The winds swept across the forests of Transylvania in early October as the cold hand of winter crept ever closer. Stibor sat behind a mahogany desk in the council chambers of Tarten.
“You cannot go through with this!”
“Life is not without risks, Ladislau.” Stibor looked up from his writings and eyed the man before him; rotund, sweating, and angry - that was Ladislau, a Count of some pissant strip of land in Banat, but a Count nonetheless.
“This is not life you are speaking of, but betrayal! What makes you think that the Hungarians won’t march their army here and lop all our heads off the second they catch even a whisper of this?”
“Nothing. It’s actually quite likely that that’s exactly what they’ll do.”
“Then for all our sakes you must stop this madness. Or I will stop it for you.”
Stibor's eyes narrowed on Ladislau, “You will stop me?”
“Yes.” Ladislau stood defiantly in front of Stibor, eyes locked with the voivode of Transylvania. He did not even hear the slight rustle as a man stepped out from the curtains behind him, and was dead before he even felt the prick of a knife upon his neck.
Winter was coming.
Europe was slowly climbing out of the dark ages and into a new era. Rome had been pushed from its homeland, and clung desperately to its last enclaves near Constantinople. There were new powers in Europe now; France, England, Castille, Austria, Bohemia. These nations would forge a new world, but there was another that would rise even above those, one that even the most wild of oracles could never have predicted: Transylvania.
On the turn of the 14th century, Transylvania stood as a voivodeship of the Kingdom of Hungary, the Magyar nation that dominated the Balkans alongside the Ottomans. Transylvania was ruled by Stibor de Stiboricz, a noble appointed by the Hungarian king Zsigmond the First. Stibor had grown tired of paying homage to the Hungarian King; as a child he had dreamed of being a King himself, and if Transylvania could break the chains of vassalage that tied it to the Magyars then Stibor could fulfill that long lost dream.
Stibor had a number of obstacles he needed to overcome before he could call himself King Stibor though. First and foremost was the support of the nobility, for without them his reign would be short indeed. The problem was that most of Transylvania’s leading nobility had land in both Transylvania and Hungary, and a rebellion against Zsigmond would mean their lands in Hungary would be stripped from them. A fair number of the nobles he managed to draw to his side by promising them lavish new lands across Transylvania, and more to come when the kingdom pushed its borders further. The other hurdle was the support of the peasantry and burghers, who for the most part detested war as it wreaked havoc upon livelihood and trade (at least for most traders). The peasants he managed to win over during the course of his past five years by providing them with food and games, and the burghers by establishing trade houses in Transylvania’s largest cities. Still, it would mean nothing without the allegiance of the majority of the nobility, and so the vote was set to the Council of Nine, the nine leading Counts of Transylvania.
The vote was four for, and four against. The deciding vote was in the hands of a single man, Stephen Támas. Under any other circumstances, Stephen would have voted to stay as a vassal as Hungary, but just two months previously his wife and two children had been murdered while visiting the city of Erlau in Hungary. Stephen had demanded a full investigation and swift justice brought to the murderers, but had been snubbed by the Hungarian noble in charge of the county’s enforcement of law. Stephen was angry, and wanted blood; Stibor presented an offer that Stephen could not refuse – vengeance for the deaths of his family, and so Stephen pledged his support for the new King. Stibor wisely chose not to inform him that it was not the hands of Hungarian brigands that had caused the death of his wife, but that of Transylvanian men, ordered by Stibor himself.
King Stibor de Stiboricz
And so, as the century turned, the Kingdom of Transylvania was born. Born out of blood, deceit, and betrayal, it would rise higher than even King Stibor could have imagined. Glory, glory, Transylvania!