The Stygian Order is a group of (mostly) Sightless Ones who, unable to find a place in any other area, took up the most devious work of all: death. Some of its members are those who attempted to fit into society and were unable to, while others are those who simply never tried. Members of the Order wear red glass eyes and cowls as a discreet way to signify their involvement. Some of the more dedicated also sow ink into the skin of their wrists in the shape of the Order's insignia. The Order operates from a camp near lake Isotarn. Recently, the Order has begun to accept non-Qoh members. Many veterans are not happy about this, as they consider humans, elves, and dwarves to be lesser than them in many ways, but the word of the grand master is law.
"Without the Code, we are nothing more than mercenaries."
- The word of the grand master is law.
- Never betray the Order or its secrets. Members are bound in blood and darkness for life.
- Never take the life, or attempt to take the life, of another member of the Order.
- Do only what the mission or contract dictates and nothing more.
- Grand Master
The role of the shadow is to literally shadow other members of the Order, trying to stay hidden and not get in the way. This not only teaches them the skills and ways of the Order, but trains them in stealth as well. To get caught by an older member of the Order is to be shamed.
Apprentice2 - 5 years
Apprentices are shadows that have proven their mettle and were selected by an older member of the Order. Some shadows never get chosen, and therefore never progress past that rank. Apprentices receive in-depth, one-on-one training with their mentors. They typically assist their mentors on missions, and towards the end of their training, are given their own missions to complete.
WarriorWarriors are split into four different categories: initiate, warrior, champion, and veteran.
Initiate2 - 5 years
Initiates are apprentices that passed their final test, which is usually a mission given to them at the end of their training to complete on their own. While they are technically warriors, initiates are still too young to take on their own apprentices, and usually receive low-priority, low-risk missions.
Warrior20 - 30 years
Warriors make up the bulk of the Order's ranks. There is no surefire way to progress from initiate to true warrior. Usually, warrior status is earned by performing a great task or doing something unique to aid the Order. Sometimes the initiate is awarded the status in a big celebration, sometimes it's a small, quiet ceremony. Warriors are also allowed to take on apprentices.
There is only ever one champion at a time. This is earned through the completion of the Trials. The "best" competitor becomes the champion. Usually, the champion is still relatively young and spry, and was a warrior beforehand, though there have been some cases of initiates progressing directly to champion. The champion is considered the best warrior in the Order, and is to be treated with the utmost respect. The only way to lose champion status is to lose to someone in the Trials, or to break the Code.
Veterans are warriors who never achieved the rank of champion that are no longer in their prime, or doing their best work. They still take jobs, can train apprentices, and can compete in the Trials, but the missions they are given aren't as demanding, and they are not the first to be called upon for high-risk missions. They are, however, respected by the rest of the Order, and many give classes to initiates and younger warriors in the ways of combat, as well as more scholarly pursuits like history.
All champions progress to the rank of master once their time as champion is over, regardless of how long they held the title. The only champions who don't become masters are those who broke the Code. Masters are held in high regard by all members of the Order. It is not considered shameful to lose the title of champion in the Trials. In fact, some champions willingly relinquish the role. Masters are in charge of assigning missions and lead groups of warriors in some of the more demanding assignments.
The grand master is in charge of the Order. Most grand masters serve for life, though a few have been known to retire. They are the only members of the Order allowed to leave without any repercussions. When the grand master knows their time is near, either in death or in retirement, they select their successor from the masters. However, they are required to secretly designate a successor when they first take the role in the case of sudden death. There are also members of the Order who do not fight. Many members bring their families to the camp to keep them protected, and there are doctors, artists, and merchants as well. Some doctors do achieve the rank of warrior, signifying that they are allowed into the field as medical backup for the fighters.
The Order's purpose is to do the dirty work that rulers don't wish to do themselves. Typically, this means the art of killing, but they have also been known to take jobs involving kidnapping, thieving, torture, and even work more suited to mercenary bands.
Risen from the ashes.
"By the power of my blood, I name Master Aelae as grand master."