Happy Saturday! This week, I’m answering a reader’s question about female rulers of Cadaeren. Namely, have there been any? Following is a selection taken from the book, “A Complete History of Cadaeren” that answers this question. Enjoy!
Twenty-three kings of the line of Cohlit have reigned in Cadaeren since the dawn of the Age of Balance. All know of their exploits, their victories, their misjudgments, and the legacy they have left for their country. Fewer, however, know of the great queens that left their unique mark upon Cadaeren.
While law dictates that the first-born son of the king take up the crown after him, there have been several exceptions in Cadaeren’s history. Three times, the eldest son has abdicated in favor of his younger brother. Four times, a king has died without leaving a male heir. In two of these cases, the king’s brother assumed the throne. The other two times, however, changed Cadaeren forever.
The first time that a woman ever sat on the throne was when the Princess Sarina, eldest born of King Elim, claimed the throne in her own name after the death of her father. She wed Lord Tashiv, the most powerful of the unaligned apart from the king’s house (and, many say, the one who encouraged Sarina to take the throne), and ruled for twenty-four years. Those twenty-four years, however, were marked by strife and dissention, as the shamai contingent refused to respect Sarina as the rightful ruler of Cadaeren. Instead, they cast their lot with Prince Eshav, the eldest brother of Elim, who favored the shamai contingent above the other three sides of the balance.
Many of the shamai contingent even today claim that Eshav, who was killed in battle when he finally attempted to mount an insurrection against Queen Sarina, should have been Cadaeren’s ruler from the beginning. Sarina, after all, never completed the Quest of the Unaligned, was never crowned with the Prince’s Crown, and so never spoke for the land of Cadaeren as a whole. Others, however, looking to Sarina’s skills in diplomacy and negotiation, assert that only the rightful ruler of Cadaeren could have made the kinds of lasting improvements and reforms to the legal code that occurred in her reign. To this day, the Code of Sarina forms the basis for judging and resolving cases between nobles or white-sashes of different contingents.
A hundred and sixty years later, King Sovim III and his only son, twenty-five year old Prince Kalliv, were both killed on the same day in a great battle with a pair of rock giants. The giants had already slain hundreds of peasants, and several nobles’ sons, in Cadaeren’s Heartlands. Sovim and Kalliv were both mighty warriors, and with the help of their knights they did deal mortal wounds to both giants. However, with their last strength, the rock giants pounded their fists against the mountain upon which they were fighting and loosed its rocks from their roots, sending a rockslide cascading down on the king, his son, the knights with them, and the nearest village. Only one person survived: Kalliv’s twin sister, Princess Kalla, who was outside the village at the time gathering herbs.
Since her childhood, Kalla had been commended for her intelligence and shrewd decisions. Knowing that their closest male relative, her father’s only brother, Lord Sothov, was a boorish, arrogant man who would make Cadaeren groan under his reign, Kalla decided that she wouldn’t let him be king. Instead, Kalla returned in secret to the City of Balance, and enlisted the help of her royal mother to carry out her plan. Kalla and Kalliv had always looked very similar; now, Kalla disguised herself as her brother and, after her father’s funeral, was crowned as King Kalliv the first.
Using her keen insight, Kalla surrounded herself with advisors who would support her, even knowing her true identity. For the next thirty years, Cadaeren flourished. Slowly, rumors spread that Cadaeren’s “king” was actually his twin sister, but as long as those rumors weren’t confirmed, the land was content to live in the peace and prosperity that Kalla and her wise rulings granted them.
While Kalla never married, she did ensure that the crown of Cadaeren would pass to a worthy member of the house of Cohlit. She appointed Lord Sothov, her uncle, to a prestigious but distant post, and entrusted his young son Estin to the care of the Queen Mother, who had raised both her and Kalliv. In time, Estin grew into a noble and upright young man, and became known to all as the likely heir to the throne. Years later, after Lord Sothov passed away, Kalla indeed confirmed Estin as her heir and sent him to complete his Prince’s Quest.
At the age of seventy-five, Kalla stepped down from the throne and King Estin began his glorious reign. Only then, did Kalla officially reveal her identity to Cadaeren. The court wasn’t surprised, except for a few of the oldest shamais, who had refused to believe what they didn’t want to accept. By the time of her death, however, no noble or peasant in Cadaeren had anything negative to say about the woman who had been king.