As before, it was not to be. Later that same night, the powerful Gem of Althax surged with magick, and we were woken by Althax, a large portal of some sort in the middle of his room. Quickly getting ready, we boldly stepped through it, and found ourselves in a dank sewer. Here, a small number of horrid humanoids with the head and tail of rats set upon us, and we defeated them. The portal closed behind us, revealing the Gem, unscathed. Making our way through the sewer and out, (with some difficulty, due to the manipulations of our new compatriot, Dick) we knew that we were far from home. A moderately large, sprawling city presented itself to us, with large numbers of scaly lizardoids milling about. Soon, we were amazed to see the vast wings of a great Dragon as it landed close to us. Overcoming our initial fright, and assuming that its intent was not hostile, Althax introduced us. The Dragon was golden in hue, vast in size, and well spoken. Its name was Boridarinth, King of Boridari island. We were now on a smaller island nearby this. The Dragon seemed pleased to see us, and must have thought we arrived by design, because he quickly explained to us the "rules" of this place, and then let us be. Apparently, a system of great Clans and Houses operated. The Clans and Houses were mostly rivals, and also fought against a vast indigenous population of ratmen. The system was arbited by the King Boridarinth. Here follows a document the King made available to us:
The laws of Clans and Houses, as set forth by Boridarinth the Dragon
All outsiders to visit the islands must be part of a clan or house, must work directly for a clan or house, or must establish their own clan.
Requirements for Clans:
Each clan must have a clan symbol of a magickal nature, and this must be displayed during any official business
Each clan must have a leader. This leader must have the respect of his men, or must at least be a noble of his homeland
Each clan must have a clan magus. This may or may not be the same person as the clan leader. The clan magus must have considerable skill in wielding heka, or his clan is surely doomed to failure.
Each clan must have a clan weaponmaster. This individual must be accomplished with many weapons, and should accompany the clan leader on official business.
Each clan must have a warrior contingent. This warrior contingent must have a captain or leader of some kind, but the detailed divisions do not affect the status of the clan.
It is strongly recommended that each clan have a clan priest, to deal with inevitable injuries, and to keep heads level. However, this is left up to the individual clan.
Finally, the to be clan must be approved by Boridarinth, and must purchase their clan acceptance coin.
Further requirements needed for clans aspiring to house status:
Such a clan must have a steady mining operation providing a reasonable flow of obsidian and/or other minerals. Whether the flow is sufficient will be determined upon inspection.
Further, the clan must hold at least a small amount of land, and this must be properly defended against invaders.
The warrior contingent of a house shall number at the very least 50 men
A house shall have a clearly defined headquarters to conduct its business from
As a final gesture, the to be house must collect 100 ratmen tails and present these with the other requirements when petitioning for house status
The advantages of a House
Any clan powerful enough to reach house status has already proven that it is resourceful. However, upon reaching such status, a number of benefits accrue.
Determining that Althax was to be the Clan Leader of the newly founded Clan Erathorn, Hallock was to be Captain of the Guard and I was to be Weaponmaster, we completed the formalities, and prepared to set off for the mainland, there to attempt to establish ourselves. Knowledge had come our way of a newly destroyed Clan, the Clan Eagle, which had established a stronghold before being eliminated. It was our intention to travel there to investigate the fortress. Soon indeed a number of undead, lead by an exceptionally well animated individual arrived, threatening us in no uncertain terms that House Morvissen was not pleased with our presence. Sir James here showed his mettle, not in the least phased by the undead horror before us, replying in a like manner that neither were we pleased with their presence. House Morvissen, a house of undead, is the oldest of the houses on the island, and our quarrel with them is as old as our Clan. Indeed, it will not end before one side is no more. We took a boat to the main island, without Althax, who had business to attend to. The journey was hard, for though the land was gentle and flat, frequent settlements of ratmen impeded our progress, due to the innate hostility of these creatures. We finally arrived at the Clan Eagle holdings, far into a narrow valley. Entering the small castle, we were attacked by many undead, but fought well, now accompanied by Althax once again. Yet the sweetness of our eventual victory was muted by the death of Dick. He had bravely thrown himself into the midst of the undead hordes, and had held them at bay long enough for us to gain the upper hand, but had paid the ultimate price, his light leather protection being woefully inadequate against the undead claws. We buried him with the proper ceremony and investigated the castle. Bringing in reinforcements in the form of Prince Jean Paul and Neustrian men-at-arms, we attempted to secure our position. This was most wisely done, for soon after, a vast horde of ratmen, presumably alerted to our presence by our enemies, laid siege to our position. Due to our deadly crossbows and the defensible nature of the castle, we rained constant death upon our enemies, and fought such ones as came to the castle walls with abandon. Our victory would have been total, had not the enemy sent a pack of skeletons, impervious it would seem to our weaponry, onto the main gates. We engaged in a great melee before the doors, and though we defeated this pack of horrors, Hallock in the process was gravely injured, his leg broken even as he was destroying his enemies. Victory was shortlived, however, as now a great demonling winged its way towards us. We were forced to retreat, after melee with the thing proved fruitless, our weapons of little effect. Many of our soldiers fell in the ensuing battle, but we at last managed to retreat to the cellars, where we found a secret passage further down. Moving here, we encountered a number of small ugly goblinoids, later determined to be hobgoblins. Beating our way through these, we fled ever deeper into the darks, finally ending up on a small isle in an underground lake. The demonling was not to be stopped however, and pursued us all the way down. Finally, pushed into a corner, it was Althax who saved us, offering to free the creature from its service to its master. Althax shortly moved to the abode of the witch responsible, putting his magick to good use. Here, a great magickal battle ensued, leaving both magi drained but alive. The foe fled, leaving Althax to melee with ratmen guards. After disturbing the magick binding the demonling, Althax managed an escape, whilst the demonling left us to deal with its former master. The attack thus defeated, we looked about us, and found further paths into the bowels of the earth. A small tribe of primitives resided nearby, and Hallock was most revered by these after showing them the secret of fire. For us, it was now most important to consolidate our position, and to get some well deserved rest. The Monk Fraadin of Sunlight was a great comfort after the battle, tending to the wounded and soothing our spirits.
A period of intense diplomacy ensued, where we attempted to bolster our forces and obtain allies. Though our travels were perilous, we prevailed, continually set upon by ratmen, and foul creations which we suspected were controlled by House Morvissen. The Five great Houses on the island are: House Kolok-Gnomish, House Wrethin-Dragon and lizardmen, House Bronze-Hammer-Dwarven, House Blood-River-Orcish and House Morvissen-Undead. From House Kolok, we recruited Raadinov and his family. Raadinov was to become our trade master, and has shown great skill and cunning in taking care of matters fiscal. From House Bronze-Hammer we were allotted Gothgar, for a share of our profits, and a favour in killing several Griffons which had been plaguing the area. In the mountains here we were also fought by an ogre. Finally, from the King Roland the greatest help was provided. Seeing the potential of the new lands, the King made Althax his Viceroy to Phaeree, as this was our new home. Further, he provided almost five score soldiers to aid in defending the realm, until such a time as we could recruit them ourselves. A great number of works were started, and details were worked out for the running of the Clan. They are not relevant here, but see the exposition at the end of this for the current status of the Clan.