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The Eight Clans of Sjöberg

Divided we Fall, United we Survive

The Khöndil Dal, a cold valley made white by the gentle cover of snow, with its icy peaks and glistening lake, is home to the jewel of all dwarven cities, Sjöberg the Radiant. It spreads out through the valley in a network of districts and roads, with feats of architecture and engineering that dazzle all who lay eyes on them.

But whilst Sjöberg stands tall, filled with promises of glory and wealth, life there is far from the idyllic idea one might have. In the alleys and crossroads, under the covers of the night, wars are waged between clans. Plotting, spying and crime are the town's second language, and there are almost as many secrets as there are taverns in the city.

Many long for the good old days, where wars were fought in the open, and no quarrel was kept secret- but when the Eight Clans put a ban on open conflicts, the dwarves had to adapt and find new ways to keep their disputes alive.
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The Politics of Sjöberg

To understand the necessity of the Alliance between the Eight Clans, it is vital to know about the city's organisation. Sjöberg is a self contained country, organised in a complex feudal system of allegiances between clans. Among them, only eight have remained vassals of none, and they are the clans who control the city.

The clans who control the city are few in number, and it is important to know their names. The Hviteik and Skjegghardts, as we all know, are bitter enemies. The Khajrtem hold the gates of our city, the Jedenherts made their home on the lake, the Blomkel and Blåoma live under the mountains that keep us safe. The Haren Gwaed live by the lake, and the Altankahk rise up at the center of our proud city, powerful and strong.
— Altankahk History Teacher to her Students

The town is divded in 8 districts, as well as additional neighbourhoods. Each of the Eight has control over a district, within which live the members of their clans as well as clans who are loyal to them. These districts are often protected by walls, and were initially built away from one another. As time passed the population grew, slowly filling the gaps between each district- today, the city is almost unified, the last remaining spaces only present for the sake of traditions.

The complex ecosystem of allegiances meant that whenever two clans came to arms, no matter how small they were or how significant the reason of their quarrel, war often ended up overtaking the city. Whilst everyone enjoyed a good battle, these yearly wars would slow down affairs and businesses, bringing the whole city to a halt.

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The City of Sjöberg

The Alliance

In the year 198 I.A, the Eight of Sjöberg came together in the Hall of Stone to put an end to the needless fighting. The Clans agreed to put their pride aside for the good of the city, and each pledge fealty to the others, creating a loop of allegiances making it impossible for them to fight against one another- and by consequence, making all clans allied to one another in some capacity.

I won't lie, I'm not too keen on forming an alliance of any kind. Especially with those Skjegghardt dogs. Fighting is in our blood, it feels wrong to put an end to it. But the chief said to shut up or be banned, so not much we can do eh...
— drunk Hviteik clansman
Listen lads, an alliance's not gonna solve anything. We'll still get to fight those Hviteik bastards- it'll just be different, more subtle. We were made to endure and survive, and that ain't gonna just because we sign some paper!
— Skjegghardt leader

The results were immediate: five years went by without any war taking place, and the economic boom resulting from this was almost instant. As the city no longer had to waste resources rebuilding itself, they were put to usage to expand the districts, and whatever the dwarves didn't use was outsourced and sold to the Danatelians.

However, not all consequences were positive. Just because wars were banned didn't mean the clans' rancor was a thing of the past, and the citizens of Sjöberg had to get creative with their tactics. Spying, bribing, poisoning and sabotaging replaced the hammers and armours of old, as conflicts became more deceitful.

The Day of Blood-Red Snow

The hatred the Hviteiks and the Skjegghardt harbour for one another is no secret in Sjöberg. Their disputes go back to the very foundation of the city, where they fought over ownership of the city after the death of their common ancestor, Tila Bear-Heart. The clans never healed from the blows of that age, and instead accumulated more wounds and grievances.

In the year 290 I.A, as the Hviteik were gathered around the ancestral White Oak for an annual gathering to celebrate the creation of their clan, a massive explosion was set off. The attack was orchestrated by the Skjegghardt, the result of hundreds of years of hatred packed up into a destructive attack.

The Hviteiks were wiped out, with no known members surviving the attack. The orchestrators of the attack captured and executed, and the Skjegghardts went unpunished, basking in the victory they spilled so much blood for.

A Brief History of the City of Sjöberg

When the Men of the Sea first arrived, they raided and pillaged our towns, chased us away from our cities. Our ancestors fled to the mountains, guided by man and women of great might and courage. The first stone of Sjöberg was layed by Tila Bear-Heart.

Since then, the city has welcomed all who search for a home. Just as we were chased away, we will not repeat the wrongs done against us: all are welcome to Sjöberg the Radiant.
— Aldrick Moonfist, in his "Essay on Sjöbergen hospitality"

Members of the Alliance

Clan Hviteik

The Hviteik, or White Oak, are amongst the oldest clans of the city. Descendants of Tila Bear-Heart herself, they named themselves after the mystical white oak around which they built their home. The tree stands tall in the middle of their court, leafless and proud. They were wiped out in a devastating attack in the year 290 I.A by the Skjegghardts.

Clan Skjegghardt

The Skjegghardt are the sibling clan of the Hviteik. They too are said to descend from Tila Bear-Heart, and after her death a deep rivalry dug a trench between the Hviteik and Skjegghardt. The two clans are bitter enemies, and have fought many battles against one another.

Clan Jedenhert

The Jedenherts are the youngest clan amongst the Eight. Founded when a wave of immigrants arrived to the city, they created a new district built on stilts on the lake, and by staying united with one another they managed to keep their independence.

Clan Khajrtem

The Khajrtem are on the eastern side of the lake, opposite to the Haraen Gwaed clan. Their district is the first anyone entering the town encounters, making them very powerful despite their small size. The Khajrtem are the only clan who refuses to let smaller clans live within their districts, instead having them find a place amongst the unprotected neighbourhoods or some other district.

Clan Blomkel

The Blomkel are settled on the western side of the lake, their district going up the mountain flank. They use their pastures to raise cattle, and have recently started expanding their city beneath the earth similarly to how the Blåoma built their district.

Clan Haraen Gwaed

The Haraen Gwaed have made their home on the coast of the lake, their district on the outer edge of the city. They are the second youngest clan of the city, but older than the Jedenhert by about 150 or so years.

Clan Altankahk

The Altankahk district is settled in the valley, surrounded by other districts. Unable to expand their territory outwards, they have taken up the habit of building upwards instead, with complex stone structures rising up above all other buildings in the city.

Clan Blåoma

The Blåoma clan is located towards the far back of the valley, nestled against the mountain. Most of the district is subterranean, going deep beneath the earth in a network of corridors and incredible hallways.
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Cover image: by Mohammad Ali Berenji

Comments

Author's Notes

OOf, finally done! This is my submission for the 2020 Alliance Challenge, I hope you all enjoyed the read! As always (and especially for this challenge), feedback of any kind is appreciated. Think layout, prose, typos, things you'd like to know, things you didn't want to know, things you liked, things you disliked, etc etc :)

And of course, please leave a like if you've enjoyed the article!


Please Login in order to comment!
Grandmaster Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
8 Oct, 2020 23:43

Oh no! Poor Hviteik! D:   This is a really fascinating alliance - turning from outright warfare to more insidious espionage because wars are banned even though they're technically allies is an interesting dynamic.   I really loved the description of each of the clans and their areas of the city.   I did catch one typo - under Clan Skjegghardt you've written 'They two are said to descend' instead of 'They too'. Hope that helps. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
9 Oct, 2020 09:30

Thank you! I feel like Sjöberg is basically a city sized GoT, with all the spying and sabotaging going on. And I'm glad you liked the clan descriptions! Its the part of the article I was most unsure of, so its nice to hear you liked it <3   And thank you for catching the typo :)!

<3 sur toi
9 Oct, 2020 11:49

I like the detail on the different clans and the unintended consequence of the alliance turning into a cold war.   I'd add a few quotes or vignettes to give it some personality.   Also, found a typo in the paragraph under "The Alliance" anohter

9 Oct, 2020 14:46

Thank you for the typo catch! I'll think of some quotes to add, thank you for the suggestion and for taking the time to comment!

<3 sur toi
10 Oct, 2020 16:17

I really like this alliance. I like that idea that,, though it is indeed a functionning alliance, its member were mostly forced to take part in them, and not to happy with it. As the others said, I like how it forced the clans to turn from open warfare to cold war and assassinations.   The way you described the different clans also made them feel unique!   I have a question: What happened to the district protected by the Hviteik after they were wiped out? Was it taken over by the Skjegghardts?

With love,   Pouaseuille.   Feel free to check my entry for the Alliance Challenge! Or don't, if you don't feel like it.
10 Oct, 2020 16:28

Thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate them!   To answer your question, I'm not too sure. I think one of the Hviteik's vassal clans probably stood up and took charge, as they already live in the district. The Skjegghardts aren't all that interested in territory so they'd probably leave the district alone (and seizing it might be seen as a declaration of war on the remaining clans, which would be against the Alliance).

<3 sur toi
Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
12 Oct, 2020 10:37

The detail in this article is wonderful! You get a really powerful sense of how complex society and clan politics are. The quotes from the drunk Hviteik clansman and Skjegghardt leader made me laugh, which I felt so bad about after reading that the Hviteik were wiped out.

Cait x
12 Oct, 2020 12:04

Thank you for the king words! I'm glad I managed to get the right feeling across, regarding their politics. And sorry about making you feel bad! Please accept this virtual heart as an apology <3

<3 sur toi
13 Oct, 2020 09:34

It's weird reading someone elses work in my own language (-ish). "Sjöberg" is a common Swedish surname.   Anyways, I do enjoy the article and the quotes really, really help ground it and make it more personal. Articles like this have a tendency to become really stale and impersonal.   Even for someone with barely any interest left for traditional fantasy, this was an easy read. I only ever really struggled through the politics section, where I occasionally had to read a sentence twice to get the idea.   Also, I'm a bit unclear on whether the Hveitiks are entirely extinct now? It seems that way from the years (about 100 years after the alliance was founded, the Hveitiks were assassinated) Rough!   I was going to comment on image credit, but I see you have a footer that covers that. Solid!

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
13 Oct, 2020 12:32

Oh, I wasn't aware of that! I just fumbled around on google translate to find a cool name, its cool that its a common Swedish surname too ^^   And thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed the article, it means a lot (especially coming from someone with your expertise and all). I added some tooltips to the politics section, hopefully they'll help clear it up a little for future readers!   The Hveitiks were indeed completely wiped out, as far as anyone knows. It is, indeed, very rough ^^   And for the image credit, I'm currently working my way on including additional credit in the image description (you don't see it in the article, but clicking on the image will expand on artist credits, with links bringing to each artist's work. Not all of them though, its a work in progress)

<3 sur toi
15 Oct, 2020 20:55

I love how many aspects of your prose are similar to narratives, which is really enjoyable. Your design is wonderful(though the gold hexagonal background is a bit confusing) and really engaging to read through. I also enjoyed reading about the specific clans in the sidebar.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
15 Oct, 2020 21:34

Thank you! Thats probably one of the best compliments I've received so far on my writing, it means a lot! I'm glad you enjoyed reading the article :)   I'm glad you like the design, although I'm curious by what "confusing" means? If its distracting or makes the article hard to read I'll have to look into finding another background, please let me know if thats the case!

<3 sur toi
15 Oct, 2020 21:53

"Confusing" meaning I haven't the faintest idea why it's the background. It's not impeding the article's legibility or anything, I just don't know why it's the background. It looks cool, however.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
15 Oct, 2020 21:58

Thanks for explaining! I was worried as someone else told me it made it hard for them to read the article. Honestly my reasoning is also "it looks cool", and as I haven't been able to find a picture that fits with my general I'm just sticking with it ^^

<3 sur toi
22 Oct, 2020 01:53

The dynamic of this 'alliance' is very interesting! As in, it's more a ban on open conflict! I find it also neat how you have this sort of system where the clans are so much more interested in infighting that the 'alliance' is the only way for them to thrive.   I would have thought they would have come together at the threat of these raiders first!   Well done!

22 Oct, 2020 09:16

Thank you for the kind words! The raiders attacked before the founding of the city, and the clans did technically come together to create Sjöberg. I’m planning on expanding on this in an article about the city itself :)

<3 sur toi