The divine emperor Rordal Twuindal Sedom Chewir
Emperor Rordal Twuindal Sedom Chewir lua Charya
Emperor Rordal was born in 1812, during the reign of Lujis who reigned under the title of Karinzu Arahuchar or 'glorious entry', but who was otherwise as mad as a very mad hatter. Rordal's parents had lost their vineyard near Nroi the year before his birth to a favourite of the corrupt Farah of Nroi, and were forced to wander around the countryside, trying to make a living begging and sometimes peddling cheap stuff to the farmers around Nroi and Siroi.
In 1818, when Rordal was six years old, his parents were drafted as water carriers into the army of General Yamal Golden Dragon, who, after losing the city of Siroi to rebel forces, marched on to the capital city Broi, in order to dethrone the emperor to avoid being disposed of himself. Rordal trailed after the army, and became a servant to one of the officers.
Yamal Golden Dragon indeed occupied the Imperial Palace, and held it for about a month, when he was dethroned by one of his own officers, Tryndal oib Siroi, who turned out to be in league with the rebels of Siroi. In the struggle, both Rordal's parents were killed, as was the officer he served. Rordal was only six at that time, and his clan, the Twuindal clan, was based mainly in Niroi, and was unable to take care of the boy.
Rordal lived on the streets for a few years, gathering a small group, or haden'yal, around him when he was about ten years old. Tryndal oib Siroi then embarked upon his campaign for the reconquest of the western barracks city of Kroi, and needed troops. Rordal got his friends to enlist with him in the army, pretending they were already over twelve.
Initially, the campaign was a succes and with a year Kroi was conquered, and Rorayal and his surviving friends got their fair share of plunder. However, after the succesful conquest of Kroi, Tryndal got ambitious and tried to press on and conquer the small western kingdoms, of which Wangla was the foremost. In itself not a bad decision: bringing these rich countries within the empire meant taxation income with which he could pay for a larger army (Charyan armies are mostly paid in plunder they are allowed to gather in the countryside while levying taxes for the emperor). This extended campaign was a disaster, and Tryndal oib Sroi got fatally wounded, the army was routed, and Rordal lost all his friends from his haden'yal. In 1826 the army returned to Broi, where the emperor died under the ministrations of his court physicians.
Rordal now had a tidy capital with which he could buy an officers post in the army of the new Emperor, Hamat Burgat. Under the relatively long (two years) and stable reign of this emperor, Rordal embarked on a succesful military career, and held the post of Sub-Daine in the Eastern Army, when Hamat Burgat died of the effects of alcohol poisoning after a drinking bout with his favourite eunuch boy.
From 1829 to 1844 emperors came and went with an astonishing rapidity, sixteen all in all, and none of them reigned longer than a six months. In these years, Rordal acquired estates in the eastern provinces his army was to protect the borders of, and gradually climbed up. When his general, Adanqar, decided to bid for the throne, he loyally supported him. Adanqar indeed took the throne, and began his reign under the name of Timtim Wikar, or Courageous Heart. He appointed his loyal lieutenant Rordal as his General of the East, thinking that he would have thus covered his most vulnerable side.
After a year, however, it was clear that Adanqar Timtim Wikar had cracked under the strain, and had, in fact, become an action-less, motion-less wraith who perpetually hid himself in his quarters and let the empire be run by the Chief Eunuch. Rordal decided to lead his armies on to Broi, and dethroned Timtim Wikar in 1844, and ascended the Sun and Moon Throne under the loud acclamations of the people of Broi.
In his first year he had to contend with the traditional Matraian influence. He had to marry two Matraian wives, as every Emperor must, but he immediately took a dislike to them both, and to the Eunuchs. The Empresses and the Second Chief Eunuch are heavily involved in the organized crime of Broi, controlling prostitution, gambling, the gjivat trade and smuggling.
He took a Vustlan princess as a concubine, and nearly beggared the country by selling half the stores of grain in the granaries to raise enough money to buy her a necklace. That year he also had to consolidate his military position. He choose the Northern army as his principal power-base, and consequently starved the Eastern army of funds.
Politically, he has sought an alliance with Vustla, which would enable him to gain power in the small western kingdoms that lie between Charya and Vustla. The independent city of Droi conspires with the Matraian empire against the Charyan empire.
He also has had trouble with an insurrection of the Eastern Army, which did reach Broi and even conquered the entrance to Temple Mountain (and thus the Imperial Palace). The rebel general, Gunamazi Chatur Nothdan, was finally beaten near the quayside, but during the war there was a severe shortage of food in the city.
Tales about the Emperor
Emperor Rordal has been a very welcome breath of sanity: his predecessor Adanqar Timtim Wikar was a recluse, and before Timtim Wikar, there had been sixteen emperors, none of whom reigned for longer than six months. He is an imposing figure, who, when leading his troops, is clearly the leader, and he has a finely tuned feeling for what the people want from him. He's neither wantonly cruel nor pathetically weak, and he is known for his unconventionality and his acute dislike of his Matraian wives, and his foolish predilection for his Vustlan concubine Chazalla - but that's accepted, as it is one of the great Charyan folk myths that a beggar can become an emperor and then ruin himself for love.
Immediately after his conquest of the throne, he sold one half of the contents of the Imperial Granaries to Vustla, and bought a tremendously valuable necklace for Chazalla. Of course, the population of Broi, who would have suffered if the next harvest would have been bad, were furious. But the harvest turned out to be enormous and the people now say that this was a sign that the Gods smiled upon Rordal.
He patronizes the theatre, listens attentively to the daily lectures presented by scholars from the Imperial Academy, writes decent poetry, but also gets roaring drunk at parties thrown by his inferior officers, shocking his Generals and Eunuchs, and is known to join a group of common soldiers for a quick jar of dark wine in the night.
When the commander of the Eastern Armies, Gunamazi Chatur Nothdan (Wild Killer Tiger), tried to conquer the Imperial Palace, the Gods were again on the side of Rordal. When Rordal finally led his troops out of his palace for the decisive battle, he was seen by a few acolytes from the temple of Qunayir , and they saw a multitude of Gods standing behind the Emperor and blessing him.
Finally, when Rordal had won the last battle near the quays of Broi, he marched his prisoners to his palace. All officers and most of the soldiers were executed and their bodies thrown outside the palace walls in the traditional imperial manner. But when two young girls from the temple of Qunayir insinuated themselves into the palace to find a friend of theirs, and they stumbled upon him in his private quarters, he invited them for a glass of wine and gave them authority to take their friend from the palace.
In short, Rordal is foolish and wise, cruel and merciful, ruthless and compassionate, learned and soldierly. The Charyans are convinced that at last they have a real Emperor again, equally beloved of the Gods and the people.
text and illustrations © 1999 Boudewijn Rempt