THE GREAT PLAGUE OF KORWIN
"Another twenty [of the unwell] were brought to us for treatment today. Six of them died before first watch, and I believe just as many may not survive the night. I do not understand what we have done to displease the Just Lord [Ro'Imgodid], but I fear many deaths are still to come."
- Master Healer Eidnár
Somewhat fittingly for something that would cause so much pain and suffering, one of the origins of the infamous "War of the Sekeolasian Succession" lay in the Great Plague of Korwin, a devastating outbreak of influenza which struck the heart of the Kingdom of Sekeolath at the beginning of 1655. Most historians now believe that the sickness was brought to the seat of the Abelburben monarchs by one of several visiting trader trains during the 1654 Majakir festivities, but at the time, the denizens of Korwin believed it to be nothing less than divine intervention by the God Ro’Imgodid himself, who would traditionally send plagues whenever dragons upset the balance of nature.
Things quickly became complicated when High Queen Freyja I herself fell ill, as Grand Elder Mielat had previously declared that the year would be sacred to Ro’Imgodid, and many began to suspect the Queen herself had angered the Gods in some way, thus bringing retribution upon her people. Despite her ailing state, High Queen Freyja attempted to resolve matters by participating in a formal ritual of penitence at the Temple of Korwin, but this did not rid her of her illness, and worse, Crown Princess Dania, who had also participated in the ritual, soon began to show symptoms of the sickness herself.
In the end, neither dragoness would recover from their illness; Crown Princess Dania’s condition unexpectedly worsened in the days following the ritual, and she succumbed quickly to the disease, with her grieving mother following her to the grave shortly afterwards. The surviving members of the royal court - led by Prince Heneš of House Rávdná, Dania’s widow - proceeded to isolate themselves behind the castle’s walls, cutting off contact with the rest of the city - an action which worked, as they all survived the plague - but not before sending a still-healthy messenger to the easternmost isles of Wergul, where Dania’s only child Kara had been sent to learn leadership skills.
Tragically, Princess Kara would never be crowned, nor would she ever set foot in her homeland again. After several weeks of cautious waiting, in the hopes of avoiding the plague that had taken her mother and grandmother, Kara and her attendants attempted to return to the mainland by seeking passage aboard the Hvitknarr, a Hornholm trading vessel, but the ship and its passengers never reached port. At first, nobles in Korwin assumed her journey had been delayed by the heavy ice flow in the Murman Sea, but in time it became clear that a catastrophe had befallen the young Princess, and many scouts were sent north in a futile attempt to locate her and her ship.
Princess Kara’s exact fate remains a mystery to this day. While the wreckage of the Hvitknarr was eventually discovered with severe damage to the hull, suggesting the ship struck an iceberg, some historians have put forward the idea that the young Princess’ disappearance was in fact malicious; an assassination plot orchestrated by one of the lesser Sekeolasian houses in an attempt to seize the throne, but no conclusive evidence has ever been found to support these theories, and they remain without popular support.
In time, the plague ran its course in Korwin - with a third of its populace ultimately succumbing - and the Royal Court was able to emerge from their self-imposed isolation, at which point Prince Heneš finally called off the searches for his daughter, accepting that she had certainly perished at sea. With the succession unclear, the still-grieving Prince reluctantly assumed the position of Regent, and quickly gave the order to issue summons to all surviving members of the family as well as members of Sekeolath’s most powerful noble houses, declaring that a great council was to be held in Korwin to determine the future of the Kingdom.
THE MATTER OF SUCCESSION
“My time came and went as the seasons changed, and my beloved lay with me each night at my request, but still I do not fall heavy with egg. I make offerings to the Mother Above and do as the Elders instruct me to do, and still I do not fall heavy with egg. What have I done to upset the Gods so?”
- Princess Lena
Despite the sudden deaths of the High Queen and her intended heirs in such a short period of time, few expected the situation to spiral out of control the way they did. It was not as though there was a shortage of potential claimants to the throne of Sekeolath; Crown Princess Dania had been the second of four hatchlings born to High Queen Freyja and King Mohkku, most of whom had families of their own. The eldest of the four, Prince Cyril, was not considered a candidate for two reasons; firstly, he was male and there were female claimants who took priority, and secondly, he had abandoned any claims to rulership upon leaving his homeland to become one of the six Temple Guardians who held authority within the southern Kingdom of Avalar. Despite this, he was still invited to the great council, as his prestigious position meant he was well-respected among the nobles of Sekeolath, and it was hoped he would be able to help mediate between the supporters of his younger sisters.
Born in 1324 from a shared egg, Princesses Lena and Kearte were close as hatchlings, but a rivalry had steadily developed between them once they came of age, largely due to the machinations of the nobles around them. Both had taken mates from important and old Sekeolasian noble families; Princess Kearte had been the first to marry, with her consort being Prince Gáivvas of House Jiehkkiid, while Princess Lena had been paired with Prince Dávgon of House Ropmuteahtẹs. Princess Kearte quickly secured her bloodline by giving birth to twin daughters Erva and Maidna in 1502, followed by a son, Gearral, in 1537, but Princess Lena initially struggled to match her sister’s fecundity; failing to achieve a pregnancy for many years, and ultimately birthing a son, Leaifa, in 1509. After another period of unsuccessful pregnancies, Princess Lena gave birth to a second son, Fayveer, in 1522, and rumours began to spread amongst the noble houses that she or her mate were infertile, or that they were being punished by the Gods for some transgression on their part.
While similar stories have long plagued the ruling House Irrin’Allios of the Kingdom of the Isles - whose recurring struggles to birth hatchlings are supposedly punishment for Queen Lili’s deposition of her parents after they murdered her consort - most historians suspect that these rumours about Princess Lena’s supposed inability to birth a daughter were invented by rivals of House Ropmuteahtẹs in an attempt to discredit their family and weaken the power that they held at court. Whether or not Princess Kearte was responsible for any of these rumours is uncertain; Princess Lena certainly suspected her sister was behind several, but little other evidence has emerged to support this theory, and Princess Lena as a source is unreliable, since her judgement became erratic over the years.
To her delight and relief, Princess Lena did eventually give birth to a daughter, Isete, in 1541, but sadly this did little to stem the tide of the rumours, and before long Princess Lena became obsessed with ‘outdoing’ her younger sister and proving she and her mate were not cursed, seeking the assistance of countless Elders, monks, wandering wise dragons, and traders with mystery concoctions that would supposedly boost one’s fertility. This would ultimately have disastrous consequences, as while she did indeed manage to become pregnant once more, the various methods she had tried to improve her chances had taken a toll on her health - most historians suspect an extended period of fasting she undertook shortly before this time to be the main cause - and she died shortly after the birth of her second daughter, Eija, in 1556.
THE GREAT COUNCIL
“Another day went by without any real change. Lady Álehttá will not be swayed, no matter how hard the others try to win her with offers and threats alike, and that husband of hers is just as bad. Heneš cares naught who wins, of course, but we all know the realm will suffer if that Jarnhud tyrant has her way. Kearte shall be Queen.”
- Lady Rávdná
Many aspects of the War of the Sekeolasian Succession remain shrouded in mystery to this day, with there being a lack of reliable eyewitness accounts for key moments in the conflict, along with a not insignificant number of biased accounts written by those attempting to prove their loyalty to one of the rival factions. Despite this, the Great Council of 1655 stands out as one of the most well-documented events in Sekeolasian history, detailed in official records kept by the court scribes as well as in contemporary letters and diary entries penned by the many nobles who were in attendance.
Although it didn’t take long for the Sekeolasian nobility to convene, the council itself had to be delayed to give Prince Cyril enough time to arrive from Avalar, and by the time he reached Korwin, two distinct factions had already formed; dubbed the “Yellows” and “Reds” by later chroniclers after the heraldic colour variations used by the two separate branches of House Abelburben. The “Yellows” favoured Princess Isete’s claim by virtue of her being from the senior of the surviving Abelburben lines, while the “Reds” favoured Princess Kearte’s claim due to the fact that she was already of age and had two daughters who could succeed her.
Of course, there were other factors at play. Houses Hápmamin, Rávdná, Suonjar and Helve supported Princess Kearte in an attempt to limit the growing influence of House Jarnhud - the rulers of the semi-autonomous eastern territories of Sekeolath - who they feared could seize power and/or strip away their old privileges if a regency council had to be created for the young Princess Isete. Others chose sides based on existing marriages - such as House Bivdamin, marcher lords with close ties with House Jarnhud - or long-standing feuds between noble families; for instance, when House Gievraid of the Southmarch pledged their support to Princess Kearte, House Soadján immediately backed Princess Isete, seeking an opportunity to humble their neighbour or even secure some of their lands - as did House Álehttá, becoming the only noble family in the Sápmi region to declared their support for Princess Isete.
As a result, the Great Council ended up being a colossal failure; despite repeated attempts by nobles on either side to sway still-undecided nobles to their cause - such as the powerful yet troublesome House Horn - and calls for unity from Prince Regent Heneš, Grand Elder Mielat and Prince Cyril, the council quickly became deadlocked, with neither side able to secure a majority for their favoured candidate. Things eventually came to a head after nearly two weeks of failed discussions, when a servant in the employ of Vielgadas Jiehkkiid - the infamous younger brother of Prince Gáivvas, who would go on to play a major part in the conflict to come - informed their master that they had seen Queen Dagmaer of House Jarnhud sneaking into the chambers of Lady Iona of House Horn.
Suspecting a coup was underway - not entirely untrue; Lady Iona’s diary entries state the Queen was attempting to buy her support by offering to repeal certain contentious laws once she became Regent - Vielgadas Jiehkkiid decided to act first, sending word to the rest of the “Reds” and summoning them and their entourages to the Great Hall of Mirrors, where the ‘True Queen’ of Sekeolath was to be crowned. With the exception of the nobles of House Suonjar, who called this seizure of power unjust - a sentiment that led to them being confined to their chambers and imprisoned for the first theatre of the war - all of Princess Kearte’s supporters quickly assembled in the throne room, where their favoured heir was proclaimed High Queen Kearte I by Grand Elder Mielat, who had been ‘persuaded’ by several noble consorts to give her his blessing.
In the immediate aftermath, messengers were sent to locate Princes Heneš and Cyril, asking them to come and swear fealty to the new High Queen, in the hopes that the combined support of all three of the Great Council’s mediators would compel Princess Isete’s supporters and the remaining undeclared nobles to accept this turn of events. While Prince Regent Heneš was willing to recognise Kearte as High Queen, eager as he was to leave Korwin and be allowed to properly grieve for his lost family, Prince Cyril did not follow suit, angrily denouncing the actions of the “Reds”, refusing to accept the hasty coronation as legitimate, and demanding that the Great Council continue as planned until a proper consensus was reached.
Over the years, many scholars have speculated whether the civil war could have been averted had Prince Cyril instead chosen to give his blessing to his youngest sister. Some have suggested that Prince Dávgon or Queen Dagmaer only made their first moves because they thought the self-styled High Queen Kearte I and her followers seemed weak and without popular support, while others have argued that after so many days of vicious factionalist fighting, relations had deteriorated to the point where conflict was inevitable between the two claimants.
In any case, it wasn’t long before the entire palace became aware of what had happened, and many of the excluded nobles quickly descended upon the throne room to make their displeasure known. Despite attempts by Prince Cyril and Lady Iona to defuse the situation and resume the Great Council, palace guards were forced to intervene and remove all from the chambers when a brawl broke out between several noble consorts - most eyewitness accounts suggest that Lord Soadján was the instigator, striking Lord Gievraid on the jaw after the two exchanged heated words.
Following this debacle, High Queen Kearte I attempted to regain control of the situation by sending for Princess Isete and her family, only to discover they had fled Korwin with Queen Dagmaer and her court, the ancient crown of High Queen Isete I in their possession. Unknown to the “Reds”, while the majority were heading east to the fortified strongholds of the Kingdom of Jarnhud, Prince Dávgon and a small retinue were flying west towards his family’s ancestral lands, where many leal dragons could be gathered for an assault on Korwin itself. The War of the Sekeolasian Succession had begun.
Tales of Taelen - DU
United by the Curse Prologue
Busking Tips for Beginners, Chapter 1: Holly Thorn
Cynder's Struggle, pt5: Respite of the Home Front.
...well, ANYWAY, this is something that's long overdue and which I've been trying to get sorted for a while now; a detailed history of a major event in Ddraigtanto 's Dragons Unite...or, well, a major event that I made up after reading through George R. R. Martin's "Fire and Blood" and concluding that we needed more colourful events in the histories of the states of this world. Besides, as noted on the older deviations where I alluded to this first, it helped to explain the changing flag designs...
There'll probably be three parts to this, all up, since there were two separate conflicts in the end. I've written up a bullet point list of events for the first of these so far and I know the basics of what happens in the second, so it just depends how long it takes for me to fancy it all up and figure out the obscure stuff. Names tend to be the hardest part for me; I'm stupidly picky when it comes to them, and to make matters worse I had to use predominantly Northern Sami (aka Northuldran if you've seen Frozen II) names due to the location and replace a bunch of old placeholder Norse names that REAAAAALLY didn't fit, and naturally it's a lot harder to find decent names when most lists include Nordic or Finnish names that would have been adopted later on...incidentally, there is a family tree for these figures in Sta.sh, but it's using all the old names so I need to replace them before I can attach it to this. Ditto the map; there is one, but it's more of a WIP sketch map at the moment...
Anyhoo, if you've got any questions about this story or the events in it, lemme know and I'll go into more detail in the comments.
Here's the AI chapter:
THE RIDDLE OF HENEŠ
“Iona! Your curiosity will kill you, child.” – Grand Elder Mielat
Heneš was not a diplomat.
“Aren’t you going to tell me about the castle?”
Grand Elder Mielat did not answer the girl’s innocent query. Instead, he turned towards the Firekit’s gentle purr, and smiled. “You might not be so interested in the history of a hideous place that has brought us so much pain, otherwise.”
“Yes, but, why is it so horrible?”
“Be silent, child. Whatever you do, don’t ask that, or I will tell you. ”
Isete stared at her Uncle carelessly, more interested in playing with the big Scheni kitten sitting close by and eating from her hand. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the mountains to the east of the capital of Korwin had been painted with rich sheets of purple and pink.
“You keep saying that, uncle. Am I destined to never know?”
“At least for now,” her uncle answered. “Our story begins in a castle, Tihé, in the mountains of the north of this ‘verse . A once mighty castle, now a keep that serves as a prison for the dragons, a place where they are kept in their lepus-like forms to heal their wounds, and eat the mould growing on the ancient stonework. It is a symbol of their bestiality, a symbol of inhumanity, a symbol of shame for the Suenjar, a symbol of betrayal.”
“I thought that place was called Krómundr, and listed as an undiscovered fort?”
Isete’s father, Prince Regent Heneš, scoffed across the room , almost spitting out the cereal he had been chewing. Cyril knew the Prince was under a great deal of stress and had difficulty getting angry. “Krómundr is that dumping ground for scum and waste that we discovered decades ago. Those were the last of the dragons that dared to fly up into the north, and where they didn’t find death, they lived out the rest of their wretched and twisted lives.”
“Whatever. It doesn’t mean there is a connection .”
“Oh, but there is,” Mielat replied. “Lepus-dragons were loyal to the Dragon Princes. They were the ones to whom they swore allegiance. It is widely known that Keran was the last remaining Dragon Prince in exile, even though his title was not recognised by our council.”
“But, what makes them so special?”
“They are considered by many of our people to be Ghasturs , the last hope of our people . The ones we can rely on, the ones who will do the honourable thing, the ones who are prepared to sacrifice themselves so that we may continue to thrive.”
“Is that how they became so important?”
“Yes,” Lore responded, finally having a chance to answer. Mielat looked annoyed at him, and he realised that he should have followed his Uncle’s orders. “Some of your family were once among them.”
“So they were in the castle?”
“Yes,” he responded , not knowing how much else he should tell the child. “But that isn’t the point. By keeping them alive, who knows what plans may be worked out in secret.”
“Naturally, that would increase the chances of them taking back power,” Heneš explained. “Though I doubt the scum are capable of such lofty goals.” He looked up at his wife, as if waiting for her to agree with him. She didn’t seem to be paying attention, and was instead, reading yet another book on her tablet. She was an odd woman, he thought , at least to him.
“Patience, love,” she said. “We’ll know when the time is right to take action. For now, let us enjoy our family. We need each other now more than ever. The dragons who have given us so much trouble, are being dumped back onto our doorstep, for we must prepare for the future to protect ourselves.”
“Father, what does that mean?”
“It means that the females and hatchlings are coming soon,” her father answered, paying more attention now than earlier . The death of a hatchling was one of the most recent events that had shaken the Kingdom. Six of their precious ones had been lost, leaving only a few hundred left to go. They were in fact, being kept in towers, where if they or their offspring were conceived, they would still have a chance to grow and prosper.
“Would you send a ship to Jarnhud?”
“I would send Father across the sea to the north to Harkthir,” he answered calmly.
“That area is too inhospitable for the dragon people to live in safely ,” Lore replied, noting the fierce stare Heneš was giving him.
“Nevertheless, we cannot expose ourselves to the risk of defeat.” He turned back towards the window, and looked out across the lands. “I feel we are stronger than the dragons are at this time. We have spent decades building our defences a little at a time , never taking the chance to look behind us, never giving up to the dragons. They are a dying breed, and the fact that the hatchlings must leave the castle, or face death, means that the dragons know we are stronger than them.”
“It seems there are reasons that we haven’t acted against the people of Krómundr. Perhaps, because of the presence of the dragons who have been forgotten, we thought that perhaps, the dragons would come back to fight. They never have, and they don’t have the will to do so.”
Heneš’ brow furrowed, and his lips tightened as he stood up from the table. “You’re a long way off the mark, Lore. You will be the first to be the executioner of the lot of them. ”
Heneš led his son out of the library, leaving Lore alone.
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Ah, yes, I remember reading through an earlier draft of this!
And having read through it again--hoo boy. I have no clue what they replaced stash writer with, but it sounds terrible. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing the map and family tree when you've got them finalized!
Yup! Taking a break from it at the moment, but hopefully it won't take too much longer to get the rest up when I return to it...
Urgh, test it out for yourself and see...
As for the map and family tree, well, I can always send you the drafts via Steam for now.