A Brief History

The Banner of the Courts of Chaos

Very little is known of the world before the Courts of Chaos came into being, save that there were many land masses which formed spontaneously in the Abyss. Certainly, it was from the Abyss that Great Cornelius came to the Rock of Thelbane and drew the Logrus, with the aid of his sons Swayvill and Suhuy. By tradition, this is believed to have occured about fifteen-thousand Chaos years ago.

Over the next millennium, Cornelius, Swayvill and Suhuy brought together scraps of other worlds from the Abyss, as well as those worlds which had formed after the Logrus was drawn, and wove them into what would become the Courts of Chaos. Following the death of his wife Titania, Cornelius realised that a sacrifice needed to be made to solidify the whole, and chose to be that sacrifice so that his children, and their children, would have a safe and stable home. After their father gave himself to the Logrus, about fourteen-thousand years ago, Swayvill became King of Chaos and Suhuy took on the mantle of Keeper of the Logrus.

About a thousand years after Swayvill’s accession, his nephew, Dworkin, son of Suhuy, stole the Eye of the Serpent and Created the Pattern, bringing into existence Amber and the Shadows between the two poles. In the thirteen thousand years of Chaos time that have passed since then, about four and a half millennia have passed in Amber.

A timeline of the Courts of Chaos can be found here.

The Dragon Court of King Swayvill

King Swayvill

The Courts is a fundamentally feudal society. Swayvill’s Imperial Dragon Court is held in the Throne Room of Thelbane Palace. The huge Court chamber itself is in  Swayvill’s colours of red and gold. Splendid tapestries hang from the walls, and there are a number of famous stained glass windows, including one of Suhuy, Keeper of the Logrus and brother to the King, scolding the Unicorn of Amber. The huge dragon throne is on a golden dais, and beside it is the slightly less impressive throne of the Queen of Chaos.

The Personal Arms of King Swayvill

The entire Court is expected to stand, with the exception of the King, Queen, the Princess Swayvanna and her children, and the Grand Dukes. Court dress is complicated and reveals the intricate centuries old customs and traditions of the entire ancient kingdom and its governance.In addition, the King is advised by the Great Council, which is made up of the Grand Dukes/Duchesses of each of the Major Houses, and the Dukes/Duchesses of the Minor Houses, or their appointed representatives.

In recent years, His Royal and Imperial Majesty suffered a period of ill-health, and it was feared that his time as the Great and Benevolent Ruler of Thelbane may be drawing to a close. His condition worsened during the War Between the Powers, when the rebel factions of the House of Barimen, descended from his nephew Dworkin Barimen, fought all the way to the gates of Chaos. However, a settlement was finally reached, in large part due to the personal relationship that has developed between King Swayvill and King Random of Amber. Since then, King Swayvill’s health has rallied.

House Barimen

When Swayvill became King, he took the royal surname Barimen. In the early years of his reign, he married a noble demoness named Alberta, and over the millennia, they had a number of children, who went on to form the Major Houses, either directly or by marriage. In order, these were:

  • Lucas: founder of House Jesby
  • Mairead: married Graham Helgram, and is the Cornelian ancestor of House Helgram
  • Thomas: founder of House Chanicut
  • Henrietta: founder of House Hendrake, the only daughter to establish her own House
  • Sawall: founder of House Sawall
  • Ambrose: first High Prelate of the Dragon, and founder of House Amblerash

Queen Alberta died about three thousand Chaos years ago. To this day, the Grand Dukes/Duchesses of the Major Houses are in the Royal succession.

Princess Swayvanna

Queen Matilda

Since Dworkin’s betrayal, House Barimen has been split into two branches.

  • The Royal House (the Thelbane Branch): direct descendents of King Swayvill and his brother Archduke Suhuy, Keeper of the Logrus, who are not either founders or affiliates of other Houses. The Royal House is one of the smallest in Chaos.
    • The Ruling Line comprises: the King himself, Queen Matilda, the Princess Swayvanna and her children, of which she has three sons (Ian, John and Edward) and three daughters.
    • The Junior Line comprises: Archduke Suhuy and his children, other than his son Dworkin and his descendents. By ancient agreement, Suhuy’s line is not in the Thelbane succession.
  • The Dworkin-Barimens (the Amber Branch): descendents of Dworkin, son of Suhuy, through Oberon of Amber and his half brother Jopin. Rather to everyone’s surprise, King Swayvill gets on relatively well with his great nephew, King Random.

The King married his current Queen, Matilda, about a thousand years ago, and they have one child, the Princess Swayvanna. They live in Thelbane Palace, at the centre of the Great Rock of Thelbane.

The Dragon Guard

King Swayvill is the only person allowed to maintain an armed military force within Thelbane, and the neutral areas of the Royal Ways, although the Grand Dukes/Duchesses of the Major Houses are allowed to travel in Thelbane with a personal guard of no more than a dozen individuals, and the Dukes/Duchesses of the Minor Houses can travel with up to six individuals.

The Dragon Guard work directly for His Majesty and are a highly-trained fighting land and airforce with an enviable success rate in engagements in which they have been involved. They number about 2,000 souls. They formed the final rearguard to protect the King at the Final Battle of the War Between the Powers, earning the respect of Benedict of Amber, himself, who personally interceded with King Random that they not be disbanded.

At present, they are commanded by Marshal Velice Hendrake, who swore allegiance to His Majesty about five hundred years ago, before the War Between the Powers.

Members of the all the Major Houses are entitled to apply to the Guard, or are occasionally invited to apply. Applicants are sent on the Dragon Acceptance Course, which runs once every three years under normal circumstances. This is a rigorous course that tests mental, physical and military strengths, and last about twelve Thelbane months. The pass rate is only 25%, although unsuccessful applicants usually return to their Houses with much better skills than they left. The successful candidates then swear and oath of personal allegiance to King Swayvill.

There is also a sub-division of the force, the Royal Guard, whose purpose is to protect the persons of King Swayvill and his immediate family, plus Keeper Suhuy and his. They also Guard Thelbane Palace and the Ways of the Logrus. Their protection has been offered in the past to Arch Dukes Ian (Helgram), John (Helgram) and Edward (Saxe-Coburg), as sons of Princess Swayvanna, but the offer has not been taken up at this time.

The Thelbane Civil Service

The Civil Service is a large and tortuous organisation, which maintains the running of the Courts of Chaos. Personnel are generally split into four categories:

  • Younger House members and demons sent to Thelbane to get some idea of the twists and turns of politics outside their own Houses.
  • Older House members who have failed to make a particular name for themselves within their own Houses, or who are looking for a quieter existence.
  • Demons with no specific House affiliation, who have sworn directly to the Court of Thelbane.
  • The old hands who’ve been part of the bureaucracy of hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. These are sometimes referred jokingly as the Shadow Government.

The Head of the Civil Service is currently Millicent Amblerash, a niece of High Priest Bances.