Fireclaws

Society

Flag Design of the Fireclaws

The society of the Fireclaws is among the most savage of the five. They can be quite wild when it comes to their customs. For example, it isn't uncommon to challenge a chieftain to a fight until death in order to acquire his position, if the contender has the support of the tribe. In the other hightribes the chieftain is usually replaced via a vote. Unfortunately, it also means that the Fireclaws are one of the most disjoined hightribes out there, only topped by the Flamewings. Internal strife turns into violent, sometimes even pretty large wars. More often than not the High Council of the Fireclaws has to step in and put an end to it, either by calming the belligerent parties or by supporting one of them in order to wipe out the other. At least the Fireclaws show more mercy when it comes to fighting their own people than fighting other hightribes, otherwise their internal wars would make them way too easy prey for the other hightribes. Should their hightribe come under attack, all of that is forgotten. Fireclaws stand together as if they were family when external forces are trying to mess with their business. The infighting between the Fireclaw tribes was even worse before the Emberspikes forcefully evicted them from their lands at the Central Arm of Life; their horrible defeat in the second war shook them awake and showed them that they can't just carelessly battle each other.

Fireclaws are also frequent raiders of the other hightribes and of non-desert nations. They do not bother the Aezkul, instead they prefer to push into the jungle and forcefully acquire some wood. Sometimes they go for really long trips along the southern outline of the Aezrikka Zule, in order to reach either the Gren Kingdom or the Sokan Empire. Especially the latter is pretty wealthy and thus makes for a great target for the plundering warbands of the Fireclaws. Even Treztown has come under attack before. Sometimes a lord manages to rail the tribes under his rule up so much that they form a very large raiding party and march through the realms of the three northern nations. They live fire in their wake and do not hesitate to assault and plunder small towns. Usually this trips take almost an entire season and less than half the host returns, because the rest died fighting. Those who do return, however, are now veterans and of great value and possess a lot of loot.

Their wild, tribal nature also affects their appearance. They enjoy it more than the other tribes to use body paint and tend to not like jewelry too much, seeing it as a rattling annoyance made for kul who think too highly of themselves. Ritualistic painting has an important place in Fireclaw society. Prior to every Day of Ascension, the successful younglings try to have their story painted on their body either by their hutsiblings or a friend. This concept applies to other ceremonies as well. During the bonding ceremony both partners draw promises and praise on each other's body, showing their affection for one another. Fireclaw priests sometimes take this custom over to other hightribes, but it is not always accepted. Some tribes simply do not put a lot of attention on body paint.

Despite their wild ways, they are a very productive sort of Blazkul, working hard and long in order to produce all the things their hightribe needs to remain strong and prepare for becoming the greatest once more. Their furnaces and forges are unmatched in productivity and efficiency, due to their strict organization and eagerness to work. While they are wild in battle, their weapon manufactures are very organized. Even villages usually have a blacksmith living in them, meaning that metal items can be locally produced and repaired if necessary. Especially for the raiding parties of the Fireclaws the widespread of smithing skills comes in handy, because it means that it isn't hard to find a suitable quartermaster among the Blazlin population. Overall, the smiths of the Fireclaws are renowned for the advanced techniques of their weapon smiths. A Fireclaw-made weapon will cut through scale and steel alike.

Holidays and Ceremonies
Day of Defeat

This is a sad day on which the Fireclaws remember their defeat in the second war. It was a horrible massacre, caused by the overconfident decision of their and the Blazewhips' warlord. An event to be remembered, so it never happens against in the future. The Fireclaws also intend to make the Emberspikes pay for it and take back what was once theirs. An entire ceremony has been created around this historical event. It is a bitter ceremony. The entire rest of the day is spend quietly and with meditation. Given that it was a negative historic event that is being remembered, the Fireclaws do not organize a feast or such. It is generally forbidden to celebrate anything during this day, the day before and the day after it. The memorial day itself is just ten days before the Day of Ascension.

During the ceremony itself, all tribe members gather on the plaza of their village, town or city. They wait until everyone has arrived, then their eldest lord or chieftain holds a small speech, reminding the population of the event. Every Fireclaw gives/renews an oath afterwards. A promise to retake the center of the desert for the Fireclaws and to kill Emberspikes wherever they meet them. They do this all together, aloud, the same oath every year a new. During war, the Fireclaws like to engage Emberspike forces before or during this day, then they use their blood to draw promises of death and doom onto their own scale. A gruesome ritual that underlines the hatred the Fireclaws harbor towards the Emberspikes.

Government

Minor Factions

In this section one will find a few of the tribes that exist within this hightribe. Note that it is not a full list, there's many more tribes than the ones mentioned.

Gul

A small nomadic tribe near the northern border of the Fireclaw territory. The Gul aren't remarkable for anything, except that they tend to have an unusual amount of hatchlings that have no secondary color. They've settled down in their past, but had to leave due to a feud with the local town. Now they are on the lookout for a new place and have begun looking for it at the outskirts of the desert, where less land has been claimed so far.

Notable members:

  • Draa: Tribe member.
Kriizlak

The Kriizlak own a village near the northern fringes of the Searing Deserts.

Notable members:

  • Razvier: Tribe member.
Military

The Fireclaw Hightribe use the same system of levies as the Blazewhips and Flamewings, as well as the same organization as mentioned on the Blazkul Hightribes page. Every town is responsible for raising the forces of the entire region, including every village and hamlet. They are put under the command of the local battlesteerers and battlelords and await their orders. Being a warrior is a natural action for Fireclaws and their Blazlin, they look forward to every skirmish they can get themselves into. The training of the Fireclaws is especially tough. It isn't unheard of that some were almost fatally injured during sparring sessions. Blazlin do not have it much better. Pit fights between Blazlin, sometimes even until death, are one of the legit ways to acquire leadership and glory. Bandchiefs tend to be the best warriors of their entire warband and lead their warriors by example, but they are not necessarily the wittiest ones. Sometimes a leadership personally and the strength of one's sword arm is all that is necessary to win a battle.

The strong point of the Fireclaws is not acting like a group, but individual combat prowess. Their Blazkul warriors are known for their great skill and amazing endurance. Even Emberspikes, despite being larger on average, are not a problem for the quick warriors of the Fireclaws. Naturally larger, sharper claws and their muscular legs give them an edge in ground combat, even if it weren't for the rigorous training that every Fireclaw has to endure regardless. Plenty of internal wars give them many opportunities to train their fighters and ensure that only the best Fireclaws survive. Another advantage the Fireclaws have is their savageness. In moments where other Blazkul would consider pulling back to take a breath, the Fireclaws push onward relentlessly. Even their Blazlin adopted the wild way to fight and meet the enemy with utter ferocity. Some especially large and strong Blazlin may become berserkers, more on them in their own section below.

Fireclaw warriors do not bother with tactics as much as the Emberspikes or Firehorns, they more so focus on breaking the enemy formation and then their morale. It is hard to rout an army of Blazlin, but not impossible. Sometimes it is just about having their commander order a retreat because the odds seem against him, only to turn their retreat into a disorderly one. In open battles, Fireclaws tend to rule the field when they manage to close the distance, but they are not as good at assaulting fortifications, as that takes more coordination and discipline than the Fireclaws are readily able to bring to the table. Once the fight has been brought from the walls into the city, however, the warriors can wreck havoc within the narrow streets.

Prior to every battle, if they have the time, the Fireclaws engage in ritual painting of their bodies. Both lin and kul paint on the bodies of their brothers in arms. Kul only paint on other kul, the lin may draw on the kul. The other way around it doesn't work, because it is a bit tough to draw intricate symbols on the smaller lin's bodies with the digits of the Fireclaws. The symbols they paint carry meaning. Sometimes they tell the story of the one wearing them, speak of their deeds and the glory attached to them. Others enjoy to draw promises of death for their enemies on their scale. Every Fireclaw draws the Claw, the symbol of the Fireclaws as seen above, on their flanks to make easier to identify them in battle. They use whatever color contrasts with their scales the most. Most common colors to use is red, black, yellow and blue. The latter three are made using berries or flowers, but the red color is often made from blood. Blazlin of the Fireclaws figured out that if they mix a certain plant's secretions with the blood, it will not dry as quickly and acquire traits similar to those of usual paint. The blood doesn't have to come from slain enemies, often it just comes from farm animals. If no fresh blood is available, then they just fall back to flowers and berries. Being covered in the smell of blood riles the Fireclaws up and supposedly makes them fight with greater fierceness.

Berserkers

Some Blazlin are said to have Blazkul blood going through their veins. They are the tallest, the strongest and the wildest warriors known to Threa. Even the Warriors of the Warg aren't nearly as filled with rage as these berserkers are. When they fight, they fight like they are in ecstasy and the blood of their foes is their drug. If it isn't spilled in great amounts, these warriors are not satisfied. They are never truly satisfied. Facing a berserker on the battle field means facing a force of nature, facing a Blazlin who dedicated his existence to nothing but combat. They do not learn a trade, neither do they help on the fields. Every day they train and harden themselves without care for anything but reaching perfection in their warrior skill. Priests reinforce their belief that if they fight well and fall in combat, they'll be allowed to join at the bonfire just like the other fire spirits.

In order to become a berserker, a Blazlin has to fight one. They do not need to win, just fight them for a while until the bandchief of the local berserker warband saw the fire of war burn brightly within them. These trials can become pretty brutal, because the berserker they face will try his earnest to wound them, to get them to rage madly. It is a test of mettle. The recruit won't be able to beat the berserker and if he is so unworthy that his attempt at joining is taken as an insult, the berserker will even kill them. Becoming one of the berserkers is a risky undertaking thus. If one is not a capable warrior when attempting to join, then they'll simply die during the trial. If they display great warrior skill and a certain degree of ferocity and savageness, then they will likely still be beaten, but when they are getting up they will see a hand outstretched for them to help them get up and bring them into the ranks of the berserkers.

Despite being a special kind of warrior, they do not have a special organization to them. Berserker warbands, unlike the normal ones, are permanent, meaning that even during peace they remain intact and do not busy themselves with normal work. In order to found a new berserker warband, some Blazlin warriors simply have to declare it and find a name for themselves. The chieftain has to approve of this and this approval is usually only earned if the Blazlin displayed the traits expected from a berserker. Should the newly founded warband come across another older berserker warband, then the older one will test their mettle by organizing a pit fight. Winning this fight or at least doing very well will legitimate them as a berserker warband.

Berserkers wear only scraps of armor. Their chest and abdomen is barren and some do not even wear pants. Arm guards, pauldrons and helms are among what some of them wear to protect themselves better against enemy strikes. These warriors also use a great variety of weapons. If they need to hit something at range or soften up an enemy formation before striking it, they'll use javelins. Once they engage in the melee they brandish great axes, battle axes and also hand axes. Some even wield two hand axes at the same time and engage their enemy with a wild fury of swings that become too many to block them. If the berserker in question has a one-handed weapon like the battle axe, they tend to also have a shield to protect their bare skin from projectiles.

Equipment

The Fireclaws, both lin and kul, do not use a lot of armor, preferring to remain more agile in order to profit more from their personal skill. Heavy armor would just weigh them down and prevent them from using their full potential. Fireclaws wear light plate armor, where only their legs, neck, back, head and tail root is protected. Their flanks and chest remain largely vulnerable. Every Fireclaw wears steel claw sheaths over their own claws so they can render flesh more easily.

Many Blazlin of the Fireclaw hightribe just wear their studded leather torso armor, but do not wear a tunic underneath. They like to have their scaled hide exposed so they can paint on it. Some don't bother with the greaves either, but the arm guards and helmets are commonly worn by all of their warriors otherwise. However, there's a few who even turn down those. A Fireclaw host can look quite interesting, given that every exposed bit of scale is covered in body paint. Fireclaw-lin warriors look truly wild, just like the Blazkul of their hightribe do. Veterans among the lin still receive scale armor, which weights them down some but allows them to take more punishment.

The lin-warriors' melee weapon of choice is not the one-handed sword, at least not for the majority of Fireclaw-lin, most simply prefer to use battle axes. They are one-handed as well, thus allowing the lin-warriors to wield the typical oval shield, but thanks to the heavy head they are great at hacking through enemy shields or armor. A major downside of the axe is that it can't be used as a stabbing weapon. This means that it isn't as useful for shield walls, except the Blazlin just hack their way through the enemy shields with overhead slashes, but it is very useful in one on one fights. As every hightribe, the Fireclaw-lin display the symbol of their hightribe on their shield and their favored ranged weapon is the longbow.

Tactics

The Blazlin and Fireclaws of this hightribe are not very disciplined warriors, but they still use tactics to win battles and not just raw strength. They focus on breaking enemy formations, so they can bring their individual skill to bear. Strong, sudden blows to the enemy's core play a big part in that, as they are meant to shatter any shield wall and disperse the enemy over a greater area, as well as making it impossible for their archers to let salvos rain upon the Fireclaw warrior without risking hitting their own people.

Usually, the lin warriors deploy in a rectangular formation, that is quite thick. They hold their shields in front and above them in order to protect themselves against projectiles while they advance towards the enemy. Not only do they protect themselves, however, berserkers hide among them, cowering under the roof made out of shields so they can't be taken out prior to the actual fighting. Once the enemy gets close, the first few rows of warriors haul their spears at the enemy, trying to hurt their formation and make the enemy's advance stagger, if they are moving at all. While the spears are flying, the berserkers get up and sprint at the enemy, assaulting their core in a wild rush of swinging axes and flying javelins. Since the enemy is preoccupied with protecting themselves from flying spears, the berserkers usually do not have any problem reaching their line and hacking down onto the first row of foes. Now with the enemy's lines shattered or barely holding, the rest of the Fireclaw warriors pour into the center of the enemy formation.

They always try to get the center first and then the flanks, in an attempt to violently push into the back of the enemy formation and perhaps reach their archers or engage the core formation from behind. The berserkers have no trouble fighting their way into the enemy lines and often end up deep inside the enemy formation, surrounded by foes. This binds many enemies and distract them from regaining their composure. However, if the Fireclaws fail to break the enemy formation quick enough and relief the berserkers, they'll die uselessly and the Fireclaws might become surrounded and annihilated. The more heavily armored veterans of the Fireclaws are supposed to prevent this. They are usually posted on the flanks of the formation to ensure that they hold and that their own army doesn't become surrounded.

During the entire ordeal, the longbow archers are offering supportive fire. They let salvo after salvo rain upon the enemy to soften them up. Sometimes they even try to sync a salvo with the spear volley of the warriors to maximize the effect on the enemy forces. The Fireclaws, the actual Blazkul, play a big role in the attempt to break up the enemy lines. With aerial duels they try to gain air superiority, or at least enough time to let fire rain upon the hostile Blazlin. It is also common that Fireclaws land on top of them, causing chaos aong their lines, then they fly up again to try and do this somewhere else. This way they help out where they are needed to prevent the destruction of their own force, but can't fully commit to one area. Fireclaws tend to not be commanded where to go, but each warrior simply acts on his own devises, giving them greater freedom in what they do and allowing to react rapidly.

Diplomacy
Foreign Relations

As likely expected from a nation made of raiders and savage warriors, the foreign relations the Fireclaws have with anyone, especially most of the other hightribes, are rather horrible. They hate each other to the bones and would rather kill each other than even bother to greet. Fireclaws hate the Emberspikes especially due to what happened in the past. However, there's one hightribe the Fireclaws have gotten along with in the past and still somewhat do today - the Blazewhips. They don't really have any kind of communication with each other, but they've allied in the past in order to combat the Emberspikes and the Firehorns together. Should either of these two threaten the Blazewhips or the Fireclaws, it is likely that they would ally again.

Relation Chart
Nation Relation
Hoz Kingdom No contact (hostile)
Rebel Kingdom No contact (hostile)
Republic of the Zule Minor conflict
Riz Tribes Minor conflict
Sozlin Tribes No contact (hostile)
Treztown No contact (hostile)
Truzlin Tribes No contact (hostile)
Gren Kingdom Minor conflict
Sokan Empire Minor conflict
Blazewhips Minor conflict
Emberspikes Minor conflict
Firehorns Minor conflict
Flamewings Minor conflict
Wolshak Packs No contact (hostile)
Treaties

(Expired) Blazewhip-Fireclaw Alliance: In past wars, the Blazewhips and Fireclaws often allied with each other to fight against the Emberspikes. Even now, despite the treaty having expired, the Fireclaws still see the Blazewhips as the first hightribe to go to if they require assistance.

Public Opinion

Fireclaws do not much of an opinion of most of Threa's nations. The northern realms are just targets for plunder with a population capable of fighting, which just makes it more of an interesting challenge. Sokans are the favorable target for a challenging raid, because of their domesticated Trezkul and their well trained legionnaires. They thus offer a good chance for both Fireclaws and their lin to get into a good fight. As any hightribe, the Fireclaws disapprove of the slavery in the Sokan Empire. Killing an enemy is seen as the better way to take care of them. Enslavement is worth than death in the eyes of the Fireclaws and is something that should not be done to anyone. If you already beat an enemy in combat, at least give them the honor of dying in battle instead of making them suffer further.

Rizlin and Rizkul are annoying and very deadly ambushers and stalkers in the eyes of the Fireclaws. This isn't considered dishonorable either, but it simply prevents that the Fireclaws can take the direct route through the rainforest in order to reach the northern realms. It also makes gathering wood in the jungle a pain. Overall, Fireclaws are not afraid of the Riz Tribes, but they do respect them for the threat they are to their operations.

Aezkul do not really matter to the Fireclaws. The former are seen as rare sights high up in the sky that rarely interact with the Fireclaws, even when they fly or march through their land in order to reach further away realms, gather wood in the rainforest or to attack other hightribes from an unexpected angle. Aezkul and Fireclaws leave each other alone most of the time. The inhabitants of the Zule are aware of this as well and do not hate the Fireclaws like they do the Flamewings. They are capable of differing between the hightribes, after all.

Every other hightribe is hated by the Fireclaws, especially the Emberspikes. Fireclaws harbor a deep hatred for the larger Blazkul, because they made the Fireclaws experience a humiliating defeat and took great swaths of land from them in the Second War of the Hightribes. They despise the arrogant nature most Emberspikes tend to have and want to put them back into their place, so that their own hightribe can be at the very top again. Towards Blazewhips the Fireclaws have a better attitude. Having been allied in the past, the Blazewhips are seen as trustworthy enough to work together with them again in the future. This doesn't stop the Fireclaws or the Blazewhips from raiding or fighting the other, however. They just tend to not pick each other as often as targets for such aggressive activities.

Architecture

City Structure

Notable Structures
Dark Pits (375 br)

The Dark Pits are a cluster of coal pits located in the northern half of the Southern Searing Desert. Digging began roughly in 375 br. The Fireclaw Hightribe controls all of them, and the Blazlin and Blazkul miners dig up ton after ton of the dark rocks to feed the fires of their furnaces and forges. These holes that have been dug into the ground are the only place where one will find ample amounts of coal in the Searing Deserts. Day after day the Fireclaws and their Blazlin dig out ton after ton to feed their furnaces and forges. Without these pits most furnaces in their southern territory would stay cold. Sometimes they cave in or a landslide happens and a few Blazlin are buried alive. An acceptable price to pay to keep an entire war economy running. Of course there is other coal mines in the desert, but they are smaller and yield less production per day. Sometimes the diggers even excavate odd skeletons here. Blazkul care little for it, but a small group of Blazlin have begun to gather and study these bones. It appears that some of the skeletons are from oddly deformed kul, but there aren't any known reports of mass graves having been dug in the area during past wars. Rumors have it that especially curious Blazlin might even plan on smuggling these bones to the Republic of the Zule, hoping that they will have an easier time figuring out what they mean.

History

Present

Currently, the Fireclaws are the second strongest tribe when it comes to population and their military strength. Despite the Emberspikes taking the first place in both categories, if by a small margin, they still plan to attack the Emberspikes and take back what is rightfully theirs in their eye. The High Council of the Fireclaws is certain that it is possible to beat them through superior warrior skill and strategy. It'll be a long and bloody war, but the Fireclaws are prepared to wage it. Such an attack is likely to draw the attention of the other hightribes and drag the entire desert into a Third War of the Hightribes; the Fireclaws know that and count on it even. It might draw the Firehorns to fight as well, which would mean the Emberspikes are faced with a war on two fronts, which would grand the Fireclaws local superiority on their own border with them. Maybe the war will even draw in more than just the desert; the High Council has special operations planned in the rainforest in order to acquire large amounts of wood for charcoal and war machinery - something which is likely to draw the ire of the Riz Tribes.