The Adventurer's Guild
Master of the Merchant's Guild
As he grows older, Val becomes more distinguished-looking.
Though not considered traditionally attractive, there is something magnetic about his presence. He wears only the latest fashions, always with the most severe cut possible. He is also constantly aware of any room’s lighting and acoustics, using both to his advantage at every opportunity.
Val Mokk is not a evil man. He is a patriot, a champion of the average Vendel (and even Vestenmannavnjar). He sees that the world has more to offer than freezing poverty and bloody raids upon unsuspecting innocents. He wants only the best for his country, and if he becomes filthy rich in the process, that is his just reward. He has received a chance for greatness and is determined to take it.
Of course, that’s not as simple as it sounds.
He was born Sigvald Mjølkke, the only child of two bitterly poor thralls. Even though his cousins were fleeing to the cities and creating new lives for themselves, his parents adhered to the old ways, working the land for an overweight jarl on Grimstadd who took liberties with any female subordinate who struck his fancy.
Young Sigvald literally watched his mother work herself to death in the frigid winter of his tenth year. She was chopping wood for her family when she suffered a heart attack and collapsed into a snow drift. When he and his father told the jarl what had happened, the man sent his household servants to collect the wood. He said the ground was frozen too hard for a proper burial, but he would attend to the matter in the spring. Unfortunately the jarl did not have a chance to keep his promise. The winter was exceptionally cold and hungry wolves carried off the body long before the first thaw.
Sigvald was devastated by these events, but even more so by his father’s continued devotion to the jarl. The boy could not imagine working in the horrible man’s service any longer, and pleaded again and again with his father to help them break free. The older man refused, saying they had a duty to stay and work, as their ancestors had done for countless generations before them. In the following weeks, Sigvald grew to despise his father’s weakness, seeing him as little more than a talking beast of burden. On the first warm night, the young boy ran away.
After a series of misadventures and close encounters, he wound up in the developing city of Kirk. Never before had he seen such wealth and comfort. Even the jarl his family had toiled for would be a pauper among the affluent who walked its streets. His mind raced, wondering why every Vesten did not live this way, why men and women like his parents would choose to exist in pitiful conditions just because their ancestors had done so. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. With tears in his eyes, he promised himself that he would never again find himself in such dire circumstances and that he would somehow save his people from themselves.
To survive, Sigvald changed his name to the simpler “Val Mokk” and apprenticed himself to Daegal Haakon, a minor clerk within the Merchant’s Guild. The work was tedious and taxing, though nothing close to what the boy knew back home. He threw himself into his labour and was an energetic study. His skills quickly surpassed those of his mentor, but he knew it would take a miracle to reach the heights his heart desired.
When the miracle came, it arrived in the flames of tragedy. A fire, allegedly started by Vestenmannavnjar fanatics, gutted the Merchant’s Guildhouse. At great risk to his own life, Val rushed inside and helped several prominent members find their way to safety. Among these was Master Kaarlo Ottosson, the head of the guild and important Chair of the Vendel League. The Master was so taken with the boy’s courage and dedication that he relieved him of his indentures and took him under his personal supervision.
The Master had been searching for a suitable heir, and Val was in the right place at the right time. Kaarlo groomed Val into the man he is today. He taught him the finer points of diction and grace, and helped him erect an emotional barrier to shut out the world. But the greatest lesson that Val learned came directly from Kaarlo’s favourite saying: “You don’t have to be liked to be successful, but you do have to be respected.” It has since become his own motto.
When the time came for Val to assume the Chair of the Merchant’s Guild, he was more than prepared. He was a stealthy predator in his business negotiations, always managing to get the best end of every deal. He resolved in-guild conflicts with an iron fist and soon exerted an equal amount of influence within the Vendel League, swaying votes with his powerful words and presence. He obviously had a natural talent with politics, and his ultimate goal was equally clear. The nation of Vendel would dominate the world economy and every person in its shores would prosper, whether they wanted to or not. Everyone agreed that if such a lofty objective could ever be reached, Val Mokk was the man to do it.
Val continues to press for his dream. He works constantly, and takes no time for a personal life. To compensate, he has surrounds himself with the best of everything his phenomenal fortune can buy. He studies everyone he meets, sizing them up in a glance and determining if they have anything to offer. If they do not, he sees no reason to waste his valuable time. However, if they appear useful, he will not rest until they are securely in his pocket.
When it comes to the Vestenmannavnjar, Val is especially stern. He knows that their devotion to their backwards ways is the greatest threat to his goal. He has no quarrel with those who wish remain isolated, for he knows they will eventually die out. Only those few zealots who bring bloodshed into business matters are a real concern. After surviving two assassination attempts, he has come to realize that these extremists must be dealt with as harshly as they deal with others. The Vestenmannavnjar hate him with an undying passion, and he knows they blame him for all of the ills which have befallen them. He doesn’t care.