House Taldiress

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House Taldiress, named for the First Adhalmagus, is the Imperial House of the Empire of the Nine. It is a noble House like so many others, with one change: to be of House Taldiress, it is not enough to be born into it. One must also know how to use magic. Indeed, the majority of any generation's members of the House are not born into it, but instead marry into the House, for the House values magical ability over bloodline in its membership first and foremost.

The Adhalmagus

The adhalmagus is the undisputed master of the House. Currently, that position is held by Kepeskdaar, the King of Storms. The adhalmagus holds the Imperial Citadel in Stormpeak and the Nine swear fealty to him or her.

The Nine

The Nine are the sorcerer-kings under the adhalmagus who rule the nine provinces of the Empire. Each wields almost unlimited governmental power in their province, their decrees undisputed save for when the adhalmagus intervenes.

The House of Magi

The rest of House Taldiress is made up of magi as well (sorcerers and wizards, with a smattering of bards of notable magical power). House Taldiress is made up of a bevy of other noble Houses - the Cadet Houses - who have all produced magical heirs within the last generation. When a member of one of the Cadet Houses shows magical ability, they are automatically considered part of House Taldiress.

But only about half of the Taldiress magi come from the Cadet Houses - the others are naturally-born sorcerers among the people of the Empire, or those scholars who learn to wield wizardry. The demonstration of this gift is cause for great rejoicing, for the sorcerer or wizard is immediately married into the House. Because of the need for all members of House Taldiress to be joined to the Imperial House by marriage, the laws in the Empire recognize two kinds of marriage: Imperial marriage and common marriage. It is possible to be joined by one or both forms. Additionally, Imperial marriages are also explicitly multi-partnered (specifically, members of the Imperial House may have multiple Taldiress spouses of either gender, but those who are married into the House may not gain additional spouses in that way; they may, however, maintain multiple non-magus spouses as they like).

The Cadet Houses

Cadet Houses come and go in Imperial life. Cadet Houses are created when a member of House Taldiress either sires or bears a child. In essence, each Taldiress magus has the potential to found his or her own Cadet House, and many of them do just that. It is also not uncommon for new Cadet Houses to be founded with specific pairings of Taldiress magi - a Taldiress scion who has children by his favored wife may declaim their children to be one Cadet House, and when he has children by another wife, they may declaim their own Cadet House.

Children born to Taldiress nobility are assumed to be part of their Cadet House until they show some spark of magical ability, whether a sorcerous bloodline or the gift for wizardry. Once a year, at the Summer Solstice, all of the children of Taldiress nobility who show this talent are brought before the adhalmagus, commanded to demonstrate their magical ability no matter how small, and are raised to House Taldiress by his hand directly when they do so.

Any Cadet House that produces at least one child of magical ability in a generation may retain its claim to being a Cadet House, with all the rights and responsibilities inherent in doing so. There are Cadet Houses that have far outlived the magi who founded them, that have continued to produce children with magic. Though it is not uncommon for Taldiress magi to take secondary spouses from among the Cadet Houses, there is also no stigma among those Houses at becoming one of the Taldiress concubines, and so many of the Cadet Houses seek to train their young in beauty and comportment, training them intrigue and knowledge of the way the Imperial nobility works, in order to make them very useful to Taldiress magi (particularly those who have just been married into the Imperial House).

In order to found a new Cadet House, a Taldiress magus must come before the adhalmagus and present their new child. They are then given an imperial commission, with the rights to establish a household of servants and guards, as well as an estate for that new House (assuming the magus can afford to do so). If two generations of the Cadet House pass without producing an heir with magic, that Cadet House loses its imperial commission. Some Taldiress magi do not bother to establish a Cadet House for their children, however, finding the expense and bother to be too much. Such children are usually closely watched by their parents and the sorcerer-king of their province for magical talent, but are not in any way treated as nobility. Indeed, there is something of a social stigma - akin to bastardy in other nations - attached to the ogkurkhtai (or "unclaimed") child of such a union, though, so those magi with the temperament and incomes to do so usually do found Houses.

An imperial commission applies to only a single province, in order to prevent a great proliferation and intermixing of the Cadet Houses.