"Look, I know the code, a bit. I understand why the colors are important. I just think it's FUNNY, that's all. You sent a black-fletched arrow my way and I know that means 'Death', but you also managed to pin my assassin square in the chest so when I see a literal message of DEATH stuck in the chest of a DEAD person it just seems so laughably unnecessary and...okay, okay, I'll just laugh at my own jokes from now on. How about that?"
- Rowan Everly, circa 7500 AC
The people of the Spinelands
are a rugged and robust people, making a living as they do on one of the most unforgiving mountainous regions in the known world. In a land that is almost perpetually covered in snow and full of canyons and valleys susceptible to avalanches, a particular group of mercenaries known as the Band of Vitryga
set about inventing a method of communication that was far more clandestine and safer than shouting themselves hoarse.
As a guerrilla fighting force in a land that ranges from wintry forest to glacial quarries, the ability to have your compatriot fire off an arrow, hit a target near your head, and be instantly able to convey a message with the color and pattern of the fletching...is both very useful, and a good trust building exercise to boot.
The color of the fletch conveys the general direction of the message, and little white or yellow patterning specifies the details. Below is a rough summary of the more basic arrow meanings:
- Black (Death/danger approaching)
- Red (Attack commands/squad placements/to the death/drive them off)
- Yellow (Strangers Approaching/hide/signal them)
- Green (Friendlies nearby/investigate/contact)
- Brown (Animal/Monster nearby)
- White (Retreat/return to base)
- Blue (Halt in place/make camp/wait for word)
Members of the band will carry a stock of these arrows...generally one white, one yellow, one green, two to three browns, three blues, three reds, and finally, two black arrows. In case of emergency, all members are prepared to carve a message on the arrow shaft. Generally the color and a few white spots of dye are enough to convey commands, especially since all members are trained to wait for orders from the forward scouts or their superiors.
If a message is misconstrued, their best hope is to fire off another arrow quickly and halt the party with a blue arrow, giving them time to try and get the correct message across.
The Spinelanders are naturally a close-mouthed people, and the Band of Vitryga is not the most politically correct group of mercenaries. They resist the Aeternum but also do not pay fealty to the Baron of the Spinelands. As a result, they are constantly on the run. They keep their loyalty and their arrow code to themselves, refusing to teach it to outsiders.