"You asked to see me, my lord?"
"Yes I did, come in. And I've told you lot a hundred times already not to call me that. You ought to know better. Save the titles and notoriety for the High Marshall and whatever of his generals have distinguished themselves."
"Better. Now, to business. This report you sent in is amusing, but I'll be wanting a bit more context if I'm to understand why I should be reading the conversations of hobgoblin innkeeper brothers...save giving me a chuckle with my breakfast."
"Well, sir, you ordered us to send straight to you anything having to do with Azhgrott and the um...strange company there. These brothers are known associates of one of the folk sent off to Azhgrott. Nibar, I think the name was. And it's quite clear that they were alluding to him, sir, and one of the sellswords that took up with the supply chain. Let me see...Seetha, yes, that was her."
"Ahh, yes. It seems these two innkeeps know more than they ought. They'll bear continued scrutiny, I think. It sounds as though they may have a network of their own, and that might prove useful. Indeed, they're rather clever; hit right upon our own suspicions."
"You mean about the--"
"About all of it. About why the army would consent to send a timid little kobold who lived with his nose in books to an outpost they claimed was crucially important to our efforts against the pinkskins. There were and are dozens of better choices--"
"Like Kentic, maybe."
"He'd have been my first thought, yes. The Smiling Scaler would have been ideal. Strong arm, knows a couple different languages, at the top of the list. And he'd not have been the only kobold better suited."
"As you say, Commander."
"And this bit about the Battlemages passing him over. What more do we have on that?"
"Very little, I'm afraid, sir. Let me see...yes, they record having tested him during one of their sweeps of the city for new, um, recruits. They report only that he had potential, but he had little subtlety and no, as they term it, 'intestinal fortitude'."
"Hm. Complete rubbish. Frontline fireballs are hardly the only work they do. So he gets recruited by the army to scribe, translate, and do figures, but then the Battlemages come and just as quickly pass him over? At which point he learns on his own and is then shuffled off to Azhgrott, where he would be worse than useless. Something more is going on, with this situation, and the general contempt for the work we do is not sufficient to explain why we were not informed."
"You think, then, that there's another element at work within Valkith, Commander?"
"At least one other. Given the reports we have about Seetha, I am not inclined to think she made her way there entirely by accident, either."
"But all accounts of the half-orc report that she signed on last-minute."
"Be that as it may. We shall need to find both of them. We will require quite a long chat with both. What are the latest reports on their whereabouts?"
"Pardon, sir, but the latest reports on them are woefully inadequate. Our latest information on them is weeks old. They spent a short time in a human town called Danshierre, then returned to Azhgrott only briefly. That was just before it was destroyed by the humans. After that, we have essentially nothing on their comings or goings. One of our informants told us that the two of them went into the mountains to hide with the other kobolds of Azhgrott, and took their gnoll companion with them, but he was, ah...unreliable, sir."
"Then our best course of action is to infiltrate this pinkskin town. You'll send two of our external agents there, and have them follow whatever trails they can uncover. They are not to return until they have seen them with their own eyes to verify. No contact, as yet. If they're already dead...well, then bring back their heads as proof. Send two more up into those mountains, see if they can't find the Azhgrott kobolds. The army should have hunted them down and brought them all back here to Valkith, but no matter. I want to know what they can tell us."
"As you command, sir."
"And repurpose one of our street teams. I want them working the Battlemages until they find out why they dismissed a perfectly good Potential. Pull a second team if needed, but I want word of this as soon as can be."
"Yes, Commander. To what extent will they be allowed to ply their craft, sir?"
"Reconnoissance and infiltration only, for now. I see no reason to bloodlet our own for reasons we don't have...yet."
"As you say, Comannder."
"Have them work quickly, just the same. I mislike this."
"Yes, sir. And the talk of this cohort of the Azhgrott Overseer's?"
"We've too little there to be of practical use to us. Have the pair of agents question those kobolds, when they're found, about the Overseer, and his 'friend'. Maybe they can tell us something."
"We've fallen on our faces, and the only reason those faces aren't covered in mud is because no one is looking at us. We'll have to run if we aren't to be left irrevocably behind. Be about your business. I think I shall need to speak to His Majesty Ulm today."
"It shall be as you command, sir."