Long the goal of House Sesus, military strength seems to have become something of a trap for the Dynasts of this House. Over centuries of neglecting most of its other interests, war has become the one thing that House Sesus does supremely well. It no longer even makes an attempt to seem like a well-rounded House. While this makes it a force to be reckoned with, the House suffers from its narrow range of competence. If things continue in this vein for much longer, Sesus could wind up being nothing but a legion for hire for its political allies—and nothing would please Mnemon more.
MASTER(S) OF THE HOUSE
House Sesus includes five distinct households, and the House as a whole is guided by the oldest couple from each household. All of these powerful Dynasts have a pronounced martial streak, but given that most of them are aspected toward Fire, this is no great surprise.
Each of the five Sesus households makes a point of being distinct from the other. While they all revel in being part of House Sesus when dealing with other Houses, they highlight their differences when the households interact.
The oldest household to diverge from the main Sesus line was formed by Sesus Kajak, a famous general and the eldest son of Sesus himself. The household is now run by Sesus Kajak Raves and her husband, Cynis Nesil. Once a proud military household, it now holds more interest in mercantile affairs. While it still bankrolls quite a number of troops, it mostly uses them as a source of income, loaning them out to other Sesus households, or to Houses Cynis or Mnemon, to browbeat satraps. This household still produces one or two extraordinary generals every generation.
Second to spin off from the Sesus line was the Alon household.
Its founder, a granddaughter of Sesus and a powerful Senator in the Deliberative, maintains a clear focus on the spectrum of militaristic and political issues. The household has many Senators in the Deliberative, though Alon remains the most persuasive of these by far, partially due to her reputation as a close researcher of political issues and partially due to her rigorous ethics. Alon guides her family with her husband, General Mnemon Barin.
Sesus Magel started the third Sesus household. She is a politician, though not a member of the Deliberative. Her husband, Cynis Parovar, was a patrician merchant with a keen and coldly calculating business acumen. The current head of the household is Sesus Magel Talor, a widowed politician thoroughly and happily in the pocket of the Guild. His wife, a dragonlord in the Sesus legions, was recently killed, and he has secretly taken a peasant lover to keep the loneliness at bay.
The fourth household to diverge from the main family line was formed by Sesus Chenow. Chenow was a bully even before his Exaltation, but Exalting and joining the legions brought out the worst in him. His love of pillage, rape, and murder were so extreme that they became a scandal and a serious political liability to the House.
When Sesus himself threatened to disown Chenow, the young Dynast appeared to pull himself together. Over the next few years, he started his own rigorously military household and began leading excursions into the Threshold, ostensibly to defend the Realm’s interests. It soon became apparent that he’d done so in order to gain the means to carry on his brutality in distant Threshold lands, far from the Realm’s wagging tongues and soft patrician bourgeoisie. Since that didn’t cause the House any political hardship, Sesus allowed it. To this day, the household of Chenow deploys some of the most effective and brutal troops in Creation, and they live for deployment to the Threshold, where they can take sadistic liberties that would get them disowned or severely punished on the Blessed Isle. Chenow himself has recently retired from military service, and his youngest daughter, Sesus Chenow Mareq runs the household with her husband Cathak Catis.
The most recently formed, and least popular, Sesus household was started by Sesus Denerid, a rebellious youth with a great love of Cynis parties. The Denerid household maintains the House’s “legion” of slave concubines and has a long-term contract for slaves with House Cynis. It has become traditional for the Denerid household to intermarry extensively with Cynis, and some consider the household to be almost as much part of House Cynis as it is a part of House Sesus, particularly since many of its recently Exalted generation are Wood-aspected. This household is currently under the control of Sesus Denerid Gutar and his wife, the un-Exalted Cynis Violas. If the household becomes any less popular within House Sesus, it might well defect to House Cynis entirely.
Most major Sesus households are aspected toward Fire. The Sesus Denerid household is a Wood-aspected exception and, consequently, suffers the contempt of the other Sesus households.
Historically, House Sesus has gone surprisingly easy on its tributaries. In return, the tributaries have made every effort to be timely with their tribute (if only to avoid the atrocities of the Chenow troops). If a particular region suffered a drought, for example, the House would allow the tributary to defer its tribute for a year and pay off the outstanding amount over three years. Such policies resulted in grateful goodwill toward the House. In the state of panic that currently holds sway in the Realm, however, Sesus is cracking down, and that’s causing immense resentment and sporadic rebellions among the House’s satrapies. Chenow’s troops have thus far kept the tributaries in line, but they’ve reverted to their more brutal tactics to make their point, resulting in even more unrest.
Tribute is down and slipping, and there’s a rumor that some of the family’s tributary states in the Far East, emboldened by the defeat of the Tepet legions, are preparing for a full-fledged revolt.
Even the militaristic House Sesus isn’t sure if it wants to deploy the troops necessary to rectify the situation.
Sesus has focused its might so completely in military endeavors that its only non-military interests are the ones it has gained through intermarriage with House Cynis. Nevertheless, many of the elders in the House are beginning to think that Sesus is a little too intertwined with the decadent Cynis and would like to cool off their alliances with that House a bit. This is likely to cause the House to invest even more aggressively in military interests, which could take it to the Threshold more than might be wise in the current atmosphere of unrest.
GOALS AND ALLIANCES
Sesus takes pains to guard its Dynastic blood, and it has grown increasingly averse to allowing its members to breed with anyone who is not Exalted. The House’s scions are proud of their many marriage ties to Houses Mnemon and Cynis, although many in the House are casting a wary eye at the relentless decadence of House Cynis.
The ties between Sesus and Mnemon would be much more useful if Mnemon herself weren’t so intent on claiming the Scarlet Throne.
She’s trying to treat House Sesus as though it were the military wing of House Mnemon, and Sesus isn’t having it. Sesus doesn’t want to hand the throne to Mnemon, but she would never consent to allow anyone else on the Scarlet Throne, so both Houses remain at an impasse.
House Iselsi, on the other hand, has offered Sesus the services of the All-Seeing Eye in its quiet conflict with Mnemon, provided House Sesus guarantees that the Immaculate Order will remain quartered at the Palace Sublime. Sesus still holds out some hope of working with Houses Mnemon and/or Cynis, so it hasn’t responded to the Iselsi overture yet. If Mnemon does take the Throne, Sesus certainly doesn’t want her to find out that it bargained with the Iselsi. Sesus would rather see anyone else on the throne, though, despite the many marital ties that connect the two Great Houses.
The leadership of House Sesus strongly suspects that intermarriage wouldn’t count for much if Mnemon were ever to take control of the Realm. The House is still hoping that the next ruler of the Realm will either be a Sesus or a Cynis, and it might be forced to deal with Iselsi if it is to have a chance at that arrangement.
ILLUSTRIOUS DYNASTS OF THE HOUSE
Though he has officially retired to an undisclosed location in the Western Isles, Sesus Chenow has unofficially joined with his old sworn brotherhood once more and gone back into the field for another few rounds of bloodshed and brutality. He swore in his youth that he would die fighting, and he isn’t about to let old age creep up on him and deny him that right. Chenow is 279, just past his prime and barely starting to go gray. As soon as he developed his first wrinkles in the corners of his eyes, he retired with barely a farewell, secretly afraid that if he waited any longer he wouldn’t be in any shape to return to his violent old ways. Chenow and his brotherhood have made it their personal mission to keep Threshold tributaries paying their tribute in full and on time, particularly those that belong to House Sesus. They might succeed, but they’re making many enemies along the way, some of whom are Anathema who resent the Realm’s presence. The Threshold through which Chenow is advancing now is not the same place it was ten, or even two years ago, and being a Dynast isn’t the protection it once was.
The spymasters of House Sesus, established early in the House’s history by Sesus himself, wanted to perform an experiment. What vulnerabilities in the House and in the Realm might be found by a spy who had not been raised in the Realm, burdened by all the blind spots that such an upbringing inevitably bestows?
Their means of answering this question was Sesus Rafara, a young Exalt taken from her family and raised as a complete stranger to her own nation and culture. Sesus spymasters reared Rafara at a First Age manse deep in the forests near Bright Obelisk. She was taught spycraft and a range of skills to aid in assassination, but of the Realm, she was kept ignorant, or else taught the very basics needed to get by.
She was told of the Immaculate Philosophy, but not indoctrinated into its beliefs. She was repeatedly and intentionally betrayed as a way of teaching her not to let herself be vulnerable. And when she had become a perfect cipher, she was taken back to the Realm and unleashed as a master spy for House Sesus. After years of experience and dozens of missions, she is one of the top three spies in the House.
She knows many things she ought not to know, and she has done things that others might call inhuman. And in doing all this, she feels she has lost her humanity—for which she blames her House. To them, she is a finely honed tool and nothing more. She resents that, and her means of acting out against the House is to use all the skills the spymasters taught her to undermine the House’s efforts against the other Houses. Most recently, she sent a secret warning to a woman she had never met, Tepet Ejava, to warn her of conspiracies being hatched against her in the Realm. She warned Ejava not to return, even if summoned, unless she was ready to die.
Rafara has gained more satisfaction from her work since going rogue than she ever did when she was just a tool. She assumes that she will eventually be caught and that she will be executed when that happens, but in the meantime, she is taking great delight in seeing that the more self-serving and petty plans of her House never come to fruition.