Sage of Shadowdale has something to say about pretty much everything.
Despite having pages in Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Adventures, and Polyhedron
Newszine, the Old Mage still has more to speak of the Realms. Not wanting
to anger an archmage, we decided it would be best to give him a weekly
column from which to discuss the finer points.
well, young one...
Hands of the temple are widely -- and justly -- feared both within the
temple and in surrounding Voonlar. Villagers long ago dubbed them "the
Bloody Hands," but as use of that phrase was quickly shown to be
highly dangerous, it was swiftly shortened to "the Blood." If
Voonlarrens could find a way -- any way -- to rid themselves of the Blood,
they'd fall over themselves to do it. Failing that, they'll abet any means
of exacerbating the feud between them, for the pure joy of seeing them
at each other's throats.
the Dark Hands, Meirgin Windtalon, is slender, tall, darkly handsome,
and well spoken. The other, Bastabar Yulgont, is broad-shouldered and
fat, with the battered face and hands of a longtime warrior, and a growling
voice that delivers a few menacing and well-chosen words rather than swift
and smooth phrases.
nickname comes from the venomous sidelong glances he delivers to those
who displease him. A glib and cheerfully toadying "born courtier"
from Selgaunt (where he was one of the countless penniless younger sons
of would-be noble families, strongly encouraged to go out and make their
own ways in the world), Daggers is a master of temple courtesy, ritual,
and the written word, an organizer and record-keeper whose every written
line contains coded nuances for his own benefit. He has a long memory
and even longer patience -- and woe betide those who've displeased him
if he ever rises to become Patriarch, or sees a way of manipulating visiting
adventurers or passing merchants into doing harm to his foes. He's found
dozens of such ways in the past, specializing in goading drunkards into
lashing out at targets of his choosing until Gormstadd bluntly told him
to stop such "unsubtleties."
all regard him as dangerous, he's universally seen among all Voonlarran
Cyricists as essential to the running of the Dark God Reformed. The Fingers
see him as already being the true master of the temple. Gormstadd entrusts
him with all written holy communications -- but watches him like the proverbial
Yulgont is a gruff former warrior gone to fat and bitterness, an aging
man who knows his best years are behind him and senses that younger men
like Windtalon are going to continually claw their ways up and over him
to higher ranks in the faith if he doesn't do something bold and dramatic
soon. Unfortunately, priests in the faith of the True Darkness who try
things bold and dramatic tend to come to swift and bloodily brutal ends.
So Yulgont is watchful for rifts within the temple, deeds and schemes
of both Gormstadd and Windtalon that he can report to others or somehow
use to discredit or weaken them, and opportunities that chance may toss
into his lap -- such as adventurers' visits. If he can get someone else
to destroy one or both of his two temple foes, and then lead the Fingers
storming to avenge them, it would be the greatest gift from Cyric that
he could hope for.
meantime, he insists that he, and he alone, be the tutor of all lay worshippers
and novices aspiring to the priesthood. To them he's almost kindly --
hoping that some of them will support him at some time in the future,
when he'll finally move openly against his rivals.
weak in magical accomplishments, Yulgont stole the secrets of enchanting
wands to fire from afar (the source of the hanging sun's powers in the
sanctum) from a dying Banite priest before he entered the faith, and retains
firm control over such things, exaggerating the importance of his accomplishments
and himself by shrouding his powers in as much mystery as possible.
every day, however, he feels older. Sometimes, now, he awakens suddenly
at night, his deep laughter rolling wildly out of his locked and bolted
room, from vivid dreams of Windtalon shrieking on the altar under his
hands, as he feeds his rival Dark Hand's innards sizzling into the braziers
for the glory of Cyric. . . .