The Path of Kings

Interludium III

Clouds Above Rostland

The spring rains swept down on Silverhall, conjuring rainbows whenever the godrays of the sun pierced through the clouds. The young Illich Lebeda sighed and turned his eye back to the boring tomes that lied in front of him. His mother, Lady Sarrona Lebeda smiled at him in a gentle, but firm way. “Focus, Illich, or you’ll never be the leader your father wanted you to be.”

Illich sighed again. “But why should I spend all my time sitting here, studying dusty books while I could train my sword skills. This way I’ll never become a warrior, and I’ll never be able to defeat the enemies of our House. If I wanted to know something about history or geography or whatever, I’d just ask the magister,” he finished, slightly rebellious.

Sarrona Lebeda laughed. “You still have much to learn, my boy. Firstly, before you learn how to fight, you should know whom to fight. Secondly, never allow yourself to become too dependent on the capacities and knowledge of a stranger, even if he’s allied to our House. So, let us continue. What are the seven ruling Houses of Brevoy?”

Illich mumbled: “The seven great Houses of Brevoy are House Surtova, House Lodovka, House Orlovsky, House Garess, House Medvyed, House Rogarvia and, of course, our own: House Lebeda.”

Lady Lebeda nodded. “Indeed. Now, which of these are our friends and which are our enemies?”

Illich frowned: “House Surtova are our enemies because they are Issians who have usurped the crown. Ehm. And House Rogarvia are our friends because they stand against the Surtovas.”

Sarrona stroke with a hand through her long, golden hairs. “It isn’t as simple as that, my boy. Whilst the Surtovas are indeed are enemies, they have merely usurped a crown which had been already usurped way back in time. Do you remember by whom?”

The child smiled, excited. “Well by Choral the Conqueror of course! He came in with his dragons and laid waste to the armoes of Issia and Rostland, uniting them into Brevoy.” Illich’s gestures evoked fire raining down on helpless soldiers.

“Quite. Yes,” said Lady Lebeda dryly. “So the Brevic entity was born on the blood of our Rostland forefathers, and the Surtovas have profited from the Vanishing of the usurpers, House Rogarvia. This makes the Rogarvias not our friends, but tactical allies against the Surtovas, remember that. As a great House you will only find friends in your own ranks, remember that as well. Apart from House Rogarvia, we have other allies. Do you know whom?

The boy thought and exclaimed: “The Swordlords! Father promised me he would send me to Restov to learn their art!”

“Mmm. That’s right. Unfortunately the death of your father has rendered you much too valuable to be sent off to anywhere outside our control. But the Swordlords are among our most trustworthy allies, and you know why? Not because they have any loyalty to us, but because they hate the Issian usurpers as much as we do, that’s why.” Lady Lebeda said grimly.

“What about the other Houses, mother?” Asked Illich, hoping to show some interest and getting the lesson over quickly.

Sarrona shrugged. “Most of them belong to Issia and will choose the side of the Surtovas. However, if the Surtovas would diminish in power, they would swiftly turn against them to protect their own interests. Now, House Orlovsky is an exception to this rule. They have been close allies of House Rogarvia and benefited greatly from their rule. As the Surtovas took over, their status has decreased, and they refuse to accept Noleski Surtova as the Brevic rightful ruler. In this regard, they are our allies. But we should keep in mind that they are and always will remain Issians. Now, tell me about the other nations bordering Brevoy.”

The boy frowned again. “Well, to the east there is Iobaria, a land of barbarians and nomads, and to the west there is Numeria, also a tribal and barbaric nation. To the south there is the Stolen Lands,” he finished, proudly of himself.

“And do you know why we call it the Stolen Lands, boy?” his mother asked.
Illich shook his head.

“Because these lands were rightfully ours – that means that they were once a part of Rostland – but they have since then been “stolen” by bandits, outlaws, monsters, and the petty rulers of the River Kingdoms.”

“What are the River Kingdoms?” The boy suppressed a yawn, and glanced expectantly outside. The rain had stopped.

“The River Kingdoms are a mishmash of small fiefdoms and city-states. The ones closest to Rostland are Pitax and Mivon. Pitax is a warmongering nation, whereas Mivon could be considered part of our heritage, as many Swordlords have fled to the region when Choral defeated their armies.”

Lady Lebeda leaned back in her chair. “But soon all this will change, my son. Together with the Swordlords of Restov we have sent four expeditions to the south to reclaim the Stolen Lands for the Rostland cause. Baron Drelev and Swordlord Maegar Varn have already established a foothold in the Lands. We’ll need them to keep our southern borders safe.”

Finally, Illich showed some sincere interest. “Why is that, mother? I heard rumors of war brewing… are we finally going to fight the usurpers?” He asked enthusiastically.
Sarrona smiled sadly. “Perhaps, my son, perhaps. Much depends on the outcome of the Land Diet, next month…”

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