Council of Thieves - Collins 2013
Foreign Affairs And The Cheliax Military
An Andoren joke asks, “How can you tell the difference between a Chelish traveler and a Chelish spy?” The answer? “Trick question—there is none.”
This isn’t strictly accurate, of course. Egorian maintains a vast and convoluted spy network, but not everyone traveling abroad is an agent of House Thrune. Indeed, many of the educated classes take time to travel to other countries, absorb their culture, and spread Chelish influence while they’re there. Chelish travelers are usually quite recognizable by their smug selfimportance and certainty of their status. Cheliax’s vast army and navy are among the largest in Avistan, and despite the decline of the Chelish empire, they remain a threat to every other country on the continent. The Chelish navy patrols the waters of the Inner Sea, and controls the Arch of Aroden (and thus one of the primary shipping lanes). The army likewise plays an outsized role in determining the fates of the countries surrounding Cheliax: it is its presence on the Chelish plains that keeps those nations in line, and its threat that keep Nidal and Isger friendly, Molthune in a state of constant readiness, Galtans wary, and Andoran’s army mobilized at the borders.
Cheliax fetishizes its volunteer military and, to a lesser extent, its conscripted and enslaved military. Government run printing presses report on their successes, minimize their failures, and praise the casualties as heroes who have given their lives and limbs to the service of the country. Those who have distinguished themselves on the battlefields can expect heroic treatment when they retire; the others, though lionized during their careers, find that their service is respectable only if they speak in favor of House Thrune. Those who dare speak of the horrors of war, or who question the latest military venture, find themselves shunned, maltreated, and driven into poverty, their names tarnished and their memories forgotten. Officially, they cease to exist, but rumor has it that some of them have gathered in Halmyris (or is it Longacre?) to begin plotting against the corrupt leadership that has broken the morale and spirit of so many of their comrades.
The Chelish military is a tool of the economic interests of the country. Though Egorian invokes the specter of enemies on the border and the necessity of defending Chelish interests and people (most especially the colonists of such far-flung places as Sargava and Anchor’s End), the government uses the military to promote the merchants who trade in those areas and the houses they serve. Two types of general staff and admiralty exist: those who work in the Ministry of War and advise the rulers of Cheliax, and those who are responsible for carrying out the orders, strategies, and placements suggested from Egorian. In the field, General Arionus Dexter commands the armies of Cheliax from his fortress in the Fields of Chelam, and is said to be seeking scouts who can pass into Andoran with no trouble—Chelaxians who don’t look or sound Chelish.