Aldous Stirling, the son of Tristan and Deirdre Stirling and brother of Helen and Claudius, reigned as king of Wallachia for twenty five years. By his wife Laura, he fathered Richard Stirling and Eleanor Stirling, and with his many mistresses he begat countless illegitimate children.
Not nearly as effective a politician as he was a warlord, his early reign was plagued by the insurrection known as the War of Succession, which he crushed after nearly three years. His main goal as king was to expand the human borders and to reduce the Exekians to the point where they could never rise up against the humans again.
Regarded as a cruel, tactless brute, he was hated by his nobles and feared by his subjects. During wartime, he ordered that the children of his enemies be forced to watch as their parents were killed, and then sent them to forced labor camps or pressed them into military service. His savage tactics earned him a reputation as a fearsome juggernaut.
Aldous was the first child of Prince Tristan and his wife Deirdre Stirling, born mere seconds before his twin brother Claudius, who was clutching his foot. According to legend Queen Enid, Tristan's mother, suggested to Deirdre that one of the boys be killed at birth so they wouldn't grow up to fight over the throne. Aldous was nursed by Morrigan Lake, who would remain his loving and loyal servant to her death.
As a child, Aldous was a troublemaker. Despite his parents' attempts to rein him in, he would steal from others and get into fights. He fathered the first of many illegitimate children when he was just fifteen, but when confronted with his actions, he denied any involvement with the child's mother and refused to take responsibility.
Despite the antagonism that would develop between them in later years, Aldous and his brother Claudius were close as youngsters, and would often go hunting together. His relationship with his sister Helen, however, was strained from the start, and he would often threaten her whenever she displeased him.
Crowning and War of Succession
Aldous was crowned king at the age of thirty after King Tristan was assassinated. Almost immediately, Claudius disputed his right to the throne, beginning the War of Succession.
Because he was fighting on the defensive, Aldous already had an advantage over his brother. He also had more followers, and was gaining a fearsome reputation due to his treatment of his enemies' families.
Among Claudius' supporters was Lord Gavin Zosimus, whom Aldous had once considered a close friend. During the Battle of Zemar, Aldous and Claudius met on the battlefield. Gavin flung himself in the way of Aldous' sword, taking the fatal blow meant for Claudius, who managed to escape.
Aldous took his revenge on the Zosimus family, taking them hostage and destroying their castle. As the estate was burning, Zosimus' daughter Laura attempted to flee, but Aldous chased her down. In that moment he found the girl attractive, and the idea formed in his mind to make her his queen and thereby inherit her wealth.
Gavin's wife Melissa was given to Aldous' men and was never seen again; his son William, along with other sons of dead lords, was pressed into military service, and Laura was taken to Castle Vallon, where Aldous intended to marry her at the end of the war.Helen, who had appeared to remain neutral, was later revealed to be a spy for Claudius. Aldous made a deal with her, saying that if she told him where Claudius was, he would let them both live. Helen revealed that Claudius was in hiding under the name "William Harding". Soon after Aldous arrived with his soldiers and captured Claudius.
However, Aldous did not entirely keep his vows. Claudius was tortured and executed for treason. Helen became Aldous' prisoner, forbidden to marry or leave Castle Vallon without an escort for the rest of her life.
Marriage to Laura
Having emerged victorious, Aldous immediately married Laura Zosimus, who was fifteen by that time. Only a few months into their marriage, she began showing signs of pregnancy. Aldous went to defend the southern front from Nechtan and his raiding parties, believing he had an heir on the way.
When he returned, there was no heir; according to Laura, the child had been a stillbirth. Angered, Aldous took a mistress, who gave birth to yet another one of his bastards. Nonetheless, Laura soon became pregnant again.
To Aldous' delight, Laura bore him a healthy son, Richard. With his legacy secured, Aldous began spending less time with his wife and more time frequenting brothels and his many mistresses. His relationship with Laura was further agitated when she revealed that she had taken in an abandoned Exekian child, John. Aldous barely tolerated John's presence, but allowed him to stay for unknown reasons.
Second Exekian War
Aldous launched the Fifth Exekian War by going beyond the southwest border, hoping to gain more land. There he came into conflict with the New Exekian Empire, which he sought to annihilate, seeing it as an insult and an abomination.
Laura traveled to Aldous' camp and pleaded with him to stop and return home. Aldous refused and struck her across the face. Undeterred, Laura gave a speech to his men calling for peace, and to Aldous' horror thousands of his soldiers, disgruntled and afraid of the Exekians, began to desert. In the end, he was left with no choice but to call off the invasion.
After the war, Aldous returned to Castle Vallon and life resumed as it had before. In the ensuing conflicts, he would serve as a commander rather than a warrior, directing battles from the safety of his tent. As a result, he was constantly traveling, often accompanied by a courtesan.
He was not present for the birth of his daughter Eleanor, and seemed to avoid Laura's presence altogether. After she died, he arranged for John to be placed in the Ivory Tower--again, sparing John's life for unknown reasons.
While hunting, he was struck by a stray arrow. The wound was minor, but became infected. He fell into a fever and died in his sleep aged 55.
- "There isn't a gaudy courtesan or a cheap harlot in all the kingdom who you haven't at least tried. As for bastards, we could populate a country town with country girls who have borne you sons."
- ―Laura Stirling on Aldous' philandering.
Aldous was known for being a womanizer, and spent most of his life with at least one mistress at his beck and call. His philandering continued throughout his marriage to Laura, as well as after she died. Laura was well aware of his infidelity and for the most part accepted it as inevitable.Of the many women with whom he had romantic liaisons, Aldous rarely maintained lasting relationships. There was only one exception: Veronica Franco, whom he claimed was his one true love.His relationship with his wife Laura was heavily strained. Aldous only married her for her money and good breeding, and believed he had done her a good thing by making her his queen. He didn't understand her, and believed she was ungrateful and difficult. After a time he came to realize that she hated being queen and wanted nothing to do with him. Since he already had an heir, he left her alone and enjoyed the company of his mistresses instead. By the time Laura died, they had become husband and wife in name only.
Despised by his children, he nonetheless exerted his authority over them as their king and father. He controlled Eleanor's suitors and forbade Richard from marrying Karen Liu, ordering him to wait until a politically viable marriage could be arranged. Though he was chaotic in his national rule, he was a firm believer in tradition when it came to family and marriage, and so refused to allow his children to marry anyone he deemed unworthy.
Aldous was a bull in a china shop when it came to politics. His reasoning was that, since he was the king, he made and broke the laws as he saw fit. He played havoc with the Council and crushed those who stood against him. He was also highly aggressive and warlike, believing he was meant for glory in battle. He identified himself as a soldier rather than a diplomat, and preferred action to talk. Scoffing at attempts to maintain peace with the Exekians, whom he viewed as an obstacle to human progress and expansion, he was the instigator of several conflicts and wars.
In his later years, Aldous continued to fight, albeit more often as a general and strategist behind the scenes than on the battlefield. He remained physically active and was in excellent shape up until his death.
His legacy is that of an awesome and terrifying juggernaut, a force to be reckoned with that no one dared oppose.