The Eight Crimes of The Iconodules
The Ladrigal Hearth
“Ladrigal, let this missive find you well, for none should be made victim of a violence they did not earn.
Crime, and criminality, are two questions I cannot answer, despite years dedicated to the craft of disassembling the purpose and methods of actions disparately named illegal, or immoral, or, in some cases, evil. Once there were men and women who could see the pulse of selfishness and greed where it bled over into cruelty and unforgivable crime. Such creatures walked this world who made it their lives to visit these crimes back upon their perpetrators, and in a world where people are comprised of their ancestors’ will, where those that came before dictate the actions of those to come, your actions would be true and noble and good.
This is not that world, Hearth.
When I stood in your most sacred of places (if that word means anything to you), I saw a family knit by necessity and trust. I saw brothers and sisters embrace in smiling realization that they, too, survived another year together. I bowed my head at your invocation of sorority and your affirmation of unity. This was a family that would do anything for each other.
And in that affirmation, you have lost your way.
You will not believe me, for our parting was nothing but amiable, but you told me in that parting that should I ever turn against the Hearth, and betray your secrets, you would have me dead, and it would grieve you to do so. Very well, then let me revisit that kindness upon you. The things you do, Ladrigal Hearth, are vengeful murder. That alone is not crime, but vengeance for crimes long past? To punish the ancestors of the perpetrators for their blood? That is certainly evil.
I know, I have seen it pulse in your veins.
This will feed into your narrative that those outside your hidden spaces only conspire against your people. Perhaps you are right. But perhaps, too, they have good reason."
-Noam Kelling, in his last letter to the Ladrigal Hearth before warning The City of their existence
The Ladrigal Hearth are sometimes called the Hidden Clan. If that is true, then they are hidden in plain sight. Wherever one walks in Kelasho, there are the creatures that seem to have no place in the violent, tense district: the gnomes, the halflings, other creatures whose size affords them no advantage. They walk unafraid however. The reason for their courage is The Ladrigal Hearth.
Consensus seems to be that the Hearth is formed of the architects, both enslaved and free, that were brought in to design and construct the massive fortress itself. The small families of halflings and gnomes tried to make homes among the Clans, but found themselves bullied into subservient positions. This did not last, however, and in the crawlspaces and secret passages of Kelasho, those folk escaped, building a secret meeting hall where they plotted a way to earn respect and freedom from the other Clans. That place is the eponymous Hearth, and that plan was named “Ladrigal”, a gnomish word that means “unforgiveness”.
Over the course of years, the Hearth developed silent means of communicating and moving within the district (though they seemed incapable of tunneling through or subverting the walls of The City itself. They collected materials, made weapons, developed techniques to fight the larger creatures of the district. Their plan was to gain, in one swift maneuver, a measure of respect that would never be doubted by any of the orcish clans. It was said that a small band of halflings carried out the plan, using gnomish devices and magic. On a day thereafter declared holiday by the Hearth, a day named Haern, the halflings simultaneously executed the leaders of the original eighteen clans, plunging the district into a brutal internal conflict, of which not all of the original clans survived.
The Hearth earned their respect, but also took with it the fear of the small folk. Nobody in Kelasho mishandles the two races of the Hearth, because they are more than willing to revisit that same vengeance upon anyone that touches their new, unbroken family. The Greater Clans are always seeking out the location of the Ladrigal Hearth itself, a secret location from where the twin races guide themselves and draw much of their power. Those that get too close, though, or ask too publicly, tend to go missing, drugged and dragged into the walls of the district, which the superstitious orcs say are full of their peoples’ corpses, killed by the insane halflings.
The truth is, as always, more complex.