Paved With Good Intentions III
Numerous conflicts have continued burning across the Compact, and word is finally beginning to trickle back to Arx about the mixed results of the effort to calm the dozens of different issues scattered through the five kingdoms...
Details are very sketchy, but reports are coming out of the Oathlands in regards to one of their far western counties. Highhill, the seat of House Steelhart, was reported completely destroyed by Abandoned raiders, with all members of the Steelhart family slain, causing a degree of concern among peers.
A number of the recent brushfire conflicts seem to be dying down, thanks to the dedicated effort and talent of many in the Compact who have been trying to keep the smaller conflicts from spiraling out of control. The tales of the successes are what reaches Arx first, for the most part, the good news that's cause for optimism.
Nobles of Houses Blackram and Acheron, assisted by the Whispers and the Faith, have resolved the bloody border conflict between House Threerivers and House Bellerive, which threatened to become a broader war between the Oathlands and the Northlands. The disputed land between the two houses has been, in a surprising move, taken under the care of the Faith of the Pantheon and used to make shrines- that particular agreement raises eyebrows among the Peerage, as traditionally the Faith of the Pantheon owns no lands specifically to limit its power. It's a small and limited grant, but an important precedent, and one that causes a profound clash of opinions in the Oathlands, where most of the strongest voices backing the Church are also the ones most defensive over noble power. Still, to avoid a war between the Oathlands and the Northlands, most are willing to let that go and put that fight off for another day.
Similarly, the Faith of the Pantheon had a unmitigated success in quelling the briefly alarming heresy called the 'Church of Petrichor', and bringing wayward Northlands houses back into the fold, while making sure templars in tense domains escaped unharmed. There was quite a bit of help on the part of notable shamans, such as Vala Khanne and Princess Drea Redrain, and much of the tension between the Northlands and the Faith is easing for now, though it would not take much for that to flare up once more.
Throughout Arvum, immense efforts have been made to aid refugees displaced by fighting, provide safety for prodigals, and make the Great Road itself far more safe and secure. Diplomatic initiatives led by Princess Saoirse Velenosa helped see local lords take more responsibility for guarding the travelers on their own domains. Pilgrimages led by Princess Alarissa Thrax and another by Lord Kaldur Seliki brought more attention and support for the difficult task for the Knights of Solace. Guard towers built with Gemecittan stone and manned by templars are being built or planned throughout the continent, and numerous initiatives against Abandoned or quarrelous forces have stemmed the bleeding of the Compact's wounds. Perhaps the most noticable change has been in the Oathlands, where so many of the houses have put great effort into talking down their vassals and ending the bloodshed. Houses Fournier and Daveiga are finally in talks that look promising, the raids from the Oathlands into the Lyceum have stopped, and the region has gone from threatening to boil over to a merely dangerous simmer, though violence is still possible and many of the guilty have not yet been brought to justice. There is, of course, still alarm at what happened at Highhill as well.
Some victories are clear cut. The way that House Velenosa ended its 'Wine Crisis' was marked difference from the conciliatory approach taken in the Northlands, and underscored the great differences between the Lyceum and other parts of the Compact. Evidence of treachery was uncovered, as is predictable for the Lyceum, nearly everyone involved was arrested and promptly executed. Lucio Rogelivitti, the mastermind of the plot who sought to take advantage of perceived weakness in House Velenosa, was forced to drink his wine until death. It was an exceedingly unambiguous statement by House Velenosa and a reminder of their house words. This has led now to a popular quip in the Lower Boroughs in regards to the Lyceum, "Ain't no one messing with the fox's wine."
Other victories are less clear, such as House Grayreeve still being in rebellion against House Deeppwood and talks continuing, which is a relief in war being averted, but stays tense. And there are reports of violence in Seliki and Ashford lands, as some of the prodigals and freed thralls from the Mourning Isles turned out to be quite dangerous, with attempted ambushes or sabotage. Traditionalists in the Isles are quick to point out that this is a natural consequence for freeing dangerous individuals from thralldom, and that the institution is a valuable one for making use of men and women so otherwise dangerous they should be executed out of hand. Peers in the Crownlands in particular scoff at this, and many suspect that these attacks have been orchestrated by Islander houses.
From the eastern coast of the Northlands, word reaches Arx that Duke Asger Crovane's killer was possibly identified- a former thrall in House Crackneck's employee that seems to have been murdered himself to cover the tracks of whoever hired him or in retribution for his actions. The war between House Warwynd supported by allied Thraxian houses against House Crackneck and House Longwood seems to be continuing to escalate since the destruction of most of the naval forces of Crackneck and Longwood. Several coastal villages in the Northlands have been attacked by raiders flying no flags, and one large caravan traveling from Longwood to Crackneck was attacked and massacred along the Great Road. Some other Grayson vassals have started to support Longwood, and a naval flotilla escorting Thraxian merchants traveling towards Helianthus' lands was attacked and completely destroyed. Nor is that the end of violence in the Isles.
Due to the death of Marquis Ford at the hands of unknown attackers, House Blackshore's domain of New Hope saw prudent steps taken to increase it's defenses, and it was well they did- there was an assassination attempt against Baroness Skye during their Harvest Festival, by what turned out to be members of the sellsword group known as the Undrowned Sons. Nor was that the only attack against what are seen as more progressive forces in the Isles- the Village of Coldreach, a former thrall settlement on Darkwater lands run by the commoner Coldrain family has been attacked and completely destroyed by unknown forces. Every man, woman and child in the village was killed, including all members of the Coldrain family, and it's suspected that the only reason the village was not burned was to avoid smoke that could have potentially alerted Darkwater naval forces. Throughout much of the Isles, there's been a large swell in violence against former thralls, with threats, intimidation, and murders throughout many domains against former thralls- particularly prodigal ex-thralls. Many thralls once freed refuse to ever set foot in the Isles again, and there's been some disappearances of Mercies and other members of the Faith of the Pantheon that specifically tend to ex-thralls. The traditionalist domains do very little to stem the violence, while the progressive domains, like New Hope, live under the threat of outside attack. Diplomatic efforts inside Thrax have kept open rebellion from starting, but the 'mild' actions short of outright war are by no means pleasant.
Whether the Compact is quieting depends much on where one lives and their point of view. For those worried about heresies, religious schisms, and wars between Oathlands and the Northlands or the Lyceum, things are looking better. The Great Road itself is much safer. For other conflicts, much is unresolved. A war continues between a Northland-Crownland alliance and some of the Mourning Isles, and in the south, a Gemecittan mine was destroyed while one of their vassals House Gallo quarrels with the Shepherd vassal House Groverfield. There's a good bit of alarm about the fall of Highhill, but most assume House Valardin will be able to handle whatever Abandoned were responsible, and the details are still scarce, where most imagine it's not nearly as bad as reported. So there's areas for concern- some Peers are alarmed that the foreign envoys are lingering, and are uncertain why, with little to no word since the last Assembly of Peers.
But nothing seems to be an emergency that could threaten the entire Compact. And that's a relief.