Astrid I Barillon is the queen of the Kingdom of Farrun. Following the death of the previous king, her insane younger brother Philip VI, she took control of a crumbling kingdom and began an arduous campaign to save Farrun from ruin.
Though she became monarch suddenly and unexpectedly, Queen Astrid very quickly showed herself to be a strong leader, with an iron will and great tactical insight. During her campaign to reunite the kingdom's infighting counties and drive out the Orcish invaders, she made a name for herself as the Iron Queen for her unrelenting resolve and calculated warfare strategy.
Astrid Barillon was born on the 13th of First Seed, 4E 282, to the eldest son of king Philip V of Farrun, Raymond. She was the first of two children; her brother Philip would be born three years later. A year after Astrid's birth, king Philip V died, and thus Raymond became king Raymond II. However, in 4E 284, King Raymond died under mysterious circumstances, and with no male heir, his brother Guillaume seized the throne instead. This demoted Astrid and her then-pregnant mother Constance from being the royal family to being a mere branch of House Barillon. A few months later, Astrid's brother was born, Philip.
Unfortunately, King Guillaume was insane and severely egomaniacal. For the next decades, Farrun was subjected to a reign of terror, and Astrid suffered from her uncle's antics. She grew up to be a keen and intelligent woman, but on top of that, she became quite a beauty. As a result, the aging king started preying on her when she reached her mid-teens. Things came to a head on her seventeenth nameday, when King Guillaume made an attempt to molest her. She fought him off, but in response, he savagely beat her, which left her face disfigured. That day, Astrid swore she would see her uncle dead.
Plotting against the king
Over the next few years, Astrid consolidated her political power and affluence, working to undermine King Guillaume. Though barely an adult, she gathered around her a secret circle of nobles, who were like-minded in their desire to put an end to King Guillaume's terrible reign. They plotted to get rid of the king and replace him with the next in line, Astrid's brother Philip, for the good of the realm. However, Philip also showed signs of budding insanity. This concerned some of the nobles of Astrid's cabal, though Astrid herself was not willing to get rid of her own brother.
The plot finally came to fruition in 5E 2. Astrid's cabal had been steadily working to undermine King Guillaume's power base for the last seven years. It was a slow and meticulous process, but finally, the cabal found it was ready to take action. So, in early 5E 2, Astrid made contact with the Golden Crescent, an order of assassin monks, who sent one of their assets to assassinate the dementing King Guillaume, who murdered the king by smothering him in his sleep. With Guillaume dead, Philip was crowned King Philip VI, though he, like his predecessor, was showing signs of egomania...
Rise to power
The reign of King Philip was thankfully, for the most part, not as disastrous as Guillaume's. Though he was spiralling further and further into his egomaniacal tendencies, he was not very interested in ruling his kingdom, and thus kept his antics within court.
That changed following the Golden March, however. The war effort to defend the kingdom had given Philip a taste for war, though his participation in coordinating the defence had been very limited, and strategic insight was in reality woeful and clouded by hubris. The horrors of the Darkest Night only worsened Philip's state of mind, to the point of complete insanity. Astrid tried to help her brother, make him see sense, but the horrors of the lau'Ada had been too much.
In the months after the end of the Darkest Night, increasing unrest in the foothills of the Wrothgarian mountains began to threaten Farrunian settlements in the southwestern counties. When unrest turned into an actual organised offensive, Astrid urged Philip to issue a counteroffensive, though she had not anticipated that he decided to personally oversee the war effort. To ensure it would not become an unmitigated disaster, she made sure Count Edouard de Vanconne was part of King Philip's command staff, so that he could steer the king and keep things from going terribly wrong.
Between the 21st of First Seed and the 2nd of Midyear, the Farrunian army undertook a bloody offensive into the Wrothgarian Mountains, fighting against violent Orcish tribes who used bloodthirsty berserkers and guerilla tactics. The campaign was considered a success, as it staved off the Orcish invasion for the time being, though it left the Farrunian army exhausted and decimated. King Philip had not had enough, however - he had acquired a taste for battle, and he had started to consider himself a masterful general without compare. The neighbouring kingdom of Jehanna had also been suffering from Orcish attacks, and because of this, king Philip figured that their army would be weary and depleted, and that their lands would thus be ripe for the taking - starkly ignoring the fact that the Farrunian army had suffered at least as much exhaustion and depletion as the Jehannan army. Thus, with the Orcish threat only barely staved off, he sent his army to march all the way back from the southwest towards the east, heralding the start of the short but utterly disastrous Farrun-Jehannan War.
Princess Astrid wrote several letters to her brother to dissuade him from waging war against Jehanna, but her pleas proved fruitless. After only three battles, the war was lost, ending with a crushing defeat at the Battle of Cloud Spring. The Farrunian army was in shambles, and numerous soldiers deserted, resorting to pillaging the no man's land between Farrun and Jehanna. Many rightly placed the blame for this disaster campaign on King Philip. Among them was a knight from Karthgran County, who took matters into his own hands to ensure that the King would not lead Farrun into even further ruin. On the journey back to the capital, this knight murdered King Philip with a crossbow.
When news reached the capital, Astrid was devastated. Though her brother had been a terrible ruler and borderline insane, she had cared for him deeply, and she shut herself away in her chambers to mourn for days on end. She did not emerge from her chambers until the army made its return to the city, as at that point she could no longer delay the matters that had to be attended to; with no male heirs left in House Barillon, the crown would fall to her.