Laura Stirling was the queen consort of King Aldous and mother of King Richard and Princess Eleanor. Beloved by her subjects, she was known as the "queen of peace" for her efforts to end the constant conflict between humans and Exekians.
Laura was the second child of Lord Gavin Zosimus and his wife Melissa, being preceded by her brother William. Zosimus was a member of the Council, representing the city of Tyre, and was known as the wealthiest man in the kingdom. He was also a devout Vormund, practicing the outlawed religion in secret and raising his children in the faith. Due to her noble upbringing, Laura led a relatively luxurious and happy childhood, although she was not without fear that her family would be persecuted for their beliefs.
Her parents began receiving betrothal requests when she was still very young. Both Prince Aldous and Prince Claudius were considered potential suitors for her, and King Tristan suggested that she be betrothed to one of them. Her father politely declined the offer, claiming he wanted to wait and see what kind of woman she grew into.
Torn AsunderWhen Laura was thirteen, the War of Succession broke out. Her father supported Claudius Stirling, who had proclaimed his intentions to end the persecution of the Vormunds. Gavin was later slain at the Battle of Duat. Aldous Stirling, feeling betrayed by Gavin's actions, arrived at the family's estate with his army not long after. Taking the Zosimus' prisoner, he ordered his soldiers to loot and destroy their home. Laura attempted to escape in the chaos that followed, but Aldous himself chased and caught her.
She was then separated from her mother and placed in the care of Morrigan Lake, the king's old nursemaid. Morrigan told Laura that she was going to be Aldous' queen and took the girl to Castle Vallon, where she was expected to placidly await her wedding day.
Life at Spiderweb Castle
After another failed escape attempt not long after her arrival, Laura was kept under heavy guard and forbidden to leave the castle walls. Lonely and frightened, she reached out to the various servants and ladies-in-waiting she had been given, particularly her handmaiden Hera O'Leary and lady-in-waiting Melanie Liu, and eventually to the king's sister, Helen. Helen regarded her as an annoyance, but saw the advantages in a friendship with the future queen and indulged her. By some accounts, Laura intervened when it was discovered that Helen was a spy, saving her life, although this story cannot be verified.
Laura also met and befriended Vincent, a blind minstrel who would sit in the castle courtyard with a lute and perform for money. On cold nights she would bribe the guards to let Vincent in, and he would sing for her or they would talk into the daylight hours. He confided in her about his visions, and she was often present when he experienced them. Some time before Laura's wedding, she and Vincent began a romantic relationship that would last until her death.
MarriageTwo years since the beginning of the War of Succession, Claudius was finally captured, and after his execution Aldous officially became ruler of Amenthes. By then aged fifteen, Laura married Aldous and was crowned queen of Wallachia.
Only a few months after they were wed, Laura began showing signs of pregnancy. At around the same time Aldous was called to battle against the Exekian raiders under Nechtan.
The child was a stillborn, and as a result Laura became paranoid and afraid of what would happen to her if she did not produce an heir.
Discovery of John
Once she became queen, the ban preventing Laura from leaving the castle was lifted, and she was permitted to venture out so long as she had an escort to protect her. One day, Laura snuck out of the castle alone and went for a walk in the woods.
It was there that she found an abandoned Exekian infant lying on the ground underneath a sycamore tree. She took the child back to the castle and nursed him back to health, naming him John. Knowing that Aldous would not accept having an Exekian child in his home, she kept his presence a secret from everyone, having her servant Hera hide him.
Aldous once again returned home victorious. While he was initially angered to learn there was no child waiting for him, Laura became pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy son, Richard. With the succession secured, Laura revealed John to Aldous. The king was furious, but was eventually convinced to let him stay.
Affairs With Vincent
Vincent, who was practically living at the castle, was turned out in the sixth year of Aldous' reign under the king's orders. When Laura found Vincent was not in his room, she became frantic and sent out a desperate search for him. Upon learning that Aldous was responsible for his disappearance, she met with the king and pleaded with him to let Vincent stay. He refused, and then threatened to turn out John as well. To convince him, she revealed Vincent's secret visions to Aldous.
Vincent was found at the home of a nearby nobleman and brought back to the castle, where he was officially installed as the royal court minstrel. Of course, he was hired not so much for his talents as a musician as for his ability to see the future.
Having kept up a secret affair with Vincent since before her marriage, Laura had obvious reasons for wanting him to stay close by. Not long after Vincent's return, Helen discovered their relationship and used it to blackmail Vincent. In exchange for keeping their secret, he was forced to tell Helen about his visions.
Birth of Eleanor
Laura's daughter, Eleanor, was born when she was eighteen. Laura was initially unsure who the child's father was, until Vincent reassured her that she was Aldous'. Nonetheless, Vincent kept his distance from Eleanor in order to avoid drawing suspicion.
War broke out between the humans and the New Exekian Empire when Aldous began to push the southwest border, hoping to gain more land.
Laura traveled to King Aldous' camp, appearing without prior notice. In the privacy of his tent, she knelt before him and begged him to return home and be there to raise Richard. Aldous struck her in anger and refused, ordering her to return home.
Laura left his tent and gave a rousing speech to Aldous' disgruntled, terrified troops, calling for an end to the needless conflict. Aldous was unable to stop her, and soon his soldiers began deserting by the thousands, leaving him with no choice but to call off the invasion. It was this event that earned Laura the moniker of "queen of peace".
Later Years and Death
The last years of Laura's life passed rather uneventfully. She focused on raising her three children, teaching them courage and compassion. In each of them she instilled a strong belief in peace and coexistence between peoples. Her sons adored her, but Eleanor was often disobedient and appeared to dislike her mother.
Vincent fell ill with a fever, and Laura tended to him herself. While delirious, he had a vision of Laura wandering through a forest at night. Seeing a hand reaching down, she took it and was taken up into the sky, her body being consumed by white light until she became a star. By the time his fever broke, Laura had also become ill. She died not long after at the age of twenty seven.
While she was somewhat mousy as a child, as an adult Laura was known for being extremely beautiful. She was taller than most men, with long legs and a slender figure. Her fair skin, delicate features, and mane of curly auburn hair were considered very attractive. Her daughter Eleanor bears a strong resemblance to her.
In her youth Laura was carefree and mischievous, always wanting to have fun. The loss of her family and her being thrust into the role of wife and queen at a young age took its toll, however, and she became fearful and docile in her teenage years. While she had her own opinions, she kept these to herself.
Upon finding John, however, the spark of courage and rebellion was reignited in her. Disobeying Aldous, whom she had come to fear, marked a turning point in her life. The birth of Richard taught her responsibility, and her own experiences dictated her sense of right and wrong.
At court, she was a more controversial figure. While many described her as charming, others found her cold. She was intelligent, with a sharp wit and a biting sense of humor. Her opinions were sometimes radical. A few amongst the nobility considered her a threat, while others saw her as merely a nuisance.
She loved Vincent for his gentleness and warmth, but also because he was more level-headed than she. He was there to rein her in, and as long as he was there to stop her from doing something crazy, she felt secure.
Richard referred to John and himself as "the sons of the queen of peace". She is consistently identified as a perfect ideal to both of them. When the secrets of her life come to light, this view is challenged.