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The Secret History of Sun County: The coup
In 1613, as is now well-known, the Sartar resistance was forced into open rebellion by a Lunar attack on the temple of Orlanth Victorious. Kallyr got word to Vega warning her of what was about to happen, but not in time for the Sun County coup to be simultaneous. Vega replied with a hasty assessment of the Lunar forces available in Pavis and the commanders involved (1), then passed the word to Solanthos that their distraction was ready to go.
A sizeable Lunar contingent left Pavis for Sartar, as did the Pavis Royal Guard. This left Solanthos, as Light Captain in Pavis, with command of the majority of the forces there. Varthanis had his options explained to him: either he could resign voluntarily and retire to a tower, or he could be blinded first. His attempts to appeal to Somash for help failed, sealing his fate. Solanthos was acclaimed as the new Count by the troops in Pavis, and Varthanis and his key supporters were packed off to the retirement towers. Lesser lights found themselves condemned to Pent Ridge.
In Sun County proper, Karial the Pure, the Light Keeper who had tried to marry Yelmalio to the Red Goddess, narrowly avoided the towers by accepting the post of high priest of Yelmalio in Pavis, and Gaumata stepped into his shoes. Solanthos sent his protégé Haloric Glowbrow to Pavis to keep Karial in check; since that time, Karial has kept his opinions to himself and so continues to avoid compulsory blinding and retirement. Laertes was appointed Light Guide for his role in the plot, previously occupying the post of Temple Cellarer (a more important role than it seems). He then put non-entity Porthor, a mere initiate, into his old post so he could control it too.
Solanthos's last obstacle was the Light Captain in Sun County, his old friend Invictus. Invictus commanded more troops than he did: but there remained unspoken the possibility of a trial for adultery. (Which would also mean Penta being executed: but she's only a woman!) Invictus chose to remain "unconquered" by a quick change of sides, bringing the Sun Dome Templars in Sun County over with him. He gratefully accepted promotion to acolyte status (which carried with it the possibility of being sent to the towers himself in the future), and took a new geas from Yelmalio to mark his new rank. The geas, as is now famous, proved to be "Love only earth cultists". Obviously, he would have to divorce Vega. Solanthos also took on a new geas as he became Count - the final addition to his collection of celibacy geases. He interpreted this as meaning that he too should divorce, and divination did not contradict him. It then occurred to both of them that perhaps this strange coincidence meant that Invictus should marry Penta - and again, divination did not contradict them. Vega was not particularly happy with this, but saw no real reason to object to being relieved of a husband who had served his purpose as a route to the top. She knew Penta and Solanthos had been less than happy with their marriage, and did not suspect anything more.
Solanthos Ironpike was acclaimed the new Count of the Sun Dome and was invested with the globe of authority and the sceptre of order. The Lunar missionaries were politely but firmly escorted to the borders. With Pavis a powder-keg ready to ignite during the Starbrow crisis (2), Sor-Eel could do nothing but let the new count's petty insolence go unchecked; by the time the Lunars had their victory, Solanthos's regime and its policy of resentful co-operation with the Empire was well on the way to becoming entrenched in the hearts and minds of the Sun Dome people. Yet Solanthos was canny enough to remit his seasonal tribute, in full, on the day it was due, and do nothing to hinder trade or traffic through the County (though Lunar troops found they had an unusually large escort of grim, uncommunicative Templars, who made sure they kept to the road and camped far away from local settlements). The Count even offered to put his Templar mercenaries at Sor-Eel's disposal at a discount rate, which the beleaguered and undermanned governor to his chagrin had to accept!
There remained just one little problem, which both Invictus and Solanthos had overlooked - the reaction of Phaestus to his daughters' exchange of husbands. He knew nothing of the conspiracy to get Penta with child, but had heard plenty of rumours about her and Invictus. He did a Divination of his own, and got a complete and accurate answer (perhaps the only complete and accurate Divination ever performed?). It was clear to him that both his daughters, and Vega in particular, had been very badly treated. (Naturally, it did not occur to him that Penta might have been responsible for her own actions!). Being the honourable and upright man he was, he immediately stormed in to see Solanthos and demanded justice for his little girls. This put Solanthos in a very nasty position. He had relied on the secret never coming out. And however badly he might feel about what had been done to Vega, he could not possibly change things without leaving Sun County without a command structure. So he took the only possible way out. Phaestus was an acolyte, if only an honorary one: so Solanthos ordered him sent to the retirement towers. Just, no: expedient, yes. But this gave rise to another unforeseen problem. Phaestus had legally to declare an heir to manage his affairs, prior to retirement. Solanthos had assumed that the eldest child and only son, Jovian, would be the heir: and Jovian was thoroughly under Solanthos' thumb thanks to his hazia habit. Phaestus however named Vega as his heir: an unprecedented move, but one that reflected his wish to repay the way she had been treated, and his respect for her abilities. Solanthos had no choice but to concur, and to give up control of the Goldbreath wealth. At least he could trust Vega to behave sensibly: or so he thought. He had reckoned without Vega's loyalty to her father, strengthened by this unexpected gesture of respect. Once Vega heard what had happened, she and her bodyguard headed for the tower on a rescue mission. By the time she arrived, however, Phaestus had had time to consider the consequences to his country. He refused to be rescued, saying that Solanthos as Count was entitled to retire him without needing an explanation: obedience to one's superiors was the only honourable path. He did however tell his daughter precisely what had been going on, thus ending any hope Solanthos might have had of staying on good terms with her. Vega returned to her duties, and the incident was never mentioned. Solanthos promoted her to Guardian: but it was the conversation with her father, rather than any bribery, that seems to have ensured her silence.
(Where was Belvani during all of this? No one is certain, but he certainly knew the right time not to be around: despite his reputation as a Lunar-loving libertine, he managed to keep not only his eyes, but also his rank and his cult status. Vega was, however, promoted over his head.).
1) Some of the text of this message still survives. The section on the Lunar commanders starts "Make sure Euglyptus stays alive: he's totally incompetent and the best ally you've got." A list of possible replacements follows, ending with "It's remotely possible that they may bring Fazzur back. If they do, you may as well give up."
2)There was in fact a disorganised attempt by some hot-headed Orlanthi to "free Pavis". It was quickly crushed, though the ringleaders fled the city rather than being caught. Some are said to have gone into hiding among the Bison tribe.