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The Night Parade were a group of Netherese arcanists who emigrated from the Prime Material Plane to the Demiplane of Nightmares in the Year of Nightmares (-681 DR). Over time their descendants begin to be born, twisted by the magic of the realm, into nightmarish creatures, the Night Parade that is known today. At an unconfirmed date relatively recently, those of the Night Parade created gates back into the Prime Material Plane because their homeplane was becoming overpopulated. Gates were opened all over Faerûn, but most entered the portal that led to Calimport. These alien creatures began to establish 'nests' where they could hide their grotesque features from the populace of the cities that they lived in.
The Calimport cell and all of its subordinate nests were led by one who called himself Lord Sixx. Another one used his powers of mass hypnosis to create the illusion of a bad storm over the entire city. They selected several newly born babies and through a ritual, turned them into nightmarish creatures as well. This went on unnoticed for at least 35 years until the hypnotic one was killed by Myrmeen Lhal in 1359 DR. The citizens of Calimport realized what was going on and rioted. Trained troops then eliminated all others who stayed near the city.
This was not the end of the Night Parade in Faerûn though, as Calimport was only one cell. They had members all over the continent. Lord Lahl sent word to other cities warning them of the threat and the Harpers investigated reports of sightings of Night Parade-like creatures but weren't able to do much to put an end to them.
After a hot summer in Arabel not long after Lahl's adventures in her birthland, the city was beset by storms. Strangely though, they lasted for seven nights straight. At the same time, Arabel's most powerful wizards, druids and sages started disappearing, some being found murdered. One such victim was the druid Artos Malabar who managed to get out a short magical cry for help before he died. His body was found with the symbol of the Zhentarim carved into his chest.
This was a red herring planned by Lord Tempos, the leader of an elite 6-man squad of Night Parade members who had been sent to take revenge on Myrmeen Lahl and her family. Unfortunately for them, investigations into the goings on proved the Zhentarim innocent and they were tracked down to the warehouse that, posing as traders, they had bought. The squad was slain by powerful adventurers sponsered by Lahl before they could open a gate with which they would have brought hundreds more of their kin into Arabel.