Government of Ratha Through History (book)
The Government of Ratha Through History
by Kartash Merrhai
Ratha, like most lands within the control of the S'Kra Mur, has a rich history accompanying a complex and intricate form of government and social standing. As Ratha is a city of trade, many foreigners visit our fair city -- it is for these outsiders that I shall seek to explain our ways.
The S'Kra Mur people have dwelled on Reshalia Island for ages, far too long ago for any historian to place an accurate date upon, or even to make such an attempt. The earliest S'Kra Mur here were not very civilized, yet lacking the Gift of Peri'el, the gift of Tail. The S'Kra Mur here were formed into multiple warring tribes and clans. These clans fought over food, land, or just for the sheer joy of it.
We know at some point, many years later, the S'Kra began to grow wiser in the ways of the world. The large Reshalia Island was not so frequently split by wars between the tribes (now smaller in number, each larger in size). The S'Kra Mur had begun the mastering of the arts of alchemy, shipbuilding, and forging. Our people excelled at the two former, with an acceptable grasp on the latter.
It was this growth of civilization that later led to the rise of our greatest leader ever, Sarkhhl. This leader was born into one of the more medium-sized clans on Reshalia, one which had its focus on sailing. In fact, from this clan came Reshalia's greatest sailors, and Sarkhhl was no exception -- he was training in the ways of skills of his birth clan, though he also made a great effort to learn the skills of other clans. Forging, alchemy, shipbuilding, fishing... but this is not a biography of Sarkhhl, is it?
Sarkhhl, now called Sarkhhl Smo'neh, began a process of uniting the Reshalian Clans, and he succeeded, becoming the first King of Reshalia. Several of the clans, fearing his rise, had fled the island, leaving his rule there unopposed.
Prior to the uniting of the clans, most of the S'Kra Mur on Reshalia Island had lived in small villages, or at most, towns of moderate size. King Sarkhhl began the creation of the first city on Reshalia: Ratha.
And so, that was the start of government in Ratha. Though Sarkhhl himself oversaw the construction of the bulk of the city, Ratha was not completed in his lifetime. When Sarkhhl died, his firstborn son assumed the title of King, and ruled after him. In time, the Kings of Ratha created the Fangs of Ushnish, and brought S'Kra Mur raiders along the mainland coast to heel.
Shortly after the raiders ceased their activities, Ratha began trading with the mainland, bringing in wealth to the city and the Rathan Kings. Some time later, the Gor'Togs were brought from the mainland to Reshalia, and were used to continue heightening Ratha's prosperity. Ratha had a new source of labor for shipbuilding, dockworking, and other manual tasks best suited to a race of strong, enduring people.
Ratha enjoyed the support of the Gor'Togs long after they separated from the S'Kra Mur on the mainland, which further fueled success of the island city. Ratha grew in riches and influence, and its King remained powerful and wealthy.
It wasn't until the rise of the Empire that things began changing. The mainland had begun falling quickly under the control of the Chieftain, Akroeg, and later his son Emperor Verek. During the reign of Emperor Baraliban, the King of Ratha signed a treaty bringing Ratha itself into the Empire, and under the rule of the Emperors. Other islands were not so quick to join the Empire, and they resisted. They were brought in by force, and so suffered where Ratha did not.
After the Resistance War, the Governor of Qi declared himself the King of the entire province. This was a problematic declaration, though, as the new King couldn't control all of Ratha, let alone the entire island. What's more, several other islands in the Reshal Sea proclaimed that they were independent, ruled by no King.
The King of Ratha was soon forced to come to terms with this situation, and so created the Merchant Council. The Merchant Council was a new system in Ratha, for never before had the King shared power. Their powers were different than those of the King, though; where he controlled the military, the taxes, the laws, the Merchant Council had direct control over just one thing -- trade.
Besides power, the Merchant Council differed in how it came to be a part of the government. Every year, the seven wealthiest and most influential families were chosen in a festivous ceremony, held by the King, to be raised to the Merchant Council. Some families would retain their position, but others who had lost wealth or influence would be removed, and replaced by new.
The King had several reasons for establishing the Merchant Council. Not only did it take away his greatest enemies and make them his supporters (in a sense), but it provided the most powerful people in Ratha with new enemies: each other. The Merchant Council's control over trade made the position one of great wealth, prestige, and power, and so every family on the island bitterly fought to claim a seat on the Council by destroying one of those families on it. Their trade practices became more cutthroat, and the business occasionally even stooped to actual deaths.
Regardless of the infighting, the Merchant Council functioned expertly. Trade between Ratha and the rest of the world resumed. The King and the Merchant Council created the new Trade Calendar, allowing the most simple matters such as dating and timekeeping to return. In short, to the wartorn and chaotic remains of the Empire, Ratha became something of a stabilizing force.
As even any half-educated Human louse would know, the Trade Calendar's months were not fixed in stone. They were determined anew each year. Merchants the world over waited eagerly each year when it came to the time that the Merchant Council generally announced the old month ended and the new begun, and when they did make that announcement, grand festivals were held in Ratha to commemorate the event. It brought great wealth and glory to the Merchant Council.
It certainly seemed things were on a recovery. However, little more than thirty years later, missionaries arrived in Ratha and began preaching about the glories of the World Dragon. It was shortly after that occurrence that the city of Shard was razed, and things just went downhill from there. The Rathan King at that time refused to join with the Dragon Priests, and when he died of old age, he told his young son to resist also. They wished Ratha to remain free.
And so Ratha was free, for about twenty years, even while the rest of the world fell piece by piece. The young king sent support in the form of food and money and other goods when he could, but he dared not openly oppose the Dragon Priests. But then one day, the king, in the good health of youth and an master athlete and warrior strong in body, mysteriously died. The Merchant Council surrendered to the Dragon Priests without a fight.
After the Dragon Priests
Following the death of Dzree, the Dragon Priests began suffering defeat after defeat around the four mainland provinces, as morale among the priests dropped and "heroes" attempted to overthrow their cruel rulers. Their attempts were almost entirely successful. However, in Qi, things did not go in quite the same way.
The Dragon Priests remained fairly strong on the conquered islands, but now the great dragon was without a head. Factions each chose to throw their support behind various individuals, and then these factions began open warring in order to take control of the Priesthood, and its collapsing Empire. So Qi became torn by battle.
As it was the last land to fall to the Priests, so it was the last to recover. For almost two decades the island of Reshalia was split by the warfare of the Dragon Priests. One group would assume control of the island, only to be toppled two years later, if not two months. And of course, who controlled Reshalia controlled the numerous smaller islands in the seas surrounding it.
So, as I wrote, that chaos ruled for nearly two decades. It was around that time that the wealthiest families in the province joined together to end the fighting. They combined their strength and their resources, and began a war of their own to rid Reshalia of the Dragon Priests. This campaign took several years, but once it was finished, the Dragon Priests had been soundly defeated.
These families retained their alliance then, forming a new government for Qi. No longer would there be a King in Ratha. The heads of these wealthy families set themselves up as the new rulers, each holding the title of Patriarch. Another council was created -- this, the Council of Advisors.
The Council of Advisors is occupied by one mid-ranking member of each of the nine ruling families. Technically speaking, the Council of Advisors is the ruling body of the province. Realistically, that is not precisely the case -- the Councilors do not have the power to make such important decisions themselves.
To make things more clear, there is a great deal of hostility between several of the Houses. Besides quarrels they've built up over the many years of their existences, these families are also frequently business adversaries. They compete directly for wealth, which in Ratha is everything. The purpose of the Council of Advisors is to allow members of the Houses to meet and hold their discussions. The Councilors then take back everything in detail to others of their House, including the Patriarch. These matters are then decided by the family. The Council of Advisors will then meet again, and vote based upon the wishes of the House.
It is a complex system, full of formalities and technicalities. However, it has allowed Reshalia Island to continue to prosper and grow in wealth, even after the overthrow of the Dragon's Empire. There are nine ruling Houses, each with its own businesses that have given it the power, wealth, and prestige it possesses. Almost all of the Houses have built great temples to the gods that oversee their realms, to curry favor and prosperity.
First is House Zsikiel, a S'Kra Mur family. Zsikiel bears a remarkable history, as they say the Kings of Ratha came from their blood. The Zsikiels remained powerful during the Empire of the Seven Pointed Star, producing great Generals, Governors, delegates. Among many notable figures from history of Zsikiel blood was the Emperor Ithevwe. The family is a great military force.
House Zsikiel runs the justice of Reshalia. They command the city's guards, and virtually all the judges of the city are of House Zsikiel. The family bears a reputation of being fair and honorable, and so they are widely respected throughout the Five Provinces.
Second is House Tierskel, a S'Kra Mur family. This family gained importance by being one of the first to employ Gor'Togs and bring them over from the mainland after the S'Kra Mur there discovered the race. The Tierskels put the Gor'Togs to work, and earned a fortune from their efforts. The family now controls the docks, shipyards, and dry docks of Ratha.
Third is House Lisska'Vran, a S'Kra Mur family. The Lisska'Vrans are a younger family than many of the Nine, originating during the later years of the Seven Pointed Star Empire. Through ingenius business practices, they rose quickly to a high status in S'Kra Mur society. The house now owns a major portion of the warehouses in the city of Ratha, and there are rumors of an alliance between them and the Tierskels.
Fourth is House Moglin, a S'Kra Mur family. Like House Tierskel, the Moglin family profited off of Gor'Tog slavery prior to the Empire, but House Moglin was the first to free their slaves and encourage entry into the Empire. The family was a driving force in the release of all slaves in Qi. House Moglin owns a major shipping fleet, making them wealthy in the realms of trade.
Fifth is House Dne, a S'Kra Mur family. Dne is the youngest family, and also the smallest. They came into power shortly before Ratha surrendered to the Dragon Priests. House Dne is almost as secretive as Odalva, but their wealth is still substantial. They control a large portion of the cloth trade.
Sixth is House Redthorne, a Human family. One of the greatest naval families during the time of the Empire, the Redthornes earned a reputation of ruthlessness and a willingness to use force to back themselves up. The family eventually settled in Ratha and created a shipping company, which they ran with their rather massive fleet of ships. The Redthornes remain now in charge of this shipping company, owning the largest fleet of merchant vessels in the Five Provinces. There are fierce hostilities between House Redthorne and House Odalva, as well as between Redthorne and the Var'Quels.
Seventh is House Odalva, an Olvi family. The Odalvas operate a merchant fleet, like House Moglin and House Redthorne, but Odalva differs in its methodology. Where House Redthorne refuses to deal with the pirates at all, Odalva has taken the stance of being willing to pay them off. The family also plays an integral part in the black market.
Eighth is House Nadamian, a Dwarven family. The Nadamians are one of the wealthiest and most respected Dwarven families, and in fact, they are divided into two portions. The eastern family, and the west. The Nadamians originated in Forfedhdar, where a member of the family has always sat on Hibarnhvidar's Council of Elders. During the Empire, a part of the Nadamian family went, with an entourage of workers, to Reshalia in order to strengthen their wealth and spread their influence. They supply metal, ores, and gems to Ratha from the mainland, and then those materials are shipped to other islands. The Nadamians are also very religious and devout.
Ninth is House Pantel, a Halfling family. This well-
off House initially from central Zoluren, came to
Reshalia after the parceling of the Empire into the
Five Provinces. They bought up most of the prime
agriculture land on the island, where they began their
trade of growing high quality grain. This they sell
directly to the other merchant families, who ship the
low priced goods.
By my hand,