Some time ago, House Pravus set out to conquer the Saffron Chain and establish themselves as the newest great house of the Compact. The large chain of Islands far to the southeast of Arvum had been raided for generations by House Thrax and other seaborne powers, but had never been brought under control of the Compact. When House Pravus set out on its conquest, one of their earliest fights was against a group of slavers- slavers who it was discovered were from the Dune Kingdom of Skal'daja, one of the powerful city-states of Eurus. In the battle that followed, Pravus emerged victorious, but Skal'daja declared it would send a fleet to Arvum to 'chasten' the Compact and demand restitution.
At the same time, freed slaves from the Saffron began to arrive in the Compact- mostly on House Pravus' isle of Setara, but then in Arx and the other ports. And waves of Eurusi refugees fleeing the Dune Kingdoms started to arrive in the Compact in unprecedented numbers. The Compact was compelled to respond.
Highlord of the Northlands Prince Darren Redrain has been personally involved in overseeing the settlement of a number of the Eurusi refugees and former slaves that have been aided by the Faith's Liberators discipleship. With Eurusi settling around Stormwall and Farhaven, the Northlands may see some cultural shifts- which does not trouble most of the live-and-let-live Northlanders compared to other great houses.
The Faith of the Pantheon had long since declared that the Eurusi were hopelessly corrupt, a place of slavery and toil. Skal'daja was clearly waging war to allow their slavery operations to go impeded, and one of the few universal laws of the Compact was its prohibition on slavery, even if thralldom as the punishment for a crime was permissible. One of the ducal houses sworn to House Thrax called House Helianthus had offered safe harbor to the approaching Eurusi fleet for their diplomatic efforts. This was in the eyes of the Faith a clear provocation, as the slavers of the Dune Kingdoms could be allowed no toe hold in the Compact, and the Faith would not allow a duchy to undermine its efforts against Eurus. The Grandmaster of the Templars, Sir Preston, declared this a grave crisis of the Faith, and for the first time in generations took the title of Carnifex of the Faith- the Faith's executioner and enforcer. The Faith began to rally its forces, and the templars would sail for Sungreet in the ships of the Crownlands, Lyceum, Mourning Isles and Northlands.
Knowing that war could well be inevitable, most of the Great Houses took precautionary measures. House Velenosa, House Grayson, House Redrain, House Thrax saw to their banners. Fleets were assembled to sail from ports throughout the Compact to ferry the templars and deliver them to the shores of Sungreet. The Faith talked of taking the war to Eurus, and freeing the enslaved peoples there, though much of the Compact initially reacted dubiously to the notion. The highlord of the Crownlands, Princess Liara Grayson, took a great deal of time rallying her vassals through the Crownlands and winning them over to the notion. While many held out hope for a peaceful resolution with the Eurusi, voices calling for war grew louder.
As forces gathered for possible war and set out for House Helianthus' domain of Sungreet, others dealt with a crisis of a flood of Eurusi refugees. Much of the Compact has long been hostile to Abandoned bending the knee and becoming prodigals sworn to the Compact, but Eurusi were another matter. Most did not speak Arvani, and fewer was even aware of the Faith of the Pantheon. Eurusi joining the Compact took their vows of fealty under the sight of Limerance, but even respecting the Faith does little to quell the unease of much of the more traditionalist Arvani. The Knights of Solace and others protect most from violence, and outreach efforts in Arx in beyond help the refugee find safe homes, but there are incidents. Word spreads that the emissary from the Dune Kingdoms, Falak'a'Sib known as the Eye of the Prophet, was assassinated in the Lower Boroughs. At this time the perpetrators are unknown.
With the whirlpool blocking the mouth of the Gray River and the Skal'dajan fleet still enroute, most of the patrols by Crownlands forces along the Gray River were to see to the safety of Eurusi refugees traveling throughout the Compact. Marquis Rymarr Deepwood oversaw one such effort, and uncovered a plot by Skal'dajan saboteurs to attack farmland in the Crownlands. Several villages were burned, farms attacked and destroyed by raiders, until Marquis Rymarr Deepwood brought them to battle in a hamlet named Lost Tree. Details are scarce, but Rymarr died in single combat defeating an Eurusi champion who was attempting to murder villagers in the local church.
It takes precious time for the forces of the Faith to gather in strength, and speed is of the utmost importance, as the forces of the Faith wished to arrive at Sungreet before the Skal'dajan fleet. So as the full forces of the Faith continued to muster, Preston landed at Sungreet with several thousand templars, supported by troops of House Blackram, House Blanchard, and House Crovane. There the Faith announced the excommunication of Duke Ivan Helianthus, and laid the terms for his redemption. He was required to deny the Eurusi harbor and rejected his prior actions and provocations. It was an attempt to end the matter peacefully. But House Helianthus delayed, and attempted to buy time for the Skal'dajan fleet to arrive, leaving Sir Preston little choice. He declared Duke Ivan Helianthus an apostate, which carries with it exile and an effective death sentence. For a moment, there was a hope that House Helianthus would give up their duke. But only for a moment.
The Battle of Sungreet had begun.
The battle at Sungreet was particularly brutal, with House Helianthus having retained the services of sellsword companies like the Undrowned Sons. Losses are heavy, with the templar and allied forces under Preston fighting to gain access to the city. Blackram forces hold off cavalry charges under Teagan's guidance. Rysen's crovane warriors manage to seize high ground against archer positions, and steadily the main line of the templars advanced while taking fire from ballistae on the city walls. Deaths mounted, and House Helianthus was holding, but smoke was coming from inside the city.
Inside the city of Sungreet, mass fighting had broken out in the streets. Thralls had slipped their bonds and were armed, and rising up in a great thrall rebellion against House Helianthus. As House Helianthus struggled to respond, the templars saw House Helianthus troops fighting each other as well, with Duke Ivan Helianthus' son and heir leading troops against him. House Helianthus lines had begun to crumble.
As templars cheer and feel the battle is won, war drums are heard from the beaches as the first Skal'dajan troops make landfall in position to attack the templar forces in the rear. The attack by the Skal'dajan forces is brutal as Ivan Helianthus' loyalists rally, and thousands of templars are cut down on the battlefield by Eurusi elite forces called 'the Anointed Masters'. One such foe was slain by Lady Tescelina Wyrmguard, but she died in the act of defiance.
The Eurusi forces were surrounding the templar forces to attempt to prevent retreat, entrap the force, and completely annihilate the Compact army.
Even as the templar forces, the rebelling thralls and Helianthus soldiers under Lord Trevor Helianthus fight desperately against the Eurusi troops, a second wave of Eurusi soldiers makes landfall with thousands more fresh troops sweeping in. The templars realize they need to desperately try to cut through the Eurusi lines before the second force can join, and valiantly attempt to save what of Preston's command they can, when the second Eurusi force promptly attacks the first Eurusi force. At the head of the friendly Eurusi are Crown Prince Damik'uhl'daja of Skal'daja, Lady Monique Greenmarch, Lady Alessia Mazetti, and Prince Sebastian Pravus with Anisha and Delia Whisper in the rear. The newest forces prove decisive, and the battle quickly turns into a rout, with Eurusi and Duke Ivan Helianthus' forces being driven from the city. The fights toward the docks and beaches are particularly brutal, with unfortunately a large percentage of the withdrawing forces escaping by ships to join the Eurusi fleet.
Roughly a third of the Eurusi fleet under Crown Prince Damik'uhl'daja has decided to support the Compact. The remaining two thirds is sailing hard away from Sungreet to the South and Southwest, which is very much not returning to Eurus.
The Crown Prince of Skal'daja has rejected his family and asked 'how does one join the Compact?'. Unfortunately, it seems in winning him over Swift Grayhope was mortally wounded in the fighting when the Eurusi attempted to assassinate the Crown Prince. She's hardly the only notable that fell. The woman known as Prism (or perhaps Triscali, as in the ancient queen?) was wounded as well, but she has seemed to regain consciousness. Losses among templar forces were brutal, perhaps three quarters of the force are dead or badly wounded. And while the city of Sungreet has been captured with Lord Trevor Helianthus turning against his father, the Duke did escape as well as with nearly two thirds of the Skal'dajan forces, likely sailing against the Saffron.
And unfortunately, with Duke Ivan Helianthus' survival, civil war in the Mourning Isles could well be inevitable.
It doesn't take long before the words of Duke Ivan Helianthus arrive in Arx, spread across thousands of parchments in the city for all to read, and submitted as white journals.
"To what was once known as the Compact of Arvum,
Since the start of the Compact, it has fallen upon the Mourning Isles to valiantly defend traditions, time and again. Traditions that have been necessary for our survival of the Mourning Isles and all the houses which have long defended these shores. And for the past decade, we have witnessed one assault after another on those traditions. When a baseborn woman served as highlord of House Grayson, we said nothing, as it was not our house. When another baseborn defeated Highlord Donrai Thrax's grandson and heir in a ridiculous combat with no merit and declared himself highlord, again, we said nothing, as it was not our quarrel. When this imposter in Maelstrom appointed a woman as duchess to House Tyde and restored it, again, we said nothing, as it was House Thrax which brought it low. When he scorned our traditions of who can serve in battle, again and again, we said nothing.
We have watched from the Isles as the King married a shav, and madmen call them elves. We have watched as commoner after commoner are raised up to nobility, with no appreciation of what that means, and no concept of honor or dignity. We have seen the Faith of the Pantheon invent three new gods, declaring for their worship, and tolerating a madman who claims to be a god in Arx. We have seen excuse after excuse, whispers of magic to cover up corruption, as they spit upon everything the Compact once stood for. Does one think a 'legate' of a position that did not exist barring a few short years has any religious authority to cast me down? Is this the Compact we knew, are these the Mourning Isles we fought for?
No. But there is an answer.
We have received word that one can come and set this to right. This Compact is false, but there IS a Compact that will have us. King Alaric Grayson III, King of the Compact, Sovereign of Arx, Ruler of Arvum, father of the current 'king' Alaric IV is ALIVE. He never perished when he was lost during the Tyde Rebellion, but has been winning lands for the Compact in Eurus, and he will come HOME.
And so, I urge every house in the Mourning Isles, every TRUE house of the Compact to welcome the return of the true king, and know that your fealty still lies with him.
Duke Ivan Helianthus, sworn to King Alaric Grayson III, Dune Emperor of Eurus"