House Lionnes has survived the ages of the Atlantean Empires through manipulation, rumor-mongering and calculated neutrality. By ensuring they remain on all sides of political, military and social conflicts House Lionnes has endured. Their persistent detachment has granted them access to information that others lack; for many in power turn to those they can rely on to remain impartial. It is this information that provides them vast influence over others, be they humans or Atlanteans.
The modern House Lionnes is a creation of its founder, Lady Vanessa of House Lionnes, who fled the First Atlantean Empire in 6390 BC with a handful of loyal subjects, friends and family. Beautiful, intelligent and strong-willed, Vanessa used her wits and charm to maneuver her way into a position of power within the ruling class of the First Atlantean Empire. She quickly showed a talent for the political games of the Imperial Court and the Senate, fostering relationships with many influential people and never siding with one group over another. Her penchant for neutrality was not to last. Vanessa fell in love with a general of the Atlantean Legions and their relationship soon risked her rise through the political ranks. Where once she could be relied upon for her non-partisan position she was now thought of as a military loyalist. Almost overnight the influence and power she had worked so hard to achieve had disappeared. Among courtesans and politicians her relationship was now a public affair and those that would seek to gain her power used her lover as a means to strip Vanessa of the influence she held and take it as their own. Weary of such hardships, Vanessa left Atlantis, seeking peace and solitude away from the machinations of the Imperial Court and the Senate; with her traveled others that were equally as discontented with the Empire. It is unknown what became of her lover or even his identity; some claim he traveled with her while others believe he was murdered to ruin Vanessa’s position within the Empire. Whatever the truth, from that day forward, Vanessa taught her followers to forever remain cold and distant, to disconnect them selves from anything that others could use against them and to never choose a side.
Vanessa and her companions found themselves on the shores of what is now southern France. Here they found a fertile and bountiful land, ideal for settlement and the outcasts quickly set about creating a home for themselves in this new country. They soon learned that many of the human tribes of the region were a harsh, violent people who looked upon the Atlanteans with fear and hatred. The exiles suffered in the early years, subjected to constant attacks and hostility from the natives. A long-term solution was found by pitting the human tribes against one another, fostering hostilities between warring tribes and steering attention away from themselves.
Peace reigned for centuries and House Lionnes seemed to have achieved the solitude they sought when they first fled Atlantis. During the Atlantean Dark Ages, House Lionnes intermingled with many of the human tribes, gaining many of their traits and thinning their Atlantean blood. The human cultures of the region coupled with the dispassionate personalities of many of early House Lionnes left those among the House to view strength and aggression as symbols of authority. Despite this attitude the House did little to involve itself in the internal squabbles of the scattered tribes throughout the region and as Gaul became a land of barbarians, House Lionnes insured that they held influence over these savage people.
By the time members of House Scavario reached the wilds of southern Gaul in 193 AD House Lionnes was a tattered remnant of its former self. The noble and disciplined Atlanteans that ventured into the ‘Dark North’ were unprepared for the barbarity they encountered in their long-lost cousins. The representatives of House Scavario came with the intention of fostering peace and reestablishing old ties with others that had escaped the fall of Atlantis and it was their passive demeanor that House Lionnes took as a sign of weakness. Being quick to exploit the weaknesses of others, the House Scavario representatives were captured and killed but not before they were tortured for information regarding other Atlantean Houses that had survived the fall.
The survivors of the initial encounter with the early House Lionnes returned to Emperor Ramius and reported the discovery of these lost Atlanteans and the grisly results of their first meeting. Hoping to unite the disparaged Houses, Emperor Ramius assigned a member of his own House to another expedition and sent them back into Gaul in 210 AD. Vanessa herself met with the representatives but their intentions were misconstrued as an attempt to return House Lionnes to an Atlantean Empire as corrupt and convoluted as the one before it. Again, the ambassadors were tortured and killed and again the survivors of the attack returned to Emperor Ramius to report their failure.
Not one to take disappointment lightly, Emperor Ramius commissioned a third and final expedition into southern Gaul in 211 AD, this time backed by two dozen centurions to ensure the safety of the representatives. The barbarians of House Lionnes set upon the emissaries as soon as they set foot in their lands but were quickly defeated by the Centurions who then returned to Rome, certain that there was no hope for peace with these northern savages. To the surprise of the Emperor, an envoy bearing a formal treaty of peace arrived weeks later, bearing the official seal of House Lionnes. Finally showing strength, the southern cousins of House Lionnes had proven themselves worthy of peace.
Only two decades later the Council of Prefects was formed by Emperor Ramius and Lady Vanessa was appointed as the Prefect of Gaul. A time of prosperity began as House Lionnes and the other Houses of the Second Atlantean Empire began expanding their borders. House Lionnes returned to the business of playing politics and proved that the centuries had not deteriorated their skills in manipulation and rumor-mongering. Quickly the House became known for their impartiality and their uncanny ability to learn the secrets of the movers and shakers of this new Empire. By the beginning of the ninth century, House Lionnes had a stranglehold on information about the Atlantean Houses and, indeed, all things Atlantean. It is this information that brings with it power and House Lionnes controlled vast amounts of wealth, territory and political clout within the Second Atlantean Empire.
In 1337 AD, Edward III of England declared himself the king of France; beginning the Hundred Years War. During this time, House Lionnes took advantage of the conflict to begin discreetly taking control of large amounts of territory belonging to House Ramius. These seizures do not go unnoticed and hidden hostilities soon began between the two Houses. Careful not to bring open conflict to the Empire, both houses used their human Servitors to wage this shadow war. By the end of the conflict, both sides had suffered significant losses of resources and territory with no a clear victor. As the war ended, a lasting enmity began between House Lionnes and House Ramius.
House Lionnes maintained significant holdings and influence throughout the Second Atlantean Empire that reached its height in 1588 AD when Lady Andrea DeLyones was elevated to the position of Empress by the Antiquarians Guild. It is well known that the manipulation, political maneuvering, allying and blackmailing of key political figures within the Second Atlantean Empire led to this appointment, but few within the leaders of the Second Atlantean Empire found this to be a surprise. Everyone had something to lose or gain by the appointment of a Lionnes as ruler of the Empire and it was for that reason that Andrea became Empress. Empress Andrea’s rule will last for hundreds of years, during which House Lionnes continued to prosper.
House Lionnes continued to expand its holdings over the next few centuries, first in Western Europe with the invasion of Lorraine in 1734 AD and then again in 1776 with the declaration of independence by the American colonies of Britain. Members of House Lionnes departed for the newly-formed United States; some to escape the constant struggles in Europe and others to extend the House’s resources and influence into this new land. House Lionnes, through their French subjects sent aid to the American colonies in the hopes of aiding their brothers and sisters that fled Europe. This aid proved vital to the revolution as well as the Atlanteans in the new world. Decades later, House Lionnes provided similar support for their Canadian cousins in the French-speaking regions of Canada following the Canada Act.
In 1785 AD, Lady Camila DelaRosa of House Lionnes formed the Court of Roses; a society within the Second Atlantean Empire whose goal was to return honor and chivalry to the Atlantean Imperial Court. The Court of Roses was supported by Empress Andrea DeLyones who was one of the founding members of the society. Though many would join this group after its founding, much of the Imperial court viewed those within the Court of Roses and idealists and dreamers. The Court of Roses remains a significant society within imperial Atlantean culture and maintains their idyllic sense of honor.
In 1836 AD, the conflict between House Draconis and their renegade cousins led by Lord Radu Dracul was resolved as Empress Andrea DeLyones officially recognized the Dracul family as a full-fledged House of the Empire. This act enraged those among House Draconis who accused the Empress of receiving bribes, namely the secrets of sorcery, which House Draconis jealously guarded. Whether there was any truth behind these accusations, the act would haunt the Empress for many years and ultimately cost her the throne.
For a decade following House Dracul’s creation, House Draconis did everything in their power to politically assassinate the Empress. This political pressure was coupled with a growing detachment by the Empress that was thought rather uncharacteristic of the usually charming, outgoing woman.