The Cunning Dancers are the analytical branch of the Ears of the North. Where the Blooded Hawks are field operatives, the Dancers examine the papers and information the Hawks bring back and try to form a coherent picture of what the enemies of the League are up to. Codebreakers, cipher-makers, linguists and thaumaturges all work within the Dancers to help create a model of what the League’s enemies are doing and thinking about doing and to shield Haslanti activities and plans from them at the same time.
The Dancers’ understanding is far from thorough.
Most information they work with is days, if not weeks, old.
Some of it is years out of date. Dancer workroom maps reveal critical failures in their analysis: a broad semicircular arc filled with notes and pinned papers covers over the region from Crystal south toward the Inland Sea before tapering out in the neighborhood of Gethamane and Whitewall but ends completely in the western reaches of the White Sea. The Dancers know little of the threats sweeping out of the Great Ice or the West.
In southern operations, the Dancers have a strong understanding of the activities of their enemies and rivals.
Guild caravans are carefully tracked, and the Dancers alert communities when likely slave-raiders are near. The roads into Gethamane are carefully observed to see who is going in and what might be coming out. Whitewall and the Realm client states also get a lot of attention. Of late, the Dancers have also been seeking out more information from the war camps of the Bull of the North. The Dancers sometimes arrange to send in fists to investigate. More of the Dancers’ information comes from paid informants in the Bull’s hosts, however, who pass on information to Haslanti agents in the Soothing Speakers.
The leader of the Dancers is Five-Point Aster, an androgynous, thin man in his early 40s, with long, blond hair and a crippled right hand. He dresses in a tattered gray robe and began his career in the Ears as a codebreaker 30 years ago. As a boy, he found a group of Blooded Hawks on a mission and explained the meanings of their bird-whistle calls to them. As the God-Blooded grandson of a riddlespirit, Five-Point Aster can tease meaning out of peculiar data, and he has an ear for truth.