be taken as an insult. We should tread carefully, your grace.” Prince Farin snorted derisively.
“I should have known. The sneak-thief afraid of a direct fight. Father, our soldiers are worth theirs. We should attack, now. Catch them off guard! It is our best chance; if we don’t they will fortif-”
“Be quiet, fool. No matter how much more skilled our soldiers are, they have more than three times the number of our trained soldiers. This Tyrion is reputed to be intelligent and ruthless; storming in will get us all killed.
“Lord Indoril is correct. We shall tread carefully. Guild-Lord Snorri Snorrisson is working on something that will give us an advantage, as is the Mechanists Guild School. We shall prepare properly. The Northern Isle needs to be fortified. We cannot leave our own lands without defence. I will not risk losing Kerin-Curan to a pirate.” The king stopped speaking and took a deep breath, eyes closed and brow furrowed in concentration.
“We have allies. Kogan-Sul has dwarves; relatives of us no matter how far displaced. We will trade with them. We are better smiths, of that there is no doubt. But they have better materials. It has already been discussed.”
Silence took the room, only the crackling of wood in the braziers and fires of the room, which kept it comfortably warm. Some of the lords looked uncomfortable, but said nothing. One Guild-Lord of the Smiths, however, looked relatively smug. Helmfrid Grahame, he was called, one of the best smiths in Kerin-Curan, the second best in Kazel, to only his brother.
He stepped forward. “My king, I would be honoured to carry out this task for you. I would relish the opportunity to travel to Kogan-Sul and teach their smiths - to meet dwarves of another land would be an honour. He nodded, right hand over his heart. The king glared at him, and then nodded.
“Very well. You shall also take Kadri Benici. Go, prepare. You leave at first light. And send a messenger to Kadri.” The ancient dwarf turned to look at the assembled nobles. “Come, we shall continue to plan. Lord Indoril, do you have any more insights?”
-Ambassadorial Traders sent to Kogan-Sul carrying Superior Forging
(move from Land Province 12 to Sea Province 75)
Malochai von Carstein; Terror of Hunger Wood, Lord of Lichenhof Tower