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The Heart of the Isles was the most significant of all the jewels belonging to the royal family of Vesryn. It appeared as a gigantic blood red ruby set in a luxurious gold amulet, and represented the right to rule sovereign over the kingdom.

It was believed to be a grand gem created on the orders of Queen Esther de Laurelay in the year 1359 C.E, exactly a year after the end of the Ostian War of Independence and the date upon which she had begun her regency in place of her stricken husband. The jewel commemorated the one year anniversary of the end of the war by magically combining rubies from around all of Western Astria, and was said to be a symbol of lasting peace and co-operation. It was a well received message, and eased relations between Vesryn and the rest of the continent.

In actuality, however, the Heart of the Isles was a carmine heartstone created by the Archangel Netheriel. It was a darkly evil crystal which contained over three-hundred thousand souls, in no small part belonging to those who perished at the carmine ritual that came to be known as the Great Forsaking of Harbrook. Cut perfectly and sealed away, the heartstone was never to be activated after its creation and its existence went unrecognised for the entirety of the Heartstone Crisis. It was unknowingly assumed to be destroyed after the Grand Heartstone was shattered and broken, but it had never been connected to the central source of carmine energy as all other heartstones had done before. This allowed it to secretly remain in existence long after the reconstruction of the world by Lorawyn Allard in 1381 C.E.

Due to the immense amount of souls that were contained within, the heartstone had unique qualities unlike any other. It was able to mask its own distinctive signature, allowing it to exist throughout history without detection by even the Heavens. Its most significant power, however, was the passive ability to secretly influence the attitudes of others, making it easier for the wearer to unknowingly influence the the perspective and disposition of those they spoke to.

History

Queen Esther de Laurelay

The Heart of the Isles was given to Esther de Laurelay by the Archangel Netheriel, the very architect of its creation. He had come to her during the greatest depths of her grief and revealed the heartstone as a way to sustain the life of her husband, the then king Edric I, who had entered a deep comatose state after the Great Forsaking of Harbrook.

Most of Edric's soul had been taken into the heartstone, an intentionally incomplete transfer, and what remained was little more than a broken shell of a mortal. At the time, she had no way of knowing that the black robed figure who had come to her with a gift was directly responsible for what had happened to her husband, and only after it was too late did she realise the extent to which she had been manipulated. Until the end of the Long Night in 1381 C.E, she would have no choice but to obey the fallen Archangel lest she never wake her husband again.

Despite such darkness lying beneath the surface, the heartstone greatly enhanced the love that the Vesryne people had for their new queen. Dissenting voices were soon made silent by almost universal acclaim for the actions she took while in power. Eventually, she was no longer seen as a temporary regent for King Edric, but as a rightful ruler of Vesryn in her own right.

Queen Esther, however, was growing colder by the day. She felt an unspeakable guilt about her actions and took every possible step to hide the truth of the stone after the end of the Common Era. This involved a self imposed exile, a secret that the Vesryne crown had no choice but to hide from its subjects and disguise as an abdication due to ill health.

King Reynard IV de Laurelay

After Esther's disappearance, her son King Reynard IV took the throne. The Heart of the Isles was passed on to him in ceremony.

King Lucièn I Lafayette

In 1417 B.E, four months after the conclusion of the Battle of the Aldmarch Plains and the end of the Asevian Invasion, the Heart of the Isles was placed around the neck of the newly crowned King Lucièn I Lafayette. The grand ceremony and day of celebration that followed was highly controversial, owing to the force with which the throne had been seized and the suspected murder of the royal family. Despite successful efforts by the crown to hide the deaths of all but the former king Reynard IV, suspicion could never be fully quelled and localised protests had to be suppressed by the Royal Army and knights of the King's Order.

This initial turmoil was only to last for a handful of months. The regency of King Lucièn as a whole was well received due to his strong presence and important role in driving back the Asevian Invasion, but was marked by a constant undertone of worry and uncertainty regarding the country's future. Lucièn's grand aspirations and uncompromising approach to diplomacy, coupled with youth that over the years began to seem worryingly eternal, began to reignite tensions between the Astran Isles and the Astrian mainland to a degree that had not been seen since the Common Era.

Before long, it became abundantly clear to all that Lucièn was something more than mortal, or at the very least, his life was capable of enduring the years and remaining unchanged. His queen, Gabrielle, also showed very little sign of ageing. The population of Vesryn remained satisfied with their rule, however, in no small part due to the silent influence of the Heart of the Isles, and largely approved of the steps they took to expand the kingdom's dominion. With the military growing by the day, however, they were often given little choice but to accept it.

Lucièn held the Heart of the Isles long into his reign as Emperor of Greater Vesryn, and remained largely unchallenged.