In 1247 the Red Goddess performed her final dance some 50 km to the northwest of Raibanth. A huge crimson sphere, some 40 km in diameter, rose from earth and continued to rise hundreds, even thousands, of kilometers into the Middle Air, leaving behind a vast Crater some two to three kilometers high.
This could be seen everywhere in Glorantha and had a profound effect on many peoples who never had heard of the Red Goddess. But the greatest effect was in Peloria. The capital of Raibanth, home to the Dara Happan emperor, is only a little over 30 km from the rim of the Crater.
The Red Goddess left behind her son as her viceroy for her mundane concerns. The Dara Happan Emperor appointed her son as his co-emperor and heir. Called the Red Emperor (to distinguish him from the Solar emperor), three years laters later he became the sole emperor. The Red Emperor founded his own capital, Glamour, at the edge of the Crater. Glamour has long since eclipsed and surpassed Raibanth, much as Baghdad eclipsed and surpassed Ctesiphon.
A Red Emperor has ruled Peloria for nearly 400 years. Early on Dara Happan reactionaries in the Yelm cult sought to overthrow the Red Emperor, but they were defeated and forced to submit. A century or so later, some Dara Happan leaders made peace with Sheng Seleris (who was also a representative of Yelm), but they were defeated and replaced. For generations, the Yelm cult has been the bulwark of the Red Emperor’s rule, more loyal than any others.
Argenteus is a decadent holder of a centuries-old imperial title. He’s surrounded by his “daughter-mother-courtesans” the Tharkalists. Lots of takes on him:
- A schemer who has managed to backstab and betray his way to the very top, and now wants to enjoy himself with drink, courtesans, poetry, and more. This version might have him overconfident and paranoid – the Tharkalists are around him as secure bodyguards and advisors, but he’s still the ruler.
- A figurehead of others, there because he is pliable and drunk. As long as he has drink, courtesans, poetry, and other forms of pleasure – he lets his household run the empire. This variation plays up the Tharkalists as the real rulers of the empire.
- A thorough and very dangerous madman. The emperor is far more engaged in strange occult conflicts on the Red Moon than on what goes on in the mundane world. The Tharkalists encourage that madness, but he is very unpredictable and very dangerous.
Now again, that’s my view of the current Red Emperor. You can base him on Elvis if you want, but I don’t.
Does the counter in Dragon Pass ever represent him or is it only Phargentes? It represents the Red Emperor. Phargentes does not have his own counter.
The Seven Daughters
In 1584, seven daughters were born to seven different mothers, all sired by the Red Emperor, all born within the same hour, and all identical but for one feature each. They were later called the Tharkalists or Seven Daughters. They are the consorts of Argenteus and have had numerous children (including now several adults) with the Emperor. They encourage the Emperor’s extravagance and serve as his gatekeepers, advisors, and try to staff the court with their allies and clients.
The Tharkalists appear as a gaggle of beautifully dressed and coiffured women of indistinct age, and who glide around without making a sound. They encourage Argenteus’ extravagance, make sure his pleasure barges are well stocked, and cater to his every whim. As a result, their whispered suggestions are the ruling decrees of the Empire.
So one might look at the Bene Gesserit, or like the imperial consorts of the Tang emperors. I imagine there is a complex hierarchy of consorts and concubines around the Red Emperor. But to the best of my knowledge, the Red Emperor does not have an empress.