In a Sorrowful Age
A History in Brief
For centuries, Lookshy was the center of military might, Nexus the center of trade, Great Forks the center of hedonistic pleasures, and Thorns the center of culture and learning. The Decidu family, the nominally elected Autocrats of Thorns for centuries, embodied their city’s ideal of cultured perfection, with a large percentage of their yearly income being used to patronize their favorite poets, artists, and architects. A stranger walking the streets would be baffled by the beauty of the city and woe be to him who offends a citizen for the people of Thorns were notoriously prickly about their honor. It can easily be said that the majority of the adults in Thorns, women as well as men, had participated in at least one duel in their life. Of course, much of this is now in its past.
In R.Y. 748, the long-lived Autocrat Decidu Alaka died peacefully in his sleep. Two years prior, the relatively new House V’neef was granted the Satrapy of Thorns as a gift from the Scarlet Empress. Traditionally, House Cynis held this honored role and this reversal of fortune angered many within the House. Alaka’s older son, Rinep was set to inherit the elected seat of power, until his younger brother, Sarep, publicly accused him of heresy against the Immaculate Order and of fomenting rebellion against the Realm. Rinep, aghast at such charges, challenged his brother to a duel, the result of which was all but assured in the minds of many. Somehow, however, Sarep triumphed, though Rinep’s supporters flooded the field before he could strike the killing blow. A week of civil unrest followed before order was restored.
Intent on bringing civilization to the barbarians surrounding them, and assured of their military prowess, the armies of Thorns marched against the Scavenger Lands, with Realm forces supporting them in advisory roles.
The war was a debacle. The men of Thorns were used to duels of honor with individuals squaring off against each other to the appreciative eyes of the crowd. They found the state of the battlefield, a swarm of men fighting another swarm of men marching in step, to be as alien to their experience as anything could be. The citizens were horrified to hear of their defeats in the field. Thorns sued for peace within two years, following the slaughter at the Battle of Mishaka, where tens of thousands of men on both sides of the battle lost their lives.
Civil unrest and disillusionment followed the war. Thorns, now a fading shadow of its former self, struggles to find its place in the world even twelve years later. The harsh reparations and tribute that Thorns must pay every year has led to absurd increases in taxes on the citizenry, while the philosophers, poets, and artists of the past find themselves without patrons. Many of the great academies and museums have sold off their most prized pieces, or had them confiscated at the end of the war. In the face of civil discontent, the only reason why the Decidu family still rules in Thorns is due to the presence of the Realm.
The Current Situation
Thorns is, technically, a noble republic. Upon the death of the previous Autocrat, the thirteen major Houses of Thorns gather together and choose a successor. For four hundred years, the successor has come from the Decidu family, generally the one the previous Autocrat nominated as heir. In light of the recent debacle, however, many citizens, both noble and common, whisper that perhaps it is time for a new election.