An individual’s station in life should be the result of their own endeavors neither hindered nor aided by their heritage: this is the mantra of the powerful Val’Sarghress. Formed with the merging of numerous mercenary bands around the legendary reputation of its Ill’haress Quain’tana, the Sarghress are a wave of change in Chel'el'Sussoloth that espouse the downfall of the rigid bloodline and caste systems.
The origins of the Sarghress are wrapped firmly around the history of Quain’tana, its mercenary queen. Born of common blood, she rallied together a formitable mercenary band and set off upon an adventure across the Underworld, the Old World and supposedly beyond. Throughout her journey she conquered countless valuable relics and brought numerous allies into her fold as she accumulated more fame about herself.
Her return to Chel'el'Sussoloth was monumentally dramatic. Quain’tana marched into the city with a veritable army at her back, a treasury of riches in her coffers and the demand for her massive group to be bestowed the title of a Val clan. This commotion drew the eye of Ash'waren Val'Sullisin'rune who forged an alliance between the Sarghress and her Val'Sullisin'rune. By the seventh century the devil-eyed empath's sponsorship of the mercenary group finally bore fruit, netting them their Val title.
The Sarghress have only grown in power with the passage of time. Their open doors and message of uncapped potential make them a major draw to commoners with dreams of glory. They were quick to seize upon the upheaval within the Vel'Sharen during the Nidraa’chal uprising, snatching much of the weakened clan’s territory. This latest war sees the Sarghress on the offensive once again as they claim vast stretches of land from their rivals.
Culture and Politics
The Sarghress are a clan of commoners, a title worn proudly by its members even while used pejoratively by some outsiders. Where most other clans both lesser and greater are of noble heritage or assume the mantle of such once arising the Sarghress embrace their common origins. It is the creed of the clan that one’s value is determined not by birthright, race or any other external factor, solely upon the deeds performed by their own hands. If one born among the lowest of slaves had the ambition and skills to rise to nobility they should be given that chance. Despite their reputation as a clan of commoners, it is not unheard of for there to be defectors from other clans among their ranks, most notably tainted former members from the Val'Kyorl'solenurn, who are willing to discard their formerly held ideals in favour of those of the Sarghress and prove their value through their deeds. Even some members of their allied Val'Sullisin'rune clan are willing to fight alongside the Sarghress in their war against the Vel'Sharen.
Above all things the Sarghress value discipline and strength of will, and strength of arms is quite preferable as well. Their view of individual empowerment and their cracked-door recruitment policy make the Sarghress an ideal institution for commoners driven to make a difference. To join is easy, and many are satisfied among the lower stations of the clan, but to advance requires that one prove their dedication, honor and capabilities as judged by their superiors.
The Val'Sarghress is a clan of warriors that breeds off of conflict, especially during times of commoner oppression. Discipline is drilled into the clan’s recruits from the earliest days of their membership, and the training they undergo is often intense. One is expected to show respect for one’s superiors and follow their orders to the letter and without question. The nature of such an environment breeds frank, honest individuals trained to speak freely and to the point (with due consideration of course.) This system of open dialog and loyalty has resulted in a clan largely devoid of the cloak and dagger conspiracies all too common in others.
There is no such thing as a soft and decadent Sarghress, as the culture of the clan has little respect for such notions, even if held superficially. Those who reach the clan’s higher ranks usually had to fight tooth and nail to reach it and are no less formidable in combat than those below them. A sense communal progression overrides the necessity to herald ones own achievements, so a clan uniform of armor is more than enough for most any Sarghress regardless of rank and standing. True to its rank-by-merit credo even the Vals of the clan must prove themselves worthy of leadership by advancing up from the very bottom.
The Sarghress strongly favor combat readiness over comfort. Everyday attire usually consists of armor colored heavily in a single shade of red; Quain’tana herself is rarely ever seen without hers. Wide variations exist among the houses however; members of the Fallen Legion are usually suited in black leather armor and the Mae’yukir have their own white gear complete with custom standard. Though the militarized branch of the Highland Raiders adorn themselves in bronze most of the adventuring parties that fall under the house forgo any form of clan uniform altogether.
If there are any decent diplomats among the Sarghress ranks they have yet to step forward. The clan's stubborn and often bull-headed approach to diplomacy often makes them difficult to get along with among the other Val clans, but many see them as the valuable asset they are: a power check for the Vel'Sharen. These two clans could not be more diametrically opposed. For their part the Sarghress see the Sharen as claiming dominance by right of their ancestor Sharess, her descendants born into leadership. The Sarghress wish nothing more than to tear their rival clan from their thrones.
The Blood Rite
To be considered a fully-fledged Sarghress, one must complete the Sarghress Blood Rite. A variation of an ancient ritual where a summoner ventures to the overworld to kill a mana-bearing creature and therefor capture its aura, the aspiring Sarghress must also travel upworld and slay a worthy creature or enemy, and then dip the ends of their hair in the blood. It is normal to wash the blood out after a day, and many Sarghress wear red highlights in their hair as a memento of their Blood Rite completion.
A shared kill with the cooperation of allies and brothers or sisters-in-arms is considered honorable completion of the blood rite. While some Sarghress are content to complete it with the first creature they come across and kill, others such as Ariel Val'Sarghress have defeated higher ranking foes.
The Sarghress clan is a well-oiled war machine that is composed of several military legions. Most members of the Sarghress military cycle in and out of the different legions as needed by those in command.
Commander: Suu'be Nori'fu Sarghress
The Home Guard makes up a large portion of the Sarghress military. Soldiers in the Home Guard are charged with patrolling Sarghress-owned territories, keeping the peace, and protecting the main fortress from hostile forces. Almost every member of the Sarghress clan has served on Home Guard duty at some point, filling it with soldiers possessing a wide variety of skills and specialties.
Home Guard squads are typically made up of 5-7 drow, one of which is the designated squad leader. They used to wear full suits of metal armor in varying shades of blue and purple, but the standard uniform has changed to feature a hard black chestplate, helmet, greaves, boots, and gauntlets with lighter colored cloth armor underneath.
Commanders: Koil'dorath Nori'fu Val'Sarghress and Sang Niz'zre Sarghress
The Assault Legion is likely the largest legion the Sarghress has. Assault troops specialize in conventional underworld warfare and are responsible for maintaining the war effort in non-Sarghress owned regions. Like the Home Guard, many soldiers will cycle in and out of this legion depending on the skills and resources needed at any given point in time.
Assault teams vary widely in size, depending on their mission. Their armor color is red.
Commander: Quill'yate Yurun'hiir Sarghress
The Highland Raiders fill their ranks with those of the most adventurous spirits. They hold the unique task of maintaining a presence on the Old World, keeping their assets in check and seeking out new treasures to plunder for the benefit of the clan. Other drow are rarely their concern for they find very different opponents in the hazards and unknowns of the foreign worlds they explore both above and below the surface. Due to this the Raiders are much less traditional warriors than adventurers, trained more in the arts of survival and non-conventional Overworld tactics seen in occasional skirmishes than all-out wars. Though Commander Quill’yate often travels with a sizable contingent of cavalry, the majority of the Highland Raiders usually operate in small, self-reliant parties.
They are marked by their amber-colored armor and full-faced masks that suit the environment and dangers of the surface.
A small, exclusive group of specialists, the Fallen Legion are the spies and assassins of the Sarghress. Unlike the other troops of the clan, members of the Legion are trained to work as individuals, excelling in the arts of stealth and information gathering and falling back to combat only if necessary. Because the nature of their work necessitates deft movement they usually dress themselves in light utilitarian garments composed of dark-colored leather.
The Fallen Legion is so named because of the misfortune associated with the group. They once counted the extremely talented Laele'aell Val'Sarghress, Quain’tana's most promising daughter, among its ranks. A series of mishaps led to her accidental tainting, and the attempt to exorcise her seed left her a husk of her former self. Though her fall brought great sorrow upon the clan, those among the Fallen Legion who worked beside her on a daily basis were hardest hit by the loss.
Though initially in decline after Laele's fall, by the climax of the war, they have gained new members to fill in their formerly empty ranks.
Commander: Quain'tana Val'Sarghress
The Dragon Slayers are a small contingent of soldiers that serve as a honor guard to protect Il'haress Quain'tana. They were formed shortly after Zala'ess Vel'Sharen made an attempt on Quain'tana's life, and they now follow the Il'haress during her political dealings to ensure her personal safety.
They wear full-body red armor with distinctive wolf-shaped helmets.
Commander: Rosof Tions Sarghress
The Fangs are the Sarghress clan's cavalry. They ride the clan's iconic giant wolf mounts into battle to support other units.
The War Meat legion is arguably the most controversial division as it consists entirely of humans and other non-fae races. Though they are not as well-suited to underworld warfare as their drow counterparts, they serve as an important counter to demon-based combat. Since the War Meat troops do not have auras, they suffer none of the negative effects of nether infestation or mana-deprivation. They can't be tainted or possessed, making them well-suited for neutralizing hostile nether summoners.
Few clans have seen worth in feeding and arming the "lesser races," making a full legion like the War Meat an uncommon find.
Not much is known about this legion, and their commander has not currently identified.
Like many other clans the Sarghress are also divided into a number of houses. Members of these houses may be installed in any of the aforementioned legions while on active duty.
Dev'ess: Itan'sha Mae'yukir Sarghress
Though there is no institutionalized racial segregation among the clan, most drowussu of the Sarghress find their way to the Mae’yukir. This house is formed almost entirely of the light-skinned drow most formerly of the Val'Dutan'vir or defectors from the Val'Kyorl'solenurn. It isn’t uncommon for former Kyorls who find themselves tainted to forgo the expected self sacrifice, instead fleeing to the Sarghress ranks. Here they usually find themselves welcome regardless of the color held by their eyes.
Many of the former members of the Kyorl’solenurn that defect to the Sarghress bring with them the tainted mana-vanquishing skills taught to them by their former peers. These skills have since been shared with the majority of the house, making the Mae’yukir into the clan’s predominant counter to demonic threats.
Dev'ess: Suu'be Nori'fu Sarghress
The role of house Nori'fu is somewhat of an enigma in that it has not been explicitly defined. It is clearly one of the oldest houses as one of its members, Mandroga, was a trusted companion of Quain'tana's during her adventuring days.
Leader: Rosof Tions Sarghress
The house Tions is another old contribution to the Sarghress clan. Most of the original members of the house hail from Machike'Shikumo, brought into the fold after their defeat by Quain’tana's mercenary band during their adventures throughout the underworld. With them the Tions brought the dire wolves that would become so iconic to the Sarghress.
Dev'ess: Quill'yate Yurun'hiir Sarghress
Lead by one of Quain'tana's oldest personal friends, house Yurun'hiir is most closely associated with overworld conquest. Not much else is known about this house at this time.
Dev'ess: Sang Niz'zre Sarghress
Nothing is known of the Niz’zre house aside from its existence and name.
Clan Fortresses and Properties
In a cavern to the north of Chel'el'sussoloth, accessible only through the territory of the Val'Sullisin'rune and connecting to a path leading out from the city, lies the fortress of the mighty Val’Sarghress. No extravagant stonework or frivolous designs adorn this facility; its hallways are generally simple stone and it is lit by basic mana lights. It is by all accounts pure functionality with no ribbons attached, a facility built for war by soldiers for soldiers, and a perfect reflection of the Sarghress militaristic ethos.
With the outbreak of the latest war in Chel'el'sussoloth the Sarghress have come to control nearly a third of the city, not the least of which is the Black Dragon Tavern, a gift from Minka Dutan'vir after the establishment experienced a change of ownership. Beyond the confines of the cavern civilization the Sarghress also possess a large number of forts, outposts and supply vaults dotted throughout both the Underworld and the Old World used mostly by the Highland Raiders. They have also come to occupy a prominent fortress in Machike'Shikumo, though its possession hasn’t given them complete dominion over the town.
A prison colony south of Chel and under Beldrobbaen and Sharen control.
The "Cliff Fort Under the Clouds", Machike'Shikumo is both a fortified town (dating back to the Dark Elf
exodus from the surface at the end of the Moons Age) and a surface colony on the rim of the Nidavellir.
Mounts and Direwolves