In my world, a Maxima holds a religious position somewhere between a bishop and and archbishop, depending on location. Only a few years older than her best friend Gwynneth, Natalya is a very young Maxima, but she slept her way to the top so it’s okay.
Natalya is not undeserving of her position however. She’s clever, well-connected, and a ruthless political mastermind. The daughter of a Sanovan nobleman, Natalya came to the court of Norovaea as a twelve-year-old hostage. I won’t go into all of the reasons why she’s a hostage because frankly, I don’t know them. Suffice it to say, there was a war, her parents’ side lost and Natalya was sent to live with the victor to ensure the loser’s good behavior.
It was a sad and scary situation for a young girl, but fortunately, Princess Gwynneth took Natalya under her wing and they quickly became close friends. Natalya received the same excellent education as Gwynneth and her brothers (Arryk zoned out most of the time) and showed great promise in understanding politics and theology. When it was time for her to return to Sanova, she was seventeen and old enough to decline. Instead, she went to Atlona, the capital city of the Olvisyan Empire to begin her training as a priestess.
In the Atlona temple school, she quickly caught the eye of Livilla Maxima, the top religious official in the empire and mentor to the Archduchess Teodora. During this time, she met and became friendly with Teodora, although they were always a little cautious around each other, recognizing not only kindred spirits but potential worthy opponents.
Once Natalya completed her training, Livillla made sure she received an excellent position as a junior priestess in a large temple in Allaux, the capital of Galladium. By then, Gwynneth had married Kendryk and Natalya got to know him when she visited them at Birkenhof on her way west from Atlona. (You’re just going to have to trust me on the geography here) Since she was an attractive, intelligent young woman, Kendryk liked her a lot. Not as much as he liked Gwynneth but still a lot a lot. So he kindly wrote a letter of introduction to his best friend, the young king Gauvain Brevard.
And the rest is history.Or rather, it’s in Valley of the Shadow.