Under the Steel Web
The Nights of The First Mayor (History of Webbed Arad Part 3)
In these nights also came the end of the noble house of Pradesh, which had long had some dominion over the world, and in old times had stood as great as any of the great houses, but was reduced when the Web dropped to a few estates in scattered locales and a great house in Arad itself. Baron Helina Pradesh was the next to last of her line, over one hundred years of age, and at the time of the first Lord Mayor’s ascension, she at last gave up her final breath. Her grandson, a wastrel called Hamam Pradesh, was the last of the line, and was killed shortly after by asserting his superiority to a Hawkwood cousin, who slew him in a duel shortly after. Their estate was taken over by the Hazat, and exists still in modified form as the Garrison. So much for the former glories of the Pradesh.
Now Ananda Sitta, who was made Lord Mayor by his own hand, began to assert himself. He sought to bring all the noble houses under his sway, and to bind all factions to himself. The Decados, however, stood aloof, and so he made a sort of war on them, not with troops, though there were skirmishes of that sort as well, but economic. The Decados, though, had their coal mines, and were deeply involved in the slave trade that was becoming larger and larger, and sought out the al Malik to make a sort of peace pact away from the city in the south. They invited settlers to come and live in what became Carbon City, and so defied the will of the Lord Mayor. Few Decados were seen north of the river in these days.
The Lord Mayor’s allies began to crowd in on him, expecting that, for having brought him in to power, they would receive rewards. Sitta was cunning, though, and turned against them one by one. First to be dealt with were the Senate, who although prorogued one by one found themselves imprisoned, enslaved or ostracized as appropriate, over the course of just a few weeks. Though some few tried to resist, Sitta was able to rally the nobles, church and guilds against the interlopers who had dared set themselves up as powers. Then, with the Senate vanished, he was able to turn against the Church, excluding them entirely from secular power by giving them exceptional spiritual authority. New titles and priveleges were awarded to the Archbishop, his canons, and the heads of the orders, but they quickly realized they had been removed from actual power. The Archbishop attempted to intrude himself into authority once more, but was marginalized by the nobles and guilds, who enjoyed greater real strength without the Church’s involvement in affairs. From this point on, the clergy were opposed to Sitta, but still he was secure.
His next step was to begin rallying the old Boards, whose Senatorial members were no longer meaningful, but who were still theoretically in existence. By allowing them to appoint various non-entities to advisory boards and committees, he gave them a feeling that he valued their involvement, so that the common folk soon became the strongest support of the Lord Mayor. His noble allies, including the uneasy Li Halan who regretted the loss of Church power, now began to plot against him, but he was successful in uncovering the plots due to the constancy of the Hawkwoods, who reported their rivals’ plans to him. Sitta was able to denounce first the Li Halan, whose Baron and Baroness were imprisoned for some time, then the al Malik, who agreed to withdraw from politics to avoid a similar fate, and lastly the Hazat, who pledged loyalty in return for a lack of prison terms for the few members of the House in the city. The Hazat, however, did not value this pledge given under duress, but waited instead for an opportunity for revenge.
Finally, the guilds were sidelined. One after another, except only for the Reeves who held the purse strings for the lickspittle Hawkwoods, the guilds were marginalized; given titles and perks as the church had been, but denied real power. Sitta, with his common backers and the Hawkwoods and Reeves fully supporting him as their only means to true authority, was now in command of the city. His rule was tyrannical, with spy networks everywhere, and folk denouncing one another all the time.
From his own inner circle came the end. His wife’s sister had a good friend, or perhaps lover, who worked in the administration, and he rallied the various forces of the city that were disgruntled, most particularly the Church and the Hazat with their militia, and led a revolt against the Lord Mayor, freeing the Li Halan leadership to gain their support, and then after a series of running battles and the Siege of the Gasworks in which Sitta was taken, establishing himself as the Second Lord Mayor. Sitta vanished into a prison in Pentecost and was never seen again. He was confirmed as dead three years later, but no one knows when exactly he died. And so came the end of the Nights of the First Lord Mayor, and the beginning of the Nights of Arad.