How to Succeed in War Without Really Trying
Common Knowledge: The deliberative body that represents all the Dragonmarked houses of the Five Nations has recently had to introduce a twelfth member to its ranks, as the House of Shadow suffered from a violent coup that killed a third of its leadership and caused the other two thirds to split along family lines into two separate houses.
Despite this, the Twelve acts as a unified front against the nations of the world, in order to charge them through the nose for the services of the Dragonmarked houses.
Allies: Many high ranking members of the Dragonmarked Houses are also members of the Aurum, causing it to often work in concert with the Twelve.
In addition, since many of the sailors of the House Lyrandar get their start in the Lhazaar Principalities, the pirates of the region show an amount of deference to Dragonmarked shipping that nations around the continent envy.
Enemies: While not enemies per se, the Five Nations are well aware that their relationship is purely mercenary. In fact, just about the only thing that the rulers of the Five Nations agree on is how much they loathe their reliance on the Houses.
Also, the pirates of the Dark Six are far less accommodating with Dragonmarked shipping. This is probably due to said pirates being underwater shark people that worship The Devourer, Sovereign of Wave and Welm, of Storm and Salt.
The True Danger: As long as one of the Dragonmarked Houses does not fracture again, the Twelve will be able to hold Khorvaire together.