An Introduction to Mahid
The Pactground is a massive slab of an ancient construction material like a kind of fine, dark stone, strangely marbled, roughly circular and well over two hundred feet across, lying near the center of a great dry basin. Despite untold ages of weathering, radial designs deeply cut but fine in form still adorn its surface. The entire basin is neutral territory, and the slab itself is a holy site, even to Kalam, where it is the highest dishonor to bear weapons, and the two souls in known history who have done so found naught but a gruesome death and no mercy among their peers.
The Pactground is also a council that meets on this slab regularly; a council of kings, lords, and the most powerful of businessmen, the collected administration of dozens of small city-states concentrated in a surrounding lowland region of very dense Canal-work; the most productive and largest fertile region on Mahid. Nominally, they are an alliance, and were that true they would be the greatest, most terrible power on Mahid. In truth, however, they squabble and bicker, each desiring control over, and unwilling to cede it to, his neighbor.
So, the meetings of the Pactground are plagued with petty grievances, theatrical accusations, and token favors. Many who do not understand the situation scoff at it, deriding it as a circus and a waste of time. Without it, however, the entire region, the breadbasket of Mahid, would almost certainly burst into the bloodiest and most terrible wars in known history; hardly a fine prospect for those even outside the Pactground states.
And so, the circus goes on. Cities join and leave, threaten and plead, but there are always some who recognize the necessity for The Pactground, and work to keep it as stable as possible.
That stability was threatened two years ago, when a diplomatic envoy from House Tiduun of Birtule, traditionally a city not recognizing the authority of The Pactground, was slaughtered wholesale. It is not understood exactly who performed the deed, or why, but an indentured guard and several other persons related to the injured party disappeared immediately thereafter and presently are still sought by both The Pactground and Birtule.