Bring Forth the Huntsmen, 3
With armed forces moving in and out of Arx, the guardians of the northern gates are getting very used to seeing strange parties coming and going. Shortly after the success of the diplomatic forces led by Princess Donella Redrain and Radiant Selene Whisper, even more soldiers move out. This time led by Duke Vercyn Halfshav, he is ably assisted by Lord Arik, Sword of Whitehold, High Lord Victus Thrax, Prince of Maelstrom, Lady Titania Kennex, Lord Ian Kennex, Duke Harald Grimhall with the Grim Legion, Sameera Coldrain, and the mercenary Agnarr. They are moving large numbers of soldiers to Farhaven, and not in secret either - they're set to reinforce the Redrain city and Redrain holdings in the Gray Forest, and their time is spent building defensive fortifications and drilling as a cohesive unit. Redrain is clearly shoring up for trouble ahead.
Meanwhile, and probably apropos of nothing, a small group goes into the catacombs, for a pleasure stroll at night through the halls of the dead. When Freja, Calaudrin, Regla, Sivard, and Audric left they looked in fine fettle. When they returned they were considerably grimmer, carrying Sivard between them as he clung to life. And Freja was muttering something about mice.
Back in the Gray Forest, even more fortifications are being built and strengthened. Baron Edward Stormbreak brings his particular expertise in logistics and quartermastering to aid and advise the forces led by Duchess General Calypso Malvici. Merek Black also comes, helping with the setup of their home away from home and helping make sure that the logistics and supply chain is as secure as possible. Brigadier General Eirene Malvici coordinates a triage center as well, using supplies graciously donated by Princess Eleyna Velenosa. Duchess Dafne Zaffria assists by sending troops, and Mirari Corsetina seems to have developed an unholy interest in polishing blades (that is not a euphemism, folks). Those soldiers willing to let her look at their swords tend to be very careful with handling them afterwards. All in all though, these defenses are a success, and the soldiers operating in the Gray Forest are safer as a result.
As barricades and defenses go up in the Gray Forest, Marquis Mydas Nightgold, Lord Sigurd Nightgold, Aksel Nygard, Tallius Oakheart, and Petal Penrose return to the city from a trip up to the north. The lot of them look grim, and the first thing Mydas calls for is one of his assistants. Before they've even taken four steps into Arx he's already issuing terse orders. He seems casual, so casual, but the only thing that can be heard of his orders is "Lower Burroughs."
A small scouting group including Estaban, Artorius, Inigo, Sparte, Anze, Calista, Talen, Fiora, Dante, and Calypso make their way into the forest. Their intent is to scout some of the unscouted areas to the north and east of Farhaven. What they found was a village of unfriendly shav. What they left was a village of formerly unfriendly, now dead shav, and information of an iminent attack planned on the main defenses. All those careful plans made to catch the attention of the antagonistic shavs to the north? To shore up defenses and scout and test the waters? Those carefully laid plans worked. They return swiftly with the news, and people gear up for the battle to come.
The Iron Guard detached with Merek Black has provided some intelligence too - it's not as though the shavs have formed a cohesive army, at least not that they can tell from their scouting efforts. But smaller groups, twenty here, thirty there, disorganized but all swearing allegiance to the Horned God are coming. These intruders from Arx are the reason everything is poisoned, everything is not as it once was, that the Old Ways cannot be followed. And since the Compact has been so kind to give them a unified target, they're answering the challenge.
No one believes the ridiculous tales that come back from Farhaven. At this point, they're fairly certain that the newest Northern Game is "lie to the people back in Arx and see how gullible they are." But this time, as somber-faced warriors return to recouperate and figure out what happens next, they're not telling stories. In fact, all they seem to be willing to say about it is the same thing, over and over: "This is only the beginning."