The Monarch's Claws
We are the guardians and protectors of the Illenan throne. Our predecessors forgot their oaths, and Gadric sought to destroy us through our unfaithfulness. No longer. We are resurrected, and we ride with our king. We will remind the enemy that the Monarch's Claws are sharp and lethal.The Monarch's Claws is a mystery arts organization tasked with protecting the ruler of Illena. They employ the elite shadowartists from Illena, regardless of hereditary rank and privilege. Loyalty is their primary trait.
~~Loreval, before the Damorn Meadows battle of the Illenan civil war
HistoryAround 1000 years ago, the remnants of the Jonna Empire district governments pulled back from the countries it conquered and retreated to Condioh. Once the governors left Illena, Doxser, a proud descendant of the ruling family previous to Jonna occupation, commensed a short, bloody war in 4110 AGI to place himself on the throne. He had more warlord leanings than a typical Illenan ruler, and his reign became a death sentence for anyone not enamored of him.
The religious order, the Sheune, saw him as a blight on a once-proud and decent family. In 4123 AGI, a woman of their priesthood named Eldyna triggered a commoner protest when the price of food skyrocketed again, leaving too many to starve. Doxser sent guards to arrest her, and threw her in the darkest, wettest, dingiest cell he had. Tales abound about how she escaped, but she tore through the palace halls, found the king residing over a lush meal, and assassinated him before disappearing into a kick-portal. In the ensuing ruckus, she led a group of shadowartists into the palace and they arrested or dispatched the nobles who supported the corrupt king. She declared herself queen that night and the Sheune busily went about securing a more fair Illena. Not all nobles found the new ruler to their liking and plotted their own assassination. To protect her and the new government, the Sheune created the Monarch's Claws and placed her closest friend, Aschansen, in charge. Only the most loyal shadowartists were allowed to join its ranks, and their primary purpose was to protect the queen, at all cost. Its members did so with a ferocity rarely seen, and her enemies dwindled in numbers, unwilling to face them.
Modern TimesThe Monarch's Claws influence has waxed and waned over the ensuing years. It reached a low point during King Netharin's reign, until a noble shadowartist, Loreval, decided to resurrect its glory. He saw Artiste Gadric as a gifted wielder but a terrible leader, and tried to turn around the Claws' descent into irrelevancy. After King Netharin passed, Gadric threw his lot in with Netharin's brother, Eder, rather than his son and legitimate heir, Shiel. Loreval, furious at the traitorous act, accepted the rank of artiste and set about gathering those he trusted into a resurrected Monarch's Claws. They returned to their roots and became a staunch mystery artist guard for the newly-crowned king.
The Claws did as their ancient oaths dictated; they protected the king. They saved Shiel and his cousin, Iavan, from numerous assassination attempts by Eder's people, and created their reputation for furious defense in the process. Their scholars designed new offensive and defensive wieldings, which Eder's people had difficulty combating. They surpassed the royal guard in their ability to keep the king safe and joined the palace patrol rotation as valued members. By the end of the civil war, they had solidified their place as the king's most trusted protectors. In keeping with this, all official shadow artist activity that takes place at the palace must go through Loreval first.
RanksLoreval redesigned the ranks of the Monarch's Claws so all, be they scholar or wielder, could attain the same position.
ArtisteEach rank (except for Artiste) has three subranks. For expediency, and playing to his dislike of noble hierarchy, Loreval shortened the titles. So First Claw sub 1, First Claw sub 2, and First Claw sub 3--and so on. The uniform is the same for all ranks. The tunic is long-sleeved, knee-length, colored royal blue and white. The pants are a snug fit. Leather covers the elbows, knees and shoulders. Rank insignia is found on the right shoulder. Not all shadowartists are enamored with the pared-down ranks, but they are welcome to find employment elsewhere.