The Green Man
The Council of Pappenheim
Stop for a moment, as you make your way through the streets of whatever city, town, or village you happen to be in. Take account of your surroundings, whether they are the humble, low-slug buildings of Porter’s Rest or the soaring artistry of Pappenheim’s domes and spires. Now look closely at the people around you…
A Dragonborn beggar, spat on by the fearful crowds, his ragged clothes torn and muddied; a Tiefling dandy, resplendent in his layered coats of crushed velvet; a human sellsword, his fingerless gloves showing the stain of weapon oil around the edges of his nails. There! Right there…look closer…make yourself see what you would usually just allow to fade into the background…
That heavy brown cassock, spun of a thick fiber. The hair cut short, the eyes narrowed at the edges, the two black pits in the center of the face, the back bent…the figure is almost past you, it moves with such purpose and haste! You continue to watch. The armfuls of tightly bound documents, protected by oilskin wrappings and sealed with a large wax seal. The seal is a deep purple and a small golden gear shines from the center of it, like a bright coin pressed down into an angry bruise. And now it is past you, hurrying along down the lane.
But yet, there is another, this one unburdened by papers and yet looking no more relieved for it. And another! This one’s eye meets yours for a millisecond and it widens, as if surprised to have been noticed. For these are the unnamed agents of Wimarc’s daily life and their steps are the beating of the Grand Duchy’s heart…the ticking of its eternal clock.
The Council of Pappenheim began its history in the years following the fall of the Lovcen Empire. The many scribes and functionaries that supported the Lovcen governor’s rule acted as an essential link between the Empire and the province, the province and its people. With the Fall, the messengers became the diplomats of a new state while the scribes became the chroniclers of a new age.
One of the early Grand Dukes recognized the value of these reliable men and women and gave them his blessing- they would be his eyes, his ears, his voice out amongst the people of his land. He organized them into his council, their seat in the shadow of his own. Tax collectors, diplomats, law makers, burgomeisters…all of the civil servants in Wimarc are part of the Council of Pappenheim’s network of functionaries. But as no single man could be the Grand Duke’s full proxy, so would these servants of his be reminded of their singular purpose and allegiance: “let those who act in the Grand Duke’s stead give something of themselves.” A hand. An eye. An ear. A nose. The loss of something dear. Before he gave his gift unto them, he demanded they make themselves less whole in order to receive it.
It is no wonder that the Cult of the Grand Duke is said to have arisen within the ranks of the Council, for it is they who continue to carry out his will even in these dark days of his absence. Something in the training, the ceremony, the daily exertions makes Councilmen and women closer, spiritually at least, to their ruler, and their country, than most in Wimarc ever are.
It was the Council who regulated the nascent Brass Clock for centuries before eventually becoming part of it. This curious relationship yields odd fruits for both parties: the Clock have in the Council the respectability and sanction that ducal writ alone could not bring them, while the Council have in the Clock the stability and ruthless drive for Wimarckian supremacy that they crave.
There are whispers, though, that the many years of Clock rule have left those in power over the Council decadent and profane. That perhaps the Council of Twelve and their High Clerks play at their own games, forgetting the holy duty they owe the Duke. But then these are rumors, not fit for the ears or tongue of simple clerk.
So continue along now. Allow these loyal servants of a lost ruler to strive on, knowing full well of their individual insignificance, but utterly assured of their collective necessity.