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Talcama--Arena 18

Once upon a time, in a tiny valley high amid the snow-covered peaks of the Jacinth Mountains, south of the Osksi Empire, a wise Prince ruled the little kingdom of Talcama. His wife had died in childbirth, and his only child was a daughter, the Princess Aramithilsa, who was as beautiful as a summer's day. Talcama was a small kingdom, encompassing the town in the valley and several small villages in the surrounding mountains, as well as the many isolated farmsteads and sheepfolds which clung to the steep green sides of the Jacinth Peaks. If Valamantis was a cursed city, the story went, Talcama must have been blessed, for the riots and upheavals of Alastari for the most part bypassed it. Known mainly in the lowlands for its fine cheeses and finer bowmen, Talcama also has a reputation for oddity. For example, the Jacinths are part of a dormant volcano; hot springs and geysers dot the valley. One of the most spectacular is Fyrgwoosh, one of the main attractions of the palace gardens. Every spring when the eggs of the Talcaman firefrogs hatch, the water is alive with tiny frogs, which rain down upon the town, which celebrates Frog Day as the coming of spring.

Now, the laws of Talcama decreed that the line of succession could not fall upon a woman. In other days the throne might have fallen to a cousin or an uncle of the princess, but for many generations the royal line had produced few children, and there was no one else. Thus the succession depended upon Aramithilsa's producing a male child. The Prince looked far and wide for a suitable husband of noble blood for his daughter. Many a knight and noble trekked the long, treacherous winding trail which led through the mountains to the Palace, but the Princess found favor in none. Many a lowland lord looked speculatively up at the cloud-wreathed peaks and considered the riches to be had in such an advantageous marriage. The Prince's family was an ancient one, scions of the vanished Van Empire which had once held sway over all of Alastari and beyond. They held title to the mines which produced the famed Jacinth Blood Rubies, as well as much land and property. Yet none of these lords considered taking the kingdom by force, for Talcama was well-defended in its mountain valley: the road which led thither passed through the steepest and narrowest of gorges, which might be held, as the saying went, by a child with a slingshot. And Talcama was famous for its bowmen.

At last, however, a young lord from the island of Kolact made his way to Talcama's mountain fastness and with his prudence, bravery, and sense made such an impression upon the Prince that the objections of Aramithilsa (who thought Lord Durcot quite lacking in romantic spirit) fell by the wayside. The two were married and in due course Aramithilsa grew rather fond of her husband despite the unromantic circumstances.

Two years later the kingdom of Talcama rejoiced in the birth of the new heir, Prince Malic. Aramithilsa's father died content, and true to his predictions, Lord Regent Durcot stewarded the kingdom well and wisely until the day when Malic reached his twenty-first birthday and claimed his throne. Known as Malic the Bright (to his mother) Malic the Forward (by the palace maids) and Malic the Pinhead (by his father) the young Prince has inherited his mother's...er...flighty personality and little of his father's sense. Though not stupid, Malic has never bothered to cultivate what intelligence he has, despite the best efforts of his tutors. He is a popular ruler nonetheless, being outgoing, cheerful, and possessing the "common touch" in abundance. He enjoys parties, silly jokes, and drinking, often to excess. Although his father ropes him into the throne room to deal with government business once a week, most of the real governing is still done by Lord Durcot and assorted ministers. Malic's escapades (which include losing the royal palace to several arena managers in a card game) are looked upon tolerantly by the populace, mainly because, as of yet, all of them have ended well--whether due to Talcama's blessing looking after its own, or Malic's own extraordinary luck it's hard to say.

Malic actually showed a surprising degree of maturity during the war with the Rirorni, convincing the Grand Redoubtable Generalissimo Pofferley-Broughell de Shathleigh (Talcamans love impressive titles and will grant them at the drop of a hat) the commander of the Talcama Army, to send a detachment of bowmen down to the plains, where they were (quite coincidentally) instrumental in preventing the siege of Jhans. Malic is a member of the Delarquan Crown Council. Talcama generally aligns politically with Bonsur in inter-council struggles.

Prince Malic is of average height, rather slender, with dark skin, black hair and eyes, and a perpetual expression of mildly confused good-will. He is unfailingly polite and has impeccable manners, even when tipsy.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1339 reads)

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