It belongs in a museum!
The year was 1268 AGC, when August Raven Earnhold, leader of the Windtracer Company mercenaries, came into the possession of a thin, worn journal. It was a handful of pages thick, leather cover spattered with abuse. The small book changed history.
It was one of the journals of Captain Amaya Pneuma. One that no one knew she wrote.
This journal may have been a copy or one that the famed captain started and misplaced. No one knows. To August it was a priceless treasure. He read the contents. Memorized them. They were details of some of her travels. At the end of the journal, Captain Pneuma wrote a single passage that the mercenary leader felt was asked directly to him.
The Great Collapse swept away everything the Ancient Order made. After a thousand years, we still don’t know why.
August, a student of history and archeology himself, felt the Captain had asked him to find out.
Taking up whip, sword, and his own journals, he decided to give the good Captain’s question an answer.
A New Direction
From there, August set the Company on a new path. Seek out the lost artifacts and knowledge of the Ancients. From there, piece together what was the Great Collapse and what caused it.
Some members were interested, some were not. The first few months saw a shift of membeship. However, many veterans of hard fought military campaigns stayed with August. They taught and trained the newcomers what they could. The first few expeditions were fruitful, yet deadly. Ruin delving is not for the faint-hearted. The Ancient Order left behind tantalizing items and deadly consequences. This is before considering more modern threats, such as fellow Ruin Poachers and also local governments.
The obstacles proved to be both a challenge and somewhat lucrative. Their growing reputation as ruin poachers attracted patrons, often nobility looking for their next showpiece. The Windtracers do, occasionally, work with select patrons provided the Company is allowed to study the relic or item of antiquity before handing it over.
Most patrons agree to the stipulation. Those that haven’t, or have tried to cheat the Windtracer Company, find their personal collection suddenly and mysteriously lacking a few artifacts. Items which suddenly are showcased either in a rival country’s museum or in the Wintracer Company’s museum and library in Ishnanor.
Ruin Poaching, The Law, and Those For and Against the Company
If ’poaching’ the ruins of our ancestors is a fool’s endeavor... well, then I am that fool!
Governmental laws concerning delving and poaching in ancient ruins are well known. Punishments depend on the location. They can be as little as a severe fine. In other places, prison or death.
This has not deterred the Windtracer Company. Their origin as a deadly and effective mercenary company serves them well. Trained Windtracers are difficult to catch and even harder to keep locked away. Throwing a Windtracer into prison only focuses the Company’s attention. After all, to a company of experienced mercenaries, freeing a fellow Windtracer from prison is not that different from braving the dangers of a lethal Ancient Order ruin.
In some lands, having a captured Windtracer is an opportunity. In return for that member, the noble offers to become a patron - in secret - of the Company.
Only August Earnhold and his trusted inner circle know the exact count of how many Barons, Duchesses, thief guilds and more are “on the list”. A list that is kept as great a secret as perhaps the cause of the Great Collapse.
However, all of this has given the Company a negative, if not slightly swashbuckling, reputation. Some governments consider the Company a ‘necessary evil’, working with them to identify or explore a dangerous ruin. Others actively dislike the Company, calling them ‘dirty mercenaries’ and will attempt to arrest members on the slightest infraction.
Still, the Company persists in its goal. Because the Captain’s Question has not been answered. Not yet.
Structure and Organization
The Company is organized into Lances, with each Lance having a particular region or fields of study they specialize in. They set up what they call a ‘commissary’ in certain cities. In areas more accommodating to the Windtracers, the commissary isn’t hard to find. Other areas, a commissary may be nearly impossible to find if the seeker doesn’t know where to look.
Commissaries started as a ‘general store’ for Windtracers to resupply. This quickly grew into small, if not proper, guild halls. In areas that take offense to the Windtracers, any discovered commissaries are quickly raided. The public reason is to ‘quell thieves’, yet the whispered reason is that the government is most likely looking to poach any relics the Windtracers may have on site.
Lances are managed by Lorekeepers. Within each Lance there is often at least two Lorekeepers, the reason stated is so they can each be a check and balance on each other.
Above the Lorekeepers is the Venture-Scribe or leader of the Windtracer Company. That would be one August Raven Earnhold, or the “Iron Raven”.
Recruitment and Joining the Company
Anyone can sign up to join the Windtracer Company, provided they will fight for the Company and its ideals of uncovering history’s secrets to share with the world.
New recruits are put through a series of physical and mental training over months. Not all handle the rigors of recruitment and choose to leave. If they do, there’s no ill will. Joining or leaving is a free choice.
Those that remain are apprenticed to a Windtracer heading into the field. Those recruits are expected to survive, return, prepare and present their findings, or dissertation study. These are reviewed by their Windtracer trainer, then by other Windtracers of that same specialty. If that dissertation is accepted, the recruit graduates to a full Windtracer.
"Tomb Runners", "Tracers"
Related Ranks & Titles
Ranks in the Windtracers
The Windtracer Company has three ranks: Windtracers, Lorekeepers, and the Venture-Scribe.
They make up the bulk of the Company. Once a recruit is accepted, then trained in a specialty of their choosing, they join a Lance where they’ll take up expeditions to recover relics or lost knowledge. They do more than delve through ruins, a Windtracer is also expected to document their findings, research the relic or knowledge, then present it for review. The result is distributed to local archives and always housed in the Windtracer Registry in the sunken city of Ishnanor on the Planus Continent.
A position based on ruin delving and archaeological experience, particularly in their historical area of interest, the Lorekeepers manage the daunting task of organizing and setting the Company’s diverse expeditions into Ancient ruins… or rescuing Windtracer members that have been arrested for relic recovery.
This position is an elected one. Lorekeepers are voted on by their peers. They hold this job for a term no longer than two years and are expected to select their own staff from among the Windtracers. Once a person has held this position, they aren’t allowed to hold this job again for five years.
Lorekeepers report directly to the Venture-Scribe. While they aren’t expected to lead expeditions, it isn’t unheard of in cases of unusual discoveries, or if they're feeling the need to 'get into the field'.
The highest position and leader of the Windtracer Company. It isn’t elected, though rumor has it that in case something dire happens to the Venture-Scribe, a council of Lorekeepers gathers to select the next Venture-Scribe from among the most experienced Windtracers.
To date, that rumor has never needed to be proven. August has showed repeatedly, against many arrest or assassination attempts from various nobles or governments, there is a reason they nicknamed him the “Iron Raven”.