The Game World
The King is Dead. Long live the Kings.
It has been a year now since King Draven Hellesburne V, the Lord of Blades, died, and never was there a more eventful year throughout his reign. Brother plots against brother, Chancellors master puppets, assassinations and kidnapping are rife, and it is said even the wind whispers of more death to come. Scuffles along borders, here and there, strain political tensions, trade routes are one day open and the next either closed or demanding of a new tax, to a new master. The King declares his justice will be done. But which justice? Which King? Draven left three sons, Aiden, Aethor and Thorn, though only the first two did he ever call that name. Each claims the throne as their own, and each has an army to back their claim. The Kingdom teeters on the edge of civil war. Lords must choose their allegiance – do they pledge their loyalty to the old King’s chosen heir, do they believe the claims of one of the other brothers, or do they see the opportunity to further their own ends – expand their own lands and titles? For those spurned by Draven and his household, the choice is clear. On King Draven’s death Aiden Hellesburne, as had always been expected as the eldest of Draven’s male children, was proclaimed King and as a King he rules, if only for now. Within the great City walls of Helles and throughout Deastir his right to the throne remains unquestioned, but further afield banners are now raised for other Kings. For Aiden and his younger sibling, Aethor, the sons of King Draven and his Queen Andrya, have a half-brother: a half-brother born within hours of Aiden to King Draven’s first Queen, the sorrowful Lady Ediever of House Trastor, the Lords of the Horse and Saddle. For it was that over twenty years ago, believing Ediever incapable of bearing children, King Draven had begun ensuring his seed was spread well in an effort to ensure he fathered an heir, amongst other reasons no doubt, for though Draven was generally a just King, he was neither a just husband nor a chaste one. And so it was that he found himself in the arms of the Lady Andrya Khra – a beauty borne of the oldest and wealthiest family in the nation. As soon as Andrya announced her pregnancy with Aiden, Draven unceremoniously declared Ediever barren, accursed and a practicer of witchcraft – the last charge at least of which was certainly true. Draven hurriedly divorced Ediever, marrying Andrya as soon as possible and, naturally, declaring to the world that Aiden was conceived on their blessed wedding night. Unbeknownst to all at that time was that the betrayed Ediever was about to prove far more fertile than even she had imagined, bringing to the world just less than nine months later twins: Thorn and Rose. The twins were brought up in Aelwyd as Prince and Princess of Trastor by their grandparents – far from the real royal court, whilst their mother became increasingly bitter, twisted and driven mad with hate. On hearing of King Draven’s death, House Trastor immediately declared Thorn the rightful heir to the throne, for at the time of conception, they insist, his mother Ediever had still been Queen. Though a fine rider, in the great tradition of Trastor, Thorn lacks the strategic and ambitious mind necessary to truly fight for the throne.
His twin sister Rose, on the other hand, possesses rare cunning, rare enough to understand that as a woman born of the great ancestry of the families Hellesburne and Trastor, her true power lies behind the scenes, supporting her brother. The twins lead their House, and their Houses armies, together. Rumours abound that whilst Thorn would have marched his army to the very gates of Helles and demanded the Crown, where his army would almost certainly have been defeated immediately by the then combined forces of the Houses Khra and Hellesburne. It was Rose that counselled caution, anticipating that a coming war would not be fought between only two Kings, and she was wise to do so, as the ancient but sometimes uncomfortable allegiance between Rosodtir’s two most powerful houses was not to last for long. On Draven’s death, the ancient, noble and wealthy house Khra had immediately, and unsurprisingly, declared for King Aiden. He is son of their own Queen Andrya, and nephew of Grayne Khra, rumoured to be the richest man who ever lived, and a keen and cunning politician who had long advised Draven via his sisters’ subtle direction. Some say it was Grayne who had engineered that marriage as well, introducing Draven to his sister at just the time the dead King was being advised to seek an heir one way or another.
Once crowned King Aiden gratefully received enormous financial support from Grayne and House Khra and put about equipping an army with which to march on the House of Trastor, and any other House foolish enough to rebel against his rule. His every request for money was granted. Yet it soon came to Grayne’s attention that not all of it was being so wisely spent. Between great feasts and the raising of an army to fight the approaching civil war, it became clear Aiden had no intention of ever paying this substantial debt back, either financially or through favours to his mother’s family. If Grayne had intended his daughter Nave to marry Aiden, as was widely rumoured, it appeared he was the only one of the three interested in the arrangement. It was at this point Grayne had the scholars of Khra check their largest hour glasses once again and declared that, as Thorn and house Trastor claimed, Aiden was indeed a bastard, conceived prior to Draven’s marriage to Andrya, and House Khra declared instead for Aethor, a boy of ill experience who now wears the Gold and Purple colours of Khra under the “tutelage” of Grayne Khra, who they now call Kingmaker.
All of this was watched with great interest from the South, where house Winnover, Lords and Ladies of the Bow, had been patiently waiting for events to unfold. The house of Hellesburne has brought itself into disrepute, they cried, the late King has proven himself unworthy to have his line continue to rule, siring bastards and miring the royal lineage. Instead the rule of the realm should return to the family to whom it belonged until a simple lack of princes lead to the royal family name changing. This happens to be Winnover, whose house ever since has been led by the eldest child regardless of gender, to ensure that power never slips further through the families grasp – or at least this was once the intention. Today in the lands ruled over by Winnover, this more equal approach to gender as come to permeate almost every aspect of life, with women ruling, trading, holding office and fighting alongside the men. As it was all those years ago, Winnover is today once again ruled by a Queen. The Kings distant cousin Queen Jaylin Winnover has called herself Queen of the Southern Realms for many years, now she simply calls herself Queen, and has started to march North… Last, but by no means least, amongst the great Houses is, of course, Evermere, Lords of Magic, watching from afar in the cloudy mountains of Fey’s Isle off the Southernmost Coast of Rosodtir, Evermere has declared for no-one, and is unlikely to until clearer signs of a victor emerge. After all, as every good sorcerer knows, it is not Kings who rule Kingdoms, but those who hold the Kings trust. Draven hated sorcery and Witchcraft, and never truly took any of the great lords of Evermere into his trust, which of the four who call themselves King or Queen today will? The land of Rosodtir is a land of rumour and betrayal, of skirmishes between Houses and of alliances and pacts broken as easily as they are made. Aside from the leaders and nobles of the great houses, hundreds of Lords and heads of Houses see new opportunities for themselves, and may cast aside their traditional loyalties to greater their standing, or even attempt a coup themselves. The crown is Shattered, and the Counties of Rosodtir are no longer united by a King, but divided by three Kings, a Queen and a hundred thousand soldiers. No war has yet been declared, despite battles raging every day, from the mountains in the North, to the streets of Helles and Khurilla, to the forests of the Southern Realms. The motivation behind these battles is normally an attempt to gain some advantage over the targeted house by strengthening one claim to the throne or weakening another, and have included so far attempts to kidnap and parade mistresses to make a show of nobles and even Kings, to steal documents such as correspondence between lovers which may shed light on dates of conception, to discovery magic artefacts which would make certain the outcome of any full scale war and attempts on the lives of family members both distant and close to the Royal Families themselves.
What comes next? No-one can truly say…