The Sack of Bastion
As the sun rises on a snowy winter's morning in the Crownlands, the sunlight falls on a changed Bastion. The Cathedral, the site of such celebration the previous night in the hours before the horror began, still stands, but the beautiful stained glass of the windows have been busted out and vines cling to the structure. At the harbor, most of the buildings and half of the piers are destroyed along with a quarter of the fleet that House Grayson had docked there. The rubble that is left, along with most of the city, is covered in the dried out corpses of thousands upon thousands of insects. Grayhold remains standing as well, but with smashed walls. There are still sounds of fighting in the streets as shavs, seeing an opportunity, fight for territory in the neighborhoods where Bastion's citizens used to dwell. Yet, despite all this destruction, there is nothing more horrifying than the bodies of those that didn't survive the night littering the streets and buildings of Bastion. Fear and terror broke the illusion of safety provided by Bastion's strong walls and the leadership of the House Grayson, which is being credited for the fact that there is even any city left to rebuild at all. Survivors, amounting to a little more than half of the city proper, slowly make their way from Bastion toward Arx and the towns and settlements betweeen, whispering to each other in disbelief if they are even able to speak of what they have seen at all.
There appear to be a dozen unusually large colicky ticks terrorizing the Crown Ward of Arx. Witnesses say they were seen leaving the Nox'alfar embassy.
Thankfully, the skilled people of Arx had this mishap that will be known as The Tick Invasion of 1016 from this point onwards, well in hand. Non-lethal methods of handling the strange species of tick seems to have been a good call since they had a tendency to explode in such a manor as to cause onlookers to wonder just how such creatures fit all of that blood in them. Most of them had been ushered into the Embassy by Kastelon, Marzio, Ivy, Acacia, Sorrel, Silvio and Denica but the few that didn't quite make it ended up drenching both Alarice Plaza and Grace Way in blood.
Spokespersons from the Nox'alfar embassy insisted that, "This is what happens when you don't keep spiders on hand." Denying any culpability for what happened. They have however extended their favor for those involved in mitigating the situation. Each being classed as, Level Four Tick Herders. Whatever that means.
As the scouting parties draw closer to Bastion, they find something unusual. It's a /nice/ kind of unusual, however. Quiet roads, quiet forests. They expected to encounter a higher number of enemy shavs while traveling, but those numbers seem to be thinned out somewhat. Another point of note, numerous refugees that finally make it to their destinations indicate that they were waylaid by attackers and kidnappers along the road. But that they were later liberated by brave and honorable strangers, and then escorted to a safer point to continue their journey. Odd, but not unappreciated all things considered.
It's just a typical day, beside the fact that the moon is just lingering in the sky, when suddenly a house in the Lower Boroughs suddenly burst into flames. Locals seem to blame all sorts of things; from negligent smoking, strange experimentations and revenge arson. No remains have been found. Or anything really. The fire seems to have been incredibly thorough. Possibly too thorough.
It's an otherwise uneventful morning when people come across thorny vines covering the entirety of the Shrine of Lagoma, barring entrance. Attempts to hack through the vines or burn them lead to astonishingly fast regrowth. It offers enough opportunity for those trapped inside to get out but it seems the vines are here to stay. Attempts to physically climb the structure lead to serious wounds.
The surprise growth of thorned vines over the Shrine of Lagoma is the talk of Arx. The only thing that seems more shocking is that in effort to combat the problem, the Legate of Creation, Bianca Wyrmguard, authorized the burning of the Shrine. It seems, though, that while the Shrine burned, the plants survived. As a testament to the city's trust in the Legate, most believe that she clearly acted out of heightened concern and worry over an influx of invasive plants and their danger to the houses and buildings of Arx. Some mutter that the foreigners must have brought them in. Still others blame the Prodigals. Regardless, everyone with a garden eyes their herbs and flowers with a bit more wariness with some opting to rip out entire flowerbeds all together.
As thick fog descends on the city, there is an uptick in activity throughout the wards. The Iron Guard complain that they can hear voices asking for help from the fog, but there is no one there when they move to answer their calls. Individuals all across the city claim that they can hear voices that are strangely familiar calling in the fog, that they can never quite find. The Mercies of Lagoma are deeply concerned after discovering a rash of these obviously ill victims all claiming that they hear the voices of their dead loved ones.
People who stumble into the Lyceum Ward find that no matter which way they turn in the fog, they all find their way to just one place -- the Velenosa Estate.
As the dense fog that rolled in so quickly rolls out just as suddenly, whatever strangeness that might have occurred is written off as just a weird mood that descended over the city. In the light of day, it seems that whatever audience was being held at the Velenosa Estate turned into a wild party at some point. Most of the windows around the Audience Hall of the Estate are said to have been blown out and there are even rumors of injuries in the aftermath. Most people in Arx just shrug their shoulders and move on with their day. Lycene parties do have a tendency to get out of control after all.
Deep in the Valardin Ward, the ground begins to rumble, shaking and quavering beneath the feet of any walking Cairn Valardin. But then it settles, quieted and appeased for the time, it seems. Seconds later the screaming begins. From the Blackram Fasthold, the shouts of the guards, the cries of terror, and the clash of weapons carry over the walls and into the streets.
As the dust settles, the Blackram Fasthold danger appears to have passed. Stories of giant bugs, of grotesquede centipedes, circulate through the streets. The Blackram family is uninjured, from all reports, and they will rebuild the wall that was breeched. Why the creatures appeared here, so boldly in the middle of the Valardin Ward, is unclear, but some whisper of piece of jewelry stolen with a mysterious black diamond set in its metal.
Autumn in the Compact is a season of reaping the result of Spring's planted hope. Grain is harvested and stored away for the winter. Fruit and vegetables are plucked from stems and branches, both to be savored in the moment and treasured as protection against hunger when the air turns cold. Yet, there are few harvests as eagerly anticipated as the harvest of a season's grapes and the promise that they hold within those exquisite, tiny globes. The promise of warmth and celebrations to come for wine flows liberally through the Compact's veins and serves as the backdrop from weddings to births to funerals.
The Mercier vineyards located near Ashford holdings are some of the most lucrative in the region, if not in the Compact despite fierce competition from Lycene and Pravus vintners. Yet, this late in the season, the grapes remain on their vines long after they should have been harvested, fragile and delicate with the risk of the coming chill. They remain there, filled with potential, even when the Merciers' neighbors come to investigate their holdings after the sounds of horrifying roars pierce the stillness of an Autumn's night. They remain there, coated in the blood of the bodies that are scattered about the property, most of them in pieces.
Though the vineyards remain untouched, the house and the buildings are in shambles, coated in horror. All that remains of the holding are the ripened vines while what is left of the workers that so lovingly tended to the bounty rots in the Autumn sun.
What seems to have been a relatively normal evening in the Ward of the Crown is suddenly disturbed by half a dozen people leaving the Rectory screaming in horror. One Godsworn appears to be wounded, clutching his bloody side as he attempts to get away. "They're /eating/ them." He's heard to be shouting.
It doesn't take long for word to spread like wildfire across the city, though thankfully there were no actual fires in the Rectory. Apparently a number of shavs had the gall to sneak into the Rectory dressed as servers and even TEMPLAR guards and proceeded to attack and even eat several Godsworn and Disciples. This doesn't come as news to traditionalists who had already been convinced that cannibalism is common practice among shavs. Nonetheless, it's due to the heroic actions of many within the hall that the damage wasn't far worse and all but one of the attackers was dispatched.