The Eternal Claws is on first glance a trading company that has monopolized the trade route between Dalath and the rest of Unther for many centuries. In secret it is a house for agents of Maladraedior; the Millennium Wyrm, and is used by him to gather information and magic and help destabilize Unther with the ultimate goal of removing Gil-Geamesq from power.
The Eternal Claws was established as a trading company 6 centuries ago by the then An-Ulae households of Gil-Dalg-Surn, Drom-Misq, and Gir-Vel-Ish. Since that time it has offered its services to whichever Freeholder houses rent power in Dalath and has monopolized the trade route as a result.
Its creation and success has been entirely orchestrated by the Millennium Wyrm who has instructed the Freeholder houses in Dalath to utilize the trading company almost exclusively.
Headquarters: Dalath, The Circle
Members: 35 Fusse (Points), 200+ caravan guards
Hierarchy: Layered (new caravan guards are hired on a regular basis and at the discretion of any of the Points, new Points can only be appointed at the Circle).
Leader: The Eternal Claws are outwardly ruled by a council made up of the elders of the Freeholder houses of Dalath and at least an equal number of the most senior and long serving Points of the Eternal Claw (there is always a minimum of 5 members of the council). In truth the Points and the Freeholder elders serve Maladraedior (the Millennium Wyrm), who attends meetings through a magical device of his own making.
Secrecy: Medium. The outward activities of The Eternal Claw (transporting goods to and from Dalath) are well known, the secret activities serving Maladraedior directly are known only to the Points.
Symbol: An elongated hand pointing upwards with clawed fingers extended upwards.
The Eternal Claws is a trading company that is run by a council who meet regularly to determine buying and selling policy, membership, and other activities. The council is made up of a number of the most senior caravan masters (known as Points) plus the leaders of the Freeholder houses of Dalath.
All of the members of the council are picked by the secret patron of the company; Maladraedior, when existing caravan masters are lost, Maladraedior instructs the council who to elevate to the newly vacant position (the elders of the Freeholder houses are also picked by Maladraedior). New Points are recruited by the council as needed from those with experience. The Points are responsible for hiring staff for their caravans.
Promotion within the organization depends upon experience. Caravan guards are usually not selected to become Points unless they have experience of being a caravan master. Points are elevated to the council based on vacancies, their own experience, their personality traits, and their loyalty to The Eternal Claws.
Dogma / Motivation / Goals
The public goal of The Eternal Claws is to make a profit from transporting metal ore and gemstones from Dalath to the markets at Unthalass and Messemprar (and occasionally other settlements inside Unther or even Chessenta and Mulhorand).
In secret the goal of the organization is determined entirely by Maladraedior, with the long-term aim of destroying Gil-Geamesq. Maladraedior directs the council to gather information from the various trade centres in and around Unther, secure items of interest, and hire 3rd parties (usually adventurers) to accomplish specific goals.
The major goals of the Eternal Claws are to ensure the poor quality metal from Dalath is available at cheap prices throughout Unther (prioritizing military market first) but in low quantities, ensuring that other metal providers are priced out of the market, and that any weapons and armour manufactured from this metal will quickly break under combat stress conditions. In this way Maladraedior seeks to limit the combat capabilities of Unther’s armed forces.
To keep up the pretense of the low quantity and quality of metal coming from Dalath, The Eternal Claws are responsible for ensuring unrest strikes regularly and is suppressed quickly to ensure that the settlement is too chaotic for inspection of the mines and to deter investment in the area.
Membership / Recruiting
The Eternal Claws hire caravan guards from any available source (including from Chessenta, Mulhorand, and the Vilhon Reach). The recruitment of these staff are at the discretion of the individual Points to man the caravans they are responsible for, but generally the Points hire guards that are capable but not ambitious or suspicious.
The Points are recruited from experienced caravan masters (the good rates and excellent reputation of this trading company are enough to sway most caravan masters. Generally prospective Points are only hired if they have a disdain of Gil-Geamesq and the government of Unther.
The Eternal Claws’ most powerful ally is that of Maladraedior himself who is a wyrm of advanced age, size, and capabilities. Unfortunately Maladraedior is confined to caverns beneath the Smoking Mountains, however, if the Millennium Wyrm were ever to be free of his imprisonment then The Eternal Claws would have a powerful ally at their disposal.
The Fire Drakes: The Fire Drakes are a secret and subversive group within the slaves of Dalath, they are secretly manipulated by The Eternal Claws leadership and so in extreme circumstances may be manipulated into aiding The Eternal Claws indirectly or directly.
The Free Unther Movement: The Eternal Claws are secretly supplying the Free Unther Movement with iron to ensure Messemprar’s rebellion endures. The iron is supplied to the Esba-Tahar of the North, but large quantities are treated to appear of very poor quality, these loads are then discarded into the river mouth (where the river meets the sea), where it is picked up by agents of the Free Unther Movement. Dama is aware of the intentional subterfuge by The Eternal Claw (although his allied gladiators are not) and will come to the aid of it’s agents if requested.
Amazzan (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 4): Amazzan is the clan elder of the An-Ulae house of Kalm-Arak. He is much younger than Ungorer, at only 39 years of age and although he respects the man’s skill at politics, he would prefer a younger rival he can relate to (he also finds Ungorer’s lack of trust in magic disturbing).
Ganafar (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 4): Ganafar truly believes Maladraedior is a god in the manner of the godkings of the Mulan (he is not a student of history and so is not aware of the longstanding enmity between Unther and dragons). He is constantly seeking an audience with Maladraedior and has erected a temple in the tunnels beneath Dalath in the hopes of attracting Maladraedior to it so he can worship him. He hopes to convert likeminded people to worship Maladraedior as the embodiment of magic, but so far has only found interest from other dragon cultists who also happen to be members of the Cult of the Queen of Chaos.
Halmashir (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Warrior 5): Halmashir is the best warrior in the Eternal Claws, he often provides basic training to any newly hired guards to ensure they have skills enough to survive. He is fearsome in battle but otherwise possesses no head for tactics, preferring just to attack the nearest foes until none are left. Halmashir is known for his favourite sword (of western design, a longsword) which can be hurled at a foe and returns to his hand. He is often found in the tunnel complex beneath Dalath guarding Ganafar during the construction of a makeshift temple to the Millennium Wyrm.
Samanaki (Neutral, Human, Mulan, Warrior 3): A grizzled, veteran caravan master of 13 years experience who was recently appointed to be one of the senior Points of The Eternal Claws. He is confident and capable in battle and has been appointed specifically for his combat knowledge in order to help with the rebellion of Messemprar (it was his idea to ship tainted ore to the Untheric army in the north and discard it for the rebels to find).
Ungorer (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Expert 3): Ungorer is the clan elder of the An-Ulae house of Ram-Ahir-Esh. He is a wizened man of some 53 years who is more than capable of the subterfuge and trickery required of one of the elders of Dalath. Ungorer is devoted to serving Maladraedior and ending the rule of Gil-Geamesq.
Zineqar (Evil, Human – Mulan, Expert 7): The most senior Point in The Eternal Claws has been a caravan master for nearly 4 decades. He is cunning, mistrustful, and ambitious, and is one of the few people to have met Maladraedior in person. Despite his selfish personality he recognizes that the Millennium Wyrm is his best chance for survival in Unther (because he is an escaped slave). When Gil-Geamesq and his rule is ended then, and only then, Zineqar may betray Maladraedior for another.
Spheres of Influence
Unther: Unther is the region of primary concern to The Eternal Claw, all its other activities are pursued with the end goal of ultimately destroying Gil-Geamesq and ending the rule of the god-kings.
Dalath: Within Dalath The Eternal Claws are concerned with maintaining the illusion that the mines are running dry and the Freeholder houses are doing their best to ensure that demand is met. The slaves are regularly incited (at least every decade) to rebel to keep the frontier reputation that Dalath has, and keep inspections and investment low so that the authorities ignore Dalath as long as metal and gems are supplied.
The Eternal Claws leave caches of weapons and information on caravan movements, government inspectors, and guard shift patterns in abandoned buildings on the outskirts of Dalath marked with a particular sign (that sign changes with every rebellion). These caches allow the Fire Drakes to help free slaves and cause unrest and ultimately rebel against their enslavement. When the rebellion is squashed and all the slaves are slaughtered, new slaves that escape will find a marked cache (which will become the mark to identify the location of new caches) and the cycle will repeat.
The Eternal Claws have access to 200 capable warriors who are armed and equipped well enough to take on a moderate threat (not a well trained military force, but bandits and criminals should pose no threat).
Hidden in the caverns adjoining the Shrine of the Fire Smith are hundreds of weapons and items of cultural, magical, or commercial significance. These items are meant to equip heroes that will ultimately be used to depose and slay Gil-Geamesq and establish a new order in Unther, but if events threaten The Eternal Claw and its goals then they may be unveiled early.
The Eternal Claw: This claw is a metallic replica of a miniature dragons claw with steel blue skin, it is the symbol of the trade organization and is used at every council meeting of the trade company. Only the holder of The Eternal Claw may speak at a council meeting, and must relinquish it to the table once he has finished.
The claw appears to be little more than a symbol, however, Maladraedior is aware of any conversation made in the claw’s presence and whenever he desires he can speak through the holder of the claw and thus direct The Eternal Claw to do his bidding.
The claw is enchanted with multiple layers of protection to hide its magical nature from any trying to detect it.