The Hooded Eye
The Hooded Eye. It's a complicated organization with a complicated history. So much so that I am not even sure where to begin so that you can understand the kind of man Issad Harman was. I guess I could start with our experiences with the Hooded Eye; we can talk about our truths, not necessarily the truths of the organization. When Issad found me, he was already a member of the Hooded Eye. In those days, it was very much still an illicit group of people and yet there was a strange sort of obsession with dignity and honour. At least, as far as Issad and the more traditionalist members of the Hooded Eye were concerned. This was decades before the Stormcaller crisis, but Issad lamented that back then he had not seen the seeds of the corruption that eventually grew to choke the Hooded Eye. Still, for all of its shortcomings, and its dealings made under the cover of night, the Hooded Eye proved to be accommodating. I was a lost child without a family and without a future, but Issad, and by extension, the Hooded Eye gave both to me. As a child, I was little more than a runner for messages. It wasn't easy work but it kept me by Issad's side and as the years wore on, I came to know him as a man. I looked up to him, and I admired his ambition. He saw the flaws in the system and he wanted to correct them. He believed in the traditions and in the values of the Hooded Eye, but he was not afraid of change, of doing what was necessary to adapt the organization to an evolving world.The Hooded Eye was a criminal organization based in the Pāll-tanír, which flourished from the early 26th millennium to the early 31st millennium, until Izha Mostana, acting in tandem with her adoptive father Issad Harman in the Council of Hierarchs, and acting according to his wishes after his passing, changed the direction of the organization from dealing in criminal practices to something more legitimate in the eyes of the Dominion. At its peak, the Hooded Eye had thousands of members all over the Pāll-tanír, specifically in its Eastern and Western wards. Despite the scope and influence of the organization, it had over-all positive effect in the region. It was left relatively untouched by the Dominion, on the understanding that the Hooded Eye would act as a stabilizing agent in the Pāll-tanír, which had a history of erupting in open rebellion. With the help of the Hooded Eye, the Dominion was able to cement its influence over the region, owing to the fact that the Hooded Eye prized stability — chaos, in the organization's mind, was bad for business.
The Hooded Eye's large-scale operations are governed by a ruling council known as the Council of Hierarchs. These Hierarchs are elected to their seats and remain elected until death, resignation, or successful deposition. The Hierarchs oversee the flow of trade between the different administrative regions of the group but do not have a hand in the day-to-day operations of these regions except for in extenuating circumstances, or when they are appointing a regional captain to oversee operations in their stead. In addition to interpreting and enforcing the internal laws of the organization, the Council is tasked with overseeing the collective treasury of the organization and directing the considerable funds therein in the appropriate directions. To this end, they deliberate and vote on motions. Most of such motions require the approval of a super-majority before being acted upon, with a select few, such as the designation of a new administrative region for the Hooded Eye, the allocation of significant funding to a certain operation, or the ousting of a sitting Hierarch, requiring unanimous consent from all the seated members of the Council. All decisions of the Council are final and can only be revoked by the Council as part of a specific motion calling for the revocation of a previous decision. The only exception to this rule is the election of a new member to the Council of Hierarchs, which is carried out through anonymous voting done by all the members of the Hooded Eye who are present at the designated venue on the day of the election. This election employs a "first past the post system", but the Council has the right to veto a candidate via super-majority agreement on a motion except in the case that the popular vote elects a new Hierarch by a super-majority. With regard to eligibility to the Council, any member of the Hooded Eye who has an exemplary record and is not pending disciplinary action is eligible to pursue a seat on the Council. However, there has only been a handful of "upsets" in the history of the organization where a lesser-known individual triumphed over an influential member of the organization during an election.
"You should have seen their faces," Issad would often say when he recounted the story of our daring trespass into the hallowed halls of the Council of Hierarchs on the day of their election. While he was well-beloved by our people and our supporters, ever since Issad turned his back on the Hierarchs as a result of their dealings with the Stormcaller, he had become something of a pariah in the greater organization, and so his presence was unwelcome. The Hierarchs sneered at him, and they had the right to. It was unlikely that we were going to get enough support to succeed in our bid. But then, Issad proceeded to challenge each and every one of the sitting members for their seats. Not one by one, but all of them, together. It was a play that we had been brewing up for months ever since we received news that the Stormcaller had been killed and, predictably, all the idiots who had been lined up for election tripped over themselves to champion the Hierarchs in the hope that it would get them preferential treatment. Between Issad and me, the fight was hard, but not impossible. We emerged victorious. According to the laws, all the members that had lost the challenge had to step down from their seats, and with the allies that we had brought with us that day, we had just enough to get Issad and myself elected to the Council. Now, I was hardly going to vote against him, so when the motion to dismiss the members of the previous Council was put forward, it was unopposed. From there, it was easy enough to pass a motion for a new election, one that would be open to all the members of the Hooded Eye, one that would herald the beginning of a new era.
The CaptainsUnder the Council of Hierarchs are the regional captains who govern the nineteen different administrative areas of the Hooded Eye. These captains are appointed by the Council of Hierarch and serve for life or until their resignation. If a captain so wishes, they can appoint a successor, and if they die or decide to resign from their position, their successor can take their place unless the Council objects within a period of time specified in the body of laws that governs the Hooded Eye. If this succession is unchallenged by the Council, the successor becomes a full-fledged captain and assumes all the rights and duties incumbent to the position. In the case that a captain dies or resigns without assigning a successor, the Council appoints a new captain to take their place, often picking from among the subordinates of the previous captain, although it has happened that the Council has appointed someone wholly inexperienced with regard to their new assigned region. There is a third way that a captain can lose their position, and that is through the Rite of Challenge. At any point in time, usually in response to a captain making a decision that they disagree with, one of the captain's inner circle, a designation that escapes proper definition in the constitution of the Hooded Eye, and which, in practice, varies from captain to captain, has the right to challenge their captain for their position. Typically, this inner-circle is composed of the captain's knife-kin, but at any time, at their discretion, a captain can choose to allow any of their subordinates to challenge them.
The Rite of Challenge
When a challenge has been declared, any decision that was made to trigger the challenge is belayed until the challenge is resolved. These challenges are traditionally carried out as thieves' duels, though at the discretion and agreement of both parties, the challenge can be taken in a different direction, such as a drinking contest, or even a foot race. Most of the time, however, neither side can agree with the other and a thieves' duel takes place. In a thieves' duel, the challenger has the right to choose the weapons that will be used, while the challenged has the right to choose the battlefield. Apart from having to use only the weapons that were chosen at the beginning of the fight, the challenge has no other rules and ends only in the death of one of the parties involved. If the challenger triumphs, whatever decision that was made to trigger the challenge is overturned, while if the challenger is defeated, the status quo is maintained. An important aspect of the Rite of Challenge is that the constitution of the Hooded Eye forbids retaliation because of the challenge against the challenger, in the event of their survival, on the part of the person who was challenged, as well as all other members of the Hooded Eye.
Back then, Issad was just a windrider, someone who had only just earned his wings. He should have had no right to challenge his captain when the man decided that it would be profitable for their little band to sell me off to the Hooded Eye hierarchs, but he mustered the support to make his challenge. He should have died; he was less experienced, he was smaller, he was weaker, but there is one thing that Issad has always been all of his life: fast. Oh. Our captain was fast, but Issad was faster. It was over in a flash. Issad stood over the body of our captain when the dust settled. He wiped the blood from the corner of his lips; He looked at me, and he smiled. That was the first time I had an inkling that I felt something for him, but more importantly, on that day, the windriders got a new captain. And while we would not know it until decades later, on that day, Issad changed the course of the Hooded Eye's history and saved it from destruction.
The Hooded Eye was established in the third century of the 26th millennium under the premise that criminal enterprise, for all its illicit dealings, need not be an unpleasant or dishonourable thing. The name of the organization itself was borrowed from one of the old centhiri empire's most well-known and most secretive organizations. In the hope of establishing a guild that ultimately benefited society despite doing illegal things, the founders constructed a charter that defined how the Hooded Eye would be structured, as well as what would be considered legitimate operation in the eyes of the new syndicate. To foster a sense of unity among the many disparate groups of "honourable" thieves that comprised the early organization, the founders decided to take a page out of the book of the faithful and constructed a religion that emphasized brotherhood and unity. Once again borrowing from the traditions of the old empire but not fully understanding the implications of their appropriated culture, the founders took the twin-headed serpent Kyst'Teth as their patron. Since then, the Hooded Eye has prided itself on conducting its illicit business in a responsible manner. Although they lie, cheat, swindle, and smuggle, they claim to never target the vulnerable or the easily-exploitable, professing a desire to minimize the adverse impact of their actions on society as a whole. For example, when cheating someone out of money on the sale of a priceless "antique," it is incumbent upon the members of the Hooded Eye to ensure that the person from whom they are stealing has the ability to sustain the loss, and the punishments outlined in the charter for failing to do this are rather severe.
I would be lying if I said that prior to becoming Issad's knife-brother, I understood the way that the Hooded Eye operated. In my early years in the organization, I saw everything through the lens that Issad allowed me to peer through. He showed all the idealism, the nobility, the dignity of it all, but he tried his best to hide from me the flaws. I only later learned that he did this because he feared I would run away screaming, something that he says is one of the few selfish things he did because stomach the thought of another orphan, one under his care, going through what he had to before he found the Hooded Eye. Still, those who followed the old ways flocked around Issad, and the way that they acted, the way that they did their business, it impressed upon the true values of the Hooded Eye, the things that the organization had been founded on. It was only when I was old enough, when Issad protected me from being sold, that I truly began to see the Hooded Eye for what it was. Sure, the principles it espoused were noble, and there were those members who did their best to live up to the promise of the group. But I realized, as Issad did, that the Hooded Eye, for all its idealism, its charter, its brotherhood, was just as flawed as the people who were in it. We were not immune to corruption, and in those early days we saw the tip of the iceberg, but we could have never imagined just how deep the darkness ran, and how little there was that we could do to stop it on our own.
Seqimhir Maatil Zikat Nariyya — Dignity and Honour, Even in the Darkness