Dusk Riders of Chondath

Pt. 43 - Ladies in Need

After a pitched battle against the Thayan Wights, the Dusk Riders collected themselves for their covert travels within the realm of the Red Wizards. While the Riders had never actually come in contact with any Thayan, all throughout the realms were well versed in their cruelty and magical might. Compounding the complexities was the fact that if the Riders were uncovered, they would not be able to leverage the might of the Simbul or seek the help of King William. Should matters go horribly awry, not only could it mean the obliteration of the Dusk Riders, but also full scale war within the Realms.

When each member of the Riders had collected themselves, they made their way towards the surface. Once the Riders had emerged from the protection of the tunnel and reached the surface, none of them could help but pause and take in the collective blight of the Thayan landscape. While some noticed that the stagnant air within the Dwarven ruins seemed sweet compared to what greeted them on the surface, other scanned the country side in search of color of any type given that none had ever seen such an organic personification of the color grey. Once done with the folly of trying to find beauty within the abused and tortured land, the Dusk Riders made their way toward Glarondar.

As the Riders approached the ruins of Glarondar, they could immediately notice the presence a vast swamp adjacent to the city. The swamp appeared almost as if it were an infection seeping from this once great, but now woefully infected city. And while Glarondar was indeed still quite vast, few signs of life were visible from this distance aside from a few disparate, and perhaps even desperate, wisps of smoke escaping the city. Outside of the city stood a small settlement that did contain some life. The settlement was a tent city that the Riders later learned was called Coyote’s Refuge. While evidence of life could be noticed within this small settlement, it was obvious that it was a hard life given the damage that the elements had done on the tattered tents and lone structure of permanence. After careful study of the city, Mathis was able to get a better sense of the makeshift village and spied a tower, a tavern and a modest store amongst the tents. As the Rider approached closer to the establishment, a diminutive Halfling spied the Riders and began making his way down the tower to confront the Riders for information.

After exchanging careful pleasantries, the Dusk Riders learned that the Halfling’s name was Coyote and this tent city was known as Coyote’s Refuge. The goal of the temporary settlement was to allow individuals foolish enough to venture into the city a chance to resupply, sell goods and heal grievous wounds inflicted by the horrors housed within the city walls of Glarondar. When the Coyote inquired about the Riders and their intended business, the Dusk Riders initially tried to establish a cover ruse that they were all in the employ of Merchants in Thesk, but the Coyote was not swayed in the slighted by the clumsy lie. Obviously unsure of why they were here in the Refuge, the made an offer to purchase anything of value pulled from the ruins. This offer of purchase seemed generous to the Dusk Riders given how obvious it was that the Coyote would not be buying any of their stories.

At a loss for their next gambit, the Dusk Riders did not want to chance any additional half-baked lies in the fear that they would draw unwanted attention to themselves. So in order to ensure that they would not run afoul of any other individuals within the Refuge, the Dusk Riders ventured towards the ominous ruins.

Once inside lost Glarondar, it became obvious both how majestic this city must have been and how terrible the forces were that fell it. Throughout the streets, patches of dried blood were everywhere, dismembered carcasses had been picked clean of meat and obvious signs of monstrous damage were everywhere. Undeterred, the Dusk Riders made their way through the Outer Ward of Glarondar and a careful excursion past the Obsidian Towers towards the Nightmare Forges.

Within the Outer Wards, the Dusk Riders stumbled into a hunting party of Barlgura – vile and enormous demons of Demogorgon. Once the demons had spied the Dusk Riders, they made no hesitation before scaling buildings and obliterating barriers delaying their ability to strike and pummel the Dusk Riders into submission. As the Demons began their attack, they focused their fury upon Baern out of blatant disgust of his tremendous spirituality. Another Demon cornered Banner and sought to rend him with its razor sharp claws. While those two Riders were corned, the third scaled two stories so that it could attack Mathis and Munn. At the end of the fight, more blood was spilled in the streets of Glarondar that day, but thankfully, it was the Demons and not the Dusk Riders.

The din of battle had attracted some individuals brave or foolhardy enough to still call Glarondar home. Baern did his best to converse with these ragged survivors in the hopes of obtaining additional information, but the locals seemed annoyed by the altercation given that avoiding them seems like the wisest choice and attacking them just makes it worse. Angered by so little support, Baern then inquired about Magmar and Perakline, but the individuals, upon hearing these names, made a face worse that those who might face a demon in the street of Glarondar before immediately slamming the door.

As the Dusk Riders continued their careful trek through the city, the group exchanged salutations with another group of survivors that mentioned a collection of Harlots might be inclined to share information, or other skills, for the right price. While circumstances certainly made it seem as if this lead become the most optimal one for Mathis upon learning of the Harlots, when pressed later by the other Riders, Mathis renounced such a claim. Despite the urge that drove this decision, Mathis led the other Dusk Riders to the House of Ill Repute for…information.

Upon arriving, the door to the Harlot House was barred. Mathis gently knocked and exhibited more verbal grace that he had in a decades in order to have the door unlatched so he and the other Riders could enter. The Harlots were so taken with Mathis’ charisma and Baern earthy measure that they quickly led them each into separate chambers for further conversation and, seemingly, negotiation. Once alone, a stunning example of beauty inquired Mathis what it was he wanted more than anything. Mathis replied that complete fulfillment would come in the form of “mastery of the Demons” and two names he desperately needed to learn more about. Upon hearing the names or Magmar and Perakline, the woman became incensed that anyone would seek any individual with the power to “complete the Wretched Circle.” When pillow talk in Baern’s room led to similar matters, Baern was surprised when his lovely companion accused him of being a disciple of Arnastur, the demon lord. While Baern did his best to make sense of such a baseless accusation, Mathis emphatically argued his heartfelt intention to stop Magmar and all demons polluting the city. Fearing that perhaps the Dusk Riders were hoping to gain mastery of the Wretched Circle for their own gain, the lead Madam called out in a shrill and chilling manner which put all ladies at the ready. While poised ready to battle, they were demure ladies no more, but instead, horrific nightmares ready to sap the soul of any individual unfortunate enough to hear their call! Mathis and Baern were joined by Banner in expressing their sincere desire to assist those in need and prevent anyone from commanding the power to unleash the demon Arnaster upon the Realms. Finally, cooler heads prevailed and the Dusk Riders finally learned exactly who Magmar and Perakline truly were. It seemed that Magmar, fearing the Red Wizards mad enough to complete the Wretched Circle, had stolen the various rune stones essential to the ceremony and fled Thay so that no one would be able to foolishly allow Arnaster to reach this plane. Furious to be denied their insane scheme, the Red Wizards were now doing everything they could to track down Magmar and Perakline and retrieve the stones. With this information in hand, the Riders were now significantly more able to deal with the issue despite still having no clue as to the whereabouts of Magmar and Perakline. When Baern next tried to inquire as to why the ladies had remained in Glarondar following the upheaval, the Dusk Riders then learned that the Banshees cannot leave due to a curse tied with their demise at the hands of the demons. But, despite such sorrowful news, the Banshees added that if the Dusk Riders pledge their souls that they will destroy the rune stones which would allow completion of the Wretched Circle and passage of Arnaster into this world, they would all accept a blessing of passage and move onto the “realm or resting.” The Riders accept this exchange without hesitation and immediately dropped to their knees in reverence and prayer. Following the blessing, each Dusk Rider – aside from Mathis, who had wanted to slay these working ladies once he learned that they had risen from the dead – received a kiss of favor and dispersed. As each glorious spirit passed on, the Riders were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of small childlike hands leading their mothers to a better plane.

Following this tense exchange, the Dusk Riders collected and prepared to escape the city in order to share what they had learned with the Simbul. As they did their best to rest within the house, throughout the night, the anguished catcalls of indescribable abominations haunted their dreams and left them all uneasy the next morning. As a member of the Dusk Riders would stand watch over the rest, they would relate frightful stories of the ravenous beasts and burning demons that ransacked the city each night.

As the Dusk Riders made their way out of the city, they were attack by two Rage Demons that had tracked the group by the stench of their pure deed. Such a matter might fell lesser individuals, but the Dusk Riders, buoyed by the gift of passage they had bestowed upon the Banshees, returned the Demons to their infernal plane and then made their way back towards Coyote’s Refuge.

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Stichey

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