Axtyn II, often called “The Last Great King of Pexate,” an appellation which has stuck despite Thurlford III’s many accomplishments, had a total of nine children–a fact he was very proud of, as it put him in the same league as his ancestor Eyon I.

Of the nine, three died young, leaving three sons and three daughters. Thurlford II, the youngest son of Axtyn’s second wife, became king on his father’s death at the age of three. His two elder brothers both died of misfortune, one of plague and another on campaign in the deserts of Naix. This left Axtyn’s daughters, the Three Sisters, all of whom married powerfully and well and became known for their adroit manipulations. Axtyn’s middle and favorite daughter married Uxbridge VI of Brae, the most powerful baron in the House of Owls, and her only son–also named Uxbridge–became baron in time as well.

Lord Uxbridge was known as a handsome, genial man who made personal friends easily and was most in his element when he was speaking to someone one-on-one. He was also brave and honorable to a fault, never failing to accompany his troops into battle and rarely, if ever, breaking his word once given. When Axtyn’s line failed, Uxbridge became a key aide to the new king, Axtyn’s younger brother Thurlford III, and Thurlford relied heavily on Uxbridge to keep the increasingly rowdy House of Owls in line.

However, it did not take a sage to see that Uxbridge’s eyes were on the throne. Thurlford was childless and increasingly distracted from the business of ruling by his need for a direct heir, and Uxbridge was already shaking hands with barons on the king’s behalf. Despite the fact that, historically, the kingship was not inheritable through the female line, Uxbridge nevertheless was in a position to advance his claim strongly. By the time his game of chess was complete, Uxbridge had married his only sibling to King Thurlford, had the support of a majority of the Owls, and had already guaranteed himself the position of regent for his nephew Eyon.

The Layyian Plague turned out to be the catalyst for Lord Uxbridge VII to become King Uxbridge I. Both the king and his wife succumbed–or, at least, that was the official story–and after a regency of only nine days, so too did young Eyon–again, according to the official story. Rumors that Eyon had survived and that Thurlford had been murdered persisted, but the House of Owls unanimously backed Uxbridge for the throne.

And, true to his word, he honored the promises that he had made: more autonomy for the barons, less royal interference in the day-to-day running of the country, and so on. To do otherwise would have cost him his support, but the following decade–Uxbridge’s Anarchy–would show that he had sacrificed perhaps too much in his pursuit of the throne.

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