The King-Slayer Crew
Basic: The Personal Guard and the Hand-picked Enforcers of the Kristoff King-slayer; masters of stealth, death-dealing and covertcy.
Symbol: A black feather splotches of crimson.
History: The King-Slayer Crew arrived upon the streets and the ports the Labyrinthium without warning but their arrival was marked with blood and intrigue that still lingers to this day. To most folk, the earliest Crew activity was 30 years ago. But those who have made deep study of Labyrinthium’s sordid past believe that the Kristoff’s faction has been active for longer than that, although the chaotic history of the Vicious City does not easily permit through investigation.
The Crew itself is tight-lipped about its background and its activities. Loose lips and wagging tongues are qualities that can get someone killed in and by the Crew. There have been no reports of those who have left the Crew’s service – they are either very good at hiding or they are no longer living.
Current: The King-Slayer Crew is said to number a few hundred operatives in Labyrinthium and across Midworld. Each is hand-picked by the King-Slayer himself and has access to resources and skills that have been kept secret from the rest of the world.
The Crew’s business is likewise kept in shadows and whispers. Among the Labyrinthium, it is said that “there is power in a secret” and the King-Slayer Crew has great power indeed. Their motives are unknown but their methods are as swift as they are brutal. Those who cross the Crew can expect quick retribution.
On the other hand, those who earn the Crew’s favor can expect great reward.
Leadership: The King-Slayer is the undisputed leader of the King-Slayer Crew and of the Labyrinthium himself. Hundreds of informants and spies across Midworld answer to him and he is possessed of power great enough to match the secrets that he holds.
It is said that he holds the Vicious City in the palm of his hand not through sovereignty or through mandate – but through fear and through knowledge. In this way is he different than most other rulers. He is no lion that rules the savanna or tiger that rules the jungle; he is the spider that rules his web. Every whispered secret is spoken to his ear and every deal made is done in his presence. He is in full control of the Labyrinthium and the result of that is murderous, chaotic Anarchy.
And that’s just the way he likes it.
Special: Membership in this Power Group requires approval and discussion with Staff members.
The Qabbalim or the Cabalist’s Convocation
Basic: A dark alliance of cults and cabals that have united beneath the leadership of three powerful magic users: a Priest, a Witch and a Sorcerer.
Symbol: A bronze gate made of writhing serpents over a dark field.
History: The Qabbalim are descended from a group of scholars and magic-users that delved the depths of the Inthium ruin, looking for powerful magics. Their numbers were rostered by the Sorcerers and Witches notorious for their exploits and for their lust for knowledge and power. Their muster included:
· Bergauld the Bone-thief, a heretic Priest from the Riverfolk,
· Maravalarien, a Gemling Shadowsoul exiled from Ixia for the pursuit of forbidden magics,
· Dretherac the Ember-storm, a Shaedling Doom-weaver pursued by at least three Stone Clans for stealing their secrets and their relics.
The maze-ruins of Inthium were so named for the Demon Gate of the same name that lay buried amid the tumbled pillars and crumbled buildings of the site. The Qabbalim’s ancestors encountered the nightmarish beasts that were drawn to the dark powers of the ruins and the eternal guardians of the Wyrdic Empire that were set to ward it for eternity.
To this end, they recruited several mercenary armies and bolstered them with powerful magic. The Inthium ruins consumed the armies completely, breaking them in mind and body for all their vaunted numerical superiority.
Undeterred by their first major set-back, the Qabbalim’s ancestors hired two Grellken Clans, the Bone-eaters and the Long-horns, to advance into the ruins slowly. The Magic-users went with their armies – with their cunning and the Grellken’s muscle, they defeated every obstacle they encountered. The inert Demon Gate devoured the souls of many a Magic-User and at least half of the Grellken, but Dretherac’s stolen knowledge prevailed. They invoked the ancient Gods that Bergauld had discovered from his studies of the Ruin and bound the Gate’s power to their will… so long as they paid in sacrifice and in worship to these Ruinous Divinities.
The Spell-Tower of Inthium rose quickly and steadily from the force of the stolen magic, the sacrifices of the Grellken thralls. The power and the greed of the Qabbalim was ever hungry, however – and new slaves were in constant demand. The servitors of the Spell-tower enslaved the surrounding Free Tribes and sent out a call for more thralls, paying in Talismanry, Spells or the relics found in the ruin. Several shanty towns formed at the fringes of the Qabbalim’s territory, a sanctuary for the castoffs and outlaws of the other Kingdoms and a place of shelter against the horrors of the sea and the predators of the jungle. Pirates and Slavers began to use these towns as safe harbors and as places to deal with the enigmatic residents of the Inthium tower.
A hundred years ago, the Qabbalim condescended toward the creation of a massive port city at the base of the Tower. This city, named for the labyrininth of Inthium, absorbed the surrounding shanty towns and served as the true place of acquisition for those whose interests ran in the dark and in the forbidden. Everything was allowed and nothing was prohibited, attracting merchants and guilds from every Kingdom to the Vicious City.
The Inthium Spell-tower’s rule was not absolute however. The construction of the city was too costly and the slaver and pirate allies that aided them in its construction attempted to wrest it from their hands.
This war raged on for decades, rising and falling its intensity. Alliances and pacts were made and broken as both sides bickered against each other and within themselves. It reached its climax when a massive number of slaves revolted, aflame in desperate fury and possessing superior numbers to every other faction in the city.
When the King-slayer’s ships sailed into the harbor, everything changed once more. His agents moved quickly, coercing each faction to alliance or beheading them – many believe that Kristoff sent his operatives into the Vicious city decades before and played each organization against each other.
The Priests of the Qabbalim discovered that their Gods favored the dark ways of the King-slayer and they urged the Sorcerers and the Witches of their Order toward alliance with Kristoff. In the end, the forces of the King-slayer and the magic of the Qabbalim could not be denied.
Current: A string of usurpations and internal feuding weakened the Order from within as various powerful and influential members attempt to seize power over their brethren. As of the current state of the Qabbalim, the Vigil-Priests hold the reins of the Order.
Despite the conflict that rages within their Spell-Tower, the Qabbalim continue their research of the Inthium Gate and to seek out similar Gates across Midworld. They have discovered at least two other Gates, but have yet to take control of them because of the Guardian forces that ward them.
Some believe that the alliance with the King-slayer will surely end when the Qabbalim controls the strength of another Demonic Gateway.
Leadership: The Vigil-Priests hold the reins of the Qabbalim and their speaker is the Favored Son, the Grand-Harbinger of the Children. It is through Diabolic machination and Demoniac power that he maintains his stranglehold upon the workings of the Spell-Tower. It is believed that the Favored Son is or was Human, but he is never seen without the shrouding vestments of his Vigil and the crawling pestilence that hides his flesh – an homage to the Dark Mother whom he serves.
However, the Favored Son’s dictums go rarely unchallenged. Despite the Vigil-Priests’ apparent surpemacy, two individuals continue to hold great power and influence over the Order. One of these is Maravalarien*, who has evaded assassin, poison and mishap throughout the long passing of years. While she is focused mainly on the study of the Inthium Gate and the channeling of its warping energies, it is known that she and the rest of her portion of the Spell-tower pose a grave threat to the Vigil-Priests through sheer force of might alone.
The other is a Grey Witch by the name of Kritek of the Thousand Teeth. Formerly of the Grellken Clans, Kritek joined the Qabbalim in enslaving his kin and rose through the ranks through sheer mercilessness and bloodthirstiness. Many who have tried to kill him have failed and he wears a tooth from each would be assassin or executioner he has ever faced. Minotaurs, Trolls and Witches follow his lead in fear and in bloodlust. If there is any indication of a sudden surge of bloodshed in the Inthium Tower, Kritek will be in the midst of it.
Update (1/1/2017): Maravalarien has been missing for several months now and is presumed dead. Kritek and the Favored Son now share the leadership of the Qabbalim.
The League of Guilders
Basic: The League of Guilders (sometimes called the Alliance of Guilders) is a powerful conglomerate of guilds that have banded together for protection and for profit. They are leagued under the leadership of a League-moot but the strength of their enforcers and their informants are a force to be reckoned with.
Symbol: A golden Ship Helm or a Cart-Wheel over sea-green or dark-green.
History: The League of Guilders began as a pact of convenience between several Pirates, Slavers, Smugglers and Traders against the Qabbalim. Originally brought together by their service to the Order of Magic-users, they band together to take what they perceive to be theirs: the Vicious City of the Labyrinthium.
Even as they warred against the magic of the Qabbalim, their need for war materiel and manpower forced them to reach out to the rest of Midworld’s miscreants and outlaws, creating contacts and trade-lines that persist into the modern era. Despite the dangers of the Labyrinthium, many continued to risk life and livelihood to conduct trade within the Vicious City’s confines.
The various groups and organizations evolved to call themselves the formal term “Guild” to secure a modicum of respect from the outside world. Although they were outlaws and criminals in other lands, the lawlessness of the Labyrinthium gave birth to a society ordered by the strongest, the fittest and the most influential. The leaders of these would become the Guild Masters of modern Labyrinthium.
The slave revolt was a telling blow upon the Guilder League and one that the Qabbalim could never hope to match. The beginning of the uprising found the skies above the Vicious City darkened with the smoke of a hundred fires – most of whom fed by the ruins of a Guilder holding. The Guilder League attempted to suppress the revolt but was stymied by massive disorganization, Qabbalim interference and internal bickering as more than a few Guilds saw an opportunity to strike at weakened rivals in the chaos.
The King-slayer’s arrival and his pacification of all the factions in the Vicious City actually strengthened the Guilder League; bloodthirsty or stupid Guilds were outmaneuvered and destroyed by the King-slayer. The weakest Guilds were already destroyed by the uprising and their fellow League-members, so only the strong Guilds remained.
Current: In the current era of Midworld, the League of Guilders continues to control a large portion of the Vicious City and its outer holdings, as well as several estates and holdings that are located off-Kingdom. Half of their “business” is conducted upon the seas of Midworld in piratical or mercantile “enterprises” or within other Kingdoms as the League of Guilders operates and finances many illegal activities in other Kingdoms, offering services in smuggling, assassination, kidnapping and information gathering. Many of these activities have legitimate “fronts” that disguise their operations with lawful mercantile facades.
The other half of the League’s business is in conducted in the heart of the Labyrinthium itself, in the sale and purchase of everything and anything, and in the blood-splattered dance for power that has been sung since the beginning of days. The Vicious City sees a constant influx of people and goods and the League maintains this motion as the means to their prosperity. Folk from every corner of Midworld go to the Vicious City to seek that which only the League can provide in exotic goods (unicorn horns, Dragon scales, the blood of an elder Soul-Eater), in specialty personnel (assassins, slaves, craftsfolk) or in specific services (assassinations, high-stakes gambling, poison creation).
That said, the League is always looking to further their interests and operations into other lands, be it Kingdom-held or neutral territory. And the League of Guilders has a penchant for dispensing their services even where they aren’t expected.
Leadership: The League-moot is comprised of the heads of Labyrinthium’s six most powerful Guilds. Currently, they are:
- Caligula the Corpulent (Human) of Silver Necklace Guild (Slavers/Mercenaries)
- Z’aani Garakuul (Minotaur) of the Black Chalice Guild (Assassins/Poisoners)
- Admiral Jonathan James Hook (Human) of the Burning Dawn Guild (Pirates/Smugglers)
- Jack “Coldhands” Corber (Human) of the Shadow Hand Guild (Thieves/Spies)
- Archibeledrazhun (Deepling) of the Steel Serpent Guild (Artificers/Alchemists)
- Varafel Ithilium (Gorgon) of the Red Scales Guild (Money-lenders/Pawn-brokers).
After the dust settled from the King-slayer’s rise to power, it was these six Guilds that held the ruins of the League through influence and intimidation.
These Guilds have found that working together has allowed them to wield strength greater than any other Guild in the Vicious City –to a Guild of the League the decisions of the League-moot are as final as the word of the King-slayer itself.
That is not to say that order is the norm within the League. Despite, the League-moot’s grasp upon the present circumstances of the Labyrinthium, infighting and power fluxes still occur with great frequency. Indeed, there are those that whisper that the League-moot’s hold upon governance is tenuous and that the constant bickering and feuding of the “lesser” Guilds keeps them in control.
Basic: The Unshackled are the brute muscle of the King-slayer Crew and a neutral army for hire within the Vicious City.
Symbol: A black manacle broken into three jagged pieces over red
History: The seeds of the Unshackled were sown after the Inthium Gate was harnessed by the Cabalist’s Convocation and began using slaves in their research and in the building of their structures. This need for slaves blossomed into a ravenous, driving hunger. Hundreds of souls were bound into the stones of the Inthium Spell-Tower by the Bone-Thief, used as sacrifices to the Vigils of the Qabbalim or else used in Maravalarien’s research.
Even after the Spell-Tower’s completion, the Qabbalim and their outlaw allies continued to use slaves as servants, artisans and labor. Certain skills and Races were even prized for certain purposes or by certain preferences.
The wars between the Qabbalim and the Guilds only made things worse for their slaves; the leadership of the factions suffered mainly in resources and pride while their thralls paid for loss and victory with their flesh and blood. Even those slaves that did not fight or were non-combatants did not escape the atrocities of war. Because they were chattel and cost resources to maintain, the preservation of their usage was the only consideration that their masters had with regard to them.
Forty years ago, several slaves began to scheme and organize a revolution that would change the face of the Vicious City forever. Each of these slaves were high-ranking and highly skilled in warfare, warrior-thralls of their masters that had survived and thrived in the horrors of battle.
Cassiopea, the Lioness of Akar,
Pollus Longhorn, a Minotaur formerly of the Grellken,
the Vorgren of the Greytusk, an Ixian Troll,
and Laerta of the Two-Eyes, a Gemling Slave-Sorceress.
These four slaves did more than plan a rebellion, they trained their troops in secret, quietly distributed war materiel and laid the foundations for a new Kingdom with peace and prosperity as its goal.
Few, however, know that they accomplished this task only with the aid of an outside force – a human who called himself the King-slayer. He provided funds for bribes, smuggled arms for the uprising and eliminated the necessary guardians for the revolution’s initial push.
The Unshackled’s revolt turned the tables on the Qabbalim and the Guilds’ private battlefields. The surprise, organization and numbers of the former slaves were mingled with an uncanny awareness of Guild and Qabbalim weaknesses and strengths. For four years, the Unshackled owned the city in all but name, defeating all attempts to dethrone them – victory was all but certain.
But nothing is certain when the King-slayer is involved.
Kristoff the King-slayer arrived with an ill wind and a fully crewed fleet. He dealt with the leaders of the Qabbalim and the Guilds, much as he did with the Unshackled – those he could not intimidate, he deceived and those he could not deceive, he destroyed.
In the end, the Unshackled’s leaders sided with the King-slayer and the revolution was gutted. Most of the survivors were sold back to the Guilds and the Qabbalim for exorbitant amounts of gold, weaponry and magic.
The Unshackled leaders used their new-found power and the strongest of their survivors to become the armies of the King-slayer, ready to march upon Guild, Qabbalim or Kingdom at Kristoff’s command.
As the years passed, their numbers began to swell as they bought promising recruits from the Slaving Guilds and put their neophytes through rigorous training. The Unshackled’s first test was against several tribes of Beastlings that resided deep in the jungles near the Vicious City. The Unshackled’s victory was so absolute that the tribes were completely wiped out with nary a historical note to mark their passing – the Unshackled took to cleansing the jungle of whatever tribes there that still remained, for the King-slayer to claim it as his own.
Internally however, the Unshackled ‘s four leaders rankled at having to share power. They engaged in assassination attempts and other clandestine methods of elimination but it was Pollus Longhorn, great-grandson of Galveus and a wily tactician of the Grellken, who outmaneuvered them all.
Ten years ago, the ex-mercenary implicated Cassiopeia and the other Unshackled leadership (as well as their most loyal supporters) with an plan to surprise attack the King-slayer’s citadel with an army and using forbidden magics. The condemned were executed publicly and their heads adorned the gates and walls of the Vicious City as examples of those who would act against Kristoff.
Despite his part, Pollus received no reward from the King-slayer. In fact, the horns on his left side were broken in a public spectacle that left the Unshackled in a state of disgrace.
Current: The attempt on the King-slayer notwithstanding, the Unshackled continue to serve as the muscle to the King-slayer Crew’s chiurgery blades. When extra bodies or brute force is required, the Unshackled are hired by the Crew to decimate the opposition in shock trooper-style operations while the King-slayer Crew handles the more delicate procedures.
The Unshackled also takes protection and enforcement jobs from lesser Guilds and wealthy individuals. Their status as a third party means that they are preferred by those of the League of Guilds or of the Qabbalim who are afr
aid of betrayal or political problems.
The numbers of the Unshackled grow greater as the years pass, with a moderate preference toward Nightkin soldiery. This lends credence to the rumor that the Kings-slayer intends to build an army as strong on land as the Labyrinthium’s fleets on the sea. The whispered hearsay only turns darker when one connects this demonic army to the research on the Demon Gate beneath the Inthium Spell-Tower.
Pollus Longhorn is the leader of the Unshackled and a true survivor of the Slave Uprising. A minotaur with a long beard and broken left horns, he has a reputation as a schemer, a betrayer and a tactician. Pollus has seen his fortunes rise and fall countless times during his one-hundred eighty years of life. He has been a Chieftain-General, a King among Grellken Mercenaries, and a warrior-slave with only an axe to his name. Long ago, he was the byword among Troll and Minotaurs for loyalty and valor, now his name is synonymous to betrayal and intrigue.
Pollus is a creature of command, radiating a presence that brooks no disobedience from his lessers and attention from his equals. He seems to feel no remorse for anything that he does, although his closest associates would say otherwise. Pollus has had families in the past but these have rarely turned out well for him – currently, he has no children nor kin within the ranks of the Unshackled, except for the occasional bastard child that bears his blood particularly well.