The Aekart Cartel was the predecessor to the society that would become the Ashenfold. Before the arrival of the Wandering Asura, all of the power exuded by the Aekart Cartel was in its ability to use connections to get what others needed. For this reason the Cartel was split into Five independent companies that each favored a region of Tyria as their home territory. From Cantha to Elona, the Aekarts opened and controlled businesses that they used to fuel their ambitions at home in post-War Kryta.
When the Aekarts first moved their business from Rin to LIon's Arch they were unsure how to proceed. This was the time when Jacque Aekart would be assassinated and the families would gather to decide the fate of the Aekart Cartel. At that point the families were at their weakest. Never before had all five leading Heads of Household been there. The air was filled with tension as weeks of negotiations ended in a stalemate. Accusations flew as the last remaining heirs of the primary branch of the House of Aekart used what leverage they could to balance the scales.
In the end, the nascent leaders were able to stem the stagnation of the Aekart Cartel, but only for a few decades. By that time the Cartel had begun to rot from within.
Before there were sects, the Cartel was split into five autonomous companies with each being ran by a Guild Master. Each company in their own right was a guild founded upon the traditions of the very entities that had once nearly torn apart the Northern Kingdoms during the Guild Wars. Each Guild Master in turn was generally the leading member of one of the Five Families who oversaw the general expenses of each House. The Five Companies were formed far before the actual acquisition of each family. In truth the services and rackets controlled by each of the Houses have existed for centuries if not since the foundation of the very Kingdoms they once served.
The Aekart VentureEdit
When Aekart the Founder first arrived in Rin, he was a man without any idea what to do. His skills lay in finances and no local merchant would take him on. After months of searching and burning through his supply of gold he begged for an apprenticeship from a man named, Disrcoll Orik. Against the man's better judgement, Driscoll took the Orrian in and set him to work reworking the finances for his mercenary guild known as the Sons of Rin. Over the years, Aekart would use the capital he made working for Driscoll to finance his own small salvage stall, which he ran at the local market. Aekart would eventually marry Driscoll's daughter, and through careful scheming would rework it so that his family would inherit the majority stake of the Sons. Using the new capital he earned after Driscolls passing, he invested more into his own company. By the time his Grandson began to come to power in 960 AE, the Aekart Venture had become a major import and export firm within Ascalon. More profit would later be had after the Aekarts made a deal with several Corsair crews to smuggle items in and of the Southern Continents.
Over time as the Aekarts acquired newer families to their fold and their respect holdings, the Aekart Venture evolved more into a banking guild. By the time Jacque Aekart was leading the family they were dodging White Mantle inspectors as they set up illegal loan operations within Lion's Arch. Going from simple company to banking guild took three generations, as the Venture became the primary financier and money manager for the other Aekart Companies.
The Sons of RinEdit
Centuries ago, only perhaps fifty years after the Exodus, there arose a warrior in the Northern Kingdoms that fought with Valor and Honor. He was known as, Orik the Just, and his skill in combat and strategy was infamous in various circles. After many years of fighting the Charr in the Northern reaches of Ascalon, he settled down and began teaching the path of heroic professions to the next generation. Over time the Orik family built not only an academy that taught the arts of the warrior, but also began to build a mercenary guild to fight threats for caravans passing through the Shiverpeaks. Eventually the guild would name itself, the Sons of Rin, after moving to the city in 9th century AE. By 900 AE, they established themselves not only in Rin, but in the ancient capital of Drascir. This led to further ventures from exporting to investing in mining operations on the foothills of the Shiverpeak mountains. However, the Sons of Rin would fall as the Aekart Venture would begin to rise. After their Guild Master died in 917 AE, the Sons passed to the daughter of Driscoll Orik, Almyria Orik, and through marriage into the hands of the man who had formerly apprenticed to their lord. Even when they lost their original power, the Orik family expanded and kept work as a fighting guild for many years. Eventually they made a deal with the Bannikov family of Surmia, to increase their holdings.
The Orik Family would retain control and operation of the mercenary guild for quite some time, all the way down to their time as a support unit for the Ebon Vanguard when they founded Ebonhawke in 1079 AE.
The Veiled OniEdit
Service It began in Shing Jea Island when the Zhang clan lost a son in a duel to the rival Liao family. For generations the two had fought (some say dating back to before Kaing united the tribes of the Empire) and many lives were lost. Eventually the Zhang were able to gain their final vengeance when a member of the Liao clan became pregnant out of wedlock. News soon spread throughout the island of Family's dishonor, and the Zhang rose to prominence within their village. Ever after, the Zhang began to see a use for the placement of blackmail and stealing information. Over time they created a small shop in Kaineng which, by the time of Emperor Angsiyah, was a well known place to gain information when one needed it. Called the Veiled Oni Serice, the Zhang paid spies and sent even their own clansmen to infiltrate the likes of the Jade Brotherhood and the Am Fah. With the knowledge obtained, they gained a small profit for their work and defense against those that would attack them.
By the time of 1070 AE, when Jacque Aekart was murdered, the Zhang still retained enormous platitudes in their ability to broker, acquire, and control information. Many at the time had even begun working as questioners and cleaners, using their vassals, the Seung clan, to deal with loose ends.
The Saffron TravelersEdit
They were a traveling circus, a medley of mummers and entertainers; and they were the best that money could by on the border of Vabbi and Kourna. Some say they had Corsair roots while others said they were just nomads who kept to themselves while making stops on the trade routes through the Provinces of Elona. That did not matter because they were the originators of the Qaijur Clan, and the very manner in which the children of Qaijur rose to greatness in holdings of Chohkin. The Saffron Travelers were a traveling circus and network of troupes that the Qaijur operated in Vabbi as a means to entertain, while gaining favor with the local nobility. This interest in moving above was the based upon the fact that many of the Qaijur and their sister tribe, the Bahur, had spent years climbing the social ladder while trying to diverge themselves of their nomadic poverty.
By the time of Turai Ossa, the two tribes had arisen as merchant families in the lands of Vabbi, and begun to expand their original caravans. This led to not only trade, but a means for them to take advantage of the new united Elona. Soon the Saffron Traveler troupes were found doing plays in Mihanu Township, to the Yahnur Market. When the Aekarts approached the Qaijur clan in 1018 AE, the tribe of entertainers took advantage of the possibility of spreading their influence to other parts of Tyria.
By 1020 AE, the Qaijur and their Bahur partners had begun sending negotiators and artists to Lion's Arch, advertising their act. Within a few years a permanent stage was create for local villagers, as members of the Qaijur began to move to the city. However their plans were setback after the Charr invasion and the rise in power of the White Mantle. Eventually the Qaijur would return, but not after many years, falling back upon their power base in Chohkin.
The Amber GuidesEdit
They always carried blue lacquered axes, and bore with them hounds that rarely ever left their side; they were the Amber Guides. They began as simple scouts for Kurzick warparties when the forces of Emperor Yian Zho of Cantha had attempted to invade the Echovald. Over time the scouts of the Amber Guids solidifed under the banner of a man simply named, Gerald, and his good friend, Siegfried Radegund. The two fought bravely for years during that time, and eventually Gerald was slain by Canthan soldiers on the border of the forest. After his death, many members of the Amber Guides swore undying loyalty to his family, creating the base of the new Kurzick House of Von Gerule. Radegund's descendants swore the same thing and both Houses would become intertwined for years. The two Houses would lead the Amber Guides for several centuries, and eventually would discover a hidden treasure trove of jade while surveying the Luxon border.
The jade was located in an area where the Sea had once entered into a small, yet deep harbor along the coast of the forest. With such a defensible point and profit to be had, the guides brought in miners from both houses to begin operations. For many years House von Gerule and their cousins in Radegund used the money to build a small, but grand cathedral in the Echovald, to the combined efforts of two families. It was this small connection and their skill in tracking that lured the attention of the Aekart family interests in the Imperial capital.
Growth and AcquisitionEdit
The growth of the Aekart Families from a single stall along the Northern Wall to five powerful companies by 1070 was an exponential growth that even Aekart himself could not foresee. By 982 AE, a deal with certain Corsair crews went south as the Second Great Corsair War erupted in Elona, which in turn stymied the work of the House of Aekart. Even then, they were able to fully fund caravans across the Shiverpeaks, while using the skills of the Sons of Rin to defend their trade routes. With the loss of the Elonan deal, and the rackets that had existed in Istan, the Aekart Venture began to fund emissaries to look elsewhere. Interest turned to the south, and the Aekarts began to search for any wayward sailor willing to smuggle negotiators into the Empire of the Dragon. Breaking the isolation of the Empire would prove not only difficult, but nigh impossible. If it were not for a small village clan known as the Seung on Shing Jea, the Aekarts would never have made their way into Cantha. Using intermediaries, the first move by the Aekart family was to establish a foothold in not only the Imperial Capital, but also the southern regions of the continent.
Initial negotiations with Luxon families fell through quickly with secretive meetings in Shing Jea with Kurzick middle men. The attempted acquisition by the Aekarts of the southern Kurzick-owned Amber Guide's guild fell apart. The Second Corsair War ended just as the Guild Wars started to rage across the northern Kingdoms. Interest in the lands of the South increased so that the Aekarts increased pressure through underhanded mans upon their possible Kurzick partners. While the pressure on the Amber Guide's ruling owner of House von Gerule started to cause them to faulter, the Qaijur Clan of Chohkin signed an order of partnership with the Aekart Venture.
Soon the Saffron Travelers entertainment guild found itself spreading north in 1020 AE, to entertain the weary troops of the Guild Wars. At the same time, the Aekarts gained access to the riches of Vabbi, and enough funds to finally topple the last remaining defenses of the Amber Guide's leading Guild Masters. With the marriage between the House of Aekart and House von Gerule, a lifeline to connect the far south, and interests in the North, was needed.
So, soon once again, the Aekarts turned to their supporters in the Seung family, and used the criminal clan's connections to locate a possible middle man for the Dragon Empire. Secretly, for the past few decades, the Seung had hidden their true benefactors while taking money from Aekart interests. After seeing the pressure exerted upon House von Gerule, the Seung clan decided it was time to turn on their true masters, the Zhang clan, and reveal the Zhang's own connections as information brokers via their Veiled Oni Service guild.
The revelation was not unexpected by the Aekart families, who at this time were under the reign of Elrik Aekart, a fifth generation descendant of the founder. A man with a keen eye and diplomatic mind, Elrik married himself to the Zhang family by taking one of their daughters as his wife. Although this move did infuriate another possible marriage with the Amsel family of Surmia, the man believed that direct connections with Vabbi would prove more profitable (and it did).
After the acquisition of the Veiled Oni Service, the Aekarts began to utilize the various resources of their newly acquired companies. Ordering the formation of a ruling council of all family Heads of Household, who would then oversee a secondary advisory council of the company Guild Masters. The foundations of the modern Aekart were then created as the Five Families set their sites on expanding their worth and increasing profit with the end of the Guild wars.