I was there that night, you know. I was there when every candle went out as the First Lich visited us. You’d never know it now, but House Drakken used to be one of the Great Houses, with hundreds of members and dozens of estates. But that night, the First told them they were done.
It was a strange time for those of us who were still growing up back then. Straavin wasn’t the leader it was today. They had been involved in some betrayal of the First Lich, I don’t remember the details, and we were all surprised he hadn’t destroyed them all. That night, Borgias was sitting comfortably in the Big Chair, with Bathor quietly watching from just behind. Oh, gods, I remember when the head of Bathor, his name escapes me now… when he stood up and said Drakken had to go. It was like the room and suddenly gotten colder.
But they didn’t. That night, many of the Drakken members found other homes. Some abandoned their House and became houseless. Others found welcome with the other Great Houses and their bloodlines are still there today. Some few stayed, that night, and pledged to keep the ideals and principles of the dragon-house forever. I remember that the First set a new leader for the new minor House, and he seemed pleased, but it sure looked like it would be a hard road.
And it was. Even the next day, it began. Not only was there a mass exodus from the house, as other lineages swallowed up resources, people, even whole towns, but there was a desperation. From the Veil to the Sea, they began to move books by the ton. The new leader had them all collected in Tair Glain, in the Drakken chapterhouse called The Crypts. It was the beginning of what we now know as the Redoubt Libretic, the great underground library. There were raids. No one has ever claimed responsibility, but there was an almost all our war for books as they passed along the roads to Tair Glain. Alucard eventually took charge, securing the lines of transport so that the knowledge of the dragon-house could be maintained. Those guards that stayed were the core of the Paper Guard we know now: scholar-warriors with Alucard training and Drakken educations. It was open season on Drakken. Without the resources, or the displeasure of the First Lich, to back them up, dozens were taken and questioned, a grab for the information they had in their heads.
It was Bathor, of course, who called for a truce. Alucard had already done what it could, but a strong alliance with Straavin set up a harsh, quick penalty for anyone continuing to hunt the scholars. Borgias joined quickly thereafter, many claiming the truce was their idea in the first place, and Lectr agreed as well.
The Temple itself was abandoned. The next year’s Tasks and Conclave happened at the old Temple and there was a settling sense of anger that came from the First Lich. The corrections given out by the Curates were harsher, as if they were passing down some rage that had been heaped on them. Most of the Tasks were about finding and securing a new Temple. It did not happen that year, but Straavin and Bathor simultaneously found new potential Temples the year after that, and it was like a dark blanket of disappointment had been lifted. The thief who stole the artifact the night Drakken died was caught and burned until nothing remained of him. Justice had been reached.
Now, thirty years later, and Drakken is only a half-hundred strong. They still remain protected by those old agreements, the Drakken Truce, as long as they let members of the Great Houses use, without reserve, the resources of the Redoubt Libretic. Only the books in the Redoubt, though, are covered, and it is known that Drakken has at least two other small chapterhouse-libraries. One is in Dar Nos, in the very building where the Borgias held their Gossamer Ball so many years ago. The other is a secret. It is said that Drakken keep their most dangerous, most beautiful books there, including a series of volumes detailing every secret the Drakken have ever discovered, bound in the skin of Danielus Drakken.
House Straavin holds the high seat now, leading with fierce strength. Borgias nips at its heels, waiting for the right moment to move, its new leadership promising in its fresh intensity. Bathor continues a tradition of quiet strength, believing always that inner strength and solidarity will lead to external success. They have not been wrong yet. It is difficult to tell the strength of Lectr; like a lightning bolt, its momentary power is obvious, with the assault of light and the crashing thunder, but it is difficult to tell the overall danger of the storm. Alucard, alone, seems to be in hard times. A missing leader, secret Masters, and forces spread ever-more thin by the dangers of The Land. Not once, though, in these last three decades have any of the Great Houses ever come close to failing as Drakken did. They have made sure of it.
Francis lived less than five years after taking control of the House. He was Called to pass through the Veil. Some think he became a Curate, and lives still. Others think he committed some grand treason and, unfortunately for him, lives still.
There are many now who come from bloodlines that were formerly from the House of Dragons. It is used as a sign of education, of intelligence. “My grandfather was Drakken” I might say, when my choices at dice pay off. It was a long and noble legacy that, if I am honest, has let the Lineage of Secrets do what it does best, rather than squabble over political power, or collect tributes from its lands or peoples. We are librarians now. Scholars. Scientists. Our minds serve the First, and we keep his lore protected.
We are House Drakken.
Librarian Davinus Drakken, great-nephew of Danielus