The Dreams of the Dragon Kings
The Roken Dynasty
For almost six hundred years, the race of man lived under the yoke of an absolute ruler; a line of Emperors claiming dominion over the length and breadth of the human Empire, Icadea. Five and a half centuries of this rule were under the Imperial House of Solena, the Roken Dynasty, until the legitimacy of the Roken bloodline was challenged by a half-elf by the name of Edolys, a bastard son of the Emperor no more a bastard than his human half brother, the current heir, Thandrel son of Therendrel.
Edolys had no grand House to back up his claim, but he had public opinion on his side, made popular among the poorer folk, the working classes, the half-breeds and outcasts and all manner of downtrodden, oppressed citizens as a local hero, a dragonslayer and a champion of the people. The Emperor and the Imperial House refused to recognise Edolys’ claim and what began as honourable challenges and political conflict soon dissolved into civil war. For seven years the human empire fought among themselves while the kingdoms of elves and dwarves shrank back toward their hidden cities and homelands and looked on, until the Imperial House was toppled: Thandrel exiled and Therendrel killed; and Edolys took the throne.
An Empire Torn
At first there was peace and the humans turned to their old neighbours and invited them back into their lands, eager to once more to share in knowledge and skill, trade and travel, but the elves and the dwarves were reluctant, their greater age and experience begging caution. In the aftermath of the civil war with so many young dead and the economy badly damaged by the broken trade and fractured diplomatic relations with the other races, Edolys’ reign was not all that had been hoped for. Racial tensions grew more acute; one faction blamed Edolys’ victory on a conspiracy of the elves to infiltrate and gain governance over man while another pressed fiercely back against those to whom purity of blood was so precious. Poverty and diminished trade was inflamed by the loss of half a working generation and the class divide did not dissolve, but grew steeper. With the Imperial military torn apart, Edolys devolved martial governance to each region of Icadea but with insufficient experience and organisation, the new local militias were no match for the beasts and brigands that swept in like a plague to take advantage of the chaos, overrunning small defenceless farmsteads and hamlets, claiming mines, woodlands and remote outposts for themselves. The time of civil unrest was not yet over.
The New Republic
Edolys’ reign lasted twelve years, before civil war raged once more and while discussions were underway to dissolve the empire and negotiate a new method of governance, skirmishes and border disputes continued to tear apart Icadea. Then, on the eve of the signing of a new diplomatic treaty, Edolys was assassinated. What followed, however, was not the fall of the race of men that some had predicted, nay expected. The months following the Emperor’s death were chaotic, but with the new year dawned a brave new era of peace and democracy; a new republic: a shining example to all. Representatives from each of the four regions of Icadea were elected from and by their own, and formed a council, guided but not governed by a respected war veteran and once-rebel leader, Ydraine. Guild houses from the Roken era began to re-establish and reinvent themselves, taking the burden of reopening trade routes, providing training and education and other services, and establishing more centralised organisation of their ranks to earn themselves representative seats on the council over time. Town militia, too, were absorbed or rendered obsolete by organised regional militia groups who helped to protect borders and restore order, and begin to reclaim some of the land that had been stolen away, while a new generation of would-be heroes began to take on the task of pushing back against the beasts and brigands, seeking glory and fortune.
It has been fifty years since this brave new era began: Thandrel has not been heard of in some six decades; Ydraine grows greyer and more feeble by the month and must soon be succeeded as High Councillor; dwarves, elves, and halflings have filtered in amongst human society once more, in some cases repopulating settlements on their borders that were previously abandoned but often enough living side by side with them in their cities and towns. Three guilds now hold a seat on the council: the Merchants’ Guild, the Companions’ Guild and the Warriors’ Guild, as do the College of Mages and the High Temple of Pelor, and on the surface this new governance seems to be working well, but a nation that has learned it is possible to challenge the establishment and be victorious are not so easily kept content.
Murmurs of Discontent
While the Merchants’ Guild succeeded in appointing a Dwarf to the council without causing too large a ripple among the populace a year ago, the recent ascension of a new High Champion among the Warriors has led to their council seat becoming a topic of much controversy, as upon it now sits a Half-Orc by the name of Kroth. Some feel that a representative of the people should, in fact, represent them – and Half-Orcs are few and far between. Others distrust the nature and temper of their kind, and fear their hard-won peace will be brought to an abrupt end in an outbreak of bloodshed and violence. Some have started to question the right of the guilds to elect or appoint via their own means, rather than by a strictly democratic process, which in turn has led others to question whether a shadowy organisation such as the Thieves Guild may also have found ways to influence the council; or if there are descendants of the House of Solena lurking on the edges of society, waiting for their time to strike back. The rural regions resent the urban for getting greater representation by virtue of the grand Guildhouses, while the population in the capital grumble that their numbers, many multiples greater in size than some of the more sparsely populated areas, are not adequately represented by a single regional seat.