Anastasia Romanov - Enemy of the World Character in Aeteria - The Shattered World | World Anvil
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Anastasia Romanov - Enemy of the World

Peace? There will never be peace with her. She would burn this world to the ground if it meant she could be queen of the ashes.
— Arnold Potomkin, Albian Grant-Commander
Hero, villain, liberator, dictator, peasant, empress. To find a human being more divisive than Anastasia Romanov is hard, if not outright impossible. Millions have been affected by her actions and even those born today, nearly two decades after her death, continue to live under her shadow.  

Destined for the Mediocre

  All that was still far away when she was born on the 3rd of February 1733 IE. Her family, the proud House Romanov, was scrapping by on the southern fringe of the Ruthenian Expanse, prestige being the only thing that raised them above the common peasantry. Even though she received a decent education, the future did not seem to hold more for her than marriage to another landholder's son.   The Great Ruthenian Peasants War changed everything. As the great conflagration swept across the land, it burned the old order and left chaos in its wake. But it also brought opportunity. Breaking with the norms of old, Anastasia joined the military and thrived. By age 16, she was leader of a small army. A year later, she had, playing nobility and peasantry alike, taken control of her old homeland.   While western Ruthenia, spellbound by the horrific obsceneties of the princely warlords and revolutionaries, consumed itself in war and ethnic strife, Anastasia looked to restore order and freedom to the abandoned eastern provinces. Blazing across the land, she bested Arcadian mercenaries, noble armies, peasant mobs and Thun'lan fanatics.   Her army marched as far east as legendary Xi'An, where it brought down the ancient Shun Dynasty. It was here that Anastasia engaged in state-building for the first time. When she returned to Ruthenia in 1753 IE, she ruled the east from Vetevia to Atoursk and had become a force to be reckoned with.  
The fall of Shun was the first step. An ancient nation brought down in a single year, its people at her mercy and "begging" for guidance. It was here that she truly felt power for the first time. And grew to relish it.
— Dimitry Mosich, former Anastasian General

Dance of Devils

  Excerpt from "On the Fall of Old Ruthenia" by Duke Frederic Motasitsch (1701-1777 IE):   "We had been aware of her for a while. Ever since she'd broken Dimitry's back at Avtansk, we knew that that was someone to keep an eye on. And she just kept going. Vetevia, the Arcadians and even the Shun. Before we knew it, she ruled the whole east. We couldn't ignore someone like that. And so we invited her into our little circle. Had her help us cleanse the capital of that Republican filfth."   "We thought that once caught in our midst she would be controllable. We were wrong. While she despised the excesses of the Republic just as much as we did, she also despised the traditions of our ancient nobility. She was liberal enough for the republicans, poor enough for the peasants, brave enough for the soldiers and proud enough for the nobility."   "As we returned to our old squabbles, she spun her web. Used every incident to grab more power. I think we just thought too sophisticated. She just brute forced her will through when times called for that. And by 1756 IE, she had beaten us. We all thought that she'd crown herself Grand Prince. Instead, she broke the old crown into pieces, pushed the Patriarch from the podium and proclaimed herself empress."  

Light of the East

  The Coronation of Anastasia Romanov on the 29th of July 1756 IE is often regarded as the true beginning of the Anastasian Wars. While hostilities only erupted in early 1760 IE, it was this coronation that set Ruthenia down a path of confrontation with the rest of Aeteria...   "Perhaps I should continue from here on. After all, a story is best told by the protagonist, wouldn't you say? Although, most people would probably call me the villain of the piece. It does not matter, really. I saw an opportunity and took it, turning a crumbling realm into a world power."  
A New Order

"As is common for the women of Ruthenia, my first duty as ruler was to clean house. Removing the rot of centuries is no easy task, and I basically had to rebuild the country from the ground up. A new bureaucracy, administration, school system, all under my guiding hand. It wasn't perfect, but it worked well and results are all that matters."
A New Army

"Every state needs a strong army. Ruthenia's was in shambles. I ripped it apart and reformed it based on what I had learned in the east. Officers chosen by merit. A focus on speed, firepower and flexibility. And loyal only to me. What? It makes sense. Can't leave the door that I reached my position through open for others, now can I?"
A New Belief

"Cynical as it sounds I was never very religious. But I did see the usefulness of faith as a tool. I was well aware that many of my followers viewed me with more than respect, adoration or even love. How could I not encourage them? Leaders are human. They make mistakes. They can be opposed, attacked and overthrown. Symbols or Saints on the other hand..."
  A new Ruthenia   "I found a realm of crumbling stone and made it into one of gold and steel. A place where the people could be free and would, guided by the right hands, be able to thrive. I did not destroy the old, on the contrary, I used it to build the new. To build a realm stronger than anything the world had ever seen before."   "I had glimpsed the potential slumbering in Ruthenia and sought to fully unleash it. And the world took notice. They saw what I was building. They saw me and glimpsed the death of their old order. And shivering in fear, they declared me the great enemy of their world."  

The Anastasian Wars

  Beginning in 1760 IE, Anastasia Romanov would draw the world into two decades of ceaseless war an- "Oh, did I really do that? I remember it differently." Now hold o- "Those pesky Albians didn't like that I dared to reclaim those colonies they had carved out of Ruthenia during its time of troubles. They declared war on me." It was a justifiable action in the context of Ruthenian aggre-   Why am I even arguing here? This a serious piece of academic wor- "More like sneering piece of propaganda. I only desired to reclaim the former borders of Ruthenia." But you didn't stop there. Every day you send your forces further into the Cloud Ocean. A fifty-nation-coalition does not form over a few colonies!   "How could I stop? Every treaty I made was broken before the ink was even dry. No matter what I did, the Albians wanted only my utter defeat. Lasting pace was never an option until they felt the boot on their face." And you did an admirable job all things considered. For over a decade, Anastasian armies dominated both air and earth. By 1770 IE, your empire stretched across half of Aeteria. But it was never enough.   I showed you just how weak that old order was. A paper plane in the face of my firestorm. Is it wrong to free the people from the rule of oppressive tyrants?" Is it worth ten million lives? A number to gawk at. A fact to be forgotten. I admit that I grew too ambitious. Success...can blind you."   Even when the tide turned as the Sixth Coalition formed in 1771 IE, you didn't hold back. For seven more years, you fought on, throwing everything your country had into the meatgrinder. Only when your last army was annihilated at Verovsk in July 1778 did you surrender. And the world could finally breath again.  

Last Days

  "My last weeks were spent on Mont Seméin, a small island fortress not far from La Rochelle. They treated me better than I expected, even gave me time to write down my memoirs. I wasn't invited to my trial though. Today, they came to tell me my fate. Death. I didn't expect anything else. Before the judge left, he asked me wherever I felt any regret. I could not answer him honestly."   Anastasia Romanov was tried and finally executed on the 31st of December 1778. Her body was cremated and the ashes dispersed throught the Ruthenian Expanse. For many, this date is still seen as a holy day, either in reverence or defiance of the great empress.
Will of the people, pah! Greatest lie of the ages. People have no will. They are mobs directed by emotion and instinct. A person on the other hand...They are smart. They have a will. They can defeat fear and instinct. And rise to lead those that cannot.
— Anastasia Romanov
Date of Death
1733 IE 1778 IE 45 years old
Circumstances of Death
Execution via Firing Squad
Aligned Organization
A true ruler guards the freedom of their subjects. To suppress them, out of fear or ambition, is the work of tyrants.
— Anastasia Romanov
  The March Incidents  
Anastasia's rise was not as inevitable as it may seem in retrospective. In the 1750s, she was just one warlord among many and a new player in the Knynazey to boot. But the March Incidents, a series of political crisis, involving terror attacks, assasinations and even small scale civil war, allowed her to consolidate power by replacing ousted or dead politicians with her loyalists. By early May, her grip on the country had become almost unbreakable.
She has nearly brought us to ruin. I will not hear that Harlot's name in my house again!
— Viktor Romanov
  House Romanov  
An old family of noble background, House Romanov was just one of many frontier houses. The rise from low to imperial nobility split the family. Anastasia's direct relatives, such as her siblings, parents and children, stuck with her and shared her eventual fall. More distant members chose to remain on their old estates, and while they have been kept under tight watch since the Restoration began, they have escaped the turbulent times largely unscathed.
  What did it cost?  
Nearly twenty years of war, at least ten million dead and the same number of wounded, borders washed away and reforged multiple times, the old order broken. To call the reign of Anastasia Romanov a time of upheaval would be an understatement. But for every misdeed, her supporters will mention that she abolished slavery across vast swaths of Aeteria, removed rotten old structures and allowed many nations to decide their own fate. That she kicked a struggling Aeteria into the modern age. Wherever one sees her as hero or villain, they cannot deny that her reign will echo for centuries to come.
Surrender? You wish my death. This realm is what I lived for. All my life have I worked to get where I am now. You might as well shoot me. It will amount to the same.

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Cover image: by Grzegorz Rutkowski
Character Portrait image: by Astri-Lohne


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Jan 4, 2023 15:19 by Icarus Crow

I LOVE how some of this is written from Anastasia's POV. It makes the story feel much more in depth and easier to bring into my head like a movie almost!

It's Summer Camp time!!! ~ Icarus
Jan 19, 2023 16:49

I like the lots of background information, the influence on Anastasia's life story and the change between first-person perspective and other people's stories. A great portrait of a strong woman is shown here, which reminds me a little of Catherine the Great. Why did you choose Anastasia Romanov as your name?

Stay imaginative and discover Blue´s Worlds, Elaqitan and Naharin.

I would be very happy if you would celebrate my SC contributions with me.
Jan 20, 2023 16:10

Thanks for the comment. I am glad you liked it.   As for Anastasia, I don't really know why the name stuck with me. Character has been brewing at the back of my mind for a while. It just seemed to fit.