The Army of Sand
The Army of Sand lays in wait just beyond the city of Nasherat. What the Thalerith do with the ancient guardians of the Scorching Expanse will be in there hands alone
It has been several months since a group of explorers, led by Elder Zenandra Aynarr, discovered the location of the Watchers of the Sand Realm. In that time, the Thalerith people have gathered together and prepared to face them either by the cunning of diplomacy or the strength of war. Whatever the choice, everyone in Nasherat is on edge with the looming presence in the nearby desert.
Warlord Sylindra makes her decision known rather quickly. The Watchers are strong, ancient beings, worthy of an alliance with the Thalerith. And with that mentality, she reaches out into the vastness of her social network, and with all the command and talent in leadership she has and seeks the help of her people and allies in preparing a diplomatic envoy to be sent out to speak with the Watchers of the Sand Realm.
The son of the Warlord, Joran Filinnar, a Flame Seer of the Thalerith people, has made it known that he is here to talk to any and all who seek the guidance of the flame. He spends days in the Flame Chantry speaking with those who are preparing to head out on the diplomatic envoy, and those who will stand guard near by. His words bring comfort to those still questioning the decision to seek diplomacy, and courage to those who may be fearful of the potential outcomes. All in all his efforts to be among the people and to help them have a positive impact on their outlook going into this.
In that same vein, High Priest Sorgath of Rithor's Priesthood offers his time and prayers to those in the city of Nasherat. He reminds them to be fearless in the face of this strong and ancient advisaray. Many of those who go to see Sorgath come back from his counseling with a heightened sense of cultural awareness. Speaking of the strength of the Thalerith in bold and unshakable terms. It is over all very inspiring to hear Sorgath speak.
An unexpected voice emerges from the south to help the Thalerith in their diplomatic approach in dealing with the Sand Watchers. High Lord Ellyn Reid takes it upon herself to not only offer aide through military resources, but more importantly, to provide detailed and thorough accounts of her people's fight against the Watchers of Ice and the conversations that followed the War of Ice. Her conversations with Sylindra and the diplomats chosen to accompany the Warlord do a considerable amount of good. The bonds between Thalerith and Faenor grow stronger with this selfless act of support from Ellyn.
As the days draw near and the envoy prepares to head out to meet the Watcher General, a pair of scouts is sent ahead to ensure the route the envoy takes is the safest and most secure. Ragna Aynarr has no trouble at all weaving his way through the desert rock formations, gauging the weather patterns and identifying the best approach. Nassar Filinnar does the same, though he takes a more round-about route to gather information about the forces of the Watcher of Sand and their elemental army. He reports back to Sylindra with their positions and numbers and generally gives her a good sense of what she is about to walk in to.
The Blade Sworn of Warlord Sylindra are at her side as she prepares to head out with the envoy. Diligently, Kalagos Sedriel takes command by coordinating with the General and his various lieutenants. He advises them on the positioning of the Thalerith Military forces and offers his expertise to help keep them close enough at hand to act should the need arise, but far enough at a distance to allow the envoy to act in goodwill and keep any thoughts of an invasion at bay. His locations are expertly chosen, and soon, they begin their march to the Scorching Expanse.
While the diplomatic envoy prepares to depart from Nasherat to the east, rumors of a growing swell of support begin to rise from the north, in Abaash Harbor. Some say voices can be heard on the wind chanting the old Thalerith saying, “Vi achareth, thalien. Vi thalien, brunar.”
In struggle, strength. In strength, life.
High Priestess Sorgath continues his pilgrimage through the various Thaleirth settlements, offering blessings and words of encouragement as he goes. The more the people of the Thalerith listen to the High Priest of Rithor, the more they begin to side with thoughts of war. His encouragement leads the people around him to begin to chant for a chance to prove through steel and blood that the Thalerith will not bend or be taken for weaklings. That fearlessness will guide them and prove their worthiness to be in this land.
In tandem with Sorgath's teachings, Melindra Devrien, feral huntress of the Thalerith and fearless Commander of the Thalerith Navy, steps up to accept the challenge of war. She declares a duel and names the Sage of the Watchers of Sand as her opponent. With the declaration set, she and her following of Rithorian warriors head south to meet the Sage head on.
Leading up to her march, Melindra takes the time to pull from the support of those around her. One of the first to step forward is Haqim Aynarr. His skill in training beasts is put to good use as the duel envoy begins to travel south. He uses hawks as scouts, and krilkar to help clear the way. The ferocity of the spectacle of so many fearsome beasts adds to the intimidation and rallying cries of the Thalerith who join them.
Every champion needs a hype-man and for Melindra, that man is Nadir Devrien. He spends his time turning the people of the Thalerith away from thoughts of Diplomacy, reminding them that their true nature is in war. Embrace the struggle, let the strongest be victorious. The more people he speaks to, the more support Melindra has for her cause. The whispers on the winds soon become cheers of glory due in large part to Nadir's persuasion.
Blade Sworn Zymandi Devrien is seen between Nasherat and Abbash Harbor both leading up to the eventual march south to challenge the Sage. Though no one can really pinpoint where she was and at exactly what time, the general sentiment is that it is believed that Zymandi is showing support for her cousin, Melindra.
Rivek Devrien swore and oath to Melindra on their wedding day, that they would always support each other in their challenges, and that is just what he'll do. After she makes her decision to challenge the Sage to a duel, he spends his time training her, sparing with her, challenging her talent and prowess to the very edge of her capability. His efforts go a long way in preparing the young warrior for the fight ahead of her.
Finally, the day comes and it is time to march south to intercept the Sage. Melindra waits at the edges of Abbash Harbor as she watches the deserts, waiting for someone or something. When the sun finally sets over the water behind her and the desert goes dark for the evening, she decides her window of time is just too short and marches on. Not but a few hours after the rally of supportive Thalerith march south with Melindra does Nassar show up in Abbash Harbor. A touch too late to relay his messages of support for her cause.
Standing at the top of a sand dune, Melindra calls down to the Sage Watcher and issues her challenge, speaking her words in clear Celestial. A duel, champion against champion. The Watcher hears her call and in the blink of an eye, he shoots up into the sky, soaring over head with the screech of a hawk. A moment later he lands down in front of Melindra, and accepts the challenge with a respectful bow of his hawk-like head.
Melindra prepares her steel glaive in her hands and clutches the base of her necklace for one brief moment before she begins her assault. The heat of combat begins almost immediately and Melindra almost seems to turn in to a different person when she fights. Feral movements overtake her form as instinctual swipes of her blade lash out with unrestrained ferocity at the Watcher Sage.
As she attacks, he evades. As formless as the wind that sweeps through the desert and with the sting of a thousand shards of razor sand, he fights back. Their dance lasts for quite some time. Each unwilling to give the other an upper hand, ruthless in their attacks. Melindra bleeds, raked by the shapeless claws of the Sage. Though her wounds must be causing her pain, Melindra never concedes.
It takes but a moment for the winds of war to change and in a quick breath, Melindra strikes at the hawk-like cheek of the watcher. He doesn't bleed, not the way an elf might, but a steady stream of sand begins to fall from his feathered cheek. At that moment, he holds his hand out and the army of Sand Elementals behind him take up arms. The sound of their synchronous movement is eerie at best. Melindra holds, watching to see if the Sage will break the bonds of a duel.
With another flick of his wrist, the sand elementals lower their defenses and the Watcher Sage himself takes a step back, speaking in celestial.
"You have proven yourself worthy. I will speak to the General on your behalf, and share the tale of your fearlessness. It will be his decision to make."
And with that, the Watcher gives a respectful bow before vanishing into the wind once more. Melindra is left bleeding, but she remains unyielding and standing. A beacon of Thalerith strength.
Though Selandriel and Claria could not make it, both diplomats have spent a great deal of time with the envoy headed into the Sand Watcher's territory. Selandriel's advice is to approach them in their own language, Celestial. She shares with Sylindra how opening themselves up to a mutually beneficial alliance with the whole of the Aeran Kinship made the discussion easier. Claria on the other hand gives advice about being coy, outsmarting them and out maneuvering. Generally this advice is thanked and more or less ignored.
But, the day has come and the envoy is ready to set out. First Blade Sworn Kalagos has the Thalerith military a distance away, ready but not aggressively so. Sylindra leads Aganor, Zaltar, Lyandra and Azariah up to the meeting spot to introduce themselves to the General. Thus far, the General has yet to show themselves, remaining a mystery. As the group gets closer to the agreed on location, the winds begin to pick up. And a voice calls out in celestial, neither female nor male. "Who passes through the Realm of Sand?"
The figure eventually shows themself, never truly taking shape in a whirl of sand and wind, and a pair of diamond eyes staring back. The envoy brought gifts of water in a vessel that depicts the story of Moya Falls, the underground oasis first discovered in the scorching expanse. They spoke of their purpose and reason for being in Aarandor, and the watcher seemed willing to listen to their cause. When they asked if the Thalerith would be willing to die for this cause, the Sage watcher stepped forward and asked for Lyandra's hand. Rumors of this day say that she willingly offered her life. But the watchers would not take it, instead, they gifted her with the ability to summon her own sand elementals, asking her to teach her people so that they might better be protected.
In the end, the negotiations came down to an oath, spoken by Sylindra herself, before the envoy of witnesses and the Watchers. "The Warlord of the Thalerith swears, before all the Gods, to defend the Realm of Sands as part of my own." Accepting these words, the Watcher's departed with the acceptance of the alliance and an agreement that the responsibility of the stewardship of the Realm of Sand would be shared between them.