The Adventures of Volo
By Ed Greenwood
Volothamp Geddarm, at your service, gentles, setting truths of the Realms before you like a row of perfect mates for as many love-lorn suitors. This day I write of the right people for your needs.
Those who desire to make their fortunes in the rich realm of Cormyr often try to ingratiate themselves at court or with nobles they deem powerful -- and find themselves inevitably at the bottom of a long line of grasping social climbers, limited from rapid advancement in their fortunes and in anyone's regard by the alliances they've just made.
Those whose purposes are a trifle shady or less than respectable (adventurers, for example) often find court officials, feuding nobles, or established merchants to be unsuitable contacts for getting things done with any speed or efficiency. It is to fill this pressing need that I set down certain contacts I have made, or learned of, who are active or interested in the Forest Kingdom of today.
Here then, in no particular order, are some folk who might be useful to the newcomer to Cormyr. These are by no means all who can serve such ends, and many Cormyrians might find some of my choices surprising. Unlike almost all other advisors, I dismiss most courtiers, who are far too adept at twisting the strivings of those who come to them to serve their own ends. Moreover, unlike most, I do not neglect the elves who preceded the human realm and still remain, nor yet avowed foes of the realm -- though finding these might well be difficult, and working with them perilous. Undertake such overtures at your own risk, for I, Volo, did not send you off upon them, nor did I by any means recommend such persons.
An overweight, gossipy lady of the court whose pretensions far outstrip the actual station of her family (longtime Palace servants), Darlutheene's naked greed at the feast-table and shallow selfishness denied her a mate when her charms might have snared her one. These days, in a succession of increasingly tight and outlandishly flamboyant gowns, she seeks a man -- any man -- whose station is such that she'll profit from the match.
A lifelong resident of Suzail, Darlutheene now attends the most drunken of court revels and firmly leads many a staggering noble into the darker bowers of the Royal Gardens. Come morning, none of them evidence any desire to remain in her company for so much as morningfest, let alone for the rest of her lifetime. She's growing desperate -- but that doesn't stop her from sneering condescendingly at the younger beauties at court and pretending to have been overly familiar with everyone from the Court Wizard to the First Trumpeter of the Gate.
Darlutheene has curly blond hair (usually tinted green and pink at the temples), and long, false, green eyelashes frame her striking violet eyes. Her several chins always sport artfully-applied beauty spots. Her figure is, well, ample, and her gowns are an extravaganza of daring plunges and cutouts, up-swept plumes, and tinkling glass pendants cut to look like diamonds. She is a ridiculous figure, and many of her catty observations are unintentionally hilarious.
"Ambermouth" (as she's known behind her back) might best be found at a revel, but best cultivated at her home, the green-tile-trimmed tallhouse that stands on the south side of the Promenade, four doors west of the Old Dwarf tavern, directly across from the Royal Court.
A slightly lighter, shorter brunette version of her friend Darlutheene Ambershields, Blaerla is a spiteful, judgmental loosetongue1 who never stops peeking and eavesdropping except when she's excitedly passing on what she's seen (and, of course, embroidering it in the process) to belittle someone else at court. This makes her ideal for an outsider who wants to spread word of his arrival or doings -- so long as Blaerla can sniff some hint of mystery, deceit, or scandal, her tongue wags ceaselessly on your behalf. Cautioning her not to say something almost guarantees it being all over the Palace by the next nightfall!
A lady-in-waiting to Alusair (when that princess is at the Palace -- hitherto a rare event indeed), Blaerla has much idle time to gather Palace gossip and pass it on to all who'll stop in the rooms she's charged with minding, chatting over mint wine or the drinks called "white frothies." On one memorable occasion, she even rattled on to Vangerdahast, who was in magical disguise -- until she passed on a juicy rumor about how the Royal Magician spent his nights! (Blaerla's noble lineage saved her from dismissal, but her duties became, if possible, less important overnight.)
These days, Blaerla's nigh-constant partner in gossip is her friend Darlutheene, who is perhaps her only friend. Blaerla dotes on "Darling Dutheene," whose secrets she really does keep, but Darlutheene seems too mad for men to really notice.
Blaerla is always teetering on the brink of plunging from robust plumpness into being clearly and simply fat. She has snapping brown eyes and very red lips, and colors prettily (and often) when excited.
Known as "the Roarer" to those amused by her, and "the Tongue That Never Sleeps" or "the Shrieking Horn" to those less enchanted, Blaerla can best be contacted at her house, a triple-balconied tallhouse on the south side of the Promenade across from the Royal Court, and some seven doors down from the Dragon's Jaws tavern.
This war wizard of Cormyr is short, burly, and brown-haired, sporting a mustache big enough to hide his mouth. He has amber eyes, likes to wear lots of rings, and enjoys ale. Loyal to the Crown, he is in awe of Court Wizard Vangerdahast, and works hard at perfecting small spells and presenting them to the master mage as gifts.
Vangerdahast is amused and approving: he sees Huldyl as a useful servant of Cormyr who could grow to be quite a capable battle-wizard if never overly embarrassed at court or challenged with too great a crisis.
Unfortunately, the Abraxus Conspiracy handed Huldyl such a crisis, and he retreated for a time into grim watching and waiting, drinking heavily and playing endless games of chess with his close friend and fellow War Wizard Kurthryn Shandarn.
Only now is he again seeking a bolder role in court affairs, but he has found himself lacking in matters to be important about. This need, coupled with his relative lack of shrewd judgment (when compared with his superiors Vangerdahast and Laspeera), makes Huldyl ideal as a voice for outsiders seeking things done at court in Cormyr.
Huldyl dwells in the War Wizard apartments in the upper floors of the Horngate (where the Way of the Dragon enters the city of Suzail), but spends most of his waking hours either traveling about southern Cormyr on official business or in the Royal Court complex, consulting with Vangerdahast and doing the Royal Magician's go-between and fetch-and-carry work.
INGLEIYR TAMMARAST, LORD OF LANDUTH
An impoverished minor border lord among the nobility of Cormyr, the young Lord of Landuth only recently inherited his holdings, which lie on the western verge of the Vast Swamp, east of Ghars.
Ingleiyr's father invested unwisely in schemes for farming floating water plants in the swamp, and the new Lord of Landuth found himself ruling over a tumble-down keep, two hamlets, and fourteen or so farms between them, all of which were in need of coin.
Ingleiyr has been trying to make ends meet by raising cattle -- cattle he'd like to sell to Sembia more cheaply overland, through Daerlun, than through the Marsember route that royal decrees force him to use.
When Chalipur Hathangos offered him a covert arrangement of mutual advantage, Ingleir listened -- but was infuriated to learn that the Sembian wanted him to leave Cormyr and join Sembia!
Lord Landuth will listen to you, too -- so long as there's money in it for him. Need goods or people (even a modest army) housed and hidden for a time? Kept captive? Brought into a Cormyrian fortress -- or even the Palace itself -- as part of the retinue of a minor lord of the realm? Tammarast is your man -- not disloyal to Cormyr or to the Crown, but with no time for courtly rules or niggling laws, which are fripperies he literally cannot afford. He's also not adverse to a little adventure, even if it means tricking Purple Dragons and their officers.
Ingleiyr has a tousled mane of black hair, brown eyes, a rough voice and rougher hands, and customarily wears plain leathers -- the same breeches and vest that his men working down in the pens and the fields wear. He offers his guests mint wine and beer, lacking the funds to give them more than the plain bread and stew he himself eats. He'll be found either at Landuth Castle, at the southern edge of his holdings, or more likely in the fields with his herds.
This rich, fat Sembian merchant has a silken-soft voice, fat white hands that have never known toil, billowing silk robes embroidered with dragons eating their own tails ("Appropriate," Ingleiyr Tammarast once murmured), and is balding; what little hair he has left (above his ears, and fringing his mouth) is red and curly. Hathango's many ruby rings mirror the strange red hue of his eyes, and he customarily wears a body-scent closely acquainted with exotic Thayan and Chessentan spices. The only armor he wears consists of magical bracers -- and his own self-importance.
Inheriting a fortune built in the textiles and gems trade, Hathango now owns his own shipping fleet, though he itches to do something bold and successful that wasn't already done for him by his late father, Ghalador. He's looking to become a major force in livestock rearing, hence his need for lands he can dominate without having to pay for them, and his overtures to Tammarast. (See the previous entry.)
He smokes incense-laced tobaccoes from Thay and drinks cherry-flavored liqueurs from Chessenta and Threskel. Offers of beer, mint wine, and lesser beverages will be accepted --but with a sniff and a curled lip.
Hathango can be found most often in Daerlun, but might also be found from time to time in Wheloon, Suzail, or Immersea. Look for the most expensive and luxurious accommodations, and ask for him there. Be aware that Hathango goes nowhere without two hulking bodyguards, a pair of acrobatic slayers-for-hire who keep a lower profile but are seldom out of range of aiding their employer.
Sabran is a young, ambitious, scheming "blade" of the court - who slew or tried to slay - several nobles during the recent Abraxus Conspiracy. Now in exile, Sabran heads a shadowy band of dispossessed young nobles and dreams of one day ruling Cormyr.
Sabran delights in sending agents (hirelings, servants who left the Forest Kingdom with their masters, and other young exiled nobles who are exiled but can't resist a trip home in disguise) into Cormyr -- south of the Starwater, that is. To Sabran, the rest of Cormyr has always been a wild backwaters where hunters and farmers toil, and he has no desire to dirty his hands among them.
Sabran's eyes and brows are black, his hair is a dirty blonde, and he's short, slender, agile, and clean-shaven. His clothes are the most dashing that fashion allows, and he always goes armed, swaggering about the many taverns of Westgate or Selgaunt (he slips from one to the other "to keep Obarskyr assassins guessing," though I think he fancies himself far more important than the Crown does) as if he was a royal prince, just as he once strutted in Suzail. He surrounds himself with many well-armed louts, of course, and his agents are willing to do anything in Cormyr, from carrying messages and delivering funds (at which, surprisingly, they can be trusted) to arson, slayings, and stealing wagons or even ships in harbor!
The best way to contact Sabran is to leave word at upscale tipple-houses, and await a response from one of his bravos.
Six feet tall, soft-spoken, lithe in his movements, and menacing in his dealings with humans, this gold elven warlord dresses in close-fitting black garments adorned with everbright silver and is seldom without a small forest of throwing knives on his person (sheaths for one or more are worked into every ornament).
Arrogant and energetic, he bristled with fury at having to surrender Lythtlorn to "bestial, unwashed" humans. Shaundyl dwells now in the depths of the Hullack Forest, surrounded by fearsome forest beasts that he dominates into serving him as guardians when hunting parties make forays into the green depths. He dreams of the day elves will rule all of Cormyr again. He will do nothing to harm the land (its forests in particular), but will otherwise covertly aid any humans interested in shattering the Obarskyr rule, weakening the War Wizards, or in bringing down general slaughter and unrest upon the realm. Those who use fire or chop trees he will never trust, no matter what goals they profess.
Shaundyl can best be contacted by leaving a written message for him within the edge of the Hullack Forest and waiting patiently at a country inn or cottage nearby specified in the message. He'll be aware of any forays into his forest and will eventually recover the message and come to where you wait with many magical and bestial allies, ready for treachery on your part.
I, Volo, am well aware that many other exiled or discontented nobles are ripe for use as agents in affecting change in Cormyr. Nor have I forgotten that Red Wizards of Thay are rumored to have been involved up to their blood-drenched elbows in the Abraxus Conspiracy. At present, however, I'm seeking safer allies and contacts within the Forest Kingdom and might present my findings, if they shine well enough, at some future time.
2. These would now be the Western Robing Room (where courtiers -- not nobility -- can change their garb or more often adjust their garments, hair, and applied cosmetics), Lord Valdashar's Solar (given over to an untidy and growing collection of plants banished by the Crown Princess from the rest of the Palace), and the Room of the Ruby Archers. This last is named for a series of rather voluptuous red-dyed stone statues of female foresters plying their bows in a line down the center of the room. Seats have been placed backing onto each statue's plinth, and the out-of-the-way room is much used each day by lady courtiers for gossip, gossip, and more gossip.