The Snyras Faction (Sun-Ay-Ras)

In the city of Arc, a large class of small traders, businessmen and women and money lenders have become increasingly politically important in the past few decades. As the power of the financial elites of the city continues to hollow out the traditional structure of the economy and society and many members of the middling class look at the debt prison the Oboline with barely disguised terror a political faction in the The Azure Chamber has been formed to protect their interests. The faction was orignally referred to as the Step Sweeper's Guild, referring to the practice that all small Arcish taverns, workshops, tailors and butchers engage in regularly, of sweeping the steps of their establishments to keep them attractive to visitors, 'step sweeping' became a mark of civic pride and was synonymous with the activities of the small business proprietor.   The faction gained its name from the patronage of the Snyras family, whose origins were nothing to do with the shopkeepers of the city. The family are old Arcish nobility, thrown out of the city when the The Protectorate of Arc was established. The Snyras family occupy a series of coastal forts a hundred miles to the south west of Arc, and they, along with the rest of the surviving exiled nobility, harbour deep resentments towards the city now ruled by the Protectors. For centuries, most members of the former Arcish nobilty thought that returning to their rightful place in the city was a lost cause, but in recent years, some far sighted members of the Snyras family have had second thoughts about this.   Arc, to even a casual observer, is a city in decline, and it is a city that is increasingly ill disposed towards the Protectors. Arcish citizens, crippled by the debts required to prop up The Levat and Modern Arcish Currency are starting to make their resentment known. The Snyras family, forever exiled from Arc, began to send money to the city to fund groups of angry merchants and they discovered willing recipients of their patronage in the guise of the Step Sweeper's Guild. Some small traders were wary of taking the money of the Snyras dynasty, knowing its long and seditious history.   However, the Step Sweeper's charismatic leader, Josyp Tranoth believed with certainty that as the protectors grew weaker, there was an opportunity to form a new political faction in the city that would ensure lower taxes for hard working artisans and traders like himself, and an end to the threat of the Oboline. He did not care about the fate of paupers when it came to the Oboline, and most members of the guild were happy to wash their hands of anyone further down the social ladder to them.   Tranoth's miscalculation was the the Snyras family cared for the affairs of Arcish shop keepers. They had little or no interest in actually changing the living conditions of the majority of the population. Instead they saw the group as a means of placing pressure on the Protectorate to allow their return to the city (from which position they would continue to scheme and plot the end of the Protectorate). Because Arc still functions on the rule of law, and the Step Sweepers had broken no actual law by recieving payment from the Snyras family, the only step the government of Droskun Arand could do was to show to its electors who the Sweepers were backed by. They were branded thne Snyras faction and documents showing the payment of thousands of Levats to the faction were shown in market squares across the city.   Those who knew their history and understood the corrupt and violent nature of the old Arcish aristocracy reacted with disdain towards the faction, but those who did not, and who were more easily manipulated were more sympathetic. The was much in the city of Arc to be resentful about, especially when it came to the Protector's government, and the idea of an alliance between the hard working proprietors of the city and a distantly remembered aristocracy was attractive to many. The faction has no armed power itself, but increasingly Tranoth has looked to forge ties with mercenary companies along the Starrander Road.  

The Snyras Faction, the Oboline and the Protectorate

  One of the most notable obstacles to the growth of the Snyras faction’s influence within Arc was that their primary constituency, the artisans and shopkeepers of the city, threatened by the encroachment of the Oboline into all forms of civic life, could not be effectively mobilized without tangible concessions, which could only be extracted from either the Protectorate or the Arcish finance houses that controlled the Oboline.    The Protectorate and the finance houses constitute two parallel systems of jurisprudence that contradict one another. The Protectorate is geared towards the preservation of the hegemony of the Arcish state throughout the former territories of its empire through an extensive legal and bureaucratic deriving its sovereign authority from the ideal of Arcish citizenship, an ideal which is made tangible through its links to the Levat Arc’s fiat currency.    Conversely the Arcish finance houses seek to exploit the debt-driven growth strategy the Protectorate has adopted by turning the Oboline into a state within a state and the cultic centre of a civic religion, while creating a parallel legal and bureaucratic framework which empowers the tendencies within the Protectorate which help maintain their power and mitigate the consequences of their excesses while subordinating all aspects of civic life to the expansion of the Oboline.    Though each has a vested interest in undermining the other, in order to retain their autonomy and consolidate their power, the destruction of one would lead to the collapse of the other. The Protectorate would collapse economically without the finance houses, whose fabrication of indebted subjects maintains the value of the levat. Conversely the extreme accumulative logic of the finance houses if left unchecked would intensify its contradictions to such an extreme degree it would implode. Both are acutely aware of the necessity of the other, and thus the Snyras faction, in order to have any chance of destroying the Protectorate must attempt to unfetter the accumulative logic of the Oboline to such an intense degree that the Protectorate ceases to function as a corrective mechanism, only then will they be granted permission to destroy it.   The Snyras faction must reconcile two contradictory positions, they must present themselves as a force capable of limiting the excesses of the Oboline to the artisanal and shopkeeping classes who feel increasingly threatened by it, while simultaneously intensifying those excesses to precipitate a collapse of Arc’s social order significant enough to provide the opportunity to supplant the Protectorate, one which would almost certainly entail the destruction of their popular bases of support.    Josyp Tranoth, the charismatic demagogue who served as the public voice and figurehead of the Snyras faction in Arc as leader of The Step Sweepers, was approached by a delegation consisting of representatives of the House of Torres as well as the three of the most prominent scions of the Old Arcish aristocracy Barons Silas Arnik, Horast Varnum, and Eberl Steinghaar. The delegation offered to sponsor the creation of a militaristic fraternities which synthesised the cultic religion that developed out of the Oboline, with extreme sectarian bigotry directed against economic migrants from the peripheries of Arc’s Empire that languished in the slums of the city.    The members of these fraternities became known as Brooch-Bearers or Bronzemen after the distinctive bronze brooches that signify the protected status which shields them from the excesses of the Oboline. The largest and most powerful of the Fraternities is The Kolovinian Brotherhood, derived from the Vannic Kolov, meaning to split or cleave, or possibly Kolos, to cleanse. The brooches are distinguished by their unique insignia, of an imperial eagle, whose wings form the arms of a set of scales, and whose torso is comprised of a fasces, the claws of the eagle extend out, each representing one of the great roads of Arc.    The centremost rod in the faces extends out into a broom, its bristles forming a crown adorning the eagle's head, signifying the fraternities’ connection to the Step Sweepers. The scales are perfectly balanced, with each feather of the eagle is a laurel leaf signifying victory, the ten feathers on each wing representing a different trade protected by the fraternity. Each member wore a plain black tabard, a black leather cowl, to which the brooch was pinned, a brown leather belt with a pewter buckle. Attached to the belt is a brown truncheon, a steel stiletto with the eagle insignia forming the hilt, a nine thonged scourge, knotted with jagged pieces of iron, and a small jar of pitch for lighting torches, which were often carried by fraternity members.   They wore leather gauntlets, sometimes embedded with brass across the knuckles, to enhance their punches. Below the waist they wore white woolen hose, and caligae. Bronzemen or Kolovins as they are sometimes known, are bound together by a strict code of etiquette which dictates their interactions with one another, creating a closed society which forms the basis of a new social identity one that sequesters them from the poor of Arc, instilling them with a sense of superiority, a feeling which is reinforced with the tangible power the priesthood of the Oboline bestowed upon them over debtors.    The bronze brooches worn prominently on their cowls contain a hidden compartment with a small piece of parchment stamped with the seal of the High Priest or Cephale that presides over the cultic centre at the heart of the Oboline. Bronzemen can present the piece of parchment to a priest in the Oboline who will burn it and present the bronzeman with a special coin, inscribed with a set of scales. This token allows the bronzeman to transfer any lesser debt from one debtor to another, providing them with a form of social security which enables them or a loved one to escape debt peonage, and an instrument of oppression which allows them to intimidate and threaten those outside of the fraternity with an unpayable debt.


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