In 1486, the Lunar goddess Hon-eel, daughter of the Red Emperor and Sandene, gave birth to twins, conceived with the Secret Light of the Sun. One was a boy, blond and pale-eyed, radiant as the yellow sunlight of the day sky. The girl was white-skinned and fragile, with white hair and radiant like starlight in the night sky. The pair, called Twilight and Nightlight, has remained important in Orayan worship and are worshiped with Noonlight in one temple.
Twilight and Nightlight were part of Hon-eel’s sprawling family, the Eel-Ariash. Twilight sired upon a priestess a son named Chain Dancer, who was born in 1517. Chain Dancer was the most famed of all Dart Competitors. He served the Orayan House of Molari-sor (for the Eel-ariash lost control of that satrapy in 1520) and was active in the Sixth Wane. He never acted out of order, and so lived to a ripe old age. Every movement he made was part of a magical ritual taught by Hon-eel in his dreams. The result of the dance was the birth of the woman Farangold in 1567.
Farangold was trained by the Eel-ariash to be the perfect consort and imperial concubine. She beguiled the Red Emperor with her charms and perfection, and when the Red Emperor retreated into his explorations of mystical secrets, she was a reminder that the Proxies were not the Emperor. She gave birth to the Red Emperor’s greatest daughter, Jar-eel the Razoress, in 1588.
In thinking about the Eel-ariash Clan, remember there are probably around 2000-2500 members of that kinship group. They include Jar-eel, rule the Oronin satrapy, and Sor-eel (military general and former governor of Prax). They are one of the Three Fifth Families, and all members are held in a certain amount of religious awe – all are within five generations of a god, and many more than that.
So imagine, the Eel-ariash have a population about the size of the Ernaldori Clan in Sartar. Their clan was founded in the time of Sartar by a living goddess, with more devotees than the total population of Sartar. The clan directly rules the Oronin Satrapy with 500,000 people and a branch rules the Lunar province of Tarsh with 360,000 people. The clan has great influence within the Silver Shadow satrapy and on the court of the Red Emperor.
And although the Eel-ariash might be the most powerful of the Imperial clans, that is not for certain. There are several other noble clans of comparable size and influence that contend with the Eel-ariash for power.
Now Twilight is not the only lineage founder of the first generation of Eel-ariash. There’s Nightlight, Phoronestes, and probably a dozen or more others. Hon-eel was a fertility goddess as well. But all are considered Eel-ariash.
Like the Kauravas, the Eel-ariash can muster many members – if you imagine a kinship group where many members are destined to be Rune Lord or Priest, all are likely trained in Nysalorean riddles, and a significant percentage become full Red Goddess initiates, they must be awesome indeed.
In many parts of the Lunar Heartlands, particularly in the Oronin satrapy, it is common that a Lunar or Yelmic temple is headed up by a member of the Eel-ariash. Many of the Eel-ariash likely can count the generations between them and Yelm on the fingers of one hand…
The Imperial Lunar nobility are those who trace their descent to the Red Goddess, in most cases through the Red Emperor. Only some twenty noble families survived Sheng Seleris’s purge, including some of the priestly lineages such as the Assiday family, and the families that have the rights to travel on the Silver Bridge. These families are called the Old Children and are owed great respect throughout the Empire.
After the defeat of Sheng Seleris, the Red Emperor founded the Three Fifths families, three of the most powerful noble houses in the Empire and all descended from the Red Emperor.
Since the return of peace within the Lunar Heartlands, the Red Emperor has sired more than a hundred sons and daughters. The Red Emperor often maintains several consorts and concubines, many being his own descendants. Each child of the Emperor becomes the founder of an imperial lineage, and their children enjoy the status of imperial nobles. All the satraps and provincial kings come from the imperial nobility, as do most of the important priesthoods, the entire Full Moon Corps, and most of the imperial bureaucracy.
The powerful, resourceful, or clever houses intermarried and produced more powerful and magical individuals. Most prestigious was to have a family member become the consort or even a concubine of the Red Empire, who then strengthened the family’s prestige by bearing offspring.
By the late Seventh Wane, there were 50 acknowledged imperial lineages. The largest and oldest number several thousand members, with numerous cadet branches, and have palaces in Glamour, rule satrapies and provincial kingdoms, and have private armies and personal gods. The smallest and newest have but a few members and live in royal apartments in Glamour.
Its like the Saudi royal family – there are some 10-20,000 “princelings” in the Lunar Empire, all descended from the Red Emperor. Obviously being closer to the Red Emperor is better, unless you are Old Children. But being even a very junior member of a Three Fifth Family is going to make you part of the upper 1% of Lunar society.
The nine greatest of the imperial families were acknowledged to be the following:
1. Eel-ariash. The Eel-ariash are among the most important noble clans in the Empire. Founded by Hon-eel the Dancer, the Third Inspiration of Moonson and a goddess of great power, the Eel-ariash clan is one of the imperial Three Fifth Families. The royal dynasty of Tarsh is a branch of this clan. For over a century, they have pursued a magical breeding program, seeking to create a new incarnation of the Red Goddess. The Eel-ariash clan came from Doblian, and ruled Oraya from its resettlement until their leaders were killed in the Nights of Horror and lost the satrapy in 5/43 (1506). They seized control of Oronin in 6/26 (1543) despite the opposition of the Emperor. The Eel-ariash successfully defied the Emperor himself and forced Moonson to acknowledge their authority over the satrapy. For over a generation the clan ruled two satrapies simultaneously. However, the Eel-ariash lost control of Doblian when the Yanoriao-ilart clan seized it after a successful Dart Competition in 7/4 (1575). Their most famous living member is Jar-eel the Razoress – the Fourth Inspiration of Moonson and the current incarnation of the Red Goddess.
Until 1621, the Eel-ariash ruled Dragon Pass and Prax, but were forced out of power there by the Assiday family. The clan was thought to be out of favor, having suffered several major reverses in previous years. However, their influence has greatly increased since then due to the deeds of Jar-eel.
2. Errio-unit: This clan rules the satrapy of Sylila, and is famed for their displays of Lunar piety and their learning. The Errio-unit are generous patrons of art, temples, and scholars in both the Heartland and the Provinces, bolstering their prestige with lavish cultural displays; unlike many other satrapal houses, members of this ruling clan personally lead military and missionary activities. They are related by marriage to many of the ruling barbarian houses in the Lunar Provinces.
3. Yanoriao-ilart. This Three FIfths family control many temples and rules the satrapy of Doblian. Yanoriao Half-Fair fought a Dart Competition against the Eel-ariash, who had the support of the Red Emperor. Upon seizing control of the satrapy, she did not face punishment, but was certified by the Emperor as the legitimate ruler of Doblian in 7/4 (1575). Yanoriao’s descendants are a squabbling bunch, thoroughly overshadowed in the popular imagination by the Queen Father. The current satrap is a pair of conjoined twins: Hytaspes, the male, strong in Sky magic, and Akamanah, his sister, strong in Darkness magic. They studied under Tatius the Bright of the Assiday family when they were younger and are influential patrons of the Lunar College of Magic.
4. Assiday. They have great influence in Raibanth and in many Yelm temples, rule Dragon Pass and manage the Lunar School of Magic. They are an Old Children family that claims direct descent from the god Yelm. They rule Dragon Pass, having wrested control of that province from the Eel-ariash in 1621.
5. Valar-telsor. This Old Children family has ties to both the Red Emperor and Great Sister. They claim the pre-imperial Lunar heroine Valare Addi as an ancestor. They are notorious for their tendency to ally against whoever is the most powerful of the other clans. They are patrons of the Natha temple and of several schools of Illumination.
6. Tharkalists. The Seven Daughters are the newest of the big players, but have great power. 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 staff the court with their allies and clients.
7. Taran-il: This Old Children family is descended from Flower Poem, a goddess of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song, who was awakened by the Red Goddess herself during the halcyon early years of the Zero Wane. Flower Poem now resides on the Red Moon, and reappears from time to time to take a lover from her descendants and continue her semi-divine lineage of the Taran-il. The Taran-il are known as fey magicians, often mad, but always powerful and usually illuminated.
In 6/10 (1527), the Taran-il seized control of First Blessed after a long Dart Competition against the Jenet-aror. The Red Emperor decided that the Taran-il clan proved their lawful title to the satrapy after the Tax Demons did not touch them despite their usurpation. The Jenet-aror assassinated the Red Emperor but the clan was executed for treason when the Emperor returned.
Flower Poem’s infrequent visitations over the centuries are cause for rapturous celebration and wonder across the satrapy. She has not appeared for nearly two generations, and her direct line consists of a few decadent and aging cousins who expend vast wealth and magical resources maintaining their youth and potency while awaiting Flower Poem’s return.
8. Wylua-oor: This Old Children clan controls the SurEnslib temple in Dorkath; they seized control of the satrapy when one of the Red Emperor’s Masks was devoured by the Heron Goddess during the Dorkath Rites (over which they preside). They are urbane, civilized, and devoted to both the Red Goddess and the Heron Goddess. They are also feared for the cutthroat Dart Competitions they wage against the other satrapal houses.
The current satrap is Feathered Eye Woman, a woman of considerable charm, intelligence, and ability.
9. The Molari-sor: The Molari-sor waged their Dart Competition against the Ari-ji over control of the Oraya Satrapy with support from the Eel-ariash (who controlled the Doblian satrapy at the time). The Emperor’s Mask of Artifex died during the course of this Dart Competition (by whose order is unknown) and when he returned wearing the Mask of Voracius, his first act (in 6/5 or 1522) was to certify the Molari-sor as the legitimate heirs of the satrapy and to proclaim their innocence by the fact that the Tax Demons did not touch them. The last known heirs of the Ari-ji were exterminated by assassins in 6/10 (1527), and since then, the Molari-sor clan has ruled the satrapy, although the Eel-ariash maintained their control of the Hon-eel cult.
The Molari-sor are suspected of being clients of the Eel-ariash clan, and are enthusiastic supporters of the Hon-eel rites, including blood sacrifices and blood sports. They are one of the wealthiest of the satrapal clans, thanks to their control of the Etyries Caravan and trade with the dwarves of the Von Mountains. The current satrap, Ochlo-molari, is an obese hedonist who has dabbled with several foreign mystery cults.
The Tharkalists are now all 41 years old, and are said to have 49 identical adults sons (age 20) among them.
So when you think of Sor-eel and Bor-eel, remember that Sor-eel is a well-connected member of this family and his half-brother Bor-eel has devoted his life to assisting his elder sibling. Radak the Iron Centurion is a notable Rune Lord of Yanafal Tarnils. These are people whose importance transcends Prax.
Sor-eel lost his position as governor of Prax in large part due to machinations against the Eel-ariash by the Assiday, Wylua-oor, Yanoriao-ilart, and Tharkalists. This resulted in Fazzur WIderead losing his command as well. Now of course this needed to be handled delicately, as Jar-eel is a member of the Eel-ariash. Presumably the plan was her to be placed on a pedestal so all could revere her. But when the White Moon rebellions broke out, the Red Emperor was forced to rely on Jar-eel (and her family). And when the Pentans invaded, Jar-eel took active command and the Eel-ariash returned to ascendancy.
The Dragonrise shattered the ambitions of the Assiday family and sent their allies scrambling and we look for the Full Moon of the Eel-ariash.
In short, a lot of things happen in the Lunar Provinces that are the results of the machinations of the imperial clans in Glamour. One question that was never resolved is how much of Jar-eel’s actions prior to 1628 were the result of her personal will, and how much was the result of seeds planted by her great-great grandmother more than a century ago? Is it possible to say that Jar-eel did not truly come into her own until 1630?
If we think about the relationship between key figures within the Eel-ariash, it is likely that Jar-eel, Sor-eel and Pharandros are all second or third cousins. Given that Jar-eel, Bor-eel, and Sor-eel all have the prestigious -eel surname, they likely all have direct matrilineal descent from Hon-eel’s children (Chain Dancer created Farangold through communication with Hon-eel in his dreams, and it is possible that Hon-eel is her mother!). The Tarshite line trace their lineage patrilineally, which is likely why they are seen as a branch of the clan.
When we look at Dragon Pass from the vantage of Glamour, we see a Dart War between Assiday and Eel-ariash, as Tarsh is ruled by a dynasty of Eel-ariash origins, and Fazzur Wideread is a provincial aristocrat tied by marriage and service to the Eel-ariash. Prax was also ruled by the Eel-ariash. Assiday managed to break that, removing the provincial aristocrat from command of the Lunar Army, and having Sor-eel removed from Prax. Assiday got Dragon Pass and command of the Lunar army, Prax went to a creature of Appius Luxius (which means that no doubt Appius Luxius supported the coup). Even the Feathered Horse Queen is tied by blood to the Eel-ariash!