The Queendom of Kalim is a matriarchy surrounded on three sides by the ravenous Darshani Empire. Having regained its independence from the Empire 147 years ago, the country has since struggled to retain its sovreignty through showy acts of Darshani power along Kalim's lower border, Kalim succeeding because of the rule of several strong queens. Though ten years ago, with the Darshani invasion of the nearby country of Khiros, Kalim became the last independent country on the continent, that same year brought startling and welcome tidings: contact had been made with previously unknown neighbors, the Copper Isles. Though the Queen had, two years previously, contacted the Yamani Isles, the knowledge that there was an entirely unheard of continent on the other side of the ocean spurred her into action.
Queen Meisant quickly explored the possibility of overseas alliances, marrying two of her sons to Yamani and Copper Island princesses and establishing trade and good relations with Tortall, Cathak and other countries in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Kalim's relationship with the Darshani Empire has grown uncertain. Though external problems are not the only threat to Kalim's stability: within the country, the amalgamation of small towns called the River Cities fell into chaos. Once held together by the Rooks, an intricate syndicate of organized crime, the area is now a cesspool for unregulated crime and intense poverty due to mismanagement by the nobility owning the fiefs containing the Cities. The Rooks in the three major cities, having recently established a new form of government, have attempted to gain a foothold in this area, only to be repulsed by both the Guards hired by the nobility and the denizens of the Cities who did not want to be under their control.
Meanwhile, the Rooks are having their own troubles, and corruption may run deeper than even they realize within their councils. On the borders, the remnants of the Khirosian forces, finally ousted from their country, began to pressure the Kalimi royalty for support against the Darshani empire.
The Past Year
International negotiations have intensified with representatives from the Eastern Kingdoms and the Darshani Empire alike. Kalim has found itself host to a greater variety of foreigners than ever before: Queen Meisant sent invitations to the Eastern Kingdoms, inviting them to send their royalty and nobility to participate in the Queen's Games. A tournament that any man can enter, the Games are a centuries-old tradition that begin on the day of the crown princess's eighteenth birthday. The prize? The princess's hand in marriage and the future position of Royal Protector, the most politically influential man in all the queendom.
Countries from all over sent their princes to compete, the Darshani Empire included. Domestic factions and nobility sent forward men as well, each eager to win the political influence that results from winning the Games.
There could, however, be only one winner. After two months of fighting, the crown prince of Sarain emerged victorious and was betrothed to the princess. Though some felt that he would be adequate for the job, promising a strong presence alongside the future queen, others say that he is too brutish and hungry for power and has not only brought along little in the way of alliances, but will use his patriarchal attitude to dominate the crown princess and leave her little more than a figurehead on the throne.
And amidst all this, Kalim is feeling tensions on all sides. The Darshani, bitter that their princes did not win the Games, are now a point of worry for the Queen, and problems within the River Cities and the Rooks only continue to escalate. Kalim is in for some major changes.
No one ever said that the Games would stay in the arena.