A terrible storm wracks the Mourning Isles, forcing most shipping to find safe havens in port. The storm grows and grows, becoming a hurricane smashing through holdings, and it is fortunate that much of the scouting parties of the Compact who had been locating the Skal'dajan fleet and diplomatic crews have recently returned to the safety of Arx, which sees a torrential rainfall. Numerous domains see heavy damage over the following days as the hurricane blows through the Mourning Isles, and the anti-Dominus Waldo holds a sermon in which he calls the hurricane a sign of Mangata's condemnation of Thrax turning away from their traditions.
As if the hurricane wasn't enough, there was signs of an earthquake, with some Islanders reporting tremors- and then a massive wave moving towards Tydehall, even before the hurricane had dissipated. Residents at Tydehall and the surrounding lands reported a cataclysmic crashing sound.
The domain of Astarrea, the holding of House Melaeris, is just gone. Astarrea was built along the coastline, and it as well as several miles inland just collapsed into the sea. At least thousands are dead, though ships are searching the sea and subjects of House Tyde are hunting the shores for survivors. Most of House Melaeris was at Astarrea and is presumed dead.
Rumors start to spread through the city late in the night only to be confirmed with the dawn. Archscholar Sina Godsworn has been assassinated during a late night meeting in the city by way of a poisoned blade. The assassin was put down with the help of Princess Katarina Valardin, Lord Griffin Redreef, and Samira Culler in the aftermath. While Lord Griffin and Samira seem to be unhurt, Princess Katarina is rumored to have sustained serious injuries. Many make assumptions as to who ordered the assassination, but no one knows for sure. The Faith and the people of Arx, who greatly respected the Archscholar, grieve for her.
Nearly eight months after the burning of the Great Cathedral, work has continued at a respectable clip. With the design help of Caprice Artiglio and Samira Culler along with the theological input of Legate Bianca Wyrmguard, the new stained glass windows are fabricated by the Saikland glassmakers and shipped to Arx. It's reported that Arion Harrow contributed to the tinting of said glass. They're currently being installed in Cathedral, meaning that with them in place, along with the repair to the ceiling finally being done?
After the Battle of Sungreet in 1013 AR, the Compact prepared for war. In the Mourning Isles, this was at least partly assumed to be with separatists lead by Duke Ivan Helianthus, who rejected the right of House Thrax to rule and went so far as to declare that King Alaric Grayson IV was invalid, claiming that his father still lived in Eurus, and essentially throwing his lot in with the invaders from the Dune Kingdoms of Eurus. Even with a third of the Eurusi splintering and allying with the Compact, that left a massive armada inside Arvum to attempt a reconquest of the Saffron Chain claimed by House Pravus, or to attack other Arvani holdings, and much of the peerage felt that an attack was imminent.
Fortunately, wars are typically not fast affairs at all in Arvum, and as the new Saffron holdings did not fall under siege, mustering and preparations continued while expecting attacks from Thraxian rebels or the Eurusi from Skal'daja. As no attacks materialized, it became increasingly obvious that the Compact's foes had opted to try for destablization before attack- Dominus Orazio was assassinated, and there were increasing signs that powerful shav forces were being recruited, as well as other attempts at sedition, pressuring the Compact forces to find the Eurusi, bring them to battle and drive them out of Arvum.
After numerous scouting missions, the Eurusi armada was located in between the Saffron and the pirate haven Port Defiance, having spent considerable efforts to win the support of the shav forces there. While diplomats managed to prevent Port Defiance from rallying against the Compact, the fleets of the Compact prepared to sail against the now located forces, and a small stealthy operation acted first.
Captain Evaristo Arterius led a disguised force to meet with the enemy fleet, and while details are scarce (and somewhat contradictory), managed to assassinate one of the royal Eurusi princes leading the force. Lady Sunniva Harthall gave her life in the attempt, and Lady Monique Greenmarch was captured (escaping later by mysterious circumstances), but apparently the Arvani operation resulted in Eurusi infighting causing a split in their massive forces. Part of their fleet was seen sailing towards a shav stronghold in the Saffron to meet with allies, while the rest sails for the Pravosi city of Pieros in the Saffron Chain. With the enemy split, the choice of the Compact is straight forward.
News trickles down to Arx from the Mourning Isles domain of Hopeshallow, the seat of House Dredcall. It appears the vassal house of Helianthus was the site of a series of unfortunate events that seemed to have no known source. It started with a consuming fire in the harbor which caused a great deal of panic as it spread to some of the docked ships, precious cargo and the harbor master's shack.
Bells outside the castle began to ring as armsmen claimed there was a castle breach leaving a dozen guardsmen leading up to the guest Solar dead - which appeared to be the scene of a gruesome blood bath. But there appeared to be whole body, not accounting for the odd remain here and there. The Marquis and his family were found to be alive and well nontheless.
This was soon followed by a sudden onset of a powerful wind close to the shore which unexpectedly changed directions to create powerful hurricane-force winds, flooding the isle and the ill prepared denizens who could only look in abject horror at the destructive torrent. Survivors who were close to the docks claimed that an unmarked ship happened to be sailing away just before the winds changed.
All of this would be disturbingly bizarre enough, but likely to stay regional news that would not get the attention of the Compact as a whole save for a fast spreading rumor. Word is spreading that Duke Ivan Helianthus, the traditionalist Islander branded with apostasy by the Faith, is dead.
Denunciations from dozens of prominent Mourning Islander peers follow, but it becomes clear the Thraxians aren't really sure who they should be denouncing as responsible for Ivan's death. A fair number are blaming Prince Victus Thrax, highlord of the Mourning Isles, who most feel had something to gain from Ivan's death. Others are blaming Alarissa, his wife, thinking it was a meddling outsider that married into the Isles. Some are blaming Aureth, thinking the 'false dominus' had a rival leader killed. A few believe King Alaric IV is responsible, since Ivan backed his father. Some think it was clearly progressive peers in the Mourning Isles that are breaking from tradition, like House Kennex or Redreef. At least some publicly suspect House Velenosa, as their current highlord was born in House Thrax, and Grand Duchess Jaenelle probably has scores to settle. Some think it was the Eurusi, with some conflict happening behind the scenes as Ivan was pressing them for more help and quarreled with them over their decision to invade the Saffron first. Dominus Waldo the least is already preaching grand conspiracy theories about assassins drawn from every house in the Compact and likely 'demons from the Abyss itself, acting at the behest of an unholy alliance of the False Faith and False King'. And finally, as one commoner from Sungreet wrote in a white journal, 'you can add to the list of suspects anyone that ever spent five minutes talking to that arrogant, pompous and brutal moron.'
Regardless, it seems that the death of Ivan has led to a hardening of traditionalist positions, and the dim likelihood of a peaceful resolution is probably now long gone. While most of the traditionalists have little desire to pick a fight while the war with the Eurusi is going on, and be associated with enemies of the Compact, one is certainly coming- just under new leadership.
The final confrontation with the Eurusi invaders from the Dune Kingdom of Skal'daja had been a long time in the coming. The leaders of the Compact decided to meet them in the Bay of Pieros, attempting to encircle and destroy the Skal'dajan forces completely rather than allow the chance of the enemy escaping and prolonging the conflict further, but putting Arvum at risk for invasion should their forces not prevail.
The prodigal city-states of Sangris and Tremorus were left to fend off attacks from their own resources, while the concentrated forces of the Compact came to hammer the enemy at the Pravus-held port of Pieros, on sea and land. The sea forces swept in, crushing the picket line of escort vessels manned by Abandoned allies of the Eurusi, and taking modest losses from the ramming attempts of fire ships. The Compact naval forces managed to engage the Skal'dajans while they were in the vulnerable position of landing soldiers on shore, and though the losses were heavy due to the refusal of Skal'dajans to consider surrendering, the enemy forces were completely destroyed on the sea.
The threat from the Dune Kingdom of Skal'daja is over.
Over the past decade, the soldiers of the Compact often return from the warfront with strange tales about events that they cannot quite explain. During the Siege of Arx, some soldiers spoke of strange occurances and how the soldiers they fought seemed dead well before a sword touched them. After the battles of Setarco, they murmured about fighting monsters in the field and how the sharks were just -wrong- in the water. As the troops return from Pieros more stories follow of how the jungle came to life outside the city and finished the battle for them. Most people know this to be nonsense. War is brutal and sometimes these strange stories are a way of allowing the mind to process such horrors.
There are other tales as well. Tales of the bravery of the soldiers that defended the walls of Pieros. The sacrifice of Duke Aiden Rubino, who bravely threw himself in front of Skal'dajan spears to save the life of Lord Gawain Blanchard who had proven himself so well upon the battlefield that more than a few from the Oathlands have taken to calling him 'The Beast of Chevalle'. Dame Bree Harthall distinguished herself by placing her body between the enemy and fellow fighters often enough that she earned a moniker of her own - The Divine Shield of Solace. Princess Deva Redrain, only recently returned to the North from parts unknown, fell and was nearly lost if not for the brave efforts of Princess Tikva Grayson, Duchess Khanne Halfshav, and Lady Volcica Stahlben. There were many heroes on the battlefield that day. Many insightful calls made by the generals that day. The Compact has never lacked in bravery.
Though the threat was pushed back, for now, it did come at a cost. The unfamiliar terrain and tactics cost all the Houses that fielded troops during the battle a significant portion of their forces, some suffering more losses than others. The loss of these soldiers not only presents a significant decline in the appetite for war by a battle-weary populace, but also leaves the Compact vulnerable. After all, Skal'daja isn't the Compact's only enemy...