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Mourning Isles Strife

House Blackshore's domain was attacked, there's raids on the coastal Northlands and Crownlands, a war between House Crackneck supported by House Longwood and several Thraxian houses centered around House Warwynd. And that might just be the start of problems.

For most of the past year, the Mourning Isles have seen small scale war. After the massacre at House Crackneck's wedding that also killed the Marquessa of Longwood, several Mourning Isles houses had been fighting a combined Northlands-Crownlands force. After a raid against the Mourning Isles that resulted in the destruction of the Crackneck-Longwood fleet, there had been a series of raids in the Crownlands and Northlands by presumed Islander forces, burning villages and putting inhabitants to the sword.

The raids quickly come to an end after a massive naval presence from the Crownlands begins to patrol the Bay of Thrax, stopping and searching vessels trying to make landfall in the Crownlands (which infuriates a number of captains), which largley ends the raids trying to sweep in directly from the Isles who have no desire to quarrel with most of the navy of House Grayson and its vassals. But possibly more significantly, there was a smashing victory organized by Lord Rysen Crovane, who had land forces under the command of Princess Marian Redrain and naval forces uner Lord Aethan Kennex trap and destroy a significant group of raiders near Greywater Bay.

As the raids end, the belligerents remain hostile to one another, but lapse into a de facto ceasefire with the ocean between them and no sign either will attempt to challenge the Crownlands blockade just yet.

Meanwhile, the Highlord of the Mourning Isles, Prince Victus Thrax, attempts to further push acceptance of his reforms. He sails to Sungreet at Farmorn Point, the holding of House Helianthus, the duchy of Thrax which has been highly critical of Thraxian reforms. Duke Ivan Helianthus is not there personally to greet Victus' show of force, and his appointed Voice was a former thrall freed by Victus' reforms, a man whose parents were raiders who had butchered men and women at Maelstrom. The Duke of Sungreet himself was away, helping his vassals oversee a massive naval buildup, in case Eurus retaliates to the Faith's announcement.

Action by Victus for Mourning Isles Strife

(Public Action, OOC Date: May 27, 2019, 3:58 p.m.)

"Unfortunate what happened to the Marquis of Stormward, but this is what happens when one carelessly frees violent criminals on their land. I, along with most of the Isles, urge the Prince of Maelstrom to reconsider before we have similar acts. That would be tragic."

Those were the words of Duke Ivan Helianthus after Ford's death. Prince Victus has taken his time to measure a response to that, and he's settled on sending Duke Ivan a missive that he'll soon be visiting his domain for a 'diplomatic visit' so they might 'discuss these differences in opinion'.

And he'll be bringing a standing fleet of over 80 ships with him, comprising a large chunk of House Thrax's portion of the Leviathan. Along with several warriors, mercenaries and more.

It's not going to be any secret that the 'diplomacy' part of the visit is just lip service for the sake of civilty. Prince Victus is undoubtedly going to Helianthus to intimidate by making a show of force. Intimidation being the keyword, as their intent isn't expressly to cause violence. But the numbers should indicate that Thrax is more than ready to battle if that's what it must come down to.

Victus hopes his statement will be clear. "We are not backing down from the abolition of Thralldom. We strongly suggest you follow us, because we are more than willing to bring action behind our words." With a large military presence behind him, perhaps it'll get across clearer to a traditional Mourning Isles ruler.

Princess Sorrel will be accompanying High Lord Victus at his side as a diplomat, a traditional female role. She'll be clad in a conservative dress of red exotic leather embroidered with Thrax's sea serpent, but she'll also be carrying her sword, even if she has no intention to use it. Unless negotiations get particularly aggressive. She intends to try to soothe the duke as much as possible, reminding him of his duty under the Faith and Limerance to be a good vassal. She'll point out other traditions that the Isles have that are not going away. One example is the recent difficult diplomacy mission that Duchess Margot led which was staffed entirely by women in traditional gender roles. She'll remind him of his faithful service to the High Lord up to this point. She'll smile and be charming and delightfully feminine with the confidence of a woman who has her High Lord at her side and her Warlord husband leading a navy at her back.

What would a trip to 'negotiate' by potential show of force be without the Warlord of Thrax himself! Galen will be leading the military with style and tactic. He will equip each ship that is sailing with a small number of archers to supplement their normal crew, on some of the largest vessels he will see the siege weapon attacheds. He will lead the charge from the Serpents Tide with his faithful crew beside him.

The Prince will coordinate a show of military tactic amongst the ships and military of Thrax while negotiations are ongoing in an effort to demonstrate just how well prepared their forces are. Should he have the opportunity to meet face to face with the Duke, he will make a point to show off the way he leads his men, out of devotion and respect. He won't hide his charm either, after all, who can deny that beautiful Warstache?

As a son of Thrax, Jasher will accompany Victus with blade and spear in attendance, serving both functions of sentry and symbolic solidarity, the iron fist to Sorrel's silken glove. Jasher will let Victus and Sorrel do most of the talking, though if he was prompted, he will keep his answers short, terse, and disinclined towards productive or prolonged conversation.
For the trip, Jasher will also bring whatever forces he can muster at the time being to add a little more for that show of strength. He'll also be busy ensuring that the day-to-day matters while en route are going smoothly, so that everyone will be ready for presentation--and a degree of violence, if necessary.

Ian will be accompanying the expedition as the Sword of Stormward, complete with Ashfont at his hip. He knows he's not a diplomat, and thus will try to follow the rule of being seen (with Ashfont and a very severe expression) and not heard. He knows that while this is ostensibly about House Kennex's honor being besmirched, it's actually about reminding Duke Helanthius how not to make an ass of himself, and he respects that. His ideal outcome is some kind of peaceful resolution wherein everyone saves enough face to make it palatable to all parties, and he's not out for revenge here.

But Ian also knows that a peaceful outcome is far from a sure thing. If it looks like the Duke is going to push this to violence, Ian will offer a Sword duel between himself and Helanthius' Sword to the death instead of open conflict -- one man's life to save thousands.

Shard is coming along as part of that intimidation, along with as many Valorous Few sellswords as seems ideal to Victus (and reasonable for whatever other contracts they might have going, though she's put a priority on this one). She also intends to be an entirely /silent/ participant unless it's necessary to be otherwise, or unless things go poorly, and plans to hammer home to the Few that are coming with her that they're there to be seen, and, ideally, nothing else. Of course, if there ends up being something else, they're all coming armed to the teeth. She's being a little selective here, choosing veterans who have demonstrated at least some ability for self control.

Prince Victus has asked Raimon to attend him on his 'diplomatic' mission and so Raimon obeys. He is no diplomat, and he is no social creature. He is there for a singular purpose. To stand around and look menacing and to inflict violence should it be required. He is prepared to put his life on the life for his Liege.

It is with Duke Ivan Helianthus' greatest apologies that he couldn't attend in person, trusting instead the meeting would be more than adequately overseen by a trusted new voice named Melar, a former thrall whose parents once successfully raided a fishing village on Maelstrom's isle and put the villagers to the sword when taking advantage of the chaos of the Tyde Rebellion. Melar is happy to point out that his pardon and full forgiveness of carrying his parents debt was made possible by Victus' reforms, and Duke Ivan Helianthus thought it would be flattering to be greeted by one of the fruits of his labors in person, and see the benefits of forgiveness, even when Melar's parents had personally killed some of the families of a few of Thrax's commoner captains. Duke Ivan Helianthus was, of course, called away by seeing to the mass shipbuilding on his different marches as he provides assistance to his March-lords, done in response to worries of potential raids from Eurus after the Faith's declaration.

The meeting is a little tense.

Melar and all of Helianthus has ever appearance of courtesy, and is unfailingly polite and of course offers fulsome apologies for any offense taken by their intemperate words. And to demonstrate their sincerity, a full forty representatives of different houses under Helianthus' banners are there as well, with roughly a hundred warships in harbor, all toasting and celebrating Thrax, and declaring their commitment to Thraxian power and dominance. Melar has every lord or lady representative of forty different houses in turn say something positive or cloyingly polite to Victus, and the entire process is excruciatingly formal and proper.

And very, very, very pointed.

Which isn't to say Victus' trip is entirely a failure. It's clear that Helianthus takes the threat seriously. Dangerously seriously, in fact, by how much effort they put into a pointed, unspoken retort. And the lack of anything said that could be demonstrably a slight without seeming ridiculous is clearly thought out, but it also speaks to a house not willing to risk open war.

Yet.

Action by Hickson for Mourning Isles Strife

(Public Action, OOC Date: July 1, 2019, 10:24 a.m.)

Hickson organizes an investigation into who is responsible for the annihilation of the Village of Coldreach and House Coldrain. He starts investigating in Coldreach, collecting and recording all relevant physical evidence with painstaking care - from fragments of weapons or armor, bits of debris, an analysis of the likely tactics used to attack the village, to the approximate size of the attacking force. Hickson records any and all relevant information that might lead him to deduce who is responsible for the attack. He will also speak to anyone living near the village, as well as those who may have had contact with House Coldrain in the Mourning Isles more generally or in Arx.

At various intervals, Hickson will hold meetings with his fellow investigators, in order to share information and refine theories as well as help to focus the group's attention to places most likely to lead to them to the answers they seek.

It's a personal matter for House Darkwater, this whole mystery of who trespassed onto their lands and slaughtered the people of the village of Coldreach and so while Lord Asriel Darkwater is confident that he's assembled a competent team, he takes to the field himself on this matter as well. The only thing better than a keen eye is one's own keen eye, after all. He wants to examine the aftermath of Coldreach for himself. He'll be going over the settlement and the surrounding area with a fine-toothed comb, because nobody comes and goes without leaving behind a single tell-tale trace and even if they do that can be indication enough of certain things.

While others venture to the grotesque murder scene, Wren takes a slightly different route and heads toward settlements nearby. She's a brave, charming merchant and good at striking up conversations with people, helping to lower their guard with talk of trade and the area before smoothly peppering her discussion with questions about Coldreach as she'll have steered conversations toward it through some gentle manipulations. It was a horrible and tragic thing after all that happened. Did anyone see anything? Know of anyone who did? Hear any salacious rumors? She's a traveling merchant and needs to protect herself after all.

Once Wren has what answers she can get (and made some possible future merchant-related contacts), she'll reconvene with the others to exchange notes, grateful she escaped having to see the sights (and the smells) of Coldreach itself.

Evander will be investigating the incident on a couple of fronts:

* He will be pulling up the whites of people who live in Coldreach in the period leading up to the event, trying to determine whether there was any clues, unusual events, or hints of what was coming, or whether there might be clues in the history of Coldreach or the Coldrain family.
* He will be looking for trade and other ship routes that regularly stop by Coldreach in the hopes of tracking down their crews and either directly discussing with them, or following their whites on anything they may have seen before, during or after the event.

He will be sharing these notes with those that travel to Coldreach, but will not be attending himself.

Quintin will be doing his best to figure out WTF happened at Coldreach. He'll do his best to figure out the particulars of how it all happened, considering strategies and tactics.

Corbit investigates the area, looking for clues, figuring out what exactly happened, trying to reconstruct the scene as well as hopefully figure out who did all this. He will meticulously search both the village and Coldrain house for anything from dropped weapons, to blood spatters to footprints that might still be left both outside and inside.

Lady Delfina isn't much of an investigator, but she knows how to use a sword. It seems rather dangerous to poke around in a place where something unknown murdered an entire settlement, so she's there to protect everyone and provide security.

A seasoned veteran of riding up to the disgusting battlefields and then figuring out what actually happened, Lord Bedivere carefully inspects the crime scene from varying distances before finally combing it for every clue that they can possibly find, doing so with intelligent coordination with his fellow investigators and the Darkwater Peers. With an open mind, he tries not to pre-emptively assume but to diligently gather thorough evidence to accurately paint the historical picture behind what really transpired around/within Coldreach village.

Having been part of the building of Coldreach (See: Action 460), Carita has maps of the village, thanks to Sameera Coldrain (RIP) and what they were shooting for, as well as a general idea of where everyone living there came from (thanks to her people knowing people that kept track of these things). If anyone has already investigated the village, she'd have those same people hook them out for questioning. She's not overly keen on the smells of death, but she's happy to help her family find justice of some sort (while heavily guarded), if only just why it was done. Her goal is to see if these deaths were at all linked with the murder of Oliver Arterius nee Coldrain. The Inquisition began an investigation on him, but it remains open to this day, according to the Master of Questions (Laric), and High Inquisitor (Alistair) who told her the only suspect they had slit his own throat. She would also ask her guards to be very, very aware of cultists that could possibly turn in to a swarm of bugs that bite, and that should that happen fire is best. She's also bringing in the Lament Marines to keep the group safe.

It was a sellsword group of Undrowned Sons.

It's exhausting, compiling evidence. There weren't many eyewitnesses that survived, and none at all at Coldreach, but some fishing vessels did spot ships with no banners sailing towards Coldreach, coming from the southeast, which would have been a direct path from Port Defiance. And while that suggests pirates, this was at least flotilla strength of all warships, including at least one drommond.

Other bits of evidence turn up, suggesting who might have hired the sellsail company. Some Thraxians claim in Arx that Sheena got into some heated argument at the Ebb and Flow with some lords and ladies, and a lady with a dress decorated with a sunflower motif took particular offense. Some darkwater commoners at Darkwater Watch say there had been a few uncomfortable incidents with visiting traditionalists being outraged at the existence of a thrall settlement. It was clear that Coldreach was seen as a stick in the eye of traditionalists, but as to who in particular was offended enough to hire sellswords to murder them all? That's less clear.

Action by Rysen for Mourning Isles Strife

(Public Action, OOC Date: June 29, 2019, 11 a.m.)

In order to put an end to raids along the coast of the Northlands, Rysen builds a coalition of allies in order to set a trap for the raiders. The coalition's goal will be to substantially weaken the raiders' forces and allow the allies to interrogate survivors in order to determine who is ultimately behind the attacks with the minimum amount of casualties on both sides.

Command of the fleet will be handed over to Admiral Aethan Kennex, who will lie in wait off of the peninsula of Greywater Bay, a major port town along the Northlands coast. Rysen offers a good bit of coin to Northland sailors and merchants in the region to suggest a particularly lucrative shipment of blackwood lumber, silver and gold from Crovane mines will be stopping in the major Crackneck port on its way to Perlspire on a trade mission, in an attempt to lure the raiders into an attack. Rysen has entrusted the command of the Crackneck and other Northlands soldiers to Princess Marian Redrain, but he will fight on the beach personally, to honor Gloria, protect the Warchief, and prove the valor of Northland's chivalry. If all goes according to plan, signal fires will alert Aethan's fleet at the sight of incoming raiders, who will sweep in from behind their ships, while Marian and Rysen, along with the Northland warriors and their allies hold off the raiders on the coast. Afterwards, the allies will interrogate the highest ranking survivors, in order to determine their affiliations and by whom they were sent.

Princess Marian Redrain will set a trap at the edge of the port town, using a lumber yard to be where the 'prize' is supposed to be stored, close enough to the water with trees before the beaches so some savvy raiders would normally be able to sneak in and out. The boards under the yard have several trap doors where archers can pop up and shoot, not to kill all so they can capture a few. Infantry will surround the building to catch those that flee. If the men make it to the beaches, calvary are set up to catch them. Of course, once the trap is set, an arrow on fire will launch from the beaches so Aethan is signal to cut off their access to their ships.

Aethan is eager to support Redrain in its endeavors to bring peace and stability to its shores, and so will be commanding its naval forces during this maneuver, augmented with some of the Stormward Fleet. He will be coordinating with Lord Rysen and the Warchief Princess Marian beforehand to make sure to carry out their plans, as well as -- as time allows -- meeting with Redrain captains and pairing them with those of the Stormward Fleet to build trust and understanding between them beforehand so they can better coordinate their efforts. He will also be putting Kennex resources toward it to attempt to ensure a successful outcome.

Cillian will be going with Lord Rysen and Princess Marian and a small blackwood group of troops to help fight on the beach, being the sword of Blackwood and Minster of war he will lead his men into battle and put a end to all of this.

Although I am more a sailor and sea captain than fighter I will stand on the beach by the other northeners and battle with them. Raiding cannot be allowed and I will lend my axe to the fight that puts an end to this.

Following the orders of those above her, Aella will assist Aethan as a captain of one of the ships under his command.

Orrin is offering Pearlspire as the juicy destination of these ships, and also allowing any and all coordination and supply of the forces involved in this action at their new port. He will direct that all ships having visited Pearlspire are drafted appropriate documentation to suggest legitimate unrelated trade purposes for their visits. There will also be appropriate documentation and staffing as if a large shipment of lumber and precious metals is to arrive. All of this will be managed through appropriate application of funds, leadership, and favors.

Arcadia does not know the Northlands well, but she does know the Grey Forest and how to shoot from the trees. Leaving Marian and her troops to take the beach, Arcadia and her forces will be hidden in the trees and moving through the edges of the forest collecting any who try to flee or have set up bases or may give a call to let other raiders know of the trap.

They sail from the North.

This was a surprise, as cutting in from the cold waters of the far north near the everwinter is extremely dangerous, and far from a direct path, but it makes sense- the Bay of Thrax and near waters are being patrolled heavily now by Grayson forces in response to the raids, and so the enemy cuts a far path through the arctic waters in order to try to make landfall north of the port town and then sweep down south towards it.

Rysen's plans work. It looks like the lure provided by Orrin proved successful, as the raiders sweep in from the North, with the ships under command of Aethan, Danvir and Aella staying far out of sight ot the south until they pull into Greywater Bay. No flags fly from the ships, no banners display as the raiders make landfall, speaking to a piratical nature or a group of attackers that has no intention of divulging their alliegence. The raiders are more numerous than might be expected- several hundred, and they approach on the port town with every intention of burning it and putting everyone there to the sword.

Princess Marian waits until they are at a precise point on the beaches- too far from their skiffs to escape into the water, but with wide open area for cavalry to ride right over the raiders. Marian's cavalry charge, supported by Arcadia's hidden archers and Cillian's blackwood troops stopping their advance catches the enemy in a disastrous position, and they are cut to pieces, immediately put to rout. A handful survive to surrender, and reveal they are Undrowned Sons mercenaries, hired anonymously out of Port Defiance.

On the water, their ships turn to flee and are confronted by Aethan's ships. By sheer happenstance, gale force winds pick up and capsize a number of the enemy vessels almost right as they turn to engage, and the already outnumbered enemy ships are quickly set ablaze and ultimately sunk.

It's a crushing victory, and there's no more raids on the Northlands.