“What sort of fiend would you make of me?”
Birthdate: February 12, 1561
Date of Death: July 11, 1603
Age at the time of this story: 26
Physical Characteristics: 6’2” tall, 190 lbs, black hair, dark brown eyes
The son of loyal Zandorian citizens, Joseph apprentices in blacksmithing under his father from the age of seven. Joseph’s mother passes away when Joseph is seventeen, and two years after that, Joseph’s father follows, leaving the house and the forge to his introverted son.
Joseph runs an efficient business, making a name for himself in Grymwalde and the surrounding countryside for having a solid mind, a skilled hand, and a gift for handling horses. His excellent reputation and his devotion to the Crown make him a fine catch for any young lady, but Joseph despises Zandor’s strict rules of courtship and maintains a state of contented bachelorhood. Joseph enjoys his humble home and prefers the company of horses to people.
As the war between Caledon and Langdon intensifies and Zandor awaits an opening to strike, Joseph shows his dedication to the Crown by signing up for army service. Far handier with a hammer than with a sword, his tasks are to shoe horses and repair weapons. Trusting that Zandor will soon win the war and claim the throne at Caledon Castle in Ampleforth, Joseph intends to return to his routine at home when the excitement ends.
“A more loyal servant of the Crown than I, you shall seldom see. I have known the Children’s Creed by heart since my lisping tongue could recite it. Rarely have I succumbed to the Failings; never have I broken the Moral Laws. I work hard, earn my bread, pay my taxes, and support the Crown in every endeavor.
And now I’m going to serve in the Imperial Army. A strange sadness filled me as I hid the key to my forge in the roots of the oak tree in the garden, and I scolded myself that I should dare to feel about something so trivial as home.
The Crown would be ashamed.
The army may prove busier than I prefer, with long hours and lots of people. But I should aid the Crown in its path to the throne in Ampleforth, and the army has no shortage of horses needing shoes.
One more night at home, then away to join the army near the border.
With any luck, the war will end soon. I have not yet departed, and already, I want to come home.”
“Be grateful I’m letting you leave with your head.”
Birthdate: November 3, 1550
Date of Death: May 5, 1603
Age at the time of this story: 37
Physical Characteristics: 6’0”, blue eyes, blond hair
Edward is the only son of King Sulwyn Grenleigh, who reigned from 1560 to 1580. Sulwyn is a strict father who gives Edward a rigorous education and drills into him the nation’s expectations of a king. Between the demands put upon him and the adulation afforded him as the crown prince, Edward becomes spoiled, resentful, and self-centered.
In his mid-twenties, Edward falls in love with a seamstress and carries on a secret affair with her until Sulwyn catches wind of his son’s indiscretions. Sulwyn arranges a more suitable match with a French princess—one who comes with a yearly stipend from her family to help fund Caledon’s wars.
Edward’s outrage knows no bounds, but schooled as he is in duty and protocol, he marries Princess Marguerite. During the first years of their marriage, he meets with the seamstress occasionally, but stops when Prince James is born, in 1578. When Edward takes the throne upon the death of Sulwyn in 1580, he presents to his subjects as a faithful, if disinterested, husband and father.
Edward and Marguerite never mesh, and in 1582, when Marguerite is pregnant with Princess Katherine, their marriage dissolves into one of complete political expediency. Marguerite moves into her own suite of rooms, and Edward becomes a recluse from his family within the castle.
His interest in Marguerite had only ever been the financial boon she provided to Caledon. At the helm of an extended battle with Langdon, his resources depleted and his forces dwindling, Edward is never far from defeat. His desperate desire to hang onto his throne becomes his focus and the driving force behind most of his actions for the rest of his life.
“Read. Study. Memorize. Ride. Fence. Sail. Then back to more reading and studying.
That’s my life under my father, Sulwyn—a stern and imperious man. He dictates that I must be constantly improving myself for the sake of the nation, and he insists on knowing my whereabouts and my activities at all times.
If only he would send me off to fight Langdon! He feeds every other son of Caledon to this blasted war. But I must stay safe within the castle’s confines, learning to rule the nation—assuming there’s any nation left when I take the throne.
My father doesn’t love me. He cares nothing about my happiness or my interests. I’m a commodity to be mined for the benefit of himself and Caledon. Like one of his horses, I am trained to a purpose and expected to perform without fault or opinion.
I am the crown prince. Certain comforts and privileges come along with that, I suppose. You’d think that the freedom to make some of my own decisions would be part of the package, but no. Father wants me to learn the theory of decision-making while leaving the decisions to him.
One day, when I have children, I will do better for them than my father has done for me. I will not be what my father is, I swear.”
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