The Two Banner War: Part Two
The Free People's Kingdom of Royce
The Free People’s Kingdom of Royce was founded in TA 987 by Syrio the First Master of the Violet Cloak of Altara, on a large swath of unclaimed land in central Belagere that was, at one point, a battlefield on which part of the War of the Realms was fought. Initially, Royce was only a small settlement, a cluster of villages in the middle of an empty plain. Eventually more people moved into the area due to its fertile soil and eventually it covered a large enough area of land to be called a monarchy. Syrio himself turned this position down, as many people were growing suspicious of his long life and he did not want to re-spark post-War-of-the-Realms hatred for the Wanderers and the Old Gods. As such, he placed his then-apprentice Katherin Arderne on the throne as the first monarch of Royce, which was then called the Roycian coalition. After Queen Katherin married Gauwyn Lathan in FoA 22, Lathan was made king and the name of the monarchy was changed to the Free People’s Kingdom of Royce.
Peace was short-lived. On November 9, FoA 26, Syrio’s identity was discovered. An angry mob stormed the castle at Abruzzo in a frenzied attempt to locate him. Syrio was nowhere to be found, but Queen Katherin was located by the mob in her chambers and, having been an apprentice of Syrio’s, she was ripped apart. The king was spared and retained his throne. When he died of natural causes in FoA 61, his son, Amos Lathan (born FoA 23 to Queen Katherin, aged 38) took the throne without issue. Amos Lathan had no children and took no queen, and when he died of illness in FoA 80, as per his will his closest friend, Grant Frey (born FoA 30, aged 50), took the throne. Grant Frey died later that same year of an infection in an arm that he broke falling off a horse, and Grant’s son Tomas (born FoA 54, aged 26) became King of Royce. During the rule of King Tomas Frey, Royce saw its first war, the War of the Red and Gold, a prolonged armed conflict with the Royal lands of Savonia under King Valak Hilt-Breaker. This war was fought over a strip of land between the two kingdoms, which each ruler claimed had always been within their borders (in fact, neither of them had ever owned the land, but both wanted it). The War of the Red and Gold lasted from FoA 86 (Savonia’s official declaration of war on Royce) to FoA 112, when the Red and Gold Compact was signed by King Valak Hilt-Breaker and King Arran Frey (born FoA 85, age 25 upon coronation), Tomas’s successor (King Tomas had died two years earlier, in FoA 110, of a heart attack). The Compact’s terms were simple – Savonia took the land and Royce was to show no further aggression toward them, lest they be invaded and conquered. Since the Compact was signed, however, Royce and Savonia have come to rely on one another and another war between the two is unlikely. When King Arran Frey stepped down from the throne in FoA 129 due to widespread rumors of a life of crime before becoming king (accusations which were proven untrue by Roycian historian Morys Clerk in FoA 163, ten years after Arran’s death at the age of 78 due to alcohol poisoning), his grandson Gauwyn (named after the first king of Royce) became king at only 13, with no regent (Gauwyn’s father Daniel, who would have been crowned instead, was killed by cutpurses in the capital itself, less than a mile from the castle he would have inherited). Surprisingly, Gauwyn was a benevolent and intelligent king, and is one of the major reasons that Royce is as prosperous as it is today. His brilliant economic decisions and negotiating skills not only began the current era of Roycian success, but averted war with Vestinia on more than one occasion.
Earning the enmity of House Kotara, the royal family of Vestinia at that time, did Gauwyn no good. After reigning for thirty years as the most beloved king of Royce who had yet sat the throne, on September 2, FoA 159, King Gauwyn Frey was holding a feast when an unknown guest fired a crossbow at the king, hitting him in the heart and killing him in seconds. The assassin was never found, though many conspiracy theories have been concocted regarding the incident. Gauwyn had no children, but his queen, Elizabeth Frey, was raped by an orc during a raid on her home village when she was young and bore a half-orc son named Darius. Elizabeth left the capital and returned to the village to find Darius, as he was next in line to inherit. Darius (born FoA 139, age 21 upon coronation) took the throne in March of FoA 160 and ruled benevolently for nearly forty years, despite the peoples’ initial shock at being ruled by a half-orc. On April 22, FoA 199, at the age of fifty-nine, King Darius Frey was poisoned by an unknown assassin and died in pain two days later. Lord Allister Harlon (born FoA 141, age 55 upon coronation), a childhood friend of Darius, was crowned as per Darius’s will and has ruled Royce since FoA 199, generally regarded by subjects as “firm, but not stubborn”.