The Kelashan Clans
Though most of the original eighteen clans are gone, a few survive, and a great deal of newcomers have managed to carve out a piece of Kelasho.
“You claim to be immune to pain, human. You claim to be an idol. You claim many things, including that you will kill me when you escape. I do not tell you the following to cause you pain. I tell you so that when your twisted spirit finds some new host, in some other district, you will remember that it was the Kraleth that took your head from its body. If you are lucky, you will hold the answers I seek in your skull. If you are not, I will see you again, no doubt, in some other incarnation.”
Kraleth, Warlord and Warlock-Queen
The Kralethi are the least numerous of the Greater Clans, holding only a series of tall towers in the far northwest of Kelasho, on the upper floors. Though they do not hold an entire floor in their control, and often need to negotiate with other Clans for their food and other supplies, the Kralethi have an economic and physical stranglehold on the use of magic in the district. If one of the clans suddenly recieves a shipment of wands, an exotic new potion that drives their warriors into a killing frenzy, or an unnaturally warped warrior whose blood is laced with some unnatural power, the Kralethi were certainly involved. Their warlock-queen, Kraleth, is an intensely scarred Grey Orc who is rumored to keep monsters sealed away in her towers, bleeding them for the ingredients she uses in her magic and keeping them half-alive with that same fell power. The Kralethi are secretive and not numerous, but have earned their right to the Greater Clan title merely through the power they have brought to bear against those that have challenged them, including a field of icy, black tendrils that ripped apart a dozen hardened warriors in a display that is still whispered about to this day.
“This is Govak territory. You show us your scars or you turn around. Best part of the district is up this staircase, and you only get in if you’ve paid your way in blood. Try to walk past me, I’ll put you in the ground. If you get past me, well…remember that some of us get guard duty because others aren’t willing to talk. At all.”
Ged, Gorvak’mal checkpoint guard
The Gorvak’mal can easily be argued to be the largest and most prosperous of the surviving Kelashan clans. Unlike many of the others, the Gorvak trace their lineage directly back to the original eighteen, and have an elaborate oral and poetic history concerning the evolution of the clan, the inheritance of the many internal political positions the Gorvak entertain, and a rich series of songs concerning great historical deeds. As far as orcish clans go, the Gorvak are remarkably cosmopolitan, noble and refined. Unfortunately, the long tenure of exposure to The City and its complexities means that they absorbed the worst habits of human and elven nobility as well. The Gorvak are racially exclusionary, accepting only full and half-blooded orcs. They refuse to allow humans or any smaller race into their territory as anything other than servants. Exceptions are made for giants and the goblin races, who are considered (lesser) kin to the orcs, worthy of respect and protection, along with a helping of pity and condescension. The Gorvak lifestyle involves vying for duels with higher-ranking orcs, collecting a reasonable coterie of servants, and avoiding actually doing any of the work that is required to keep Gorvak control over the center of Kelasho. Their leader, known as the Warlord-Captain, is selected through a massive bidding process resulting in a single-elimination tournament. This is practically yearly and considered the highest form of entertainment in the district. Gorvak clansmen are easily recognized by their heavy plate armor and the expectation everyone stay out of their way.
“Hear me, little mites, for these are the last words you will hear before the shaking begins! We have brought the drums. Cover your little ears, curl up, and perhaps you will still be intact enough to die to steel instead!”
Movel, Dandar War-chanter
Some of the orcish clans that were broken by the advent of the Peace Bells did not take their losses quietly. Chief among those are the Dandar’rak, a clan who once entertained the most skilled tacticians and warlords among the original eighteen. Chief among those warlords are the War-chanters, individuals who drill their subordinates endlessly in recognizing the musical shifts of drumming and chanting which direct their armies in combat. Though the original practice of this art hasn’t seen a battlefield for well over a century, smaller instances still allow the clan bearing its original name to carve out a considerable part of upper Kelasho. Though there has been no real refinement of the art, the current Warlord of the Dandar, an enigmatic figure named Omod is somewhat of a visionary, directing those creatures under his control (clansmen are accept from all races, strangely enough) through the use of a massive drumming complex hidden in the walls of Kelasho. This secret chamber is well-hidden, and even the Ladrigal Hearth hasn’t been able to trace the brass pipes they use for piping their rapport of instructions back to its source. Because of this give and take, the Dandar are terribly difficult to organize against, and apparently prescient in their knowledge of events elsewhere in the district. It has been rumored that the Dandar are obsessed with the Peace Bells as the highest refinement of their art, and that they have funded and devoted resources to anyone willing and capable of investigating The City’s magic.
“An orc is an animal. It cannot be tamed, only caged. Certainly it may pretend for a time to be cured of its nature, socialized, peaceful even. These are just a muzzle, a blinder, a leash placed there by The City. I am offering, my brother, to remove all those impediments, to return to you your birthright.”
Andaran, Daizeki Philosopher
Though the Gorvak’mal are the undeniable champions of combat in the wide-open hallways and gathering rooms of central Kelasho, if you ask any clansman in the districts, they will tell you that they would gladly face an organized formation of armored Gorvak than a single Daizeki in the back hallways of the district.
Immediately distinguished by their elaborate red and white tattoos, the Daizeki are berserkers, madmen and, strangely enough, a few philosophers who comprise a clan that holds little to no territory in the district, but is still referred to as a Lesser Clan. The Daizeki do not organize, do not gather and are ambivalent about the vying for territory that goes on between the rest of the clans. Each of the Daizeki has a greater goal in sight: honing and taming the anger that burns in each of them. They wander the district, forcing most clansmen with any sense out of the passages they stride, each seeking something specific, something to raise the boiling blood they contain. Daizeki have been known to intervene in conflicts that were not their own, benevolently, malevolently or for reasons they can’t even articulate. Daizeki are reactionary, unpredictable and extremely dangerous.
Shavraythali (Shavray, or just “The Sha”
“I had not thought it would go like this, sister, but I am glad. This is the best life we could have hoped for, if the Exodus would not have us. Among our people we were exiles. We are exiles no longer. We are home.”
The other Clans are frequently frustrated with the obstinate nature and good fortune of the Shavraythalai. Early in the district’s history, a massive fire lead to the one and only (known) use of the city’s defense against uncontrollable firestorms. The result of that defense was a chunk of the central, southern Kelasho district being permanently frozen. Poor communication between the parties involved in making the decision to freeze the district means that water had already been deployed (ineffectively) to fight the fires. These freezing, expanding hallways of water cracked walls and buried entire rooms (drowned inhabitants included) in snow and beautiful, glittering ice. Though a few cursory attempts were made to reclaim the unnaturally frozen sector, they were mostly unsuccessful until the Shavrathali twins appeared. The ice-elf twins that would become the leaders of their nascent clan set to the work of building homes and tunnels in the ice, tunnels now rife with traps and slippery dead-ends. It is said that the Shavraythalai even have tunnels that lead out of the district, and a vast, hidden ice mine where they seek the source of the ancient inferno that claimed Kelasho. An inferno that rumor says wasn’t killed by the ice, merely buried.
Vee stopped with his hand on the secret door, not yet pushing the stone hinges inward to the usually abandoned hallway beyond. Keeping the door closed barely helped, though. He could smell death, though if it was an actual corpse or merely one of the Cordys he couldn’t say. Carefully, slowly, he slid the stone door open far enough so that one eye could see who was shifting in the passage beyond. There it was, probably half-orc at one point, but the sickening, fungal growth that grew like a hunch on the creature’s back meant that it was lost to whatever species it once had. The Cordys wasn’t the source of the smell however. It was merely dragging off the corpse that one of the Clans’ skirmishes had left behind, probably some new warrior that crawled in this back space to die. Good. If the Cordys had smelled that bad, Vee considered he would already have been dead.
All districts have their lowest class, and Kelasho is no exception. The Cordys fill that role, and the other clans tolerate their existence and shuffling about on the grounds of pity, disgust or genuine nausea. The Cordys are unhygienic to say the least, mostly because the clan is widely distinguished by the lumpy, fungal growths that its members cultivate on their bodies. Cordys spend most of their time hauling off refuse, especially organic refuse, including corpses, and formulating rumors about what they do with all that junk is practically the district past-time. Rumors range from secret trade agreements with Rast to growing mushrooms on the corpses to the corpses actually being the new members of the Cordys. Nobody is totally sure why anyone would join this disguisting clan, except maybe for their excellent job security, or the fact they are said to deal in the hallucinogenic herb known as Skribbane.
“By this notice let it be known to the district of Kelasho that the syndicate of the Beetle Court of Avadeen that previously operated on this level is now declared Criminal by the Enforcers of Kelasho for trading in materials sufficient to threaten the stability of the district. Come and ask questions about it if you want and can act polite. If anyone swings by and whines that they’re getting hunted in the streets like dogs, or that you have to go to the Cordys for Skribbane, you’ll lose my sympathy. And a few teeth.”
An Official Public Announcement of Criminality in the District of Kelasho
Though the Aker Syndicate started out as a perfectly legal trading post, run by the Beetle Court, a consortium of traders and landowners in Avadeen, access to these exotic goods rapidly became a contentious issue for Kelasho. The Syndicate originally had permission to set themselves up in Govak territory, but when the Govak’mal tried to annex (and thereby repossess the goods of) their tenants, the Syndicate rapidly relocated to a secondary site at ground level. The secondary site turned out to be much more defensible, and the iron bars, poisonous crossbows and other vicious implements that protected the Syndicate allowed them to secure a small amount of territory from much larger, predatory clans. In the process of defending themselves, though, the Syndicate turned out to be slightly too proactive, not wholly understanding Kelasho’s Rules concerning mutual consent to violence, and taking the opportunity to assassinate several highly-placed clansmen who were calling for the Syndicate’s destruction. The Enforcers, perhaps in an acknowledgement of public sentiment, declared the Syndicate Criminal.
That was months ago.
The Syndicate continues to exist, doggedly defending the long, dead-end hallway that contains its storefront. What means they are using to acquire food, or the plethora of goods they offer, is still uncertain. What is certain is that they are not thrilled with their Criminal status, and now actively court the ambivalent Enforcer Prime to have their citizenship returned.
Blue Glass Gang
“‘No Poison.’ the Enforcers say. Haven’t made my living by listening, and we’re not about to start. There are other places you can go if you’re looking for venom, or a fight, or food. If you want a good, stiff drink, though, you’ll come to us.”
Beeble, Blue Glass Runner
From the eponymous blue bottles that they manufacture to the fact that every drunkard in the district bears their handiwork, the Blue Glass Gang is, short of the occasional import from Periad or Vale, the only reliable source of alcohol within the entire district of Kelasho. This makes them very, very popular individuals. Even the Kralethi have been known to deal amiably with the Blue Glass Gang on a regular basis, both for glassware and high-proof alcohol. Their gang is split into Runners, who handle transportation, Brewers, who handle production, and Glassmen, whose only purpose is keeping an effective trade relationship with all other Clans. Somewhat strangely, the Blue Glass Gang has had very few negative or confrontational interactions with any of the other Clans, except for one. The Enforcers, citing an ancient law concerning the use of poison in inter-clan conflict, have been on the tails of the Blue Glass Gang for both production and smuggling of illegal alcohol for far too long. Nobody seems to take the conflict really seriously anymore, and most Kelashan Enforcers use the law as an excuse to confiscate booze more than they do as a matter of principle.