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Late Back Today

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The New Queen

 

“Such a shame about old Queen Altrena, she was like a mother to all of Andvalla. Best Queen they’ve had in decades, really restored the trust of the common people in their rulers. Nothing like her daughter Altreva. Some say it was her that did in the old Queen but bad as she is, I don’t think she murdered her own mother. Truth is, Altrena was getting on in years, and I heard it was an open secret among the royal servants that she was fighting a number of conditions. Apparently they had to use a lot of makeup, and sometimes even body doubles, to keep up appearances at the end. But maybe that’s the perfect cover, who knows?

At any rate, Altreva’s Queen of Andvalla now. As soon as she took the throne, the capital, Naukratis, was thrown into turmoil. She’s been hosting the decadent parties and playing the customary games at court that are expected of any prestigious ruler down there, been doing it better than most in fact. However, she’s also been making changes that have the nobles and commoners alike on edge. Not a week into her reign she declares her brother, Prince Vikter, as her consort, like the old dynasties used to do to keep the royal bloodline ‘pure.’ It’s well known that some Queens of the ruling Tolis family would have affairs with their cousins, but to so brazenly take her brother as her lawful husband is shocking, to say the least. The wedding preparations will take over a year, and it's said Altreva wants the ceremony to put even the extravagance of the So’u Wiwuan Empire to shame.

However, salacious gossip is, in its own way, normal for those southern lands. In fact, the Andvallan people would find it more troubling if there were not a steady stream of scandals emerging from the palace to keep their smoking lounges and parlors abuzz with wanton rumors and speculation. What’s driven them mad is her ambition. She’s called out the entire military and set them to daily drills. She’s demanded new weapons, armor, and uniforms by the thousands from the local artisans guilds. Most of the old generals have been relieved from duty, effectively banished to their country estates, and Altreva has brought in proven mercenary commanders to replace them, along with many companies of foreign soldiers. I know several from here in the Republic that are down there now whipping the Andvallan levies into shape, and getting paid a heavy sack of Golds each week to do so. The taxes of grain, oxen, and other supplies from the commoners have been doubled four times already. Every woodworker in the nation now works from before dawn until after dusk each day to launch an enormous new fleet. 

Now, around here, all that would cause some grumbling, but it’s what happens when you’re getting ready to go to war. Not down there. In Andvalla, there’s an unspoken way to things that ensures change come slowly, if at all, and everyone gets to wet their beak. Everyone, even the Queen, is expected to work through the system, and those that don’t usually disappear some night, reappearing a few days later, having been given an elaborate burial and interred in an ornate columbaria.

But Altreva is different. She’s been able to strongarm, cajole, seduce, and threaten her way through every obstacle, and it is her enemies that are turning up in graveyards. Now, the question is, what does she plan to do with this large, hardened army she’s building? She’s been quite friendly to our Republic, hiring our soldiers and sending enormous caravans to trade for supplies. For now, we probably don’t have to worry about an Andvallan invasion, Zyranthean coin and goods are worth too much to her for the time being, but you’d better believe she would love to bring Sundruun and a good chunk of the south back into the fold. No, her first target seems to be the free cities of the Blueshine Archipelago. 

Many a presumptive warlord has tried to tame those rich and deadly islands. But when the pirate admirals, free merchants, and outcast wanderers of the Archipelago are given common cause to put aside their bickering, their assembled host of private armies and battle-scarred reavers has been enough to send even the most determined conquerors to the bottom of the sea. Altreva may be no different, but something deep in my bones tells me she is. This war could turn the Mystranic red, and if she succeeds in claiming those isles, there may not be a force in Verdestia that could challenge the aspirations of Andvalla’s young Queen…”

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