The Thirteenth Throne
THE KORVOSAN GOVERNMENT
The monarchs of Korvosa must share power with the strict governmental entities extant at the founding of the city’s complex charter. The following descriptions provide an overview of the city’s most powerful governmental forces:
Arbiters: More than judges, the arbiters also have legislative oversight. Any declaration the king makes must first face review from the arbiters, who vote on its legality both in regards to the Korvosa City Charter and the latest known laws of Khador.
The main task of arbiters, however, is to try criminal cases and settle civil disputes. Depending on the gravity of the crime, as many as nine arbiters might try a single case
(they always try cases in odd-numbered groups to eliminate stalemates). For most crimes and for all civil disputes, though, a single arbiter oversees the proceedings. His judgment carries the authority of the city’s leader, although a convicted criminal may appeal the punishment handed down (but not the verdict) to the king. Most people don’t know they have this right, and thus it is rarely invoked. At most, the king must review a half-dozen cases a month.
Kommandant of the Sable Company: Whenever a new monarch ascends to the Crimson Throne, tradition dictates that the commandant of the Sable Company reaffirm the company’s loyalty to the crown and the person who wears it. The kommandant typically makes this pledge of fealty within the first month of the new monarch’s reign, although he does have the option of delaying or even refusing the ceremony. This arrangement gives the company’s commandant freedom to act on behalf of the city against a tyrannical ruler, but it potentially puts him at odds with the Kovnik of the Korvosan Guard. The current Kommandant, Marcus Endrov, is first in line to become the new seneschal of Castle Korvosa, should Seneschal Nando Kalepopolis retire or die.
Lictor of the Order of the Nail: Lictor Severs DiVri is the Arch-Exemplar of the Menite church in Korvosa, leading the Order of the Nail – an Exemplar order of fearsome knights. DiVri lives within Citadel Vraid south of the city and answers to Korvosa’s money. After agreeing to a price for the order’s service, the lictor sends out as many Exemplars as requested. The leader of teh group works with officers and liasons of the Korvosan Guards to organize their efforts. Occasionally, the Lictor himself deigns to march into the city, where he works directly with the Guard’s field marshal.
Magistrates: With the creation of the monarchy, the magistrates and their bureaucratic underlings struggled to justify their existences to the city’s first king, the beloved Elgyn I. Fortunately for them, Elgyn I believed strongly in delegating responsibilities, and during his reign the number of magistrates and their staffs ballooned. Later, Queen Domina halved the number of magistrates, but, since her death, many of those she cut have returned. Today, city hall houses no fewer than 23 magistrates, with a combined staff of nearly a hundred. No one exactly knows what the magistrates or their staffs do, but most Korvosans suspect the entire purpose of city hall is to waste the time and money of the city’s people.
Monarch: At the top of the political power dynamic sits the city’s monarch, currently King Elgyn II, great-grand-nephew of Queen Domina the Great and the closest thing to a ‘legitimate’ successor to the Llaelese crown. King Elgyn enjoys expanded monarchial power wrested from the nobles and ministers by his powerful and popular mother. He controls Korvosa more fully than any previous monarch, but he still only barely retains power. Unlike the slave girls in his harem who serve him without complaint, the city of Korvosa is a fickle and demanding mistress.
King Elgyn’s declarations from atop the Crimson Throne become law almost by default, although the arbiters retain the ability to counter any foolish whim of his that violates the city’s charter (and its 247 amendments) or Khadoran law. By convention, the commandant of the Sable Company offered his group’s loyalty to the rightful ruler of the city when Eodred took the throne. Unlike the field marshal of the Korvosan Guard, however, Commandant Marcus Endrov does not report directly to King Elgyn, but rather to the seneschal of Castle Korvosa, Nando Kalepopolis. King Elgyn did place Korvosan Guard’s leader, Field Marshal Caylyn Croft, in power, as the city’s charter dictates he must, and he expects (and receives) full ooperation from Field Marshal Croft in return. In times of need, the king can trust the Lictor of the Order of the Nail to send troops into the city—just so long as the city has gold with which to pay.
Other groups within the city cannot openly defy the king, although, when their individual members unite, they can cause the monarchy headaches. One member of each of the five Great Houses sits on the Peerage Review, an advisory council the monarch cannot dismiss but need not heed. Politics and wisdom dictate, however, that King Eodred II at least listen to the arguments presented by the review, as its members do have the power to contradict a ruler’s orders to the Korvosan Guard. Because the king cannot regulate every aspect of the city, nor would he want to, a set of magistrates (to whom the title of lord magistrate once belonged) divides responsibilities within the city.
It was by invitation of the seneschal that Korvosa’s first monarch, King ElgynI, took up residence in the castle, and up until Queen Domina’s reign the seneschal retained the right to evict the monarch from the castle. The beloved queen, however, inf luenced the passage of one of the last charter amendments, granting the monarch permanent residence within the castle as long as he bears the family name of Arabasti. A clause in the amendment allows for a monarch’s eviction (which only removes him from the castle, not from power), but doing so requires a unanimous vote from all five representatives of the Great Houses, the seneschal, and one arbiter chosen at random.
Sitting upon the Crimson Throne does bring with it a considerable drawback. The Curse of the Crimson Throne manifests itself in two forms. First, no monarch of the city has died of natural causes—all perished at the hands of another, whether subtly or quite overtly. Second, no monarch has yet produced an heir while ruling. Queen Domina is the only parent among the city’s monarchs, and she brought her adult son with her from Khador when she came to Korvosa.
Seneschal of Castle Korvosa: Before it became the home of Korvosa’s monarchs, Castle Korvosa provided a home for the city’s garrison. An early charter amendment gave the castle’s seneschal complete control over the entirety of the pyramid “and all structures built on it and all tunnels discovered or dug within it.” Later, when the headquarters of the Sable Company moved into the castle, a new amendment made the seneschal the liaison between the city’s leader and the company’s commandant. The seneschal can veto the
nomination of any applicant to the post of Sable Company commandant.