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The Ascendancy

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Azure's picture

Many githyanki are lost without a Lich Queen to guide them. She was their revered ancestor, ruler, god-head, hero, and matron. She was also a cruel mistress who demanded total loyalty and obedience. Githyanki society held the Queen’s “final honor” as the true mark of success. If a githyanki conquered all foes and was a success in life, they were called before the Lich Queen for their living essences to be consumed in her quest for greater power. Most githyanki did so willingly without question.

With some exceptions, githyanki believed that Vlaakith would rise again, being a lich. When she did not, they searched for a successor, in vain. Vlaakith CLVII had done too good a job wiping out her own bloodline. The Silver Eyes launched a search for a legitimate heir, but they did their job too well and got more than they bargained for.

The first candidate to step forward was a powerful duthka’gith. Tiamat had somehow sequestered a royal egg, and using powerful magics infused it with dragons’ blood. The resulting being was one of the first duthka’gith, and her fell sorcery was honed on the battlefields of the blood-war. Githyanki society was looking for a new Vlaakith, true, but few were willing to accept a half-blood as Queen. Then another stepped forward. Claiming to be Vlaakith CLVII regenerated, she had the backing of many free-willed undead from the githyanki holdings on the Negative-Energy plane. Collectively known as ‘The Court of Vlaakith’, they are mostly the former victims of the Lich Queen. Githyanki tradition holds that a free-willed undead githyanki is a being with all the rights of the living, although with a new identity. Even if Vlaakith CLVII did return, having been destroyed she must still vie with any other claimant for the throne. As the Singer of Fire and the White Lady prepared to face off against each other, the news came that a third contender had been found. One of the knights charged with hunting down and destroying the royal line had instead saved a single royal egg and hid it in a far corner of the Astral. The keepers, having heard the news of Vlaakith CLVII’s fall, had sent the egg to a secret varsh’isk to hatch. The Princesses of the Ascendancy had come, and there were three.

Most githyanki, shocked by the fall of Vlaakith, did not know what to make of the developments. Some threw their support behind one Princess or the other, but some rejected the ascendancy of a new queen altogether. Specifically, several supreme leaders, generals, and governors-militant of the largest githyanki cities banded together and declared a new regime, one without a murderously cruel tyrant at its head. Calling themselves the Heartforce, they arrested any githwarrior publicly proclaiming loyalty to a new Vlaakith. The divided Ascendancy was in danger, so a meeting was held between the regents and advisors of all three Princesses, and an agreement was made. The Ascendancy would unite as a power bloc to hold off the growing influences of the Heartforce, The True, and the Apocalytes, all of whom reject the ascension of a new Vlaakith. It was agreed that the true battle for Vlaakith’s throne would be put off until after the Young Heir had been trained and passed the rigorous tests of githyanki adulthood.

The true test will come in another twenty years or so, until then the three sub-blocs of the Ascendancy have plenty of time to plot, assassinate, and build their respective power bases.

The first Princess of the Ascendancy, the Singer of Fire, has the least support among the githyanki in general. Many never fully accepted the dragon-blooded duthka’gith, and they view those who would swear fealty to a Power, even Tiamat, heretics of the worst caliber. Still, she has the backing of the Cult of Tiamat, a power bloc in its own right. The Red Dragon Alliance is no small thing. The Singer of Fire has also taken a tactic that no other power bloc has. She is reaching out to the Emissaries, githyanki outcasts living on the planes, and has promised them a pardon and safe return to githyanki society in exchange for their material support.

The second Princess is known as the White Lady. Although she claims to be the former Vlaakith regenerated, unknown to most githyanki she is in fact a much less powerful lich, a former relative and victim of Vlaakith in ages past. She is, however, of the royal line as confirmed by the Silver Eyes, so her claim to the throne is legitimate. She has the backing of the Court of Vlaakith, as well as that of many knights and the githyanki necromantic community in general. Were she truly an incarnation of the former Vlaakith, her succession might be a foregone conclusion; however, as she is not, she may in fact not be a match in personal power for the Singer of Fire. This may be why she agreed to a postponement as she gathers more items of power, and the possibility still exists of an assassin’s blade finding its mark and reducing the competition.

The Young Heir, the third and final Princess of the Ascendancy, has the most support from rank-and-file loyalist githwarriors, as well as the fealty of many knights, a few of whom were secretly uncomfortable with the order to seek and destroy the entire royal line (but did so anyway). The identity of the knight who saved her is unknown outside the inner ring of his (or her) own order. The story is he/she was ordered to end his/her own life, and the order kept his/her identity secret out of shame for the act of disobedience to the queen. Even now, should his/her identity become known, the order could expect serious and fatal reprisals from other knightly orders. The Silver Eyes are keeping their secret for now, but they most certainly use that as leverage over the supporters of the Young Heir. The Heir herself is as yet but a babe, and it is certain that the normally dangerous training all githyanki must endure will be extra vigorous in her case. Even if she makes it, it is unlikely she will be a match for the Singer of Fire or the White Lady, let alone both, but that battle is mercifully a long way off yet. In the meantime, her affairs are handled by a cabal of regents. Seeing the possibility for personal power, many influential supreme leaders have joined this particular sub-bloc, and have divided among themselves several impressive-sounding titles.

The True, the Heartforce, and the Apocalytes all reject the Ascendancy, but for different reasons. The True claim the entire line of Vlaakiths lack legitimacy. They claim that Vlaakith I betrayed Gith’s vision by declaring herself queen of the githyanki. Their own figurehead Ar-Gish, as a reincarnation of Gith herself, is the true spiritual and corporeal leader of all githyanki, or so they claim. The Apocalytes by and large felt betrayed by Vlaakith CLVII, and many claim the great Incursion was an attempt to cause the genocide of the githyanki people via the machinery of war. A genocide they believe is still coming to pass. The Heartforce oppose the Ascendancy more for practical reasons than for ideological ones. The most powerful leaders among them were likely to be called before their queen very soon, and more than one was en route or preparing to answer a summons when Vlaakith fell. They are therefore very reluctant to allow anyone likely to reinstate the Queen’s Honor from ascending to the throne.

The Unifists are not exactly in direct opposition to the Ascendancy, but those githyanki who believe a new Queen Vlaakith will unite the people have already joined the loyalist ranks. The remaining Unifists are those not overly thrilled with the idea, so while they still seek to get loyalists working in concert with other power blocs, they are not popular with supporters of the Ascendancy, especially its leaders.

The Reconciliation is, of course, directly opposed to the Ascendancy. None of the Princesses nor their supporters advocate any cessation of hostilities where the githzerai are concerned. Interestingly though, the Singer of Fire and the Cult of Tiamat are not vocal on this point, leaving many to wonder whether peace with the zerth is on their long-term agenda.

Like the other power blocs, the Ascendancy seeks to cultivate relations with the Silver Eyes for their own benefit. The Eyes are powerful allies, and many remain committed to the ascension of a new queen. The Eyes are masters of the political game, and both the three-way split and the Ascendancy’s subsequent reunification as a single power bloc are much the Eyes’ doing.

The battle for Vlaakith’s throne may take twenty years, or unforeseen developments may shorten it considerably. A significant edge gained by any one Princess or her supporters could easily embolden them to renew their claim at the point of a silver blade.

Dunamin's picture
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Factor
Joined: 2006-06-13
This is way overdue, but

This is way overdue, but great work yet again!

 

One might question, actually, if the Silver Eyes isn't in a much more powerful and possibly defining position in this conflict than what is readily apparent.

What if the Young Heir and the story of the knight who saved it is completely bogus, and the Young Heir is actually the Eyes' personally orchestrated future puppet ruler? What if the Singer of Fire does not come from a royal egg, but the Eyes' has cut a deal with Tiamat's clergy for the time being to forge a powerful alliance? What if the Eyes are the only ones to know the White Lady isn't Vlaakith reformed through lich powers, and they are using it as the ultimate leverage in case her future rule should go against their wishes?

 

Just throwing out wild conspiracy speculation here. Laughing

Azure's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2006-05-17
I like the conspiricy

I like the conspiricy theories, but I also like the theory that all the claims are true, too.  Or maybe some are true and others are not.  Maybe the Singer and the Lady are real but the Heir is a ploy?  Every possibiltiy should have its beievers.

What if the White Lady wasn't a Lich at all?  The line of Vlaakith was strong with sorcery, but Vlaakith CLVII might not have wanted even a weaker rival.  A more distant relation might have been trained as a gish, and turned into a swordwraith or wight.

 

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