Will of the Helm, Part VIII, Epilogue: A political analysis

[The Grand Library has received a copy of an official letter from Delve presumably mailed to the leadership of each city upon Sapience. In the interest of preservation of public knowledge, we have decided to publish it publically.]

To the city states of Sapience,

Following the recent turmoil within our Free City, we would like to extend our gratitude by sharing what we have gleaned of the political situation within Drakkenmont and wider Albedos, and how it relates to the assassination of the Eld of the Twilight.

As you have become aware, the death of Aiillassa was orchestrated by Polemarch Axander of House Galthor. Axander, known to you as Andalso, is the nephew of the Autarch, the ruler of the Drakkenmont Empire, and his house governs the region known as the Red Quarter that borders Dramedo and Clawhook to the north, through the passage at the Dramlai Watch.

Roughly two hundred years ago, Axander led a failed invasion of Sapience. During that invasion, valuable Drakkenmont airships were destroyed, and their technology salvaged by Delve. Due to the Autarch sanctioning the invasion, as well as her protecting her nephew afterwards from his failure, the Drakkenmont Empire has been locked in a cold civil war for the past two hundred years, and the Autarch has lost much of her apparent power.

This power struggle continues to this day, with the various greater Houses of Drakkenmont vying for control within the empire. It is likely that Axander’s actions were an attempt to gain support and strengthen his – and possibly his Aunt’s – position within Drakkenmont by eradicating the remaining resistance to Drakkenmont rule upon Albedos. Aiillassa had protected Delve from invasion for centuries, turning fortune to our favour to make any such endeavor by Drakkenmont a costly one not worth undertaking. It is our presumption that once the unleashed misfortune by her death had settled, the forces of House Galthor would have entered and razed our city, and that the delay was to avoid their airships being struck by unnatural disaster.

To give context to the politics of the Drakkenmont Empire before we continue further, a brief summary of its social structure and hierarchy can be defined as follows, in order of presumed power:
– The Autarch, Thyxthaxia of the Royal House Nerethix, ruler of the Empire.
– The Viziers, the nine advisers to serve as her council. Viziers are appointed for life, usually taken from the greater Houses. While ostensibly the Viziers are meant to be neutral forces, this is hardly ever true. There are complex political ramifications behind these appointments that is not fully apparent to Delve, but it would be safe to assume it is a method for the Autarch to secure her power.
– The Polemarchos, military commanders and leaders of the greater Houses. A greater House is defined as a House that rules a region of Albedos.
– The Marzpawn, noble vassals to the Polemarchos and leaders of minor houses. The Marzpawn administrate smaller divisions of territory within the region of a greater House. You will be familiar with Marzpawn Zorusthi, one of Axander’s noble vassals that invaded Sapience alongside him. He controls the fortress of Dramlai Watch. The now-deceased Marzpawns Erkuba and Ishixan, who were also vassals of Axander that perished in the invasion, will also be familiar names to you.
– Consuls, titled Dreikathi that serve positions in the royal court and elsewhere. You will be familiar with Consul Feiciheix, whom perished some 51 years ago when trying to secure the Sun Drinker’s clutch of eggs for the Empire.
– Exalts, untitled Dreikathi, children of various greater and minor Houses that often serve as retainers to other Houses in order to build and maintain alliances.
– Vierkathi, cousin race to the Dreikathi, considered inferior to Dreikathi in all respects. The Vierkathi often hold power equivalent to great merchant houses, emissaries and dignitaries, and so on. Where Dreikathi are descended directly from Dragons, the Vierkathi are descended from Wyverns which are descended from Dragons, and it is that secondary step that leaves them considered as lesser.
– Haekathi, half-bred spawn of Dreikathi. In Drakkenmont society, they are considered lesser than the Dreikathi and Vierkathi, and a sore reminder of the pure Dreikathi’s low birth rates. Yet, though they are mere half-breeds, they still share the blood of Dragons and a Dreikathi takes care of their brood. They are usually employed in roles that keep them out of the public eye, becoming operatives and saboteurs to do the dirty work considered beneath the proud Dreikathi.

Be aware that this is not an exhaustive explanation. There are a lot more subtleties to the structure, with further delineation of those ranks, but the full hierarchy of the Drakkenmont Empire is a complex enough beast that even we do not have a full grasp of it.

Axander was once Polemarch of the Royal House Nerethix that controls one of the largest territories amidst the Drakkenmont Empire, covering much that is west of the great Salaman river, including the fertile Asamad Basin renowned for its bountiful harvests. Following his staggering failure upon Sapience – the first external military campaign lost by the Drakkenmont Empire in thousands of years – Axander had an immense fall from grace. There were calls for his exile, even execution.

However, Dreikathi place an immense importance upon familial blood and Axander is the eldest son of the Autarch’s late sister. Against the advice of her Viziers, the Autarch protected her nephew by shifting him to be Polemarch of Galthor, a House administrating the Red Quarter – a far smaller region. This response by the Autarch is what set off the cold civil war that has drastically reduced the influence of her power.

Based on the reports we received from Sapience regarding the Midnight Serpent, a Haekathi special forces unit under the command of the Autarch, we can begin to paint a clear picture of the Autarch’s desperate struggle to secure a hold upon her power. It is unclear at this moment if Axander acted alone in this recent endeavour, or under the orders of his aunt. However, taking into account the clues given away by Emissary Hulok’s discussion upon the artifacts used to slay Aiillassa, we know that at the very least, House Zaxandor believes she did.

Polemarch Xandrelle of House Zaxandor governs a territory known as Greymarsh that is directly east of Axander’s own Red Quarter. Like the Red Quarter, it is one of the smaller territories, and despite being a greater house, Zaxandor does not hold a lot of power compared to the higher-ranked houses. By aiding us, she ensures that her political influence will increase in several ways.

Primarily, we expect her to use the recovered artifacts to expose Axander’s actions, and force the Autarch to disavow involvement, resulting in his isolation. Trading us the newborn eld’akathi ensures that our city will be able to resist Axander’s attempts at invasion, adding another mark of failure against his name. Furthermore, by successfully retrieving the ‘stolen’ artifacts from Delve and returning them to the Drakkenmont vaults, alongside recovering the airship core that also fell into our hands as a result of Axander, Xandrelle propels herself upwards.

It is difficult to discern what move House Zaxandor will make from there. On the surface, her motivation would seem to be wanting to annex the territory of Red Quarter into her own, giving her House the power to stand against the higher ranked greater houses. Yet despite the cold civil war, it is exactly that – a cold war. Very little open conflict has taken place between the greater Houses over the past two hundred years, and it beggars belief a greater house as low ranked as Zaxandor would engage in open warfare against House Galthor for the sake of annexation, despite how isolated Axander will become when Zaxandor presents their requisitions.

Thus right now our only option is to watch how the situation plays out with careful vigilance and ensure that our Free City does not get swept up in the resulting turmoil. Once again, we are grateful for the assistance of our allies in handling this situation, and we will continue to update you on the political developments within Drakkenmont as more information comes to light.

We are,
The Council of Five

Penned by my hand on Kinsday, the 20th of Niuran, in the year 506 MA.
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