Creation Et All/Scarlet Empress
The Scarlet Empress is the singular ruler of the Realm and has been for more than seven hundred years (thus her rule has spanned four generations of the Dragon-Blooded and more than twenty generations of mortals have died during her reign.
"What the Empress desires, the Realm performs."
- An adage and warning spoken in the Threshold for longer than most kingdoms have existed
The Scarlet Empress is known to be a physically beautiful woman appearing to be in her mid-thirties (despite being midway though her eighth century) and the embodyment of grace and charm.
Both the official histories and more private reminiscences point to her good breeding and intense personal resolve as well as her razor-wit and bredth of emotional expression. She is known to be able to remember people's names she only met once decades later and address them appropriately. Historically she is known for her mastery of no less than nine languages, her ability to pierce a sparrow in flight from a distance of a mile with an arrow and for having strangled a great-grandson to death in full view of her court.
In addition to creating and maintaining the largest extant empire in Creation, she always remained directly involved in the daily operations of her empire. For example, only five years before she went missing she personally lead a Wyld Hunt against a newly exalted Solar Exalt in the western prefecture of the Blessed Isle.
Philosophy of Rulership
Numerous studies have been filled with theories written by savants over the years regarding the Scarlet Empress' methods and philosophy. While there are a number of differing arguments on these matters, but there are a few basic concepts that the savants agree upon.
Divide and Rule
The Empress never allowed power to rest in one pair of hands where it might better rest in two pairs. Rather, she set three pairs of hands and eyes where one pair alone might be best. The Realm has three different types of secret police, watching each other almost as carefully as they watch the populace at large. The Empress also has 11 whole families of potential heirs, rather than a half-dozen princes of her own blood.
All Favor from the Center
The Empress reserved to herself power over all appointments, all commissions, all medal-giving, all land grants and all beneficence. If someone wanted honor, glory responsibility or recognition, the only place to seek it was on bended knee before the Empress' throne. With the power of appointment came the power of recal, and the Empress used this power with startling speed and frequency.
Dishonor Before Death
The Empress always sought to wreck the reputation and standing of those who thought to replace her, rather than to murder them. Many of her most fanatical supporters were those she had once driven from high office, as they constantly sought restoration to her good graces. Her disfavor could last decades, but she always had a corps of willing bureaucrats and officers to draw upon in a crisis.
Perpetual Violence at the Fringe
The Empress encouraged the Realm to be in a state of constant low-level warfare all along its boundaries - in essence, along the edges of its satrapies in the Threshold. Thus, the Realm'stroops were kept exercised, the most capable military commanders learned their business efficiently and the most dangerous and ambitious of the Realm's future leaders were kept at a distance from the center of power.
The Empress shaped the Realm's legal and cultural climate so that the Dragon-Blooded can expect unquestioned obedience from every ordinary human on the Blessed Isle. Every Terrestrial Exalt enjoys a host of privileges and advantages even without an official title from the Realm, including the right to maintain a small private army. Yet the Dragon-Blooded also accept a huge burden of responsibility. They care for their underlings with a deep sense of noblesse oblige and are personally liable for the failings of their subordinates. All praise and blame sites squarely on the Dragon-Blooded's shoulders, always.
During the Calibration between Realm Year 762 and 763, the Empress disappeared. The immediate members of her household hid her absence from the leadership of the Realm. As the Empress had taken long sabbaticals before she had standing instructiosn on how her occasional absences were to be handled and these directions sufficed for a time, but towards the end of RY 764 a number of important items of business that were not being dealt with lead first to requests and then to demands from the Dynasts for an audience with the Empress. After their remarks reached a peak in insolence the Empress' champberlain revieled the fact that she had been missing for almost two years.
The Contest for the Throne
- Look here for a description of the Scarlet Throne
The struggle over the throne is as much over who won't sit on it as who will. Most agree that Fokuf is unlikely to remain on it and that as long as there is no strong, central leadership for the Realm then the current degeneration into chaos will continue to progress. However, everyone vying for the throne also worries about what would happen if they were seated upon it when the Empress returns.
So the situation is that the Realm is in need of a new monarch but the threat of the old monarch returning keeps the likeliest candidates hesitating from taking action. However, there are a few names that are bandied about and many a Dynast is trying to guess who will act first. To make things even more interesting, there are knowledgeable bookies - especially in House Cynis who have set up pools, allowing people to make wagers on their favored options. The odds against the Empress’s return grow longer, and possible candidates are beginning to make their intentions known.