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Let's Sit and Tell the Tales of Old (Lore Maintenance)

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Let's Sit and Tell the Tales of Old (Lore Maintenance)

Postby Excalbia » Thu Jul 01, 2021 7:28 am

(OOC: This thread is to flesh out obscure people and events in the history of the Western Atlantic. Western Atlantic countries are welcome to post. Others thinking they have a reason to post should telegram Excalbia first.)

The reign of Olof I as King of the Upper Lands was a time of change in the Excalbian highlands. Following the marriage of his mother, Queen Hildegaard, to the Christian Lord Dzidis of Valmiera, the Royal Family had grown ever closer to conversion itself. This reflected the reality of the times. Many in the southern parts of the highland kingdom had already embraced Christianity - mostly in the form of Catholicism or Anglicanism, though a few around Dienvidu Osta, the kingdom's one southern port, flirted with the Knootian Reform tradition.

The only thing that prevented open conversion of the Royal Family was the tenacious hold that the Sacred Fire Cult had on the powerful nobles of the northern baronies and the upper highlands. As such, it was no surprise that Olof, like his mother, had his children's naming ceremonies in front of the Sacred Hearth, and then had a willing priest baptize them in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

While Olof's son and heir, the eventual King Olof II, was content to maintain the politically expeditious syncretism of his father, Olof's youngest daughter, Ingrida, rebelled. And not just against the pretense of honoring two religions. Her unconventional life would be largely ignored by the historians of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who mentioned her only to note her public conversion to Christianity in 1715, at the young age of 17, and her eventual marriage to the Braslander Prince Ulrich, with whom she founded the vice regnal dynasty of the Braslander Gulf Islands.

Later historians, however, began to recover her story with the publication of "Warrior Queens and Pirate Princesses" by Ilvars Kepke in 2002. Through Kepke's and other historian's work, the depth of Princess Ingrida's disdain for convention became evident.

The 17-year old Princess publicly converted two years before her father's death, taking communion at a public service and thereafter refusing to attend ceremonies at the Sacred Hearth. Even earlier, however, she had rejected the growing trend to adopt current Western dress at Court, refusing to wear elaborate dresses and opting to wear trousers, shirts and vests. After the Sword of Alsgood passed to her brother and he became King in 1717, Ingrida quickly grew bored with life at Court.

Having long been fascinated by the sea, Ingrida traveled to Dienvidu Osta in 1718 - at 20 - and purchased a ship that she named Gaissgars - Bright Spirit - and hired an experienced crew. Despite owning the ship - and being a woman - Ingrida insisted on learning every task on the ship. She quickly proved herself as a capable sailor, navigator and leader. 

By 1721, Ingrida had taken on the role of captain and demonstrated an aptitude for combat equal to her skill as a sailor. With a taste for Knootian trade goods, Ingrida and the Gaissgars soon became a scourge to Knootian merchant vessels. Labeled a pirate by some, she was lauded as a successful privateer by others. 
Last edited by Excalbia on Thu Jul 01, 2021 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Jul 01, 2021 5:29 pm

By 1724, the Knootian Navy - still reeling from its losses in the Second War of Insolence and frustrated by Ingrida's growing fleet and increasingly bold raids - committed its forces to her capture. The so-called Pirate Princess evaded the Knootians for several months until her ships were taken by surprise south of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Providencia. After losing one ship, Ingrida dispersed the remaining three, hoping to split the Knootian flotilla.

With the Knootians still in pursuit, Ingrida sailed south and west, around southern Epheron and past the Anahuacan coast. In early 1725, she sought safe harbor at the Braslander port of Halvan. Though initially suspicious, the Braslanders granted her refuge, and once they discovered her royal identity, she was taken to an audience with King Friedrich I.

Impressed with Princess Ingrida's reputation, and convinced of her discretion, which was assumed to be strengthened by her renegade status, the King commissioned Ingrida and her crew to find his wayward younger son, Prince Ulrich, and return the young man to him. Ingrida accepted the commission, and set off at once to find Ulrich.

It did not take long for Ingrida and her men to find the young prince. However, impressed with his thirst for adventure, and possibly swayed by his reputed good looks, the Princess offered Ulrich a place on her crew, rather than returning him to his father as promised. Apparently, Ulrich was equally taken with the slightly older princess and accepted her offer. By the time the King discovered Ingrida's betrayal, the pair had reached the open seas aboard Ingrida's ship.

Ingrida set sail for the familiar waters of the Gulf Islands. There, Ingrida found several lightly defended Knootian outposts. Summoning her remaining ships, and recruiting a few more privateers conveniently close at hand, Ingrida set about capturing the Knootian positions. With support from some of the indigenous peoples and others displeased with Knootian rule over the islands, Ingrida and her forces fairly quickly gained control over several islands.

When ships sent by King Friedrich I to capture the princess arrived bringing word not only of the bounty placed on her by the king but of the imminent arrival of Knootian reinforcements, Ingrida and Ulrich hastily arranged a marriage, then offered the Braslanders a bargain: amnesty for Ingrida, Ulrich and their men in return for "gifting" their captured islands to the Braslander Crown, and establishing them as a territory under Brasland's sovereignty - and protection.

In early 1727, Friedrich I formally accepted the offer and named Prince Ulrich and Princess Ingrida co-Captains-General of the new Braslander Gulf Islands.
Last edited by Excalbia on Thu Jul 01, 2021 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hildegaard, the Warrior Queen

Postby Excalbia » Mon Jul 05, 2021 8:30 pm

In 1673, word reached King Sweyn II that after 20 years of peace a band of Lowlanders had attacked his tax collectors, stolen the gold, and left his men for dead. Though he was just shy of 50-years old, the years of peace had taken their toll and the king was no longer the tall, strapping warrior of his youth. Overweight and frequently short of breath, the king could have been excused for sending his army into battle under the leadership of his captains. However, the king was not the kind of man who sent others to do what he was meant to do.

So, Sweyn II - also known as Sweyn the Honest due to his reputation for integrity and humility - had new armour forged and rode out to meet the rebellious Lowlanders. An impressive army of mounted knights and infantry followed him, blue and gold banners blowing in the highland breeze.

The king, who had lost his wife all too early, left behind his only child, a precocious 15-year old young woman named Hildegaard, in the care of his most trusted advisors. Hildegaard, who in modern terms would be called a tomboy, was said to be more comfortable in the saddle than in the sitting room and more adept with the sword than with her needle and thread.

Meanwhile, what had promised to be a brief, punitive expedition against a band of rebellious Lowlanders spiraled into a full-blown war when, in 1674, John I, Grand Duke of Saxmere, broke his treaty with the Highland King and sent his forces to attack Sweyn’s flank. Despite the unexpected escalation, Sweyn’s strategic skill allowed him to counter the Saxmerean attack. Unfortunately, even as his army pressed the counterattack, the king fell.

Accounts of Sweyn II’s death vary widely. The official annals of both the Grand Duchy and the Highland Kingdom - for different reasons - recorded the king as killed in combat. The Annals of the Grand Dukes of Saxmere record that Sweyn II fell in a pitched sword battle with a mounted knight - the captain of the Grand Duke’s army. The Histories of the Wielders of the Sword, however, maintained that the king was cowardly struck from behind, but that he managed to slay his assailant before collapsing. A few private accounts, all recorded after-the-fact but based on reputed eyewitness accounts, report that the king fell from his horse without being struck by either arrow or sword. A few modern historians have speculated that the king may have suffered a heart attack or other such medical emergency.

While his army continued the battle word was carried to Citadel Excalbia that the King was dead. In accordance with the king’s will, the King’s Council proclaimed the then 16-year old Princess Hildegaard the new - and first - Queen Regnant of the Highland Kingdom of Excalbia.

Despite the Council’s proclamation, many of the Highland barons could not accept that a young girl would rule over them. The Baron of Turaida, Ilmars Guntarson, rallied the disaffected barons and proclaimed her older cousin, Baron Gustavus of Ragana, king in her place.

Facing the prospect of a two front war, Queen Hildegaard sent her father’s most trusted advisor, the Chamberlain, to personally carry her offer of peace to Grand Duke John I. With her father’s army still pressing the advantage against the Saxmereans, the Grand Duke accepted her offer of a status quo ante bellum, save for the requirement that the bandits who triggered the war face the Queen’s justice for their assault on her father’s tax collectors.

With the war concluded and the surviving rebel bandits on their way to the Citadel in chains, Hildegaard ordered the army north to confront the barons. But like her father, Hildegaard was not content to sit and let others fight for her. She assembled her remaining forces, which were led by a young captain of the guard named Dzirdis, son of the Lord of Valmiera and a direct descendent of the first king - Alsgood the Great. Together with Dzirdis and her remaining troops the Queen rode out to lead her army against the usurper. Her only concession to her girlish stature was the custom-made sword that she carried in place of the Sword of Algood, which had been wielded by her predecessors.

The campaign against Gustavus the Usurper and his rebellious barons continued for two years as the rebels made a series of hit-and-run attacks, but refused to engage in direct battle. To their dismay, Queen Hildegaard’s resolve and courage in personally leading her army earned her the support of those barons who had initially wavered between the queen and the usurper.

The legend of Queen Hildegaard’s bravery and toughness grew when, after falling in love with Dzirdis and marrying him, she bore her first son, Sweyn, in her army’s winter encampment in 1675. After returning to the Citadel to give birth to her second son, Olof, in 1676, the Queen returned to the field in 1677.

As the spring of 1677 began to give way to summer, Hildegaard’s army finally caught the rebels in the open on the plains of Turaida. Her army quickly and decisively defeated the rebels and the warrior queen herself, engaged, first, the Baron of Turaida, and, then, her cousin Gustavus on the field battle. She killed both men and later beheaded them and had their heads - and those of the other rebel barons - impaled along the road leading to Castle Turaida.

With the rebellion ended, Hildegaard returned to the Citadel where she reigned for another 22 years. Every Excalbian monarch since her reign, including the current Emperor, Joseph, has been her direct descendant. The specially-made sword that Hildegaard carried into battle, and with which she slew the Baron of Turaida and the Usurper Gustavus, was presented to then-Princess Anna by her new father-in-law, Emperor David IV, as a wedding present in 2004.
Last edited by Excalbia on Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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The Tale of Liene Balkronn

Postby Excalbia » Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:15 pm

Following in her parents’ path, Liene Balkronn turned to the sea at the age of 17 in 1746. At that time, her father, Ulrich, had been dead for five years, and her mother, Ingrida, was ruling the Braslander Gulf Islands as the sole Captain-General. Despite having been raised as what would have later been called a “tomboy “ by her own tomboyish mother, Liene came to understand in her early teens that, in accordance with Braslander tradition, she would never rule and that the captaincy-general would pass to her younger brother, Ilmar.

With her mother’s consent, Liene went to sea as a midshipman serving under one Ingrida’s most trusted captains. Young Liene quickly proved herself as adept a sailor as her mother. By the age of 20, Liene bought her own ship and sailed with letters of marquee from her mother.

Liene quickly became a scourge of Knootian merchantmen and expanded her range to raid the wealthy, but under-defended ports of Providencia and San Andres. In 1751, after sailing around the horn of Epheron to evade Knootian pursuit, she sailed to Brasland and was well-received by her cousins. Seeking new adventures, she sailed further west, eventually arriving at the coast of Qubti.

Liene was presented to Sultan Jawhar IV in Iskandariya as an emissary of the Braslander Gulf Islands. However, the Sultan soon became enamored of the then-23-year old privateer and had her kidnapped on the way back to the port of Safayga and taken to his harem.

After several failed attempts at escape, Liene adapted to the new situation and soon became one of the Sultan’s wives and, quickly after that, his favorite. In 1754, Liene gave birth to a son, Yusuf, who was the Sultan’s fifth son. Through skillful political manipulation, Liene ensured that Yusuf had been named his father’s heir by the time of Jawhar’s death in 1766. The 12-year old boy was crowned Sultan Yusuf II, with his mother Liene serving as his unofficial regent.

After ruling under his mother’s guidance for five years, Yusuf made it clear to her that he would rule in own right and by his own counsel. With the new Sultan’s blessing, Liene left Qubti in 1772 at the age of 43. She traveled to Semien in Jrawa, and continued to Cyretia, where she was a guest of King Marcus II for nearly a year, and successfully negotiated a peace treaty and trade agreement between Cyretopolitania and Qubti. She sailed from Cyretia in 1773. She is reported to have visited Kasakia and to have returned to Brasland in 1775. There are rumours that she was received in Abadan by the King of Jariah and seen on the coast of Southwest Epheron in 1776.

Liene’s final fate is unknown. She never returned to the Gulf Islands and the ship given her by her son never returned to Qubti. There are, however, many legends about her fate, including stories that she was shipwrecked on what later came to be known as the Skralins Islands, journeyed overland to Snefaldia, died at a monastery in Kartlis, and that she returned incognito to Qubti, where she spend the last years of her life living quietly among her son’s wives and children.
Last edited by Excalbia on Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Brasland » Thu Dec 09, 2021 10:10 am

Year 2021
Residenzschloss Friedrichsburg
Markund


The ancient Princess Alexandra, one of the two surviving daughters of King Friedrich V, walked slowly through the corridors of the Residenz, supported by a silver cane. Walking next to her, holding her hand, was her great niece Blanche, the sister of the current monarch, Georg IV.

“These old halls are so long”, complained the old princess. “It would be more practical to have golf carts to move around here, but your brother says I'm crazy for even suggesting that.”

“You can always use the wheelchair, Aunt Alix”, Blanche suggested, but she immediately regretted after noticing Alexandra’s murderous gaze.

“I'd rather jump off a cliff than sit in one of those things for old people!”, declared Alexandra.

“But, Aunt…”, protested Blanche, wanting to add that she was old, but not daring to.

At ninety-four, Alexandra was not slowing down. Suddenly, she saw a portrait on one of the walls and she stopped. Blanche noticed it too.

“Old Fritz, right?”, she asked her great aunt, referring to the man in the painting.

“Old Fritz, indeed”, Alexandra replied, sighing. “Otherwise known as Friedrich the Third, our greatest king to this day. The sacrifices that man made for our country… very few know them.”

“What do you mean, Aunt?”, asked Blanche.

Alexandra looked away. Under the portraits there were some chairs, carved in intricate wooden patterns, and made of Navy-blue silk embroidered with figures of grey swords and helmets.

“Sit down, my dear”, she ordered.

Blanche obeyed.

“Are you alright, Aunt?”

“Yes, yes, I just want to tell you a story…”

***


April 8th, 1754
A cottage near the northeastern hills of Markund


The two men inside the house waited nervously. One, blond and in his early twenties, sat in a chair, his elbows resting in his lap, his fingers fidgeting tensely. The other, a bit older, with dark hair and piercing green eyes, walked around the room impatiently, his heart beating fast. They were escaping, and this cottage was a temporary hiding place. Their plan was to Halvan, in the northern coast, and find a ship to sail away, very far away, where no one could find them

“Are you sure we have to stay here, Philipp?”, asked the blond man, raising his head. He was trying hard to hide his desperation, but the tone of his voice gave him out.

“Yes, this is the only place where we are safe for the moment”, answered Philipp, trying to sound confident.

The truth is that he was not sure if even this cottage was a safe place to hide. Yes, this house was located in a remote area of the Markunder countryside, far away from any village and only connected to the main pathways by a rudimentary road that was not frequented by anyone. However, the King’s men and the Queen’s spies were everywhere, and Philipp feared that he and his friend had gotten themselves into a very dangerous situation. What were they thinking? Everyone would be looking for Friedrich!

“I think we should take the horses and move away from here right now”, said the young Friedrich, suddenly standing up.

Philipp bit his lower lip, hesitating. After long seconds, he turned to Friedrich.

“Yes, you’re right”, he accepted.

On that exact moment they heard the steps of horses and the voice of men.

“Soldiers!”, shouted Friedrich, hysterically.

“Shut up!”, said Philipp. “Don’t make a noise.”

He looked to the window, and his face turned white. The house was surrounded by the Royal Guards. He watched as an officer got down of his horse and recognized the face. Captain Christian von Ebersdorff, one of the King’s aides-de-camp.

“Philipp von Alten! We know you’re there!”, shouted the captain. “Get out of the house immediately!”

“Don’t do it, Philipp!”, Friedrich whispered. “They will kill you.”

Philipp closed the curtains and sighed. There was no point in delaying the inevitable.

“Fritz, they’ve caught us”, he said. “There’s nothing we can do.”

“We can fight them!”, said Friedrich. “We have our swords.”

“There are about twenty guards, and we’re only two. Besides, they cannot fight you. It would be dishonorable to attack those who can't answer back.”

Friedrich's knees fell to the ground and he began to sob.

“I won’t go back, Philipp!”, he cried. “I can’t do it.”

“Von Alten!”, the captain shouted again. “This is your last warning. Get out now and you might be spared. We have Her Majesty’s permission to execute you on the spot if you resist.”

Hearing this, Friedrich immediately stood up. He was suddenly alert and forgot about his fears. He grabbed Philipp’s arm and guided him to the door.

“Let’s do as he says. I cannot lose you, Philipp.”

The two men looked at each other, and tears came out of their eyes. They hugged each other, and Friedrich kissed his friend’s cheek.

“I’m so sorry”, he sobbed. “This is all my fault.”

*


July 17th, 1754
Knauswerth Fortress


The two prisoners, both in separate cells on opposing sides of the fortress, were escorted out to the fortress’ inner courtyard, where a wooden platform had been erected. A tall, strong man stood silent on it holding a large axe, his face covered by a black hood that only revealed the eyes. They were cold. At his sight, Friedrich could not walk anymore. He just froze.

“Move, Your Royal Highness”, said the guard who escorted him.

“Why are you taking me here?”, asked Friedrich.

“The King has ordered that you watch this”, said the guard.

Friedrich began to tremble, his whole body suddenly filled with a sense of dread that he had never felt before. He knew what the guard was talking about. On the other side of the courtyard, four guards escorted Philipp von Alten, who was taken up to the platform. The young man looked older than his years. He moved with difficulty, barely able to stand up, and had to be helped to walk. Friedrich realized that Philipp had been tortured during these three months in prison. Nevertheless, he looked serene and quite handsome, his long hair tied back at the nape of the neck with a black ribbon. He wore a simple white shirt and green pants, and kept his head high, maintaining his dignity despite knowing what awaited him.

“Philipp!”, cried Friedrich.

The dark-haired man looked to his friend, and gave him a slight, tired smile. Friedrich tried to run towards him, but his guards prevented it.

“Kneel!”, ordered one of Philipp’s guards.

Obediently, Philipp von Alten did, accepting his fate.

“Bend your body here”, said the guard, indicating the place where he had to position his head.

Friedrich kept trying to free himself from the guards, but they were strong. He felt a sudden urge to vomit, but he
controlled himself. As his friend prepared to die, Friedrich shouted desperately: “My loyal Von Alten, please forgive me! This is all my fault! I beg your forgiveness, my dear friend!”

Philipp turned his face to Friedrich’s direction and smiled: “There’s nothing to forgive, I die in peace, knowing that I served the best man of all. We will see each other again, my beloved Friedrich.”

This said, he positioned his head where the guard indicated. Moments later, the axe fell over. Friedrich closed his eyes, but heard the crack. He lost consciousness immediately. After that day, he was never the same man.

***


Back to this day...

Princess Blanche felt the tears running down her cheeks.

“Here, child”, said Alexandra, offering a handkerchief.

“Poor man”, muttered Blanche. “That Von Alten… he was his lover, right?”

Alexandra, the mighty old princess, looked at her niece, hesitantly. She did not like to discuss such things so openly.

“They were very close friends”, she conceded. “Friedrich did not get along with his father, who could be quite brutal, and he certainly was not in good terms with his mother, who was very cold and controlling. He wanted to escape and Von Alten was willing to help him.”

“What a loyal man!”, exclaimed Blanche.

“What a naïve man!”, corrected Alexandra. “There’s no escape from this life, my dear. Not for you, not for me. Not for Old Fritz, certainly. He paid the price for trying. It’s better to accept one’s life as it is and try to make the best out of it.”

"Friedrich married afterwards, didn't he?", asked Blanche who, having lived abroad most of her life, was not that familiar with her illustrious family history.

"Yes", replied Alexandra.

“Did he and his wife have any children?”

Alexandra smiled enigmatically and stood up.

“No, of course they didn’t", she said, strangely. "Otherwise, our branch of the family would have never gotten the throne.”

The nonagenarian princess said no more, but her mind wandered across the halls of the palace. If they only knew what I know, she thought. If they only knew where Friedrich’s heirs live now. But that’s a story that I will never tell…
Last edited by Brasland on Tue Dec 14, 2021 5:56 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Dec 30, 2021 12:14 pm

Sweyn Castle, Citadel Excalbia
Early 1997


“Thank you, Sir Alfred,” Emperor David III said with a nod. “That will be all.”

Sir Alfred Skele, the Imperial Chancellor bowed deeply. As he rose, he turned to shoot a quick glance at the Chamberlain, who nodded slightly. “Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty.’

The Chancellor retreated from the Emperor’s study leaving him alone with his Chamberlain, Lord Johannes Corman.

“Is there anything else, Lord Johannes?” the Emperor asked as he lowered himself into his chair with a grimace.

“I am afraid so, Sire,” the tall, thin veteran of the Imperial Household Agency said with a sympathetic nod. “I know that we are still in mourning for Crown Prince Paul and Princess Helena, but the Senate and the Bishops are… anxious for you to name your successor…”

“My choice is only a suggestion, you know,” the Emperor turned his head slightly to look out the window into the gardens. Snow was lightly falling yet again. It seemed this winter would never end.

“Perhaps, Sire, but it does carry weight…”

“Surely, Peter should take his father’s place,” the Emperor said, sounding oddly hesitant.

“Conventionally, perhaps. However, as you mentioned, Sire, the succession is a bit more… fluid in Excalbia than it is among our neighbors.” Lord Johannes paused until the Emperor nodded, then he said, “There are, I am afraid, concerns about Peter…”

“The boy is… headstrong. Reckless, perhaps. But he is a prince. He will rise to the occasion,” the Emperor said, half muttering.

“In time, perhaps,” Lord Johannes said, his face white and drawn. “Yet, we both know he will not have that gift…”

The Emperor nodded gravely. Only a few, the Imperial Chamberlain among them, knew that the Imperial Physician had given David III only 12 to 18 months to live. The cancer was inoperable. And fatal. “Whoever I name will be Emperor in a year. A year and a half, maybe.”

“Indeed. And Peter…”

“You don’t think he’ll be ready?”

The Chamberlain drew in a breath. “Not only I, Sire. The Chancellor and the Bishops have… expressed concerns.”

“I see,” David III said.

“His Imperial Highness is not yet 18, but has already…,” Lord Johannes winced. “But he has already fathered a bastard.”

The Emperor drew in a breath. “Does he know?”

The Chamberlain shook his head. “As you instructed, he was not told. The young lady, fortunately a legal adult, has been… compensated and resettled outside the Western Atlantic.”

The Emperor nodded. “Neither does the Chancellor nor do the Bishops know of this… incident. However, his indiscretions are legendary. It is widely known in… certain circles that he has… pursued several young female members of the Imperial Household Staff, all older than he, and several of his female school mates, including the daughters of some members of your cabinet. And the daughter or one of your bishops. We are lucky that the… mother of his bastard was not one of them, Sire.”

The Emperor frowned.

“And there is his already developed… fondness for… wine and spirits.”

“Alright!” The Emperor slammed a fist on the arm of his chair, tears in his eyes. “I knew Paul was… too easy on the boy. But…”

“There is no one to blame, Sire, it simply is as it is,” Lord Johannes said gently.

The Emperor nodded. “David… David will be a firmer hand on the boy. And a stint in the military will do him a world of good.”

The Chamberlain nodded. “And, as you said, in time his breeding will run true and he will become a good man.”

The Emperor nodded. “Yes. In time.” He looked out the window. “And in the meanwhile, David will be the next Emperor.” He turned and faced Lord Johannes. “No one, but the two of us, will ever know of this conversation. Is that clear, Lord Johannes?”

“Perfectly, Sire. I shall take this to my grave,” he said. And so he did.
Last edited by Excalbia on Thu Jan 06, 2022 1:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Jan 06, 2022 1:53 pm

Sweyn Castle, Citadel Excalbia
March 1965


Halvor Oleson, the still-new Imperial Chancellor, bowed as he entered the Emperor’s study. “Your Imperial Majesty,” he said.

Emperor Joshua II looked up from the chair next to the fire where he sat wrapped in blankets. “Yes, yes, Mr. Oleson. Come in.” The Emperor gestured to the chair across from his seat. “Have a seat, man. Have a seat.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” the Chancellor said as he somewhat awkwardly sat in the presence of the Emperor.

“So, I’ll come to the point,” Joshua II said, looking over the top of his glasses. “At my age, I don’t waste time anymore beating around bushes.” He raised a wrinkled hand, covered by more than a few age spots and waved a finger at Oleson. “I have reviewed your coalition’s program and I don’t like it.”

“Your Majesty,” the Populist Party leader began.

“No, no,” the Emperor said, “I am still talking.” Oleson’s eyes widened and he blushed, but Joshua II continued on with no change in his politely neutral expression. “I don’t like it but I can live with it. And will accede to most of it, since that’s apparently what our people want, since they gave you a majority. But I am particularly concerned, however, by two things. Your program to support mothers and children, while laudable, seems to me to be drawn up in a such a way as to undermine the sacred institution of marriage and to subsidize child-bearing outside of marriage. And, do you really believe, Mr. Oleson, that 18-year olds are competent to be entrusted with the franchise?”

“Your Majesty,” Oleson said, leaning forward slightly, “in the matter of extending voting rights, we believe that if we entrust our young men to serve in the Imperial Armed Forces, and potentially die for their country, it is only right and proper than we trust them to vote. They are already trusted to drive, smoke, consume alcohol…”

The Emperor grunted.

“As to our social welfare platform, your objection is one we have heard repeatedly from the Progressive Conservatives and the right wing of the Christian Union. However, we believe that the administration of the program mitigates against that threat, which we also feel, with all due respect, is… overestimated.”

The Emperor gave a noncommittal shrug. “I will give my pro forma assent to your program, with the exception of those two items.”

Oleson started to speak, but the Emperor held up his hand. “I will grant you leave…” he began to cough. “Leave…,” his coughing steadily grew louder, bending him and shaking his whole body. “To bring them to the floor…,” he reached under his blankets and retrieved a handkerchief that he held up to his mouth.

A door to the right of the fireplace opened and the Emperor’s long-time personal secretary, Walter Rumins entered holding a tray with hot tea. He set it down and patted the Emperor on his back until the older man coughed up something into his handkerchief. He held up the tea and looked at Oleson. “Your Excellency, I am afraid that the Emperor must rest. He is overdue for his medicine.”

The Emperor held up a hand. “...speak… myself, Walt,” he said between coughs. He looked at Oleson. “You… have your vote,” he coughed loudly. “Then… then I’ll decide.” The Emperor waved his hand dismissing the Chancellor.

Oleson stood. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” he said as he backed away. He turned at the door to leave and caught just a glimpse of Rumins tenderly putting an arm around the Emperor and handing him his tea.

“There. Now drink this, Josh,” Rumins said as Oleson closed the door.

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Postby Brasland » Thu Jan 06, 2022 3:30 pm

April 1916
Residenzschloss Friedrichsburg
Markund


Princess Juliette looked at her reflection in the mirror. She liked what she saw, and she always enjoyed being attended before a ball. The maids dressed her, while other attendants took care of her hair and jewels. The makeup, of course, was minimal, for in Brasland the aristocracy disdained the practice of coloring one’s face with artificial products. Simplicity and modesty were cardinal virtues for the Braslander noblewoman, but Juliette sometimes liked to do her own thing. She was half Pantocratorian, after all, and a little grandeur hurt no one. Besides, what was the point of living in the Residenz if one did not put on a bit of a show?

The court jeweller, Herr Lipschitz, brought in several velvet boxes. He opened them and various jewels popped out. An emerald tiara which had come from Amalia of Austria, the wife of Georg I, pearl earrings from Helena of Saxmere, the first wife of Paul I, and a grand diamond necklace that her parents had gifted her for her eighteenth birthday. She was now twenty-five, sighed the princess, embarrassed by the fact that many already considered her a spinster. Distracted by the sparkling necklace, her mind left those unpleasant thoughts and enjoyed herself for a few moments… until her mother arrived.

Queen Theodora was everything one would imagine a queen would be. Beautiful, stately, graceful, somewhat distant, with exquisite manners and an iron will wrapped in a soft white glove. As she entered, everyone bowed or curtseyed, even Juliette.

“You look so nice, chérie”, said the Queen, scanning her daughter. “But those earrings, you must change them.”

“But Mama...”, protested Juliette.

She did not say more, for her mother’s eyes were steely. Juliette knew better than to contradict her.

“Which ones should I wear?”, she asked, her voice unable to hide her irritation.

“The diamonds we gave you for your eighteenth birthday”, said Theodora.

Did she put a special emphasis on ‘eighteenth’?, wondered Juliette. It bothered her that she would make reference to this in front of the servants, as if they all did not know that she was a failure. The daughter of the King of Brasland, unable to find a husband.

“There you go”, said her mother, as Juliette changed the earrings. “This is a special evening, chérie.”

“Why?”, asked the princess, distracted as she looked at herself in the mirror.

“The Prince of Capys is here”, said the Queen, behind Juliette.

“Yes?”

“Your father and I have arranged your marriage to him”, said Theodora, serious.

Juliette looked at her mother in the mirror, behind her. This was not how she wanted to know. This was not the way to do it. She did not realize the shock in her expression, just as she did not have the time to say anything. When she regained control of herself, the Queen was leaving the room and Juliette only saw the train of her dress disappearing behind the doors.

*


Afterwards…

It all happened very quickly. She met Henri, they had two days to know each other and then the marriage was announced. They married in Brasland, surrounded by all her family and friends, and everyone was happy and relieved that Juliette, the youngest of King Friedrich IV and Queen Theodora, had finally found a husband, and the heir to a throne! Despite wanting it for herself, the princess had felt confused, scared and utterly unprepared for everything that happened later. Yes, Henri was handsome, charming and treated her very well, but she had left her homeland, the life she had known… to live far away, in a remote corner of the Western Atlantic, next to strange lands called Cyretopolitania, Jrawa and Lulwat. And yet, she managed to survive and to thrive, as life kept sending her challenges...

A year later her husband ascended to the throne, and a year after that her own father died and she could not say goodbye, because she was pregnant. Her daughter made her proud when she married the King of Cyretopolitania, but her second son broke her heart when she plotted against his older brother and was imprisoned as a result. She led a full life, and she frequently visited her extended family all over the region. The Princess of Synessia could be found in the Gulf Islands one year, and in Kartlis on the other, and then in Ernestria or Pantocratoria, or even Excalbia, where they had such strange traditions (or lack of them!). She lived for nine decades and when she closed her eyes for the last time, the world of her youth no longer existed. She died in Synessia, surrounded by her own, the last surviving child of Friedrich IV, the widow of Henri I, the mother of Louis II. Daughter, wife and mother of sovereigns.
Last edited by Brasland on Thu Jan 06, 2022 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ernestria
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Founded: Oct 19, 2019
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Ernestria » Fri Jan 07, 2022 5:45 am

The Old Royal Palace, Pavija
Present Day


“Come along come along,” hurried the teacher, “Csenge, don’t touch that. Lajos, take that out your nose. Gyula you’ll have to wait, you should have gone when everyone else did. Right are we all here?” She gave a world-weary nod to the Tour Guide.

The Guide smiled. “Good morning everyone.” The children duly repeated the greeting back with varying degrees of enthusiasm. “Welcome to the Old Royal Palace of Pavija. Pavija used to be the capital of Ernestria until it moved to Bodendorf. Can anyone tell me when the capital moved?” Hands shot up. The guide pointed to one of the children. “Yes?”

“Please Miss was it 1995?”

“Oh nearly, is was 1862. Now if we all want to come this way I’ll show you some of the features of the Palace.”

“Please Miss, does it have a dungeon?”

“Not exactly but there is the first King’s sword collection.”

“Will they have blood on them?”

The Guide thought for a moment. “Sure, why not,” she said with a shrug. ‘Cool’ went all the boys. ‘Eww’ went all the girls. ‘I wonder what time the bar opens,’ thought the teacher.

The Royal Palace, Pavija
1830


Ernst Jæger, known to history as Ernest I Nicator, sat alone in his study. The fire flickered in the grate while winter rains lashed against the window. He looked about his desk piled high with reports and decrees, with minutes and proclamations, and for a moment felt overwhelmed. He removed the pince nez from his nose and took a moment to listen to the sounds of the rain.

He reflected on his life as old men were wont to do. It was fair to say that Ernst Jæger had done well for himself. The son of a provincial notary in what he and his family called Friedenau and the Oskaran Commonwealth called Czisky; he had enlisted, much to his father’s initial displeasure, in the army and rose about as high as someone not of noble birth could. He might have stayed like that, yet another over-qualified cavalry NCO, were it not for the fact that the sclerotic Commonwealth teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. In the end the King and Szlachta were forced to call a Stany Generalne, an Estates General, in 1789 and the rest, as they say, was history.

He shifted in his chair and winced in pain. On the wall was a portrait of the King as a young hussar officer from the early years of the Revolution. “Look at me now,” he told the portrait, “Weary and plagued with gout. My advice to you, young man, is don’t get old!”

Behind him, by the fireplace, the servant looked up from tending the fire. “Did you say something sir?” he asked.

The King looked round. “What?” he bellowed.

“Did you want something sir?”

Ernst’s face contorted as he tried to hear. “Speak up man, stop mumbling.”

“I said,” shouted the servant, “Do you want anything sir?” The King’s face reddened.

“Damn your eyes sir, if I wanted anything I would have asked for it. Now be off with you before I thrash you for creeping up on me.”

A lifetime of battle had left the King profoundly deaf. “Damned impudence,” he muttered to himself. He was left alone with the rain, the fire; with his memories and his paperwork.

Oh the paperwork! It never ended. He had once thought that organising food, powder and shot for an army was the most complicated business on earth. But winning a kingdom was nothing compared to the task in running it. He picked up a document near the candlestick. It was from his brother requesting, nay pleading, for more troops to quell the mountain men who resisted the annexation of Chelmania. “Does it never end?” he said to himself.

He thought instead about his son. Young Ernst. ‘He will be a good King’ he pondered to himself, ‘The Solomon to my David. He won’t have to fight these endless battles; his legacy will be peace.’ He stopped for a moment before realising that Solomon was also the monarch who managed to wreck the united kingdom of Israel. Perhaps he wasn’t the best analogy after all.

He tried to read another report, this time on grain stores in Evksinograd but he found that he had not got through the first page before his mind started to wander again. He remembered the coronation of Jan August. What a day that was; the Emperor in his robes, the Papal Legate in his finery. It was a shame that St Wenefryda Cathedral had been in such a state of disrepair that tapestries had to be used to cover the worst of the neglect. But still, it looked good in the paintings and that was perhaps the most important thing.

And then there was the distribution of the Imperial Elephants to the regiments in the Plac Zamkowy. Ernst remembered the young men straining as they reached for a standard touched by the Emperor’s own hand. Wonderful days really. It was just a shame that such glory was purchased with so high a price of blood.

He looked about his desk. The old stories never made mention of this. “When Odysseus finally made it back to Ithaca,” he asked the empty room, “After all his adventures, all his travels and exertions, what did he do? What did he do? I wager he didn’t spend the autumn of his days reading bloody grain reports!” He launched the report across his desk. It skittered across the paperwork before bouncing off the inkwell and landing unceremoniously on the floor.

Something caught his eye. He painfully reached across and picked up a document that the ejected grain report had uncovered as it sped to its floor-based exile. It was an account of the recent hostilities between the Sultan of Qubti and the Pharaoh of Cyretopolitania. The King tutted to himself. The perennial squabbles between Mohammedan and Copt was hardly a concern of his. What had piqued his interest were the lurid tales of retaliation and brutality against the Breucians in a failed rebellion against their suzerain’s heavy hand. Ernst sat back and thought for a moment. No Christian gentlemen had ever stirred from his dinner over news of a pagan massacre and he was unsure of why he ought to do so now. The Breucians occupied a position in the thought of most learned men on the continent somewhere between a rabble, an embarrassment and a squalid nuisance and many a charitable man had been content to leave them to the mercy of the Sultan. “After all,” said Ernst to the empty study, “Even dogs require a master.”

And yet, and yet. Even now, beneath his pomp and finery, those fires ignited by the Revolution still smoldered in the breast of Ernst Jæger, and with it the old cry of ‘Wolność, równość, braterstwo!’; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Were not all people entitled to freedom? Even the jews?

“Even the pagans,” said the King to himself. Besides, surely the only thing missing from the panoply of Ernestria’s achievements was an overseas possession. He scratched his grey whiskers. ‘Perhaps,’ he thought, ‘The two are not unconnected.’ He took his quill and, dabbing it in the inkwell, wrote it scratchy letters DISCUSS FURTHER WITH FOREIGN MINISTER and then placed it in the tray for his secretary’s attention.

Ernest I Nicator smiled to himself. The trick was not to weep when there were no more worlds left to conqueror. The trick was simply to find more worlds.

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Excalbia
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Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Excalbia » Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:04 pm

Citadel Mount, Citadel Excalbia
1858


Emperor Samuel II stood on a wooden platform at the edge of the cliff overlooking his capital city below. Dressed in a blue coat, trousers and black riding boots, the Emperor crossed his arms behind his back and surveyed the numerous construction projects below. Beside him stood Samuel Myers, the eldest son and heir of the Lord of New Raleigh and chief financier of the Emperor’s new capital, Lord Richard Miller, the Imperial Chancellor, and Edward Ruskin, the Emperor’s chief architect.

“Magnificent,” Ruskin said, turning to the Emperor. “Would you not agree, Sire?”

The Emperor nodded. “Indeed it is,” he said. “The realization of all my dreams. And those of my father and my uncle.” The Emperor frowned slightly. “I only regret that my uncle did not live long enough to see it made reality.”

Samuel Myers nodded gravely. “My father has spoken often of the late Emperor’s vision for a modern capital city. He admired him greatly. As he admires you, Sire.”

The Emperor nodded. “Lord Jefferson has long been well-regarded by the House of Alsgood and the heirs of the great Joshua.” He turned and gave a small smile. “We are quite literally in your father’s debt, Sir.”

Myers bowed. “It is our honor to serve you and the Empire, Majesty.”

The Emperor turned back to the massive construction site that was gradually growing more entangled with the Old City that law just to its south and west. “How soon will the Senate be completed, Mr. Ruskin?”

“By the end of the year, Sire. And two of the four wings of the Imperial Palace should also be ready to celebrate the New Year.”

The Emperor nodded. “Very good. Thank you.”

Ruskin nodded and walked away from the platform to attend his other duties.

The Chancellor gave Myers a cautious look, then turned to the Emperor.

“I can tell that you both have something to say. So, say it, please, gentlemen,” the Emperor said, still watching the work below.

“Sire,” Myers began, “as… a loyal subject… and your friend, Lord Richard and several members of your cabinet have urged me to raise with you again the question of marriage…”

The Emperor frowned. “No.”

“I know you grieve for Martha and your little George, but,” Myers drew in a breath, “there must be an heir…”

“There is an heir,” Samuel II said. “My brother, Daniel, the Prince of Liela Augstiene. And his wife has already produced a son - David, so the heir has his own heir to follow him.”

“We understand, Sire,” Lord Richards said, taking a cautious step forward. “However, considering the… indecision following your uncle’s abdication and some of the… more colorful history surround succession in the old Highland Kingdom, your government believes it would be in the best interest of the Sword and, indeed, the Empire for you to be succeeded by your own child, not your brother.”

The Emperor shook his head. “No,” he said. “And do not speak to me of this again, Lord Richard. You may go.”

The Imperial Chancellor bowed and walked away from the platform towards the half-finished Chancery.

“And you, Samuel,” the Emperor said, turning towards his friend, “you must convince them to drop this.”

Myers gave the Emperor a sympathetic look. “I know your heart is broken, Samuel, but do you think Martha would want you to be alone?” He shook his head. “I am not even talking of an heir, but of love and companionship. She would want you to have that.”

The Emperor swallowed. “Perhaps she would have, but I do not. Having once known… perfect bliss, how could I… subject any woman to the inevitable comparisons? I have no doubt I would find any woman, princess or commoner, a pale shadow of my Martha. And I would hold it against her. And she would be miserable. And no woman deserves that in her marriage.” He turned and smiled at his friend. “Besides, I have many good friends and companions… and my new city taking shape before me. What else could I need?”
Last edited by Excalbia on Fri Jan 07, 2022 2:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Ernestria
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Founded: Oct 19, 2019
Moralistic Democracy

The Diadem

Postby Ernestria » Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:50 am

Pavija
Late Winter 1815


“My mother was right, I should have married the rabbi’s son.”

Moses Abramson said nothing but stared out the window of his empty shop, patting his hands together for warmth.

“Are you listening to me?”

“Yes yes,” said Moses not looking back, “Sholom Livshin would have made a better husband. You wouldn’t have had to scrounge for firewood. You would have had fine linen tablecloths.” He turned to look at his wife. “Have I missed anything?”

Golda Abramson flashed a look and went into the back room muttering as she went. Her husband shrugged to the empty shop and went back to inspecting his display cases for the fifth time that morning.

He couldn’t admit that she was wrong though. She probably would have been better marrying Livshin. Not that it seemed like that at the time of course; the Abramsons had been jewellers for generations. They were respected members of the community and their work had even adorned members of the Volohian Princely Family (though a Royal Warrant had so far eluded them). Times should have been good.

They weren’t. Adamów may have been many hundreds of miles to the north of Pavija but the storming of the Barbakan of Święty Antoni had been heard across the continent. It had ushered in some 25 years of almost continuous warfare, first under the Republic and then under Jan August. The old order of things had been obliterated and with it Moses Abramson’s source of income. He heard his wife continuing to mutter in the back room.

“It’s not my fault,” he shouted, “That no one has the money to buy jewelry these days!” He turned and, taking out one key from the massive bunch that hung from his belt, he opened a case to rearrange the meager offerings he had left to sell. “Gold and silver are so hard to come by,” he muttered to himself.

The door opened and a chill wind whistled into the shop. Abramson turned round eagerly. He had not seen a customer in days and had been half minded to close at noon today. His elation quickly passed.

“Good morning gentlemen,” he said in a careful voice, “How can I be of assistance?”

Three men stood in the shop. Dragoons by the looks of things, though Abramson was the first to admit that he knew very little of military matters. Their uniforms spoke of the recent turmoil. Loitering by the door was obviously the more junior of the trio; he was dressed in the old uniform of the Imperial army; red and white primarily. He kept a hand to the heavy saber at this side. Next was the officer who was dressed in the livery colours of the provincial governor the Duke of Kruja being white and green. The third member was dressed, somewhat discordantly, in a mixture of the two.

The officer paced the floor inspecting the jeweler’s wares. The three men’s horses were tied up outside; their sweat steamed in the cold morning air.

“Have you had a long ride gentlemen?” asked Abramson politely. He, like many members of his community, did not see the arrival of unknown members of officialdom as a cause for celebration. The officer said nothing but grunted.

His inspections complete, he looked up. “Herr Abramson I presume?”

Moses, who by this point had made his way back behind his counter, shifted nervously. “I am good sirs,” he replied, “How can I help you? Are you looking for something for your wife sir?” The officer wrinkled his nose in derision.

“Hardly with these trinkets,” he said with a sneer, “But they tell me, Herr Abramson, that you are the best jeweller in Pavija.” His eyes bore into the other man. “Are you?”

Abramson tried to display a confidence he didn’t feel. “You’d have to ask my customers, good sirs. It isn’t for me to say.”

“False modesty,” said the officer, “Will get you nowhere.” He turned and nodded towards the red and white dragoon by the door. He returned the nod before pulling down the blind and bolting the door.

‘Oh no,’ thought Abramson, ‘This is it. I hope they spare Golda and the children.’

“Fortunately for you, Herr Abramson,” continued the officer, “We did ask your customers and they all spoke highly of your skills.”

Moses’ eyes moved from each dragoon to the next. “Well I’m flattered,” he said.

The officer paced the room again. “You should be,” he said. He crossed the small space so that he stood directly in front of the counter. The jeweler backed away slightly.

“As of right now,” said the officer, “Myself and my colleagues are the only three people in Pavija privy to the information I am about to tell you. My point, Herr Abramson, is that I hope to rely on your discretion.”

“Oh of course,” said Moses, “Of course. You’ll find no more loyal a subject of the Emperor of the Oskarans, whoever that happens to be right now, than me good sirs.”

The officer grunted. “Good,” he said leaning forward, “Good. Because if word of what I am about to tell you were to get out, either from yourself or from Frau Abramson who I presume to be listening from your back room, then I would be most displeased Herr Abramson.” The threat lay unspoken.

Moses gulped “You may rely on my, on our, discretion sir.”

The officer straightened. “I am very pleased to hear that Herr Abramson.” He clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace the shop.

“The Empire, Herr Abramson, is breaking apart.”

“Oh, replied Moses, not sure what to say, “That’s a shame.”

The officer raised an eyebrow. “Well quite,” he said. “I take it you know of the meeting of the voivodes at Liskowiec?”

“Of course,” lied the jeweler, “Hasn’t everyone?”

The officer paused for a moment. “It’s failed. The remaining marshals cannot reach agreement. Adamów is already lost; the Regent has fled and even now our enemies assemble.”

“Goodness,” said the jeweller.

“Indeed, Marshal Jezewski has already had himself crowned sub-king in Stavrotrov.”

“Well I never,” replied Abramson.

“If we don’t act now we shall be left behind and at the mercy of our united enemies!” exclaimed the officer. There was a sudden, awkward, silence broken only by the sound of Golda trying not to cough in the back room.

“Dire times then?” said Moses after a moment.

The officer looked at him. “Quite so, Herr Abramson, quite so.” He began to pace the room again. “His Grace the Duke has decided that the only way to secure peace is for him to be crowned king himself.”

The jeweler blinked. “What,” he said after a moment, “Of Volohia?”

The officer shook his head. “No,” he replied, “Of all the territories of the voivodeship.”

The other man scratched his head. The voivodeship was a mishmash of various peoples and former states. “What would he even call his kingdom?” he asked.

The second in command wearing the combined uniforms grunted. “Never you mind,” he growled, “That’s a decision for your betters.”

Abramson bowed. “Of course, of course,” he said quickly, “I meant no disrespect.”

The officer gave a satisfied nod. “The point is, Herr Abramson, that a coronation needs the appropriate…items. So far we have managed to obtain an orb from the former ruling family of these lands, a suitable sword from the estates of the Tarjan Confederation and two sceptres ordered by the Emperor when he considered making his brother Prince Josef King of Kolyvan.” He approached the counter again.

“So you’ll see, Herr Abramson, that the one thing we lack is a crown.”

The jeweller blinked again. “A c-crown?” he stammered.

“Indeed,” said the officer with a smile, “Can you make one?”

Abramson’s eyes grew wide. He stroked his beard in thought. “I will be honest with you gentlemen, I am more accustomed to cameos and brooches than I am with headwear. But I have seen drawings so with enough time I am sure I would manage to…”

“You have four weeks.”

Abramson stumbled backwards in shock. “Four weeks!?”

The officer nodded. “His Grace is riding back from Liskowiec as we speak. He will need a little time to prepare but wishes to be crowned before St Joseph’s Day.”

“Four weeks? But good sirs that’s not enough time. I would need measurements and coin; your excellency will see that times have been hard and my stocks low. It would take time to get the necessary materials together.”

“You have four weeks, Herr Abramson. The supplies are your concern but we can at least provide the means.” He turned and nodded to the dragoon by the door. He, in turn, bent low to pick up a saddle bag that Moses had not noticed before. He unbuckled it and, heaving slightly due to the wait, poured the contents onto the floor.

A river of gold coins tumbled onto the wooden boards. The jeweler was speechless. “This should hopefully be sufficient for the task,” said the officer with a smile. He nodded to the dragoon again who unbolted the door.

“Four weeks Herr Abramson. You will find that your impending sovereign rewards those in whom he places his trust. I hope, for your sake, you do not have cause to test the limits of his patience.” With that the three dragoons prowled out the shop.

Golda appeared at the internal doorway. “Oy!” she exclaimed.

Moses quickly ran across to the door to bolt it again. He then began to gather the coins. “Don’t just stand there,” he shouted to his wife, “Help me!” Using her apron they carried them through to the small table at the back of the shop.

“What a sum,” said Moses after a moment. His wife looked more concerned than overwhelmed.

“But Moishe,” she said, “Moishe. Four weeks? And you’ve never made so much as a hat let alone a crown.”

“How hard can it be? Now where is that boy,” He opened the door that led to the staircase to the family rooms above the shop. “Mordecai,” he shouted, “Mordecai! Get down here!” There was the stamping of feet before his eldest son, a boy of no more than 14, drudged down the stairs.

“Did you want..” he began to ask before the sight of the pile of good coins stunned him to silence. “Gewalt!” he exclaimed.

His father grabbed him by the arm and pulled him down the last few steps. “Now Mordecai, listen to me very carefully. Now, are you listening Mordecai?” He moved to the table and counted out a collection of coins. “This is very important. Go to all our usual suppliers, the goldsmiths, the silversmiths, gentile or member of the tribe, and buy as much as you can. Do you understand Mordecai, buy everything you can.”

The boy looked confused. “What should I say if they ask what it’s for?”

“Tell them I’m making a series of commemorative chamber pots, it doesn’t matter. Just take this,” he poured the coins into his son’s pocket, grabbed his coat and pushed him out the back door, “And go, quickly.”

When he turned back his wife was watching him with her arms folded. “This is a bad idea Moishe,” she said, “You’re biting off more than you can chew.”

“Nonsense,” replied her husband, “You worry too much. It’ll be fine.”

Three days later

“Oy vey, is that it?”

Moses Abramson sat down at his kitchen table with a heavy thud. He put his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry Papa,” said Mordecai, his feet blistered from having walked across Pavija three times that day, “It was all they had. They said they lacked on account of the wars.”

“..On account of the wars,” repeated his father. He motioned towards the table. “This isn’t enough for a tiara let alone a crown. He motioned towards the ceiling. “I’m ruined,” he muttered.

Golda thought for a moment. “Why don’t we melt the gold coins down? We would have enough then?”

Moses gave her an incredulous look. “An excellent idea except how are we going to buy the precious stones we still need. And, more importantly, how are we going to get paid? Sell them the crown they’ve already paid for!?”

His wife nodded. “That’s a fair point.”

“I’m ruined,” repeated Moses. As her husband theatrically pretended to cry Golda reached across and tried to polish a small metal ingot on her apron

Moses looked up. “Golda,” he said, “What are you doing?”

“This silver is dirty,” she said after a moment, “It’s shine has gone.”

Her husband rolled his eyes. “That’s not silver, fool! It’s platinum.”

She turned over the metal in her hands. “It looks like pewter if you ask me.” Moses’ eyes widened. An idea had struck him.

“Mordecai,” he exclaimed, “Take this.” He handed him another pile of coins. “And no and see Meir Rabbinowitz.” His son gave him a quizzical look.

“Rabbinowitz?” he asked.

“Yes yes, and go quickly before he shuts for Shabbos. Go!” The boy dashed outside. Golda folded her arms. “Please tell me you’re not thinking of doing what I think you’re doing?” she asked in a flat voice.

“Relax,” said Moses, “You worry too much.”

The Gubernatorial Residence, Pavija
Some time later


Ernst Jæger stood on an upholstered stool. “Hurry up man,” he barked to the tailor, “I haven’t got all day.”

The tailor bowed. “Just a few more measurements Your Grace. We need to make some alterations to your coronation robes.”

“Damn and blast,” muttered the Marshal under his breath. There was knock upon the door.

“Enter,” barked the Marshal. A servant entered. “Captain Schmeller of the 4th Dragoons is her Your Grace.”

“Ahh,” said Jæger, “This is will be about my crown. Send him in Costin.”

The Captain from the jewelry shop entered. He was accompanied by a nervous looking Moses Abramson. Two grenadiers carried a stout wooden box.

“Your Grace,” said Schmeller, “I have the very great pleasure in presenting you with Herr Moses Abramson, a skilled craftsmen in precious metals and gemstones. The product of his work I am sure you find to Your Grace’s satisfaction. The design has been based, in part, on the crown of…”

“Yes yes yes,” said the Marshal hopping off the stool, much to the tailor’s displeasure, “Get on with it. Are you coming to see Sigismund?”

Sigismund Mohyła, Prince of Kocobędz, looked up from the coronation oath he was writing. He said nothing save for a small shrug and got up from his chair.

Schmeller beamed. Taking the lid of the box he lifted something out covered with a cloth. He place it delicately on a side table.

“May I present his future majesty with his crown.” He pulled back the velvet.

“Oh,” said the Marshal, “So not gold then?”

The Captain’s smile faltered slightly. The silvery crown simmered in the candlelight. “With respect, Your Grace, every sovereign from here to New Rome wears a diadem of gold upon his head. No, an ordinary a piece of headwear can only befit a mundane king; not someone of Your Grace’s illustrious achievements and fame. What we have here is nothing less than the very first platinum crown.”

Jæger bent low to inspect it. After a few moments he straightened. “That’s pewter that.”

The Captain smiled. “Although it may be reminiscent of pewter I have been assured that this is platinum; a remarkable feat of skill considering how unyielding a metal it is.”

The Marshall raised an eyebrow. “Look son I was on campaign when you were still at your mother’s teat. I’ve eaten off enough pewter dishes to know it when I see it.” He pointed to the crown. “That, sir, is pewter.”

The Captain turned to Abramson with fire in his eyes. “You,” he said, grabbing the jeweller by the collar, “You lying swine, you thieving dog. I ought to put a musket ball through that traitorous skull of yours.”

“No!” cried Moses, “Please, Your Grace, I tried my best, but there was no gold and silver. I could not get them anywhere! Please, noble sirs, have pity on me! I had to sacrifice my entire stock to gather enough gems and pearls to decorate it as I could! I have nothing left to sell! Please, I have seven children to feed!”

The Captain yanked him back. “You damnable mongrel.” he barked. Meanwhile the Duke’s face got redder and redder.

“Schmeller!” he barked, “Is this some kind of joke? A pewter crown? I trust you with this task and this is what you produce. Why I ought to have you horsewhipped!”

“Please,” pleaded the Captain, “I can explain Your Grace. I…”

His explanation, and the rest of the conversation, stopped. It was interrupted by the laughs of the Prince of Kocobędz.

“A pewter crown!” laughed the Prince, “Oh this is wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Can’t you see it Ernst?”

The Marshall, frowning, shook his head.

“Oh my dear Ernst,” continued the Prince, “This is an ideal symbol of the resourcefulness and perseverance that your new kingdom will embody.”

“It is?”

“Of course it is,” said the Prince, “This shows a, how would you put it, a common touch? It shows the people that their king is not so proud that he would delay his obligations to them for want of a golden hat.” He turned to the jeweler. “What did you say your name was again?”

Moses gulped. “Moses sir,” he said in a fearful voice, “Moses Abramson sir.”

The Prince smiled. “Well, Mr Abramson, this really is the most stunning work considering the limitations of time and resources available to you. Wouldn’t you agree, Your Grace?”

Jæger scowled. He bent low to look at the pewter crown again. “Well,” he conceded, “The craftsmanship is adequate I suppose.”

“Adequate,” chided the Prince, “His Grace is a military man and reluctant to give out praise as fulsomely as you or I lest his commanders become soft as a result. I am sure, when he is able to do so, His Grace would be happy to reward you with a peerage.”

“Would I?” asked the Duke.

“Of course,” replied the Prince, “After all, Mr Abramson, you may have managed to save this kingdom before it has even formally begun.”

“Oh thank you!” exclaimed Moses, resisting the urge to kiss the Prince’s expensive shoes, “Thank you. If it pleases your graces when I have more resources I can try and build a better crown for you? Once gold can be more easily acquired.”

“No,” said the Duke, “No, if a pewter crown is good enough for me it is good enough for my successors. Write this down, Mohyła, this bit will be important. Let it be known that of those that follow me none can be king over these lands unless he first be crowned with the pewter crown.”

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Postby Excalbia » Sat Jan 08, 2022 11:08 am

The Citadel of Excalbia
1594


Smoke was still rising from the barracks in the town below and from the castle’s stockade. The prisoners, including the Barons of Excalbia, Leila Augstiene and Kuldiga, knelt in the courtyard under the watchful eyes of armies of Valmiera, Sigulda and Mezrozes.

Inside the battered walls of the citadel, Alsgood, Lord of Valmiera, paced in front of the fireplace of the Great Hall. In front of him stood his most loyal lieutenants - his brothers Thorvald and Harold, Baron Olof of Mezrozes and Baron Ilvars of Sigulda. Seated close to the fireplace, Alsgood’s young wife, Laima, held their two young children, Sweyn and Lauma.

In truth, Laima and Alsgood’s brothers were barely adults by modern standards, and Alsgood himself was just 25. Yet, he had already displayed a natural gift for leadership, both on the field of battle and in negotiation, earning the loyalty of many of the older barons and lords, such as Olof and Ilvars.

“The murderers await their fates,” Harold said, gripping the hilt of his sword. “The last of those who conspired to kill our father are finally in our hands!”

Thorvald nodded. “They thought Valmiera would be easy prey,” he laughed. “Now they see we are the predators and they are our prey.”

Baron Olof folded his hands behind his back. “Whatever you will to do with them, Lord Alsgood, I pray you do it quickly, lest those who would still wish us harm rally to them.”

Alsgood turned to face the men. “I have long dreamt of this moment, but now it fills me with dread,” he said, pulling his fur cape tightly around himself.

“Dread, my lord?” Ilvars asked.

“Yes,” Alsgood said, “for once vengeance is accomplished, what then? Do we wait for the cycle to repeat? Are we to have wars forever? We avenge our father and lord, then their kinsmen avenge them? Is there nothing more?”

“You have built a great alliance, Alsgood,” Thorvald said, “will it not preserve the peace?”

“How long will an alliance last?” Alsgood turned to fire. “Even if it lasts for my life, will it avail my son?” He turned and looked at the toddler smiling on his mother’s lap. “Or does he need to repeat the cycle?”

“Make the alliance permanent, then,” Thorvald said.

“Make myself a king?” Alsgood turned to the two older men. “Would you accept me as king? Would your peers?”

Olof looked at Ilvars, who nodded, then he stepped forward. “A few years ago, my lord, the answer would have been no.” Alsgood’s brothers gripped their swords. “But we have seen you build this great alliance, waging war only against those who truly deserved your wrath. And,” he looked at Ilvars, who nodded again, “and we are all tired. Tired of the endless war of all against all. So, yes, we will accept you as our king.” Both men knelt and were quickly joined by Thorvald and Harold.

“The Baron of Excalbia once fancied himself a first among equals,” Ilvars said. “And, in truth, that is why he sought your father’s lands and titles.” He reached into the bag slung over his shoulder and produced a small golden crown. “He had this made for himself. You should take it and wear it. As our king.”

Alsgood looked at the crown and frowned. “I will not sully myself with that thing. Cast it into the fires.” The men on their knees gave each other confused looks as Alsgood drew his sword. “No,” he said, “if I am to rule the Upper Lands as king, then this,” he held the sword aloft, “this shall be my crown and emblem. The sword of my father, consecrated with the blood of his murderers and of my enemies.”

The young warrior approached his brothers. “And you shall be my princes.” He tapped Thorvald on the shoulder. “ To you I will give the titles of Liela Augstiene,” then, he turned and tapped Harold on his shoulder, “and Kuldiga.” He turned to the barons. “And you, Baron Olof,” he tapped him with the Sword, “shall be the Chamberlain of my Court. You shall be at my side and act in my name. And you, Baron Ilvars,” he continued , tapping the man on thr shoulder, “shall be my general, commander of all the armies of the Upper Lands.”

“Yes… Sire,” the men said to their new King.

Algood nodded. He turned to Laima, who smiled, nodded, and said, “My King.”

Alsgood walked over and bent over to kiss her. “My Queen.” Then, he turned and said to the men, “Come.”

The new King led the men out to the courtyard and up on to a small platform that had been hastily constructed. Once everyone was in place, he looked out over the crowd of soldiers and prisoners, and the many townspeople and camp followers who had gathered just outside the gates.

“By right of conquest and by right of justice and by the consent of the loyal barons who stand with me and those they represent,” Alsgood said, pulling his sword and lifting it high, “I do this day proclaim myself King of the Upper Lands. Let those who will swear fealty to me and to the Sword, on the pain of death and torment in the Kingdom of Vels for eternity, go in peace.”

The gathered armies, and a few of the people outside the gates cheered and the prisoners and rest of the crowd looked about in confusion.

The King looked at the prisoners. “Those of you who loyally for your lords and who now swear your allegiance to the Sword, stand and give me your pledge of loyalty.”

A large number of the prisoners stood and extended their right arms. The Baron of Kuldiga tried to join them, but with a nod from the King, one of the soldiers pushed him back to his knees.

King Alsgood nodded. “You may go. Remember your oath. And remember, if you are found with arms or found engaging in any act of treason, your lives and those of your families are forfeit.”

As the freed prisoners streamed out, the King turned to look down on the three barons and the remaining prisoners. “As for you, your lives are ended. Yet, you still have the chance to spare your families. Renounce your titles and lands and all claim to them, and any claim by your descendants. Send them word that they must leave your lands forever. Do this, and I will spare them. Refuse, and they shall share your fate.”

After a short time, the king’s men brought parchment and pen to the barons of other titled prisoners. Eventually, each wrote their families as the king commanded and sealed their letters with their signets. Then, each was brought in turn to the platform, where King Alsgood beheaded them with the Sword.

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Postby Brasland » Sat Jan 08, 2022 2:15 pm

Halvan
Northern Brasland


January 4th, 1698


A lonely figure on a horse looked over the field, covered by the bodies of dead soldiers. Friedrich Balkronn did not relish on this generous sight of blood, but he knew that such was the business of war. The sacrifice of those men had granted Brasland its independence, and he was not ashamed to feel relief. Peace for his people, at last.

“Thank you, Lord”, he prayed. “Thank you, Holy Mother.”

He heard the steps of two horses approaching and, knowing who the riders were, turned to greet them. The Counts of Altenhaus and Lorensberg, fellow generals and his closest collaborators, smiled proudly.

“Victory!”, said Altenhaus. “You should be proud, Friedrich.”

"You have freed our land", added Lorensberg, solemnly.

Balkronn did not return the enthusiasm. He felt a strange mix of serenity and alertness, as if he knew he was treading a path that would lead him to... No, he did not want to think about it.

“And now what?”, he sighed, more to himself than to them.

“We ride back to Markund, where Henslen is waiting with his troops”, said Lorensberg.

Oh yes, Henslen, he had almost forgotten him. Friedrich knew that the Battle of Halvan was the final blow to the Westbund, but his personal rivalry with the Landgrave of Henslen would not end there. The Landgrave had been the indisputable leader of the rebels not only due to his position, but to his intelligence and military achievements as well. However, Friedrich’s brilliance in the battlefield and his decisive role in the war’s main victories were the talk of Brasland. The country was now free, but its leaders and soldiers were divided, for everyone knew that Brasland would become a kingdom, but who would be its King?

“You have our allegiance”, said Altenhaus, guessing Balkronn’s thoughts.

Lorensberg nodded. “No matter the cost”, he said. Henslen was his brother-in-law.

Friedrich gave them a faint smile. He had joined the war out of patriotism, not to earn a throne, but history was now opening a spot for him, would he take it?

“We ride to Markund, then!”, he said.

And, without warning, he spurred his horse and rode fast to the south.
Last edited by Brasland on Thu Mar 17, 2022 4:23 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Prince David and Lady Laura

Postby Excalbia » Mon Jun 27, 2022 1:04 pm

Sweyn Castle, Citadel Excalbia
1849


“Your Imperial Highnesses,” the steward said with a deep bow, “I apologize for interrupting.,,”

The twin princes halted their sparing and held their foils in a relaxed stance. They were both dressed in padded coats with wireframe masks over their faces. Their sister, Princess Victoria, sat on one the benches that had been pushed to the side, allowing Prince Daniel and Prince David to use the Great Hall for their fencing practice.

Daniel, the older of the twins - by a few minutes - nodded and gestured for the steward to speak.

“Your Highnesses, your father, the Emperor commands Prince David’s presence at once…”

David’s pulled off his mask and tucked it under his arm. “Why?” The tall, somewhat gangly 17-year old asked.

“His Imperial Majesty did not say; he simply commanded your presence immediately.”

“You better go, Davey,” Daniel said removing his own helmet.

David nodded, and set his foil and mask on a nearby bench.

“Do tell us what this is all about when you are finished,” Victoria said to her older brother.

David nodded and walked towards the steward, who turned and led the way out of the Great Hall.

A short time later, as the young prince followed the steward through the halls towards his father’s study, he passed Lady Laura Kalvitis, the 17-year old daughter of the Imperial Chamberlain, who was following a female member of the Court. Every time he saw Laura, David’s breath seemed to catch in his chest. She was a truly beautiful creature. And he swelled with no small amount of pride to think that she had already become his in some sense.

He smiled at her, but the smile quickly faded as he realized that she had been crying and still looked quite distressed. He started to approach her, but a shake of her head and stern look from the Lady with her warned the young prince off.

After a few more turns, the Prince found himself in front of the doors to his father’s study. The steward opened them and entered. “His Imperial Highness, Prince David,” he said with a bow.

David entered the study. “Hello, Father…” His words caught in his throat as his father turned, a most stern look on his face, and revealed that he had been standing with several of his closest advisors, including Lord Kalvitis, who wore a pained expression.

“What’s wrong?” David asked, hesitantly.

“Wrong?” The Emperor thundered. “Damnation, boy, do not play games with me!”

David froze. His mind raced. Somehow, he imagined, they must have learned that his relationship with Laura had progressed beyond discrete handholding.

“I…”

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong, David,” the Emperor said, his face reddening. “The Chamberlain’s daughter is pregnant! Pregnant and unmarried! And she has named you the father. What do you say to that, boy?”

David’s hands trembled as he grabbed them and tried to hold them to steady himself. “I… I didn’t know, Father…”

“Didn’t know?” The Emperor clasped his hands behind his back. “So, you do not deny it?”

David looked down. “N…no. No, I can… do not deny it.”

The Emperor snorted and turned his back on his son, and spoke to his advisors. “I’m sorry, Lord Ilmars, but Laura will have to be sent away. At least until she gives birth. We can find suitable and suitably discrete parents for the child…”

“Did Laura agree…”

“She has no say in this!” The Emperor thundered, turning towards his son.

“It’s our child!”

“Ho! Our child!” The Emperor gave a bitter smile. “Our child! Ha!”

“Father,” David approached his father, “Lord Ilmars… this is also your grandchild! Please! Laura and I planned to ask your permission to marry when we turn 18 next year… so, can we not simply marry now? But one year early? And keep our child? Your grandchild?”

The Emperor drew in a breath and turned to his Chamberlain, who gave a slight shrug. “If we allow this, you must marry with haste. Then, you and Laura must go… somewhere out of sight until after the child is born. We can… correct the date of birth to avoid… scandal. At least as much as we can…”

“Yes, father!” David grabbed the Emperor’s arms. “That would be… most kind and generous of you. We would forever be grateful to you.” He looked at the Chamberlain. “And to you, My Lord.”

“We must keep this from your grandmother… the Empress Dowager,” the Emperor said, “it would break her heart. And from your mother… And the rest of the Empire.”

“Of course,” David agreed.

The Emperor nodded. He turned towards his Chamberlain. “Arrange the wedding. It must happen before the end of this month…”

Historical note: Prince Daniel went on to become Emperor Daniel II in 1879, with Prince David becoming Emperor David I in 1883. The child of David and Laura, conceived before their marriage, became Emperor Daniel III, remembered as one of Excalbia’s greatest monarchs, in 1891.

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Postby Excalbia » Fri Jul 15, 2022 1:28 pm

Landing Colony, Southern Coast of the Excalbian Isles
1807


The town of Landing was abuzz. Everywhere there was a flurry of activity. People painted their wooden homes and shops. Others draped banners across the streets - some with the red white and blue colors of the Lanerian flag - form whence they had come - and others in the blue and yellow of the Excalbian flag. Some barricaded their doors, convinced that the truce was a ruse and that the Excalbians were sending an army along with their king. Others took inventory of their goods, anxious for new trade routes into the highlands.

“Do you think peace will truly last, Alvis?” The Reverend Jonathan Taylor, a thin gentleman dressed in black and walking with a cane, asked his companion as they crossed a muddy street.

“I do hope so, Reverend,” Alvis Miller, the elected leader of the colony said, as he adjusted the spectacles resting on his nose “I hope so.”

Rev. Taylor nodded. “It is a good sign, at least, is it not that he brings his children with him?”

“It is,” Miller agreed. “Though his eldest, Thorvald, already commands a large part of the King’s army. He is hardly a child.”

“I hear rumors,” the Reverend said as he pulled himself up onto the wooden walkway in front of the town hall, “that this Thorvald is a secret Christian.”

Miller nodded. “Our Lowland allies say many of the Royal Family have been baptized in the Anglican faith. A few of the nobles are openly Anglican. A few others are of the Roman church. However,” Miller turned and raised a finger, “the Kingdom officially remains… pagan. And pagan or not, they are notoriously warlike.”

“So say our papist allies,” the clergyman said.

On the Road to Landing

King Ragarth wore his golden breastplate over a blue and golden silk uniform as he sat astride his horse, Firebreather. The king looked older even than his sixty years - deep wrinkles lined his face and his hair, pulled back into a ponytail, was snow white.

Beside him, in his own blue and gold uniform, rode his son and chief advisor, Prince Thorvald. The young man was handsome and tall and wore his blond hair short.

An officer approached riding furiously from the south. He pulled the reins and slowed his horse. He turned it and came alongside the king and his son. “Your Royal Majesty,” the soldier said, bowing as deeply as he could while in his saddle, “may your reign endure forever.”

Ragarth snorted. “Get on with it.”

“Yes, Sire,” the man replied, “we have ridden to within sight of the walls of Landing, such as they are. The road is clear, as they promised. No sign of any foreign or Lowland troops. No sign of an ambush or any betrayal.”

The King nodded. “Very well. Continue scouting until we arrive.”

“Yes, Sire,” the man said as he kicked his horse, turned and rode back towards his scouting party.

“It seems that perhaps these strange Baptists, merchants and friends of the Lowlanders intend to keep our truce,” Ragarth said, turning towards his son.

“You sound surprised, father,” Thorvald said, laughing.

“The Lowlanders have betrayed us too many times…”

“Betrayed us? Or our ancestors?” Thorvald drew in a breath. “Perhaps it is time to… heal old wounds and seek… new paths.”

“You are a dreamer, my son. Like your mother.”

“Yes, but are not dreams the blueprints of the future?”
Last edited by Excalbia on Sat Jul 16, 2022 9:58 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Sat Jul 16, 2022 10:56 am

Landing Colony, Southern Coast of the Excalbian Isles
1807


People crowded the streets and peered off the balconies of buildings to see the spectacle. Most of the immigrants from Laneria and their children were used to the idea of not having a king and had certainly never seen one. The Camveni Lowlanders on the other hand were quite familiar with the idea of an Excalbian King, but had always regarded him as an enemy - a object of terror, not as a guest.

Nonetheless, there stood the Highland King of Excalbia, Ragarth, in his gleaming golden breastplate and blue and yellow silks extending his hand to the governor of the Landing Colony, Alvis Miller. Beside Miller stood an unlikely group of advisors that included the Reverend Jonathan Taylor, a Baptist minister and missionary, Brain Triconnell, the Earl of Crich and son of the Duke of Crich - who was one of the settlers’ closest Lowland allies, and Nathan Myers, the Jewish businessman who had helped fund the original colonial expedition.

Beside King Ragarth was his oldest son and heir, Prince Thorvald, who wore a uniform that matched his father’s. A small number of other officers, including the Captain of Thorvald’s personal guard Valdis Repse, and the King’s second son, Prince Olof, stood beside Thorvald. At a discrete distance behind the King stood his daughter, the 22-year old Princess Liga.

From the balcony of Miller’s house, where the King was being received as an honored guest, the Reverend Taylor’s 21-year old daughter Abigail stood with a small group of friends. “He’s quite handsome,” she said, turning to one of the other girls.

“Which one? Olof?” The young woman asked, craning her neck to look at the Excalbians below.

“No, Thorvald,” Abigail answered.

“He is rather old, is he not?” The friend asked. “He is almost 30. And not yet married.”

“I wonder why,” another young lady said, pushing between Abigail and her friend.

“I hear that his father attempted several matches for him with foreign princesses and Excalbian ladies, but he rejected them all, saying he was waiting for his true love,” Abigail said.

“Sounds like romantic poppycock to me,” the first young lady said, to a trickle of laughter from the others on the balcony - with the exception of Abigail.

“No,” Abigail said, “I think it is true.”

* * *

After several days of meetings, feasts and two separate balls, the principals of the Excalbian and settler delegations found themselves in Miller’s study, beside a fire, sharing pipes and whiskey. Ragarth, in civilian clothes and a sturdy pair of boots, sat one leg crossed over the other, alternately sipping his whiskey and drawing on his pipe. Beside him, Miller stuck mostly with the pipe, pausing to take a drink now and again. Triconnell more or less followed the Excalbian’s pattern, while Reverend Taylor abstained from both and sipped tea instead. Thorvald and Phillip Myers, Nathan’s son - a young man about Thorvald’s age, sipped the whiskey but eschewed the pipe.

“I am pleased that we have all come to such a happy agreement to put war behind us and to look to the future,” the Reverend said, smiling.

“Yes,” Ragarth said in heavily accented English, “but what is that future?”

Silence fell over the room. While all had agreed that it would be best to find a way to live together, no one had offered a clear vision for how to make such an amicable arrangement work.

“I remain convinced that a union is the only solution,” Thorvald said.

Ragarth snorted. “I did not give you leave to speak such a thing,” he said, slipping back into Old Excalbian.

“Pardon me,” the Earl said, coming to the front of his chair, “a union? How would such a thing work? We will not submit to simply being… incorporated into the Excalbian kingdom.”

Miller sat back and narrowed his eyes and the Reverend frowned. Myer, however, smiled.

“A union, indeed,” Phillip Myers said. “If it could work, it would… lead to a great - and I dare say - wealthy and powerful nation. With all that is good about both,” he looked at the Lowlander beside him, “or rather all three nations and, hopefully, fewer of their faults.”

Thorvald nodded and looked at his father. The King frowned, but nodded.

“If there were a union, it would be an equal partnership. The Sword,” the Prince began, “or as you might say more commonly, the crown, would remain with us. The House of Alsgood. And represent the Highlanders. A new government, however, would be needed and we would seek leaders of the settlers and Lowlanders to fill its posts. And, of course, we would chart new avenues for trade and commerce, which those in the south and along the coasts would be most fortuitously positioned to exploit.”

There was again a long silence.

“Many of our people would chafe to live under a, pardon me for saying so,” the Reverend said, with a slight nod towards Ragarth and Thorvald, “pagan King…”

Ragarth gave a half smile and looked again at Thorvald. “You have gone this far, my son, go all the way,”

Thorvald looked at the Reverend. “I, sir, am a Christian. So, when I am King, if we have a union, you would have a Christian monarch.”
Last edited by Excalbia on Sun Jul 17, 2022 9:09 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Sun Jul 17, 2022 9:16 am

Landing Colony, Southern Coast of the Excalbian Isles
1807


It was to have been the final ball of King Ragarth’s visit. Considerable progress had been made in the tripartite negotiations and a treaty had been signed between the Highland Kingdom of Excalbia and the newly-proclaimed independent State of Landing. The Earl of Crich had signed for his father, the Duke. Unfortunately, with the Grand Duke of Saxmere deposed and the new Republic refusing to send a representative to the meeting, the treaty would have to be signed by each individual remaining Lowland noble. But, it was at least a start. And the Grand Duke in Exile, Patrick II, had endorsed the negotiations in a circular letter to the Camveni dukes and barons.

The secret discussions of a possible union had remained just that: secret. The Excalbians had taken no notes, with Ragarth trusting the memory of his son, Thorvald. Philip Myers had taken notes for the settlers in code. Those notes remained undeciphered and in the possession of the Myers family well into the 21st century.

At the Ball, King Ragarth was invited to speak to the assembled citizens of Landing, their Camveni allies and the Excalbian nobles in his company. The King, in blue silk breeches, waistcoat and coat, all trimmed with gold thread, stood and looked serenely over the crowd. Noone, including the King, knew that his occasional chest pains would worsen over the next 18 months and that he would be dead before the end of two year.

The King raised his glass and said in thickly accented but well-practiced English, “Your Excellency, Governor Miller, Reverend Taylor, Your Lordship, my lords and ladies, thank you for your kind hospitality. I congratulate the citizens of Landing on declaring your independence from your Lanerian homeland and welcome you as people of the Excalbian Isles.

“In these last few days, we have found what I believe will be a lasting peace. And I hope that from this day forward, all of us, Highlanders, Lowlanders and citizens of Landing, will consider ourselves equally people of the Excalbian Isles. And Excalbians.”

Later that evening, Prince Thorvald and Abigail Taylor shared a dance, as had become their custom at the previous balls. The couple appeared clearly smitten with each other.

“A promising match to secure the peace,” Ragarth said softly to Miller and Reverend Taylor, who standing with him.

“Pardon, Sir?” Miller said, turning to the King.

“A marriage between my heir and a daughter of Landing would help… seal the peace. Perhaps even signal an eventual union of our people.”

Miller raised an eyebrow. “I have never heard of a… dynastic marriage between a Royal House and a republic…”

Taylor frowned. “And this is my daughter we are discussing, Sir.”

Ragarth smiled and nodded. “Yes. But do consider it.” He nodded towards the couple on the dance floor - Thorvald tall and blonde in blue and gold silks and Abigail her blonde hair pulled back, framing her lovely features. “And I believe they, too, are considering it.”
Last edited by Excalbia on Sun Jul 17, 2022 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Mon Jul 18, 2022 11:07 am

Landing Colony, Southern Coast of the Excalbian Isles
1807


The next morning, Prince Thorvald sat in the parlor of Alvis Miller’s home townhouse in Landing. The Reverend Taylor’s daughter, Abigail, sat a discrete distance from Thorvald.Though the couple were alone, servants and, indeed Mr. Miller and the Reverend Taylor, were close by and within listening distance.

“So,your father would support our marriage?” Abigail said, struggling not to look too deeply into the prince’s eyes.

“Yes,” Thorvald said. “And yours?” The Excalbian made no such reciprocal effort and gazed intently at the younger Abigail.

“I think he can be persuaded.” She bit her lip. “He would insist, of course, that you make a public profession of faith.” She blushed and looked away. “And, perhaps, select a Christian name...”

Thorvald smiled. “I would do all that. In fact, I already have a name in mind.”

“Really?” Abigail turned and smiled. “What is it?”

“Joshua,” the Prince said.

* * *

Later that afternoon, Alvis Miller stood before the assembled members of the Landing House of Burgesses in the colonial capital. “Gentleman,” he said, “I have just come from a meeting with King Ragarth, Prince Thorvald and the Reverend Taylor.” He paused and the members of the assembly all seemed to lean forward as one.

“Prince Thorvald has come to the decision to publicly convert to our Christian faith. He will be baptized tomorrow by the Reverend Taylor and will take the Christian name Joshua, for the great patriarch of the Children of Israel.” There were murmurs of ascent and several of the burgesses nodded.

“The Prince has also,” Milled paused again, “asked the Reverend Taylor for the hand of his daughter Abigail in marriage.” The assembly burst into dozens of separate conversations, as they tried to grasp the implications of the marriage.

* * *

King Ragarth finished dictating his decree and his personal secretary nodded, confirming that he had completed transcribing his words. “Prepare it for my signature quickly; I wish the messengers to be on their way back to the Citadel before nightfall.”

“Yes, Sire,” the secretary said, bowing and excusing himself.

Once he was gone, the King looked up at his advisors, Prince Thorvald, Prince Olof, the Captain of his guard and his royal Chamberlain. After a few moments of silence, Chamberlain bowed.

“If it please Your Majesty,” the Chamberlain said, “I fear that not all your nobles will receive this news joyfully. The Prince becoming a Christian… publicly will… provoke at least a few of the older baronial families in the North. His marriage to one of the settlers - and a commoner - will… upset a few… But explicitly proclaiming him your heir, without consulting the Lords… that will provoke many others…”

The King turned to his captain. “That is why I trust that your men will make a sufficient… show of force to impress upon the minds of any… unreliable barons that these decisions are… non-negotiable.”

The captain bowed. “I will send a… suitable contingent to each region.” He rose and looked at the Chamberlain. “While a few barons make a show of having their own men at arms, the days where they could field a force to challenge the Royal Army are long gone, my Lord. They have a handful of men who are fortunate if they carry muskets. We have the latest muskets, long rifles and cannons. If they have thoughts of rebellion, I trust my men will drive them away.”

“I also believe,” Thorvald, soon to be Joshua, said, “that at least among the younger generation there is a realization that the old ways are… out of step with the times. And there is a desire to… be more a part of the wider world. These developments will further that goal. And I will send my own personal letters to my peers among the sons of the barons and cultivate their support.” He looked at the Chamberlain. “I expect little more than mumbled grumblings, my Lord.”

“Let us hope it is so, Your Highness.”
Last edited by Excalbia on Mon Jul 18, 2022 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Excalbia » Thu Jul 21, 2022 7:50 am

The Great Hall of the Citadel, Citadel Excalbia, Excalbia
1808


The Great Hall had been transformed into a makeshift chapel, with a simple wooden cross hung on the far wall above a raised dais with a lectern and a table draped in a white cloth to serve as an altar. At the end of each row of benches there were flowers and a white carpet led from the door to the dais.

The benches on the left side of the Hall were filled with members of the Royal Family, including King Ragarth and Queen Ligita, and a number of Highland nobles. A few of the nobles appeared uncomfortable with the Christian trappings in the Great Hall, but many of the Royal Family and the Court appeared, as one contemporary memoirist noted, almost relieved to see the end of the Kingdom's secret syncretism.

On the right side of the Hall sat the bride’s family. Alvis Miller, the Governor of Landing and his family were also there, joined by Nathan Myers, recently named Counselor to the King, and his family, and by the Duke of Crich and several other Lowland nobles.

The Reverend Taylor escorted his daughter down the aisle - many attendees wrote of her beauty that day - to the makeshift altar, where Prince Joshua David Thorvald Alsgood Ragarthson waited along his brother Olof, who served as best man. The marriage was performed by the Anglican bishop of Excalbia, who a little more than a year later would become the first Presiding Bishop of the Church of Excalbia.

* * *

For much of the 19th century, the marriage of Prince Joshua and Abigail Taylor was a favorite subject for artists and hagiographers alike. This shaped the romanticized view of the conversion of Joshua and the founding of the Holy Empire of Excalbia that still holds sway in Excalbia.

By the late summer of 1809, King Ragarth’s health had deteriorated to the point that Prince Joshua had become the de facto regent. The few private letters of Alvis Miller, Nathan Myers and Prince Joshua that come to light indicate that discussions of a union between the Landing Colony, its Lowland allies and the Highland Kingdom were already at an advanced stage by that point. Taking charge of the negotiations, it seems that Prince Joshua brought the talks to a successful conclusion by All Saints Day of 1809.

A few days after the agreements of union were privately signed, King Ragarth died. He was the last Excalbian monarch to be committed to the fire in accordance with the traditions of the Sacred Hearth, despite widespread reports that he made a deathbed conversion and received Anglican last rites.

Joshua was crowned King of the Upper Lands on December 12, 1809, following 30 days of mourning. The Landing Colony House of Burgesses passed the Act of Union on December 22 and the last of the southern Lowland barons signed on December 23. Parallel discussions between the new King, the Anglican bishop of Excalbia and several leading ministers of the Baptist and Reformed churches in the Highlands and the southern Lowlands had reached a positive conclusion on December 22. On Christmas Day, King Joshua officially proclaimed the Holy Empire of Excalbia, and proclaimed himself Emperor. A new coronation ceremony was held On December 31, 1809, the same day former Landing Colony Governor Alvis Miller was announced as the first Imperial Chancellor. Joshua also announced the establishment of the Church of Excalbia that Christmas Day, and proclaimed it the state religion.

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Saxmere
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Posts: 25
Founded: Jan 25, 2005
Democratic Socialists

Postby Saxmere » Thu Aug 04, 2022 6:39 am

(OOC: Joint post with Excalbia.)

Grand Ducal Palace
Umbra, Saxmere
1754


Grand Duke John III, a young man of 30 in only the third year of his reign, scowled as he paced back-and-forth in his dressing room. “The humiliation of it all!” He said to his Chamberlain, who nodded sympathetically. “To have to receive this… boy as an ambassador after his barely older brother drove our armies like cattle for the slaughter from the battlefield!”

“It will keep the peace, Sire,” the Chamberlain said with a slight bow. ‘And the Prince is a 20. A young man at least.”

The Grand Duke frowned. “And to have to have one of those barbarian pagans in my household…”

“Our emissaries to the Highland Kingdom suggest that the Prince was baptized and may be a practicing Anglican… not a son of the Church, but at least not a pagan, Sire.”

John III drew in a deep breath. “I suppose there is nothing to be done about it.”

“I am afraid that our agreement with the Excalbians did provide for us to offer tribute and to accept their ambassador to… oversee the provision of the tribute and to guarantee that we honor the treaty.”

“As if we would be the one to violate it!” The Grand Duke frowned, then drew in another breath. He nodded to his servants. They approached with his waistcoat and jacket, and he held out his arms allowing them to finish dressing him.

* * *

A short time later, John III sat in the Palace’s throne room with his Chamberlain standing beside him as the guards opened the double set of doors at the far end of the room. A steward entered, followed by a tall young man with long blonde hair tied back in a queue.

The steward and the young man bowed, and the steward announced, “Your Majesty, presenting His Highness, Thorfinn Alsgood Janisson, Prince of Excalbia.”

“Your Majesty,” the Prince said.

“Your Highness,” the Grand Duke said. “Welcome. Please draw near.”

Prince Thorfinn approached and bowed again. He reached into his jacket and produced a letter, sealed with the Royal Signet of the Queen of Excalbia. “My Mother, Queen Hiordis, offers her compliments and prays you receive me as her ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary,

He handed the letter to the Grand Duke, who broke the seal and opened it. He read it briefly, then handed it to the Chamberlain. “I am… pleased… to receive you as the Queen’s ambassador, Sir.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Thorfinn said. He paused and tilted his head. “If I may, please allow me to offer the hope that the tensions and conflicts of the past may remain in the past and that my presence here will help bring our peoples together and build a lasting peace.”

The Grand Duke nodded. “It would be… pleasant to have an enduring peace built on respect and equality.”

Thorfinn nodded. “Of course, Your Majesty.”

The Chamberlain coughed subtly into a handkerchief.

With a slight sigh, the Grand Duke said, “We will host a ball in your honor the day after tomorrow, if that is acceptable to you, Sir.”

“Most acceptable and most gracious, Your Majesty.”

“Very well,” John III said, “I am sure you have much to attend to, Sir. My ministers will be looking to meet with you, as appropriate, over the coming days to properly attend to you as the Queen’s ambassador.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Thorfinn bowed. “With your permission,”

The Grand Duke nodded and the Prince withdrew.
Last edited by Saxmere on Thu Aug 04, 2022 6:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Excalbia
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Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Excalbia » Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:10 am

(OOC: Joint post with Saxmere.

Grand Ducal Palace, Ballroom
Umbra, Saxmere
1754, Two Days Later


Prince Thorfinn, the Highland Ambassador to the Grand Ducal Court, stood alone near the center of the ballroom. While the Saxmerean nobles danced and the Grand Duke chatted with his advisors, Thorfinn could not help but feel he was an outsider at a ball in his honor.

The young prince easily surmised that his host, the Grand Duke, wanted nothing to do with him beyond the barest requirements of courtesy. John III had received him and presented him to the Court and the attendees, then, after toasting his health and that of his mother - Queen Hiordis, had just as quickly abandoned him. A few Saxmereans had introduced themselves, then scurried away.

He gave a heavy sigh as he contemplated several long, lonely years in this strange city far from home.

“Do not let my brother’s incivility trouble you, Your Highness,” a gentle voice said from behind Thorfinn.

The prince turned and saw Princess Anna Maria, the youngest sister of the Grand Duke. She was rather short and petite compared to the ladies of the Highland Court, but she was quite lovely with pale skin and red hair.

“Your Highness,” Thorfinn said with a grand bow. “I am pleased to meet you in person,” he smiled. “But His Majesty has been nothing but polite…”

“If by polite you mean barely tolerable,” Anna Maria said, suppressing a mischievous smile. “He is a good man, but stubborn. And prideful. He bears the defeat of his armies by your brother almost as a physical wound. But I believe it will heal. In time. If you will just be patient.”

“I am prepared to be patient,” Thorfinn said, “especially if it comes as your advice.”

“It does,” Anna Maria said. “I hope you find the city more… welcoming than the Court.”

“Your welcome alone suffices,” Thorfinn said, smiling.

“Oh, you are a diplomat, Sir.”

“I try my best, Ma’am.”

“I am sure you do.” She glanced over where people were dancing and then back at the Prince.

Thorfinn followed her gaze and paused for a moment. Then, he bowed again and aske, “Would you be so kind as to share a dance with me, Ma’am?”

Anna Maria stood silent for a moment, looked as if she might reject the offer, then smiled and said, “Yes, Sir, I think I shall.”
Last edited by Excalbia on Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.


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