Kelderar used to have a High Council, consisting of dwarves from the great clans who advised the rik. When Voarex’veiar conquered the city, those who didn’t die in the fighting or flee the city were granted positions among her new Azure Guard, provided they swore allegiance to her alone. All but one such councilor stepped down, and with them the great clans spiraled ever downward from their lofty posts.
Seeing that she couldn’t (and didn’t want to) attend to the day-to-day work of running the city, the Azure Lady formed the Azure Guard out of her most loyal and suitable followers, to work as a sort of cabinet for her and keep the city running. The Commander of the Sunshields, the Master of the Merchants’ Guild, and a number of other positions were invited or created for this purpose. Over the last two centuries, the Azure Guard has grown to an average of 30 members, with positions created or removed as needed.
The longest serving member is Storn Brokenshield (formerly Highshield) who as been the Master of the Merchants’ Guild since before the conquest. Called Highshield at the time, he is the only dwarf from the High Council to stick it out, and as such his is the only former great clan to have kept any real power. He is also one of the few members of the Azure Guard who is unquestioningly loyal to the Azure Lady, which has earned him eternal enmity among most dwarves, but especially those of the former great clans.
Most of the Azure Guard see their positions as ways to accumulate power and wealth, and few have any real loyalty to their mistress, though all have sworn an oath to die in her protection (hence Azure Guard). So far none have, though a fair few have been killed for disappointing Voarex, mostly by allowing their plots against her to become known. She respects those who plot against her, but not those who fail in those plots. She has also exiled some to the Zonyar Desert instead of killing them, and her largesse in this matter generally makes them far more loyal.
The Azure Guard is seen as hopelessly sycophantic, but Voarex wants people who are useful, sycophantic or otherwise, and is smart enough to know flattery from loyalty. While the High Council was open only to dwarves of significant social standing, the Azure Guard is open to anyone who proves themselves valuable to thee Azure Lady, most often by working their way up through the complex, poorly regulated bureaucracy, but sometimes by proving themselves in other ways. Outsiders, even though who might have otherwise been opposed to her, have ben given positions in the Azure Guard, as well as various citizens who have drawn her attention. Because members of the Guard serve purely at Voarex’s whim, the organization is notably egalitarian, since anyone of any race can catch her eye or prove themselves useful. A number of monstrous humanoids and even monsters have held Guard positions.
Artwork: “La citadelle Hérat” by unknown artist, from Nouveau dictionaire encyclopédique universel illustré, by Jules Trousset, 1885-1891.