Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: The Clans of Maliph

Ok, after a bit of delay, here are the clans of Maliph and their leaders and all that jazz.  Here's a bit on their interaction with Crux: most in Crux can't tell the difference.  Each clan is more like its own independent power, but Maliphi in Crux will feud and fight one another if they come from different enough clans.  Some clans are actively seeking out war; others are eager to keep trade strong.  Most outsiders can't easily tell them apart and often insult someone out of mistake.  There are also many other Clans in Maliph, these are just the most powerful five, and most easily known.

Maliphi Clans
Clan Dying Tree
Leader: Shah Karim Venomfire
Headquarters: Venomfire Mountains
Languages: Malic, Draconic, Tomish

Shah Karim Venomfire has made his fellow Khans very happy with his management, enough so to have held his position for the last three decades.  He is the current head of Clan Dying Tree, whose interests have always been of a mystical bent.  Karim (Karim being the short form of a much longer draconic name) himself is a Red Dragon born from the union of a Red from Ainesia and one of the many native Blue Dragons of the south.  Above average intelligence for even a Dragon, Karim's control of Venomfire has been noted as one of the best eras for the remote, mountain-bound clan.

The Venomfire Clan grows very rare desert spell and alchemical components, as well as gems of various types that arcane spellcasters find need of.  Still one of least populous of the Clans, Venomfire remains steadfast in Maliph using trade to dominate other nations.  Karim believes that Maliph is on the edge of a new golden age, and is very eager to open new avenues of trade with Ith.

Clan Windwalker
Leader: Sultan Hermesi the Windsong
Headquarters: Abd'Dust
Languages: Malic, Auran, Tomish, Soramese

Clan Windwalker controls the southernmost part of the Maliph coast, including a dozen smaller islands that connect with the jungles of Soram.  It is also home to its own savannah, dominated by massive crocodiles.  The city of Abd'Dust occupies all of its own island off the Maliphate coast.  Prior to Maliph, the area the Clan claims was home to a ancient culture that built its own massive pyramids, all depicting serpentfolk and couatls worshiping air spirits.  Hermesi is one such of those air spirits, who outlived the Serpentfolk who worshipped him.  They went extinct long before Maliph came to be a nation.

Hermesi controls Maliph's trade with Soram.  He coordinates and handles the slave trade from Soram, often using many of them for the grueling labor of refining sugar from sugar cane.  Clan Windwalker dislikes leaving their set of Isles, content with the current status quo.  However, Hermesi remembers past deeds of battle and conquest, as well as of peace.  Being a elder air elemental, he is sometimes tempted to leave, to 'avenge his fallen children,' as he puts it.  But something always manages to keep him from acting on such urges.  For the time being.

Clan Sleeping Lion
Leader: Khan Blackblood
Headquarters: Sandfire
Languages: Malic, Slyvan

Khan Blackblood wanders the deserts of northern Maliph, protecting villages in the north from raiders and other ravages.  She is a fire giant and a werelioness, and most of the Sleeping Lion Clan following her are werelions as well.  Adapted to the harshness of Northern Maliph, Sleeping Lion enjoys using strength to demonstrate a point.  They also ruthlessly slaughter hyenas and werehyenas, often Blackblood uses them as a context to destroy an entire caravan or village.

As Sleeping Lion controls most of the northern trade routes, it uses it to leverage a form of a protection racket for anyone trying to cross the Rruk Wastes.  Sleeping Lion dislikes most outsiders, believing that the greatest failure of Nephillim was that he didn't conquer all of the world.  Sleeping Lion pushes Karim constantly to go to war, to finally show Othebea or Soram who is dominant.  Karim and the other Khans keep rebuffing her, quick to use her anger to keep her from building a coalition powerful enough to start a war.

Clan Sun Rose
Leader: Khan Afra Dustbone
Headquarters: Ramlwind
Languages: Malic, Auran, Ignan, Old Tomish

Clan Sun Rose boasts with pride that it has one of the few only human of Khans, descended directly from Nephillim himself, ruling from atop the sacred mesa Akilahakram.  It is only here that the mystical flower called the sun rose grows, whose blossoms were central to the Oracle ways that Nephillim himself practiced.  Sun roses carry with them power of elemental beings far older than the faith of the Twins or the Wolf-Mother.  Properly prepared, sun rose tea grants oracular visions and mystic telepathic energy.  Like many other mystic spices in Maliph, it carries a steep price in foreign markets.

Afra Dustbone and the rest of Clan Sun Rose support Karim's vision of further trade expansion for Maliph as a whole.  However, Dustbone dislikes the emphasis on greed that the peace the trade won has carried with it.  She lives an ascetic life, firm in her conviction that Maliph needs to adapt some changes from Ainesia, including the abolition of slavery and more democratic government.  She is quiet to voice such opinions, but Clan Sun Rose provides sanctuary to many foreign revolutionaries eager to try and spread the Revolution into Maliph, as well as representatives of other, more controversial ideas.

Clan Scarred Pheonix 
Leader: Sultana Bast'ara the Young
Headquarters: Aswadsakhr
Languages: Malic, Riddlespeak, Old Tomish, Othish, Rosic

The Sphinx Sultana rules over Clan Scarred Pheonix, her eyes firmly fixed on the Othebean traders that visit her shores.  The city of Aswadsakhr is Maliph's major that deals in trade with Othebea.  Othebean ships always flock to the city's bazaars.  Bast'ara gives very little to the Othebeans, her opinion low of them despite her devout faith to the Summer Rose.  Her mother had been sent to Othebea as a ambassador, but was slaughtered in a misunderstanding.  Othebea paid reparations, and the incident happened long enough that no Othebean remembers it.  Bast'ara remembers.

Clan Scarred Pheonix has strong ties to the Twins, but its Native worship of the Summer Rose is more based on an interpretation of Flame, Fire and Youth: children are regarded as sacred, with the wisdom of youth placed above others.  The Sphinx's Palace is built atop a spring that flows out of a massive block of obsidian.  Holy to only people from Aswadsakhr, many Summer Rose faithful in the city claim that the water can halt or reverse aging, as a miracle from the Summer Rose herself.  Othebean representatives of the Church of the Twins try to cast the Aswadsakhr version of the Summer Rose as heretical, making it a ever-growing tense point between the two nations.

Sidebar: The Old Gods of Maliph
Prior the arrival of Malkith, the faiths in Maliph were far more dark, far more diverse.  Djinn and other outsiders had a myriad of worshippers.  Of these, the elemental Gods had the strongest hold.  Alien presences, these gods were more elemental than comprehensible.  Their temples and cults still exist in Maliph, but are unassociated with any specific Khanate.  Most of them find Witches and Oracles that speak for them.

Within Maliph these elemental Witches and Oracles are met with a variety of reactions.  The current Shah has tolerated and even embraced their particular services.  In years past, they had faced some aggression or torture out of superstitious fear.  They remain secretive, although they do perform magical services for the Khans when asked.