Humanity as a whole is oft maligned. They are seen as a reckless blight upon the land; warlike and seeming to lack a conscience. Such judgments are unfair, for humanity’s fragile existence is the of root its woes. They are a vibrant flame that burns brightly for a short while – and then is quenched in the rains of time. Wisdom must be acquired again and again by each successive generation.
Man as a species has forgotten as much as he knows. Given their short lifespans, men are motivated to achieve their goals relentlessly. They are possessed of a curiosity that, once wed to ambition, makes for a powerful magic in and of itself. Mankind is inventive and exceedingly adaptable. They are capable in battle and have the intellect necessary to quickly master the secrets of the natural world. It is a fool that casts aspersions while overlooking the traits that make this race one of survivors.
Ruling factions of the human inhabited lands
House Mamloch and the King’s Court
Overview: House Mamloch was elected to rule over the seat of humanity more than 150 years ago. While their reach has always been limited, recent heirs to the throne have made an effort to extend the power of the crown to the farthest reaches of human controlled territories. House Mamloch is considered a benevolent house comprised of able stewards which accounts for their longevity. Their unofficial slogan granted by the people is: a steady hand, though none of the Mamloch line, have sought to make take it as their own. The Mamlochs have always believed that there is strength in allowing one’s subjects to define you, so long as that definition is positive.
King Krysher Palos Mamloch – Came to power with the passing of his father Palos Mamloch twenty years ago. He is in failing health. This is not common knowledge and is a guarded secret. A benevolent leader, he has done nothing to incite the ire of his people. Upon his ascension to the throne, he tasked his armies to bring the fertile lands in the northern (Eldrich) region of the upper plains to heel. Under the command of his man at arms and friend, Garros Rathke, this was accomplished. For his efforts and devotion to the crown, Rathke was granted dominion over these territories as Archduke Regent of Eldrich.
King’s Consort: Baroness Malyse Mamloch – Taken as wife by Krysher out of love. She is not of noble descent – she has no house to support her. Her title was gifted to her by Krysher at the time of their betrothal. Due to the fact that she is not of noble descent, she is not referred to as a queen though most see her as that – it is protocol that prevents her from assuming the title. While this was not a scandal of any sort, it does weaken the hold of House Mamloch as they have no marital alliance with a great house to support their claim to the throne. She is fiercely loyal to her husband and protective of her family. She has a natural gift of intuition.
Archduke Joakim Krysher Mamloch – Eldest son of the King and the Baroness, heir apparent to the throne. He is nicknamed the spotted prince, as he survived a pox in his youth that has left him with a rutty complexion and in a weakened state. While never being one to pose a physical threat, he has honed his mind and is considered to be brilliant. He has been sheltered by the Baroness and is rarely seen in public.
Baron Rabourn Krysher Mamloch – Second son of the King and the Baroness, Commander of Arms for the realm. He is adored by his men but untested. His numbers have always proved to be sufficient to put down small rebellions and factional disputes. He supports his brother Joakim wholly – adoring his intellect but moreso the fact that he is not burdened with the weight of inheritance. He is content in his place.
Man at arms: Narris Shaw – The true power behind the armies of the House Mamloch. He is tasked with the day to day running of the military. Where Rabourn is the face of the military, Shaw is the fist. He is loyal to the King and his lineage. A brilliant strategist, he has positioned forces throughout the Upper Plains with defense of Valant in mind. “power emanates from the stonghold.” he was second to Rathke and succeeded him upon his appointment to Archduke Regent.
Political offices answering to the crown but tasked with considering the welfare of the people of the realm:
Lady of the Ethereal Arts: Desdamona – More commonly referred to as the Conduit High, she is the court mystic. She deals with the magical threats to the realm, constantly monitoring changes within the arcane and striving to maintain a balance which she calls the harmony. She holds the high seat on the Jury Arcanum – a group of nine conduits that oversee all things magic in the realm. They hold practitioners to account for their deeds/misdeeds and sanction actions accordingly. She has been in her post since the days of Palos yet appears to be a woman just out of her prime. Decades for her seem to pass as just a couple of years. Once thought to be an illusion, it is now taken for granted that she has managed to use her magical powers to slow the aging process – yet none have dared to broach the subject with her. She is an intimidating force whose sole allegiance is aligned with preservation of the art and balance within it. She has put down many an effort to undermine the art – including prejudicial calls to restrain its practice.
Minister of Coin: Saradin Mortin – A former member of the Consortium, the trading guild council that reigns over all things commerce. Composed of various crafting guilds, the consortium maintains its seat in Valant, within the shadow of House Mamloch. Due to the symbiotic relationship that the crown and coin share, Krysher Mamloch shrewdly determined it was imperative to bring in an insider from the Consortium to act as an emissary between the two powers. Mortin is adept at traversing the line between politics and commerce. Some see the Consortium as a shadow government unto itself – but Salazar Mortin maintains open channels of communication, managing to align the interests of the crown and the Consortium. Though initially deemed suspect he has become a valued member of the court. Having once headed the mining guilds of the Consortium, he keeps the military well stocked in materials needed to maintain power.
House Rathke – The Grizzly of the Plains
OVERVIEW: The informal monicker of Grizzly was bestowed on House Rathke at the time of the ascension of King Krysher Mamloch. Commanded by the king to bring the lands of the northern plains in line with the crown, Garros Rathke – man at arms for the court at that time – did it in short order through tactics deemed to be savage but effective. Cutting off petty kingdoms, villages, and factions in the northern reach from supplies through his influence with the Consortium, Rathke deprived his adversaries of the ability to mount a defense. A capable warrior, he also proved a shrewd diplomat, selling the Consortium on stability and access to a market that had been at best chaotic. In exchange for their cooperation, he guaranteed that caravans from Valant would be free from molestation. In the event that caravans were attacked in the future he put his own purse up as collateral. It was a scheme that could have brought ruin, but instead, it brought about a swift and absolute victory to the crown. Enamored of the achievement and the speed with which victory was secured, King Mamloch appointed Rathke Archduke Regent of the Eldrich region.
Archduke Regent: Garros Rathke – formerly man at arms for Palos Mamloch and Krysher Mamloch, his status and his house were elevated through decree in appreciation for conquering the Eldrich region. He is a quiet and contemplative man. His best fighting days are behind him yet he remains a virile and active leader. Always considered ambitious, his appetite for power has been tempered by his intellect. To this point he has understood that greatness could be achieved through proper servitude and so, he has served his king well. He does, however, have a disdain for other courtiers who have been granted power and titles through deeds and actions he deems to be ignoble. His fortress in the north is known as Wrath – a play on his surname – one that he finds more endearing and true to his nature than that of a beast that spends half a life in slumber.
Lady of Wrath: Sabine Rathke – Of noble blood herself, the Lady of Wrath is a cunning woman and an able counselor for Garros. She has always viewed her marriage as a compact and not a romance. She has deftly helped to plot Garros’s course to his current position, assisting him in rising up through the ranks utilizing both her contacts and her guile. Unable to bear children, Sabine encouraged Garros to pursue other relations in order that he attain heirs. Sabine is believed to have facilitated these relationships – and upon the birth of a child she has always taken them as her own driving the consort from the keep.
Man at Arms: Lord Morgan – This warrior’s warrior is a man of few words that lets his blade do the talking. He has been known to cut down men for the smallest of offenses. While this may seem unjust, Lord Morgan is a man of high honor. He will not allow insult to fall on the ears of his lord the Archduke. If that means tearing through an unruly mob of rabble, he sees it as a righteous endeavor and his calling. With Rathke coming to an age which makes him less intimidating than in former days, Morgan has been a means to maintain a level of menace over an army that is comprised of ambitious lieutenants. None dare to stand toe to toe with Morgan. None call him by his first name which has been all but forgotten. Woe unto the man who should dare to dig it up.
Duke: Dravin Rathke – First born son of Garros Rathke. He is the heir to House Wrath. He was schooled in the art of the sword by his father from a very young age. He is deadly with blade weapons and is feared on the field of battle. While his station sets him above Lord Morgan, he serves by the side of his father’s man, appreciating the relationship the two men have cultivated over the decades. Standing taller than his father, he is wiry and fast of foot, allowing his reach and speed to compensate for the raw brutality he failed to inherit from Garros. He has studied history and diplomacy at the knee of his mother, making him her equal in matters political.
Dutchess: Ciara Rathke – Daughter to Garros Rathke, but nothing like her father. She abhors violence and has chosen to engage in the crystal arts. She is a capable conduit and advises her father and his lieutenants on matters of the arcane. Raised in Valant within the compound of the Jury Arcanum, she is almost a stranger to her family. She was basically raised by Desdamona and has only recently followed the family to the north to assist in the administration of the upper plains alongside her father and mother. It is assumed that at some point she will assume a place on the Jury Arcanum and it has bred within her mother a sense of confusion where it concerns Ciara’s loyalties. Sabine loves Ciara dearly, but fears that her allegiance to the Jury Arcanum may supersede her loyalty to their house. While Sabine would wish to see Ciara married off to Rabourn Mamloch, to strengthen the ties that bind the crown to Garros, she fears that her daughter is already wed to the Jury Arcanum.
Baron: Lucien Rathke – Second born son to Garros Rathke, Lucien has always seen himself as little more than an insurance policy for his father and more importantly his mother. There is no love loss between the two – Lucien referring to her as frigid. Lucien has been a dutiful son, doing as he has been asked but no more. The spitting image of his father, the old man is endeared to him. He is an able fighter and a favorite amongst his father’s lieutenants with whom he consorts in drink and debauchery. Having served House Rathke as emissary to the Consortium, Lucien is shrewd in all matters commerce – and is thus an asset to his father in this capacity.
House Kilwik – We Are The Harvesters
OVERVIEW: House Kilwik, also know as harvest house, is a small feudal house in the southeastern upper plains. While they fall under the dominion of lands ruled over by Archduke Garros Rathke, they do not answer to him. Their lands have been set aside by the crown in Valant as the south is dependent upon them for grain and other food items that are a necessity to feed a large city. They are led by Lord Wilmer Kilwik, a wealthy member of the consortium and a favorite courtier of Krysher Mamloch. It is believed that Garros Rathke holds him in disdain, but such assertions have never been made in public. Despite the constant upheaval that has been the history of the upper plains, Kilwik has managed to build up a small town (also named after him) of expert farmers around the fertile lands he holds claim over.
Lord Wilmer Kilwik – A rotund man in his middle age, Kilwik is always impeccably dressed and perfumed. Using the vast riches accumulated from the land, Wilmer Kilwik hired up swords from the surrounding towns. This spreading of his wealth kept desperate men from engaging in nefarious acts – and secured peace and prosperity for House Kilwik. Paying off his potential adversaries is viewed by some as genius and others as cowardice. Regardless of the opinions of other members of the court or the consortium, Kilwik has managed to make a success of himself and has kept the kingdom well fed for many years. He has ingratiated himself to both friend and potential foe, no small feat.
Lady Olivia Kilwik – A decade older than her husband. She is a large and homely woman who is often ridiculed publicly and referred to as the calf of House Kilwik. She is the youngest daughter of Forn Hamish, a baron in the Mamloch court who owns a large estate in lands just outside of Valant. It is believed that Wilmer married her because it was economically expedient – not that Olivia cares a wit. She has seen her wealth rise above that of her own father’s and seen her husband’s star rise within the court of Mamloch. She is content to indulge in the fineries of her husband’s wealth, snatching up young suitors through her purse just as readily as her husband takes whores.
Sir Palos Kilwik – The sole child borne of the marriage between Wilmer and Olivia, an effort derived of duty versus affection. His very name is an overt homage meant to placate the crown. He has been living in Valant since he was a child, studying at the Consortium to one day take his father’s place. He has no desire to return to Kilwik, considering it a desolate and muddy waste, devoid of culture and class. Palos Kilwik can be found at all of the most lavish events occurring in Valant, more often than not accompanied by his manservant and companion Jadis Locke.
Lady Mari Annette Kilwick – Sister to Wilmer Kilwik. She was a conduit of extraordinary power that studied under the Conduit Sage Sandar, a man of skills rivaled only by Desdamona herself. Accused of heresy, she is believed to have been murdered fifteen years ago by order of the Jury Arcanum. She was tried in absentia of having infused living and dead tissue of both human and animal subjects with crystalline artifacts in a practice forbidden by the Jury Arcanum. A judgment of guilt was rendered by Desdamona and her colleagues. After her conviction, Wilmer declared Mari Annette’s title null and void by official decree and firmly stated to the king and his court, that he had disowned his sister and would reimburse the Jury Arcanum for all costs related to her capture. Mari Annette was hunted and apprehended by agents of the Jury and upon her capture was put to death by fire in an event later called The Cleansing. All conduits subsequently accused and convicted of similar offenses have been dealt with in this manner.
Commander Tobias Creed – To most creed is simply a master thief and assassin. To Wilmer Kilwik, however, he is guardian of the house. Creed has used his contacts within the lands surrounding Kilwik to secure an able and capable fighting force to defend the interests of his master. Whether thieves or brutes, Creed has access to the men necessary to see a job done. Creed has managed to secure a reputation as a cutthroat’s cutthroat by being generous with his master’s coin. House Kilwik considers it money well spent so long as their agendas are first and foremost. Creed is fiercely loyal to Wilmer and Olivia and will do whatever needs to be done in order that his fortunes not fade with them. It would be wise to be careful in your dealings with Tobias Creed, he is a man that does not suffer fools or betrayal.