THE KINGDOM OF MASTAGIR
Realm of the Crested Drake
OVERVIEW
  Mastagir is the third-oldest kingdom on Trinith, behind the ruined Hensekk Empire, which collapsed nearly eight centuries ago, and the oldest, Olmaron - a sovereign state founded by Elves thousands of years ago, but which slowly became a human realm in the last millenium.
   Originally founded as a republic, a series of wars with southern nations and various internal crises led to the reorganization of Mastagir as a hereditary monarchy in 1125 KR, two years after the Third Orcish Incursion ended in a miraculous victory by Matagir and its allies at the Battle of Nine Wyrms.
   The Mastagir family, who took power that year, have ruled the nation steadily and competently - if one excepts Yakov the Vile's three-year reign in the late 1220s KR, which ended with his assassination and a series of civil uprisings that lasted until 1237. Only the Edicts of Riyan ended what was building up to be a nationwide religious Inquisition led by followers of Corpesius and, to a lesser extent, misguided Arperian extremists.
   The nation has been a staunch ally of Olmaron and several other goodly nations for decades, and has a strong economy, a peaceful, well-adjusted citizenry - and a formidable military force. No invading army has held soil in Mastagir for more than two days since its time as a republic.
THE KING IS DEAD
  King Thaniel III of Mastagir took the throne in 1288 at the age of 33 when his father, Jerome IV, died at the age of 60 of a massive heart attack - rumored to be caused by learning that his youngest son, Prince Edgar, had gotten a palace maid in the family way.
   Edgar abdicated his claim to the throne, and eloped with the maid. They are reportedly living in the Coastal Confederacy - thus creating a potential family bloodline issue with which future generations must contend, though his abdication paperwork might make this a relatively simple problem to remedy.
   Meanwhile, Thaniel took over a realm that had reached a total population of 5 million people in 1275 and was still growing at an unprecedented rate - an annual increase of nearly 6 percent meant that the nation's population would double again in just over 12 years.
   It did, right on time, in Earlydusk of 1287, the total population hitting an astounding 10 million.
   But a massive outbreak in Lowsky 1288 (weeks after Thaniel III's coronation) of a rare hemorragic fever, previously thought to be contractable only by orcs, wiped out nearly two million Mastagirians in less than three years.
   Thaniel III dealt with the onslaught of disease as best he could, nearly emptying the royal coffers in the hiring of 5,000 alchemists, apothecaries and clerics from all over Trinith to stem the tide of sickness.
   The effort paid off in the late fall of 1290, when a cure was found, and quickly - and, in many instances, magically - distributed across nearly 95 percent of the kingdom within a month.
   As the original disease had also worked its way into nine other countries, King Thaniel made distrubition of the vaccine his nation's top priority for more than two years, and, after an estimated four million humans, demihumans and humanoids died, the Orcish Bleeding finally came to an end.
   Next up on the list of problems for Thaniel to confront was his need of an heir; on 11 Moistearth 1292, he married Baroness Elsbeth Fortunata, a recently-widowed noblewoman who owned the largest tracts of land bordering Olmaron in northern Mastagir. She became
Queen Elsbeth that day.
    Within a year,
Prince Thaniel was born - palace rumors allege that the birth took place six months after the wedding, implying that the Baroness was already with child when the royal wedding took place.
    The Prince grew like a weed, and showed signs early on of his father's good looks and intelligence, as well as his mother's savvy for getting what he wanted - as she did in marrying her way to the throne of Mastagir, some claim.
   However, Queen Elsbeth, prevented by a national law that prohibits women from assuming any type of Chief Executive position with indisputable final ruling authority - a law that is a throwback to some of the internal troubles the nation experienced in its time as a republic - proved an excellent cohort to her King. This would prove to be an important personal trait all too soon in her life - as she was about to lose her second husband - before she turned 35.
LONG LIVE THE KING
  Beneath the prosperous exterior of the society of Mastagir, strong political undercurrents fueled by religious propaganda from the evil church of Agremius, God of Murder, claiming that Thaniel III had murdered his father and threatened to do the same with his brother, have led to a surge in political infighting on the floor of the Parliament and outright insolence in several cases toward the Royal Family.
   The problems besetting the throne were compounded by the accidental death of King Thaniel III himself in a riding accident on 19 Springsign 1302 - fueling more hate-speech by the cult of the Killer God that, this time, Baroness-cum-Queen Elsbeth was behind her husband's untimely demise.
   Amidst all the hullabaloo is 9-year-old Thaniel IV, who cannot take power for nine more years due to his nation's laws, and whose mother is acting as Regent and head of the Cabinet, but not full-fledged ruler (all her major decisions must be approved by the remainder of the Royal Cabinet prior to implementation).
   The boy, while profoundly intelligent, was stunned to near catatonia by watching his father die, and had been very slow in recovering from the tragedy - fueling still more rumors by Agremian extremists that his mother has had him drugged so that she can control him for many years to come.
   These rumours combined with a strong undercurrent of obssessive hyper-nationalist feeling by some politicians from the south of the country. These politicians, under the influence of the Coastal Confederacy, had begun to secretly work toward an overthrow of the government - and the deaths, with help from (go figure) assassins hired by the clergy of Agermius, of the entire Cabinet and Royal Family.
NIGHT OF TWENTY-ONE KNIVES
  The Agremian plot bore horrible fruit on the evening of the 20th-21st Firstchill, when a half-dozen killers hired from the Confederacy and also nearby Barnil, which has harbored a grudge over tariffs with Mastagir for years now, made their way into the palace under cover of magically-induced darkness.
   Killing most of the palace guards, they managed to sneak into the Queen-Regent's bedchamber before learning - two of them, the hard way - that she had her own security measures in place.
   The young Queen killed three more of the would-be assassins, and the sixth was captured, badly injured and barely alive, by the surviving palace guards just after midnight.
   Queen Elsbeth did not make it through the fight unscathed, however, nearly losing her own life to the poisoned blades of the hired killers.
   While the Palace was the site of a bloody affair, 11 of the 15 ministers in the Mastagirian Cabinet were also murdered that night, and three of the remaining four were seriously wounded.
   With over a dozen priests of goodly deities immediately being summoned to the Palace and various ministerial homes to help the wounded and put the dying to rest, the Queen and her surviving Cabinet members also set out to track down those who hired the 20-plus assassins involved in the attempted coup d'etat.
   To date, five of the 11 politicians involved in the plot have been indicted; of those five, four have been tried for high treason and all four executed. The fifth, Senator Ambril Bernates, representing a district bordering the Confederacy, is being held. The common palace rumours suggest that he has made a deal with the Royal Barristers, exchanging his life for information leading to the remaining conspirators.
   With any coup, control of the nation's military was an important step towards success; Mastagir was no exception to this axiom of the bloodier side of politics.
   An inquest by Mastagirian Army Internal Police has resulted in the arrests of five generals and two Marshals of the Realm in connection with the plotted overthrow. To date, all seven have been put to death for high treason.
   The young King, interestingly enough, was first to step forward and request the aid of investigators with no ties to the government to help facilitate the conclusion of the inquest. If they don't have a bond to the nation, their objectivity is less open to scrutiny, the brilliant young lad, shocked out of his grieving shell by the events of that terrible night, told surviving Cabinet members and local newsmen.
   Now, an opportunity exists for brave adventurers to fulfill the young King's request and find the remainder of those responsible for the attempted elimination of the Royal Family and Cabinet.
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