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Zala'ess' Power Play
Occurs during chapters 16 17 18 43 45
Stemming from a simmering internal feud between the dominant bloodlines of the Vel'Sharen clan and spurred by a long-running hatred for the Val'Sarghress clan, Zala'ess Vel'Sharen broke the tension on two fronts when she made a large-scale power play for control of the empire in the 12th Moon of Year 1098.
Ever since Snadhya'rune, Sarv'swati and Zala'ess conspired to frame Sil'lice for the disappearance of Diva'ratrika Val'Sharen, the three royal sisters had been expanding their roles in the clan's hierarchy. Sarv'swati and Zala'ess grew competitive, each sure that their bloodline would be the one to ultimately rule the clan.
Rise of the Val'Sarghress
The Vel'Sharen never approved of Quain'tana or the Sarghress' rise to Val status, seeing it as a threat to the noble class. When the Val'Sarghress expanded their territory in the wake of the Nidraa'chal War, The Vel'Sharen leaders grew impatient with the commoner clan's growth. Without an excuse to justify waging war to the public, they waited for an opportunity to present itself.
When Zala'ess' daughter, Chrys'tel, was kidnapped by the young Val'Sarghress heir, she returned to the clan with an indebted Syphile Val'Sarghress several key pieces of information.
- Sil'lice was alive and working for the Val'Sarghress
- Ariel, Quain'tana's heir, was born of a giant spider and a drow, making her an illegitimate abomination
12th Moon, 1098 - Attack on the Val'Sarghress Fortress
Zala'ess called the first clan gathering since the Nidraa'chal war. She sent out invitations to all the Ill'haresses in Chel, but intentionally did not invite Quain'tana. Instead, she sent an Imperial envoy to the Val'Sarghress fortress that included a massive golem that destroyed the fortress' main gate without warning. The golem cut a path for three key Vel'Sharen agents - Vy'chriel and Yaeminira to kill Sil'lice, and Syphile to kill Ill'haress Quain'tana.
Both assassinations failed, just as Zala'ess had expected. She was free of her daughter's killer and of the Val'Sarghress reject Chrys'tel had brought home. Zala'ess had effectively put the ball in Quain'tana's court, as the Sarghress would now either be required to wage war openly or to secretly dispose of the Imperial Vel'Sharen golem, cementing their stance as a rogue clan and a threat to the empire.
12th Moon, 1098 - The Clans Gathering
Meanwhile, as the gathering began, Zala'ess attempted to skew the discussion of the Ill'haresses to the danger of rogue clans like the Val'Sarghress. She brushed aside all discourse on surface colonization and conquest in favor of restoring balance to Chel. She claimed that the only way to do this was to punish clans who stepped out line.
When this was met with mixed response, she angrily reported that the Val'Sarghress clan had destroyed an Imperial envoy sent by the Val'Sharess regarding the declaration of a Ariel, a non-drow mutant, as heir. She also revealed that Quain'tana had been harboring Sil'lice, the woman behind the Nidraa'chal coup, within her ranks. She tried to convince the council that the Val'Sarghress were a threat to the entire empire.
Without the authority of the Val'Sharess of Chel'el'Sussoloth to back her claim, the other Ill'haresses were offended to hear Zala'ess attempt to abuse the council for her own goals. The Val'Illhar'dro considered Zala'ess' claim, but the Val'Kyorl'solenurn and the Val'Jaal'darya were disgusted in Zala'ess' obvious ploy. The gathering fell apart as multiple parties stormed out.
Sarv'swati was upset by Zala's bid for power, and took to conspiring against her with Snadhya'rune. Snadhya convinced Sarv'swati to stay her hand and let Zala'ess squander all of her resources before stepping in to rule the clan.
Zala'ess and the Vel'Sharen clan lost favor with many major and minor clans of Chel. Diva'ratrika's painfully obvious absence from the meeting left many concerned about the state of the empress and the ruling clan, casting doubt on the Vel'Sharen's ability to rule. Zala'ess did curry favor with a few important allies, but the meeting fragmented many of the few ties that still held the Great Clans together.
Year 1114 - The War for Control of Chel'el'Sussoloth
The Val'Sarghress clan were on the brink of war with the Vel'Sharen as it stood, and Zala'ess attack triggered the start of a massive war between the two clans that shook the foundations of Chel itself. While Sarv'swati dealt with the mess, Zala'ess took a portion of her family to Nuqrah'shareh, her enemies assuming it was to flee the conflict they started.
In reality, Zala'ess' goal was to strengthen ties with the Val'Illhar'dro and their city inhabitants by participating in their conflict, and bringing these allies to support her claim as Diva's successor. Zala'ess also had an alternative goal in taking the Illhar'dro ship for herself, but Kalki and her Nidraa'chal agents swoop in before Chrys'tel's group can.
Zala'ess managed to return victorious, but her camp lies hesitant in the Vloz'ress land while Sarv'swati's remaining imperial forces are crushed by Sarghress hordes. Earlier, scouts were sent ahead to deal with the Vloz'ress in order to create a gateway in western Chel, where Zala'ess now resides. Sabrror uses the defeat as an opportunity to end the war and avenge his family for what their true enemies did to them via the taint--he escorts Quain'tana and her elite guard to treat with Zala'ess personally. 
Zala'ess successfully plants the idea in Quain'tana's mind that the Vel'Sharen could rule together with the Sarghress and Nuqrah'shareh, with both the Empress and Illhar'ess at the head. After the Vloz'ress Demon God incident which saw Quain'tana saving Zala'ess' life and ending Sarv'swati's, the two clans formally sign a peace agreement to end the District War. Zala'ess' dream of being Empress before her sisters was complete, but Snadhya'rune atill had a trick yet to play, in the form of a poison.
This article reflects events up to Chapter 50.