This session was run on June 1, 2023.
Archduke Adair’s long trip across the Imperium to the Domain of Deneb came to an end on the first day of year 1118. While the trip had been long, it had been far from boring. He had to slip passed Ishugi’s forces in the Vland sector, and then make his way through Corridor while avoiding Vargr raiders. Even once he was safely through the contested areas, surprise awaited him. Three days out from Deneb, he learned that First Counselor Dunn was aboard his ship. Dunn had been Strephon’s right hand woman. After she was injured during the assassination, she hid in Adair’s apartment while she recovered. The last time Adair saw her, she had been heading trailing with Archduke Tranian. He asked Khugi, his chief of staff, to determine when she had come aboard and learned that records showed that she had boarded at Core, although no one remembered seeing her until she revealed herself. Adair asked Khugi to detail some men to keep an eye on her.
Duke Norris of Deneb was waiting for Adair at the foot of the ramp when he disembarked. After quick introductions, they moved to a conference room and got down to business. Adair was upfront with Norris, telling him that he had come to end the feud between him and Duchess Delphine of the Spinward Marches.
Both ducal powers believed, with good reason, that they had been promoted to Archduke of the Domain of Deneb. Norris had been appointed by Emperor Strephon hours before he was assassinated, and Delphine had been appointed by Lucan right after he took power. The rivalry between them was older than the archduke question. Norris emerged from the Fifth Frontier War as a hero after Delphine’s forces failed to step the Outworld Coalition’s attack. Both the duchess and Admiral Santanocheev resented his ascension at their expense.
Norris quickly made the case that he should be archduke to Adair. He explained that as a military man, who had proven his effectiveness against the Zhodani, he was best able to defend the Imperium’s spinward and coreward borders. He had already launched an attempt to retake corridor and reestablish connection to the rest of the Imperium, but Delphine’s attack on him was undermining that effort. He also claimed that he would be more successful dealing with the Aslan that were looking to take territory around the edges of the empire. He told Adair that Delphine was too set in her ways and inflexible to work out a deal.
Adair questioned him about his commitment to the Imperium, and Norris made it clear that he felt he owed his duty to the Imperium itself and not any individual emperor. He was too far out and on his own to take part in the civil war.
Adair also filled him in on the details that Strephon had disclosed about the Empress Wave before he died. Norris opined that it might explain the large number of Zhodani fleeing the consulate, often in confusion. Historically, very few crossed the border looking for asylum.
He agreed to an attempt to settle things with Delphine and instructed his Chief of Staff, Branj Dilgaadin, to accompany Adair to Regina and empowered him to negotiate on his behalf. He agreed to abide by the results of the meeting. Adair thanked him, and prepared to make the trip to the Spinward Marches.