Mikhail II Shakhovskoy
|Grand Duke Mikhail II Shakhovskoy|
Mikhail II, Grand Duke of all Taraskovya (Mikhail Mikhailovich Shakhovskoy) (born 1084 AS) is the second child and only son to Grand Duke Mikhail I and is the current ruler of the Grand Duchy of Tarasovka and of all its outlying dominions. The Grand Duke represents both Russian and Taraskath bloodlines.
Grand Duchess Ekaterina gave birth to a healthy boy on the 7th of January, 1084 After Strife. The child, due to the particularities of the Taraskovyan succession traditions, became an heir presumptive to the Sword of Rulers, with his elder sister Anastasya being the heir apparent.
The little Archduke followed the same education as all male Shakhovskoy, learning the ways of the army from his early years. He was often denied the luxury of the palace and slept on straw, covered with rags and horse saddle for pillow. Military education was constantly mingled with lectures on politics and on “how to govern in order not to end up getting executed in a coup-d’état”.
At the age of eighteen, Mikhail defied traditions and, instead of immediately applying to the Alexander Guard Honourary Regiment, he enrolled into the regular army and served in the 74th Airborne Division. Starting out as a private, he became a lieutenant by the time his two years contract expired.
Only having accomplished service as a normal soldier, the then Archduke applied for the Alexander Guard. The following five years were divided between the studies at the Vigvar University Faculty of Economics and Finance, and the service in the Leib-guard. Having acquired the University diploma and the rank of Lieutenant of the Leib-guards, Mikhail began a career in the Grand Ducal administration, starting as an accountant in the then Economics and Finances Department (nowadays the Ministry of Economy and Finances).
TDI Head and High Councillor
His father, however, had other plans for his son and the young Archduke was soon assigned to the Taraskovyan Department of Intelligence, a small organisation that was charged with political espionage abroad. In the years that followed, Mikhail proved his worth as a fine and cunning Coordinator, managing to establish an efficient network of spies throughout several nations.
This led the then Grand Duke to appoint his son to be the Head of the Department, which was the start of TDI’s rise to its zenith. Under the Archduke’s guidance, the organisation gained strength and power, both inside and outside of the Grand Duchy, and soon shadowed the other intelligence structures. Mikhail II influenced his father into granting him a seat at the High Council, the then Government of the Grand Duchy with both executive and legislative powers.
Heir to the Sword
The young Archduke profited fully from his newly acquired position and began to influence his father and the High Council into several slow-paced reforms. One of such was the creation of the Council of Duchy, a legislative body elected by the People with real (even if very limited) legislative powers. The reforms, which many could describe as democratic, were largely intended to assert the Archduke’s power over the nation. Mikhail II is known to be a great patriot of his nation and is attributed with the famous statement: “I fear I cannot care about others, for my obligations are to care about my country.”
Over the years, Mikhail began to shadow his father as he became the de facto decision maker in the country. As a consequence, the Grand Duke declared his son as the Heir to the Sword. Whether this was done out of free will or under pressure by his son will never be known, but the proclamation comforted Mikhail II in his power. This has sparked a row between the Heir Archduke and Archduchess Anastasia, who refused to acknowledge her brother’s right to inherit the Sword of Rulers.
Grand Duke of All Taraskovya
In July 1141After Strife the Grand Duke Mikhail I stepped down in favour of his son. The “coronation” happened shortly after at the Sacred Citadel of Zynthris, where Mikhail II was invested with the Sword of Rulers and thus became the new Grand Duke of all Taraskovya.
During the ceremony, his sister Anastasia openly challenged the Sword, profiting from support amongst the faithful of Sathala, the Goddess of War, Death and Passion in the Taraskath pantheon.
Having issued the Challenge to the Sword, the self-proclaimed Grand Duchess by Right of all Taraskovya fled to Aphyr, where she created a splinter nation called Kerathor from amongst provinces loyal to her. Mikhail tried to reason with his sister, yet hostilities erupted in September of the same year after Anastasia killed her own father who tried to negotiate her surrender.
The Grand Duke reportedly fell in the war, personally leading the Alexander Guard into the final battle of Tin-Vilena, where the rebels were crushed following tremendous losses on both sides. Archduchess Anastasia was also killed. The political void created by his supposed death destabilised the rest of the Grand Duchy and led to the rise to power of a military junta in the form of the Ruling Council.
The years of the Ruling Council were marked by both a successful territorial expansion of Tarasovka and an extremely tense interior situation as various nationalist groups waged open war against each other.
Return of the Grand Duke
In spring of the year 1148 AS, just as the nation was still recovering from the latest White Legion uprising, the presumably dead and buried Mikhail II of all Taraskovya made an unexpected return and joined the Ruling Council, replacing Admiral Puchinov who was killed during the aforementioned uprising. Mere months later, the Taraskovyan people were called to vote on a new Constitution, which would restore monarchy in Tarasovka, even if the Grand Duchy was drastically reformed.
Vethara, who fled to Menelmacar during the junta’s rule, at first refused to recognize “Mikhail” as her real brother and Grand Duke. Yet, as the People and Fiefdoms approved the Constitution and Mikhail II became Grand Duke again, she had to eventually abandon her claims to the Sword of Rulers. The final reconciliation between the two happened during the coronation of High King Owain of the Resurgent Dream.
The full title of Mikhail II is By the Will of Gods, Grand Duke of all Taraskovya and Supreme Lord and Ruler of the Kin, King of Nyi-Gardarika, King of Dreamreach, High Duke of Vigvar and Amalor, Prince of Lagoon and of other territories, Lord and Ruler of the Citadels of the Emerald Spire, the Black Hand, Tal-Kerillion, Vigvar, Namel-Kith and Amal, Lord of the Black Guard, Grand Master of the Orders of Saint Alexander and Uiliath, and so forth, and so forth.
However, the only title used by the Taraskovyan ruler is that of Shokath-Kshas (Supreme Lord and Ruler of the Kin), when in Taraskath language, and that of Grand Duke of all Taraskovya in all other languages. The full title is used on extremely rare occasions, such as the writing down of the name of the Grand Duke in the registers.