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Darkwater Revealed

Through the combined efforts of the Compact the Darkwater is no longer spreading, and Mangata's containment is holding. But visions and signs have been seen, new information has been turning up, and this is not a long-term solution. Rather than forget about it, those in the know are seeking - seeking the Cobalt Caches, finding the answers to riddles and visions, and answering the questions that refuse to be ignored.

The Inquisition, with the help of the Iron Guard and the Crimson Blades are conducting a thorough, brutal search of the city looking for anyone who was Abandoned. They are specifically requiring proof that any and all Abandoned in the city are not from the Mourning Isles, and the ones who cannot produce such proof are summarily hauled in to the House of Questions for "tea." Archlector Aureth counsels caution and patience, reminding the commoners of Dame Zhayla and how she was one of their own and encouraging them to cooperate in the hopes that the Inquisition those who ordered her murders.

This convinces the commoners not to revolt, but there is definitely some rabbling, which is swiftly silenced as an entire cult following of the pirate king in the Mourning Sea are exposed and executed for crimes against the Compact. The searches stop, and the commoners feel a little bit safer at night - though nobody's even trying to pretend any more that "tea and cakes with the Inquisition" is anything less than a grueling, potentially deadly afternoon.

First word comes from Setarco. House Pravus' powerful fleet has been kept close to home as a precaution due to the troubles in the Isles, and Admiral Alrec is able to show why that decision was extremely wise. A full dozen longships, heavily armed and flying kraken banners, were seeing coming from the Saffron Chain and trying to sweep close to Setarco waters before Pravus' fleet intercepted them and destroyed them. It's a great victory, and wildly celebrated in Setarco, but there's a disquiet as Alrec discovers that many ships seemed to be nothing more than scouts trying to slip into Lycene waters.

Separately, Prince Victus led a party searching for answers to the crisis in the Isles and received a warning of some terrible coming towards Darkwater Watch, but without evidence of what that might be. It's not so long after that the first reports come.

Hundreds of longships and a number of dromonds sighted in the Saffron Chain, all flying a banner of a kraken, with at first many thinking the number must be wildly exaggerated. But more and more report it, a vast fleet slowly inching its way with glacial slowness towards Lycene waters. That would be cause enough for alarm, but at the same time, reports come from the north near the far ice flows past the furthest most Isles holdings. An equally massive force of hundreds of ships is sailing towards Stormwall, the domain of House Crovane and the one port belonging to the houses sworn to House Redrain. And then finally come the reports to Prince Victus himself, giving word that a third force, just as massive with hundreds of ships has drifted clear of the Darkwater Deeps and headed directly towards Darkwater Watch.

Word is only just reaching Arx when a single galley with kraken sails drifts into the Bay of Thrax towards Arx, and the Iron Guard ships move to intercept. The ship is adrift, and it is rapidly seen why- every member of the crew has been flayed and crucified on the deck, with a single parchment addressed to, "To the pretenders of 'the Compact'." It reads:

"The Isles are mine by rights. Return my kin to me, and your holdings will not be destroyed. My fleet, Maelstrom's End, comes to claim what is mine. Resist me, and the weak shall perish."

A Valardin ship sails into the harbor at Arx, and a single crate is very carefully unloaded from the ship and taken to the Valardin Ward. At the docks, an altercation leaves Officer Sparte surprised, and Dame Esoka bloodied. A cult is destroyed, root and branch, by the Inquisition. High Lord Victus returns from his journey with grim tidings. The statue of Mangata is cleansed, but deeply scored.

Even as news of fleets sailing against the Compact filter through the city, the determination of each House in the Compact is heard. "We will not crumble," they say. "We will not give in. Together we stand, and we will protect our homes and our people." Bold words, flung defiantly into the teeth of the aggressor now, taunting him to come against the Compact if he dares. It's a brave stand.

But now more news comes, now with more concrete numbers. In each place the amount of longships, and galleys, and drommonds is numbered by hundreds - four hundred? Five hundred ships of varying types? At such numbers it's hard to get a firm estimate, and it is made more difficult by the random appearance of even more ships. They are released from the Darkwater, but perhaps still part of it. Sometimes ships appear, sometimes they vanish. One sailor swore off drinking and left the sea forever when his small fishing trawler sailed over the reflections of a fleet, visible only in the water below.

Crovane. The Lyceum. Darkwater Watch.


What will be left standing? What will be lost?