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 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?
And the Darkwater? The Darkwater is shrinking. In fact, the Darkwater as Arx has known it in recorded memory... is gone. Most days. It comes and goes and is now unpredictable in its location - sometimes off the shores of Tyde. Other times off the shores of Maelstrom, or Arx, or Setarco, or somewhere completely different, like it sails on a tide that no one knows. And now it is more often red rather than black.
But now that it is gone (most days) from where it has rested for a thousand years, in its place a shining spire reaches into the sky - a beautiful, twisting staircase in the center of four columns of shining white marble with veins of gold, and a platform on top with an ancient-looking symbol as a mural on the floor. When a particularly brave (or foolhardy) sailor ventures to sail toward it, they can see a huge city in the dark depths beneath the waves. And yet sometimes they spot a patch of red in the water - bloodwater washing up to the surface, and a huge tentacle sliding forth out of it, reaching this way and that in search of something.
Time to rebuild indeed. And time enough to be wary.
Action by Silas for Gyre Straits(Public Action, OOC Date: March 4, 2018, 8:23 a.m.)
Iron Guard, Faith and Kings Own got you covered, baby. Plans in case a fleet feints and heads for Arx, possible attempts at a hostage situation:
Have plans in place to evacuate the Boroughs, but only if absolutely necessary, and more geared towards getting the city's most vulnerable to safety (we will NOT be moving people OUT of the city, only to more defensible areas!). Shelters will be prepared to accommodate the masses who seek refuge, and we may require the other wards to accept commoners seeking shelters should the Boroughs no longer be safe to occupy. We will begin to plant the suggestion that we may need to evacuate the Boroughs in the forseeable future as an attempt to alleviate panic.
* The Iron Guard and the Faith factions will be coordinating their efforts under the direction of Lord Commander Silas and Dame Thena, much like they did in the last siege. The former will be more focused on maintaining the peace, whereas the latter will likely be fighting with both sword and soup ladle. This should put the populace at greater ease in the following weeks.
* Checkpoints will be placed at the gates from the plains into the city, the harbor into the Lowers, and the Compact Ward into the Crown Ward to better acquire and organize information. These checkpoints will be overseen by Lieutenant Michael and Faith appointees, and some of the Iron Guard's newer recruits who come from the isles will be placed at these points to better vet the people providing their documents. They will be taking take names, affiliations, destinations, etc.
* Dame Thena and Princess Marian will be reaching out the the Commoners Council to rope them into more specific plans for the defense of the Boroughs. May include traps and/or harbor fortification.
* The King's Own will be protecting the royal family.
Calaudrin will be doing his job, training and leading groups of Iron Guard. This will including scouting with small groups beyond the walls to check for potential threats and keeping an eye on the walls.
Rymarr will be focusing much of his attentions within the greater Iron Guard effort on his assigned area: the Seawatch Gate and Seawatch South. Increased patrols, heightened readiness, and group training regimens are called for. Rymarr intends to lead by example and thus perform his own duties with a touch more gusto. On top of that the hope is that those fellow Iron Guard that he has sway over may join him in setting that example of a more proactive defensive force in the face of potential invasion. Along with following the orders dispensed from above, Rymarr intends to begin preparing the Seawatch Gate and Seawatch South for more potential pitched battles. In answer to those same orders from above, Rymarr hopes to orchestrate a streamlined system of patrols around the area and heightened inspections of those entering or departing the city, while attempting to not make it so inconvenient that traffic in and out of Arx is disrupted. To accomplish some of this, Rymarr fully intends to invest some of his own funds and contacts into the endeavor to hopefully ensure that the Iron Guard is prepared to face a threat.
Estaban will be helping the long ships get ready and make sure they are set up for their patrolls on the water, he will also be doing Dock patrols and making sure everything is set before he himself has to ship out with the fleet.
Kenna will be putting her organizational and logistical mind to making sure that all the little details of the guard get settled. Schedules, organizing reports, and making sure everything goes where it needs to go will be her part in this. Where others look at the Macro she'll keep her eyes on the micro and hopefully put together any pieces that might otherwise not get connected without a dedicated set of eyes. She also puts her time into making sure that the individuals in the guard have someone looking out for them on a personal level. She'll be looking for signs of stress and individuals taking too much on at one time. (Especially Silas.)
Princess Marian Redrain, military liason to the Ministry of Defense, has reached out to the Commoners Council to arrange for a town hall for all commoners to hear what the Iron Guard, King's Own, the Faith and Ministry of Defense are doing to keep Arx safe. This town hall will occur once military plans have been finalized by these organizations. She will also assist Iron Guard in coming up with an evacuation plan for non-combatants in the Upper and Lower Boroughs to ensure no lives are lost from panic if the enemy comes at our doorstep.
Sparte has fallen into the role of organizer between the Iron Guard and the other guards and troops in Arx that may be called to the defense of the city if it is under siege. He has received approval from each of the great houses to organize cross-training between their men and Iron Guard forces, so that if a crisis does come to Arx again they will be ready to work together to protect the city.
Derovai has been approached to keep an eye on the Lowers. He'll do so and check back with Calaudrin, whom he knows, to see if there's any other potential usefulness he might have.
Even as the diplomats focus on esprit du corps, the Iron Guard, some of the Knights of the Faith, and the King's Own are settling in to protect Arx.
Under Lord Commander Silas Whitehawk and Calaudrin Estes, the Iron Guard are instituting checkpoints at all the major gates. Marquis Rymarr and his people secure the Seawatch Gate, setting the example for a proactive defensive force in case of potential invasion. 'Constant Vigilance' is his watchword, and his influence spreads. The guards at the South Gate are looking particularly sharp these days.
Baron Estaban Saik mans the docks and leads the Iron Guard to make sure that all ships are properly inspected, and all cargo correct and complete. It's a difficult job, what with the propensity of ship captains to smuggle the odd thing here and there (as is their inalienable right as captain, most will argue) but he does a commendable job. The docks are quiet and safe, for now.
Derovai Voss heads to the Lowers, keeping an ear to the ground on behalf of the Iron Guard - he's casual enough to make it seem like happenstance, but he's clearly probing to try to keep ahead of any rumors of malcontent or, worse yet, cultists. So far so good, and Arx is as secure as the Iron Guard can make it.
Meanwhile, the King's Own is keeping a close eye on the King, the Queen, and the babies, more diligent even than usual and certainly more formal about who is admitted into the presence, and who is allowed to keep anything sharper than a table knife when approaching.
Lady Kenna Whitehawk keeps an eye on everyone as they work, determined to make sure they are still taking care of themselves even as new trainees fresh from classes with Officer Sparte Fatchforth start their own patrols, following plans coordinated between Lord Commander Silas, Princess Marian Redrain, Dame Thena Grayhope, and Lord Commander Leona Thrax.
Action by Gwenna for Gyre Straits(Public Action, OOC Date: March 2, 2018, 8:08 p.m.)
"Movin' On Up, To The East Side" - Gwenna has been asked by Darren to spearhead the evacuation of the people of Crovane/Stormwall who will not be part of the fighting. She has already received permission from Duke Asger for this up and will personally be going to Stormwall to gather/lead the people capable of land travel (those who remained after the previous crisis via Donella's on @action 1669). She will be enlisting the help of others to aide the evacuation in a variety of roles, such as serving as protective forces should anything untoward occur as they make their way to the nearest, safest fealties. Gwenna will be carrying with her the lantern for House Redrain entrusted to her during the Rite of Thirteen Lamps.
While in Farhaven, Darren is going to organize the resettlement of refugees evacuated from Stormwall. He is going to prepare Farhaven to receive as many Stormwall citizens as possible, realizing that as a seafaring people they may need support from House Redrain in the form of food, clothing, and supplies. He is going to use his political muscle to strong-arm all the other leaders in the Northlands to accept as many of the evacuees as possible, ensuring that all civilians have a place to settle temporarily, and that, as much as possible the supplies and resources of those cities won't be pushed past breaking. Darren is aware that resettling a city like that is going to be expensive and strain the rest of the Northlands, but he wants to spread out the pain as much as possible so no one area is carrying the burden.
Asger prepares to go up to Stormwall to help evacuate it with Ann and Gwenna. Before hand he sends messengers to start preparing things Stormwall side making sure everyone is ready to up and move when the group gets there.
Cirroch is making efforts to provide protection for the evacuating citizens. He is making efforts to recruit guards that will offer the needed protection from raiding Shavs to the evacuated citizens as they move to safer lands away from the approaching forces. He is having flyers made to spread around Arx and the northlands, encouraging the fighting capable to go to Stormwall to assist those fleeing danger.
Ann is going up to Stormwall with Gwenna and side by side, they get their hands dirty. Ann uses her medical training to assess the health of the people to be evacuated. She then does what she does best - accounting. She accounts for every last soul that needs to be evacuated and makes sure no one is left behind.
Thena sends 250 highly trained Solace Knights to help evacuate Stormwall and protect refugees as they are relocated (represented by Solace Evac Corps, army #263).
Prince Artur will be riding with Darren to Farhaven and busy himself with helping to organize and resettle the refugees. Artur will be keeping an eye on Darren, with the intention of protecting him in case anything unexpected should occur, Artur will be coordinating with the local guards in order to provide leadership, keep order and try and keep the morale of the refugees as high as possible during what is more than likely to be a difficult and upsetting time for many of them. It's maybe not quite as glamorous an assignment as Artur would have hoped for, but he's going to do it to the very best of his ability in any case.
At the request of Princess Ann, Seymour will be organizing the funding and supply side of the evacuation effort. Making sure it is understood how many people will be coming into the area, what economic resources will be in short supply, organizing trade caravans from nearby lands and regions and contacting independent merchants. Essential services not already being handled by one of the nobles spearheading the effort.
Desperate times bring disparate allies and somehow the Aunt Superior of the Oathlands has been roped into helping with the evacuation of Southport. After rallying men at arms, she now rallies men at trees, men at building, men trained for survival in the wilds. Oakhaven and its lumber supplies (at a discounted rate) ride north along with men and women trained in using that lumber to build supplies, both martial and domestic, that will be useful in the rebuilding. When they meet the evacuees they will help in training interested parties with an eye towards a hopeful period or reconstruction. And if it should bolster future trading relationships, well, that's just a side effect. Some huntsmen from Keaton will go along to provide security to the goods and the former Countess. For her part, Margerie will try to meet with two groups - some of the evacuees that might know holdouts back home and some of the older nobles in areas bordering Redrain lands. With the former, she'll offer some diplomatic training and entreaties that might work to convince more people to evacuate Stormwall ((Leaving their fellow northerners to do the asking, though, so it isn't too much Oathlands interference)). With the latter, she'll be encouraging nobles to be prepared for and welcome overflow refugees if needed with offers of trade incentives.
As supplies filter in to Stormwall, Princess Gwenna Redrain organizes the evacuation efforts. It's a massive undertaking with the full support of High Lord Darren. Darren and Donella have traveled to Farhaven to prepare space for refugees, and Duke Asger Crovane encourages every nonessential person to get out of the line of fire.Princess Ann Redrain lends her encouragement, assessing the health of people who will be evacuated, and helping with last minute triage as needed.
Not all the people want to leave. This is their home, after all. But Prince Artur Redrain works to remind the people that this is difficult and upsetting, but that their people were most important to them - not the structures in which they live. Lady Margerie Keaton works with Artur as well, meeting with refugees and seeing if they know of any holdouts at home, helping traing people for eventual reconstruction, and generally strengthening the relationship between the Keatons and the Redrain.
Seymour Oak, who has established supply lines, also works to keep an eye on refugees, trying his best to encourage people to leave the city, taking stock to make sure the right supplies are being sent to the right places. Marquis Cirroch Sanna and Dame Thena and the Knights of Solace help organize protection details for the refugees. It's impossible to get everyone but fighters out, but they're making an effort, minimizing the potential losses in Stormwall as much as possible. This not only gets civilians out of the way, but has the added benefit of making supplies for fighters last longer - if indeed this fight is going to be a protracted siege. Those left in the city and the nearby environs make their final preparations and wait, watching the horizon for signs of the incipient invading fleet.
Action by Ian for Gyre Straits(Public Action, OOC Date: March 4, 2018, 9:56 p.m.)
In the tallest tower of Setarco, the Choir will be using their voices as a counterbalance to as much abyssal interference as possible.
Ian, at the head of his new special forces unit, will be keeping anything from getting to the Singers so that they can keep doing their thing for as long as possible. He'll have archers on the stairs that lead to the tower with compound bows and heavy broadhead arrows, with instructions to shoot steadily and fall back if anyone tries to get up the stairs, aiming for the head as much as possible. Once they get to the top of the stairs, there will be a heavy door that can be barred and barricaded. Pikemen will keep anything trying to climb the walls from getting in through the windows. If enemy forces do get into the room, the men will form a circle of interlocking tower shields around the Singers, with a row of men with halberds behind them, and we'll use that formation to hold out for as long as we have to. If what we face are "zealots" (zombies), the men have instructions to focus on bashing in or cutting off heads.
Ian will be enlisting the help of the Faith intercede with the Gods and try to protect the Choir from more direct magical interference. While not present, their contributions will be key to defending against assaults that can't be held back with a shield or beaten back with a blade.
Sorrel is very focused on fighting the abyss in particular using song. She will wear her rubicund armor and bring her rubicund sword with her, but being the Bladesong, she intends to use her voice as her blade. One of her primary focuses in singing will be to attack any cloud cover, particularly that which seems unnatural. Another primary focus of hers will be to improve morale among the troops, since that's, to her knowledge, her great talent. Furthermore, since it's supposedly abyssal magic that will be dampening and/or destroying morale, it's completely her aim to conteract that with a little help from her friends.
Sorrel will be bringing a variety of songbooks with her, and in particular, religious songs both that she's written and that others have written. Furthermore, she'll also focus on getting the battle hymn sung. Her musical selections will be as anti-abyss as they come!
Lucita, from past actions singing with Tikva and Sorrel, thinks she apparently linked the singers together somehow, and knows she strengthened their songs and extended the distance they reach. She has been studying at the Academy and praying in various shrines daily in the hopes she will be able to do this well and contribute to the songs they sing to prevent madness, sustain morale, and enable the compact ground forces and fleet to have an improved chance against what they face. Thus she will sing wholeheartedly with the choir when fleet and ground forces battle the foe.
Blessings, Sygils, prayers, and holy water- whatever she can do to provide both spiritual and psychological protection for Ian's mission is given. She bathed the tokens in the sacred pools and prays over them, anointing them in incense . She provides blessed bottles of rose water. Whatever might help because Beseeching is mysterious and vague.
Vayne blesses all the mirrors involved in this effort. Big and small, the whole lot of them. No one needs a mirrorborn sneaking through and replacing/murdering anyone.
Wylla has received songs to be blessed from Lucita and, presumably others. She offers the blessings of Jayus upon them, in hopes that the creativity from Jayus will help find the right wording to help hold the singers' focus and emotions on their goals. May their voices be strong and true for what must be sung and last through the length of the battle.
Victoria is carrying a flame from the Eternal Flame to the lighthouse of Setarco, as she is already making her way via the Setarco naval forces. (action 1858, 1841).
From Setarco the lull is interrupted by the approach by a huge monster, tentacled with blue-black, leathery skin. And so many eyes and so very many sharp teeth. They seemed to be seeking out the Choir of Sorrel, Tikva, and Luctia who sing from the Tower but, guarded by Lord Ian Kennex and watched over by Archlector Madeleine, the monsters could not find their prey. And as they struggled to defend the Choir the group tasked with monster hunting by Prince-Consort Talen arrived - Shard, Theron, Corban, Serafine, Adalyn, Leta, Elyse, and Regla - along with a man in a skull mask saved the day, sending the algae-covered monster, and then the tentacle monster it birthed, and then the monster vomited forth along with a stone tablet. The monsters seemed thoroughly interested in killing the Choir, but they were prevented and so the small team carried the day. For now, Setarco lapses into quiet once more - but an uneasy sort of peace, and the sneaking suspicion that there are more than just ships heading their way.