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He She Who Brings the Night
- Lady Maurdith the Pretender, or the False Empress.
Lady Maurdith Ranar was a Nerocnan warlord who set out to restore the glory of the empire, rapidly building a following in her native Nerocna, and seizing the capital. After several years of securing her grip on Nerocna, she invaded the kingdoms along its southern border. Instead of punishing the recalcitrants who refused to fight for her, she used her strong gift of domination to brainwash them into it.
Across the sea in Deria, however, she found that the Derians simply melted into the forests and relied on guerrilla tactics, or fled to Marelia. Regardless, few of them could be dominated. Maurdith simply marched the bulk of her army westward along the main road, well away from the forests, and puzzlingly sent the remainder back over the ocean.
As she swept into Marelia, envoys to the overpopulated dragonlands of Trevalya sealed a secret alliance. In exchange for territory, the dragons backed the smaller portion of her army in a surprise attack on the Collegium of Athian-Llyrende, the last remnant of the imperial city. Maurdith simultaneously attacked Marelia’s heavily warded capital of Mairan. Both attacks failed (though with heavy fatalities), Maurdith was captured and executed, and the dragons sealed into Trevalya.
King Queen of the Golden Hall
Lyané (or Liane) of House Deylar was only seventeen during Maurdith’s siege of Mairan. She was also deeply spiritual and peaceable, refusing to order her people to die in an unprovoked war, though she sent aid to Derians and welcomed them into Marelia.
When Maurdith’s intentions became unmistakable, Lyané gathered what resources she could, sent her citizenry to refuges in the mountains, and summoned everyone with the least bit of warding magic to Mairan to strengthen the powerful wards established by Maira herself. Nevertheless, her advisors feared her youth and weakness of character might lead her to falter before Maurdith.
As Maurdith’s armies approached, Lyané fasted, leading the people of the city in prayers for deliverance. But when Maurdith applauded her care for her people, and offered a bloodless conquest if she would surrender, Lyané defiantly refused, declaring that she would sooner die than betray her city and her people to anyone, much less a usurper and imperial pretender. Suiting actions to words, she bound her life into Maira’s Wall, massively amplifying the strength of its spells. Lyané’s great spell killed her within three days, but the wards held, and the soldiers and spells repelled Maurdith’s army until a relief column from Deria arrived. Maurdith never set foot in Mairan.
XI. The Sad
Man Woman With a Box
- Queen Arcenia V of Marelia, Last of the Seer-Queens.
House Cordell probably ruled Marelia more often than any other House, and certainly did so with the most success and popularity. As seeresses, little occurred that they could not foresee, and Marelia enjoyed unprecedented security under the last long Cordell dynasty.
But the Cordell queens failed to foresee a sudden dearth of war-mages that cut across not just House Cordell, but all the Houses of the Blood. An inconvenience to the other Elentians, it proved a political disaster in Marelia, which had required its rulers to be adults with war magic to defend the realm since Lyané’s time. Queen Arcenia, who had married late and knew she would have no more children, searched the country for heirs, and at last found them in a pair of children within the unpopular, foreign-born House Lelane.
She declared the children, Relena and Sairanyu, her heirs. Afterwards, some doubted the impartiality of her decision, as she had been married to an Andastal, relations of the Lelanes. She educated Relena and Sairanyu to be queen and king, and abdicated once they reached adulthood, unexpectedly (to others) dying not long thereafter.
King Queen of the North
- Queen Relena XIV, first of the Lelane dynasty.
The Lelanes of eastern Marelia claimed, quite fictitiously, to be descendants of the Nerocnan imperial princess Lalaina. The closest approximation this bore to reality was the fact that the Lelanes had been Nerocnan subjects before the unexpected accession of an Andastal cousin to Archmage of all the Collegia.
The Archmage and all her family came from Khaer, a region in the Nerocnan protectorate of Nelacadium. Nelacadians were regarded as proud, thrifty, fierce, and emphatically not Elentian. Elentians despised the inoffensive Archmage, and they despised her Andastal and Lelane hangers-on still more.
To make matters worse, the Archmage’s niece Katharis Lelane performed some unknown service to the Queen of Deria, and in return received a fortune and a Derian title. The family then managed to secure a Marelian title for the Andastals, and followed up that success by engineering a marriage between the Andastal heir and then-Princess Arcenia.
As Queen, Arcenia raised House Lelane and House Andastal to the rank of Houses of the Blood, in order to render Relena and Sairanyu eligible as heirs. Fortunately, Relena proved a competent administrator in a time of peace and continued prosperity, and backed by the support of the merchants and people at large, faced no greater obstacle than the antipathy of disgruntled nobles.
King Queen is Dead
- Queen Adria the Lost of Marelia.
Princess Adria, only child of Relena and Sairanyu, was properly Queen Adria, as she ruled for five years. A bright, promising girl in her youth and gifted mage, she seemed likely to prove a good queen and further stabilize the new Lelane dynasty.
Adria somewhat legitimized her position by marrying her half-Marelian cousin Valyssar Andastal, whose father was the adopted brother (second cousin by blood) of Queen Arcenia’s Andastal consort, King Lyssar. By marrying an Andastal, she avoided Elentian resentment of the marriages into which the Lelanes regularly pressured them, and moreover, Valyssar was devoted to her. Within a year, she had given birth to a daughter, Lyssa.
But after an uneventful five-year reign, Adria and Valyssar vanished. Palace guards, royal soldiers, and even the Inquisitors of the Alayr failed to track them. Biomancers and andharists could not find any sign that they lived. Necromancers could not contact their spirits, or find evidence that they had died at all. They were simply lost, without explanation. Marelia was forced to appeal for a ruling to the Alayr-Justices. They concluded that by all available evidence, Queen Adria no longer existed in the world, and whatever her fate, a person no longer living must be considered dead under the law.
XIV. In the Hall of the Mountain King
- Queen Lyssa of Marelia, later called Lyssa the Mad.
Lyssa became rightful Queen of Marelia at the age of four, ensuring a long regency. Many nobles suggested that the crown should instead go to Queen Arcenia’s granddaughter, Aryala Cordell, Duchess of Kyristeia. However, Aryala–granddaughter to the Andastal king consort Lyssar, as well as Arcenia herself–refused to usurp her own cousin. Instead, she served as Lyssa’s principal advisor, and upon retiring from public life, was promptly succeeded by her daughter Arith.
By Arith’s time, though, the once-popular and canny Lyssa had hardened into an unbending creature of habit and convention, influenced by a powerful conservative faction of her court, the loss of her husband, and the inability of her only child to succeed her. When plague in Nyalai drove the sick and/or starving into Marelia, the Queen’s party chose to consider it an invasion, and ordered Nyalai to recall its citizens or face military consequences.
Nyalai did nothing, and Lyssa ordered her daughter Evadne to expel the Nyalains and send a clear message that Marelia would protect its borders. Evadne was horrified by the campaign and the celebration which followed it, and became steadily more sympathetic to the rival faction, while Lyssa’s popularity plunged through a succession of poor harvests. Ultimately, Evadne and her older children Lyssaré and Valandyr, the heirs to the throne, were attacked by a radical anti-Lelane group. Lyssa, subject throughout her life to occasional “indispositions” common among the inbred Lelanes, began to disassociate and hallucinate more and more frequently.
Sons Daughters of War
As Lyssa’s breaks with reality became impossible to conceal, and her immense empathic power consequentially dangerous, whispers began of another regency. Traditionally, the regent would be the Queen’s heir or the High Councillor.
However, her granddaughter Princess Relena, the heiress-apparent, is only a child. Meanwhile, the High Councillor is Arith Cordell, trustworthy and competent, but head of the family which the Queen’s enemies wish to restore to the throne. Lyssa seems to have stabilized for now, but even the faithful Arith fears that any trouble could send her into a permanent decline, with no clear choice of regent.