Much Ado About Prodigals
A large delegation of missionaries heads out to the Oathlands. Led by Legate Orazio himself, the group is diverse and interesting - Legate Orazio brings with him Archlectors Avary and Aureth, Grandmaster Thena of the Knights of Solace, Sir Preston of the Templars, Radiant Selene and Delia of the Whisper House, and Princess Terese Valardin. This is no simple missionary trip however, as the entire caravan is quite the sight to behold, stretching as it does for half a mile. Supplies, guards, gifts, and sundries fill the wagons. This is a slow-moving force but move it does, inexorably toward the Oathlands and its people on a matter of Faith.
They are rumored to be focused on the Prodigal house, though any who wish to converse about the Faith are welcome at any time. It is a trip of true believers, of those who are thoroughly dedicated to their service of the Pantheon. We come in peace, they say. We only wish to speak respectfully with you, and to help, and to welcome you to the Compact.
It's a slow-moving caravan indeed, which gives the people of Greenmarch time to prepare. Word comes via Lady Margret that the missionaries are coming, and she encourages the people to respond to the Faith by showing them how religious the Greenmarchers are these days. Make sure to impress upon them how pious you are, she says. Even if it seems a little over the top. Lady Monique and Lord Corban Telmar join them. Play along, they encourage, so that your traditions might be protected from overzealous pilgrims. Marquis Marius, Marquessa Simone, and Lady Ianna Greenmarch likewise agree - show piety to these people who come. Korka Glynn rallies the commoners to join the ruse of excessive piety among Greenmarch and Rivenshari.
There's a second activity too - most of those nobles seem to also be looking for information specifically on Orazio and what the "real" mission is. When these missionaries show up, be helpful. Be thoughtful. Report anything unusual. Anything even remotely out of the ordinary. Blend in. Never let them know they're being watched. Invaders, some whisper softly. Always keep an eye on the enemy.
It makes Greenmarchers understandably nervous as so many of their leaders - not just Prodigals but long-term inhabitants of the Oathlands - start preparing them for what seems increasingly like a hostile invasion, thinly veiled as a missionary trip.
Somewhere along the journey, Prince Edain has shown up with the missionary delegation with a small contingent of knights. They travel with the missionaries for a bit and then split off - as he is heading directly to Sanctum. His squire remains with the missionaries though as they arrive in Greenmarch lands.
They find turmoil - a people wary and watchful and extremely and loudly pious. Yet with tact and kindness they persist. Princess Terese speaks of honor and chivalry, the duties of knighthood to protect the weak and fight evils. Father Orazio speaks of the ability to coexist. Of the worth of the Pantheon, but in recognition and respect for the spirits. It is obvious he has worked with shamans before, and even if he is not himself one who seeks out the spirits, neither does he deny them.
Archlector Aureth speaks of his Queen of Endings, how she spun all their souls - Prodigal and Faithful alike, and there is room for all in the Faith. Selene Whisper speaks diplomatically of the benefits the Greenmarchers have enjoyed - security, hospitality, food, medical supplies and so on. She focuses on making friends and does quite well with it indeed. As the missionaries prepare to leave, more than one Greenmarcher looks to their leaders, confused by the foretold invasion that never happened at all. We are more alike than we are different, they say. They mean us no harm.
In Rivenshari things are different. Lady Eshra Rivenshari will not abide deceit, and she walks among her people to tell them so. Be honest, she exhorts them. Remember your duty, remember what we have gained by joining the Compact. She impores them to take this opportunity to learn and to show the Faith who they truly are. Count Athaur agrees. He reminds them of all that they have been through together, the sacrifices they have made. The tragedy they endure. "We will move forward in honesty and we will passionately endeavor to work with our new allies while remaining true to ourselves, but never shall we dishonor our name for the purpose of simple deceit, this we cannot abide."
Lady Petra Rivenshari reminds them that she has been listening to the wind and that the safest path forward is the one where the two traditions find peace together. Lord Vano as well tells his clan that respect must be given to those of another faith, and that there is nothing wrong with following both the pantheon and their shamanistic ways. Open a dialogue, he encourages. There is room for both in our world.
With Prince Edain's suggestions on proper hosting etiquette, and Princess Caelis asking questions about the Rivenshari life and showing interest in learning more of their history and not just erasing it completely, and Felix offering a commoner's perspective on the Faith, the missionaries will likely find this to be a far different experience from their sojourn with Greenmarch.
It is with some relief that the missionaries arrive to find a peaceful people eager to talk with the missionaries. Delia Whisper impresses them as she plies her trade, resolving little disagreements and learning culture with careful use of respectful questions. Archlector Avary spends more time answering questions than proselytizing really, and though she encourages conversions to the Faith, she's certainly not pushy about it. Grandmaster Thena shows the benefits of the Compact by working with Rivenshari to establish a small chapterhouse of the Knights of Solace on Rivenshari lands, to provide security to travelers and fulfill the hospitable, civilized mission of their Order.
The Templars too teach simple defense and speak to any Oathland lords who might seem to be uncomfortable with the Prodigals in their midst. They are excellent allies, Sir Preston points out. Noting the Prodigals in the ranks of the Templars he adds, they too have been willing to die for the Compact. They are allies and worthy ones, fierce to protect and to stand against the dark. Hearing a Templar speak fervently of the worth of Prodigals gives more hardcore Oathlanders something to think about - and to those Prodigals who overhear, they come away feeling that their contributions are valued, and their presence is welcomed.
On the whole, the mission unites. Many Prodigals reaffirm their commitment to the Faith of the Pantheon, though they honestly admit they are not leaving their shamanistic ways behind, merely augmenting them. But the missionary trip is a solid step toward understanding and outreach. And then the Seraph of Sanctum makes a public statement about it.
"Word has reached us here in Sanctum of the missionary trip led by Father Orazio from Arx. This sort of missionary outreach is precisely the sort of thing we would expect the Legate of Concepts to do and as such, we are extremely pleased to hear of its outstanding success. The Oathlands are the Heart of the Faith, and while there have been many changes and new faces settling in our lands of late, it is heartening that they have embraced the Faith with open and honest hearts. Rivenshari in particular is to be lauded for their honesty and integrity - two qualities we greatly prize. To that end, and with the great success of the missionary trip in mind, I would extend an offer of hospitality to those involved in this trip, to visit Sanctum and refresh themselves here before their long journey home."
"And yet it falls to me to address other, darker rumors. It has not escaped my attention that there were those leaders, both among the Prodigals and even some from ancient Oathland houses, who decided that this mission was for dark purposes. Indeed, there were those who counseled a path of deception. Of lies. I do not know from what source these rumors came, but it only benefits our enemies when we are divided from within by those who would sow mistrust of the Faith. I thus charge High Lord Edain and the Voices of Valardin to root out these enemies among us who would see us divided, who would spread lies and calumny against representatives of the Faith. And I charge all those who fell for such a ruse to repent, to right their hearts and their course with regard to the Faith, and to aid High Lord Edain in his charge to cleanse the Heart of Valardin."
"May the Gods be with us all."