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The Crimson Ring

What is the price of a life? Some think it is worth a hundred gold coins; I believe it's worth a dinner.
— The Lady In Red
    The Crimson Ring (AKA the Ring) is an organization made up of nobles from the city of Ravesh. The organization is shrouded in secrets, only a select few know of its dealings and about the cartel of nobles manipulating the whole city and its affairs. Ravesh is infamous for the crimes and atrocities that go on within: cults, slavery, black markets, and much, much more. The Crimson Ring lies atop the totem pole, promoting all of these shady dealings. The elites of this ring are members of a cult, worshipping a cryptic god who grants them vampiric powers and fulfills their decadent desires.     The Ring is composed of five influential nobles who all have different goals, but use cooperation as a way to achieve them. Secretly, the nobles are true blood vampires, now-obscure creatures that were forgotten with their nameless god. The returning forgotten god gifts them with unnatural powers and a hunger for human flesh.

              history

founding

 
And it was the Elves of an ancient past with whom my name was lost, for their time had come to an end. Although your flesh is raw, I see your soul is ripe, flush with vengeance and anger. I offer you gifts of unbridled power and utter depravity. Come now, Nicolai. Let us forge the brightest of futures.
— The Cryptic God to Nicolai
    The founder was a noble called Nicolai Aminov. The idea of the Crimson Ring first came into being during the horrible Noble Wars. As the name suggests, nobles fought ferociously against one another. After the Emperor died, he left a huge power vacuum without a clear heir, and regulations became scarce. There were many nobles who tried to fill this void, thus the Noble Wars began. During those times, Nicolai's parents were ruthlessly slaughtered by their political opponents. By malign luck, he had inherited "The Puzzle"; an odd metallic cube of elven design. Perhaps by sheer boredom, depression, or a combination of both, he was infatuated with the cube, sensing within it a great purpose. Unlocking it, he had discovered and awoken a cryptic god whose name is known not even by the god himself. Forgotten, the god was weak and pathetic to what the title “god” may suggest. The Cryptic God promised Nicolai powers beyond comprehension and to fulfill every decedent desire imaginable. He had captured the young man's attention and made him into his first vampire-servant in 1000 years.   At that point, the Noble Wars had been going for a half a year, and the noble corpses were stacked in the streets. Fearing for his life, and wishing the Wars to end, he tried to gather allies by inviting them into a secret cult. Obviously, some nobles were at first reluctant to trust anyone of their kind, but after a lot of persuasions and a year passing, the remaining four nobles agreed to join. The Crimson Ring was formed.    

the dawn of peace

  By now the Noble Wars had been going for two years. The casualties and chaos erupting from it could be felt throughout the empire. The peasants were hit hard during those times. Trade suffered, the streets were red with blood and filled with corpses. Mercenaries stalked around, and general unrest was common. A few months after the Ring was formed, perhaps one of the most calculated brutalities, called by peasants the “Dawn of Peace" was executed. Every opposing noble was killed or outcasted systematically. Assassination, arson, mercenaries, and framing removed most opposition from Ravesh. This left the Ring to rule over the city with little resistance.   The peasants welcomed this, as by now the amount of changing leadership and corrupt nobles was angering even them. They welcomed a sustainable leader, as it finally brought peace.    

ruling ravesh and present day

  Nicolai was chosen to be the leader of Ravesh, or at least its face. The Ring actually ruled it together in the background, but of course, the other nobles never acknowledge their odd cooperation. In fact, they rarely met at all publicly, giving them a distanced image.   After becoming the sole, unopposed rulers of Ravesh, they started showing their true colors in leadership. They may put on a face of trying to quell occultism and drug trafficking, but it is nothing more than a blatant lie. Instead, they merely quell any shady dealings from which they are not profiting from. They have been secretly installing more legally questionable people on their side, spreading their cult of vampirism, and slowly empowering their god. Drug trafficking is their second-largest source of income, right after the export of ships to the empire. Because of that, those are the only things guards are truly ordered to keep safe. Besides that bribes are commonly accepted to turn a blind eye to the theft of non-critical wares.   In-between the ruling years, they formed a secret alliance with Lich towers. This alliance grants more influence and income to the Ring, while they in turn secretly deliver food and empire secrets.   It wouldn’t be too insane to call Ravesh the worst city in the empire. Criminals run rampant, occults are protected, kidnappings are common, and the leaders are only looking out for themselves, without a care for the people they rule over. It is not hard to fathom why most commoners dabble in illegal business there.    

agenda

    The main reason why the nobles formed The Crimson Ring was mostly to survive the Noble Wars with the biggest share of power when it was over, and who could deny immortality from a vampiric god? These were replaced with a few other goals, mainly per their newfound sense of superiority. They could feast on humans, and the vampiric powers they received could easily turn any man egomaniacal.  
       

assets

    Being the most powerful nobles in Ravesh and generally above the average person, their pockets are lined deep from the well-earning shipwright businesses of the city. They supplement some of their profit by illegal merchandise like drugs, magical items and so on. They also possess full control over the Ravesh army, which is considered above-average in size. The Ring maintains the second-largest navy in the empire.   As for influence, not many people can claim to simultaneously have relations with the Emperor, the Lord of Lich Towers, and cults. They exert great control over those three groups to achieve their ends and have far-reaching influence. Although many of the nobles that already mistrust Ravesh won't trade or talk with them unless they must. Some of the nobles are aware of the members’ shady doings as well, which raises more issues for the Ring when working with other nobles.        

members

 
Stay away from Ravesh; humans may walk the streets, but in the manors and castles lurk only animals
— Rogal, an outcasted noble of Ravesh
      The members of the Ring are cruel sadistic people. While outwardly they act normal, most of them are pure evil. From slave-owning, to shady kidnappings, to eating humans, and much more. The members are :   Nicolai Aminov - The founder and most powerful member (influence-wise), Nicolai is a cruel, cold, and calculated man. Rarely seen walking outside, Nicolai prefers to stay in the confines of his manor. Although the first to find the god and worship him, he is the least connected to him, preferring to focus on managing Ravesh and plotting against the empire, hoping to one day make them pay for allowing the Noble Wars.   Ann - Commonly called The Lady in Red because of the odd amount of red in her appearance; red eyes, red clothing, and red hair. She is a mystery among the entire nobility, as no one knows her family name, and it is believed that her first name is an alias. She only showed up after the Noble Wars ended, and it is speculated she was related to some family that was killed in the strife.       Even with her mysterious background, she is charismatic and capable. Ann is more popular than the other members and acts as an ambassador to other groups when needed. Although more popular, she is still unliked by others, mostly because of the vampiric traits giving her a ghastly look that, paired with her mysterious past, becomes a deterrent for other nobles. As a person she is the cruelest of all the members, owning the largest number of slaves, putting them in pit fights against one another, and eating her victims alive. She keeps a polite and warm tone no matter the circumstance, making even the Ring uncomfortable with her obviously mismatched calmness.     Dorvan Ironheart - Dorvan is a dwarf from outside of Ravesh. His family made a name as shipwrights in Ravesh and became rich once the First War started. During the Noble Wars, everyone was out for the killing. Fearing for his life, and with some reassurance, he joined the Ring. After doing his part with his fortune and helping to kill all the enemy nobles, including his business-competitors, he monopolized the docks and became their sole owner.   He is famous for being a callous, brusque person. He may have become a noble, but not by being polite. With competition and pesky eyes gone, he makes sure trade goes well, along with the illegal trafficking. He shares the cruelty of the other members, becoming forbidden from entering his ancestral homeland after they found out his shady doings, deeming him unworthy of returning to Ironpeak.   Dimitrov Stroganov - Dimitrov is a quiet, unpleasant old man. Greedy and sadistic, he enjoys his current position, receiving most of what he wishes. He is the information gatherer, an important member, and also the vampire cult leader. He works to make the new recruits obedient and to pray for the cryptic god, in hopes of making the god stronger. He also acts as an inquisitor of sorts, interrogating and torturing what he deems threats to the Ring and his current lifestyle.   Sian Griffith - Sian is a woman with an aggressive and charismatic personality, and is an outsider to Ravesh hailing from Evergreen Gardens. She was the only noble outside of the city who accepted the invite, agreeing to meet Nicolai and talk about his offer. She is less infamous than the others, partly because of her not living in Ravesh. However, she does visit it often, and she is known for meeting other nobles inside of it. She speaks with the illegal merchants to plan mutually beneficial deals.          

trivia

 
  • The number of letters sent out by Nicolai was 38, ten of those were to nobles outside of Ravesh.
 
  • Only eight letters were answered by nobles, yet only four of the respondents were accepted into the Ring. The other four were deemed unfit for it and were killed in the Dawn of Peace, betrayed by Nicolai.
 
  • Members carry a signet ring with the crest of the occult. Those rings are usually not worn in public out of fear of being questioned for having a second signet ring.
 
  • Members carry out a normal noble life to outlookers, fulfilling their duties out in the public normally. Ann especially goes out more, even going to balls of sorts to try and enjoy them, even if no one wishes to dance with her.

Hearts of stone do not bleed

Founding Date 974   Type Secret, Occult   founder Nicolai Aminov   Residing city Ravesh   Member count Five      

Helpful information: Vampires

    Vampires, also called Nah'laner by the elves, are ancient unholy creatures that have existed for millennia. Vampires are created and led by their god whose name had been forgotten long ago, whereupon he offers them his blessings and might, for the price of servitude.   Upon receiving vampirism, new qualities of mind and body that follow one’s god’s ideals will appear. For example: vampires must eat other intelligent humanoids to sustain themselves, a curse from their god so he could see them take upon the most degenerate, inhumane actions possible. Although horrid it may sound, vampires develop extremely sadistic tendencies, and most eventually... Enjoy the experience. They also become self-depraved to an extreme degree, taking part in ever worse behaviors, from torture, to drugs, to what may only be fathomed by a deranged mind.   Vampires also develop a few physical changes. Their skin pales, and eyes redden with slitted pupils. A vampire can easily exceed a human in strength, by at least a factor of three. That, paired with regenerative powers that keep them alive even after being cut in half, makes most vampires fearsome opponents. Finally, they become immortal and never age after their conversion.   But they do have some weaknesses: The goddess of the sun and justice Rakdos, at the peak of her power, saw the abhorrent creatures they were, and cursed them to burn at the touch of her light; this is why sunlight destroys vampires. They cannot regenerate from magical damage, and it is speculated that each elven god put a curse on them as well, but that is only a theory for now.   Lastly, vampires are split into two groups: thralls, and true blood. Thralls are what we described earlier; they are common and are the average cult members. True blood though is a whole other being. Touched by the Cryptic God, they can only be called aberrations. All of them are able to transform at-will into horrid creatures that show what they truly are on the inside, giving them a daemonic visage. They can create thralls as well, though the process is slower and more complicated. Lastly, magical damage is barely able to harm them, making them true champions of the Cryptic god.   Currently, only five true bloods exist, those being the members of the Crimson Ring.  
vampire art
by shirleytwofeathers

The invite letter

 
Greetings fellow noble,
My name is Nicolai Aminov. I hail from Ravesh, and I have sent this message with a curious and once-in-a-lifetime offer for you. It is within both of our interests to arrange a meeting between you and I. Preferably, I would like for it to be located in Ravesh, but other locations can be arranged, if you send a reply.
I assure you, this isn’t something one would pass up - or should pass up - for that matter.
— A hopeful ally

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  • 972


    Noicolai unlocks the puzzle box

    Nicolai inherits the puzzle box from his dead parents. Learning its secret he unlocks it discovering his new patron, and a new goal in life

  • 973

    974



    Nicolai invites nobles and creates the Crimson Ring

    After receiving vampirish powers and understanding that he stands a better chance at taking over Ravesh and staying alive by working with other nobles, Nicolai began to send invites. At first, none accepted, but after a year of persuasions, Nicolai formed his organization, all of them gathering for the first time in his manor.

  • 975


    The Dawn Of Peace

    The Ring planned for half a year to end the Noble War in Ravesh. By a brutal calculated execution, they decimated all opposition by assassinations, mercenary armies, arson, and framing their opponents. The event is called the Dawn Of Peace for ending the Noble Wars and installing some time of peace.

  • 975

    980



    Taking Over Ravesh

    With no political opposition, the Ring held almost all the power in the city, forcing other nobles still staying in Ravesh to bow down or be killed in a show of skill and cruelty. At those times, the members took over their posts, slowly pulling Ravesh into functionality. Although while doing so they installed the illegal trafficking and supported slavery to the point it became a thriving business in Ravesh. Some cult ideas were introduced and Dimitrov started to recruit people into their secret sadistic rituals to gain loyal followers.

  • 981

    990



    Participation in the first war

    Although slow to join in the First war, Nicolai used Ravesh’s impressive fleet to assist in the war effort of the empire. Meanwhile, the Ring used the fact no one was keeping eyes on Ravesh to make occultism skyrocket. The illegal trafficking system was installed and refined to a point of working perfectly and becoming a bountiful and stable income for the Ring.

  • 995


    forming an alliance with Lich Towers and minor events

    Seeing a potential easy ally that could rely on them, Ravesh abused the fact Lich Towers was starving to make an unfair alliance with them. They would have to pay an exuberant amount of gold in return for food. Lich Towers gave them secrets and planned to ally together once the Second War started. Other than that, Ravesh by now earned its reputation, and the Ring became very influential even with demonic cults and other nobles who wished to become vampires as well.

Comments

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17 May, 2020 12:48

Please leave critique and ideas to add to the article if you wish. I enjoy listening and improving my work, so don't be shy

19 May, 2020 16:59

Hello ! It was a nice article to read :)   The idea behind this small organization, and its original purpose, are really interesting. I liked the idea of five vampires ruling together even though there is only one "official" leader of the group. Not to mention, the personalities of the five members are varied, and original !   Here are a few comments/suggestions I'd make:   Structurally, the fact that the titles are all at the same size make the history a bit harder to read. Maybe you could make a /h1 title "History", and then the three parts "founding", "dawn of peace", and "ruling Ravesh & present day" some /h2 titles?   Another structure comment : I'd suggest you put the invite letter in a quote box, to bring it up more clearly.   Beside that, I like the fact that there were quotations in some parts of the text. I'd suggest you add more ! Like a few other short sentences at the beginning or the end of other sections, such as "Agenda", or at the end of "Ruling Ravesh" a small quotation about the city and its awful leaders   Finally, I know that it's not always easy, and not everyone can draw, but I'd suggest you add a few illustrations here and there : maybe some strips at the beginning of a section? It's a bit unfair because drawing or finding a suitable illustration is hard, but it always make the article more attractive/pleasant to read.   Good job with that entry !