1. Prologue: By Time and Fate
The months following the end of the war with the Dune Kingdom of Skal'daja has been a time of relative calm for the Compact, and much of the tumult of recent years has begun to retreat into memory for the Arvani. Years have passed since envoys from the distant, once-fabled lands of Jadairal and Cardia attempted to intimidate the Assembly of Peers, and the shock has long since faded along with the departure of most of the visible representatives. Emissary Zulana of the Undying Empire of Jadairal withdrew from her negotiations with the Compact to establish what the Arvani feel are an outpost of shavs somewhere in the Oathlands. Lord Marcus Sulla, the so-called Praetor of Arvum, had his flagship withdraw abruptly from Arvani waters, and his whereabouts are unknown. And Falak'a'Sib, the disturbing 'Eye of the Prophet', was assassinated in the Lower Boroughs. Following the defeat of the Eurusi invaders, most in Arvum take it as a sign of the waxing strength of the Compact, in their first victory in living memory over a foreign foe. The establishment of the new Ward of the Traveler in Arvum, as well as the Ward of House Pravus for the Compact's newest great house of the Saffron, are celebrated as achievements of the Compact or condemned as dangerous change imperiling the existing social order.
Little noticed at first, the rare trade or refugee ships from the Dune Kingdoms of Eurus have stopped arriving entirely. Never reliant on those sporadic trade stops, most Arvani see it as a sign that either the wars in Eurus have completely consumed the continent and created blockades, or that the Eurusi simply fear the Arvani and wish to avoid their betters. For most Arvani, already greatly concerned about the amount of refugees that have spread across the continent, this is a welcome change and they are glad for the respite. Few view it with real concern.
Of greater concern is an odd social phenomenon among veterans of the Battle of Pieros, that saw the defeat of the Eurusi. Tales are emerging of fantastical events- of men that flew, or of a flying ship, or a ship that sunk as if a hand pulled it under, or a jungle that came alive. This is deeply unsettling to most Arvani. The Arvani simply aren't superstitious, as a rule. They are a deeply, deeply skeptical people. Magic is utter nonsense. The commoners frequently mock the nobility that talk of 'elves', and believe that a group of shavs calling themselves 'dark elves' put one over on credulous nobility and their closest associates. The gods are seen mostly as metaphor and allegory, and everything can be explained. In the so-called Silent War and Gyre War, isolated reports were a sign of trauma from battle scarred individuals, which was sad but no cause for alarm and passed quickly. But this time is different.
The rumors just aren't going away. Some soldiers vehemently claim that they saw what they saw, no matter how much they might be mocked for it. Most are deeply uncomfortable talking about it, but rumors keep stirring. They are met with deep skepticism, and most Arvani are hoping that time heals all wounds, and that those addled soldiers recover in time. Perhaps it's nothing that a period of peace can't cure.
In a shocking breach of the security of the city of Arx, a band of shav assassins managed to stage a large scale attack upon the Whisper House. Details are still scarce, but apparently the group was disguised as prodigals, and sought to kidnap or murder different nobles of the city. The plot was foiled by a response by armed nobles, most notably Marquis Cirroch Sanna, who was killed in the melee but not before cutting down many of the attackers. The Iron Guard and Inquisition are currently trying to hunt down any surviving perpetrators, with a sizable Iron Guard presence on Sovereign Bridge searching travelers trying to exit the ward.