One of the, if not the
largest independent trading/shipping guilds in all of
Caelereth, the Quios Shipping Guild is
well known indeed. Though they are professionally known as such, many, including
themselves refer to the guild simply as the "Stormcloaks". Known not only for
the size of their fleets and the exotic goods they bring, they are also viewed
as fearless explorers that bring the world ever closer together. They were
founded in approximately 874 b.S. by a man known as
From its beginnings as a group of pirates paid by the Erpheronian government to aid in the destruction of other countries shipping, it grew from its base in the Isles of Ram, and then reportedly there was some break that led to Drak taking his men and vessels on a harrowing journey to what would become known as the Isles of Quios. From there it grew away from piracy and towards honest trade, well at least as honest as it ever is, until it has become the commercial powerhouse it is today. No other independent shipping company can come close to the claim that they have made for themselves, having major ports on at least three different continents, and three times as many smaller ports.
|Image description. A ship of the guild on a trading mission getting battered by the stormy sea. Image drawn by Jordy.|
Coat of Arms/Sign.
The Guild's coat of arms is a rectangle, the top half sable, and the bottom
navy. Placed in the midst of the two colors is a jagged bolt of gold lightning.
The sable is indicative of the night, and the navy represents the sea. The
lightning symbolizes the story of their founder Drak Stormlord, who was the
first to make it to the
Isles of Quios,
in a raging storm no less. The gold colouring of the lightning shows the money
to be made facing danger. They have no actual shields, but rather fly this flag
from their ships. The captains all wear a cloak made to this design, hence the
Total Organization. The organization is broken down into several subsections.
Most importantly is the "port" section which deals with things concerning politics, ship building, maintenance of ports, and most importantly trade. It is this section that creates the allowance for the guild to exist in the first place.
A second subsection is the "shipping" section. Known as the backbone of the guild, this refers to all things having to do with the shipping of goods, movement of fleets, and if necessary the execution of naval warfare.
The final section of the organization is called "crossing". Named such due to the fact that this section deals exclusively with exploration of uncharted waters and finding new ports to trade with.
Port Organization. Easily the most diverse and important of all of the organizations. So diverse in fact that not every occupation can be listed. Since trading goes on from the port offices, it has been lumped into this category. Except in the case of the Isles of Quios, in which they have nearly complete control, and some of their own island ports they keep a section of the port for their own use. It is not like other shipping companies who may have a spot for their ship and then use common docking areas. Rather the Stormcloaks will go so far as to build their own areas if needed and always wall them off from the outside. These areas contain everything from docking facilities, a money house, goods warehouse, trade shops and barracks for sailors and guards, along with better housing for higher ranking members.
Ever inclusive in their planning, there are representatives from the Quios Islands that stay stationed in every port they are a part of. This branch deals with local officials and makes sure that the Stormcloaks can keep running their operations without any outside influence. One thing that is paramount is having their own law in their own areas, this is very frustrating to the law of where they are as they have often been charged with black market activities and harbouring fugitives. Often times though due to the work of the political branch tempers are soothed as they bring home the point that their goods are worth more than a few minor criminals and the like.
Really two different sections are included in this branch. First is the security of the grounds, for which guardsmen are used. Rarely are men from the area used, rather people from Quios are preferred, if they can not be found then at the least people with no local ties. Guards often carry a quarterstaff, short sword, and dagger. Due to some historical incidences with mobs or local militaries trying to overcome the Stormcloak ports, an armoury is attached to their barracks. Contained within this armoury are chainmail, shields, spears, and various other minor armaments. The second section underneath this is the maintenance department. Not only maintenance is done on the incoming ships, but also on all of the buildings and walls of the port as well.
Included in this branch are all of the merchants, appraisers, and money handlers. When a ship comes in and offloads its goods they go directly into a warehouse where they will all be appraised and priced per the needs of the region surrounding the port. After that the goods go to something like an open market, to allow a shopper to feel there are competitive prices. Merchants all shout out their wares and try to get customers to come to their stalls. As an incentive to the merchants a percentage of the sales go directly to them, so even though the money ends up going the same place, to the Stormcloaks coffers, this is a healthy enough cut to make the competition convincing.
Shipping Organization. When a member of the Quios Shipping Guild refers to shipping, they are talking about the process of moving goods from one destination to another and the overall upkeep of a ship while on its trip. There is a certain hierarchy to those involved in the process of shipping. It must be noted that not one man rises to the hightest rank without first experiencing the lowest. Therefore, just because one's father was a ship master does not mean that that person will gain that exalted positions.
|Image description. A Quios Shipping Guild Merchant registering the goods he plans to load. Commissioned picture drawn by Faugar, used with friendly permission by Mystical Empire.|
So named not only for their low ranking position in the hiearchy, but also for the place that they keep upon the ship. Living in the lowest decks of the ship, their main function is to take care of keeping the bilges cleaned and repairing any leaks that may occur. They also take care of things like cooking and - in smaller vessels - rowing. In case the ship is boarded, or they board another ship the lowshipmen make up the bulk of the fighting force.
Simply named for their middle position in the hierarchy, they have more responsibility than the lowshipmen. First off they are the direct supervisors of the lowshipmen and inspect all the work that they do. On top of that duty they are responsible for the upkeep of the decking and anything to do with the vast amount of roping that is on the deck, also if there are any rips in the sails due to weather or mishap then the midshipmen are responsible for repairing them.
There are not a lot of men in this position. Following the form of those below they supervise their work and have their own duties. These duties include climbing the rigging to help unfurl the sails, manning the crow's nest to keep watch on the waters, and any other tasks that the ship master may wish of them.
A man known as the Firstman is in charge of each one of these groups listed above. The Firstman reports to the ship master who has final say in all things to do with the ship. One person is slightly outside this command system, and this is the rudderman. They are in a class all to their own as specialized skills are necessary for this position.
Crossing Organization. Originally a part of the shipping organization, this has changed over time. Some of the factors to this further breaking down in structure is due to more focus on the actual shipment of goods and peoples throughout the eastern oceans. In other words Shipmasters now ply regular routes between set ports often times with set goods. Such a regularization in sailing habit had at one point almost destroyed the exploratory spirit that had been vital to the founding of the guild. However several savy Shipmasters and trademasters got together and felt that new ports with even more exotic goods would not only be great adventure, but also great for business.
|Image description. One of the Lighthouses of the Stormcloaks Guild at Gillwin, the main port on the Isle of Killyshmagost. Picture drawn by Seeker.|
The first Shipmasters were sent out from
Quios in different directions to see
what could be found. Some of those did not come back for months or years, some
never came back at all. Those who did and came back with news of new lands and
peoples were given the title Horizonmasters. It is in
this way that trade routes to Kanapan,
Denilou, and Cyhalloi were established,
along with other unknown lands. There is many a young man among the Stormcloaks
that dream of becoming a Horizonmaster, but first they
must take the years of work to become a Shipmaster,
and then only the best Shipmasters are allowed to
Port Locations. The Stormcloak base of operations are the Isles of Quios in which the Stormcloaks maintain complete control of and run it as a kingdom. The city of Gillwin on the Isle of Killyshmagost is the main port and capital of the isles. They have set up two lighthouses outside Gillwin as well. One is at Maerdolth in the Isles of Tyrk, the other is at Hol'Khuuz in the Isles of Khuuz-Duar. The Stormcloaks also have one inland trading post, this is the city of Quios, which is near the Wilvong Dwarves, who were brought over from the Isle of Denilou. This is the main source of the guild's iron for shipbuilding and such.
The Stormcloaks have seperate ports with their own areas in varying locations. These ports in Santharia are Carmalad, Strata, and Veltin. The next largest collection of ports is in the Kanapan region, where many of their exotic goods come from. They have a port in the city of Kurstir/Trigoire and own two islands to the east, Yisindo and Ulig, so named for the Shipmaster and Firstman of the Highshipmen who found the islands. Those are very important as they are a main point of travel between this area and the small port in the island of Ludor, south of Guldor in Cyhalloi.
Having good relations with the dwarves in Denilou, to whom the Wilvong Dwarves are related they have the port of Kil on the eastern side of the island. In the Kingdom of Dorania they maintain a port section in Kaar-Ypherran. Using either this port in Dorania or the one in Strata the Stormcloaks can head to their ports in Aeruillin.
These are all of the ports that others are aware of, though there are some rumours of island ports far to the east and an unknown land named Yamalquain. Though this has not been proven and may all be hearsay. For reasons of their own, the Stormcloaks do not seem to show much interest in going west of Strata into the western oceans.
History. Some parts of the following history are speculation (marked with "ca." in the table below), while others are well known and recorded.
Information provided by Drogo