The History of House Voluptas – Part Two, The Censure
The fall of Horatio echoed like a rail-gun shot across the entirety of the Spiral. Never had such a powerful luminary of such an influential House been publicly executed. Had the Grand Mayor and Parliament stopped at that injustice then perhaps the Third Ether Crusade and all of its disastrous repercussions would never had taken place.
Historians can argue whether it was a profound sense of imperiousness or simple contempt for the will of people that drove the decision. Regardless, an Archipelago that was teetering on a knife’s edge of war was sent hurtling into chaos when Grand Mayor Coil issued an Imperial Censure of House Voluptas.
The Censure revoked the status of House Voluptas. It completely erased them as a House within the Clockwork Empire and reduced all of the Lords and Ladies to little more than street rabble within the time it took to the Grand Mayor to flick his wrist and sign the decree.
But most importantly, the Censure appropriated the massive holdings of House Voluptas into the Grand Mayor’s possession. Even in a corrupt system rampant with bribes, embezzlement, cronyism, the Censure was seen as a thinly veiled grab by Parliament and the Grand Mayor for the extensive Ether deposits controlled by the House.
Grand Mayor Coil immediately ordered the loyalist encampments of House Voluptas to swear their allegiance to him or to disband immediately. The majority of these were located in the Ether Spine, the battleground of the Second Ether Crusade. When the troops protecting the Ether Salt mines refused the Grand Mayor’s directive, the region once again was plunged into long, bloody armed conflict.
For more than thirty years, House Voluptas ceased to exist as the League of Merchants and the Clockwork Empire strove for control of the mineral rich Ether Spine. This Ether Crusade was by far the bloodiest of the three, as powerful merchant houses, the Aeronaught’s Demense and even the Ophidian Hegemony drained the coffers and will of the most powerful empire the Spiral had even known.
Finally, in 1672, the Crusade ended with the signing of the Sovereign Ether Accord. Both the League of Merchants and Parliament claimed victory and nearly two hundred years later the true winner is still quarreled over by academics, military expects and commoners alike.
For House Voluptas, it was most certainly a pyrrhic victory. As part of the Accord, the House was reinstated - but with severe limitations. It was no longer an Imperial House of the Empire, but rather a Common House of the Aeronaught’s Demense. This greatly impacted the fledgling House’s ability to conduct business within the Empire.
Much more catastrophic was the refusal to reestablish the holdings of the original House Voluptas. Like so many strands of pearls, they were grasped at, divided and greedily claimed by both enemies and supposed allies.
House Voluptas was reborn. It was a messy, unpleasant rebirth to be sure, but after thirty years, it was welcomed by many who remembered Horatio and the wrongs inflicted upon the original members of the House.
A cadet branch of the family had been located and was quickly seated at the head of the new House Voluptas in the Pirate’s Haven of the Aeronaught’s Demense. With a single decrepit, sprawling compound in the heart of the Street of Silk Veils, they hoped to forge a history that would live up to their family’s proud past.