A Friend in Need

Book 1-1: A Mysterious Message

An outsider's view on the start of things

A bird flew in through the north window and exploded. There was a dull “whumph” and a cloud of dark feathers that drifted and spun before settling to the floor. The man set down his book and rose from his chair to survey the aftermath. A final shred of black down fell into place. The man read the message spelled out in black feathers across the floor of the room.

My little spiders tell me that young Dellagato means to proceed with his plan. He will be a greater threat than his father, to be certain. Yesterday, Dellagato sent his man Sildar Highwinter to accompany the dwarf, Raynor Hammerdeep, back to Three Stones. Hammerdeep carries the map that Dellagato gave him – the one that supposedly leads to the Thundering Cavern and the Spellforge. Dellagato means to find it and revive it, as part of a greater plan to restore the prestige of Moorguard Mercantile.

Dellagato shared this plan with a group of his friends that he means to recruit to his cause. They are all fools and fops like him, minor noble sons playing at being knights or wizards or holy men. This morning, he sent the four of them, along with his valet, to follow Highwinter and Hammerdeep to Three Stones. They are transporting a wagon load of mining supplies to assist Hammerdeep in uncovering the Spellforge. According to what my spider says of Dellagato’s scheme, they will secure the Spellforge and partner with the Ironeaters of Mt. Illefarn to operate it.

I have already woven the necessary webs to snare the map to the Spellforge and turn these events in your favor, my lord. Queen Grolla has agents, crude as they are, that already watch the Triboar Trail. I have given her descriptions of our prey and instructions to capture Hammerdeep and the map and deliver them to me. She required less compensation than I would have expected – I always forget how unimaginative the Cragmaws can be. They are always after captives to use for food and sport, so I gave them leave to take Highwinter and Dellagato’s friends for their amusement, and promised gold and weapons if they deliver the dwarf and map unscathed.

I will contact you when the prize is captured. The Spellforge will serve your purposes well, and you can use it to crush the last vestiges of the Dellagatos at your whim.

Your Faithful Servant, – XS

The man tugged his earlobe and smiled. He returned to his chair and his book, crushing the black feathers beneath his fine shoes. The message slowly disintegrated, and was borne away on the breeze blowing through the north window. It smelled of rain.

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