When Delian Von Tessel established the Lion-Guarded Throne in 9 BE, he forged a dynasty that lasted more than seven hundred years. Only until very recently, with the death of Empress Addares XXXIII, did the line come to an end – of course, Addares XXXIV claims that it never died but continues in her.
Delian Von Tessel was a Prustan noble and general with a distinguished career. He used his reputation and political clout to get himself named Emperor, promoting the idea that a true Empire would bring peace and prosperity to the known world under his guiding hand. His wife, Addares Von Tessel, was a strong woman well suited to serve as Empress next to her husband. It was Delian who decided that Tarsis, long considered the oldest city in the world, would be the seat of Empire rather than some city deep in the Prustan Peninsula. Tarsis was also where he had been born and raised; his Prustan ancestors took control of the city long before his birth. Delian enjoyed the deep respect of the Grailwarden dwarves, which ensured that they would support the Empire with their fantastic innovations in technology and that Imperial soldiers would be backed by dwarven cannon.
Delian lived a very long life, enhanced by all the magical aids the Empire could provide. He died at the age of one hundred fortythree, after outliving his wife and even his children. Though she died nineteen years before he did, and thus never actually ruled directly as Empress herself, his wife Addares accomplished much for the Empire and its citizens during her life. She was so influential, in fact, that by the end of her rule it had became commonplace for parents of the Imperial line to name their girls Addares. Later it became tradition for any woman actually ascending to the throne to take the name, even if it was not hers to begin with.
Further complicating the naming convention is that one distinguishes the Empress’ name both by the number of Addareses that came before her and the number of prior Addareses that actually ruled as Empress (as opposed to being the wife of the ruling Emperor). Thus, each Addares has two numbers associated with her name. The most recent fully accepted Empress was Addares XVIII and XXXIII, meaning that she was the thirty-third Addares of the Imperial line but only the eighteenth to sit upon the Lion- Guarded Throne. Males in the Imperial line have no parallel; each male emperor has a different name.
Delian was not only the ruler of the Empire but the spiritual leader of its official religion as well. Serving as the head of the Church of Lothian, he directed all matters of the Church, interpreting and creating holy doctrine as easily as he interpreted and created Imperial law. When Delian died, his heir—an elderly nephew, Radlov Von Tessel—abdicated the position as head of the Church and created a position known as the Emperor of the Church. In theory, this individual would be a co-ruler, handling all spiritual and Church matters while the secular Emperor dealt with more worldly concerns.
In truth, the Emperor wields a great deal more power than the Holy Emperor. But that is not to imply that the Holy Emperor is not a personage of vast influence. Being the second most powerful figure in an Empire that rules the known world is nothing to ignore.
The Von Tessel family was known as the Lions of Tarsis, and thus the Imperial seat was founded as the Lion-Guarded Throne, which it has remained ever since. The line of succession, although complex, is gender neutral. When an Emperor or Empress dies, the oldest living member of the immediate family (spouse or child) takes the throne. If there are no direct heirs, a complicated line of succession involving siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins, and so forth is traced until an appropriate heir is found. (It should be noted that the succession of the Holy Emperor does not work this way but is focused on males and male heirs.)
The Three Emperors
Of course, as the Empire stands today, there are no clear heirs to the Von Tessel line. The current claimants to the Lion-Guarded Throne are as follows:
A distant cousin of Addares XXXIII and XVIII by marriage, this native of Dohrinthas had never even been to Tarsis before the Empress died. Far more interested in pomp and wealth than actually ruling, Addares XXXIV has a reputation for throwing incredible parties, wearing amazing magical gowns, and stringing along a list of lovers too long for even her advisors to track. She is no fool, however; knowing her links to the throne are tenuous at best, she has put into motion plans to discredit her rivals. She also has the support of two influential generals in the Imperial Army. They have moved their legions to the lands surrounding her new capital, Dohrinthas, where she has promised to construct a new Imperial fleet greater than any that have come before.
With no legitimate claim to the Imperial line, Segaci is perhaps the unlikeliest of the three Emperors. He contends that, great as it was, the Von Tessel line finally has come to an end. An advisor to the last three Emperors, Segaci feels that only he can restore order to the Empire and bring back its quicklyfading greatness. Segaci, a very old man, has the support of much of the Imperial Court due to his experience as a diplomat and skill as a ruler. Segaci will to do whatever it takes to restore the Empire, and this single-mindedness has led him to forge some strange and perhaps ill-advised alliances, including one with Kevris Killraven (see page 121). Segaci puts much of his faith in an organization known as the Shuul, which promises to restore the technological might and innovation that made the Empire strong so long ago.
Holy Emperor Rehoboth:
The reigning Holy Emperor, Rehoboth Ylestos is a power-hungry man interested in joining back both “halves” of the Empire under himself. His claim to the throne is simple: Only one person in the Empire today legitimately possesses the title “Emperor,” and it is he. The fact that he fled Tarsis when the barbarians were coming, making a prolonged “visit” to his son in Ptolus, has earned him a poor reputation among the influential of the Imperial government. In return, ignoring those who belittle him, he plans to declare Ptolus the seat of the Empire. This has caused nothing but outrage among the citizens. Even the Commissar of Ptolus is unlikely to support Rehoboth when the time comes for him to pick a side.
Obviously, the Imperial Line—and the Empire itself—stand at a crossroads. The shape of the future likely depends on which Emperor finally takes true control of the Lion-Guarded Throne. If Addares takes the throne, she obviously will keep the seat of Imperial power in Dohrinthas. Such a move will be wildly unpopular in the Empire, and she likely will not have the support or the ability to hold the Empire together. Should she take the throne, one could expect the Empire of Tarsis to truly begin to fall apart within ten years, and possibly collapse entirely during her reign, or that of her successor. The various lands of the Empire—Nall, Rhoth, Palastan, and so on—would declare their independence. Ptolus likely would become an independent city-state.
If Segaci becomes the true Emperor, one might expect him to attempt to reinstate the technological glory of days gone by. And with the support of Shuul advancements in machineworks, this might actually be possible. In such an Empire, Ptolus would become a hub of industry with a commissar who was nothing more than a Shuul puppet. Imperial troops, armed with firearms as in days of old, would strengthen the Empire’s hold on its lands and deal with the barbarians in the east once and for all. Segaci might even decide to expand, setting his sights on Uraq and the south.
If Rehoboth gains the throne, the Holy Emperor would once again be the secular Emperor as well. The Church would be strengthened to the position it held during the Days of Blood, although Rehoboth would not allow such inquisitions to begin again—he is no reactionary theologian, and he would be too interested in earning and keeping the goodwill of the people to renew the witch hunts. Ptolus would become the new Imperial capital. However, in his obsession to become a beloved emperor and to promote goodwill for the Church, he likely would make concessions that would greatly weaken the Empire, and slowly it would collapse from within.