The Saphtîn Order
Copyright Eric Dubourg ©2001
Edited by Joe Mandala for The Guild Companion
THE SAPHTÎN ORDER
During these years, Tulwang was protected against Thôn an-Khârlôkh assaults by a strong Bellakarâni army, along with a large Sorijan fleet. All attempted attacks, however fierce, were doomed to failure – this was the case in a 1478 campaign and another in 1501. In 1507, Akhôrahil sent five members of the Slayers (two Black Númenóreans coming from Dûshera and three Haradrim from Sîrayn) to search for potential allies and seek out weaknesses in the realm. Akhôrahil chose Balakkhâd, the former Warlord of the Thôn an-Khârlôkh and the son of Dulgu (Caja the Snake) to command the Slayer mission.
As the failed assaults demonstrated, war against Tulwang was useless, and could only weaken the Thôn-an-Khârlôkh. But Balakkhâd knew his opponents well, and arrived with the other Slayers in Ûrêzâyan on 24 Mizir 1512 (during the great merchant festival), disguised as merchants of Khâradûnê. There, they learned much more about their opponents, visiting Bellakar often in the following years. They often returned to Ny Chennaccatt to take counsel with their Lord, and to report the situation in Bellakar.
It took Balakkhâd ten years to obtain the post of Advisor, assisting the asapthubêth of Ûrêzâyan in his work (and ten additional years to gain the asapthubêth's position). In the same year, on Najam 1522, he founded a charity organization named the Sapthîn dedicated to all the poor of the realm, whether they were Bellakaze, Tedjin, Qarsag or Sorijan. Officially they would help the poor (with some of the treasures of the mines near Ny Chennacatt). Unofficially, placed at important positions in the cities, the fleet, or the royal court, they would seek information – even seemingly innocent information, and gather new members to increase the power of the organization.
The true secrets of the Sapthîn were not revealed to most members. Only those of trust (being well tested in the past) knew the organization's true nature. Progressively, during the peaceful reign of Belkhôr, the organization increased in number, eventually even including some important personalities of the realm (who were for the most part unaware of the truth). Reports were completed detailing all of the important personages in the realm – members of the merchant companies, those in the King's court, and important cities and villages were all scrutinized. Their goal: to find people who could be corrupted in order to gain power and position through them, and to discover who might be staunch supporters of the King and of the Tulwang protectorate.
The births of Imruzîr in 1501 and Ârûkhôr in 1504 were the events that the Sapthîn had been waiting for. Spies in Nîlûlondê reported in 1540 of the developing relationship between the two brothers. The first (Imruzîr) was like his father - brave, skilled at arms, and fully prepared to assume the tasks of king, while Ârûkhôr was jealous of his brother, spending his time with women and his coterie of questionable 'friends.' He was, however, very generous in his manner, and donated much to the poor. One of his friends was a ranking member of the Sapthîn. This friend knew much of the inner workings of the Tumakveh clan, and most importantly that Ârûkhôr hated his brother out of jealousy. His attitude, not suitable for a Tumakveh, was remarked upon by his grandfather, who chastised his grandson saying, "You must not continue your life as you do! It is not appropriate for a Tumakveh. You should take your brother as an example!"
The conflict between the two brothers was not outwardly apparent during Belkhôr's life, and they agreed on occasion to work for the realm together as they both loved their grandfather very much. The old monarch, knowing the problem and with the counsel of Balakkhâd (the new asapthubêth of Ûrêzâyan), tried to reconcile the brothers by giving important responsibilities to Ârûkhôr in Mardruak, as a prince ruler. The aging monarch Belkhôr Aruyati hoped that the two quarreling heirs would end their squabbling when forced to take responsibility for governing the realm. He had outlived all of his children and all other family members who had held his trust, and he despaired of controlling Ârûkhôr and Imruzîr, the adult sons of his daughter Inzilban.
This was soon to prove a grave mistake, but the old King didn't live to see the consequences of his acts. On 8 Darat 1550, with the King's death, his older grandson Imruzîr was crowned the new King in Nîlûlondê, with Ârûkhôr remaining as ruler in Mardruak, holding a strong friendship with many cities and the strong support of the Mardruak population. During the preceding years, Sapthîn numbers had swelled with those who were distrustful of a Gondorian alliance (which had been supported by the old King). The organization became very influential in Mardruak and Felayja (except in Bellazen), and from Nîlûlondê to Umbar. Many villages and some cities (such as Narîk-zadan) were entirely in the hands of Sapthîn members.
This was the beginning of the Civil War in Bellakar, as the Sapthîn succeeded in persuading Ârûkhôr that he was better suited than his brother to the throne of Bellakar. Three months after Belkhôr's death, Ârûkhôr rebelled against his brother, declaring Mardruak a separate realm. This precipitated the events of the Civil War, and was to shape the political landscape of the region for years to come.