Introduction to imperial politics and the Light and Dark political factions

Table of Contents

Set in Book 1: Rituals of Blood and Power in the 10 years between chapter 1 and the rest of the novel.


Introduction

Quickly after she had arrived at the Alyssenne manor, Adrien Nolane decided that Annabelle needed to be taught the very basics of politics. Whatever she had been able to learn at the orphanage from which she had just escaped of course did not count.   To this end, he brought her to the inner garden of the Alyssenne manor - her house now - to have a conversation. Shockingly, he also brought along Béatrice Watron, Annabelle's commoner cousin whom he clearly considered to be below them. Even worse, he got out of prison the Dark mage that had been captured the previous week during Annabelle's initial return to the Estate. Laurent Émorie. To give her a "more rounded opinion".   "My lady," Nolane started when they were all in the centre of the garden, fruit juice drinks in their hand and back held stiffly against the wicker chairs. "As I am sure you have heard before, our empire is deeply divided between the Light and Dark factions. However, this goes much deeper than a mere political division; it affects many aspects of our culture and society. To understand that division, we need to go back to the origin of the empire."   Béatrice snorted and Nolane glared at her. She gave him a challenging look. Nolane pinched his lips and his magic shimmered softly on his skin, ready to rise. However, he visibly took upon himself to turn away without commenting. He smiled politely at Annabelle and continued.  

History lesson

  "As even orphanages ought to teach to their charges, three millennia ago the Estates that nowadays make up the empire used to be completely independent, only forming temporary alliances with some of their neighbours when the situation required it. However, over times clear patterns emerged, with the House of Alyssenne and—" he grimaced with obvious pain and disgust "—the House of Lyrienne being close allies who were defending the rest of the continent from invasions by the Southern Kingdoms. Numerous Estates joined their alliances, impressed with their power and guidance, and wishing to use them to gain influence over their neighbours.
The inner garden of the Alyssenne manor by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

Map of the Empire of the Covenant
The Empire of the Covenant is a millennia-old federal empire spread over a whole continent and gathering around 600 independent Estates. Those are ruled by powerful mages, lords and ladies who are the Heads of their Houses and who are linked to the ancestral magic of their Lands. Estates are divided by their affilitation with the Light or Dark political factions.   See Geography, Climate and Demography of the Empire and Political Organisation of the Empire.

He marked a pause and Annabelle nodded to confirm she was following. She had indeed been aware of all of that regardless of the quality of the orphanage.   Satisfied, Nolane went on, "This phase ended with a strong alliance between all Estates south of the Haut Plateau steppes and north of the Issone Mountains. The northern Estates became frightened and jealous of this power and unity and formed their own alliance in reaction and quarrels between both sides started."   Béatrice put her drink down with a loud clank on a low glass table that stood between them. They all winced and turned towards her.   She reddened but raised her chin. "Really, what use is all of that? That was literally millennia ago! You said you wanted to teach Annabelle about politics and concrete things, not that we were going to lose a whole afternoon on history! The Estate is not going to run itself!"   This time Nolane did not have the self-control to bite back his reaction. His magic rose like a wave around him and covered the room in a thick cloak in an impressive display that was unfortunately lost on anyone but Annabelle. Though judging by the way Béatrice twitched uneasily, even those without magical sensibility were able to feel the presence of the magic, if not to see it.

Lady Annabelle Alyssenne by AmélieIS with Artbreeder

The current leader of House Alyssenne, 15 years old and just escaped from an orphanage. She needs to be taught about her role and power before she can join the rest of the empire or she will be in danger from people wanting to manipulate of kill her.
 
His dominance thusly established, Nolane bit out, "And that exactly illustrates how short-sighted commoners are. The lot of you continuously create unnecessary troubles by refusing to examine the full situation, its origin, and all of its ramifications, instead preferring to throw tantrum because you cannot have your way. Do you expect the structure of the universe itself to change to accommodate your whims?"   Annabelle stiffened. Oh Ancestors. Did he really have to? Could they not all remember their manners for a few minutes while in her presence?   And that was the part where she was supposed to intervene, was it not? She was in charge, she was supposed to keep them all in line and behaving. But what was she supposed to do? If she sided with one of them, that would make an enemy out of the other and this would highly destabilise her rule barely a week into it. Nolane had the support of the nobility, Béatrice of the commoners. Annabelle required both.   She involuntarily glanced at Émorie, but he was only looking on at the quarrel in mild interest.

Sieur Adrien Nolane by AmélieIS with Artbreeder

A minor noble family that has served the Alyssennes for centuries. He is currently the leader of all the minor nobility in the Estate and has been managing it since the death of Annabelle's parents.

A mewed suddenly interrupted them as a small kitten wondered near them. The little black thing came to rub itself on the foot of Annabelle's chair. She grabbed it and put it in her lap, making it mew loudly in indignant protest. Everyone else startled and turned towards her, but she pretended to ignore them since they clearly had nothing of value to say at the moment.   A minute went by in strained silence before Nolane completely reabsorbed his magic inside his body and cleared his throat awkwardly. Annabelle rose her eyes towards him. He attempted to give her a pointed look, as if she had been the one behaving childishly by not being able to stop them. She struggled to prevent her cheeks from heating up and to keep her gaze steady. She had not been the one at fault there.   Seeing as she was not reacted as he clearly wished, Nolane choose to go back to his lesson.   "As I was saying before this rude interruption, the Light and Dark political factions really take their roots from the following wars of unification, when north and south fought against each other. You will realise by glancing on a map that almost all Dark Estates are located in the south while all Light Estates are in the north, with Alyssenne itself being the major exception. This is due to the marriage between a scion of House Alyssenne with the Heiress of House Arianie, the then leader of the northern faction. Once the Lyriennes, Alyssennes and Arianies signed the peace treaty that created the empire, divisions did not disappear. However, everyone had to articulate them differently and find a new justification for them. Can you guess which, my lady?"

Goodwoman Béatrice Watron by AmélieIs with Artbreeder

A commoner and the cousin of Annabelle's mother. This relationship has allowed her to gain influence under the Estate. She has been assisting Nolane in managing the Estate since the death of Annabelle's parents and is considered the representative of the common people.
 

Modern politics

Annabelle startled. The kitten weakly protested, and she started to pet it to earn herself some time. Lesson or not, she could not expose her ignorance and appear weak. But then, if all divisions were rooted in the past, she could maybe make an educated guess.   "The north was devastated by powerful magics towards the end of the war. We still have legends above that," she stated slowly while attempting to make her voice sound confident. "The justification for the creation of the empire is to prevent magic from going out of control in such a manner again and to protect everyone from the actions of a few foolish individuals. In accord with this, the north—now the Light—wants to ban all dangerous magic. The south—now the Dark—see this as an imposition on their power and an attempt to weaken them."   Nolane's eyes widened before a smile spread slowly on his face and his magic sparkled lightly in excitement, like translucent bubbles on his skin.   "Exactly, my lady! Thanks to our link with Arianie, the Alyssennes have seen first hands the damages that can be done to the people and the Land. This is why your ancestors chose to join with previous enemies to create a better balance through the empire. Your House has led the Light faction since its inception and aimed to bring in new regulations against dangerous magics. The Dark, led by the Lyriennes—" another grimaced accompanied the name "—is attempting to, as they say, 'preserve their freedom' at the price of endangering the rest of the empire."

Sieur Laurent Emorie by AmélieIS with Artbreeder

A younger son of Lord Damien Émorie, the lord of a Dark House. He was in the Alyssenne Estate for business when Annabelle returned and has been captured with all other foreigners present to avoid them spreading words about her presence before she could make a claim in the senate. The senate has denied her identity anyway and now Annabelle needs to decide what to do with her "guests".

He nodded decisively, as if he had just brilliantly concluded a debate. "Scion Émorie will be able to corroborate what I have said, I am sure."   They all sent suspicious glances at Émorie, but he did not react at all beyond taking a small sip of his drink, as relaxed as a sea creature in the Abyss, above worrying about anyone else and considering them all below his attention.   Seemed like he wanted to get begged for answers.   Well, to be fair, they had just dragged him out of the prison where he had only been put because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time because they had not been able to afford to have words about Annabelle's return from spreading too early.  

Light vs Dark conflict

  "Do you agree with this assessment, Scion Émorie?" she asked slowly, attempting to give a firm tone to her voice.   He turned towards her and gave her a cool look. "Are you asking me if the Dark sacrifices the rest of the empire to preserve our own little power, Lady Alyssenne?"   She almost winced at how ridiculous he made it sounds, but Nolane was already frowning thunderously and she did not want to have him intervened on her behalf. She had to show she was able to protect herself.   The little kitten licked her arm. She took comfort from the soft fur in her hands and lifted her chin. "How would you describe the Dark's views then, if not in this way?"   Émorie gave her an assessing look before answering. "All Estates are independent, following their own lords and ladies and sets of rules. The empire itself has limited power and little means to enforce them. As you have said yourself, my lady, its main role is to prevent dangerous magic from being used and killing us all, with a secondary function as the arbitrator of trade disputes. What the Light desires is to establish many more rules about what magic should and should not be allowed, foremost by forbidding all rituals."   He marked a pause to lean back in his chair and take a sip of his drink, the picture of nonchalance. His magic too had not moved at all since the start of their conversation. Clearly, he did not care if he convinced them or not.   He lowered his glass and added, "You will soon realise how much magic falls under that umbrella and how disadvantaged shunning them would leave you. Being mostly in the north, the Light does not fear invasions from the Southern Kingdoms like we do. You cannot afford to weaken yourself like that, Lady Alyssenne. Not to mention who defines what 'dangerous' magics are. With how many enemies your House has, you can be sure that sooner or later someone will find your line-gift highly offensive and will invent a reason why you should not be allowed to use it against them."   What? As if she would be able to control a passive gift! They would need to bind her magic to prevent her from doing so! Which was probably exactly the point Émorie was trying to make...   He marked a pause before adding as if as an afterthought, "Although of course, all of those political goals are highly idealistic and have no hope of ever being put into practice since the empire would have no ability to force compliance."   "We have a very good way to do that," Nolane intervened curtly. "The empire is perfectly able to wage war against all those who refuse to comply."   "Do you wish for a resuming of the unification wars, then?" Émorie asked with a humorous smile on his lips.   Nolane frowned heavily and his magic stirred again. "Of course not. Laws are not voted without a majority in the senate. If a majority is established, all who voted in favour will be ready to enforce such laws. The situation then will hardly be similar to how well balanced the unification wars were."

Timeline



>5000 years ago—Pre war. All Estates stand independent from each other and there is no true unity over the continent. The Alyssennes and Lyriennes however are already allied against attacks from the Southern Kingdoms who wish to extend their reach north.   5000-4000 years ago—Formation of alliances. The south starts to appear as a distinct entity with most Estates falling under the influence of the Alyssennes and Lyriennes.   4000-3000 years ago—Unification wars. The north and south form powerful alliance networks with very few Estates left independent. They both start a long war against each other in an attempt to avoid subjection to the other side. The north is led by the Arianies, the South by the Alyssennes and Lyriennes.   3000 years ago—Creation of the Empire. The north and south sign a peace treaty that join them all into one empire. The senate is created in Arianie as a goodwill gesture from the south who was generally perceived as having won the war and dictated most of the treaty.   1000 years ago—Extinction of the House of Arianie. It is decided that their Estate should be left independent and put under the direct control of the imperial government. The power of the government is extended to that end. This also marks the true emergence of the Light and Dark political alliance, with the Alyssennes putting themselves on the side of the ex-north, now the Light. Alyssennes and Lyriennes are still closely allied despite new political divisions.   100 years ago—Crumble of the Alyssenne-Lyrienne alliance. The House of Lyrienne is perceived as having become too degenerated and of having lost all of its power and prestige. Their Estate starts to become divided into smaller entities. Without their respective leaders to maintain the peace, a civil war starts to brew between Light and Dark.   50 years ago—House Lyrienne is thought to have become extinct.   30 years agoLord Véridice Lyrienne reappears and takes control of his Estate. He reunifies the Land formally under the control of his House. Strong enmities between the Alyssennes and Lyriennes appear.   15 years ago—Lord Véridice Lyrienne assassinates Lord Justinien Alyssenne and Lady-Consort Léonie Alyssenne in an attempt to destroy House Alyssenne. Baby Annabelle is spirited away and left in an orphanage in Arianie.   1 week ago—Annabelle discovers her true identity and regains her Estate. The senate denies she is who she claims to be. Annabelle has to raise powerful wards around her Estate to prevent anyone from attacking her.   10 years in the future—Annabelle will be 25 years old and fully an adult. She will be able to lower her wards and to claim her seat in the senate without anyone attempting to put her under the guardianship of someone else. When Book 1: Rituals of Blood and Power is set.
 
Béatrice noisily picked up her glass again and they all turned towards her. Satisfied with their attention, she straightened and looked challengingly at Émorie.   "What you're all forgetting to mention is all the twisted rituals, slavery brands and human sacrifices the Dark gets up to behind the wards of their Estates. No wonder they don't want anyone to look into their affaires!"   Nolane nodded approvingly, his enmity with Béatrice seemingly forgotten in front of a common enemy.   Émorie turned away from them again and took back a sip from his drink, clearly uninterested in—and unable to—justify this.  

The government

Annabelle bit her lips before she caught herself immediately stop such an undignified act. "What about the government?" she interjected to break the uncomfortable silence.   The three of them snorted simultaneously. Annabelle blinked and glanced around at them.   Émorie was the one who addressed her a bitter smile. "They are happy to take advantage of the situation and play us against each other, always eager to gain more power for themselves."   "Let us not exaggerate," Nolane said in a clearly unconvinced tone. He must have heard it too, for he quickly turned back towards Annabelle and attempted to make himself sound eager. "Our first attempt to get your identity recognised by the government and the senate failed, but this is hardly the end. Lord Consul Cracinesse is a fair and just man and under him the government has prospered. They are all elected by the inhabitants of all Estates, and under his guidance they follow the directives of the senate and apply its decrees. They hardly have any aim of their own beyond serving the common people."

Political goals


Light faction: More regulations to protect people against all "dangerous" magics and practices as defined by them. Characterised by their desire to ban rituals and slavery, as well as powerful raw magics since they lack a framework to be controlled properly—for example, the line-gifts of the Lyrienne for controlling weather magic. Portrayed as wanting to ban many magics out of ideology without understanding them, no matter how useful they are and how this would weaken the empire against foreigners. Named Light because their goal is to enlightened the empire.   Dark faction: No additional regulations against magic and to take away some that are already in place. All Estates should remain independent and keep their own practices even if they are hateful to others. Characterised by the defence of rituals and individual freedoms. Portrayed as defending the practice of slavery and human sacrifices. Named ironically in opposition to the Light.   Government: Play both Light and Dark against each other to gain more control for themselves. Wish to weaken individual Estates compared to the government so that they can be brought under control. This would allow the senate to pass laws with a less narrow range of applications as the government would then actually be able to enforce them.
 
Béatrice sneered. "And what good do they all do, far away in Arianie? What does it matter if one of their workers comes from Alyssenne? None of their regulations truly impact us. Let's just continue to ignore them and focus on what's important: our Estate!"   Both Nolane and Émorie sent disdainful glances at her, but they did not openly contest her words.   Annabelle frowned down at her laps and the kitten and glass in her hands. The situation seemed unnecessarily complicated, with both sides able to appear perfectly reasonable and justified. Émorie was a pleasant enough individual, far from the common stereotype of the evil Dark mage. And it was true that almost everyone in the empire had no choice in whether they were Light or Dark. Only the rulers of the Estates could change their own politics, forcing everyone under their rules to follow. While the Dark itself was clearly dangerous and needed to be brought under control, she should keep an open mind regarding individual Dark mages. Having a contact among them would also be highly beneficial.   Nolane would not be happy, but she was the lady here.

Types of Magics


Light: "controlled" magic under all of its forms. Usually exemplified with runes, crafting magical artefact (called crafts) or line-gifts such as the Veinianies' in weaving magic.   Dark: raw magic under all of its forms. Usually characterised by rituals or line-gifts such as the Lyriennes' in weather magic.   Passive magic: usually considered to stand apart, although the Light sometimes makes it a point to consider it Dark when they want to insult its user. Usually characterised by the Alyssennes line-gift in magic sensitivity which cannot be inactivated or controlled (and so is considered passive) and which allows them to see magic.

She rose her head to meet Émorie's eyes. "Your point of view has been highly valuable today, Scion Émorie, and I would appreciate to receive it again in the future. Would you honour me with it when requested? I am sure the House of Alyssenne will be able to provide you with adequate compensations."   All of their magic froze in shock and a small satisfied smile stretched on Annabelle's lips. Protests were about to be uttered when she extended her own magic out of her body, stretching it like cotton over the room. They immediately fell silent and looked at her with wide eyes.   Good.   Let them all not forget who was in charge here.   The kitten mewed in approval.
Black kitten by wabandi on Pixabay



  If you want to read more about Annabelle's story, you can go here:  



Cover image: Light vs Dark by AmélieIS with an image from Vecteezy

Before the creation of the Empire of the Covenant

-7000 > 1

  • -7000 BCE

    -2000 BCE


    Pre war period
    Political event

    All Estates stand independent from each other and there is no true unity over the continent. The Alyssennes and Lyriennes however are already allied against attacks from the Southern Kingdoms who wish to extend their reach north. See Light and Dark.

  • -2000 BCE

    -1000 BCE


    Period of formation of alliances
    Political event

    The south starts to appear as a distinct entity with most Estates falling under the influence of the Alyssennes and Lyriennes. See Light and Dark.

  • -1000 BCE


    Start of the Unification Wars
    Political event

    The north and south form powerful alliance networks with very few Estates left independent. They both start a long war against each other in an attempt to avoid subjection to the other side. The north is led by the Arianies, the South by the Alyssennes and Lyriennes. See Light and Dark.

  • -1 BCE


    Short story Deathly Flowers
    Political event

    A eace treaty is undr discussion, however the events results in a break down of the negotiations. The alliance between the Lyriennes and Alyssennes and the enmity with the Arianies are reinforced. See Short Story: Deathly Flowers.

After the creation of the Empire of the Convenant

1 and beyond

  • The Foundation
    Foundation of the Empire of the covenant
    Era beginning/end

    The north and south sign a peace treaty that join them all into one federal empire. The senate is created in Arianie as a goodwill gesture from the south who was generally perceived as having won the war and dictated most of the treaty. See Act of foundation of the empire.

  • 2123 ACE

    5 /5

    Extinction of the House of Arianie
    Extinction

    The death of the last member of House Arianie, rendering the House extinct. This fundamentally changes the balance of power in the empire.   It is decided that their Estate should be left independent and put under the direct control of the imperial government. The power of the government is extended to that end. This also marks the true emergence of the Light and Dark political alliance, with the Alyssennes putting themselves on the side of the ex-north, now the Light. Alyssennes and Lyriennes are still closely allied despite new political divisions. See Light and Dark.

  • 3160 ACE


    Crumble of the Alyssenne-Lyrienne alliance
    Political event

    The House of Lyrienne is perceived as having become too degenerated and of having lost all of its power and prestige. Their Estate starts to become divided into smaller entities. Without their respective leaders to maintain the peace, a civil war starts to brew between Light and Dark. See Light and Dark.

  • 3215 ACE


    False extinction of House Lyrienne
    Extinction

    House Lyrienne is thought to have become extinct. See Book 1.

  • 3230 ACE


    Return of the lost Lyrienne Heir
    Life, Milestone

    Lord Véridice Lyrienne reappears and takes control of his Estate. He reunifies the Land formally under the control of his House. Strong enmities between the Alyssennes and Lyriennes appear. See Book 1.

  • 3245 ACE

    10 /8

    Birth of Annabelle Alyssenne
    Life, Birth

    Birth of Annabelle Alyssenne as the Heiress of House Alyssenne. See Book 1.

  • 3245 ACE

    24 /10

    Assassination of Lord and Lady-Consort Alyssenne
    Life, Death

    Lord Véridice Lyrienne assassinates Lord Justinien Alyssenne and Lady-Consort Léonie Alyssenne in an attempt to destroy House Alyssenne. Their bab, Annabelle Alyssenne, is spirited away and left in an orphanage in Arianie. See Book 1.

  • 3245 ACE

    24 /10 01:00
    3260 ACE

    12 /6

    Annabelle stays at the orphanage
    Life, Milestone

    Annabelle Alyssenne is kidnapped and left in an orphanaged in Arianie. See Book 1.

  • 3260 ACE

    12 /6
    3270 ACE

    10 /8

    Return of the lost Alyssenne Heiress and start of the isolation period of the Estate of Alyssenne
    Life, Milestone

    Annabelle Alyssenne discovers her true identity and regains her Estate. The senate denies she is who she claims to be. Annabelle has to raise powerful wards around her Estate to prevent anyone from attacking her. See Book 1.

  • 3270 ACE

    10 /8

    Annabelle Alyssenne joins the senate
    Life, Milestone

    Annabelle Alyssenne turns 25 years old and becomes fully an adult. She is able to lower her wards and to claim her seat in the senate without anyone attempting to put her under the guardianship of someone else. See Book 1.

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
10 Dec, 2021 15:25

I like how you've written most of this article in prose. Really interesting to see the history and the basics of the political turmoil in your world.   Yay, kitten! <3

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
10 Dec, 2021 17:09

Thanks! It was strange to be allowed to write an info dump for once XD

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
18 Jan, 2022 04:27

Excellent way of explaining the politics in your world, also the prose on it's own is solid and enjoyable.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
18 Jan, 2022 08:33

Thanks :D

To see what I am up to, my latest article is a choose-your-own-adventure story featuring a job interview to become one of the Dark Lord's evil minions :D
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