Monday, March 26, 2012

The Triple Undercity War

In glittering Simashki, the apparent peace and tranquility is only skin-deep, and deep-rooted hatreds, political nuances, underground power struggles and more drive the reality of power in the city.  One of the more interesting balances of power is between the hamazin of the area.

Many, of course, are simply there working their trades or professions, raising their families, and attempting to live their lives, as unaffected by the constant wars for power as anyone can in Simashki.  But many belong to one of three "camps" and the three of them today enjoy a very uneasy truce, but under the surface are hurtling towards a violent confrontation that will change forever the life of the hamazin of Simashki.

The Wazirians are those that follow the philosophy of Grand Vizier Djeser Sanakhte.  Djeser is an older, avuncular hamazin--portly, and Falstaff-like in bearing, who projects an air of equanimity and tolerance to all.  This is only partly true, of course--in reality, the Grand Vizier is a ruthlessly pragmatic political creature, who has managed to hold on to and build his power in the relatively laissez-faire court of the shazada.  These represent, to a great extent, the powerbase of the establishment.  Although the shazada is a drylander, not a hamazin, he greatly favors the hamazin who come from old money and old established families, and they make up a large percentage of the Wazirians--so named because the Grand Viziers have traditionally always come from amongst these families.  Sanakhte has encouraged the immigration of a great variety of non-drylanders to Simashki, and has held himself out as a champion of immigrants and the poor--despite his own extremely wealthy station, and those of everyone with whom he associates publicly.  Sanakhte has taken a more brazen step to court guilds and other forces of organizing labor to be his muscle and presence; many of whom are made of immigrants and therefore stand in opposition to the Cherskii Mafia.  Careful cultivation has turned these labor groups into a competition of sorts for the Mafia, in a power play that has both a legitimate and illegal component.

That said, the guilds are already fairly thoroughly entrenched with the mafia as it is, so the Grand Vizier finds himself walking a very fine line.  Partly for this reason, many of the so-called "poor" immigrants and others who make up the non-patrician supports of the Wazirians are, in fact, little more than sponsored agitators.

The Cherskii Mafia also comes from old families, but they are not the mercantile powerhouses with respectable traditions that make up the majority of the Wazirians.  Rather, the Cherskian families are old scions of the Baal Hamazi military.  They fell on hard times until the Mafia "rescued" them from political and economic ruin--injecting them with money and power both.  The old ideals of reestablishing Baal Hamazi--the original raison d'etre of the Cherskii Mafia--has been long forgotten, as the families are now simply enjoying the money that they've made too much to dream of past empires.

While the Cherskians are certainly "headquartered" in the old territories of Baal Hamazi (and their 'ultimate' headquarters and 'top boss' if such a man does indeed exist is rumored to be within Simashki itself) the majority of their operations take place to the south.  Consequently, much of their manpower is also in the south, and in many cases, only tenuously attached to a reporting structure, despite their history as a paramilitary organization.  In the last few years, ongoing threats at home--including the naked power grab of the Wazirians--have had the Cherskiians starting to try and bulk up their troops, but their jingoistic attitudes have made that a slower process than the leaders would like.

A prominent figure here is Nekhbet Uzilik, a paramilitary leader who is aggressively trying to pull troops from the south--even if they come from the Cherskiians changeling allies.  This is making waves with the leaders of the Cherskiians, and the political situation within the organization is nearly as volative as that without.

Finally, the Hornheads are a nickname applied to those who sympathize with the promise of a reunited Baal Hamazi represented by the reported rise of someone claiming to be Hutran Kutir reborn in the north.  Many of the so-called Hornheads are merely sympathetic locals who are completely unorganized and inactive in any meaningful way, but representatives of Kutir's forces--both openly recruiting, and more clandestinely pursuing other goals--are indeed operating within Simashki, and their goals are such that neither the Wazirians nor the Mafia is interested in letting them gain any more of a foothold than they already have.

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