Dusk Riders of Chondath

Pt. 35 - A Royal Dilemma in the Underdark

Free of the vicious dragon, the Dusk Riders made their way into the final chamber in search of King William. Within the room, the Dusk Riders saw not just the weakened King, but two Chondathian Soldiers too. Holding their dear comrades within this hellish hall were a litany of monstrosities led by a masked madman. Several demons and giant brutish skeletons besieged the party immediately while the mask man, resembled one of the Mages of Saruun from the Seven Pillared Hall, assailed the Riders with cruel magic. At the masked Mage’s side was a vile little man who proved equally adept in eldritch evils cast from afar.

The battle quickly devolved into a showcase of the amazing might of the Dusk Riders versus the perverse wickedness manifested within the Demons and their ilk. Ultimately, the Riders were able to mercilessly return the Demons to their home planes while sending both Mages to meet their respective makers. Such victories do not come without great cost as once the sound of battle was finally quelled, the Riders found themselves bloodied, battered and ready for rest. Baern rushed to provide assistance to King William and the other soldiers while other Riders caught their breath. After a momentary pause, other Riders found their eyes caught by the glint of gold and elaborate treasures housed within the chamber. Ready for their well deserved plunder, some Riders collected the scattered wealth while a thunderous pounding was suddenly heard at the door to the chamber.

Aching from incredible exertion, the Riders collected themselves and prepared for another exchange of arms. While the number of horrors dwelling within this part of the Underdark had proven near limitless, not even the Riders were prepared for what occurred next. Barely allowing the door ajar, two Gnolls were desperately striving to enter the room. Both Munn and Banner held fast at the door, but the sounds of desperation quickly evolved into last gasps and the telltale sounds of bloody defeat. Unsure what could have caused the Gnolls demise; the Riders exchanged glances and sought to quickly determine a course of action. Before any solution or plan could be devised, an unmistakable voice was heard outside. “OPEN THESE DOORS OR FACE THE FULL FURY OF CHONDATH!” The voice was definitely Prince Geyar’s despite his usual crackled voice surprisingly mixed with true fury. Munn and Banner backed away from the door and it then burst open so that the Riders could see the Prince’s riotous anger and his full contingent of Chondathian forces for themselves. Seeing the Riders within the chamber while the King was still prone on the floor caused the Prince to scream out, “SHACKLE THESE TRAITORS!” The Chondathian guard stood confused as they all knew the storied history of the Dusk Riders, so such a command, despite coming from a member of Chondathian Royalty, was confusingly incongruous for these true champions of Chondath. “I SAID SHACKLE THEM! I WANT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE TRAITOROUS WRETCHES IN IRONS!” The guards then began following along as commanded, but the grave burden of their actions on their consciences was apparent to all but the Prince himself. As Banner was weighted with heavy chain by his Chondathian brethren, the notion of the Prince demeaning the Riders this way was too much for Horatio to bear and he channeled his rancor into a blow that would have had the Prince asleep for weeks had it connected.

Battle weary and still slowed my multiple wounds, Horatio missed his knockout blow and astounded all in attendance that any member of the Chondathian military would raise a hand to the Prince. Confounded by such audacity, the Prince stood mouth agape as the wide eyed soldiers stood stunned at the unfolding passion play that could never resolve in any proper manner. Finally, the Prince called out, “SEIZE HIM!” and the soldiers set upon Horatio before he could swing again. Then, as he was held firm by the soldiers, the Prince himself saw to it that Horatio was chained tightly in a manner that maximized Horatio’s discomfort. Then as Horatio was unable to protect himself in any manner, the Prince backhanded Horatio’s face while also bloodying Horatio’s lip. As Horatio looked upon the Prince with complete and utter disgust, the Prince leaned in close enough to almost have his own nose touch Horatio’s. Then, through clenched teeth, the Prince sneered, “How DARE YOU attempt to debase the throne of Chondath with such brazen actions! You will learn you manners yet you oafish cur!” The Prince then ordered the remaining Dusk Riders chained one by one. As each Rider silently went into incarceration, the Chondathian Guards seemed relieved that no further hostilities occurred while also silently making it known where their true loyalties lay. As the cold steel was clasped around Baern’s wrists, he conferred with the Grand Healer of Hlath, a fellow Man of Spirit that was present to assist the King. The Healer immediately took note of the great care already provided and nodded in a silent manner that still spoke a multitude of words. As Nyria was approached by the Guards, they did their best to take gentlemanly care with this, likely the finest archer in Chondath, but the Prince saw such delicate behavior as a sign of weakness and intervened with a rough shove and overtly tight cuffs. As Mathis awaited his fate, he scoured his vast wisdom and recognized that fate seemed aligned against the Dusk Riders, but despite that recognition, he still proudly offered his wrists knowing that regardless the challenge he would always stand firm aside his fellow Riders. Amnon, fully accustomed to being forcibly held, felt much more pain upon seeing the Rider’s vast trove of items confiscated by the Soldiers than he ever could have from mere shackles. Will all Riders chained, the Prince then approached the frail form of King William. The Prince helped King William to his feet, but it was obvious that things were far from right with the King. The “Lion of Chondath” looked emaciated and spent from the numerous ordeals he had suffered traveling between this realm; that of the damned and now back again.

Upon seeing their King in person for the first time in far too many moons, the Riders knelt as Geyar took the King in his arm and proudly exclaimed, “It is I, Prince Geyar who has finally freed the King and restored now his glory to Chondath and soon enough HIS RULE! Say you all now, ‘Hail’ to Geyar!” The Riders remained silent throughout this bold but woefully false statement along with the subsequent request, but the Soldiers filled the silence with enough of a sound that the Prince seemed pleased.

While the Prince stoked his own ego, Mathis deduced that, based upon the ritual previously being performed by Paldamar, the Riders had halted a vile rite directed towards Yeenoghu. Mathis realized that Paldamar, the missing Mage of Saruun, was making a wicked attempt to turn the Well away from Baphomet and towards the equally repugnant Gnoll god. Once Mathis explained the blasphemy being perpetrated to his fellow Riders, Baern immediately requested that the evil circle be cleansed at once. Despite their chains, Mathis joined Baern in his cleansing ritual and was also immediately joined by the Grand Healer of Hlath. Following the Ritual, Mathis then sensed too that within a statue on the altar was a trapped soul from a Chondathian soldier that had perished during the battle. The Healer and Mathis then worked together to free the soldier through an addition ritual that saved that man from eternal torment within this execrable chamber. Quickly becoming impatient at Mathis’s mystical expertise, the Prince ordered that the room be cleared at the Riders marched back to a cell within Hlath. As the other Riders were collected and forced out, Horatio quickly pulled the mask from Paldamar fallen form and stowed it away.

The Prince paraded the Riders through the Seven Pillared Hall as if they were criminals that had wronged this battle tested community, but such action only provoked curiosity by those within the Hall. As the Prince’s bizarre procession made their way past the Halfmoon Inn, Rendil ran out and seemed worried enough that it was obvious that he was ready to try and correct this grave wrong. Recognizing this, Baern waved Rendil off in order to let him know that there was no immediate danger to the Riders. Soon after, Brugg, the Ogre charged with keeping peace within the Hall, saw Horatio with the Mask of Paldamar in his hand. Shocked, Grugg halted the procession and called forth the other Mage of Saruun.

“I know not why you have chained these men, Sir,” said the Mage of Saruun, “but if you indeed had the power to halt and bind these warriors, then it would be foolish of me stand in your way.” The Prince adored the notion of being mistaken for someone that could best the Dusk Riders, so he let the Mage continue without interruption. “But,” the mage continued, “before these warriors can leave this Hall, I owe them a debt.” The Mage made a gesture towards Brugg and the Orgre pulled forth a satchel and left it for the Riders. The Prince nodded towards the satchel and a Chondathian Social quickly collected it and tossed the satchel into the bag holding the other elements collected from the chamber. With no further words exchanged, the Prince had the Riders let past him so he could take in what he mistook as adulation from the other denizens of the Seven Pillared Hall. Once satisfied, the Prince joined the rest and led the group back to the surface and towards an uncertain future.

After spending so long within the Underdark, fresh air and a clear sky was ample reward for the Dusk Riders. Sadly, the Riders were not able to take in their surroundings for any more than a moment as the Prince was determined to hard march the Riders back to Hlath. Upon arriving in Hlath the collective group was met and greeted by Ander Yurgenson, Chancellor of Hlath. Yurgenson was quite stymied by the sight of the Riders in chains, but the Prince did his best to express the crimes he believed were perpetrated against him and Yurgenson was left uncertain as to what he should do. This dilemma passed quickly for Yurgenson upon seeing the plight of the King. Yurgenson rushed the King to the palace determined to look into the Rider’s situation soon after. With no one left to question him, the Prince ordered, in a loud voice so that all could hear, that the Riders were being sent to a cell as a result of stealing a relic from the Prince, seeking to overthrow the throne and attempting to strike a member of the Chondathian Royal Family. After numerous hours in uncomfortable cells, Yurgenson met with the Riders to inquire what had transpired, but even after hearing the story, he could offer little comfort. Knowing Yorgenson as a fellow soldier they could truly trust, the Riders overtly ask of escape, but the Chancellor is caught between his devotion to the throne and his desire to see the Riders free, so he gave the Riders a vague promise of assistance should dire circumstances transpire, but hopefully things won’t come to that…

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Stichey

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