The History of House Voluptas – Part
Two, The Censure
The fall of Horatio echoed like a rail-gun shot across the
entirety of the Spiral. Never had such a powerful luminary of such an
influential House been publicly executed. Had the Grand Mayor and Parliament
stopped at that injustice then perhaps the Third Ether Crusade and all of its disastrous
repercussions would never had taken place.
Historians can argue whether it was a profound sense of
imperiousness or simple contempt for the will of people that drove the decision.
Regardless, an Archipelago that was teetering on a knife’s edge of war was sent
hurtling into chaos when Grand Mayor Coil issued an Imperial Censure of House
The Censure revoked the status of House Voluptas. It completely
erased them as a House within the Clockwork Empire and reduced all of the Lords
and Ladies to little more than street rabble within the time it took to the
Grand Mayor to flick his wrist and sign the decree.
But most importantly, the Censure appropriated the massive holdings
of House Voluptas into the Grand Mayor’s possession. Even in a corrupt system
rampant with bribes, embezzlement, cronyism, the Censure was seen as a thinly
veiled grab by Parliament and the Grand Mayor for the extensive Ether deposits
controlled by the House.
Grand Mayor Coil immediately ordered the loyalist
encampments of House Voluptas to swear their allegiance to him or to disband
immediately. The majority of these were located in the Ether Spine, the
battleground of the Second Ether Crusade. When the troops protecting the Ether
Salt mines refused the Grand Mayor’s directive, the region once again was
plunged into long, bloody armed conflict.
For more than thirty years, House Voluptas ceased to exist
as the League of Merchants and the Clockwork Empire strove for control of the
mineral rich Ether Spine. This Ether Crusade was by far the bloodiest of the
three, as powerful merchant houses, the Aeronaught’s Demense and even the
Ophidian Hegemony drained the coffers and will of the most powerful empire the
Spiral had even known.
Finally, in 1672, the Crusade ended with the signing of the Sovereign
Ether Accord. Both the League of Merchants and Parliament claimed victory and
nearly two hundred years later the true winner is still quarreled over by
academics, military expects and commoners alike.
For House Voluptas, it was most certainly a pyrrhic victory.
As part of the Accord, the House was reinstated - but with severe limitations.
It was no longer an Imperial House of the Empire, but rather a Common House of
the Aeronaught’s Demense. This greatly impacted the fledgling House’s ability
to conduct business within the Empire.
Much more catastrophic was the refusal to reestablish the
holdings of the original House Voluptas. Like so many strands of pearls, they
were grasped at, divided and greedily claimed by both enemies and supposed
House Voluptas was reborn. It was a messy, unpleasant
rebirth to be sure, but after thirty years, it was welcomed by many who
remembered Horatio and the wrongs inflicted upon the original members of the
A cadet branch of the family had been located and was
quickly seated at the head of the new House Voluptas in the Pirate’s Haven of
the Aeronaught’s Demense. With a single decrepit, sprawling compound in the
heart of the Street of Silk Veils, they hoped to forge a history that would
live up to their family’s proud past.
In the early 1600’s, as the Second Ether
Crusade was mercifully coming to a close and the flames of what would ignite
the Third still smoldering below the surface, a House of some repute jostled
for power within the hallowed halls of the Core.
Voluptas, purveyors of the finest flesh in the Spiral, stood atop thelegalized sex trade through the nimble use of politics and persuasion. Their rise had been meteoric, as
previous generations had languished asnothing
playersis the fleshtrade. It took a ruthless visionary, Horatio Voluptas, to create
the perfect alchemy of supposition and coercion, eavesdropping and extortion.
Horatio was the third son and by far the fittest to lead the House. After thesuspiciousdeaths of his two older brothers, Horatio assumed the Lordshipwhen
his puerile fathersuccumbed to the coughing plague.
were almost as great as his cunning andsuch
distractions could only be satiated with coin. Impossibly large numbers
of coin.And so
he set his mind to work.
a decade Horatiohad
outmaneuvered, outworked, and outshined his competition. House Voluptas was a
force in the political landscape of the Core with bordellos stretching from the
Eastlands to the Fractured West. At their zenith,some
twenty years into his reign,the
House controlled over one thousand brothels, rancountlesssmuggling
operations, and commanded a personal army of no small measure.House
Voluptas had arrived. And yet, Horatio was unable to fully enjoy the fruits of
his conquests. There was one conquest yet to be had. A conquest that would take
the full measure of his essence.
his ambition strained the bounds of mortal men, Horatio was, at heart, a
pragmatist. House Voluptas had thrived in no small part because of hisuncanny
political instincts. His ability to push to the very precipice of disaster only
to pull back at the moment of optimal gain was preternatural.
known to any with even a passing knowledge of the social vagaries of polite
society, there is a distinct stratum among the Houses of the Spiral. At the
pinnacle of those layers are the Imperial Houses. All but untouchable, the
‘Houses Imperium” are aboveall
but the most egregious of political offenses. Horatio was determined that
before his passing he would elevate House Voluptas to that rarified standing.
so, with secrets, favors and no small degree of temerity, he crafted an
undertaking so audacious in its complexity, that its success relied on not on
the tumbling of a single domino, but rather on the toppling of hundreds. Yet, such a master manipulator had he become, a puppeteer
of unparalleled ability, that those within his House refused to cross him.
with most men of ambition, it is the very thing that propels them to greatness
that ultimately is responsible for destroying them.And
Horatio was, despite numerous reports to the contrary, just a man.
plan to blackmail the Grand Mayor of the Clockwork Empire was as brilliant as
it was elaborate, a machination for the bards and baristas to tell tale of for
the ages to come. Like a master marionettist, he pulled, tweaked and tugged at
the strings, and the puppets all danced, while the dominos fell in a
grand scheme shifted and chameleoned through its stages. His reactions were
perfectly sure. The layers unfolded like the petals ofa rose awakening to the brilliance of a new morning. There had
perhaps never been an a more perfect architect of deception. The stories tell
of a man at the height of his power and genius. A man who fully expected his
House to be the first human House ever elevated to Royal Imperial status within
If not for the resilience of a single domino that refused to be
toppled; a single puppet whose sharp,splintered
the strings that Horatio had so carefullythreaded,the
Voluptas would most certainly be different.
he hung from the gallows, his neck not broken, slowly suffocating as he
spiraled listlesslyto a
meeting with his maker, his lips pursed together in a silent howl.
word, whispered in the language of the dying. A curse. A lamentation. A vow.
Empire had been simmering since the cessation of the Second Ether Crusade. In
the boardrooms and parlors, the taverns and the estate galas, Horatio’s death
was the tinder. With no explanation from Parliament as to what his offense was,
the seething undercurrent of discontent rose to the surface once more.
Third Ether Crusade was about to begin with the most unlikely of catalysts.
Chris, Brett, Mark and I (Tom) talk about D&D. Give it a listen!
Let’s get down and we’re doing it without the Mad Wizard Merwin. That’s right. I went to my very deep bench to grab some friends to talk about what D&D means to them. I have Mark, Tom, and Brett to help me out, get down, and spin some wonderful tales about family and gaming. So get in and get down and lets go kill some monsters