The days following Vareclea’s coup were marked by fear and bloodshed. Entire families were dragged from their homes by the Silvestrem guard, forced to fight in the arena, or bound to serve in the elf’s lavish residences. Within a week, the city of Protioch was no more; only the Silvestrem remained. Vareclea quickly realized her reach was limited, and if her aspirations were to be realized, she needed an army to take the capital.
Well acquainted with the underworld of her kingdom, Vareclea contacted the leader of a band of brigands operating out of the edge of the Wilds. Their leader, a pragmatic and ambitious man by the name of Kander, recognized Vareclea’s power and gladly joined her in her quest to murder the king. He began recruiting every scoundrel, criminal and villain he could find, until his army was unrivaled on the continent. He promised glory and riches to the starving and downtrodden, enlisting the victims of Vareclea’s greed to unwittingly do her bidding. For her part, Vareclea martialed her own forces of guards, assassins and monsters, then together she and Kander marched on Everan.
The siege took only three days. Word spread quickly that the king had fallen, his head planted firmly on a pike while his heirs burned alive in their keep. The surviving nobles prepared for the worst. They barricaded themselves in their castles and estates and waited for Vareclea to come for them. Instead the elf sorceress sent a messenger to each with an invitation, and tickets, to the Silvestrem’s next match. Some chose not to go. The ones who did, attended one of the arena’s greatest matches to date while their every desire was indulged. Vareclea ignored them entirely, instead choosing to scream at her gladiators with fury and glee. She did not tell the nobles their lives belonged to her. She did not declare herself queen. She never took a title greater than she already had, owner of the Silvestrem, because she did not need to. Her power on the continent was now without question. The nobles could fill the Silvestrem’s seats or their own graves. The choice was theirs, and their decision was unanimous.
As for Kander’s brigands, Vareclea had no desire for a standing army; she needed gladiators. Men, women and monsters now fell every week at the Silvestrem and the sorceress tasked Kander with refilling her dungeons with combatants. Kander saw an opportunity to position himself as the second most powerful person on the continent and thus the Seekers were born. Kander developed a strict code of conduct for the fledgling organization, ensuring that loyalty would be automatic for fear of reprisal from the rest of the group. Every Seeker was branded with a magical tattoo and their date of initiation. Each time a Seeker brings flesh to sell at the markets, be it man or beast, a new date is seared below the last. If the dates ever reach the Seeker’s wrist, they can retire with their wealth; nobility paid with the lives of others. If the last date is more than two years old, the Seeker becomes fair game for other Seekers, ensuring desperation would always drive the organization forward.
Early Seekers were true to their villainous roots, plaguing on the poor and the unarmed. They enslaved whoever they could find and sold them at the Silvestrem’s markets. However, Vareclea still desired creatures. So, Kander led an expedition, the first of many, into the Wilds, taking a hundred Seekers into the land of monsters. Fewer than 20 returned, but their cages were full and the owner of the Silvestrem was pleased. As the years passed, the number of people who were off limits to the Seekers began to outnumber the rest. Soon, expeditions into the Wilds became the only reliable source of new Gladiators. The next generation of Seekers began with this new normal as an allure of adventure and riches began to surround employment in the group.
It has been over 30 years since Vareclea killed King Oranak and four new Seekers have just left the Silvestrem in search of glory, gold, and one day, freedom. Their expedition into the Wilds will succeed or fail based on their individual skills and determination. They will either return victorious with monsters in tow, or disappear into the wilderness, another band of foolish souls claimed by the birthplace of the gods.