The Black Hand
King Rufus formed the Black Hand during the War of Two Kingdoms. They played a pivotal role in bringing an end to the decade-long war.
Creating the HandKnowing he wanted to be able to deal death swiftly and quiety, Rufus approached the elders from Temple of Hamar. The elders provided a few monks from the temple who were well versed in bringing about death. The Master of Rats, leader of The Innocent, provided some of the best pickpockets and theives for a fair price. He also took the best fighters from his standing battilion. Rufus had ten people in the unit, both men and women, and he set them to work. Each group was to train the others in their ways. None of the chosen knew why they were there, but they were earning a gold per week and were given free lodgings and meals. They studied and trained hard. Rufus had his generals train them in military formations and marching ranks. He had courtesans and chevaliers train them in the arts of eroticism, seduction and comfort. For more than a year, the students learned a range of skills including warfare, pickpocketing and lockpicking, poisoning and bleeding people quickly, reading, writing, proper etiquette, and dancing. At the end of the training, five were selected to continue and their first job was to take the life of one of the people they had studied with.
The Hand has a circular structure. There are only ever five members of the hand at any one time, and all decisions are decided by a vote.
The MasterThe Master has no say in the day to day running of The Hand and is not privvy to their actions. The Master is charged with scouting and training potential recruits. They are usually retired members of The Hand.
The Hand technically do not exist. It is rumored that if one makes a generous donation at a temple of Hamar they will be visited by a cloaked man who will pass on a request. Some swear that the donation works, others swear that it does not.
Note: This is more a history of the Surrender at Riversend and not specifically about the Black Hand After their creation, the Black Hand was given their first mission. They were to infiltrate Yarrin, capital of the Northern Kingdom, and feed information back to the King. They did this successfully for quite a time. No kingdom could gain a successful advance past Riversend and it had become the main focus of the war. It was continually being retaken by both sides. Rufus sent a message to Ulysses to negotiate peace at Riversend, and both Kings travelled to take part in the meeting. Once Ulysses departed Yarrin, the Hand moved to their next mission. They were to wait two weeks until after the King had departed, kill the queen and kidnap Princess Ara. Doing just that, they rode from the north at speed, reaching Riversend the day before Ulysses was due to arrive. On the day Ulysses arrived and negotiations were to begin Rufus was waiting for him at the gates of Riversend. The Kings formally greeted each other and Ulysses told Rufus of the news of the death of his wife and that his daughter was missing. He accused Rufus of foul play, and asked for a respite in peace talks while he grieved. Rufus agreed, but first wanted to give Ulysses a gift. One member of the hand dangled Princess Ara from the parapets of Riversend. Rufus demanded an immediate surrender, and Ulysses conceded defeat. A pre-prepared declaration was signed giving Ulysses the title of Baron in a Logger’s Rest. The northern army stood down. On a signal given by Rufus, the girl was thrown from the parapet and Ulysses was ripped from his horse and thrown into a dungeon, cited as being a traitor to the crown. Prince Marcus II, heir to the throne was unimpressed by his Uncle’s way of negotiating peace and that night killed his uncle while he slept. The next day, the Black Hand presented themselves to King Marcus who had them taken into custody to be hanged the next day. Ulysses was freed, but fell on his own sword before arriving at Logger’s Rest. Unaware of their skillset, the members of the Black Hand managed to escape through the night and went underground.