So I just had this idea pop into my head and I wanted to share it with all of you.
The Prince's Companions are a small band of women, picked from the nobility, who accompany each son of the ruling monarch, at all times. Everywhere from the confines of his bedroom, to the baths, to the library, the feasting halls, out hunting or the training grounds and to the battlefield. It is rare, for a new queen to bed her husband without the companions right besides her, either helping the new queen in her unknowing virginity or making sure their prince enjoys himself. They are to be his closest friends and his bodyguards, for the realm is a dangerous place for princlings. Upon the age of sixteen, a prince leaves the protection of his mother's solar (a separate tower or manor for the queen) and enters into a world designed to make sure the strongest and most cunning lord rules the land.
But he does not go out unprotected. On his birthday, his mother chooses several ladies to guard her son with their lives, mostly the second and third daughters of lords and knights. These young ladies (who can be upwards of twenty years of age but mostly are around the same age as the prince), have been train in many arts. From combat to statecraft, to pleasure, they are ready to serve him in many ways.
Royal brothers are not only encouraged but expected to kill each other nor is the royal household set in stone. Through cunning plot or force of arms, should a lesser lord take the crown, he shall be king (save in times of war). Of course that would put any of his kin, serving as a companion, under suspension. The death of each prince is investigated and should it come to pass, that a companion helped to slay her prince, then she and all of her family are put to the sword, even the new claimant to the throne. Throughout history, there are recordings of sisters fighting brothers, daughters fighting fathers and even sisters fighting sisters, to protect an unrelated man.
So thats where my idea ends. The plot is loose at the moment, depending on the setting mostly and some brainstorming with those interested in writing this story with me. This could work as just about any settling but I'm really seeing it as taking place in a Celtic or Germanic Iron Age setting or a Medieval settling or a Sci-fi setting.
So anyone interested?
We've made a great deal of progress in crafting the world and this is as it stands.
The Kingdom of Ahremberg
A nation roughly the size of modern France but with a more German feel to it. Subdivided into often feuding or positioning baronies, counties, principalities, duchies and grand duchies. Intermarried family squabble about who owns what lands, based on who they are related to and how far back their line has laid claimed to a forest, valley, farmstead or township. Small wars break out now and then, as one lord attempts to forcibly make his claim to another's lands. At times, such petty conflicts grow so large, that the King's army is made to intervene, least the conflict boil over into a civil war, as other great men pick sides, either in support or to simply settle old grudges.
The histories tell us, that the beginning of this grand kingdom, there was a tribe called the Remi and they were ruled by a king called Adalgis. They were threatened by an alliance of two tribes to the north, the Berglandlings and the Ahdenii. Now Adalgis was a weak man, in both body and spirit. He feared the death of his tribe and was prepared to submit to them but his younger brother, Gerold, a large and bold man, was not. On the eve before the King and his chieftains were suppose to go before their enemies and grovel, Gerold slipped into his brother's tent and murdered him, cutting of his head and sticking it upon a spear before the chieftains. As these greater men look on in horror, Gerold declared himself the new King, crying out that only the strong deserved to rule and snatched the crown from the head of his dead brother.
Drawing sword, Gerold lead the chieftains and their retainers on a night march, catching the camp of the allied kings by surprise. A short but bloody battle ensued, where Gerold slew both the King of Bergland and mortally wounded the King of the Ahdenii. Most of the lesser lords of the Ahdenii perished and their King begged for his people, even as he died, offering his daughter for Gerold's bride. Gerold accepted the King's offer, before the remaining Ahdenii nobles and then turned upon the Bergland troops still upon the field. They held their ground and many of their nobles yet lived but they were surrounded by the Remi warriors and worse yet, the surviving Ahdenii joined the ranks of the victorious Remi. Outnumbered and without their armor, the Berglandlings surrendered, pledging themselves to King Gerold.
After the great victory, peace did not come to the Remi people. Although their king offered his daughter to Gerold before most of the remaining Ahdenii nobles and they fought against the Berglandlings, the Ahdenii rejected Gerold as their king. Pretenders to the Ahdenii crown seemed to spring from the very ground, forcing the Remi to campaign against them for many years, until the last and greatest of their strongholds fell before the ever victorious Gerold. However, this only welted his battle lust and for many years afterwards, the combined Kingdom of Ahdenii-Remi-Bergland conquered other small nations around them.
Upon his deathbed, Gerold looked around at his many sons (for his loins were strong) and declared he would not split his kingdom among them but would hand over his bloody crown to his one surviving heir. His sons looked upon their father and each other in confusion, until one of the younger, standing in the back realized this was his one and only chance to be king and drew a seax from his belt, then stabbed one of his brothers, setting off a brawl around a dying old man. At the end of the day, only one son remained standing and took the crown from his father's cold hands.
So was set forth how kingship of Ahremberg was to be taken. It was not to be the oldest or a declared heir to the thrown but by the strongest of sons. The other noble families, as they intermarried with the royal line, began to follow suit, hoping to groom their own sons to seize the crown. Over time, the Consul of Temples, set forth rules to this game, after one brutal bastard call King Grimbert Babeslayer, removed all of his brothers, while they were still in the cradle, including killing one as he nursed from their mother's breast. From then on, all princlings, of any noble house were safe, until they reach manhood at sixteen.
Father's also tried to protect their sons with bodyguards but men were found unsuited to the task, as they either paved the way for their brothers to seize the throne or were found to still owe loyalty to their old lords in battle. Such men were still found to betray their change, even after laws were placed, in which a betrayer's family would be slain. A guard was needed that was more likely want to protect their families and so the kings turned to the daughters of the nobility, founding the Prince's Companions, from those who could never inherit titles and were therefore immune to the corruption of power struggles.
Over the years, a guild rose from this system. Referred to as The Sisterhood, they trained young ladies in the arts, from those expected for their gender, as well as statecraft and the martial skills they would need to serve a young lord (be he of royal blood or of powerful noble family), along with some talents, which are less then mentionable in polite conversation. While the lords of the land are not forced by law, to give their younger daughters to the Sisterhood, it is expected that they will. Either that or donate large sums to the guild. In addition to the young ladies of Ahremberg but a number of foreigners are within their ranks. As part of peace agreements with other nations, the warlords of Ahremberg make their foes surrender a tribute of young ladies to protect the sons of their conquerors.
Such a tribute serves a duel purpose, it keeps the lords of defeated lands form launching new assaults upon Ahremberg and provide dedicated guards for young prices and lords. In addition to the normal rules of the Sisterhood, where if a Prince's Companion allows her charge to die, the guild (with the Temple's support) descends upon their family with fire and sword, those coming from defeated lands, will also carry the burden of getting one in ten of their people killed as well. Of course, if her charge becomes King, she can attempt to use her influence over him to improve the lot of her people.
Because of the large numbers of tributes and the large family's of the nobility, the Sisterhood's ranks are swelled to the point where there are more ladies then can serve as Companions. While it has always been tradition that once a sister reach the age of twenty, that she was too old to join a Prince coming into his majority but within recent generations, it has become a rule. This as left the guild with a surplus of combat train women on their hands. Some of theses ladies become teachers for the new sisters or other such staff in the guild buildings. Other form a small standing army, used to punish those who break guild law.