The Knives of Kustos
They have no official name, but are referred to in whispers as the Knives of Kustos. They are the secret squad of elite warriors and mages that serve Lord Protector Ackron Der Kustos in ways both open and covert. They are his personal guard, spies, assassins and secret police, and run operations across the Uferbrech archipelago and in the shadows and alleys as far afield as Camp Thrifty , Badenton and even the cities of the mainland Protectorates. The exact number of Knives are not known by any outside their ranks, but many suspect a small number - no more than 15 or 20 in total. At any one time, there may be five or six in attendance with Lord Akron as his personal guard. When not on their clandestine operations, they Knives are recognised by their simple black robes, shaven heads, and face masks. None know their true identities. They keep concealed many weapons, and have been known use magic to disguise themselves, move unseen, or extract secrets from the most stubborn of prisoners. They exhibit a clinical detachment and cool efficiency in even the most brutal of moments, and are feared by common folk, criminals, foreign agents and the official guards of the Shield alike.
Disembodied assassinsThe truth behind the Knives of Kustos is more sinister than any suspect. The Knives are actually souls who have been separated from their original bodies by Gorias through the deployment of complex dark magics. Gorias then tethered thier souls to devies under his control, where they remain in thrall to him - losing all their past memories. These tethered ghosts are then used by Gorias to send on missions, where they posses unwitting marks who complete their missions under near perfect cover. While not on clandestine missions, Gorias also keeps a bank of mindless Bodyservants deep within the catacombs of . These are used to house the tethered ghosts at short notice as quickly deployable foot soldiers and personal guards.
The form and abilities the Knives take when on missions depend entirely on the location and form of the body they possess. It can be anything from subtle poisons, fake accidents, overt violence, deceit and magics of many kinds.
The members act independently, and only work together very rarely. They answer only to Gorias who hands out their orders without others knowing any details.
PossessionThe core tactic of the Knives is based on their ability to possess others. As tethered ghosts, they are sent to unwitting marks in the location where they are to perform their mission, and possess them. The mark is then used to undertake the specifics of the mission. Possession is not foolproof, as individuals can resist the possession and re-assert their own will. This is not a problem when possessing Bodyservants, who lack a true soul, so cannot resist. Bodyservants are often used in stead of marks when security of the possession is important.
Mobile storesThe knives must always be relatively close to the Soul Store that Gorias maintains below , but a system of transportation allow the souls to be stored for short times in mobile devices. Gorias stores the souls in physical Uhd - most often in dust, rock or even crystal form, which can then be secreted within other objects for easy transportation. A common tactic is to send 'gifts' to intended marks, with the mobile soul store secreted within. Once the mark has received this, the ghost will attempt the possession of the mark and completion of the mission. Upon completion they will arrange a return to Onberstad via the same means. This can allow for the temporary possession of specific individuals with access to sensitive places, people or information.
Chained possessionsAnother tactic that can take longer but is also much more flexible, is to travel by chaining successive 'possessions' of multiple marks. Through this, the Knives can easily move undetected great distances, and escape otherwise un-escapable situations by possessing multiple people in quick succession. This tactic is deployed rarely as it raises the risk of an untethering due to the time taken, and the multiple points where a posession may be resisted by new marks.
UntetheringThe biggest danger for the Knives while on missions like this is the amount of time spent away from the central soul storage facility in Fort Kustos. The longer away, the more unstable their tether becomes. This manifests in increased mental instability, irrational and dangerous behaviour and if left too long, will culminate in the true death of the tethered soul.
Gorias handpicks potentials for recruitment from the youth of Omberstad and Badenton and amongst the students at the The Uferbrech Tutelage. On rarer occasions he will cast the net wider, and recruit others from potentially anywhere across Shadowfire. Hopefuls are trained in secret, and through means both magical and mundane are slowly brainwashed into unswerving loylalty to both Akron and Gorias.
The tetheringThe final transformation in the process of becoming a Knife, is the disembodiment of the soul from the body and the tethering of the resultant ghost to Gorias himself. The process causes a deep rift in the psyche of the Knife as Gorias takes over and they become his thrall. All semblance of memory and personal identity is washed from their consciousness. The body left over is then sold to The Gleaming City to be turned into bodyservants while the tethered soul itself is placed within the Soul Store beneath Fort Kustos.
The Knives are the brainchild of Akron's second-in-command Mirrorshield of Wala where Gorias was permanently disfigured by Annika Lux, and during Annika's long exile, Gorias brooded in long bitterness, swearing to never be caught on the back foot and weak again like he had in that moment. He has used dark and secret uses of both Blood and Stone magics to create the technology and techniques used in the creation and maintenance of the Knives.. After the disaster of the failed heist of the
The Knives of Kustos are nominally loyal to Lord Protector Ackron Der Kustos, but their true devotion is to himself.