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Against the Shadow  |  Organizations  |  The Hidden Hand
The Hidden Hand

It is a widely known fact that the gnomes use their ability to travel across Erenland with relative ease to also make their own profit.

What began during the Third Age as commercial counters set by various gnomes in several cities soon became something else entirely. Hidden behind such counters, other less savoury activities soon took place.

Cloaked individuals who knew the right hand gestures and passwords brought goods to the place and went out with something else under their cloaks.

Actually, those are places where one can exchange goods obtained through illicit means for other, more “regular” items. Yes, the gnomes act like fences throughout Erenland. They accept items that could not be sold where they are offered to them, and take them on boats to other places where the item will look inconspicuous enough to be sold for a fair price. In exchange, they give the initial “seller” an item of roughly half the value of the object they were offered, but which will not attract suspicion on its owner. The gnome smugglers make sure that stolen items will arrive to another “commercial” counter, where it will be sold without any suspicion.

The organization also trades “services” all across Erenland, putting into relation the “asker” and the “provider”, for the right fee, of course.

This organization, known as the Hidden Hand, is now spread out all across Erenland. Of course, it involves bribing a few officials here and there. This activity was regular before the invasion, and it went on unnoticed after the Shadow conquered Erenland. Of course, eventually, it became involved with the resistance, as many cells were willing to discreetly transport precious items or information to be used by another cell in another city. For the right price, the gnomes agreed to take part in such activities, but they made it very clear that they will not hesitate to betray the resistance should they become endangered by its activities.

The existence of this organization is not known among many people. Most criminals simply know that the gnomes can fence stolen goods, and look no further.

Of course, the organization sometimes needs “delivery boys” when boats would not be effective in delivering the “cargo” to the “target”. Such unsavory individuals are usually recruited among those who own the gnomes some debt and can’t pay. Their only choice is between accepting the mission or facing the legbreakers sent by the gnomes.

Of course, such illicit activities will only be displayed to those who not only show the proper reconnaissance signs, but also harbor a signet rign with a stone of a specific color (the color marking that the individual “belongs” to a specific commercial counter), and know the right passwords (which are usually only given to resistance members or members of large criminal organizations). Most of the time, a new member is “introduced” by a trusted old member to the gnomes, and is “initiated” by committing a serious crime, the proofs of which are then kept by the gnomes. That way, they know the individual, whom they can balckmail, will not denounce them.

The Hidden hand can also “sell” disguise (for hiding fey), drugs, alcohol, black market goods (books, charms, weapons), false “travel tokens” (imitation of those one is to show to the orc patrols to confirm one’s travel is authorized by the legate of the city of X). Of course, such things come with a hard price, and sometimes you can only pay if you perform a specific, life-threatening service for the owner of the “shop”.

The Hidden Hand can also use its vast smuggling network for spreading news to beloved ones, like a postal service.

Curiously, such shops are only very rarely the subject of investigation by legates or traitor princes. Some whisper that the gnomes use a spying network to blackmail the legates or that they perform hidden services for them. None knows for sure, and none really wants to know. All that matters is that it’s “business as usual”.



Author: smeagol.

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