"The Havens" is the name of a cave-riddled cove on the northwestern shore of Vastmark, Shand on the South Strait. The cove is surrounded by shale cliffs, too steep for any trees or small scrub. The existence of the caves had been long forgotten by townborn at the start of the story.
Strike at the Havens
|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Warhost of Vastmark.
Before winter in Third Age 5647, Lysaer's war host surrounds Vastmark to capture Arithon. In addition to approaches from the landward side, fleets invade from the west via Rockbay Harbor, and the south via the South Sea. Out of a hundred such landings, the fleet at the Havens is singled out by Arithon, based upon a scried strategy to make the stakes of attack too punishing for Lysaer's conscience to handle.
Lysaer's side consists of four companies of 565 men, mainly headhunters and town garrisons with a few fishermen from Merior. Arithon's contingent of 112 bowmen, encompassing both clan-born and trained Vastmark shepherds, waits in ambush on ledges and in caves.
Once the garrison divisions starts up the rocks, Arithon looses the signal arrow that starts the massacre. Unable to see the attackers, much less return fire, the town companies retreat to the beach. At this point, Arithon fires a second signal arrow and his bowmen switch to flaming arrows to destroy the boats. Boats on the outer edges of the flotilla are burned by flaming bolts from the arbalest aboard the Khetienn. During the attack, Arithon intentionally withholds all use of shadows or sorcery. His intent is to prove to the survivors how much more deadly his tactics could be in a fight against the larger warhost.
Arithon does not use the final signal arrow, signaling the cease-fire, until all of the boats are destroyed and no movement is seen on the beach. After the strike, Arithon leads group of veteran clansmen to the beach, identifying 25 townborn for mercy with the remaining wounded killed immediately by knife-wielding clansmen. Without introduction, Arithon treats the survivors' wounds, and sets their bones. The survivors are disparate, other than the fact that none has a movement-impairing leg wound. With Dakar and other clansmen, he escorts the survivors towards the central valley in Vastmark (over the course of 15 days). He finally reveals who he is at the end of the journey, and charges the survivors with sharing news of the defeat with Lysaer.
The attempt to sway Lysaer's resolve fails, after Lord Commander Diegan has the survivors executed for political expedience. He believes that the warning is nothing but a bluff, and chooses to suppress the warning to avenge his sister's misfortune. His Etarran scouts subdue and guard the survivors, while a hired band of Skannt's headhunters carry out the execution, believing the group to be deserters.
The strike at the Havens goes unnoticed until after the Vastmark campaign ends. A fisherman from Merior brings word of the affair to Lysaer although the man omits any mention of survivors. This omission amplifies the fear of Lysaer's allies during the foundational meeting of the Alliance of Light, who are led to the conclusion that the killing was for the purposes of dark magecraft. The effects of this are told in the Alliance of Light story arc.
Once Lysaer's charge becomes public knowledge, Jieret performs his duty as caithdein and confronts Arithon. With Dakar as witness and a death seal compelling honesty, Arithon admits that the strike was pure tactics and butchery, with no spells or shadows.