The border was quiet. It has been for a while now. There was a time, not too long ago, in fact, when Commander Mardex had led the far left flank in the Meratid conflict, that he had hoped for a bit of quiet. Now it crushed him from within. Look at him! Was he not still a warrior? Did he not still serve with the same zeal, the same passion for glory, as he did when Rughoi was yet the farmer-king, who rose up against his dracon oppressor and led his people to victory? Questions like these plagued his mind, as he sat under the cover of this large pavilion built along the Talon Pass. Surrounding him were commanders, chiefs, and handfuls of captains, warlords, and kobolds of other titles, enough to nearly pack the tiny space full. He knew well enough that lower-ranked officers, both within the imperial system and without, were crowded around the tent outside, listening for every scrap of conversation that might imply a decision.
Between them all, sat the very reason for this near-secret meeting. A book, bound on leather and thick enough that it required two of the strongest legionnaires to carry it. A book recording the history of human nobility tradition, and the titles used within the human empire across the sea. They had all read it, they who surrounded the low table. These were most, if not all, of the major players in the burgeoning game of politics within the imperial army. It was very possible that no three people in this inner circle kept the same title.
"I call this meeting to order," Commander Mardex said, staring at the pages. "Let us hear some preliminary thoughts." Shouts of dissent immediately followed, challenging his right to call the meeting to order, followed immediately by questions regarding the necessity of this meeting and the risk of threatening Rughoi's legitimacy. "I promise you, there is no threat to His Might's hold over us. He is unquestionable, that we know without doubt. This is merely an . . . agreement. Between us. To cement our power within the court and to centralize the kobold peoples within His Might's order." Mumbles, both sarcastic and concurring. At least they daren't say anything to his face.
"I agree. We are the most loyal out of anybody to Rughoi's vision of a free kobold people," said Chief Vajra, standing up and leaning on his staff. His mangled leg was on display for all to see, Vajra's final word on any who doubt his loyalty. If the rumors are to be trusted, he lost it dueling a dracon captain in the assault on Traeton. "We are aware that the military is in shambles. There is no trust, no loyalty. Look at us now. Over in the corner are Rajas, around the entrance stand the Warlords, and sprinkled around are the Underkings." Nods, nods at his words. "With this, we hope to fix all this. We hope this will finally bring the entire army together, as one empire, the way His Might intended."
"Thank you, Chief Vajra," Mardex said. "So, in short, we are assuming titles that will finally be universally recognized, as well as make clear distinctions between the ranks. So, to begin, let's look at what the book calls a 'Vasileus Vasileon Vasileuon Vasileuonton'. That would be, without question, Rughoi." Shouts of praise, as well as prayers to Arda, followed the naming of that particular title. A chant started up for Rughoi's name, but quickly fell silent. "Now, it says here that right under that . . . that, is the 'Dukoi', or the 'Dux'. They are the greatest in power under the emperor himself, and serve closest with him." Immediately, the meeting was in chaos, with each of the ranks vying for that name.
"Silence!" shouted Vajra, and they did. Mardex acceded to himself that if anyone got to be a Dux, it would be Vajra. "Now, we have decided to surrender this title. "Now, if Raj Shavan, Commander Rebat, Underking Qerso, and Raj Azarg could join us at the front." With a shuffling, they did. "Now, the six of us, together, shall be the Dukoi. We, together, hold far more power than the rest of the room combined. I think it should go to us. Any objections?" Some did, but none loud enough to make themselves known in the crowd. Rebat nodded, silently.
"If this means I may better serve His Might," he said, gravely.
"Good, we're all in agreement," Mardex said. "Dux Mardex. I think it fits. Now, as for all bearing the name of Underking, as well as Rajas Risi, Xolot, Ervan, Zati, Vaishya, and Commanders Qort, Mazant, Kezlin, and Vargan, shall be granted the next title down, the Count." It was a dracon title, and they knew it. The complaints began rolling in. "We know, alright!? We know! But recall, if you will, that Rughoi took the name Count of Traeton, to appease the dracon mercenaries. And besides, it was adopted from an early human society, so that is that." With help from the other Dukoi, the new Counts finally came to terms with their burden. "Chiefs, Rajas, Marzobans, and Commanders not previously mentioned, as well as Captains Tilx and Sabil, will thus be assigned the title of Strategos. All remaining members of this meeting will be titled Legates, and those not present shall keep their styling of Captain. Now, are we in agreement?" There were, fortunately, no objections to that. Everybody now designated Strategoi and Legates were outside.
"Good. Praise Scen, and praise His Might," Vajra said, gravely. "Everyone will, of course, keep this meeting secret. It won't do for His Might to find out immediately that everything has changed." Nobody said anything but mutters.