By Paul Monteleoni

In the autumn of the First Republic, the entertainment and media were hugely profitable industries, and many of the most powerful and cohesive entertainment zaibatsus came from Terra's Pacific Rim. Tenno Tanjo Ltd.

In the autumn of the First Republic, the entertainment and media were hugely profitable industries, and many of the most powerful and cohesive entertainment zaibatsus came from Terra's Pacific Rim. Tenno Tanjo Ltd., one of these megacorporations, was major underwriter of the Republic's space-travel experiments, and was one of the first to capitalize on the vast entertainment markets the colonies represented. Moving its headquarters to Tethys to take advantage of regulatory loopholes and firmly establishing itself in territories on New Istanbul and Sathra's Boon, Tenno Tanjo became one of the nuclei of power as the First Republic began to collapse. As the chaos increased, the CEO Duk Dimatzi Tan consolidated his power with an agreement with the Vice President of Security Lucas Rhee, and instituted law and order within the corporation's territory. To cement the bond, Duk Tan allowed his marriage-contract with his wife Ishi to slip and married Lucas' daughter Eve. The decision to restructure as a noble house came six months after the wedding, and House Tan-Rhee was born.

The house's early days were quite rocky. Many of the house's outlying territories were threatened by bandits and opponents, and even the powerful military might left over from Tenno Tanjo's security forces wasn't enough to preserve all of firm's holdings. Indeed, there was little need for the firm's broadcast networks or stables of actors, directors and studios in the chaos of the Diaspora. However, the Tan-Rhee lords managed to make the transition to military power both by liquidating as many assets as possible and using them to purchase land, supplies and weapons, and by launching an extensive propaganda campaign aimed at luring citizens to its banner. In such a barren time as the Diaspora, the populace clung to the scraps of hope that Tan-Rhee magic lantern shows broadcast in the form of hyper-idealistic romances and epics. A core of believers coalesced on Tethys, and the sheer satisfaction of the House's serfs, while of little military value, would prove pivotal in the years to come.

House Tan-Rhee was ill-suited to fight wars of expansion. But marriages, alliance, and trade all helped the House enrich itself and spread far in the troubled times. Indeed, as despair struck the second and third generation serfs of many houses, the Tan-Rhee serfs were blissful in their sense of fulfillment, and worked much more heartily and steadily than many others. With the coming of the Universal Church, however, serfs found a new meaning to their lives and Tan-Rhee's advantage began to dwindle.

It was around 3121 that House Tan-Rhee finally overreached itself with hubris. The calculating ways of its elders, the heritage of its corporate days, led the house to betray members of the fledgling and rather unpopular House Cameton, switching to side with the Chaukis in an attempt to seize more land for itself on Byzantium Secundus. The move was miscalculated- even those who disliked the Cametons were enraged at the blatant disregard for honor and for decency with which House Tan-Rhee acted. Their indignation was only increased by the fact that House Tan-Rhee still spun its own myths and created its own propaganda, refusing to toe the line that the Church set forth. Political pressure forced the Chaukis to refrain from protecting House Tan-Rhee, which was set upon from all sides and driven off of Byzantium Secundus.

That was the last time the house elders would make that mistake. From then on, House Tan-Rhee converted wholly to the Church and became honorable to a fault. This reorientation was utterly pragmatic in nature at its heart, but succeeded admirably. The Tan-Rhee criers and priests preached honor and chivalry to a fault, as well as deep repentance for the house's sins. Indeed, they created the myth of the ideal _Kambei knight,_ the kind of saintly warrior that followed in the steps of St. Lextius, whose disciples they claimed to be. Although their conception of the Kambei knight was rather divergent from many other nobles' interpretation of the teachings of St. Lextius, this was exactly what the house needed to retain coherence and integrity, as well as regain some respectability among other nobles. With the coming of the Second Republic, the house's inner circle ceased to identify with the house and returned their attentions to big business, gradually forgetting all of the secret history they had created- the back-room deals, the adoption of idealism for show, and the various schemes and betrayals they had planned. All that remained was the image that the house had created for itself, that of a great paragon of courtly love, chivalry, and generosity. When the Republic fell, the house rebuilt itself based on these great myths.

House Tan-Rhee, since the Fall, has been seen as a rather impotent group of well-meaning fools, who boast and strut and preen and are too caught up in the quest for glory to actually ever attain anything worthwhile. They are, however, renowned as great talespinners and loremasters, and they are known as extremely artistic and generally entertaining. Though they do perform great deeds on occasion, usually they are simply rather laughable. They have a very interesting body of myths and stories, all beautifully-written, which exemplify the chivalric ideal of the time before the Republic, resulting in the fact that they all seem strangely anachronistic, speaking in a well-preserved ancient and flowery dialect. They are very pious, though they follow the creed of the Orthodoxy of years past, which has caused friction with the current Church on occasion. Members of House Tan-Rhee will not touch very much technology or look guilders in the eye, and they have elaborate and ornate protocols for everything, all designed to keep them from any work or demeaning effort. They consider themselves the remnants an ancient and civilized age, and endeavor to bring the Known Worlds close to the Diasporan idyll they fondly remember. Others consider them loonies. And a few have inklings of how dark and how common House Tan-Rhee's history really was.

Now, members of House Tan-Rhee live in blissful rural simplicity. Though they are poor and unable to maintain the appropriately dignified standard of living that heroes ought to, they attempt to compensate with art and letters for the relative squalor of their surroundings. They all have long educations, less in useful military training than in ritualized fencing, arcane forms of etiquette, and the old stories and myths of their house and of the Golden Age. Many members pledge themselves to questing orders, especially the more glamorous ones like the Questing Knights or the Order of St. Nestor, and they love to boast of their great deeds and valorous comportment. The house has an extremely high suicide rate if you count the numerous people who have deliberately sought death by facing impossible odds in battle.

The Tan-Rhee coat of arms is a winged unicorn (known as a Univyrn) and a long asian dragon. The dragon (a Pellagatrix) was originally the House's emblem, but now it is portrayed as crushed underneath the Univyrn. House Tan-Rhee's colors are a rich sun yellow (a color of great boldness and courage, they claim) with black, blue and red. They wear clothes in rather ancient and ornamental styles reminiscent of a cross between that of samurai, science-fiction, and historical western nobility. Tan-Rhee nobles tend to be of Pactethyan stock- Asian, but with golden skin and lustrous red-brown or black hair. They tend to have hazel eyes and extremely prominent chins and eagle-like noses. House Tan-Rhee is most prominent on Tethys and Apshai, but wandering kambei knights are not an uncommon sight amongst the Known Worlds.

Weapons are very important to the true Kambei knight. Their weapons are always highly chromed and flashy. The preferred weapon of the Kambei knight is the _falchiaride,_ which, they are quick to point out, is not as clumsy or random as a broadsword. A more elegant weapon, for a more civilized age. A Falchiaride is a chromed saber constructed in part like a musical instrument, able to make whistling sounds as it flies through the air, and ear-splitting “clangs” when it hits another weapon. Falchiarides are not amazing weapons, but they are said to have mystical powers that inspire loyalty, piety, and courage. Legends of enchanted falchiarides abound, and some are even apparently in the possession of members of House Tan-Rhee. They also sometimes use the _kusabril,_ a flail-type of weapon of which there are many variations. Originally they were variable-length monomolecular whips, intended as a primary weapon with the sword in the off-hand, but they have been demoted in importance as the technology to make them properly effective was lost. The most common other type of weapon is a rapier or smallsword, though they also fight with broadswords, quarterstaves. Members of House Tan-Rhee almost never carry firearms.