55th YE: Latia, one notable southern neighbour, yet again declines inclusion in the Empire. An honourable bunch on the whole, these olive-skinned southerners are quick to bear a grudge, quick to forgive when the reason is right. They run about in sandals and thin wrap-things made of exotic stuff from exotic lands. The Empire wants more direct trade access to those exotic lands through these southern ports. Imperial emissaries return unsuccessful: the latest, only his head, wrapped in a bit of that exotic lovely fabric. Crown Prince Mahon the Ever Successful is sent, along with an army, to convince the Latian noble house to share.
55th YE Summer: In a skirmish against southern troops fielded by Latian Prince Dacia, Prince Mahon is woefully unsuccessful: an honour guard escorts his corpse home; the still substantial Imperial expeditionary force in good order falls back to the border, and licks its wounds.
55th YE Late Summer: Theatrical eerie keening of the first in a bunch of laments ushers home dead Prince Mahon on his bier. Of course, the sad news preceded him (dispatch riders). Machinery of a state funeral grinds away: black-bordered invitations have been sent out. Mahon's well-traveled [possibly-pickled] remains are laid below in a cool crypt to wait on arrival of far-flung guests.
Of dead Mahon's recognized royal siblings, littlest sister [Amy Pond, for now :)] is inconsolable. Mahon, near a dozen years her senior, taught her to hunt; and schooled her in the complexities of court beyond which spoon to use with dessert.
55th YE Winter: Last funeral guests arrive (it's a big empire). Prince Mahon, perfumed, presented in his best, is perfectly laid to rest, everybody agrees. The noble guests remain for the emperor's confab re fitting response to recalcitrant Latia.
Beset by his nobles, frothing at the mouth for a spring campaign of obliteration and soil-salting in the south, Emperor Byldan the Builder heeds the guidance of his heart, and that of the youngest of his seven [?] recognized royal children, [Amy]: Byldan thanks the nobles for coming, sends them packing.
Princess Amy, wise beyond her sixteen years and always her imperial father's favourite, has reminded Byldan he didn't build a vast and great empire by setting loose war willy-nilly: that in his deep grief the Emperor should not damage all he might yet build. Amy further reminds her father that with their beloved Mahon dead, the Emperor must promptly begin readying the royal next-in-line.
56th YE Spring — Winter: Empire negotiations with Latia culminate in annexation. History marks young Princess Amy as much broker of the deal as her great father.
Empire gains ports access, reasonable tariffs, trade routes with exotic lands across the seas. Latia gains better trade tariffs throughout the empire; also, the Empire's pledge of assistance in Latia's designs on a strange and magical land, Vagara, whenever Latia might get around again to trying for it. There are fanciful tales the Vagari turn lead into gold and boast the most enchanting women ;)
Princess Amy, who wears mourning black since her brother Mahon's death, and whose wise counsel throughout her father comes to rely upon, has especially impressed the Latian nobles. She is a particular term, and will be wed with Crown Prince Dacia in the political marriage that seals the agreement.
57th YE New Year's: At Princess Amy's suggestion, and Emperor Byldan's invitation, Prince Dacia and entourage arrive for New Year's festivities. Dacia's Royal Guard, headed by his twin brother Veles, parade and thrill the northerners. It is said the jolly reddest red of the Latian Guard's distinctive cloak is derived from the burnt shell of a sea snail.
History marks that on the third night of festivities Crown Prince Dacia succumbs to a suspected defect of his heart during an encounter with his betrothed, Princess Amy, in her chambers. Emperor Byldan hastily meets with the southerners to salvage the pact: it is agreed Princess Amy shall marry Dacia's brother, Veles, Latia's suddenly next heir apparent.
The New Year's holidays ended, dead Prince Dacia, presumably pickled, for Spring arrives early in his land, and his corpse drawn along upon a cart, heads an oddly bright procession southward that includes the royal wedding party. It is not the Latian way to wear the mourning black: their Royal Guard resplendent in red cloaks under grey northern skies. In deference to their ways, and to Veles, who Princess Amy is now to marry, she has shed the mourning black she has worn so long. She shines, bright as a jewel, even in wintry drizzle. The lady opts not to travel as the other ladies do, in the rocking carriages, for her brother Mahon had skilled her at hunting upon a horse. So she rides at Prince Veles' elbow. It is whispered they are in love already and it bodes well for the Empire's future.
57th YE Spring: Dead Dacia is laid to rest. Veles and Amy, Latia's northern jewel, are wed.
64th YE: Emperor Byldan the Builder falls from his horse during a hunt, lingers long enough to say to favourite Amy he has misgivings about Forgietan, her older brother, the heir apparent, and dies. Amy cautions Forgietan not to undo their father's great accomplishments.
Forgietan proclaims himself Emperor, and promptly begins to undo a better man's accomplishments. In attempts to make a glorious name for himself, and to add to the imperial map, he starts and mostly loses disasterous and expensive little wars. Taxation is his handiest toy and he bankrupts an entire subject land. Beloved of Veles and sunny Latia, sister Amy is tireless in her reproaches: Forgietan, in response, vows he will dungeon her if she dare come home. He makes enough enemies. Forgietan is assassinated by gathered nobles at New Year's court.
Byldan's great Empire is dissolving as petty nobles assert long-held claims of sovereignty.
65th YE: Princess Amy will not allow the Empire's dissolution. Via diplomacy and alliances, Byldan's best daughter raises an army formidable enough. Her reputation precedes her, though, and opposition mostly disperses as winter sees her return in arms to her royal home. Accompanied by her own contingent of southern royal guard, she has renamed them her Scarlets.
66th YE: Not one of her surviving royal siblings satisfy in their abilities. Amy proclaims herself the Empire's head, rejecting the title Empress, and adopting the ancient appellation Queen in a gesture of conciliation to heal a fractured realm. 'Own Rule' concessions are granted in lands of more strategic import. It is enough when formerly misbehaving nobles showily bend knee before her. Queen Amy, the Ever Wise, declares an amnesty, and states she can make no use of headless nobles. Darting eyes indicate the hint appreciated. The Long Peace begins.
70th YE: Queen Amy bears her only child, a son, Vasuki. There is much rejoicing — "Yaayyy!"
78th YE: Vasuki is beloved by all. He has his royal mama's cleverness and his southern papa's aptitude for athletics. A favourite of Her Majesty's Scarlet Guard, the young prince is presented with his very own blood-red cloak. "Some day, I shall be ruler of All!" the precocious lad is oft heard saying.
88th YE: Queen Amy introduces Prince Vasuki to [future wife].
92th YE: Queen Amy cradles her first grandchild, Alastor, and sings him ancient lullabies.
The Queen is young yet, but 53 years. She openly speaks of Vasuki's readiness to rule.