Given the accuracy and detail, Lawrence could tell they were not bluffing, but he had to wonder how Parson and Overra knew so much. It didn’t sound like they were members themselves, but even if they were, it wouldn’t explain how they knew that Lawrence and Dergoz were. All members of Lamont’s faction kept their identities hidden, even from one another. Only Lamont himself should’ve known who everyone was. Lawrence wanted to ask as much, but he didn’t know if he should say anything at all. Fortunately, he didn’t have to.
“Your shadow faction was not founded by Lamont,” said Parson. “It was founded via proxy. By us.”
That earned a blink from Lawrence.
“So you see, telling us that you are not members is a bit like trying to sell ice cream to the ice cream man. I am that ice cream man. Incidentally, I really was an ice cream man for a time when I was younger. My favorite flavor was--ah, wait, no. Forget we said that. Um... where were we? Lamont’s faction. That’s right. We founded it in order to give Lamont the support he needs in order to take Sermung’s place. It was important that our involvement be an especially well-kept secret, because at the time of the faction’s inception, we had to take on the even more pivotal role of growing close to Sermung and earning his trust. Which we’ve since accomplished. Soon, Lamont will make his move, and the Vanguard will experience a regime change for the first time in five hundred years. Exciting, no?”
Lawrence had no idea what to say now.
‘If all of that is true,’ said Dergoz, ‘then why in the world did you free Zeff? You did free him, didn’t you? I assume that is where this explanation is going.’
“Yes, I ordered Adam to free him because I was bored--wait, no. We ordered Adam to free him because the siege has been proceeding too slowly. We have a timetable to keep, and we cannot justify crushing the Rainlords until they press their assault much harder than they have thus far. And obviously, leaving the Keep to fight them would be tactically unwise. With any luck, Zeff will be able to motivate them for us.”
‘What timetable are you talking about?’
“All you need to know is that Lamont will be needing our full attention shortly, so we cannot spend much more time in Rheinhal. But if we leave before this siege concludes, then many of our precious subordinates here will be killed or captured. Present company included, of course. It is quite the dilemma.”