The Twilight of the Known Worlds
House Al Malik
The exotic and inscrutable al-Malik are often accused of being mere merchants, for their ties to the League are well known. With close ties to the Merchant League and a deviate love of technology, House al-Malik is certainly the wealthiest of all the noble houses. Although they carry an egalitarian attitude towards their serfs, they are often far removed from the troubles of them. Surrounding themselves with opulence of wealth and technology.
However, they have proven their noble legerdemain many times, through the acquisition of land and a unique understanding of human nature and politics. Highly academic and exceedingly well-educated, it is hard to pull one over an al-Malik, but it is likewise hard for them to resist the lure of a good adventure or challenge.
The al-Malik’s modern attitudes make them suspect of harbouring Republican leanings. Such as evidenced by their almost democratic attitude towards their serfs. This combination of republican leanings and technological device has brought the attentions of the Inquisition more than a few times. Vassals of this family are well-treated and return the respect with solid service.
Their culture is one of the most sophisticated of all houses. Al-Malik nobles speak to each other in coded metaphor, known as the Graceful Tongue and nearly all al-Malik nobles dedicated themselves to arts, culture or scholastic interests.
One of the weakest of the Royal Houses, House al-Malik nonetheless has a number of significant and practically unique strengths. It enjoys far more political stability than its anarchic organization would lead one to believe, and it enjoys significant prosperity despite the inhospitability of some of its worlds. Despite – or perhaps because of – poor relations with the Church, its nobles are quite well educated and cultured, and its intellectual, artistic and cultural tradition is respected not only by its own nobles, but those throughout the Known Worlds.
Since the house consolidated it’s territory in the First Emperor Wars, seizing Criticorum from the dying Van Gelder and Justinians, it has had rather stable leadership. The Raschid family has ruled for most of this period, with occasional interruptions of al-Jabr, ibn-Rahiman and, briefly, Clinius rule. The most recent was the ibn-Rahiman-Clinius coup in 4894, which was put down shortly after the outbreak of the Symbiot wars, which allowed the Raschid line to sway the Abbasah family and use the al-Jabr family, now an ally, to keep Criticorum under tighter rule (and, incidentally, to keep the al-Jabr family focused on the Clinius line as enemies rather than the Raschids).
While the stability of the house has been due in part to the enlightened leadership of the Raschid line, it is in at least equally large part due to the fact that the al-Malik are far less concerned about rulership of land than other houses. Indeed, when one considers economic struggles or struggles over pieces of technology or information, the house has hardly been at peace. These struggles are more often fought at court or through thievery and spycraft, and so are not as noticeable as the constant skirmishes amongst Hawkwoods and Hazat, but they belie the picture of al-Malik unity that the Raschid line’s rule gives.
There are a number of potential conflicts in the house as it stands. The Abbasah line, along with the other main Aylon families of al-Gaib, Liet, and Mahdin, have put away most of their differences and are reaching out to the Hejallah and Hallaschid lines to forge a powerful alliance to try and militarize the house. Meanwhile, the Raschids, Ahhads and al-Jabrs are trying to keep the Shaprut-based ibn-Rahimans and Ghanjids allied by defending a less militaristic way of life, and the Clinius and Comnenus lines on Criticorum constantly agitate for home rule of their planet.
Another tension, far less often discussed but no less important, is between the egalitarians and the oligarchists. The al-Malik tolerance for hypocrisy and doubletalk is quite high, and so the fact that emancipationists such as the Sinnas, Ghanjids, al-Jabrs and certain ibn-Rahimans coexist right next to slave traders such as the Clinius and Comnenus lines, and oligarchs such as the Abbasah, Ahhad and al-Gaib lines, causes less strife than it would where people spoke their minds more directly, but there is an underlying tension that is often reflected in some of the struggles for technology, guild contracts, and position at court. House al-Malik has a powerful technological base and significant trade infrastructure, which gives its lords wealth out of proportion to their political and military status. The house’s historical relations with the League help it maintain its wealth, and give it significant bargaining power with other houses and information about their doings. Its predisposition to psychic talent is useful politically, and although Church regulations make its intellectual tradition less useful than it otherwise might be, it is an important cultural source of pride for the house.
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