Marked in Blood
The Stjordvik Traders is an alliance of merchants with Storm Holtson as its unquestioned leader. This rising commercial league is rather widespread, focusing more on selecting the best opportunities from Svinik to Boeruine instead of dominating a realm or a distinct region. In Svinik, Stjordvik, and Dhoesone, Storm attracts ambitious, agressive Rjurik who are not afraid to put aside the backward traditions of their people to become major players in the economy of the Tael Firth. In Talinie, local political concerns have forced the Stjordvik Traders to use a front organization, the Fellowship of Miners and Sawyers to avoid to predjudice of the parocial Taliniens.
The leader of the Stjordvik Traders, Storm Holtson, is one of the leading merchants along the Tael Firth and beyond. A ruthless, acqusitive man with an innate business sense, Holtson has little use for the old, simple ways of the Rjurik people and works towards a far-reaching empire based on commerce and his own personal prosperity. Master Storm is unimpressed with druids, kings, priests, or dukes, and respects only what can be purchased or those who can thwart his plans. Laws, traditions, or fair-play are of no consequence to Storm, who boldly achieves what he will despite what anyone else wants. Becuase knowledge is power, Storm deals in information as well as goods, but only because knowing what is going on in neccessary to dominating the trade of the Tael Firth. Making the Stjordvik Traders and his own treasury as rich as possible is his over-riding goal and he is not distracted by honors, audiences, or praise.
The modern Stjordvik Traders are composed of three parts. The original Stjordvik Traders had commercial operations up and down the Northbyrn River in both Stjordvik and Dhoesone. For many years they were aaolfer in the old Rjurik mode of nomadic traders who seemed to have evolved from nomads to merchants, trading goods from one area to the next, but avoiding any serious impact on the land. In the past few generations, they gradually expanded into forestry and mining in a small way and began to look more like the modern Rjurik of the Taelshore than the nomads of the northern lands. Storm Holton’s rise to the highest office of the Stjordvik Traders chnaged the focus of the organization to expansion and shipping. Rather than wander the small area around the Northbyrn River, Storm wanted to sell Rjurik products in Anuire and bring Anuirean goods to the Rjurik. He reasoned that the farther a good traveled, the more it would sell for, and set about creating trade routes to distant ports.
To the east, he encountered the ruins of the Innsmark Company of Herbalists, which had once dominated trade of all kinds in the area between the three great swamps of Rjuvik, Svinik, and Jankaping, and specialized in herbs and other exotic plants that were specific to the wetlands of their region. Their organization was devestated by the rise of Fulgar the Bold in Rjuvik and that old reaver’s domination of trade in Rjuvik. The Innsmark guilders were defeated and despondant, and only the high demand for their goods kept them from just disappearing. Storm saw an opportunity and offered an alliance between the Innsmark Company of Herbalists and the Stjordvik Traders. It wasn’t long before Storm was able to merge the two guilds and began trading hälsorooten as far away as Nolien.
An unexpected opportunity presented itself when Borric Boeruine had hoped to seal an alliance with a great Taelshore power to secure his back, while he contended with his great rival, Avanil. Borric married his daughter, Caliendre Boeruine to King Bervinig of Halskapa. The advantages of such an alliance were not much realized, but Storm Holtson got a license to represent Halskapa in Boeruine under the trademark of the Innsmark Company of Herbalists. Storm has been trading in Boeruine ever since, though his operations have long since traded under the trademark of the Stjordvik Traders.
When Storm came to Talinie, he found complacent, docile guilds who made no profit and wielded little power. Some in Talinie saw how guilds had changed Cariele and wanted to advantages of prosperity without being taken over by a powerful guilder like Mheallie Bireon. The new Thane, Thuriene Donalls was persuaded by Storm to allow him to help modernize the guilds in Talinie, but she was prudent enough to allow Storm to only run the Fellowship of Miners and Sawyers in order to prevent handing the whole economy over to one man. Part of Storm’s modernization program was a complete change in personelle in the guild, replacing the old complacent guilders with agressive, ruthless men who were loyal to him. Unsure how long he would be able to milk this new cash cow, Storm instituted a brutral expliotation of the Talinien countryside. In no other country has Storm implimented the same callous rape of nature to support his guilds, and this is almost certainly because he expected that he only had a short time to make a quick gold bar before the Thane would prove capable of removing him from Talinie.