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Shadow Guard of Divaekah

The Divaekah Clan Guard is responsible for the protection of the clan members of Divaekah. They act as the constabulary force, patrolling both the tree top and ground levels of the city, investigating crimes, and generally keeping the peace. They also man the perimeter, alerting the town to any intruders, and providing a first-level of resistance. The Clan Guard Captain reports directly to the Clan Leader. A Clan Guardian is easily identified by his/her ornately filigreed black leather armor. They are neither feared nor resented by the citizenry, as almost all are fair, loyal, and just. Clan Guardians are generally well respected, and usually a simple verbal command or short conversation is required to maintain order. There is zero bias based on gender; males and females are treated and respected equally, and ranked solely on their talents and abilities

All Clan Guardians complete the same rigorous primary training, making them skilled in their law-enforcing profession. All are proficient in Longsword, bow, and the Single Weapon fighting style. Those who exhibit exceptional skill in either or both weapons are invited to receive further advanced training, in an effort to become part of the Shadow Guard. For every forty Clan Guardsmen who exhibit potential, only one graduates to become a Shadow Guardian.

The Shadow Guard is an elite branch of the Divaekah Clan Guard. It is the fantasy of every swashbuckling Divaekahian teen to wear the Ebony and Violet. Legendary stories are told of the bravery and selflessness of the guard. Accounts of missions into opposing clans or orken compounds in seek of intel are spread around daily, each time growing in grandeur, but never by a Shadow Guardian himself; no Shadow Guardian can confirm or deny any story, as they are sworn to secrecy. But the romantic tales are not even close to the reality of the profession. No mention is ever made as to the sacrifice and moral decisions a Shadow Guardian must make on every mission. No citizen would want to know what must be done to keep Divaekah safe and secure.

Function – The primary purpose of the Shadow Guard is to gain intelligence about outside entities both allies and enemies, uncover any potential attacks, and neutralize enemy faction activity before it becomes a threat. Divaekah has avoided major attacks for almost two hundred years, based entirely on the efforts of the Shadow Guard. The Shadow Guard Captain reports directly to the Clan Leader, yet has full authorization to take any action necessary to protect the city and its citizens. Shadow Guardians are honored to wear the traditional ornately detailed ebony leather armor with decorative violet filigree, which not only makes the armor very pleasing to the eye, but also aids in camouflage in grassy, wooded, and leafy scenarios. Shadow Guardians are highly regarded, as most citizens can appreciate the vigorous training and special innate talent required to become one. Shadow Guardians are held in the highest regard and treated with the utmost respect by all Divaekahians.

Other secondary missions are also carried out, including, but not limited to:

Escorting diplomats to and from Divaekah
Providing protection to Officials, both Divaekahian and foreign, while in the city
Reconnaissance and infiltration of other entities, like villages or organizations
Policing of the wood surrounding the city limits, reaching into the Lorien Wood
Investigation of any Crimes against the Clan, or other serious crimes
Other special duties required by the Clan Leader or Shadow Guard Captain

Composition – The Shadow Guard consists of teams of two to nine Shadow Guardians, called squads. These squads are fluid; they will increase or decrease in size and membership depending on the requirements of the mission. A squad usually contains enough members to account for the necessary skills required to complete the mission successfully. It can contain from two members for a simple deployment such as reconnaissance of a nearby village, or up to nine for a clandestine infiltration and eradication mission. There are enough Shadow Guardians to create up to six individual squads.

Shadow Guardians are ranked primarily by the number of Laurels they have earned (see below). Those who possess six or more Laurels can be designated as a squad leader, and have earned the right to select their squad from all available Guardians. While a variety of Guardians are needed for a mission, Squad Leaders from a bond with certain other Guardians with which they have had experience. The trust developed from previous missions is almost always the determining factor in the Squad selection process. It is not uncommon for the same members to repeatedly form a squad for missions.

Laurels - Shadow Guardians are classified by the elite-level skill or skill group they have mastered. These skill groupings are called Laurels. Each Laurel is governed by a Laurel Master, who has an extreme number of years of experience in his Laurel. The Laurel Master usually does not go on missions. Rather, his expertise is utilized to oversee all activities pertaining to his Laurel, including cadet training, certification criteria, and analysis of intelligence. Some trainings are provided to earn a specific Laurel prior to going on a mission, while the criteria to earn other Laurels can be met with experience over time. It is not uncommon for a Shadow Guardian to prove the mastery of the skills required to earn a Laurel while on a mission. In this case, the Squad Leader would take an audience with the Laurel Master to testify the cadet’s case, which is followed by a comprehensive skills test of the cadet. It usually requires the testimony of at least two different Squad Leaders to convince the Laurel Master to administer a skills test.

A list of currently recognized Laurels:

  • Pantherpaw (Stealth) – All Shadow Guardians possess this Laurel, signifying the Guardian can sneak virtually undetected in almost all situations
  • Talonblade (Longsword) - Designating superior lethal skill with the Longsword
  • Waspsting (Archery) – Signifying elite accuracy with a bow
  • Bearbrawn (Strength) – Earned with either mastery of unarmed combat or exceptional strength
  • Eelfang (Water Combat) – besides swimming, also trained in underwater combat usually with a knife, spear, harpoon, and trident.
  • Tangleweb (Net/Rope) – Exemplary skill in the use of a net or rope to trap, tie, or ensnare
  • Wolfhound (Tracking/Trapping) - Earned by those who can track anyone or anything anywhere, and can lay traps to ensnare all creatures from the smallest rodent to the largest ogre
  • Nightjay (Thievery) – Picking pockets, opening locks, climbing sheer surfaces, tumbling, finding traps. These are all skills required for this Laurel
  • Feylene (Magic) – Providing both direct effects to enemies, as well as buffs to allies
  • Bloodbinder (Healing) - This Laurel is earned by those who are superior in healing, either manually with knowledge of medicinals, through the blessing of Solonor, or both
  • Owlsage (Military Science) – The most difficult Laurel to earn. Complete mastery of squad tactics and full force strategy must be both studied, and more importantly, demonstrated. Only those with complete mastery can earn this Laurel. It is the only Laurel required to advance to Shadow Guard Captain.

In Garrison – Shadow Guardians live and train in a remote location in the Lorien Wood. While the location of the camp is not a secret, the citizens do not regularly venture here, as to not disturb the continuous training. Visitors without a legitimate reason to enter the garrison are sent away. Shadow Guardians do spend their non-mission time training, but are permitted to visit with family and friends in the town. However, they are always on the ready in case their unique services are required.

The Shadow Guard Command Post holds the work areas of the Shadow Guard Captain, Laurel Masters and intelligence analysts. A large mess hall can hold the entire troops in inclement weather, but usually food is prepared and consumed outdoors at large felled-tree tables. A barracks is located just outside the training ‘yard’, where the four combat Laurel trainings take place. Other Laurel trainings take place in the wood surrounding the camp, including Pantherpaw, Wolfhound, and Nightjay. A large lake is situated nearby for Eelfang Laurel training.

Another large building houses the armory and other craft work areas, where the tools of the Guard, some common, some specialized, are made. The highly skilled craftsmen are Shadow Guardians in every sense, and have earned their Laurels. They can take up arms and venture on missions if necessary. They additionally possess necessary crafting skills honed to an elite level. The undeniable reliability of a Shadow Guard weapon is the envy of all those who witness it's performance in battle. Tailored to the styles and techniques of it's owner, each weapon is slightly different, to accentuate the strengths of it's wielder. A composite bow may be biased on balance for it's left-handed bowyer, while a daggers blade is uniquely angled for the thrust path of it's owner. A Shadow Guardian will defend his weapon with his life.

Shadow Guardian Captains – The ultimate honor for a Shadow Guardian is to be appointed Shadow Guardian Captain. In the history of Divaekah, there have been only six Captains, and their names are commonplace in the town, long after their voyage to Avarnaith has been completed.

When the current Captain decides to retire from service, qualified Guardians are nominated by the others. Only those who possess at least eight Laurels, one which must be the Owlsage Laurel, can be considered qualified for the position. Most former Shadow Guardian Captains have also been Laurel Masters. Rank is meaningless when nominating; a new Shadow Guardian can nominate a qualified Guardian as equally as a seasoned veteran. Once all nominees are offered, testimonies are given regarding the worthiness of the candidates. A vote is called from all active and retired Shadow Guardians. If one Guardian gains more than half the votes, he is elected. If a majority is not gained, a new vote is called, with voters choosing from only the top two vote-getters of the initial vote. In this runoff, a simple majority is required to be elected.

The title of Captain is much more than a prestige position. Captains are second in command of the town, and are sometimes held in a higher regard that the Clan Leader. While they rarely take part in missions, they are constantly making decisions based on the intelligence gathered by the squads. A Captain rarely takes a day off.