An essay by Sohrabarak al-Hakim
The history of the Sophist Aristocracy is difficult to trace, not least because the Aristocracy itself, in accordance with its public image, fails to keep any form of record outside of, one presumes, dusty old books sealed deep within the bowels of its Alpine headquarters, a vast, snow-white cathedral devoted to the worship of their alleged ‘Saint’.
It is a building that dominates Saint’s Confluence, an isolated community that sits in the shadows of Mount Blanc and marks the heart of the Aristocracy’s expansive empire. Attempts to enter its walls have proven futile, however, and what little information we have on the area comes from the trembling tales of frightened renegades, some of whom have been fleeing persecution for generations, such as the enclave I met taking shelter in the Kuh-e Rahmet during the Tiferetian civil war.
From this limited pool of intelligence, Seelie has surmised that the Sophist Aristocracy rose to prominence between 300 and 100BUE a time when much of the surface world was still awash with various nasties as the age of Cataclysm wound down into the age of Reclamation. From the stories I myself have heard — stories passed down across hundreds of years — it would appear as if the so-called “Founding Fathers” used the state of the world to influence, and ultimately conquer, the small, but peaceful, Church of Sophia. You won’t hear much of “Hagia Sophia” in the Aristocracy’s teachings — ironic, given they still claim her name as their own — but their talk of a “Saint” who will “return to the world at its time of greatest peril” and “unite the world as one” do appear to have their origins in the Sophian’s beliefs. One suspects the Founding Fathers subverted such teachings to further their own agenda, though, with such little information on the Aristocracy’s inner workings, it is difficult to prove.
As, indeed, is the identity of these “Founding Fathers”. Some stories — not least of all the Aristocracy’s own propaganda — would paint them as wisemen, prophets from afar who will lead humanity to a golden age of prosperity, free from the ills of modern technology and arcane arts, while others suggest they may themselves be demons born of the Cataclysm, masquerading as humans as part of some centuries-old plot to bring down the Seven Cities. It is even possible that these figures are little more than names, titles given to the organisation’s current leaders, who hide themselves beneath overdesigned suits of armour so that their followers remain none-the-wiser to their deception. Given the organisation’s habit of hiding its beliefs behind an ever-growing number of walls — “emanations”, as they call them — it may be that we shall never know the truth until the organisation crumbles under the weight of its own (pyramid) scheming.
The Aristocracy’s history in Torsten, however, is much easier to trace, and involves an AWOL Seelie officer, a runaway princess, and an idealistic commune who believed they could revive the teachings of Hagia Sophia in a backwater, Fifth Circle town far away from the Founding Fathers’ influence.
They were wrong — very, very wrong — but that, I am afraid, is a story for another time.
Sohrabarak wrote this because he actually tried to infiltrate Saint’s Confluence (which, if you’re interested, is located around the area of Chamonix).