The State of Braelin
Winter has lingered this year, but the season has been an eventful one nevertheless!
The most momentous development came as a surprise to all: During the last week of Winterrise 1217, Their Majesty Jintaru Riga made a formal proposal of marriage to Princess Valencia Odell—and the princess accepted. Though some Braelinese scorn the match, expressing doubts about the new monarch’s intentions, others interpret it as a sign that Their Majesty Jintaru Riga is sincere in their desire to rule Braelin as a Braelinese monarch. Many supporters believe the princess will act as a positive influence, correcting the monarch’s occasional missteps.
As the royals prepare to wed, the recent trend fusing Braelinese and Caprinan fashions has spread further into the countryside. Commoners particularly have adopted a looser profile of clothing, as well as Caprinan-style arm-wraps, leg-wraps, and/or sashes. The nobility have adopted Caprinan color aesthetics, with wintertime’s whites and warm colors transitioning to pairings of blacks and cool colors for the spring.
In grimmer news, the situation in Blacknall has devolved. When the Ammos Summit made no discernible headway by the end of Autumnfall, young Sandlar Blacknall kept his promise to use force against the occupying Xirosi, plunging the duchy once again into a state of chaos. News from interior Blacknall went largely silent upon the onset of the winter snows. In retaliation, a party of Braelinese diplomats is currently being held hostage in Ammos.
Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has issued a statement insisting that the Xirosi government release the diplomats unharmed; they have also urged the occupying Xirosi soldiers to withdraw peacefully and requested that Blacknall’s army show mercy to any person thus retreating. Despite their vocal support of Sandlar Blacknall, however, the monarch has not provided any official military intervention or assistance. Squads of iketis and Black Orchid members continue with ongoing relief efforts.
Throughout the nation, Braelin’s youth are just finishing up their second trimester at the academies. The merits and faults of universal education continue to spark debate. Despite fears that the first trimester would interfere with harvest intakes, the schools’ curricula incorporated field-work; thus, even if farmers were not necessarily assisted by their own teenaged children, they did receive the help of classes of students assigned to regional outposts for the duration of autumn. Some people applaud this arrangement as healthy for students and farmers alike, though others feel that noble children being forced to work like peasants is demeaning; that it cuts into time that artisans’ children should be using to learn trades; and that inexperienced hands on a farm are more likely to harm than help.
From Durant come reports of intermittent border skirmishes with local Serenites, but nothing large-scale enough to warrant official attention or widespread concern—“just growing pains,” as the people of Durant put it. More troublingly, a region extending to approximately one mile out from the ruins of Ülló continues to wither. Anyone who lingers in that area for more than a few days succumbs to the wasting sickness heretofore observed. A joint group of Braelinese and Caprinan healers work steadily, but are no closer to finding a cure. At their urging, Duchess Verine Lyfeld has declared the city ruins off-limit to all unauthorized travelers until further notice.
Land disputes plague Fidelle and the Archduchy as well, as individual noble houses contest the placement of borderlines drawn after the war. While most disputes end up in court or in the hands of diplomats, a few have flared up into violence. Rumors about poisonings and assassinations on both sides fly.
Travel to Caprina has picked up as the small nation opens its doors further to allow authorized “cultural tourists,” including civilian scribes, magic hunters, and other researchers in addition to merchants and government officials. The Caprinans are cordial to all of their guests and the island-nation is reported to be quite beautiful, but it is whispered that the populace there has begun to express concern about the growing disruption to their daily life and customs. As exposure to the Continent increases, will the long-held traditions of Caprinan culture survive?
Last but not least, the Republic of Zála is shoring up its resources, treaties, and defenses in anticipation of future conflict with Seren—though Seren appears to remain internally focused, the Zálans feel it is only a matter of time before their neighbor turns its attention back onto them. Should conflict erupt, however, they will be able to count on the support of Caprina, whose evolving trade and governmental alliances with Zála have made it absolutely clear that the Caprinans will not ally, harbor, or otherwise support slavers.
Now the questions on everyone’s mind are these: Will the marriage between Jintaru Riga and Valencia Odell succeed? What will the winter thaw reveal of the situation in conflict-torn Blacknall? Will the Xirosi heed the Braelinese call to release their diplomats, or does yet another war loom in the near future?