The Adventures of Volo
Lost Treasures Of Cormyr, Part 4 (Dragon #281)
By Ed Greenwood
Volothamp Geddarm at your service, gentles, setting forth truths of the Realms like one last, glittering handful of gems cast like dice onto a gaming-table, to the gasps of less wealthy gamblers. Yes, this day I write of my last pair of "lost treasure tales" thus far1 gleaned from the records of the great kingdom of Cormyr.
The Hullack Hawk
In the days when Hullack was independent and Cormyr and Sembia struggled for control of Marsember and what is now eastern Cormyr, the "Hawk" was an outlaw who stole much Sembian gold and retreated into the Hullack Forest, providing Sembia with an excuse to invade Cormyr.
King Pryntaler Obarskyr
(1164 DR - 1210 DR)
A hot-blooded, broad-shouldered warrior for much of his life, Pryntaler shrank in his later years into a tall, thin, almost gaunt king of indifferent health. With his illness, he astonished all by setting aside rashness, becoming wise, observant, considerate of others, and a diplomat of accomplished penmanship.
Pryntaler was brave, had piercing blue eyes, close-cut brown hair and beard, and faultless skill at dancing in youth and later age - but only at in his gray years could he have been called "cool-headed."
Eltrym Drauthglas, Lord of Hullack
(1128 DR - 1202 DR)
Tall, dignified, gray-bearded, and balding, Eltrym was a widower who lost his four sons fighting Cormyr. To keep his six daughters (eldest to youngest: Jalalla, Theera, Ghaunyl, Ileeyra, Ormarra, and Yolara) from being slain or ravished if the Purple Dragons destroyed Hullack Hall, he surrendered - and Pryntaler allowed him to keep his title and powers.
The two men became friends who met often to play chess, drink wine, and discuss the business of Cormyr and the bright young men and women who'd lead it in the future. Eltrym was a good warrior and hunter before a horse rolled over him in battle, crippling him.
(1155 DR - 1206 DR)
Head of House Cormaeril in his time, Donder was tall, laconic, moustachioed, and a deadly swordsman - quite a dashing figure as he "rode the realm." His hair was brown and his eyes green, and he raised and trained magnificent horses - escaping Jarthoon on one after defying its lord Ongmar. Ongmar had given Donder the choice of declaring against the King, or death; Donder's reply was to draw steel, wound Ongmar as he tumbled the rebel across the room as a shield against the hurled daggers of Ongmar's men, and then leap through a high window to the courtyard below to make his escape.
(1157 DR - 1212 DR)
Briefly patriarch of the Crownsilvers, Althallan was a small, catlike man with almost feminine good looks (notably, large indigo eyes and magnificent red hair) and a quick wit. Agile in a fight, he had a prodigious capacity for drink, once springing up to fight and slay a would-be assassin after a drinking-bout that left fellow nobles reeling. His favorite weapons were two slim, needle-like longswords - and many hurled tankards!
(1162 DR - 1203 DR)
The longtime head of his house, Chanthar was a proud, "difficult" man with a red moustache, hair banished by disease (he always wore a hat and was very sensitive to jests and remarks about hair or baldness), and a flamboyant wardrobe.
Talking with King Pryntaler in camp, he once hurled himself forward to take an assassin's blade, slashing open the man's face so the King had time to draw steel, step in front of his queen (who insisted on traveling with him), and strike the assailant down.
(1169 DR - 1235 DR)
A burly, broken-nosed, good-natured warrior, possessed of unruly brown hair and a profusion of facial moles and sores, Beldarm spent years struggling to keep his impoverished family in possession of their ancestral keep. A Sembian agent offered him much gold to betray his king to an assassin (the one Althallan Crownsilver slew), and Beldarm agreed. This was observed by an eavesdropper, Lady Auleethaea Cormaeril, who fled to tell the Queen.
Queen Alvandira grimly mustered armsmen and hastened off in search of Beldarm. In his apartments they found a manservant, who eyed their grim faces and drawn steel and told them his master had gone to the King.
"The King!" Queen Alvandira hissed, and they sprinted to the royal apartments of Helmstar Castle - to find Pryntaler pouring Beldarm a drink.
The noble had just reported all to his king and offered to surrender his sword and enter a dungeon cell, or to play along with the assassin, whichever Pryntaler preferred.
In the general relief, the Queen espied a man slipping away and hurled her dagger at him - but missed. She then announced grimly, "I think we can assume the assassin will know he can't depend on Truesilver aid."
Lady Auleethaea Cormaeril
(1176 DR - 1264 DR)
A quiet, rather plain, and very observant lady-in-waiting to Queen Alvandira, Auleethaea's diaries are the modern reader's guide to Pryntaler's handling of a tense confrontation with the Lord of Hullack, his avoidance of two assassination attempts sponsored by Sembian interests, and his foiling of an attempted rebellion by the young Ongmar Jarthoon.
Auleethaea had full access to the King and Queen, and she spent much of her time silent, eyes downcast, waiting to scurry and carry out any royal order; she was thus well placed to see everything that befell.
Auleethaea had ash-blonde hair, green eyes, and delicate features and skin - a petite and nicely-gowned noblewoman who saw far more than she appeared to take any interest in, and confided much to her diary.
The Hawk Swoops
Cormyrean scholars make much of the never-seen "Hullack Hawk" as a trumped-up Sembian excuse to invade the Forest Kingdom, but the loss of much wealth (from six pillaged warehouses and two sacked and burned estates - those of the merchant families Estcrar and Palindoemyn - near Daerlun) was very real. Estimates pegged the Hawk's takings from these specific raids at more than 300,000 gold coins, much of it in ready coin and trade-bars.
Just where that wealth lies is still a mystery. Outlaws, beasts, and elves mount swift and deadly strikes at anyone brave enough to mount a concerted search into the depths of Hullack Forest even today.
I, Volo, have delved rather deeper than most writers on this subject2. Hints in Auleethaea's writings, supported by other records, suggest that the Hawk might have been Beldarm Truesilver, operating with the aid and under the direction of Donder Cormaeril and Althallan Crownsilver, who had their own private scheme to weaken western Sembian holdings and blame it on the Lord of Hullack rather than Cormyr. Beldarm was wounded and forced to abandon his takings - which might still lie, unburied but overgrown, somewhere just inside Hullack Forest - by Chanthar Huntsilver, who thought he'd caught a rebel or at least a brigand.
When Chanthar called on Donder and Althallan for aid in "hunting down the Hawk," they managed to lead him astray, allowing Beldarm time to escape. Let me be the first to tell the waiting world that the legend of the Hawk was their invention, spread by rumor as enthusiastically as they knew how.
The Missing Wagon
At the close of the reign of King Dhalmass, Conqueror of Marsember and Scourge of the Stonelands, there were murmurs of unrest among wealthy families he'd punished in Arabel and Marsember. Knives were drawn in darkness to take the life of the brawling, wenching king.
A few Purple Dragons fell as those knives struck in practise; documents and even courtiers went missing. No open strife broke out, for the King seemed to change his mind about many things ere he died, but one crime did befall as the tension built: A Purple Dragon pay-wagon vanished somewhere on the roads of eastern Cormyr.
King Dhalmass Obarskyr, "the Warrior King"
(1186 DR - 1227 DR)
The most famous warrior of the Obarskyrs, Dhalmass stood well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered and burly. His ice-blue eyes "snapped" when he was angry, and his voice was a deep roar that carried far over the tumult of battle. His nose was a sharp beak, and his long, flowing hair, longer beard, and bristling eyebrows were light blond, almost white. Prodigiously strong and fast, Dhalmass spent years riding his borders and scouring the land of brigands, orcs, and other monsters. He once defended Cormyr against the full fury of an orc horde - a host thousands strong - with a force a tenth the size, fighting and riding day and night, moving his men about as swiftly as possible by darting from castle to castle for fresh horses, and riding down orc warbands whenever he could catch them.
(1196 DR - 1249 DR)
This effete, slim-moustachioed, raven-haired warrior was head of House Cormaeril in his time. A veteran battle-knight with cold green eyes and a lightning-fast blade, Orngrym rode at the King's shoulder in most battles and was known for singing at the height of the fray. He was one of those rare men who truly enjoyed fighting, and his swiftness and skill saved the life of his King many times.
For this Orngrym was made a Duke, though it was made clear to all that the dukedom would die with him. When it did, Orngrym had enjoyed a long, full, and lusty life, turning after the death of Dhalmass to a "retirement" of hunting and training young knights for the crown.
He once demonstrated the ineffectiveness of a watchpost garrison by attacking them alone and unarmed. Without killing anyone, he won his way through all twenty of them to seize the banner from the top of their watchtower.
(1187 DR - 1246 DR)
This grim-faced, close-mouthed huntsman was head of the King's Scouts for most of the reign of King Dhalmass (and, yes, was an ancestor of Florin Falconhand of the Knights of Myth Drannor). As tall as his King but far more slender, he had a nose every bit as large and sharp, but he also had a craggy face, glittering blue-black eyes, and pale brown hair that was white at his temples. Ardagast fought with a curved saber and a small arsenal of throwing knives.
(1185 DR - 1227 DR)
Head of House Roaringhorn when the wagon went missing, this loud, hearty, burly man had a long, wild mane of brown hair, dark brown eyes, a huge and bristling mustache, and an ever-ready armory of warhammers and axes. Always roaring and laughing, Tharim was an irritation to quieter courtiers, but an inspiration in battle; his spirits never flagged, and he hewed down orcs as a farmer scythes grain.
(1192 DR - 1227 DR)
A slim, cultured man who liked falconry, fine wines, and getting rich through shrewd shipping deals, Elbryn headed the Scatterstars as they rose from court service to attain nobility - largely through his smooth service to Dhalmass, who increasingly appreciated Elbryn's discretion and thoughtfulness regarding the treatment of guests and the running of the Palace.
Elbryn had blond hair, a mustache, green eyes, a fine-boned face, and a seemingly endless and quietly elegant wardrobe.
(1191 DR - 1227 DR)
This soft-spoken noble was head of a rising noble family until its power was smashed by his death - he was stabbed by a son, Nars, whose treachery against the throne Nelnar had just discovered. The Orthwoods were then heavily in debt, and the Crown seized their holdings to pay off their creditors, stripping them of noble status but providing Nelnar's widow Freeyel and daughters Taeronissa and Imroserel with a house of their own on royal estates east of the Starwater, and modest annual funds to live on.
Nelnar had flowing brown hair (which he wore as long as many a maid's), was clean-shaven, and had pale blue eyes. He was usually seen smiling absently and quaffing sherry from a belt flask.
(1177 DR - ?)
A grizzled ex-warrior who'd turned to magic in later life and was gifted in its use, Bardanther's worldly experience and shrewdness made him a war wizard more capable than most. He soon became a "special agent," dealing with the most puzzling and delicate situations the realm handed its rulers.
Bardanther was a short, weather-beaten man given to plain dress and carrying a concealed knife at all times. He often "shepherded" novice war wizards through duties they found difficult and distasteful (evaluating them as he did so).
Bardanther himself was tempted by offers of great wealth, a chance to gain great magical power, and the pleasures of the flesh in tests covertly arranged by war wizard superiors - and every time proved his loyalty to law, king, and country.
The pay-wagon that went missing was commanded by Thandor Waevor, a Purple Dragon lancelord, but violent illness (possibly caused by a poison or spell covertly administered to him) caused him to send it on without him - under its usual guard of seven warriors and two war wizards (one a novice and the other a capable, loyal veteran).
Somewhere north of Marsember, the wagon vanished - horses, guards, its cargo of some sixty thousand silver pieces, and all.
The senior war wizard who disappeared with it, Bardanther Uleeyon, was wearing a Purple Dragon ring (a token that allows a wearer access to the monarch, or as if holding senior royal rank) at the time. In those days such items could not be readily traced by war wizards' spells - and this is one of only three (it's thought) such rings whose whereabouts are now unknown.
Ere it vanished, the wagon was encountered on the roads - thundering along after dark with no lamps lit and no outriders - by encamped riders on an escort mission for the Crown to greet and conduct a Sembian trade envoy safely to a meeting in Immersea.
The wagon was heard and seen by no less than the nobles Orngrym Cormaeril, Nelnar Orthwood, Tharim Roaringhorn, and Elbryn Scatterstars; it actually struck and hurled aside the latter two. Orngrym took to horse and went roaring off after the wagon, and Nelnar sent a huntsman in camp, Ardagast Falconhand, to also take up the chase. Orngrym soon lost all trace of the wagon, but the huntsman took a different trail, and caught up with what he believes was the wagon, racing along in the dark. He got close enough to reach for its rear rail - only to be hurled off his horse by a spear suddenly thrust out of the rear window-flap of the conveyance; it would have spitted him had he not been wearing a belt-of-plates under his leathers.
No trace of the wagon was ever found, and the fate of its guards and cargo remains a mystery to this day.
1. And last, know ye, for some time to come - if Volo's precipitous flight from the Royal court at Suzail is any indication. His efforts at good behavior grow no greater - nor more successful. Only his luck at staying alive outstrips the folly of his wayward ways. Theft and vandalism of royal records, indeed. 'Tis also wisest not to grope furious court librarians, no matter how enticing their forms and garb might be. I would ne'er do such a thing. Ahem.