So, funny story - I realized recently that the name of Cathak Davian appears to have been memory-stolen from a poster on the White Wolf forums. This wasn't intentional, so I've made a slight alteration; the Sidereal ally is now, and always has been, Cathak Damian.
Now, sitting with his unlikely co-conspirators, Damian thought back to those early days with a mixture of fondness and horror. Success at hiding Fokuf had been far narrower than he would have liked to admit, and there had been more than one occasion when he had been sure that his existence was about to be undone. He was only lucky that the idea of Fokuf as his spy and pawn had been accepted so easily by Master Cyrus.
The incredible devotion that the Regent had brought to the task had been primarily responsible for his success, he had to admit. Fokuf had applied himself to his studies at a prodigious rate, honing his social skills and preparing his combat techniques while simultaneously pretending to be increasingly pliable and easygoing. It hadnâ€™t hurt that Damian had taught him the Underling Invisibility Prana that he himself often used; it was truly astonishing how many people considered themselves superior to the Regent of the Realm.
Bringing Nagazzer onboard had been a difficult decision, and one that he and Fokuf had discussed seemingly endlessly, but they had ultimately agreed that the fat senator was necessary if they wanted to keep Mnemon off the throne, and they had been proven right; despite his reservations about working with a pair of Anathema, Nagazzer had refrained from revealing them immediately, and had since agreed that they were indeed working for the Realmâ€™s benefit.
Now, the three gathered around Fokufâ€™s chair as he laid out the current strategy. â€œAlright. My efforts to keep Peleps and Ragara apart are working, but Peleps remains closely allied with Mnemon. She still wants control of Ragara, and if she gets it, weâ€™re in trouble. What news of Cathak?â€
Nagazzerâ€™s voice was grim. All three knew that Mnemon, Ragara, and Cathak were the three greatest of the Houses, and if Mnemon could claim the loyalty of a second of the three, defeating her would be nearly impossible. â€œI have spoken â€“ quietly â€“ with Cainan. He refuses to commit his House to a course that will mean civil war.â€ Fokuf sighed, and Nagazzer nodded. â€œIf either of our factions can sway Ragara, or if one faction can sway both Sesus and Cynis to their side, Cathak will move with them to give control.â€
â€œAnd if itâ€™s Mnemon, thatâ€™s it for us.â€ Fokuf sat back thoughtfully. â€œSo we have to keep three Houses out of her pocket â€“ Ragara, Sesus, and Cynis. Howâ€™s that going?â€
â€œI can guarantee that Sesus will not go wholeheartedly to Mnemon, but it could still split down the middle.â€ Nagazzer shrugged. â€œIâ€™m using all the influence that I have to support the Roseblack, but I am not my Houseâ€™s leader.â€
Fokuf nodded, idly noting down force distributions as he spoke. â€œThat brings us to the weaker Houses, then. We already have three of those, so that just leaves Nellens and Iselsi.â€
â€œIselsi hardly counts.â€ Nagazzerâ€™s gesture was dismissive.
â€œPerhaps. Perhaps not.â€ Damian rubbed his chin thoughtfully. â€œIâ€™ll speak with Master Cyrus. He watches the Iselsi, most of the time. He may have an idea as to how they can help. What about the Nellens?â€
â€œTrickier. Weâ€™re dancing around trying to find a way to bring them onboard without offending Sesus and Cynis enough that they change sides and join Mnemon.â€ Fokuf nodded thoughtfully at Nagazzerâ€™s words, and the senator continued. â€œItâ€™s a careful balancing act, and we donâ€™t want to do more harm than good, but I think theyâ€™re more inclined towards Tepet than Mnemon. Thereâ€™s just the concern that a Tepet Empress might not be able to protect them.â€
â€œRight.â€ Fokuf rubbed his forehead, and glanced over to Damian. â€œAnd the Sidereals?â€
Damian made a rude noise. â€œUseless.â€ He ticked off options on his fingers. â€œThree of them are still searching for the Scarlet Empress, including Our Fearless Leader, because they canâ€™t admit that they wonâ€™t find her and they wonâ€™t do anything until they know where she is. Three of us are trying to get Tepet Ejava on the throne. Two more want Mnemon, because theyâ€™re afraid of what sheâ€™ll do if they donâ€™t. There are two more trying to get House Ragara in power, as a balance between the two obvious options. Two are trying to force Cainan on the throne.â€
â€œCainan doesnâ€™t want the throne.â€ Fokuf stopped tapping his quill pen long enough to make the comment. Damian nodded.
â€œIâ€™m aware. They donâ€™t care. Two more want House Ledaal, because they think theyâ€™ll be more sympathetic to the Sidereal agenda. Then it gets really silly.â€ Damian gave up on his fingers, shaking his head. â€œOne each supporting Nellens, Sesus, and Peleps, never mind that none of those houses have anything approaching a shot. Two trying to convince the rest of us to have a Sidereal fake being the Empress to take over again. One that wants the Mouth of Peace to take over, of all things. One that wants Lookshy to march in and conquer the Blessed Isle, one that has publicly advocated a slave revolt, and another that wants the whole nation to fall apart because he thinks we had our chance.â€ Damian sighed. â€œAdmittedly, some of those last are Gold Faction supporters that want to collapse the Immaculate faith, but it doesnâ€™t change the fact that we have fourteen plans for the future of the Isle, all of which are being acted on by their proponents.â€
â€œLovely.â€ Fokuf sat back thoughtfully. â€œWell, we have a slight edge, at least. Weâ€™ll focus our attentions on Sesus and Cynis, I think. Just keep enough on Ragara to keep it neutral until we get those two. If they, and Cathak, join the alliance, we can outmaneuver Mnemon, and thatâ€™ll be that. We seem to have marginally more supernatural support than her.â€
â€œTrue.â€ Damian nodded slowly. â€œWe need to do this as quickly as possible. Iâ€™d like to have Ejava enthroned this time next year, if possible. The dangers facing Creation arenâ€™t going to wait.â€
â€œI agree.â€ Fokuf looked out the window gloomily. â€œI just hope that weâ€™re given enough time to do what we need.â€