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Elminster Speaks - Part 29
By Ed GreenwoodThe Battle at the Bar
The Whistling Wizard, Continued
The prevailing peace in the Whistling Wizard was bound to be shattered by two separate Harper attacks -- but by sheer happenstance (unless, of course, one believes in gods having a savage collective sense of humor), the attacks coincided with a stopover at the Wizard of the Tarntar, a highly secretive Sembian consortium of wizards and wealthy merchants. This little-known trading alliance is a collection of dabblers in slaving activities, particularly affairs involving the kidnappings of prominent Sembian youths. Smuggling and warehouse thefts are also among their skills (but a better accounting of the Tarntar is a matter for another time).
Suffice it to say that on the afternoon in question, the mages of the Tarntar staying at the Wizard (not counting apprentices, bodyguards, and familiars) numbered three: "Five Flames" Alro Randulkyn of Saerloon, Master-of-Moons Hastammer Orlim of Ordulin, and Skulto Mreth of Yhaunn. Five Flames (NE male human Evo9) was a cruel, fun-loving, and impulsive roisterer of a mage, who often and enthusiastically enjoyed good wine, good clothes, and bad ladies, and was a rather careless in his spellcastings. Hastammer Orlim (LE human male Wiz15) was an elderly and severe man who cultivated an awe-inspiring reputation as a mage of power enough to talk to the deities -- and have some of them take his advice. Skulto Mreth (LE male human Ill13) was a close-mouthed, nondescript master of disguises and privacy, who had many covert investments in the Moonsea cities, more enemies than most folks can count, and a collection of enchanted whips matched only by the numbers of slaves he'd used them on. Cold and calm, he was careful and always prepared for calamity.
Not counting various adherents of no account and smallware peddlers, the Tarntar merchants staying over at the Wizard included Ghaurann Rhee of Ordulin (CE male human Rog4/Wiz3, a handsome and silver-tongued seller of skin salves, cosmetics, and face and figure temporary-adornment spells), and Tharath Shemmer of Selgaunt (a dealer in furs and fine leather apparel).
All of these formidable characters were shocked when Elminster of Shadowdale strolled into the common room, openly and alone, and called for a tankard of beer, leaving his pipe to float by itself in midair, smoking gently. They sat frozen, doing nothing, as Elminster teased Alro about his recent conquests, asked the Master-of-Moons how the deities were doing, and warned Skulto that some of his underlings were fiddling accounts for themselves, and he'd best check his slaving books right swiftly.
None dared attack the Old Mage of Shadowdale -- and at length he smiled sweetly, seated himself in Orlim's lap, and changed his shape, becoming the Simbul (who this false Elminster truly was).
At least two of the Tarntar mages didn't recognize the Witch-Queen of Aglarond and launched furious spell attacks on her. She laughed merrily -- the signal for Storm and the apprentices to charge into the room, whilst the Simbul devoted herself to making sure the spells now flying around the common room didn't destroy, transform, or set afire the inn.
The merchants ran to get their bodyguards, and their haste caused the Knights of Myth Drannor, whose strike force was nearing the inn, to hasten to the attack.
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