Gathering Intelligence

Lord Verrat was not by any estimate a fun-loving happy sort of fellow, and the occasion never seemed to matter. Dour and professional to a fault, this dedicated warrior always seemed to be on the move and in a perpetual state of simmering rage. Only in the presence of his lord, the Viceroy, was Lord Verrat inclined to show any semblance of subservience. In all other situations it was he who commanded respect and when it was not delivered in a fashion he deemed appropriate he would lash out against whoever had insulted him. Everyone that served the Viceroy, also known as the Green King, knew this expectation and would cower accordingly whenever Lord Verrat was nearby.

To say that the last few weeks had not gone according to plan for the Green King was a wild understatement. His Grand Army that was one of the largest ever assembled in this part of the world seemed to have failed spectacularly in its apparent goal to invade Fanolania. The remnants of this military force had withdrawn somewhat chaotically into Condamner, messily enough that any outside observer would have called it a rout. Trudging northwest into the land of Escaut this menacing threat now stood on the threshold of Vlaanderen, a small kingdom that was under the protection of a large Fanolanian army. Lord Verrat was now in charge of the troops that were ready to surge forward on his command to try once more to spread destruction upon Fanolania. Despite the setbacks of the previous few weeks, neither Lord Verrat or the Viceroy seemed to be at all despondent. Quite the opposite was true. The Viceroy was borderline giddy. Nobody had ever witnessed the terrifying lich exhibit such behavior. And while there was no visible change in Lord Verrat’s mood it would have been incorrect to suggest that he did not share if only a little in his master’s “happiness.”

The exact cause of this mood would be difficult to discern. As is the nature with liches the Viceroy kept his cards close to his chest at all times. He hadn’t even shared many of the details of his next foray against the enemies of the Fourth Imperium with his own minions, including Lord Verrat. But he had exhibited enough confidence in his schemes to pass along to his followers that everything was going just fine. Mere setbacks that were encountered still furthered the goals of the Viceroy and his own master, the Supreme Pontiff and Imperator of the Fourth Imperium, Callidus Magna. Had he been prone to such things, he might have allayed their fears with a nonchalant wave of his hand and a dismissive “Don’t worry about the little troubles. All is proceeding according to the big plan.” But he was not prone to such things and those within the Viceroy’s inner circle had to pick up on more nuanced clues to see whether or not they should be concerned. And nothing at all suggested that any concern was warranted.

Lord Verrat had learned from his own pickets and spies in Escaut that the biggest enemies of the Viceroy were even now sneaking about Escaut causing trouble and stirring up the people. Not that there were many people to stir up. For the last eight months Escaut had languished under a curse that manifested itself in the form of a deadly plague. Those that contracted the disease turned a sickly mottled black and green color before wasting away quickly and dying. Almost immediately they would then be animated as undead fully under the sway of the Viceroy and his most powerful lackeys. Only a few Escautians managed to fight off the illness and tried to make something of a life for themselves in this once prosperous land. But their fertile fields and thriving livestock were all but wiped out by the dark and corrupting power of the anti-druidic priestess Lyllyth when the Viceroy first swept into Escaut. Sickly, weak, and deprived of their livelihoods the people of this realm were truly downtrodden and posed no threat to the Viceroy and his plans. In fact they were so angry at the betrayal of their allies in Maelonbourg who had seemingly abandoned them that the Viceroy could well view them as inconsequential. They were as likely to fight him as they were to take up arms against their former friends, and those were good odds for the Viceroy. When Lord Verrat had shared the news of the Maelonbourgers arrival to meddle in Escaut the Viceroy had actually laughed. Cackled, really. “Let them come, Lord Verrat. If they come as adventurers they will meet their doom. If they bring an army they will bring doom to Fanolania!”

Lord Verrat wasn’t fully aware of what that meant. He only knew that he had a job to do and that was to lead this army of undead and living soldiers wherever the Viceroy commanded. Nor was he alone. Untote Druuna, a green dracolich, and Untote Nessa, a half-elven undead bard, would be going along in order to spread the maximum amount of carnage. For now they would wait. Whatever the Viceroy had in mind, and the exact conditions which would trigger his next move, remained a mystery to Lord Verrat. But he would be ready.