Winter Updates & Developments: Part 1

The Westercourt Summit

On 26th Autumnrise, god-chosen Jintaru Riga met with High General Knight Iolanthe la Hale, recently returned from her triumph in Seren; High General Mage Kayton Geary, who traveled from the makeshift seat of government at Glasscourt for the occasion; and the Duchess and Duke of Stemma in House Stemma’s countryside manor, Westercourt.

After a private tea in a sequestered part of Westercourt, the party emerged and the following details were announced:

  • Iolanthe la Hale, Kayton Geary, and the heads of House Stemma have sworn fealty to the new monarch, though Iolanthe la Hale has been said to have remarked later that “monarch-in-waiting” is the correct title until such time as King Darien Odell’s status has been confirmed.
  • Jintaru Riga wishes to be addressed as “Their Majesty Jintaru Riga” or “Their Highness Jintaru Riga,” but not as “Queen Jintaru Riga” or “Queen Jintaru.” Additionally, they have requested that their subjects always address them or refer to them by their full name unless given direct permission to do otherwise–this, apparently, is a Caprinan tradition, and to use only their given name would show disrespect or unearned familiarity.
  • Their Highness Jintaru Riga has stated that they and other Caprinans entering Braelin will respect and use Braelinese titles with the understanding that the Braelinese will make an effort to respect and use Caprinan titles in turn. Further announcements expanding on this point will come in time.
  • Their Highness Jintaru Riga considers it their divine mandate to act as ruler in King Darien Odell’s absence, but is prepared to cede the throne if and when the king appears to re-assume his rightful place.
  • Several edicts will be issued over the forthcoming weeks. Their Highness Jintaru Riga expects all loyal Braelinese citizens to comply, but understands that some adjustments will be necessary, and that this will take time. They remain confident in their subjects’ readiness to do their best and appreciates citizens’ continuing cooperation as the kingdom of Braelin moves forward together.

Tuesday Tales, Part IX: Lázár Meszáros and the Pirates of the Red Sunrise

Lázár Meszáros and the Pirates of the Red Sunrise

Horace Atherton, journeyman scribe of the Library at Esos, 1211

First, I shall attempt to describe a typical attack by the Red Sunrise. Those who are familiar with the old sailing adage, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning,” might not be surprised that the Red Sunrise most frequently attacks other ships, and even coastal settlements, at dawn. Their targets tend to be Braelinese merchant ships and small towns in Braelin and Zikari whose defenses are poor. The Red Sunrise takes its prey by surprise, its sudden arrival heralded with flames, and the swords of its crew skilled and sharp. All who are not deemed valuable as captives are killed, and often find that when they go to the Black God’s realm, they return with curses upon them. Those captured by the crew of the Red Sunrise are either ransomed, if wealthy or with important connections, or sold into slavery in Seren. Few know the exact location of the pirates’ hideout, although it is almost certainly on a small island off the coast of southwest Seren.

“Many were murdered while still asleep,” one survivor, a merchant ship’s captain, remarked on this subject. “Those who were able to wake, don armor, and find weapons…well, they didn’t fare much better.”

Now, on to the captain himself. Not a great deal is known about Lázár Meszáros, even in Seren. There, he is regarded as something of a folk hero: many know of his deeds, but they do not know a great deal about who he is, as a man, and what his life was like before he took to the seas. Here in Braelin, what we know of him, we know from those few who have survived attacks and returned home. The testimonies of those survivors I have interviewed provide a portrait of a truly terrifying individual. Lázár Meszáros has an unnerving balance of a cunning mind, murderous intent, and the knowledge of how best to gain a profit. It is confirmed that Captain Meszáros is a fire thaumaturgist of great skill, and utilizes this form of magic to his advantage by oftentimes completely destroying the ships he and his crew seek to plunder. He is also a skilled swordsman, and it is rumored that he is able to combine this with his thaumaturgy to truly deadly effect.

Tuesday Tales, Part VII: “A Brief Recounting of the Life of King Darien Odell”

His Majesty the King Darien Odell was born the elder of two children into a minor noble family in Wayhaven, Caxton.  His sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Valencia Odell, is six years younger.

As a child, King Darien’s buoyant personality and natural tendency to earn the trust of those around him seemed to indicate a bright future as a public official; by the time the young Darien had turned fourteen, the Right Honorable Count Matthias Hakebourne had expressed himself “very well pleased” with the boy’s development as a soon-to-be vassal within his county.  However, it quickly became clear that young Darien was intended for something much greater.

Shortly after turning sixteen years old, the boy was laid low with a sickness that had spread throughout the duchy of Caxton.  Although most victims of the illness suffered only from fatigue and a fever, young Darien was much more strongly affected.  Despite the efforts of several renowned healers and herbalists, the youth’s condition continued to deteriorate and, over the course of six days, he died six times.  On the seventh night of his illness, the boy bade his parents farewell and closed his eyes for what he knew would be the last time.  The fever lulled him into a pleasant, calm sleep as his family and friends stood weeping at his bedside.

The next morning young Darien awoke, restored to the vigor and health he had displayed before the sickness came.  His parents, amazed and thankful, praised the White God for safeguarding their son in his time of need; but after another week had passed, the true reason for his recovery became apparent when he awoke to discover a purple light emanating from his body, signaling his position as the next monarch of Braelin.  Word spread swiftly and soon the entire duchy of Caxton was celebrating the arrival of their next king, a Caxtoner by birth.

Considering His Majesty the King Nicholas Everett’s advancing age, it was clear that the next ruler’s time would soon be at hand.  Then-Crown Prince Darien spent the next five years of his life shadowing King Nicholas, learning about the day-to-day affairs of managing the country as well as the responsibilities and dangers of ascending to the Braelinese throne.  Finally, in 1206, King Nicholas passed on in his sleep and Darien Odell stepped into his position as the rightful king of Braelin.  For the past six years, King Darien has ruled over a period of peace and prosperity.  Refusing—as His Majesty says—to remain “locked up in the palace,” he has pursued an active lifestyle and frequently visits the regions around Esos.  In his own words, the king has “made it a point to visit every duchy at least once per year to make sure all is well.”

Tuesday Tales, Part V: High General Mage Kayton Geary

The Order of the Silver Fern was founded many centuries ago, and has since represented the premiere order of magehood in Braelin.  The Order is led by a single mage known as the High General Mage.  In 1208, the previous High General Mage, Richard Geary of Stemma, retired to his family’s estate after forty-one years of dedicated service to the Crown.  In his stead, King Darien Odell appointed Richard’s son, Brigadier General Mage Kayton Geary, to the position of High General Mage.  The following is what is commonly known of his life and lineage.

Kayton Geary was born to Richard and Helen Geary, a well-to-do Stemman couple.  Geary was the younger of two children; his older sister Irene was set to inherit the family manor, which her mother maintained.  This left Geary to forge his own path in the world, and it just so happened that, as a young boy, he showed an incredible knack for magic.  His father, Richard, often boasted that, at eight years of age, his son could cast circles around many of the royal mages he knew.

Geary’s magical studies benefited from the fact that his father was then serving as the High General Mage of the Order of the Silver Fern.  Being exposed to the Order at such a young age continued to foster Geary’s growth as a mage, and by the age of thirteen the boy had been accepted as a royal mage.  Continuing to study and to shame his peers with his outrageously fast progress, Geary had become an obvious candidate for the Order by age fifteen—he was already far ahead of many of his father’s pupils.  Within five years after his promotion to the Order, he was made a Brigadier General Mage, a position he occupied from ages twenty to twenty-three.  Shortly after Kayton’s twenty-third birthday, Richard—a remarkably long-lived mage now approaching his sixty-fifth birthday—retired as the High General Mage.  Upon the announcement of his intent to retire, Richard suggested to King Darien that his son act as his successor.  Darien decided to follow his wise and proven advisor’s counsel and appointed Kayton Geary as the new High General Mage.

Geary has served King Darien for three years now, and has seen his share of battle.  When he was first promoted to his positions, many scholars, advisors, and fellow Brigadier General Mages questioned the young man’s capabilities as a leader—his life had been too comfortable up to this point, these elements argued, making him into nothing more than a sheltered and privileged noble with an unusual flair for magic.  However, one legendary display of magic was enough to silence these malcontents, if not forever, than at least for the time being.

Nine months after accepting the position of High General Mage, Geary was paying a routine visit to the Caxton Wall with a few of his trusted bodyguards when a particularly bloody fight flared up between the local Braelinese forces and an exceptionally large and well-organized army of Serenite raiders.  Seeing many of the foot soldiers falling in battle, Geary ordered that great gate be opened just wide enough to allow him—and him alone—to pass across.  The sentries did as he said, and then proceeded to watch in awe as the High General Mage petrified the entire two-hundred person Serenite force and then struck each of them down simultaneously with a rain of solar blasts.

News of Geary’s remarkable deed spread like wildfire across Braelin, and respect for the new High General Mage tripled practically overnight.  Since that battle, Geary has put on several displays of wide-reaching and impressive magic, but none of these have come even close to matching his performance during the so-called “Battle of the Sun.”

Richard and Helen Geary have retired to a beautiful manor in western Southlight; Irene Geary, now married, still oversees the maintenance of the Geary family manor in Stemma.  While nobody questions Kayton’s power and skill as a mage anymore, his detractors still exist, watching him from the fringes at Court or murmuring about him in the back-rooms of certain Esos taverns.   He was given an unfair advantage, these people say, due to his father’s influence and situation.  Among some of the royal mages, too, there is sometimes a certain sense of jealousy and gentle anger in considering all that he has accomplished.  Yet most people find it very difficult to hate him, for his friendly and relatively casual—some fans say “charming”—demeanor.

Folkloric Fridays, Part V: King Shayne Kendrick the Conqueror at the Battle of Normont

The Battle of Normont, Springfall, year 48.  The Battle of Normont was more a battle of wits than a true melee.  Openly flying war banners, Shayne made a show of leading his army into the winding, treacherous Stilys nearby the northern holdings of warlord Esdeline Chernock.  Chernock, a highly esteemed figure in the region, saw a chance to strike out and potentially decimate the invading army before any damage could be wrought to the southern parts of the peninsula.  Given solid information from her own scouts as well as from several informants within Shayne’s army, she was finally convinced by the testimony of a captured herald, who broke down in interrogation and listed off specific numbers of soldiers, the current state of the army, and the field marshals’ intended route through the mountain passes.  Chernock rallied an army and set out to create an ambush along the mountainsides and valleys—a strategy that, had it worked, would indeed have caused irreparable damage to Shayne’s army and plans.

On the day of battle, however, Shayne never appeared; instead, he and his entire army looped back to Chernock’s fortress-home of Normont and surprised the skeleton crew that had been left behind to guard the holdings.  Easily overpowering them, Shayne and his soldiers seized the fortress quite handily.  Shayne then proceeded to hold Chernock’s mother and younger brother hostage until Chernock, returning, agreed to Shayne’s terms of surrender.  As soon as she yielded, Shayne knighted her, promising her the castle and a title if she would aid his war effort.  She agreed, impressed by his tactics; as the war continued, she would become one of his most loyal and ardent knights.

Tuesday Tales, Part II: High General Knight Iolanthe la Hale

The Order of the White Lotus was founded many centuries ago, and has since represented the premiere order of knighthood in Braelin.  The Order is led by a single knight known as the High General Knight.  In 1209, the previous High General Knight, Rauf Westlake of Hawksworth, retired to his family’s estate after thirty years of dedicated service to the Crown.  In his stead, King Darien Odell appointed then-Brigadier General Knight Iolanthe la Hale to the position of High General Knight.  Locals of County Marcheford have been interested to note that the Lady Knight was once knight-master to their own Count, Sir Henry Marcheford.  The following is what is commonly known of her life and lineage.

Iolanthe la Hale is a direct descendent of the fabled Brandeles la Hale of the Circle of Five—a remarkably old lineage and estate, located in County Icemont, Blacknall.  The younger of two children, la Hale was left to pursue the path of knighthood while her older sister trained to assume the family’s barony.  She trained as a page in House Blacknall itself, and showed such promise and zeal that her knight-master wrote to the White Lotus on her behalf to recommend her for consideration.

When the White Lotus accepted her into its ranks, she was given a post in Westvale.  Her first true test as a Brigadier Knight came when a terrible peasants’ riot broke out in the city streets.  The rioters seized a section of buildings in the artisans’ district and hunkered down, lobbing deadly spells, flaming bricks, and boiling oil down onto the heads of any who attempted to enter their makeshift stronghold.  For three days the violence continued; finally, on the morning of the fourth day, the peasants signaled their willingness to negotiate at last.  The Brigadier General Knight, Sir Dominic, relieved by the turn of events, accompanied his herald to the appointed negotiation spot as a sign of good faith.  When they arrived, however, it was all in vain—the peasants had set a trap, and both the knight and the herald were murdered.

Upon learning the terrible news, la Hale’s fellow Brigadier Knights were thrown into a frenzy; though strong and honorable knights, neither had developed particularly sophisticated leadership skills.  Without their General to lead them, they did not know what to do.  La Hale suggested that they wait until the General returned from the Black God’s Realm.  But after more than half an hour had passed, it was clear that something was wrong.  Perhaps their spirits had been trapped by a shaman, or they had been raised as undead creatures.  She informed her team-mates that she was taking command, and rode her horse down to the front of the rioters’ stronghold.  There she issued the following ultimatum: Either agree to surrender unconditionally, or be utterly crushed.  The peasants replied with jeering and a hail of stones, debris, and a spell or two.  “You have had your chance, and forsaken it,” was all the knight said before she turned around and rode for reinforcements.

An hour later she returned with a contingency of foot soldiers and knights at her back.  The force slammed into the building and, after a desperate and vicious struggle, the rioters’ cause was smashed.  La Hale herself shackled and escorted the ringleader to jail after it was learned that he had imprisoned and then greater maledicted the spirits of both Sir Dominic and his herald.  He was sentenced to death shortly thereafter.  La Hale, for her part, was hailed as a hero for breaking the riot and restoring peace to Westvale, although there are certain elements of society who have given her the decidedly unflattering nickname “peasant-killer,” a moniker that has followed her ever since.

When la Hale was just on the cusp of a promotion to Brigadier General Knight, the incident that brought her and esquire Henry Marcheford together occurred. No one knows exactly what happened that day, but everyone agrees upon the following: the young esquire was imprisoned after viciously assaulting his Gavellese knight-master, Sir Richard Astford; it was believed that he would stand trial and be sent home in disgrace, never to finish his training as knight; but then, unexpectedly, la Hale interceded amid a storm of controversy to take him on as her squire.

After a long string of extremely minor assignments in the countryside, the pair were suddenly given a mission of great importance.  There was a magical item that had malfunctioned badly in a little town near the Summer Palace.  A contingency of Royal Mages, sent to investigate, had all been killed and the item appeared to have taken control of their bodies, which were wreaking havoc among the locals.  Added to the problem was the fact that the monarch was preparing to retire to the Summer Palace in a little less than a week.  Someone needed to go and secure the area while another group of mages tried to dismantle the item in question, and la Hale and Marcheford were finally selected for the honor.

Once again, the details of the mission are widely unknown; but la Hale and her squire performed remarkably well, emerging from the mission triumphant.  The dead mages had been released, the item had been safely neutralized, and no one was any the worse for wear.  When la Hale returned, she was promoted to Brigadier General Knight and Marcheford’s training as a squire was complete.  The two parted ways, though their friendship remains strong to this day.

In 1209, la Hale was chosen by King Darien to become the High General Knight, the position which she occupies today.

The Crest of Family la Hale

Image

A field Blue, a mullet Gold of eight points

“I shall stand”

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.