Welcome to Kostia, a nation in turmoil. You are The Imperial Shield, the sworn protectors of the late King Hector’s only heir, Princess Marina. Her purpose is to ensure that she produces a male heir to inherit her father’s throne. Your purpose is to ensure that she lives long enough to do so. While your ultimate responsibility is to Marina’s safety, you are also sworn to follow the direction of Minister Kempe, a nobleman who was designated to speak and act in King Hector’s stead and who is charged with arranging Marina’s marriage to a Kostian nobleman. Recently, Marina has taken a particular interest in politics and Kostia’s conflicts with neighboring nations. Most recently, she has taken a particular interest in Kostia’s ten-year occupation of the Teverian Highlands. It can be no coincidence, then, that after refusing many suitors over the years, she has taken an interest in Teveria’s governor, Lord Garris of Ashborne. She has met with him twice at the palace and has now requested to see his homeland.
Whatever Marina is up to, as her sworn protectors, you are along for the ride.
Some Additional Backstory
Your old King Hector had maintained a fragile peace with the neighboring Ethilia. When he died without a male heir, the nation was shaken with fear that the empire might crumble among internal conflict and external aggression from Ethilia. To prevent this, Hector’s closest adviser, Minister Ignacius Kempe was granted the dual title of Minister of Kostia and Keeper of The Shield.
Kempe’s jump was to speak and act in Hector’s stead until a male heir could be produced. It was a temporary and uncomfortable fix, but the people clung to it desperately. Kostia could wait a few years while Kempe negotiated a suitor for Marina. The princess, eleven already, could reasonably be expected to take an interest soon in four years or five. She would formally make her debut at sixteen, and she might be married as young as eighteen. The empire could easily wait for seven or eight years for the promise of a legitimate heir. And then, who better than Kempe, Hector’s closest council, to guide the boy to his ascension. Kempe delivered quite the gracious and humble acceptance speech, the public was satisfied, and they eagerly watched Marina as she grew into a woman.
Unfortunately, almost immediately following Hector’s death, Minister Kempe violated the peace by invading the Teverian Highlands, a small region just across the Ethilian border that was rich in gold and iron. He expected that the invasion would boost the economy of Kostia and his popularity along with it. He was right. He also expected that the Ethilian tribes were too fragmented to launch a serious counterattack. He was wrong. As she had promised her rival Hector, Queen Lena rallied the Ethilian tribes against the threat of continued Kostian aggression, and most of the tribes in her alliance sent their bravest to fight for the liberation of the Teverian Highlands and the defense of the Ethilia-Kostia border. The Ethilian Alliance became stronger than ever, Lena commanded more respect than ever, and Kostia has been stuck in a slow and costly war with Ethilia for a decade.
Despite being sequestered for most of her life, she has had a royal education and extensive experience observing politicians and their ways. In recent years, she has begun to take an interest in politics. Marina has felt a growing need to speak up for herself, albeit hesitantly. She did so privately at first by refusing all suitors without offering a specific objection to any of them. She then began to speak to the public, initially due to Minster Kempe’s insistence that she reassure the people that she would provide them with a king. As she publicly demonstrated her developing intellect and independence, however, she became increasingly popular, triggering a scattering of public opinion.
Because of her public addresses, many got to know Marina the slightest bit as she matured into a capable young woman of 22 years. Since her public debut six years ago, a small but vocal group of citizens have become, by degrees, loyal to Marina. A much larger and more conservative group are loyal only to her royal womb but are fond of Marina as a sort of celebrity and figurehead. Still another substantial but quiet group has come to despise her for her refusal to marry.
Marina does not presently wield any official power in Kostia, but she is about to make your job much more complicated.
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