Turmoil in Southport, It's Complicated
Under Lady Eirene Malvici, and using the flag of truce, a group of medics and healers ride out to offer their help to the assembled shav at the gates of Southport. It's a dangerous move, a risky one - but they are hoping to do some good will checkups. And hey, if they happen to scope small details like operational readiness, or proportion of cultists to "honest shav" well, that's really not why they're there of course, but they're not going to turn down that information. Mirari goes too, keeping a careful eye on the Vulture of Southport to make sure she is as safe as one woman and a crack team of soldiers can make her.
In talking to them, there's a lot of confusing information. There's a group with tattoos of glaives on their necks, who seem quite ready to fight, and there are others with no tattoo at all who also seem willing and able. And yet they're not fighting since everyone is under the flag of truce, and they honestly seem a little confused by this. They're pleasant enough though, grateful for the medical attention and willing to find common ground. It seems more like they just enjoy fighting than that they have a particular plan in place.
Kia spends the time marginally ill - something in the general area of her stomach just? ugh. It's just not right. It's worst around some of the shav that the others bow to in deference - and when she really looks at those bowing, they aren't bowing out of respect but out of fear. Meanwhile Vitalis is making friends with a group that calls themselves House Gray Raptor. They seem ready for battle, but they also don't seem very invested in whether or not that happens. They find common ground when talking about exploration though - Vitalis and the Raptors then proceed down the rabbit hole of adventure and exploring the great wilds of Arvum.
Caelis and Marcos go to together, scouting the weapons of war under the guise of Marcos looking for new patients. From everything Caelis can see, this army is extremely well equipped. They're more like an army of the Compact than a shav force, but she does notice that their armor is mismatched and confused, as though these are several forces merged together, not one united group.
Whatever they were expecting, one thing becomes clear: This is not the monolithic army they present themselves as being. Some may mean good and others may mean ill, but as with many things political, it's complicated.
Duchess Calypso leads a diplomatic team to address shav issues as well. They want to bend the knee, or so they claim? Well, Duchess Calypso aims to show them how the Malvici treat their people. With coffers of silver and she leaves Southport behind and moves to the area where they've camped. She has clearly invested a lot of time and effort into preparing for this, and that preparation pays off in tolerance and acceptance from those assembled, and she has time to roll out her plan.
She speaks of the Compact and House Malvici, extolling their virtues and speaking of how they work to protect their people. She points to the way the Compact came together recently at Setarco and Stormwall and Darkwater, not just pushing back their enemies but also in efforts to rebuild.
Then Duchess Grazia steps up, explaining the loads of stone that have been sent from Gemecitta, and stoneworkers with it. Their intent is to help those who truly want to bend the knee establish safe, comfortable homes in a home outside Southport. To give them a place to live this new life as part of the Compact.
Calista, Duchess of Roses, works with Baroness Lucita Saik. They meet people, mend wounds, talk to mothers and children and fathers and do general outreach. In their talks they gain a great deal of insight too on these people. There are a wide array of tribes represented here. The Crimson Malvicus are sailors (some might say pirates but never on a diplomatic mission) who just want the freedom of the open seas. Cacciatores? They like to fight, and let's not pretend they're not bitterly disappointed in the lack of battles held already. House Gray Raptor just wants to explore in peace, and one horizon seems very much as welcome as the next. Clan Brass Hawk? They like making things, and all of this upset makes it hard to focus on their crafts.
But there are other clans too - and though they make up the minority, they are powerful and powerfully feared. Lestatores. Shadow Falcons. And of course the Shadowspeakers. Their tribes are spoken of in hushed tones and with deference and respect. But never without fear.
All in all, it seems most of these people are willing to bend the knee and mean it - but there are still some holdouts among them that make this a dangerous course.
Then again, this is the Lyceum. And politics without danger is boring.
Waldemai, under the direction of Duchess Calypso, meets with crafters among the shav. He talks about a willingness to take apprentices, to help them integrate with the city. It's not the worst idea, and the shav seem willing to entertain the notion. A group calling themselves Clan Brass Hawk are particularly interested, and seem to be genuinely interested in comparing various woodworking and smithing techniques. While a few are obviously conniving, most seem genuinely interested in joining the Compact and learning a trade, fitting in and being part of regular society.
Archscholar Bianca is reaching out to her connections within the clergy, the Academy, Heart in Hand and the discipleship of Vellichor (as well as a few others) in search of volunteers and food/supply donations for a goodwill/missionary tour in Southport. And where she looks, she finds.
She finds Lady Simone Greenmarch to reach out and help talk to shavs who are about to bend the knee, about the process of joining the Compact and what it means to be a Prodigal. She finds Sina Izetta, handmaiden of Thrax, who makes helpful pamphlets to talk about the Faith of the Pantheon, and what it means to join the Faith. She finds Oswyn Spencer, who researches and writes about the process of joining the Compact from the perspective of northern shavs he interviews and reads about who have already bent the knee.
She finds Sir Perrach Seiler, who is a living example of the ideals of honor to which the Compact holds. And she finds Marquis Ford Kennex, who opens his coffers, having learned from experience the pain that unrest brings, and provides for the shav who are willing to bend the knee, offering food and supplies, clothing and necessities for the people who will hopefully join the Compact.
They reach out and they talk to people. Clan Dreadglaive take to Sir Perrach immediately, wanting to talk about strictures of honor but also differences in weapons forms and techniques. The Crimson Malvicus get along well with Marquis Ford, who builds on their shared love for the sea and sailing. Clan Brass Hawk spends time around Sina, particularly interested in her information about Jayus and all the many ways to worship him. House Gray Raptor is particularly fascinated by Oswyn and his accounts from the north. He overhears one remark happily about how joining the Compact opens up so many opportunities for exploration!
Lady Simone is popular in her own right - there are many shav assembled here who are tired of the constant fighting, and just want to join the Compact. They speak to her about transitions and the unique worries of a people who have been autonomous for many years.
And Archscholar Bianca oversees it all, and her scholar's eyes notice what many won't. The Lestatores and Shadow Falcons may come close, listening or occasionally sneering at a point made. And when they do, other clans seem to disperse immediately. And the Shadowspeakers? They're few and far between, and don't deign to speak with the scholarly delegation. But it takes no more than a glance to end what was a pleasant conversation. There's definitely division in the ranks though. And it seems perhaps the Shadowspeakers are preoccupied, but preoccupied with what is not discussed. Asking produces little more than a pale face and a hasty headnod, eyes glancing away and excuses made to leave immediately.
Archduchess Eleyna and a small, hand-selected group go out to meet with the First Speaker directly. What was said between them is not being circulated, but following that meeting, about a third of the assembled shav broke down camp and left. And then there was silence from the camp, and Compact forces were politely asked to return to Southport so their offers could be considered.
And then word came. The Shadowspeakers, the Lestatores, and the Shadow Falcon tribes have separated out and left the rest to their own devices. Through various diplomatic efforts, the Malvici high command knows that this has left the others in disarray. The Cacciatores also disappear, presumably to find homes elsewhere or to return to being shavs preying on the Compact. But fully half the forces remaining stay, bending the knee to Duchess Calypso and the Compact, joining as now-Prodigals.
And the other three clans? Weeks later, they begin to show up in Lenosia, where they start to make their homes on land under the dictates of the Archduchess. Despite some long looks, they cause no trouble and offer no violence as they establish three large enclaves around Lenosia.