The Red Hand Organization in Etrea | World Anvil

The Red Hand

Hatred and fear

Content warning: Descriptions of violence, including against children.  
Another one? This is the third in a week. I wish they'd be more discreet about it.
— A city guard, upon the discovery of a 'displayed' Koushan Mai body
  Whilst Koushan Mai worship is punishable by death in Caillah, Serukis has no such law. For some, this is an oversight, and one that they need to rectify by taking the law into their own hands.   This group is known as the Red Hand.  

The Red Hand

  The Red Hand are not an organised group. In general, they hold no meetings and have no leader. Instead, they are united by a hatred and distrust of the Koushan Mai people. In some towns, however, the Red Hand are a more formal and overt presence, with elected leaders and occasional meetings.   No one is sure when the Red Hand first began to appear in Seruic society, just that it happened after the law against Koushan Mai worship was passed in Caillah.   When interacting with Koushan Mai, members of the Red Hand tend to cover their faces to hide their identity. This is more to protect themselves from potential social censure than fear of legal consequences.  

Messages and Murder

This is our land!
— Carved into the chest of a Koushan Mai victim
  The goal of the Red Hand is the eradication of the Koushan Mai from Serukis. They believe that Serukis is their land and that the Koushan Mai are invaders - although the Koushan Mai are actually the natives of northern Caia.   Members of the Red Hand will often follow people they have identified as Koushan Mai and wait for them to do something that can be construed as worship. Whether it is actually an act of worship is irrelevant; this is merely an excuse for them to pass judgement. This judgement is usually fatal.   Some members of the Red Hand do not bother to stick to their farce of judgement and punishment. These members will often kill Koushan Mai on sight.   Often, a bloody handprint is left at the scene of these crimes as a calling card. This is intended as a warning for other Koushan Mai in the area to get out of town.   Crimes against Koushan Mai - including murder, rape and assault - are not often investigated in Serukis. If they are investigated, arrests are not often made. The Red Hand use this fact to operate without fear of punishment.   In some cases, guards have been known to walk past an attack in progress without acknowledging it.

Notable Killings


Woman and Baby

One hot afternoon, outside of Hope's Fall, a young Koushan Mai woman was found with her throat slit under a tree and a bloody handprint across her face. A newborn baby was hanging from the branch above her head, its umbilical cord fashioned into a noose.   Upon further investigation, it was found that the afterbirth was still inside the woman's body, meaning that the killer had waited until just after she had given birth - and possibly even aided her. A bowl of water and a cloth was found nearby.  

The Children in the Fountain

One misty morning, citizens of Ash River awoke to find the mutilated bodies of five young Koushan Mai children in the town fountain.   Public outcry caused this incident to be investigated. However, no arrests were made, despite several witnesses coming forward to report bragging in the local tavern.
I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I fear for my children if I don't hide it.
— A Koushan Mai mother

Cover image: by Matt Lamers


Author's Notes

This article was written as part of Summer Camp 2020.   Prompt: Write about an organisation in your world that has become so powerful it's above the law.

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Jul 19, 2020 14:41

Very good balance of detail in this article. A tough one to get right, but I think you've done just that. Hard-hitting, it gets over the brutality, fear and tensions that exist. I also like the contrast in how the group operates / what form it takes in different locations - showing how this could develop/escalate in the future with appalling implications for many. Really well written, filled with tension and foreboding - a thumbs up from me :)

Jul 19, 2020 14:58 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you very much. I really wanted to try to tackle this topic with sensitivity, particularly with the state of the world right now. I definitely feel as though this group has the potential to grow much more dangerous in the future.   Thank you again <3

Jul 19, 2020 15:36

I could feel the sensitivity in the article - partly through how descriptions while haunting, were not overly graphic - you handled that exceptionally well. And at the same time, this stuff happens so you have to be true to it and not sugarcoat it. I think you are a really skilled writer - I'd gladly read your books.

Jul 19, 2020 16:29 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you. That means a lot <3

Jul 19, 2020 15:12 by Caitlin Phillips

The Red Hand works really well as a name and symbol. Simple, chilling and haunting.

Cait x
Jul 19, 2020 16:28 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you! <3

Jul 20, 2020 14:24 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

I also like the name of the group. It fits them very well.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Jul 20, 2020 14:26 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you! I was stuck on the name for ages.

Sep 4, 2020 12:09 by CoffeeQuills the Coffee Quaffer

That's a chilling quote at the bottom, "I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I fear for my children if I don't hide it." Makes it go straight to the heart (and stay lodged in there for quite a bit).

Sep 5, 2020 18:52 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you! I'm glad it had an emotional impact. :)

Oct 17, 2020 20:14 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooof. A very brutal group. Well done. The details are lovely and you place these nice little touches that say so much more, like the king not condoning them and how important, how telling that fact is. I have a thing when it comes to kids, and the sidebar definitely shows just how brutal the hand is. Not something I'd like to see in the real world, to be sure. A bad time for these poor people.

Oct 17, 2020 22:21 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thanks, Dylon! It was a tough group to write about and get in the headspace of, but I didn't want to write around the truth either.   I love the Koushan Mai. I'm hoping to write much more about them in the near future.

Oct 17, 2020 22:49 by R. Dylon Elder

Looking forward to it! Keep up the great work.

May 29, 2021 21:38 by Lilliana Casper

Just reread this article today. Horrifying, but interesting. I would like to eventually hear more about them in the future, hopefully how they are overcome, but that would be difficult and maybe not even possible. This article was very well done and I got chills reading about the unsolved murders, especially the one of the mother and child. Nice work!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
May 30, 2021 10:41 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you! They are not very nice at all. It's very difficult to bring them to justice, especially as the majority of those in power and in the law don't care.

Sep 30, 2021 17:39 by Daniel

I hope these depraved psychopaths meet very miserable endings. That last quote by that Koushin-Mai mother is heavy.

Sep 30, 2021 18:23 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Thank you. Me too. This was a heavy article to write. <3

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