Thursday, 10 January 2013

Enchiridion: The Royal Council

The King's Council was created by King Alfric the Destined after he unified Abevorn. While ostensibly intended to ensure more effectiveness governance, Kings have largely used the Council for making decisions about issues in which they have little interest. This is not to say the Council only deals with minor matters and general admin. King Ravand, for example, delegated the task of dealing with the first great plague to the King’s Council while he spent six months staring at his navel and giggling.

Each Province except Kingsland is represented by a Lord-Councillor. Regional customs decide who can serve as Lord-Councillor. Some posts are hereditary, some elected, while a few are appointed by the King. There are nine Lord-Councillors, who are joined on the council by the King (who represents the Royal City as well as acting as monarch) and the Keeper of the Gates (who represents Kingsland).

Map showing the ten provinces of Abevorn

Royal City
Represented by King Horvus,
King of Abevorn

The Royal City on its own has a population greater than a number of the provinces. It is governed through a complex political structure, with the King sitting at the top. The King himself is known as being relatively wise and fair, though the standards of his predecessors have not been exactly high.

Northern Ranges
Represented by Lady Wolfrich, 
Lady of the Northern Ranges, Watcher of the Dead, Watcher of the Blight

The Northern Ranges are a stark and barren expanse of moorland and rocky flats. Its people are dour and stoic, characteristics exemplified by their Lord-Councillor, who is always the chief of the Wolfrich clan. Lady Wolfrich assumed the title upon the death of her husband and continues his legacy of straightforward pragmatism. She has no interest in petty politics when swathes of her province are riven by vengeful ghosts and the far north is infested by the chaotic creatures of the Mordant Blight. This means she often stands as an outsider at meetings of the Council.

Represented by Keeper Votus,
Keeper of the Gate

Traditionally, the appointment of Keeper is for life and is bestowed upon a person not of noble birth who has distinguished themselves in service to the king. This is usually a Warrior or General, but occasionally a trusted advisor or respected scholar. The Keeper of the Gate is charged with deciding who is allowed to see the King, which in theory makes it a very powerful position, but in practice it is purely ceremonial. The Keeper of the Gate is looked down upon by all of the other councillors due to their lack of noble blood or popular mandate and convention dictates that the Keeper votes according to the will of the King.

The current Keeper, Armistead Votus, was advisor to the current King's father. Now in his eighties, he is physically frail, but his mental faculties remain razor sharp. He is considered the most shrewd political operator within the realm, compensating for his lack of official power by manipulating others and setting them against each other to achieve outcomes he believes are best for the kingdom as a whole.

Sunward Steppes
Represented by the Duchess Summer-Mae
Duchess of the Sunward Steppes, Honored Rider of the Arvidian Nomads, Queen of the Harvest

The Sunward Steppes serve as Abevorn’s breadbasket, the fertile plains home to most of the kingdom’s farms and ranches. The plains are also home to horse nomads, who bear no allegiance to the King, but do recognise the Duchess Summer-Mae as an Honored Rider, allowing her to join with them on their travels as an equal, an invitation often accepted.

No one is quite sure how the Duchess Summer-Mae came to power. The previous Duke was killed during the war with Belgren, leaving no heirs. The resulting power struggle amongst the elite of Sunward was ended somewhat awkwardly when months of arguing and debate petered out as it became clear a woman was now living in the Sunward Palace and undertaking the duties of the Duke without bothering to ask anyone if she could. When they suggested she couldn’t, a factotum showed up bearing reams of legal paperwork making plain her right to the title. Well, it wasn’t exactly plain. Scholars working for the Duke’s extended family are still scrutinising the detail to this day, but given how effective a job the unexpected Duchess has been doing, few others are inclined to argue.

Wilder Hills
Represented by Baron Uzgar
The Wilder Baron

Of all the Lord-Councillors, the Wilder Baron attracts the most gossip and speculation. Rumour has it that the Uzgar family have troll and ogre blood running in their veins and this doesn’t seem implausible given the madness that has cursed each generation. Not that the Uzgars consider this a curse. When madness strikes it is unique to the individual, and it has given rise to genius as often as it has more pathological behaviour.

The current Wilder Baron, Christopher Uzgar, has yet to show any conspicuous signs of madness, but this only makes his peers treat him with even more suspicion. His position on issues brought to the Council is often unpredictable, but no one is sure if this is a sign of burgeoning madness, capricious whimsy or a symptom of ruling over the most wild and changeable region of Abevorn.

Southern Ranges
Represented by Lord Magnus
Lord of the Southern Ranges, First Sealord of the Sunward Admiralty

Lord Magnus is the younger brother of the King. The second born Prince has typically been awarded rule over the most prosperous Region after the Royal City and Kingsland. At the time Lord Magnus came of age, this was questionably the Southern Ranges, a land rich in natural resources and home to a burgeoning jewel in Abevorn's crown - Mayberry. Unfortunately, the war with Belgren ten years ago rather scuppered this arrangement, with the cataclysmic event that ended the war also creating the Spited Lands - a toxic, magical waste that left much of the Southern Ranges inhospitable to good-natured folk. Lord Magnus petitioned his brother for the right to rule a different region, preferably Khaevorn, but the King refused, believing Magnus partly responsible for starting the war.

Represented by Lord Edward Hawkcroft
Lord of Khaevorn, High King of the Daemon's Pass, Bearer of the Iron Oath

Khaevorn was long considered a backwater region, supplying little of value to the rest of Abevorn. This changed as the result of two events. First, Lord Edward Hawkcroft, as a young man, slew the Daemon guarding Daemon's Pass and made contact with the dwarves of King Ragni mining under the point where the Daggerspine Mountains meet the Heartland Mountains. He swore the Iron Oath recognising their claims on the wealth found there in return for the opening of trade relations. As precious metals and stones bought from the dwarves and sold on to the rest of Abevorn began to enrichen Khaevorn and the Hawkcroft family, war with Belgren reduced the Southern Ranges from the kingdom's primary source of wealth to a deathly wasteland in a matter of months.

Now Khaevorn is rapidly catching up with the wealth of Kingsland, even if the respect from the other regions lags behind. Lord Hawkcroft believes his power would grow greater still if he could gain control of the roads and sea routes leading back to the Royal City. He currently has to contend with pirates and bandits, as well as taxes imposed by his fellow councillors as his goods pass through their lands.

While the other councillors sneer at the rise of the Hawkcroft family, the King's advisors hold a more pragmatic outlook, to the extent that it is widely believed Lord Hawkcroft's daughter will marry the Prince, mitigating the possibility that Khaevorn's rise could one day challenge the authority of the throne.

Shadow Wastes
Represented by Shadow Reeve Olterman
Reeve of the Shadow Wastes

The councillor is of the Shadow Wastes is an elected post, the candidates drawn from the Reeves over-seeing law and order in the shires of the Shadow Wastes, rather than the Nobles or Administrators of the land. This was introduced as an antidote to the endemic corruption within the region, but alas the Reeves proved just as corruptible, and the elections are now a product of money, politics and pressure from the pirate city of Port Bloodwater, rather than a genuine reflection of either the will of the people or who is the law-maker most capable of fulfilling the role.

Shadow Reeve Olterman is well aware that he is only allowed to keep his post for as long as he keeps the various parties who enabled his appointment happy. Some of these live in the Royal City, but most ply their trade in the thriving criminal underworld of the Shadow Wastes.

Western Isles
Represented by Governor Threpley,
Governor of the Western Isles

The Governorship of the Western Isles is appointed by the King upon the recommendation of the Dunnell Conclave, a group of religious leaders representing the various islands of the Western Isles. Given the disparate and highly esoteric beliefs of some in the group, choosing a Governor has led to inter-island conflicts, murders and ritual sacrifices in the past.

The current Governor is Bathsheba Threpley, known for her ostentatious parties, man-eating habits (figuratively speaking) and capacity to happily reverse her principles on the toss of a coin.

Represented by Lord Fife,
Lord of the Seven Cliffs, First Sealord of the Pantheonic Admiralty

Lord Fife has ruled over Sevvenia and served on the King’s Council longer than any other Lord-Councillor. He is arrogant, misogynistic and largely disinterested in the lives of commoners, yet as a lifelong fan of the Torcastle soccer team (affectionately known as The Rooks), he arguably has a greater affinity with the man or woman on the street than many of his peers.

Green Watches
Represented by Watcher Firense,
First Watcher of the Lands

The Green Watches lie to the east of The Great Forest. The Great Forest is home not just to elves, but also many beasts and demons that occasionally break out into the wooded vales, wreaking havoc and carnage. Rangers constantly patrol the edge of the forest and foremost among their number are the Watchers, who meet once every four years to elect a First Watcher, who will in turn sit on the King’s Council.

The current First Watcher is Qidana Firense. She is more comfortable stalking woodland with a bow and arrow than sitting in council, but takes her duties very seriously, meaning she is often the most informed Councillor on the subjects up for debate.

By Bobo Melf

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