The Occult Fraternity, known variously as the Magocracy of Lepidos, was the ruling class of the late, eponymous Magocracy of Lepidos. Equal parts religious order and oligarchical ruling class, the Occult Fraternity was contradictory in its pursuits, advancing the arts and sciences despite couching their brutal repression of the Northern Lepidosian peoples in antedeluvian ritual.
The Occult Fraternity was a tiered oligarchy. The Archmage was the hereditary god-emperor of the polity, advised by a council of elite, also hereditary Grand Mages who were, in turn, supported in their administration by lesser, appointed Mages in the ruling bureaucracy. Regional governors owed fealty to the Grand Mages, but would serve Mages should an order pass down through them. Local polities could be elected or, more commonly, were appointed by Mages serving at the whim of the region's associated Grand Mage. Intrigue in the Occult Fraternity could be political or fiduciary in nature, but it could also be doctrinal. An all-male cadre, the Fraternity's more carnal needs were largely sated by personal harems and, thus, were less a flash-point for court drama. Similarly, feelings of injured pride could be soothed by taking the opportunity to oppress the Northern Lepidosian underclass in rituals designed to show the primacy of the Fraternity and its divine right to rule.
Wurth Harkin arrived with his Harkinite Expedition in 1712 CE. Though he was initially keen to make peaceful contact with the Lepidosians, he observed the Occult Fraternity using slave labor and performing their civic ritual sacrifices with overwhelming disgust. A former slave himself, Wurth could not abide the Occult Fraternity's actions in the north, and made this known to then-Archmage Elikaias Martram. Wurth offered the Archmage a choice: the Fraternity could renounce slavery and human sacrifice and gain allies in the technologically-advanced Cobalt Protectorate, or the Evermornans could take their offer elsewhere. Martram refused the terms. As it turned out, the 'elsewhere' Wurth meant was the Northern Lepidosian rebels in the Great Ilmenite Desert. With famous heroes like Reed Vangard and Kedri Kek-Pensh at the head, the rising revolt took many key agricultural and manufacturing hubs from the Magocracy. Wurth and his Evermornans, still beholden to the Valleybridge Accords regarding relativistic bombardment, resorted instead to fusion ortillery, rendering much of the fertile equatorial administrative regions uninhabitable. Ultimately, Archmage Martram was captured by the Cobalt Knights and taken hostage as a potential means of leverage against the Fraternity in negotiating an end to the war under Wurth's terms. By this point, however, it was too late - the Magocracy of Lepidos held only a scant few strongholds with limited regional influence and, thus, no longer meaningfully controlled Lepidos. The Occult Fraternity effectively ceased to exist when the Archmage was placed in cryostasis aboard Wurth's command vessel in 1733; as there was not any Magocracy to be found anymore, no negotiations were ever held, and Martram likely died at some point in the 1800s from the compounding effects of extended cryostatic preservation.
The Occult Fraternity believed in an ordered, mechanistic univers whose ways could be learned, controlled, and ultimately subjugated through powers of the mind. To achieve the appropriate mental state and sieze hold of certain 'unseen truths' not yet known to science or artifice, members of the Fraternity would carry out individual and group occult rituals. These rituals would typically unclude the execution of various geometric patterns, the utterance of glossolalia-inspired incantations, and, sometimes, the slow dissection of a living creature associated with the truth to be manipulated. This last element was the source of the Fraternity's ongoing desire to use slave labor and engage in human sacrifice, as the conscious, self-aware form of Lepidosians themselves was thought to embody unique truths beyond the ken of mere animals. The Occult Fraternity was unusual in that, while it was constituted a religious heritage rich in ritual, symbology, and tradition, it lacked any central deific figures aside from the lineage of the Archmage himself and its relatives in the Grand Mage families. Even this deity, however, did not extend from any external entity; the purported 'powers' of the magic lineage were said to be earned through a combination of intense ritual works proven efficacious by success on the battlefield against recalcitrant Northern Lepidosian subjects. Thus, while a member of the Occult Fraternity believed in no pre-existing gods, they each believed they could become one through the right application of ritual - the hard part being, of course, that such powers would have to be discovered alone, from without the sight of one's similarly-ambitious peers.
Magocracy of Lepidos