Folkloric Fridays, Part I: Queen Raelin and the Battle of Shadowhold

Queen Raelin Key, the “Great Queen.”  Born to a peasant family, Raelin Key is the first well-recorded god-chosen in all of Human history.  On the 31st of Summerfall, at age nineteen, she was tasked by the Purple God to create a center of safety and stability amid the chaotic, war-torn lands of the Dark Days.  She is said to have been very charming, with a steady mien, a pleasantly husky voice, and a gift for rallying others to her cause.  Historians of the time describe her as having masses of red-gold hair and keen blue eyes, and it is well-recorded that she almost never took off her purple light.  Despite her immense popularity, and a few serious liaisons, Raelin stalwartly refused to marry.

Raelin always resisted the title Queen, but she did require and accept oaths of fealty from her subjects, and she formed a judicial system based on the precept, “treat others as you would be treated.”  The result was a strong, fair, but often brutal judiciary process.  Certain opponents of Raelin’s went so far as to accuse her of bloodthirstiness.  Whether or not Raelin ever responded to these criticisms, no one knows; the historical record is silent.  Queen Raelin died peacefully in her sleep in the year 39, when she was fifty-eight years old.

The Battle of Shadowhold, 29th-31st Summerfall, year 0.  Raelin led an army of approximately 5,000 supporters, mostly foot soldiers and untrained peasants wielding farming implements, against the fortress of Shadowhold (now the site of the Royal Palace in Esos).  Its ruler was warlord Osric Cutteridge, who had never yet lost a battle, and Raelin’s forces faced a better-trained and far larger opposing army.  Her first attack broke against the curtain wall, with nearly half of her soldiers dying, and the army was driven back to the surrounding environs by a cavalry charge.  Many people, sympathizers and enemies alike, believed the young woman and her followers defeated after the terrible loss, but Raelin managed to rally her troops with an impassioned speech as they regrouped within the nearby forest.

The next day Raelin’s counter-attack pushed the defenders back inside the fortress’ walls.  Meanwhile, a small number of ships led by Raelin’s premier naval marshal, Richard Colt, had sailed up the Kordiso to besiege Shadowhold from the river-side.  Using the ship-led bombardment and Raelin’s frontal attack as both cover and distraction, a group of trap-makers and saboteurs managed to rig up a contraption that destroyed the southern tower flanking the gatehouse.  The attackers pressed their advantage to seize the outer ward, a maneuver followed by an all-out melee to take the fortress’ inner ward and keep.  The battle was over by dawn; warlord Osric himself knelt at Raelin’s feet and presented her with his broken sword.