Maiden of Solace
Yufu is a beautiful town.
Surrounded by towering mountains, hugged by a forest and a lake, its serenity is almost otherwordly.
Overlooking the castle town, Mountain Yufu where the dungeon lies is wrapped in ice and snow, hence despite how far in the south Yufu is, it has a chilly climate.
Yufu Castle has 12 towers and four castles, whereas the vast castle town of Yufonia is a home to more than 20,000 people. Then to the north is a fertile basin split into three districts with a population of more than 800,000 people, coupled with nine villages in the circumference, the total population is close to one million.
As one lord can only rule over one city under Kingdom Law, the whole Yufu Territory is formally seen as one city. A special privilege in all but name.
Marquis of Yufu, House of Shadrest has three viscountcies under them. Each of these viscounts own assets that surpass many earl households, yet none of them is regarded as independent entities, all of them serves House of Shadrest. This is another special privilege compared to other territories.
And while other territories are obliged to send their army in times of emergency in accordance to their court rank, there's no such obligation to House of Shadrest.
In other word, despite being a marquisdom in Zaka Kingdom, Yufu is a near independent state in practice. Naturally there's a specific circumstance that brought that about.
In the past, this land was where Holy Kingdom of Yufu stood. Yufonia was its metropolis with three district cities. The nine villages had a near city level scale as well. Nothing ever put Holy Kingdom of Yufu's peace in peril even during the height of Wapud Kingdom's prosperity in the center of the continent and the warring period between lords that followed.
One day, a young man who would later become the Founder King of Zaka Kingdom visited Holy Kingdom of Yufu. Yufu lent their army to him in the founding war of Zaka Kingdom in accordance to a covenant they agreed upon.
When the young man left Yufu, with him fled a young woman yearning for the young man.
The young woman was called Orie, she was the <Maiden of Solace> to Raikores Temple of Holy Kingdom of Yufu.
The kingdom worshiped god Raikores and prospered under her blessing. Long in the past even before the founding of Holy Kingdom of Yufu, a <Maiden of Prophecy> emerged in the temple, bringing with her a blessing of prophecy from god Raikores. The final prophecy the maiden left was as such, [The kingdom shall prosper for as long as you revere the maiden blessed by god Raikores.]
After the death of <Maiden of Prophecy>, a maiden in the temple awoke to <Purification>. The temple head believing that maiden was the prophesied maiden revered her as <Maiden of Solace>. <Maiden of Solace> would perform the <Rite of Harvest> every year, bringing the kingdom to prosperity. Afterward, every time a <Maiden of Solace> was nearing her life span, another Maiden would emerge to take her place, this cycle would continue.
The temple head and the king at the time were aware of the young Orie awakening to <Purification> while the present <Maiden of Solace> was nearing her end of life. However, as signs of <Purification> could even escape the user themselves, Orie deserted her country while being unaware that she was the <Maiden of Solace>.
The king and the temple head took light of the gravity of the situation. They believed another maiden would awake to <Purification> soon anyway.
But no new maiden would emerge, and once the elderly maiden passed away after several years, Holy Kingdom of Yufu suffered famine. The poor crops continued on for many years and epidemics broke out, laying waste to the kingdom.
The temple head risked his life fasting praying to god. Then on the verge of death, he received a prophecy, 'Peace and prosperity lie in the new kingdom. Protect the lineage of maiden.'
The only new kingdom then was Zaka Kingdom. The king of Holy Kingdom of Yufu abdicated his throne and submitted to Zaka King.
During the early years of Zaka Kingdom, Holy Kingdom of Yufu was an independent and rich country, they never had to ask help from other kingdoms so there was no reason for them to submit. That continued on for years but then they wanted to submit all of a sudden. Naturally they would be given special privileges.
By this point, Kingdom Law had been established in Zaka Kingdom, following the law would mean either splitting Yufu or turning them into a barondom. Barondom is a self-governing territory, permitted to govern several cities yet they don't have to bring tributes to the king but in exchange they cannot ask Zaka Kingdom for help in time of emergency.
Naturally, Yufu declined to split.
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But Zaka Kingdom was eager to have Yufu under their flag. The objects they could get from Yufu starting from God Cure was to good to pass up, and most importantly having Yufu submit would bolster the king's authority. Thus it was decided that the whole of Yufu was to be regarded as one territory as a marquisdom. It was the birth of Marquis of Yufu, House of Shadrest.
The famine and epidemic ended, and with it came good harvest.
By this point, Orie was no longer alive. She always had a frail body, she left the world giving birth to her daughter. She left behind a Guardian Jewel in her death bed
The existence of this daughter was kept secret. They were likely worried, Yufu would come to take her back. The daughter was named Zana, and awakened to <Purification> once she grew up. Lady Zana would hide her origin and helped to pacify the chaos post kingdom founding from behind the scene.
On the other hand, the Guardian Jewel left by Orie was a great help to the founder king, but he would give it to Lady Zana when she got married. The founder king must have believed that the guardian jewel came to be for the sake of protecting Zana. Even Yufu was in the dark on this Guardian Jewel's existence, and neither Founder King's aides were aware the jewel's significance.
At Yufu, the existence of Lady Zana was known. And they believed the [Lineage of Maide] refers to Lady Zana's female descendants. As men cannot be maidens.
There were some rumbles on taking Lady Zana and her daughters back to Yufu, but they ultimately decided to just watch over them. Her descendants would gradually lose <Recovery> and <Purification> yet Yufu's prosperity never ceased. There were times when the female descendants numbered in five, but this started diminishing at one point, and finally down to one. Lady Rubianafale.
Zaidmahl is a backwater territory. It was hard for Yufu to check on Lady Rubianafale's life. But despite Lady Rubianafale's frail constitution, the townlord Zanjikael managed his territory well, and the climate there was nice and warm. There was no sign of any disturbances in the surrounding area either.
That was when the father of Lady Rubianafale, Zanjikael sent a letter addressed to Marquis of Yufu, Parkugrein Shadrest.
"My daughter, Rubianafale has just turned 13 this year, she is a wise and good daughter who awoke to <Recovery> at the age of five. We have been receiving many marriage proposals as of late, yet as her father, I would like for her to live a peaceful and plentiful life. I am aware it is shameless of me to cling to your excellency seeing as I am but a lowly noble with no relation, but it is my dearest wish if you could lend me an aid."
Parkugrein and the temple head believed this was the time to bring the lineage of maiden back to Yufu. Thus Lady Rubianafale was decided to be the legal wife of the next Marquis of Yufu, Ashidgrein.
Once Lady Rubianafale turned 14, Yufu's envoy would come to fetch her, and their engagement would become official.
Right after the decision, an assassin came for her life. An adventurer who happened to stay at Zaidmahl at the time defeated this assassin, but then another assassin came again the next day. Parkugrein who was notified of this by Zanjikael immediately launched an investigation. Ashidgrein had four fiancees, and one of the noble daughter among these four sent these assassins in an attempt to become his legal wife. Parkugrein reprimanded the head of that noble house. The assassination attempt stopped with the fourth one.
By this point, the <Maiden of Solace> was nothing but an old legend in Yufu, only a very few select citizens even knew about it and the prophecy. The secret of Lady Rubianafale being a descendant of <Maiden of Solace> was only known to the townnlord and temple head.
Afterward, at the time of the wedding, they performed <Holy Rite of Solace> under the pretext of <Maiden of Solace> legend. She would cast <Recovery> on the townlord, Parkugrein, while the citizens watched over them. This ritual proved Rubianafale as having been blessed with <Recovery>, reinforcing her position as the legal wife.
Then on the fifth of month two, kingdom year 116, their wedding ceremony was held, Rubianafale was given the southern room on the fifth floor of northern tower, becoming the <Lady of Northern God>. Northern God here refers to Goddess Raikores. She's the god of mountains, earth, forest and medicine, the guardian deity of Yufu. Lady Rubianafale's room overlooks the <White Phoenix Palace> where the townlord manages the town, in short, she's regarded as the protector of the kingdom by living there.
Raikores was originally a god of Yufu, and her addition to Zaka Kingdom's god hierarchy established the Nine Temple System. The main Raikores Temple is located in Zaka Kingdom's capital with many sub temples in other territories, but Yufu's Raikores Temple is a wholly different structure with different doctrines.
During the ritual, the temple head saw through the fact that there was a hint of <Purification> in Lady Rubianafale's <Recovery>. The temple head would guide her until she could freely cast <Purification> and got named the <Maiden of Solace>. This was on the tenth of month six, kingdom year 116.
The same year, they performed the complete form of <Rite of Harvest>.
Afterward, the crops yield was abundance beyond belief, and the game hunted from the forest exceeded the average year.
All the while, Ashidgrein and Lady Rubianafale gradually grew closer until they became a harmonious couple. Ashidgrein was 18 while Lady Rubianafale was 14 at the time.
Ashidgrein would attend at White Phoenix Palace twice a day and would even stay overnight during meeting, but he lived in Northern Tower and spent most time there. Ashidgrein would sleep at the northern tower when subordinates came by as a precaution.
Meals, furniture and servants in the northern tower are all managed by Lady Rubianafale.
After the wedding, Ashidregin was given the important task to manage dungeon resources. He would formulate plans with young aides, but the older aides didn't take kindly upon those plans and would keep asking for reformulations.
Zaka Kingdom itself had been making moves to make Yufu their own. Marriage policy was one of those moves.
The royal family had been trying to deepen their relationship with Yufu.
House of Shadrest would often receive royal family princesses as marriage partners. However, the family head and the heir never married those princesses, the little brothers did, and they never let sisters of the heir to marry into the royal family either. Yufu continues keep their distance to the royal family.
Zaka King had been making moves to make his eldest daughter, Eltoria to marry Ashidgrein but once lady Rubianafale became the legal wife, that movement ceased.
After she was awoken to <Purification>, Lady Rubianafale would often cast it on Parkugrein, Ashidgrein, their aides and even the maids.
Under the temple head's tutelage, Lady Rubianafale's <Purification> reached the zenith.
Kingdom year 117, was a year of prosperity that exceeded any previous year.
Yufu was wrapped in great joy from top to bottom, ensuring Rubianafale's status as the <Maiden of Solace> and <Lady of Northern God>.
[Intermission 3 Maiden of Solace] End/Next [Episode Yufu Upheaval]