Admiral Glass continues to address the defenders on the wall, declaring the fleet’s mission to be one of peace and friendship from the republic of Venze Shaar to the nation of Cormyr. He declares their purpose to be nothing more than to open diplomatic relationships between the two countries. General Mikhail‘s response bears all the weight of his displeasure at the fleet’s intrusive presence and his skepticism at the dissonance of their friendly words and confrontational posture. But he seems, at least, willing to send word to the Regent Alusair that she might make a decision on her own.
However, not all of the city’s defenders are so cautious. No sooner than an uneasy silence settles, Knight-Captain Anders marches a force of some fifty paladins of Lathander from the South Gate. Their faces are grim and resolute as they approach the landed ships, prepared to destroy what they see as a threat to their city. The diplomatic mission might have turned sour rather quickly, had General Mikhail not intervened. His stern words from the walls put the Captain in his place, and forced him to withdraw. It took more than one order from the General to move Captain Anders, and when he turned he did so with just as much righteous anger and violent intent written upon his face as he had when he’d sallied forth.
When word arrived that the Regent was willing to receive the diplomatic mission, the men on the walls relaxed ever so slightly, from the posture of besieged defenders to that of an honor guard. Men moved from the city to cordon off the area between the ships and the city walls, and men from both countries began to move about the area, working, watching, or both.
In the midst of this, Darnan slipped off to have a closer look at the airships while his companions proceeded into the city. He drew the attention of a crewman on one of the smaller vessels. Darnan did not introduce himself in his usual fashion, but the crewman seemed friendly enough to speak without introduction. The airman took great pride in his nation and its achievements, and the invention and realization of these ships ranked highly among them. He declared himself a simple man, who knew little of the diplomatic efforts of his superiors, but he was content simply to fly his ship. He did reveal that the armada had sent fleets similar to this one to many of the nations and cities of Faerun, including Silverymoon, Waterdeep, and even Thay. He also said that most of these fleets were intended to fly back to Venze Shaar shortly after the conclusion of their diplomatic missions. The airman seemed confident that all of the nations would receive the fleets in a gracious and friendly manner. He seemed equally confident that those that didn’t would pose no real trouble for the fleets or for Venze Shaar.
. * * * * * .
Caladh and Kael, shaking off some of their surprise, entered the city on their original mission, the search for Springland and the Cormyrian. A gate-guard directed them to a basilica of Tyr that was dedicated to receiving dignitaries from other cities. Just a short way into the city, the two encountered Krobach and Kael, about to take shelter in a tavern. Calling the two away from debauch, the group headed for the basilica. Given a new destination, Krobach decided to reach it with all possible speed, sprinting up the street. The rest proceeded at a more reasonable pace, with travel-weary Max bringing up the rear.
Upon their inquiring after Springland, a clerk said that Springland had not announced his presence in the city here, and apologized that the basilica’s staff would be unable to help them locate him. Everybody was suddenly and inevitably very busy with preparations for the meeting of nations that was about to occur.
As if to punctuate this point, a man with an arrogant smile swept down the length of the court, nearly outpacing his guide before being directed toward the appropriate turning. Kael, seized by an idea, led the party after him. Here, they overheard the Lord Franzibald Amcathra speaking to the functionary in charge of registering, outfitting, and organizing nobles for the formal procession. After Amcathra had been settled, Kael brazenly introduced himself as the Lord Springland, providing no personal name at all. Kael spoke with a practiced hauteur sufficient to convince and even completely cow the functionary. From his newly established position in Society, Kael was able to acquire a spot in the procession, a banner with the symbol of House Springland, and lodgings for the party at the Mounting Stag, one of the better inns in the city.
. * * * * * .
When the hour appointed for the first meeting of sovereign powers arrived, a grand procession, led by the regent herself, filed into the temporary embassy. Darnan looked on with some surprise as he saw his companions riding on white horses in procession. This surprise was rapidly trumped by a greater surprise still, when dozens of blood-spattered men wielding makeshift arms and armors burst through the crowd watching from outside the cordon, flinging themselves forward in a headlong charge toward the gathering dignitaries. The false Springland’s party moved to the defense of these aristocrats. An opportune spell from Caladh and an unexpected riposte from the barely-armed Amcathra sufficed to bring all of the nobles to the safety with no casualty. The paladins who had utterly destroyed this ragtag force expressed their admiration for the ‘noble’ Springland and his men who had stood to fight in the face of the attack.
Darnan declined to rejoin the party in procession, nor even to hold the Springland banner. Instead he waited outside, to see the investigations of the paladins. They did not allow him to proceed far in the direction the wild men had come from, but it was clear enough that they were stymied, too, by these seeming barbarians who had come from nowhere at all.
The diplomatic proceedings which had been interrupted by the attack now continued, though with a rather different tenor. Queen Alusair expressed just how far her patience and her trust had been burdened by all the events of the day. Even Admiral Glass seemed shaken, whether by the events or by the Regent’s displeasure or both was unclear. However, he offered a pitch-perfect apology, which he admitted was inadequate, and claimed to have no explanation for the events by virtue of having had no foreknowledge or responsibility for the attack. For now, Alusair seemed willing to accept this and proceed, but she was very careful to make it known that any further breach would be investigated to the fullest extent of her power which was nearly unlimited here.
In the discussion that followed, Oskar Glass revealed more about the mysterious nation of Venze Shaar. It had been founded some three hundred years ago, with the intention of founding a new republic on democratic principles, standing free from established traditions and history. The nation was to be free, not only of the history of Faerun, but also of its magic. As such, there was no magic of any kind in Venze Shaar, divine, arcane, psionic, or otherwise. To support the nation’s sterile isolation from the politics and magics of the world, the fledgling nation had been founded in secret, far from the other nations of Faerun in what was largely considered uninhabitable wasteland. Moreover, the Shaar was enshrouded in persistent antimagic fields, a curse the nation had been unable to break. To further protect them from outside interference, Vanze Shaar had made some agreement with powerful wizards of Faerun to establish extensive, powerful, long-lasting wards against divination.
Since this secret founding, the nation had grown and prospered, to the point of being able to construct these fleets. However, the admiral stated that Venze Shaar had reached a stopping point, from which it was no longer able to progress any further without the assistance of magic. As such, it had chosen this time to reach out to the world in the hope of establishing peaceful cooperation and commerce, trading their expertise in mundane craft for Cormyr’s wealth of magical knowledge. Upon hearing this account, Regent Alusair remained rather reserved and unperturbed. She agreed affably enough to consider Venze Shaar an ally of Cormyr, an to have a treaty drafted to establish some of the initial details of their relationship.
When she sought to confirm whether Admiral Glass possessed the authority to sign treaties and enter Venze Shaar into such agreements, he surprised her by saying that he did not. When she inquired as to whose authority he wielded or deferred to, the admiral named the People of Venze Shaar rather than any single person. The regent seemed rather puzzled by this, but when Glass explained that the People had empowered him to present their case and their interests, she seemed satisfied that Glass could in fact be the signatory of the treaty she wanted.
She declared the first meeting of the nations of Cormyr and Venze Shaar to be concluded, only to be surprised once more by the admiral, who asked for a moment to make one more statement to the assembled dignitaries. Taking center stage, he announced that Venze Shaar was prepared even now to receive as honored guests any of those who’d care to visit the newly unveiled nation and see the “splendors” it had to offer. To any of those wishing to make this journey, passage was available on any of the several airships readying to make the trip back to Dal Khazan. For those wary of the craft, a magical means of transport that did not require a long flight was also available. Glass’ flagship, the Canto IX, carried one end of a teleportation portal anchored to a site Laosta Isle, off the shore of Venze Shaar proper and outside the range of the nation’s antimagic fields.
Having made this offer, the meeting did finally close, creating new questions just as quickly as it had answered old ones.