Children of the Wind
Kanace is a country about the size of Greece, ringed by mountains, fronted by the sea. Its climate is natuarally quite warm. Most of her inhabitants have never seen snow, save glistening on the peaks of the mountains themselves.
This land was once merely a barony, and that of a much larger country. However, an ambitious Baron rebelled against the crown of Albion and won it for his own. The beginnings were rocky, for though the soil was good and there were reasonable resources, the area was prone to wild storms, and incursion by magical beast as well as enemy.
The first king’s son, Jacobus, wed a commoner called Canace. A mere huntsman’s daughter who was as potent a sorceress as she was a beauty. Only he and a handful of trusted advisors knew her mother’s true nature, that of an Aurae, or a nymph of the winds. A kind of powerful fairy born of the North Wind, with great powers of coercion and control of nature herself. Because Canace could not bear the touch of silver, or the sound of churchbells, much to-do had been made of her being foreign, a princess raised in secret with her own traditions that must needs be followed to avoid harming her, or exposing the populace to the knowledge their queen could be turned by holy rood like a demon from a tale.
The young kingdom did not fare well, despite Canace’s gifted tongue and great work to create alliances and force treaties with nearby countries, and her manipulations to win for her husband honor and influence among others. Theirs was a kingdom known for mages. Chief among them were the Cardinal, the four advisors of the King. The most powerful, called North, discovered Canace’s true nature and urged Jacobus to allow him to make the woman truly useful by transforming her into a vessel in which to harness the full power of her fairy mother.
Jacobus was unmoved. North worked to poison his mind against his wife, already known for being silver-tongued and terribly charming, convincing Jacobus she was manipulating him only as a figurehead, and that at least three of his children were actually the get of Canace’s personal guard. Finally driven by jealousy where greed alone wouldn’t push him, he permitted North to move as he would.
Canace was slowly poisoned to give her the seeming of madness. Finally, when the time was right, she was kept to a tower and then drugged, bound in specially forged bindings of silver and gold, and slaved to her mother’s spirit. Her mother was then controlled through the part of her name she had invested in her daughter, and the two as one were worked into a great artifact declared a Shrine.
The public was told that their fair Queen Canace had been given vision, and told to have built this great and beautious structure, then spilled her very blood to the Goddess of their land, once sleeping, and woken her to smile upon them. This goddess bore her name, or seeming of it, and now their land and the royal line would forever after echo it: Kanace.
After that day, that grand revelation of the Shrine and her twelve Keepers, the Cardinal and eight trusted men and women of power, the land of Kanace knew bounty, knew fortune, knew gentle climes and sweet airs. The Smile of the Goddess. Worship of Kanace was woven into worship of the nameless God of Christianity. A fine Temple of white was built equadistant the center of the city from the dark Shrine, to say that, within Kanace, God and Goddess were equal. Once per generation, the sacrifice of a daughter of the royal house, a woman bearing the blood of Canace, was demanded to appease the Goddess, to keep her smile, but this was a little thing compared to the suffering told of in their histories.
The country became famed, and yet a mystery at once. For her enemies, Kanace was as ephemeral as dreams of Avalon, or Tir’na’nog. For her allies, she offered open arms. Her produce was rich and beautious, her treasures bountiful, her mages powerful. No creatures of ill intent could pass within the land. No weather could buffet Port Haven, or the other cities clustered along the coast that might once have been washed away like sandcastles. It florished, and though the Kings never strove to expand her borders, for it was said the Goddess’ arms could only hold so much, they gained great influence and wealth nonetheless.
The Line of Kanace prospered. The land florished. For almost five hundred years, it moved from one long-lived king to the next, the people only knowing the awful tales of their land’s past as though they were a strange nightmare faded. And only one daughter of the royal house every fifty years was required to pay the price for this wealth they knew.
In recent times, there have been incursions by some wild animals. Storms have been stronger. There is a touch to the world that suggests the Goddess’s Smile might be slipping, that their patroness might be flagging, growing weak at last.
A new Daughter was sacrificed. She was appeased, as the public understood it, for twenty-five years. Then, the storms strengthened again, and there were wolves and wyrmling lindorms troubling outlying farms, and twice raders found their way through the usually hidden passes, at least twice that the public learned of it.
The public was told this was a natural cycle, that it would pass. In secret, the eldest and youngest Princes of Kanace were sent out into the world to find for them a new Goddess, a new faerie of Canace’s potency, for the Cardinal understood what they would NEVER tell even the royal family, beyond those in the know.