"Open the gate!", the rider yells. "Open the gate!"
The gateguards on guard duty peer down the walls as the rider enters the pool of light spread before the gate, a spot of light surrounded by ink black darkness.
"He wears the livery of the Rising Sun, let him in," a gateguard calls down.
Below, the heavy beam across the inside of the gates is lifted and one door is pulled open by three guards. The rider sits waiting on his anxiously side-stepping horse. As soon as the entrance is wide enough and the guards are out of the way, he edges his horse forward, between the thick gates. Tipping his head in salute to the gateguards, he lets his horse step through the tunnel under the gatehouse, which is illuminated by flickering torches. Behind him, the gates are pushed shut again. The heavy beam slides into place with a thick CLUNK.
As soon as the rider is out of the shadows of the gatehouse, he urges his horse forward, riding north through the city. It is quiet at this hour and he has the wide avenues mostly to himself, allowing him to make good time. The horse's hooves sound hollow as they echo between the buildings.
Speeding up the ramp into the southern entrance of the Sun Palace, the ritual at the gate repeats itself, only this time he has to state his name and rank also. He is let in and he gives his horse to a stablehand. He is lead deeper into the palace by a servant, who seems to take his position quite seriously. The weight of the man's position seems to slow him down and the rider impatiently peeks left and right of him.
Finally, the rider is lead into a sitting room. Lord Talmanes Delovinde is on duty tonight.
"What is so important that you come riding from the Maerone province in the depth of night?" Talmanes asks.
"Sir, the Dragonsworn. They are gone!"
Talmanes' eyebrows shoot up. "Gone? What do you mean, gone?"
"We went to dispatch them and they were gone. It looked like they left in a hurry."
The rider hesitates before saying "Sir, they left no tracks."
Talmanes frowns, his face looking sour.
"I suppose we could hope they went back to that False Dragon Gorin Rogad, but I doubt we will be so lucky. I will brief the King in the morning."