In the time since Gurgan’s fall, the Dusk Riders have been spending the majority of their time at the Duskholme. Some use the time to practice their crafts, hone their skills, research mystical techniques or show further fealty to their Gods. While some becoming more and more comfortable with increased idle time, the Riders were growing pensive and eager to travel on behalf of Chondath once again. As the desire for a new adventure grew, opportunity came calling directly at their front door.
Two emissaries from Arrabar had been sent by King William himself to bring the Dusk Riders home. Yet, as the two soldiers did their best to comply with these instructions, they had been attacked by a splinter force of Orcs that had taken refuge in the Chondalwood. Wandering Orcs had become a common nuisance since Gurgan’s departure from this plan, so while the Orcs had been ready for a small skirmish so as to procure some coin and fresh meat, they had not at all expected to stumble across the doorstep to Chondath’s greatest champions. After quickly dispatching the Orcs, the Dusk Riders accepted the official correspondence from the King, broke the wax seal and read a formal request to return to Arrabar with all haste. Upon hearing that the Dusk Riders would be accompanying them back to Arrabar, both soldiers brightened at the prospect of sharing a journey with such mythic individuals.
These two recent recruits to Chondath’s army, Mikel Greywolf and Collin Tannerson, were overjoyed to interact with such living legends. In fact, for all of his excitement over meeting the fabled company, Collin proved exceptionally knowledgeable of the Dusk Rider’s many accomplishments and admitted too that he had specifically volunteered for this mission in the hopes of learning more of these remarkable leaders and Collin’s goal to always live up to their ideals and examples.
While the Dusk Riders had many questions for Collin and Mikel, neither soldier was able to answer with many specifics towards why the Riders had been summoned. The two were able to detail the growth of the kingdom, the efforts to restore Arrabar and the growing tranquility within the realm, but little towards the motivation of the King. Satisfied with the information shared, the Riders collected their gear, refilled their travel supply of platinum bars and departed for the Capital city.
After emerging from the dense Chondalwood, the Riders immediately noticed that many of the war scars their homeland had suffered were becoming less and less noticeable all the time. Collin Tannerson mentioned that the Emerald Way was safe to travel again aside from the occasionally raiding party from Iljak and the most cities and villages had been restored. Once Arrabar was in sight, the restoration and healing there could not have been more apparent as the dead had been returned to their graves and the pallor had been removed so that the city sparkled with beauty once again. As the Riders made their way into the capital, Holy Leaders continued to sanctify the city and do their best to remove the rot that had existed there for far too long.
As the Riders rode through the streets, they could not help but blush towards they reaction they received. Citizens throughout the streets would stop immediately upon seeing the Riders in order to contribute applause and loud praise for the many boons they Riders had contributed to Chondath and their behalf. The tremendous effect the Riders had on the kingdom was further evident as they rode through the halls of King William’s castle. Lush tapestries showcasing the glories of the Dusk Riders were present throughout and provided a definitive timeline to the Rider’s many adventures and grand contributions (although, it should be noted that one or two tapestries had been augmented to include the Prince despite his contributions to the kingdom being far more debatable).
When the Riders reached the central chamber of the Citadel, they found King William himself, looking healthier than ever along with a royal emissary that Mathis quickly recognized as being from the kingdom of Aglarond. The King confirmed Mathis’ intuition when he introduced the emissary as Vurner Halberd – Emisary of Aglarond and assistant to The Simbul of Aglarond – the ruling authority of this remarkable kingdom adjacent to the dark lands of Thay and their legendary Red Wizards. Recently, the Red Wizards had requested an audience with the Simbul, but their reasons are not at all known. Usually, the Red Wizards will provoke conversation prior to kicking off one of their wretched schemes, but the Simbul is wary and would welcome some covert assistance if possible. As a result of the Simbul’s kinship with King William, the Lion of Chondath wanted to provide his very best soldiers to assist however they could. But while the Simbul wanted the backing of a friendly nation, this assistance needed to come discretely as the Red Wizards were always seeking false breaches in their treaties as an excuse to unleash their dark magic and attempt to expand their borders. The peace between these two nations was tenuous, but the service that Aglarond provides all of the Realms in keeping the Red Wizards in check was far too important to not support however possible. So, in order to assist their ability to operate covertly, the Dusk Riders requested Aglarondian coin and apparel fitting those that occupy that land. King William was prepared to whatever was needed and offered too the services of Karlton Denber to sail the Riders and the Ambassador to Aglarond.
Prior to departing, The Riders had requested an audience with the King so they could speak candidly and he thereby invited them to dinner. Over the most opulent feast the Dusk Riders had ever enjoyed, King William again reiterated the sensitivity of the mission, the value the Simbul provides the Realm and the critical mission of maintaining the peace. While the Simbul has robust power, she is only mortal and cannot be allowed to fall prey to the Red Wizards or provide them any justification to attack. As a final gift of farewell and good fortune, the King provided each Rider armor of even more refined craftsmanship to protect them on their mission.
As the Dusk Riders boarded the good sailing ship, Endeavor, they made welcome with Karlton Denber and got the Ambassador Halberd situated. Watching from the dock was young Collin Tannerson and Baern could not help but notice his eagerness and desire to support the mission. With nary a thought, Baern made the immediate arrangements that got Tannerson assigned to support the Dusk Riders and join them on their mission. Effusive with praise and eager to please, Tannerson nearly wept with joy, but maintained his composure and sought to learn as much as he could from the Dusk Riders and especially Baern.
While they made their way to Aglarond, the Dusk Riders learned from Vurner Halbred that the meeting between the Simbul and the Red Wizards would occur from atop the Watchwall – the enormous stone edifice that separates the two nations. The Watchwall was constructed despite considerable malice and harassment from the Red Wizards, but once in place, has significantly improved the stalemate between the two kingdoms. The Ambassador seemed weighted while discussing the endless issues with Thay, but once reminded by Banner and M’unn that the Riders would be present to help however they could, he seemed quite pleased to have the Dusk Riders present for the meeting given no Thayan Emissary would be expecting such might present on behalf of the Simbul if this meeting proved to be little more than a cruel ruse.
The Dusk Riders made landfall in Taskaunt and made their way inland towards the Watchwall. Despite numerous requests to remain by their side, Collin Tannerson was ordered to remain with the Endeavor and keep it ready for their return. Dejected but faithful to the end, Collin did as instructed yet could not help but watch the Riders intently as they made their way towards the Watchwall. While on the journey, the Dusk Riders learned of the sad fate that befell the city of Glarondar. Previously a shining example of trade and Aglarondian determination, the city had been made victim to the darkest of magic and now sits fallow on the Thayan side of the wall. Rumor was that the city was undone by a pestilence of demons, but few are foolish enough to make their way across the wall and into the Red Wizards lands.
Catching first glimpse of the Watchwall deludes the uninitiated into believing the structure smaller than what it is given that once spies the wall long before one reaches the wall. And, upon reaching the wall, the next test is to ascend it. Thankfully, visiting dignitaries like the Dusk Riders forego the stairs and instead make use of a series of pulley elevators to reach the top. Once atop the wall, the grandeur of Aglarond is fully visible along with the awful sallowness of both Thay and nearby Glarondar. Pausing to soak in the view, the Riders exchange wary glances before taking entering the negotiating chamber. On their way into this curious room where a woefully long rivalry remained quelled, the Riders received an audience with The Simbul herself. Mathis had prepared the Riders towards what they should expect given that the Simbul is said to be one of the most powerful spell casters within the Realms (and was even known as “The Witch Queen of Aglarond”). Above and beyond her mastery of spells and diplomacy, the Simbul had a presence, calm and beauty rivaling Nyria. And like Nyria’s steadfastness within battle, no member of the Riders sensed any kind of trepidation despite dwelling at the very forefront of tenuous line separating her kingdom from one of the greatest evils in the Realms.
The Simbul thanked the Riders for making the journey in support of her cause. The Thayan emissary would arrive in the Meeting Space – a room that was legally shared between Aglarond and Thay to the point that the far door and the passage down to the ground were all considered Thayan soil despite residing within the Watchwall. The night of the meeting would occur on the next Blood Moon – the usual dramatic date the Red Wizards liked to choose for discussions given their heighted abilities on such days. When the Blood Moon reached its apex, the emissary would emerge from the far door in order to exchange words and likely issue demands.
At the exact moment previously expressed by the Simbul, the far door of the Meeting Space began to unbolt (the Aglarondians had no access to the tumblers that operated this door) and open. A single figure shrouded in long, lavish shroud made its way into the room. The shroud hid the individual’s face and body to the point that it seemingly floated into position near the Meeting Table with no visible evidence of physical locomotion. As the figure approached the table, the far chair pulled itself from the table and nestled the figure into position with nary a sound. Once seated, the figure retreated the shroud from its head and revealed a sinewy man with sweaty features and snide smile. Empty pleasantries were exchanged prior to the real reason for the Thayan Ambassador’s visit – Aglarond had “broken the 137th Phrase within the Treaty that maintains order between the two nations and unless corrected, this breach would invalidate the entirety of the treaty.” Not understanding the logic behind such a mad statement, the Simbul asked what constituted “the breach.” The Thayan Ambassador said that two fugitives are being housed within Aglarond – Magmar Felsic and his bride Perakline – along with valuable property of the state. The pair were wanted for heinous and treasonous crimes against Thay and must be surrendered immediately. Should these two fugitives not be returned to Thay within five days time, a “search party” would come to fetch them…by any means necessary… The Simbul reiterated that she had no knowledge of these names or the goods in their possession, but the Ambassador had said his piece and determined it time to move on. As abruptly as he had entered, this moistened affront departed the Meeting Space, passed through the far door while no sound was made aside from the door tumblers resealing.
The Simbul was left at a complete loss towards how best to rectify this issue and reiterated Aglarond’s complete innocence in this matter. Regardless of the realities of the situation, they needed information and needed it quickly. The Riders suggested that while Aglarond might not know of these two names, perhaps an expedition into Thay might provide a lead. The Simbul admired the bravery behind such an offer, but said that she could not accept such an offer as anyone that crosses the border does so without the protection of any nation, lest the slight be used as another method to invalidate the peace treaty. The Riders accepted the considerable risk and said that the best course of action would be to venture to Glarondar and learn what they could once there. The Simbul thanked the Riders for their courage and had Vurner Halbred lead them towards some dwarven ruins that could be traversed into Thay without calling attention to their journey’s origin.
The Riders had been warned by Vurner that while the passage would allow them access, it would not be without some peril. Such words proved wise indeed when a group of Battle Wights attacked the Dusk Riders and offered some tension before the journey to Glarondar could be resumed. Following the battle, the Riders, and especially Baern, were able to marvel at the craftsmanship behind such construction along with the apparent cataclysmic force that undid them. After further traversing the tunnels, the Dusk Riders were able to reach a passage that allowed them to make their way to the surface and into the dark lands of Thay. Few in the group were eager to see what might greet them next…