However, they have proven their noble legerdemain many times, through the acquisition of land and a unique understanding of human nature and politics. Highly academic and exceedingly well-educated, it is hard to pull one over an al-Malik, but it is likewise hard for them to resist the lure of a good adventure or challenge.
The al-Malik's modern attitudes make them suspect of harbouring Republican leanings. Such as evidenced by their almost democratic attitude towards their serfs. This combination of republican leanings and technological device has brought the attentions of the Inquisition more than a few times. Vassals of this family are well-treated and return the respect with solid service.
Their culture is one of the most sophisticated of all houses. Al-Malik nobles speak to each other in coded metaphor, known as the Graceful Tongue and nearly all al-Malik nobles dedicated themselves to arts, culture or scholastic interests.
House al-Malik Edit
One of the weakest of the Royal Houses, House al-Malik nonetheless has a number of significant and practically unique strengths. It enjoys far more political stability than its anarchic organization would lead one to believe, and it enjoys significant prosperity despite the inhospitability of some of its worlds. Despite– or perhaps because of– poor relations with the Church, its nobles are quite well educated and cultured, and its intellectual, artistic and cultural tradition is respected not only by its own nobles, but those throughout the Known Worlds.
Since the house consolidated its territory in the First Emperor Wars, seizing Criticorum from the dying Van Gelder and Justinians, it has had rather stable leadership. The Raschid family has ruled for most of this period, with occasional interruptions of al-Jabr, ibn-Rahiman and, briefly, Clinius rule. The most recent was the ibn-Rahiman-Clinius coup in 4894, which was put down shortly after the outbreak of the Symbiot wars, which allowed the Raschid line to sway the Abbasah family and use the al-Jabr family, now an ally, to keep Criticorum under tighter rule (and, incidentally, to keep the al-Jabr family focused on the Clinius line as enemies rather than the Raschids).
While the stability of the house has been due in part to the enlightened leadership of the Raschid line, it is in at least equally large part due to the fact that the al-Malik are far less concerned about rulership of land than other houses. Indeed, when one considers economic struggles or struggles over pieces of technology or information, the house has hardly been at peace. These struggles are more often fought at court or through thievery and spycraft, and so are not as noticeable as the constant skirmishes amongst Hawkwoods and Hazat, but they belie the picture of al-Malik unity that the Raschid line’s rule gives.
There are a number of potential conflicts in the house as it stands. The Abbasah line, along with the other main Aylon families of al-Gaib, Liet, and Mahdin, have put away most of their differences and are reaching out to the Hejallah and Hallaschid lines to forge a powerful alliance to try and militarize the house. Meanwhile, the Raschids, Ahhads and al-Jabrs are trying to keep the Shaprut-based ibn-Rahimans and Ghanjids allied by defending a less militaristic way of life, and the Clinius and Comnenus lines on Criticorum constantly agitate for home rule of their planet.
Another tension, far less often discussed but no less important, is between the egalitarians and the oligarchists. The al-Malik tolerance for hypocrisy and doubletalk is quite high, and so the fact that emancipationists such as the Sinnas, Ghanjids, al-Jabrs and certain ibn-Rahimans coexist right next to slave traders such as the Clinius and Comnenus lines, and oligarchs such as the Abbasah, Ahhad and al-Gaib lines, causes less strife than it would where people spoke their minds more directly, but there is an underlying tension that is often reflected in some of the struggles for technology, guild contracts, and position at court. House al-Malik has a powerful technological base and significant trade infrastructure, which gives its lords wealth out of proportion to their political and military status. The house’s historical relations with the League help it maintain its wealth, and give it significant bargaining power with other houses and information about their doings. Its predisposition to psychic talent is useful politically, and although Church regulations make its intellectual tradition less useful than it otherwise might be, it is an important cultural source of pride for the house.
al-Malik Fiefs Edit
al-Malik Royal Offices and Orders Edit
The Mutasih Edit
Originally the market police on Istakhr when the Raschid line was centered in Samarkand, the Mutasih has expanded to become one of the most powerful, far-reaching, and expert intelligence agencies in the Known Worlds. Mutasih field agents spin webs of intrigue with an almost artistic panache, Mutasih intelligence analysts study the data they are given with all of the scholarship of the house, and Mutasih technicians are second to none in the fields of surveillance and cryptography. If the Mutasih has a weak spot, it is lack of discipline. Agents are not fragile by any means, but they are more likely to crack under pressure than those of their two rivals, the Jakovian Agency and the Imperial Eye.
- The Mustasih have a strong presences in Samarkand on Istakhr, where they enforce the Market Tax, which supplies the funds for the House to maintain greatness.
The Circle of the Ceramite Mantle Edit
The al-Malik royal bodyguard. Knights of the Ceramite Mantle are all loyal to the Raschids, and tend to protect the Caliph’s security in as unobtrusive a fashion as possible. They only appear in the presence of the Caliph.
The Crystal Lantern Dancers Edit
The Caliph’s household service of swashbuckling champions. The Crystal Lantern Dancers are all skilled spies, scouts, and warriors, and they are known for their trademark blur suits and their penchant for striking from the shadows. They are seen in some ways as the hands of fate, striking down the powerful, occasionally ennobling the weak, and vanishing as quickly as they appeared. They serve the Caliph in an organized fashion, but they each have a fair amount of leeway to use their judgement in most situations, which adds to their reputation for caprice.
The Circle of the Shattered Sword Edit
This is the Caliph’s royal think tank, made up of the most sage thinkers throughout al-Malik space. It is a knightly order (knowledge is a noble virtue on al-Malik conceptions), but many of its members are knighted specifically to be inducted into the order. Reeves, Engineers, and Eskatonics make up the bulk of those knighted for the purpose, though there are quite a few Orthodox scholars in it as well. The Circle has an entire estate on Istakhr devoted to its use, though some members of it travel abroad.
The Society for the Promotion of Public Virtue Edit
In many ways the royal propaganda department, the Society is a semi-secret group that monitors goings-on at court and supports artists, writers, and courtiers who expound on the al-Malik values and who ensure a certain degree of discretion and decorum when Church officials are near. Many joke that the society’s emphasis is on the “public” and not on the “virtue,” but in al-Malik space the two are considered somewhat synonymous in any case. Membership in the Society was originally strictly secret, but it is considered a great honor and so has been boasted about, somewhat compromising the secrecy of the organization.
The Farmers of Autumn Edit
The highest honor an al-Malik can receive is to be designated a Farmer of Autumn, and membership is reserved for a very few. It is a society open only to nobles, though some are knighted for the purpose of membership. The Farmers of Autumn are responsible for awarding most other al-Malik honors, and they hand out a variety of gifts to honor those who have served the house.
Selected al-Malik Families Edit
- Ghanjid: Rival ibn-Rahiman for Shaprut, attempting to curry favor at court, but even more arcane and strange than ibn-Rahiman, and much poorer. Ties to Eskatonics. High incidence of psi and theurgy. (big on Shaprut, Criticorum, presence on Pentateuch)
- al-Gaib: A line renowned for its high-technology warriors and war machines, the al-Gaib have often fought with the Abbasah but have recently reached an alliance with them. (Big on Aylon, Shaprut, presence on Istakhr, Kordeth)
- Mahdin: Warriors fanatically loyal to the Empire. (Big on Aylon)
- Daianaid: Small and way too subtle for their own good. Rather profligate and considered crass by other al-Malik but talented at impressing members of other houses with their erudition. (big on Criticorum, presence on Istakhr, Byzantium Secundus)
- ↑ Weird Places, page 75