Although an old family that predates even the founding of the empire, by 4458 House Arkona had sunk into poverty and faced the very real threat of extinction. In desperation, Lord Garath Arkona of Korvosa took out a loan from House Jeggare and purchased a
lightly armed caravel he named Reprieve. Garath hired the smallest crew he could and, in the late spring, the Reprieve set sail for distant and exotic Vudra. After many trials and setbacks, the Reprieve finally docked in the Vudra port city of Sihadriman in late summer, 4460. Lord Arkona, with his sociable brother and advisor Jenkson, explored Sihadriman for several weeks, trying desperately to fill the ship’s hold with spices, silks, and other Vudran luxuries. At long last, Garath found a seller and negotiated enough wares to fill the holds. The Reprieve set sail shortly thereafter and returned to Korvosa in half the time it took to get to Vudra. Historians suspect Garath and Jenkson encountered
some kind of monumental event on their voyage, for they seemed much changed upon their return to Korvosa. The shipment they brought back nearly sank the Reprieve, but it more than returned House Arkona to a place of prominence in the nobility. Overnight, the much derided house went from among the poorest noble families to second only to House Jeggare in wealth. Lord Garath and Jenkson Arkona indulged in nearly every vice available, from drugs to cruelty to pleasures of the flesh. Rather than bankrupt the family again, they used their influence to acquire control over the trades in which they showed the most enjoyment. Over the course of the next 20 years, they took control of almost every tavern
and brothel on Endrin Isle and allegedly founded at least two drug dens. In 4483, both Garath and Jenkson disappeared without warning, only to be replaced by a previously unknown son and daughter, respectively. The new Lord Arkona and his female cousin picked up where their fathers left off, and, under their reign, the family gained increased influence in Korvosa’s small and much-suppressed underworld. As Korvosa grew and spread, so too did the number of vices and the number of people engaging in them. At the conclusion of the Cousins’ War, of all the noble families,House Arkona alone remained on Endrin Isle. For the past two centuries, House Arkona has only increased its wealth and inf luence in the city. Apparently based on the tradition long ago established by Lord Garath and his brother, the house always answers to two leaders:
The Lord Arkona (never a Lady Arkona) continues in some capacity to maintain the reputation for cruelty and coldness earned by Garath so long ago, while a close relative of the current lord acts as his right-hand man (or woman) and is the face of the family at gatherings of nobles.
Nothing occurs in the back alleys or stinking vaults of Old Korvosa without House Arkona knowing about it. It is a poorly kept secret that the family controls or has inf luence over every major (and most minor) criminal enterprise in the city, from watered-down mead to murder. The current lord of the house, Glorio Arkona, attempts at every opportunity to lift up the poor and provide them with enough sustenance to survive. To that end, he has leveled several buildings the family owns, including a tavern and a brothel, to make room for massive low-rent tenement apartments. These actions have made Glorio the most popular nobleman among the city’s many poor and destitute and has caused no end of anxiousness and worry from his family members.