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Laura Stirling was the queen consort of King Aldous and mother of King Richard and Princess Eleanor. Born the eldest child of Lord Gavin Zosimus and his first wife Melissa, she lived a privileged life in Tyr until the War of Succession, which cost her father his life and everything her family held dear. To survive, the teenaged Laura wed the king, ensuring her and her half-brother would be spared.

Beloved by her subjects, she was known as the "queen of peace" for her efforts to end the Fifth Exekian War.

Biography

Childhood

Laura was born in 164 AYZ, on the side of the road just outside Bodai. She was the eldest child of Lord Gavin Zosimus and his wife Melissa. Her birth was facilitated by Rowan Renard, the son of a midwife. Rowan had intended to lead them to his mother, but Melissa's condition was too advanced, and they were forced to stop along the way. Present at her birth were all major members of the cult of Vormund, save Kemet.

For the first week of her life, she and her parents stayed with Hester Renard. News of her grandfather's impending death reached them shortly before Melissa succumbed to childbed fever, when Laura was just five days old. Gavin decided to leave Laura at Arza Kell in the care of Kemet and Sophia Richter while he went to Tyr to reconcile with his father. The couple consented to become Laura's godparents.

Gavin, having become High Lord of Tyr, returned to Arza Kell to retrieve Laura. Before they left, the cave hideout was attacked, and in the chaos the cult lost track of each other. Due to his status, Gavin was largely ignored by the attackers, but he made an attempt to save as many lives as he could, using his wealth and influence to his advantage.

After establishing himself with the king, Gavin legitimized Laura. He remarried, wedding Lady Ilena when Laura was three. Her half-brother Galahad was born the following year.

As High Lord, Gavin was a member of the Council and was known as the wealthiest man in the kingdom due to the vast inheritance he received from his father. He was also a devout Vormundist, 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 at the family estate, Isidore, although she was not without fear that her family would be persecuted for their beliefs.
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Laura as a child.

She 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.

As a child Laura befriended Vincent, a blind boy 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.

Torn Asunder

When Laura was fifteen, the War of Succession broke out. Her father supported Claudius Stirling, who had proclaimed his intentions to end the persecution of the Vormunds.

Two years later, Gavin was slain at the Battle of Duat. Aldous Stirling, feeling betrayed by Gavin's actions, arrived at Isidore with his army not long after. Taking the Zosimuses 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.
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The captured Laura is held by Aldous' soldiers.

She was then separated from her mother and brother and placed in the care of Morrigan Lake, the king's servant. Morrigan told Laura that she was at the mercy of the king and took the girl to Carthmere Castle, where she was expected to placidly await her fate.

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Laura is taken by boat across the river to Carthmere.

Life at Carthmere

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, who was mistress of the castle. Helen regarded her as an annoyance, but pitied her situation.

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Laura with Morrigan Lake viewing the castle for the first time.

Marriage

Three years since the beginning of the civil war, Claudius was finally captured, and after his execution Aldous returned to his castle. By then aged eighteen, Laura married Aldous and was crowned queen of Alucarsia.
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Laura at age 18.

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. By her own request, she usually went with the knight Sir Traun.

One day, Laura snuck out of the castle alone and went for a walk in the woods. She found an abandoned Exekian infant lying on the ground underneath a sycamore tree, took the child home with her 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.

Birth of Eleanor

Laura's daughter, Eleanor, was born when she was eighteen.

Fifth Exekian War

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

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Laura's dream of 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. By the time his fever broke, Laura had also become ill. She died not long after at the age of twenty seven.

Description

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.

Personality

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Laura's famous wit.

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, and she became passive and docile. 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.

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 among 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 able to rein her in, and as long as he was there to stop her from doing something crazy, she felt secure.

Legacy

Richard referred to John and himself as "the sons of the queen of peace". She was beloved by her people, especially the Vormundists, who saw her and her father as their champions against persecution.