All Roads Lead to Amber
Courts of Chaos
“A den of vipers. A nest of traitors. They pick at each other’s carrion like a murder of dead crows, hungry for the vitreous humors of their own flesh. They are the Enemy. They are the Anathema.” – The Book of the Unicorn
The Courts of Chaos have stood for countless epochs, and may stand for countless more. Bound by the Code of Uthor, the Lords of Chaos weave their internecine conflicts with each other, offering friendship and treachery with even hands. Organized by the only law they respect into Houses, they pay heed to the Throne of Chaos in Firegate, and gather to compete and interact with the others of their rank. All of power in the Courts descend from the First, the creator of the Logrus, and all carry the blood of Chaos in their veins. Theirs is the oldest mastery of Shadow, and their patron is the Serpent.
A House of Chaos is led by Duke or Duchess. In order to be considerd such, they must control a primal shadow, and several shadows around it, woven together through the Black Roads. Once a Lord of Chaos can prove himself in possession of such, they can petition for peerage among the Houses. The largest of Houses are not always the oldest, but they are the most formidable.
House Sawall: Once the Royal House of Chaos, it was led by Duke Mandor Sawall, brother to the High King Swayville. Its symbol is a black rook, on a field of red, above an intricate knot which represents the Logrus. The House was founded by Suhuy the Black, and was made into the Royal House when King Uthor took Suhuy’s daughter, Clyraestra, as his bride. House Sawall, however, has fallen from its throne of power, and now lies teetering on the edge of destruction. In the War of the Black Road, both Suhuy and Swayville were killed at the hands of the Amberites. The culmination of the Eye of the Storm’s efforts became manifest in Mandor returning to Firegate, bearing the Horn of the Unicorn, and stepping onto the Logrus with it. While details are impossible to recount, the effects were clear. Mandor killed the Serpent, and took its place, becoming the Spider. The Logrus and the Black Road disintegrated, and in the political fall out, it is a question if the once mighty House Sawall will ever recover.
House Hydra: One of the most populous houses of Chaos, House Hydra holds in its clutches two dozen primal shadows, woven into a network of power. Duchess Pythia Hydra had recently wed her newest Lord Consort, the Daemon Duke Lord Cranmore Theradune, who assumed the mantle of leadership of the House after her death at the hands of Hexion. Its prominent members are Lord General Ulyse, the master of arms, and Lady Heres, its Logrus sorceress. Its triplet assassins, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto, were slain during Cranmore’s coup by Crystal. House Hydra is well-respected for its vast armies and sheer mastery of Shadow. Its symbol is a green three-headed serpent, passant, on a field of sable.
House Hendrake: Founded by the deceased Duke Hendrake, this house is led by his son, Duke Romas Hendrake. While not as populous as its rival, House Hydra, House Hendrake boasts instead the greatest soldiers in Chaos. Led into battle by the Courts own Master of Arms, Lord Herrick Hendrake, there are few whose blood does not run cold when the shadow of Hendrake’s dragon cavalry passes overhead. Its symbol is a red serpent, coiled as if to strike, upon a field of gold.
House Pandrer: Once a House known for the skill of its Trump artists and sorcerers, House Pandre has seen better days. After its participation in the Sorcerer’s Crusade, it held the dubious honor of being the first House to test its mettle against Avalon. For this achievement, it has been granted the provision of guarding conquered Avalon, and protecting the Black Road there. Currently on its third Duke in as many years, House Pandre is led more by its mysterious Salon than any other faction. It continues to provide the majority of Trump based items in Chaos’s ranks, but there are many younger houses looking to tear this once giant down. Its symbol is a gold eight-pointed star on a field of purple.
House Ioggia: The youngest of the major Houses, House Ioggia has risen to prominence nigh solely by the actions of its ambitious Duchess, Ygrette Ioggia. Duchess Igrette has made herself indispensable in the machinations of the Court, as she controls the single largest web of spies in all of Chaos, and all are intensely loyal to their Duchess. How could they be otherwise, as they are all creatures of her blood, crafted expertly through extensive genetic engineering, sorcery, and shapeshifting. Her House consists of several minor Lords and Knights, but mostly of simply herself. One never knows if one is speaking with the Duchess or with one of her blood-crafted clones, but the end result proves the argument moot. Duchess Ygrette is House Ioggia. Her symbol is a pair of blue eyes on a field of silver.
House Techarp: Skilled sorcerers and Logrus masters, House Techarp exists without being too great, never succeeds too much, and never cares for glory. While listing the Great Houses of Chaos, House Techarp is even forgotten at times, despite holding its origins as one of the first Houses of Chaos. While its duties are primarily to protect and interpret the Code of Uthor, this role has been usurped primarily by House Sawall since the death of High King Kronos. Duke Thoorian Techarp controls his House quietly, and they keep to the sidelines in most major conflicts. They simply record what happens, so that it might be remembered. Their symbol is a black eagle, passant, on a field of gold.
There are a good two dozen other major Houses and nearly two hundred minor Houses.
The New Factions
In the aftermath of their defeat during the Black Road and the destruction of the Logrus, the Courts of Chaos suffered an upset of power the likes of which they had not seen since the death of High King Uthor. With the discovery of the new Logrus, the Courts have begun to restructure themselves. Without the High King of the line of Uthor, however, there are many debating the future of the Courts. Of these Houses, four strong factions have appeared.
The Old Guard are lead by House Hendrake, and compose most of the surviving clergy of the Church of the Serpent. Loyal to the old crown, and supporters of House Sawall, the Old Guard favor traditional attitudes and codes of conduct among the nobles of the Court. They feel Mandor’s actions were a blasphemy of the highest order, and while they accept the necessity of assaying the new Logrus to achieve their power, they strongly oppose any new religious or social movements in the Courts.
The Apologists prefer to call themselves Reformers, but the former name has stuck with an uncanny level of strength. They feel that the aftermath of the War of the Black Road has revealed that the ways of the Serpent lead to the weakness of the Courts, and new ways must be found. They reject the teachings of the Serpent, and have instead begun to embrace the newly refounded Church of the Unicorn, as well as the Church of the Spider, created by the remaining members of the Eye of the Storm. There are even some who have vocalized that the offer should be made to Amber to restore House Barimen in the Courts, though this is far from a popular position.
Power for power’s sake is the credo of the New Blood. Lead ruthlessly by the Demon Duke of House Hydra, Cranmore Theradune, these openly ambitious Chaos Lords held an aggressively powerful position in the first years after the Black Road. While many questioned their apparent immunity to the Shadow storms isolating all corners of Shadow, the truth of it was only revealed after their second defeat at Avalon. This faction is composed strongly of Abyssal mystics and their demonic counterparts, and genuinely frighten a majority of the Courts of Chaos with their sheer will to power.
Finally, the Opportunists have made themselves indispensable throughout the Courts through simple pragmatism. Originating as an alliance between the Salon and House Ioggia, these itinerant Lords of Chaos scattered in all directions once the Ways became traversable again. The Opportunists hold themselves to no firm creed or belief, but instead look out for their own best interests, wherever it may take them. Consisting of many Trump artists and one of the most powerful information networks in Chaos certainly has helped them in this task. They often serve as a go-between in the various factions of Chaos, not favoring any one side more than the others, and somehow always coming out ahead.