Ok, so I've made some posts at my blog about Long Live the Queen and they were all serious -- I might have thrown in one or two silly things (I'm not going to reread them all right this second to check) but it was mostly from seriously considering things in terms of game-play, narrative, and consistency with a side order of, "But this seems so obvious."
Anyway, previous stuff, meant to be taken seriously, this... not so much.
The genesis is basically that I did a play-through where Elodie overreached on her hostage negotiation demands which would leave Briony still stuck in the castle, the very same castle her family intends to make war on, and wondered what Elodie, who wasn't willing to hurt Briony, might do to keep her safe. And then I thought, "The rebel duchies are all landlocked, putting her to sea would keep her safe." And then I thought... well, read on.
Starts in the weekend between when Elodie decides to take Briony Hostage and the diplomat arrives.
Elodie knocked on the door, "Briony?"
The door flew open and, Briony said, "Why are you keeping me cooped up in this room? I thought we were supposed to have an adventure."
Elodie looked away, "We were, but... but a civil war has kind of broken out and your family is on the other side so you're sort of a hostage now."
However it was that Elodie expected Briony to react, that was how Briony didn't react. "Being a hostage sounds exciting."
Elodie sighed, "Not really. You just have to sit around until you're ransomed."
Briony made a sound somewhere between an "ugh!" and an "argh!"
"You'll have full run of the castle, you just can't leave till this is over."
"I came here because I'm sick of being trapped."
"I know, and I'm sorry, but you could save Nova from a civil war just by playing along."
Briony sighed then said, "It won't work."
"What?" Elodie asked, confused.
For a time there was silence then Briony's words came unsteadily, "My parents ... don't care about me. They don't notice me. They ... don't miss me."
Elodie didn't know what to say.
"I don't even think they like me," she said, close to tears.
Elodie launched into a hug and just held Briony.
"They ignore me," Briony, now crying, said.
It was impossible to tell how much time passed, but finally they stopped holding each other and Elodie said, "We have to try, a civil war threatens all of Nova."
"I already told you it won't work."
"Will you at least try for Nova, for me?"
"What do you hope to gain?"
"Well, they can just attack again as soon as you're out of the castle, so the safest option is to exile the leaders."
"You said they were my family."
Elodie looked to the floor, "They are." There was a short pause and she said, "Your grandmother, your aunt, your mother."
"If you promise not to exile my mother, I'll play along. She might not care about me, but I care about her."
"Deal!" Elodie said. It seemed like an off note to end on but she didn't know what else to say. So she started to leave. When her back was turned Briony spoke.
"When this is over..."
"Then can we have an adventure."
It was a horrible idea. Briony's idea of adventure was likely to get them both killed.
Elodie said, "Yes."
First the diplomat for the rebels demanded proof that Briony was there and unharmed. Briony did a good job of playing along considering that she was Briony. Then again, Briony was able to escape from her guards before, there must have been more to her than met the eye. She confirmed that she was fine, but managed to seem frightened the entire time.
With her standing in the background, an armed guard to either side (with very specific instructions to look as threatening as possible without risking harm to Briony) the negotiation began. Elodie hated everything the rebel diplomat represented, but at least ze was to the point:
"What are your demands?"
"I can't trust nobles who are willing to turn traitor against me," Elodie began. "In exchange for Briony's freedom, the leaders of the rebellion will be stripped of their titles. They will then be exiled from the domain of Nova, under order of execution if they ever return. This rule applies to the Duchess of Lillah, the Duchess-Consort of Kigal, and the Duchess of Mead."
If the terms were accepted then the rebels would still demand that their heirs be allowed to remain in control of their duchies. That would mean that Briony would inherit Mead. Once that demand was made Elodie would say that she couldn't hand over a Duchy to one who had recently been her captive and let the Briony's mother, and only Briony's mother, escape exile by paying a large tribute.
The diplomat said, "That is a great deal to ask for."
Elodie replied, "I don't think exile is too high a price to pay for the life of Briony."
And then the diplomat called Elodie's bluff, "We do not believe you would actually murder one of your own friends to spite the rebellion."
Well, no, Elodie thought, I wouldn't, but you're not supposed to realize that!
Knowing that she wasn't good enough at bluffing to change the diplomat's mind about that now, Elodie tried a different tactic. "Of course not. All that I said was that if you agreed I'd free her, I never said that I'd kill her if you disagreed. She'll stay here. You'll kill her.
"I will fight you even if I'm the only one left to do the fighting and so much as one brick of this castle remains. I am queen of this country and I will die before I see it fall to foreign rule. Certainly not some Yeveni castoff whose own people hate her so much that they refuse to acknowledge she even exists." Elodie knew that throwing in racism always helped to look like a fanatic, but after she said that she worried how Briony might feel. After her confession about her parents, that might have hit her close to home.
"The only way your side will win is if you burn down this castle with Briony inside," Elodie finished. She considered adding, "I'm trying to keep her safe, you're the ones who declared war on her vacation spot," but thought better of it.
"You speak well," the diplomat said, "but we still don't believe you will endanger her life. Since we cannot come to an agreement, we will meet you on the battlefield."
The diplomat left and Elodie sighed.
"Are you really going to keep me here?" Briony asked.
Elodie gave silent thanks that Briony didn't say, "I told you so." Then considered the question. The castle was the safest place on land that Elodie controlled, but she didn't just control the land.
Elodie turned to her father, "The rebel duchies are all landlocked?" she asked.
"Yes, it's why our navy is useless right now."
"Useless for war, perhaps, but it means we control the only access to the ocean. Anything, and anyone, we put to sea will be safe." Elodie turned back to Briony, "You're going sailing."
"Can I look for pirate treasure?"
And once again, Briony was Briony.
Elodie considered pointing out that they were dealing with matters of life and death. She considered telling Briony to take things seriously. She said, "Yes."
Then she turned to her father and said, "Give her our best ship manned by our best captain and a large enough escort to make sure nothing happens to it."
Only those in the room, the king, the two guards who were assigned to be Briony's body guards, Briony herself, and Elodie knew that she was leaving the castle. As far as everyone else knew she was to locked in her room in the tower. The sole exception being Alice, who would make it appear that there was someone living in that room. Alice believed that the ruse was so if anyone tried to rescue Briony they'd go to the wrong room, not because Briony was leaving.
Within the next week Briony set sail and armies collided. Elodie wasn't a good enough strategist to win, but she could see when she was losing. True to her word she refused to surrender. Instead she ordered a full retreat. Everyone who didn't want to live under rebel rule was to flee to the seas.
There were many. It seemed that while certain nobles might not approve of Elodie's rule, most of the commoners were against the coup. The battle lines, set up to keep enemy soldiers from getting into the rebel duchies couldn't stop commoners from getting out.
In addition Maree and Hellas, who remained neutral during the conflict, allowed both safe passage to the sea and resettlement.
Elodie did go on fighting until she was the last one left, alone in her castle on Lampai Island, but not because the others had died. Instead because they had fled. First her soldiers covered the retreat of civilians, then some of the soldiers covered the retreat of the rest, and finally Elodie focused all attention on her so that what remained could flee.
Every seafaring ship was put to use in the evacuation and many were packed quite tightly.
When the rebels took the capital they found Elodie alone in the castle, the treasury empty, provisions removed, and little left to do. Elodie was thrown into the dungeon.
Maree and Hellas declared rebel rule illegitimate and thus formed and independent country with Elath, whose 13 year old ruler-to-be had been left under the care of Brin, duchess of Hellas when his previous steward was forced to flee.
Sudbury at first remained silent, it was surrounded by rebel provinces to begin with, and after the rebels won its young Duchess Gwenelle, a friend to Elodie, was forced to hold her tongue. But when diplomats from Yeveh and Hellas returned with favorable news of alliances, Gwenelle declared independence.
The evacuation had destroyed the infrastructures of the loyalist provinces and losses during the war had made the new rulers incapable of preventing the secession. The new states of Sudbury and Maree-Hellas-Elath (collectively called "True Nova"), didn't have much in common with the Yeveni, but they all hated the rebels' rule and the rebels couldn't risk the possibility of war on three fronts.
Additionally Nova's economy had always relied heavily on ocean shipping and the loyalists had taken all the ocean going vessels in their territories. Of pre-war Nova only Maree, now part of "True Nova", had shipping vessels left. Even with the though the rebels were outraged by the high tarriffs Maree charged for trading through them, the rebels couldn't afford to anger them.
At this point, when a new stability had settled over the fractured remains of Nova, Briony returned.
She had a convincing and engaging story of how she had escaped the castle and hidden near the old forest, where everyone else feared to tread, during her time away. It was all lies. The story was thought up by Elodie's court "musician" and practiced so many times that Briony knew every hesitation, every pitch, every crack of her voice by heart.
Even with two Lumen several agents and an outright traveling spy among the loyalists Briony was the only one they were sure could infiltrate the dungeons.
She was welcomed back with open arms, some loyalists believed this expected outcome might make her change sides, but she never forgot how she'd been left to die by her family. She snuck into the dungeon on the same night she arrived, and the next morning she and the Elodie were gone.
When they escaped the castle the "musician" guided them through the Calorian wetlands to a hidden ship.
Following Elodie's orders the Novan loyalists had gone to the islands of Malini, one of Nova's strongest trading partners.
Some Novans were allowed to resettle there, but the islands were hardly large enough for an entire nation of refugees and instead the treasuries of all loyalist factions, including the Novan royal treasury itself, had been brought to be paid to Malini in exchange for what the people would need to survive. Mostly food and more boats, the Novan remnants would become a floating nation.
They planned to sustain themselves off of fishing and trading that fish, but soon found that, without the Novan navy patrolling the waters, there was also a market for shipping (so other nations wouldn't need to risk their own ships) and escorts.
Briony even found her pirate treasure, but it proved much easier to rob from living pirates, greatly angering Orcus, than chase after sunken ships.
What had at first seemed a hopeless overcrowded fleet seeking nothing more than refuge became a nation in its own right. Its eventual capital city, a floating "island" of pontoons and various boats laden with soil and farmed for crops, became known as a wonder of the world.
Ties between this "New Nova" and "True Nova" were established, though no attempts were made to combine the two into one country again.
It was through these Ties that "New Nova" learned that the rebel regime had been wiped out within a month of Elodie's departure. The ruler of Shanjia had come, apparently looking for the royal line. When he found that they'd been driven out and there whereabouts were unknown he killed most of the nobility in a rage and claimed rebel held Nova as his own. He didn't bother with Sudbury or "True Nova" as he was apparently after something else.
With this advanced warning Elodie was able to learn everything about the man, and everything she would need to face him when he finally did track her down.
Nova was not some plot of land but rather its people and so Nova survived and flourished under her rule, albeit in a completely different form.
And thus Queen Elodie's legacy stretched into the future.
I forgot about the whole one person isn't supposed to be in charge of neighboring duchies thing which making Brin Adair's regent as big a violation as making Arisse the same, but I think I'm leaving it that way because your uncle, who the story implies you left him with, probably wasn't thinking of such details when implementing the bravely run away plan.
Talking game mechanics is silly here, but the whole thing is silly, so: why not? (If you're actually interested there's more of game mechanics at my blog, though some of it needs to be altered or cleaned up.)
The above assumes Foreign Affairs of 90 or above (50 to pull xenophobia against Arisse, 60 to add additional insult to it, 90 to know that Malini would be a safe harbor) high commoner approval (hence the ships being packed) that Sudbury was not a rebel province, that relations with Maree and Hellas were good, that Presence and Cruelty were low, that Public Speaking was decent, and stuff like that.
It does not establish How Elodie dealt with Togami so one can assume Angel ending or killing him in a duel as they please.
It does not cover Lumen status because that's highly dependent on Togami but one assumes that regardless it must have gone up at least a little because Selene and Julianna would be using magic to help out, it's harder to maintain prejudice against people you know and being stuck on a ship with them makes you more likely to know them, and Selene with her affinity for salt water and ability to track stuff in it probably helped keep the population from starving, quite possibly more than once.
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I love that you paid a lot of attention to mechanics here, and the story feels like a real possibility. Well done! Will be visiting this page pretty often I think
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