Monday, 30 May 2011

Characters who can Drive the Story #2

Image - Aeon-lux and Vipiteno Castle

When attempting to solve a murder mystery, see who gains.

Sector Dukes of the RimWorlds

House Venuraski of Raelmar/Thurgandarn
Kolin I 540 – 550†
Metch 550 – 552†
Kolin II 552 – 557†
Dentian I 557 – 594 Abdicated

Kolin’s son and successor, Metch, inherited both the Sector Duchy and the war in Gazolan Subsector following his father’s death in 550. Given that Kolin was 72 when he died, Metch was probably in his 40’s or 50’s when he succeeded his father, assuming Kolin married and had issue in his 20’s or 30’s. Metch held the Sector Duchy for two years, dying on campaign in Gazolan Subsector in 552. Metch was succeeded as Sector Duke by Kolin II who finished the Gazolan War, and pushed Imperial expansion Rimward as far as Kasimir in Gazul Subsector before his death at the conclusion of the 1st Rimward War in 557.

Apart from the suddenly truncated timeline – three Sector Dukes within seven years, a war in Gazolan Subsector and a Rimward War, and a 15 parsec advance of the Imperial border after years of little or no progress – we also have the interesting question of the Ducal Succession. This is interesting in light of the question of who killed Sector Duke Kolin I.

My original Sector Ducal list is a sequence of Houses, names and reigns. The actual relationship between the various holders of the title and office was left rather vague, though hints of various relationships are evident in the accompanying initial draft of the Imperial History of the RimWorlds. While some Houses might still practise primogeniture, I reasoned that the council of elders of most Houses Major would collectively nominate the House’s most able member to fill such roles as might be granted to the House by the Emperor. And while such councils would have their own internal politics, as a clan or corporate body, the seniors of the House would strive to maintain the honour and status of the House above all else.

In the case of House Venuraski, Kolin I was such a dominant, and domineering force, that, unexpected death or not, his will dominated the political thinking of his time. In the middle of a conflict to pacify a subsector, a sudden change of leadership, or leadership policy, could be catastrophic to the war effort. Given his age, it is more than likely that Kolin’s son Metch was already an experienced Ground or Space Commander and serving in that conflict. It would not take much, when Kolin’s death was announced, for the military to rally behind Metch, and for the politicians to then submit to the fait accompli.

Then two years later, the war in Gazolan was almost over and Metch was dead. If Metch had murdered his father, or had his father murdered, then he had gained little from that heinous crime that he would not have received in due time and in the usual fashion, given that his father had, in effect, already secured the Sector Duchy for him. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Metch was involved in the death of his father.

This leaves the last two Venuraski Sector Dukes – Kolin II and Dentian I – as possible suspects. While turning over in my mind the relationship between these two and Kolin I, I recalled that Kolin I was initially described as “the head of a cadet branch of the House of Deneb”. My initial assumption had been that Kolin II, at least, and perhaps Dentian I, were younger sons of Kolin I. Now, I wondered if Kolin II and Dentian I were not in fact nephews, fostered in Kolin I’s Sector Ducal court to advance their careers.

Almost nothing is written about Kolin II directly; even his age and birthdate are not recorded. I picture him being of a similar age to his cousin Metch – in his mid-to-late fifties. He is active in command roles in the middle years of the 6th Century, both in the expansion of Imperial territory (more on this in my next post) in the Trailing Subsectors, the conclusion of the conflict in Gazolan Subsector and the 1st Rimward War – which costs him his life. Metch’s sudden death in 552 thrust Kolin II into the role of Sector Duke, which while unexpected, did not find him completely unprepared.

The character of Dentian I is drawn in slightly more detail, more for the latter part of his reign and his enforced abdication. He was a strong-willed individual, standing very much upon the points of the original charter of Kolin I’s Private Equity Company. Described by his opponents as more concerned with his own power and prestige than ruling justly, he sounds both vainglorious and tyrannical.

Could Dentian I be our murderer? I have decided that he is Kolin II’s younger brother. If Kolin II was in his 50’s when he died, perhaps Dentian I was five or six years younger. Having been in Kolin I’s Sector Ducal court for a decade, plus in his Vice-Regal court for at least a further 15 years, Dentian I had spent over half his life as a dependant of his uncle. As Kolin I manoeuvred his way between political hazards, did Dentian come to resent him and his real politik? And did he resent him enough to have him murdered?

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