In that fancy poll I set up, ya'll requested historical background to my novel. I am here to provide just that... hold on a minute as I go dig some of that up from down deep in the archives.
By the way, you can find lots of this material in my mini-wiki on Holy Worlds, my favorite writing site ever!Here's a little something to give you background on how the Southern Empire came to be in such disarray at the beginning of the first installment of In The Red Days. It all has to do with the Xannast Lords..
The Xannast Lords were not always known by that name. When the Empire of the South was first founded, each of the cities was run by one of the great lords. Of these cities, only four remain on contemporary map, the capital being Okthin. This was the first of the southern cities.
As wars grew more frequent and strife betwixt the southern lords increased, they saw the need for there to be one king to rule over them. This would both prevent total disintegration while also helping to end the friction that constant collaboration caused between the lords. They chose a man known for his wisdom, who took the name Ataxanihi, the First Great One. He ruled all of the seven cities from the capital, Okthin.
Okthin, however still had its own lord, sovereign over the city. As the monarchy continued, friction developed between the king over all the cities and the lord of the city in which the king resided. By the next generation, both of kings and lords, the city had divided ever more and more, until at last armed conflict seemed inevitable. The lord of Okthin, hearing of a plot for the violent overthrow of his throne, went into hiding. He would periodically appear, mostly when he needed men or money from the city, but knew that if ever he stayed too long the king would get him killed.
So began the Xannast lords, though they were not yet known by that name. The lords of Okthin through the generations ruled an underground organization of supporters, forever hoping to win back the city for themselves. It is said this is why the chief Wizard of Thyron always came to crown the king in Okthin; his presence would prevent rebellion, as he had a great following.
Soon the nobility of the Xannast lords was gone, and he became only a leader of a cutthroat band of every criminal in the city, at least every criminal to speak of. Those crooks who did not come under his sway usually died or vacated; an observer would never know the difference.
For many generations the leadership of this band remained in the bloodline of the original lords, and the power in craft that came with it stayed. However, after a series of overthrows, the Xannast lord became only the chief assasin. But their role in history was far from over....