Of Heroic Hearts
It has been months since the Battle of Sungreet. A diplomatic mission to House Helianthus in the Mourning Isles resulted in a devastating battle that killed thousands, with losses most keenly felt among the templars of the Faith of the Pantheon. Duke Ivan Helianthus fled his own holding that rose up in revolt among his thralls, while two thirds of the Eurusi fleet departed towards the Saffron Chain, and it has taken time for the aftershocks of the battle to be fully felt.
The hammer of the Skal'dajan fleet was expected to fall upon the Saffron Chain, attacking the holdings of House Pravus who had destroyed their slaving operations and freed their slaves in the Saffron. The expected attack has not yet come, lending some to wonder what the Eurusi have been waiting for, and many in the Assembly of Peers fear that means reinforcements from Eurus and the rest of the Dune Kingdoms before they seek battle. There have been a handful of sightings of the Skal'dajan fleet in the Mourning Isles, but its exact location is currently unknown, creating a dangerous atmosphere of fear in the capital as some worry that the Skal'dajans are planning to raid the Arvani coast or turn from the Saffron. Scouting operations are in much demand.
Duke Ivan Helianthus, the former Duke of Sungreet, is presumed alive and hidden away in some stronghold in the Mourning Isles, and the situation among the Thrax domains continues to deteriorate. After he declared that king's father, King Alaric III, is alive in the Dune Kingdoms of Eurus and intends to return to claim his throne, the Mourning Isles have badly fractured. At least a third of the houses of the Mourning Islands have publicly supported Ivan and declared that they are with him, with a plurality of the Islander Houses at least sympathetic to his cause, and no more than a fifth of the Houses of the Mourning Islands have issued any public statements of support for Prince Victus Thrax. Even the declaration of Ivan as an apostate, and presumed exile from Arvum, has not caused his support to collapse, and most in the Mourning Isles fully expect a civil war. Piracy has skyrocketed throughout the Mourning Isles, with more progressive peers finding their shipping extensively attacked, and most domains sympathetic towards Ivan Helianthus have declared that they are enacting an embargo against any houses that refuse to 'recognize the injustice towards Ivan Helianthus, and protect the traditions of the Mourning Isles'. Trade in some parts of the Mourning Isles borders on total collapse, with shockwaves felt throughout the Compact.
Waves of Eurusi refugees have settled throughout the Compact. Their numbers are most significant in Arx, but notables of the Compact have aided the Eurusi in settling in each of the regions of Arvum. In this, there is significant danger. Ivan Helianthus has taken a stance of defending the Compact's traditions, and denouncing the changes to the Faith of the Pantheon, to King Alaric IV's marriage to what is called a shav tribe, to the elevation of neo-nobles and prodigals, and most importantly to the Mourning Isles, the attack on thralldom. On the last point, he has few allies throughout the rest of the Compact, but the Eurusi refugees have provided an opening. The shav'arvani of Arvum share a language and usually have the same religious and culturally traditions of the rest of the Compact, making acclimation as prodigals often relatively painless. Their differences, based on the tribe of their origin, are often the sources of friction, but most prodigals cannot be identified as such easily, allowing bigotry to pass relatively unnoticed. This is not the case for the Eurusi.
Most of the Eurusi refugees cannot speak Arvani, and are reliant on translators. Worse, the different religions of the Dune Kingdoms often do not even have superficial similarities to the Faith of the Pantheon, and at least the shamanism of the Northlands is a known quantity. The inevitable tension has combined with the very real fear of the unresolved Skal'dajan invasion to create some truly ugly incidents, and has resulted in quite a few domains of the Compact forbidding entry to any Eurusi for any reason. More than a few Peers of the Realm have shown hostility towards the refugees, and have shifted towards Helianthus' traditionalists, with some suggesting that perhaps King Alaric III, with his apparent recent experience with the Eurusi, might have a solution to returning these foreigners if he takes the crown again.
The reaction to Ivan Helianthus' announcement that the king's father is alive and intends to reclaim his crown is met by intense skepticism and incredulity all over the Compact. An overwhelming majority of peers simply believe that Ivan is lying, and it's a desperate ploy by a desperate man. A minority opinion is that the kind hearted, wise, and much beloved monarch possibly did survive, and that he might return triumphantly and help put the troubles of the past few years to right. Most peers are deeply confused by some notables of Arx's decision to treat Ivan's ploy as not only true, but to roundly reject Alaric III's right to return, spreading some far fetched rumors that he's now some type of abyssal tyrant. Really, to them it's as preposterous as the notion that King Alaric IV married an elf, and just another sad sign that some nobles simply do not take their obligations seriously. Maybe Ivan has a point after all about these trying times, however foolish his claims. Still, it would be remarkable to a great many if by some act of bizarre luck Alaric III was alive, and the king and his father were reunited. Such a lovely sentiment, however awkward the subject of rule might be.
Overall, the mood in the Compact is a dangerous one. There's fear of the Skal'dajans invading Arvum proper, with many peers wanting to see the Eurusi hunted down and crushed, however realistic that desire might be or no. Some confrontations between Helianthus' supporters and other peers in Arx have gotten violent, with traditionalists even outside the Mourning Isles being sympathetic to all the points save the one about thralldom, while others view the backers of Helianthus as traitors who should be hanged. An expanding Compact with claims in the Saffron Chain was broadly popular in Arx, particularly in that the gains came at the expense of slavers, though ambitions are generally taking a backseat to fear among most Peers of the Realm, with hundreds of different opinions upon just what to do being raised at the Assembly of Peers, and some loud Helianthus backers pushing 'sue for peace with the Skal'dajans, make Ivan highlord of the Mourning Isles, and welcome back Alaric III' resulting in no less than a dozen honor duels over the suggestion.
It's a chaotic time, and whether it's war with the Skal'dajans, or with all of the Dune Kingdoms, or with Mourning Isles separatists, or all of the above is an open question.