The Warring States
The Current State of the United Kingdom of Atanasia, the year 648
The realm is ruled in name by King Atana XXV, a boy of six years. In truth, Remdalia Atana, wife of the late Atana XXIV sits as regent and protector of the realm. This situation is unacceptable to the Dukes who rule the surrounding regions and much turmoil has entered the Wiseman’s Court. The primary dissent arises from Duke Tenras Magara, who rules the southern region of Atanasia province. He charges that the Queen, who is his own sister-in-law, lacks the ability to properly govern. Twice he has publicly defied her orders, once in refusal to pay taxes on purchases of foodstuffs from neighboring Barenette, citing that it is the Throne’s duty to provide when difficult times make demand. Second, Duke Tenras has rubuked the Queen’s order that he grant control of the Old Irons to Lord Dorkan Lorinsa of Whitefork.
The Queen’s inability to control Duke Tenras has seeded dissent in other realms as well. Where Sokar, once a loyal proponent of the Throne, in recent times has removed a customary discount on skilled laborers it once granted to Atanasia Province, citing that increasing food costs have forced them to raise their rates. This raised rate has extended across the board, and other provinces are now experiencing a decreased regional product resulting from a lack of Sokar expertise.
Likewise, in order to pay the high grain prices, Denisan has increased tariffs on river travel. The Queen originally forbade this practice, but it was soon shown that even Denisan’s ability to adapt to harshness was not enough. The infrastructure of the river system has begun to crumble, with small port towns disappearing. The lack of funds has also seen the reemergence of blatant piracy on the waters. Villages are raided and river ships are boarded, their cargo siezed. The Queen does not abide this lawlessness and has sent the Atana Magistrates to deal with the problem.
However, this focus of law enforcement has opened the coast or Denisan, Vofar and eastern Sokar to raids on Zefas ships, further compounding the problem. There are even areas that have been completely overtaken by Mallius landing parties, their Talney vassals setting up defenses while they strip the land of resources to be sent back to their island strongholds. The Zefas raiders show little compassion and remain a terrible enemy of the Throne.
Vofar is now beset on many sides by troubles. The lack of river transport has all but choked off tourism from areas furthest from them. This decrease in revenue has seen a sharp rise in “unsanctioned” crime. There are even large parties of Sliphands bannermen who have begun patrolling the highways of the other provinces as bandits, further compounding issues of lawlessness.
Barenette suffers as well, however it can still feed its own people. The famine was completely unexpected, a wave of ruin that spoiled twenty percent of the yearly crop just before harvest. Lord Selnus Browning has done what he can, tapping into food stores to feed the other provinces, but the cost has been great. Many lords are paying Barenette in IOU’s, which they must accept by the Queen’s decree. Even as the Brownings grant their neighbors food, much of it is captured in transit by pirates, stolen by bandits or ruined by the wildness of the river itself. Many are starving in the streets abroad. Theft, fighting and even murder becoming commonplace. This has caused it’s own form of unrest, the people of Barenette are a compassionate folk, but they have their limits. They also understand what it means to work hard year in and year out. In the end, they believe that men must make their own way and it is only a matter of time before their patience breaks.
Lastly, the Northmen as always feel famine the sharpest. Norgaard recieves a food ration from Atanasia every year without which they would not survive each winter. Lord Alrik Volsong does not send emissaries to court in order to procure it, it is an arrangement made between his ancestor Erik and the Wiseman himself. Difficult times have reduced their share in certain years, but this year the Queen is so beset by her enemies in court that she may do the unthikable. In order to please her subjects, it is possible she will close the Gap Gates and grant Norgaard’s food ration to the other provinces in order to bring stability to the southern region. There are many who believe this can be the only solution, as Norgaard does not supply much in return for their food ration, minimal amounts of iron at best, yet their people require an enormous amount of food to continue on in the frigid northlands. In the Wiseman’s court it is whispered that it may be best to allow these proud men who speak so highly of their strength to fend for themselves…
More to come as things develop