I knelt there, in the snow. They stood all around me. I was alone.
The guardsmen had been cut down. The coachmen and the valets were steaming piles of blood and spilled guts. My eldest sister was split open from thigh to throat. My mother's head was separated from her body by a good number of feet. Somewhere I knew my father would be disappointed by this turn of events. It seemed only natural that I would end up the same.
But I didnt.
The Handsome Prince
The second oldest son of the King, Aloysius was groomed to be the second in command of the kingdom, the right hand general of the King. His elder brother was intended to be the King when their father was too old and planned to abdicate. He trained in martial matters, ranging from fighting with a variety of weapons to commanding soldiers in the heat of battle. In this he did passably well. He was tall and handsome like his father and older brother, but there was something about the young man that didnt meet the expectations of the soldiers. They would comment that his eyes were too small and he squinted most unboldly. They would also comment about his feminine appearance, or his womanly hair. All of these things were quite false, except for the bit about the squinting.
The brothers would soon begin to quarrel frequently. Aloysius was favored by the court, and was more adept at the games of politics and intrugue. His older brother Jales was favored by the military for looking and acting the proper soldier. (To the winds with charts and skulking, line up the men for a proper charge) and was quietly mocked by the courtiers for being blunt and lacking subtlety and grace. This soon led to Aloysius being sent out on errands for his father, while Jales stood in place in the court.
The daggers were quick, much quicker than his dear wit. Jales had made jokes at the expense of the wrong men in the court. Not the lofty sort who could laugh at certain insults or turns of phrase, but middling men unsure of their station and those likely to suffer the most from a percieved slight. They oiled their mustaches and baited their daggers. Jales was completely unprepared for the assassins, his pants around his ankles and his member buried in a nameless whore. Both were found dead from dagger wounds.
With Jales dead, Aloysius was suddenly jerked from being a second in command to beign groomed for the throne. His errands were no longer in service of the military but in learning the circles of the court. He did well as these were more to his liking than riding in campaign. His carriage was ambushed as part of a military coupe. Rather than going along with the plan and becoming a corpse, young Aloysius improved. He killed the men who had attacked him and murdered a large part of his family. He was still a very capable swordsman and somewhat versed in the use of combative magics. He spent the next two weeks gathering loyal soldiers, fighting three battles against the rebel elements of the army before making his way back to the capital. He was faced with an unexpected horror.
She stood next to my father, this lithe sorceress less than half his age. There was no mistaking the nature of their relationship, she was already starting to show the bulge of a child growing in her womb. He cursed me then, the assassins had failed thrice to kill me, and when I had been aflield I had been placed with the least loyal of the soldiers, the malcontents and criminal draftees. And the disasterous missions I had ridden into hed been intended to be one way trips. I was not supposed to supress the Ostrobog revolt. The three night battle over Halbad Pass was supposed to be a sepulcher. Mine. He had replaced my mother, and with his seed growing in a new whore's belly my brother and I had become inconvenient.
I killed them both. I cut her down like a weed in the wheat, him I strangled to death. I looked him in the eyes while he died.
Long Live the KING!
The next few weeks were spent in campaign bringing the rebel forces to heal, executing their leaders for treason against the crown and for crimes of war against the nation that most of them were sworn to protect. But while the civil war was drawing to a close and the Kingdom was being drawn back together, the new king was breaking apart. While he fought and dealt with politics his own mind and soul was falling apart. His father had tried to kill him several times. His brother had died as well, and a good number of the men he was fighting and killing he had known, had been around him since he was a child. No one could be trusted, love was more dangerous than poison.
Slowly he slipped from a state of heightened awareness to paranoia. The staff suffered the brunt of this at first. They would be interrogated, tested for their loyalty. Those who failed ended up in the dungeons. The guards and the officers of the military soon followed the path blazed by the servants. With the command of the Kingdom, Aloysius' madness manifested itself in a series of prisons, executions, and an enlarged military and civic guard. Cities were made rivals, and generals were set at each other's throats. So long as every man fought for his own place in fear of his king, none would have the time or the spare time and ability to plot against the crown.
Tell me what you think about the throne? Does it please you to look at it?
It pleases you, it should. It pleases me. Service, duty, honor, flow from this vestibule. Bow and show your worth.
Still new to the throne, King Ulman I has a great need for men he can trust. The PCs are such men or possibly women. Currently, Aloysius' paranoia is more heightened awareness, making him a canny and cagey foe. The PCs can expect to hunt enemies of the state, rebels, and putting down revolts. At first, they should feel patriotic, heroes of the kingdom. As the story progresses, they should start feeling dirty.
I can see how you lust for it, for the power it represents. For that, its the gaol for you.
Further along in his madness, the PCs are rather than heroes, they are the victims of his madness. For percieved treason, they have to fight and hide from the king's henchmen.
Kill them, kill them all.
The king's gone bloody mad. Its time that the PCs take up the good fight to being down the tyrant who holds the kingdom in an iron grip of fear.