Turns 1 - ??
Before turn 1: She was born a noblewoman of Kraxis, but she had never fit in. It wasn't that she objected to Karavox's policies, or that she wanted to make her own bid for power. She just wanted to be left alone, with her books and studies. She had been taught the basics of Earth magic, and her independent research had allowed her to master some Life magic spells.
She had not considered that she might be taking a risk until she started wondering why there were no other Life practitioners in Kraxis. She never learned for sure, but she got a hint one night when an assassin demon materialized in her bedroom. The only reason she survived was that she had been studying an ancient scroll in bed. Realizing that she had nothing to lose, she quickly read the incantation, and found herself and all of her servants outside the walls of Goyarh Hedigah. The scroll had contained an escape spell, and had gotten her and her 'army' out of trouble.
She was not a particularly brave woman. She did not know who had sent the demon after her, and did not really care. She dispatched a trusted servant to collect her fortune, and decided to settle somewhere where the study of Life magic would not attract the attention of assassin demons and their masters.
Turn 3: Finding a new home took the Duchess longer than she expected. Her flight ended in a area devoid of essence, and she was at a loss. Fortunately she met an Altarian named Othollo. He suggested that she may settle in the nearby forest so that at least she would have plenty of construction materials. As they approached the edge of the forest, they spotted a source of essence deeper into the woods. The Duchess decided to settle there, despite Othello's warnings that food will be scarce. She said that there would be enough for her and her servants, and that she could always send people to clear farmland somewhere else.
She felt safe in New Home, and was not eager to venture outside. She asked Othollo whether he would mind scouting the surroundings and chasing dangerous pests away. It took some persuasion and some Gildar, but eventually he agreed. The Duchess was so happy she gave him her copy of Procipinee's crown and cast "Regeneration" and "Courage" on him. She also used her magic to enchant the hammers of New Home's workers, and to draw mana from their meditations.
A rich area with a lot of problems...
Turn 8: Othollo headed south from the forest. He cleared a few mite nests and took out some darkling lurkers, but mostly he was looking for fertile land. He was quite successful. He found a nice spot for a new city, with two metal deposits nearby. Soon afterwards, he located a grain field and a colony of wild bees. Some people had already built a few farms and inns nearby, but they were beset by problems, and looked as if they could use the protection of the Duchess's champion.
New Home received word of Othollo's discovery just as they were finishing building their log camp, and started preparing a group of pioneers to send south.
Magnar and his bodyguard
Turn 11: Othollo visited the inn near the grain field, a learned the location of an old temple that supposedly contained a spell that could turn mana into gold. He knew that mana was much more precious that gold, and decided not to bother with the spell in the foreseeable future. His decision had nothing to do with the three air shrills that were rumored to infest the temple. Absolutely nothing.
Instead of wasting his time with useless spells, Othollo dispatched a black widow and a bear cub, and found out that he was getting quite good at killing. He decided to work on his assassination skills.
As he was looking for his next target, he spotted two rather imposing Quendar. They turned out to be Emperor Magnar himself and his bodyguard Deras. This was unwelcome news. No one would want to share an area so rich in loot and resources. Othollo sent news of the encounter to the Duchess. He also urged her to send settlers in all directions. Even if they could not find arable land for a new settlement, it was important to know whether Magnar's was the only Empire in the region. While waiting for instructions, he resolved to race Magnar for the available prey and loot. His first target would be the lost library nearby.
Regular communications have been established between the two settlements
Turn 15: When Othollo reached the lost library, he realized that it was only a small part of a ancient research complex. He could not understand why Magnar had not investigated the four buildings that had been relatively preserved. Maybe the Emperor was afraid that careless Quendar would set the books aflame, and was working on a safe way to search the libraries.
It did not matter to Othollo. He ran from building to building, grabbing all books that looked remotely useful, and rushing them to New Home.
The Duchess could not have been happier. She pored over the texts, extracting everything that could be helpful in running her little domain. She found books detailing faster construction methods, better research practices, and nearly everything needed for cultivating basic crops. Her discoveries allowed a group of her loyalists to start a new settlement in the fertile plains South of New Home. Soon they erected a bell tower and a monument which pacified those former servants who longed for the relative comforts of New Home.
Satisfied that the new settlement of Iron Mines was coming along nicely, the Duchess sent two more groups of pioneers into the wilderness, respectively North and West.
The lands ruled by the Duchess
Turn 19: The spots that the pioneers found were very similar. They both had ample food and easy access to water and building materials. The only difference was in the nearby resources. The Western settlement was near two air shards and a waterfall. Its founders were romantics and called it Flying Water. Wild horses roamed the fields near the northern settlement. The settlers there were more literal minded and named their home White Horse.
The Duchess was quite proud of her little domain, and took great interest in the managing it. One day, while surveying a clay pit near New Home, she stumbled straight into a bandit camp. Her subjects had insisted she only goes out armed and with an active "Regeneration" spell, so she managed to dispatch the thugs, but she was badly shaken, and somewhat injured. That was nothing compared to the unrest her absence caused in New Home. Once she was back behind the city walls, she had to promise her subjects to never venture outside the walls by herself. The training of troops became the focus of the reflections of nearly every citizen of the Kingdom.
Finally, an essence rich area
Turn 22: Othollo finally completed his exploration of the old library complex. It had taken a long time, but it had been well worth it. The Duchess's people had rediscovered the basics of civics, knowledge acquisition, agriculture, and training, and were close to success in producing lightweight leather armor. He felt that he had contributed a lot to the process, but was tired of books, and wanted to go back to the excitement of exploring the wild lands.
The Duchess gave him leave to do so. She was actually growing apprehensive about the many wild animals and savage humanoids who wandered close to her settlements. She'd always had people exploring the wilds beyond her domain, and had received reports of beasts that she knew she did not have a chance of tackling with her available resources. She felt that it was time to stop expanding, and to concentrate on securing and pacifying her lands.
She did order allow the creation of one more settlement, though. A pioneer had discovered the source of the river ending at the Flying Water falls. The land was fertile, and bursting with resources, mundane and magical. There was even a good concentration of essence, and the chance was too good to miss.
The new village was called Manasource. The Duchess was quick in casting "Enchanted Hammers" and "Meditation" on it.
Othollo, champion of the oppressed
Turn 26: Magnar had built a multitude of outposts East of Iron Mines. All the resources that Othello had discovered earlier were being exploited by Magnar's Quendar. Othollo hated seeing the influence of the Empire spreading, and let the Duchess know in no uncertain terms. He felt that he could take on the Quendar all by himself, and was perfectly willing to prove it.
The Duchess did not allow him to do so. She was just as concerned with the Death mage's growing power, but she was unwilling to risk Othollo's life on a war that she did not yet have to fight. With five cities to Magnar's one, the Duchess felt that she could afford to wait, and raise an army for the war. She ordered New Home to begin training leather clad spearmen.
She pointed out to Othollo that Magnar had done nothing about the concerns of the inhabitants of the land he had claimed. She suggested that Othollo speaks with the humans living near Magnar's outposts, hears their concerns and assists them if possible. Othollo jumped at the occasion. In less that an year, he unmasked a charlatan, cleansed a workshop of wildlings, and even escorted a noble lady to the Duchess's borders. The noblewoman's estates were near Iron Mines, but there had been rumors that bandits had been seen nearby, and the Duchess wanted to personally escort the lady... as soon as her bodyguards had been properly trained.
Othollo nodded knowing, and decided that it was finally time to seek the temple he'd been told about so long ago. After killing a few air shrills, he transcribed the "Alchemy" spell from the temple walls.
The Ducal Guard in action.
Turn 30: The group of pioneers that was exploring the North met some Pariden scouts. From the ensuing conversation, they remained with the impression that Procipinee commanded more resources than the Duchess, but not overwhelmingly so. A non-aggression pact was suggested, but Procipinee demanded payment, which looked too much like extortion to the Duchess. The pioneers and the scouts went their separate ways, not knowing the precise location of the the others' homeland.
Much more worryingly, Magnar sent some soldiers and pioneers literally under New Home's walls. The Duchess decided to use the remains of her fortune to expedite the training of her bodyguards. Once they were ready for action, she escorted the noblewoman to her estate. The lady was very grateful, and contributed 300 Gildar toward a strong military. After all, her estate was right next to Iron Mines, quite near the Quendar border, and she had seen Magnar's treatment of prisoners first hand.
The Duchess and her bodyguards eradicated the wildling and mite lairs near Iron Mines, and started to methodically pacify the homelands. She was so impressed with the guards performance that she felt it safe to commission a road between New Home and Imperium.