The Darklighter Watch
The Darklighter Watch are the Crown’s eyes and ears on the roads through the Arken Wood. Strange and dangerous though the forest may be, these intrepid souls have taken it as their charge to keep the beaten paths clear of monster or bandit. And a terrible charge it is, for it is not uncommon for members of the watch to go missing, never to be heard from again.
A paramilitary group, the Darklighters recruit chiefly those who show a talent in woodcraft and wilderness lore. Many who join their ranks are proficient woodsmen or winners of archery contests. Their ranks are as follows:
- Cadet – A recruit, sometimes called an “evergreen” as a term of mock derision. Their standard issued cloaks tend to be a brilliant tone of emerald green, free from wear or abuse. Cadets seldom leave outpost, spending most of their time drilling and attending to menial tasks. When they do, they are forbidden to break group, on pain of dismissal from Darklighter ranks. In order to advance, a cadet must be deemed ready to withstand a “proving,” which consists of spending a night in the Arken Wood, alone.
- Ranger – A cadet returns from their proving a Ranger. Rangers daily tasks involve venturing into the Arken Wood, sometimes in a sortie, other times alone. These are the most numerous of members of the Darklighter Watch. Rangers are organized into troops.
- Sergeant – Rangers who prove their mettle and are considered by their captains to be good examples are promoted to lead their own troop. Sergeants relay orders passed down from command and are responsible for maintaining discipline and order in the ranks.
- Lieutenant – A lieutenant forms part of the leadership of a company, which consists of many troops. Lieutenants serve under captains as assistants, liaisons, and aide-de-camps. If a captain has multiple lieutenants, they arranged in rank – 1st, 2nd, etc. Lieutenants are generally recruiters for the Darklighter Watch, so many lieutenants are hand-picked for their judge of character, or sometimes for their social clout. A lieutenant is about the highest aspiration a yeoman (non-noble) could hope to have in the Darklighters, although it’s only a soft favoritism that keeps them from attaining the office rather than a general rule – some yeoman have risen as far as Forester historically, but they were the best in their time and were sworn to vassalage as part of the promotion, going on to sire minor noble houses.
- Captain – A captain has command of a company and oversees Darklighter missions. Captains must possess a keen tactical mind, since the constantly shifting Arken Wood offers no hope for pre-laid maneuvers. Orders handed down to them are left intentionally vague, so that a shrewd captain can judge the situation on the ground as it unfolds. Wise captains know their decisions are the difference between their rangers coming home or not.
- Forester – Only the most wilderness savvy Darklighters are fit to command outposts in the Arken Wood, where Man ought not set down permanent dwelling. A forester organizes rangings through the wood, and is responsible for patrols that stamp out brigands, criminals and poachers, and alert towns to the other creeping threats of the forest.
- Marshal – There is only one Marshal of the Darklighters at a time. A new Marshal is chosen by their predecessor, or, in the case of the former marshal’s early demise, the reigning monarch. If the captains and foresters manage Darklighter tactics, the Marshal is responsible for their strategy, choosing what battles to fight rather than how to fight them. The Marshal has always been either high nobility (such as Falkenraithe, Brent, or Bucklain) or royalty. At the tender age of twenty one, Cedric Lockmare is the youngest Marshal in Darklighter history.
The Darklighters are paramilitary; some of their ranks have municipal and military equivalencies for determining rank between organizations, as well as interactions with municipal roles. For instance, city constables are the municipal equivalent to foresters and often have some cross-organizational duties to the Darklighters. High ranking Darklighters who settle down in a town sometimes aspire to become constables, finding their contacts within the Darklighters a benefit. Within town walls, a constable of the guard enjoys some authority over Darklighter troops stationed without a Forester, who typically oversee outposts. Both would then regularly report to a Sheriff, the highest municipal law enforcement office. The Marshal of the Darklighters has some autonomy and somewhat outrank municipal Sheriffs if only because of the uniqueness of their office. The Marshal is more akin to a Knight Commander within the military.
Tales of Arkengard – Developments
The Darklighters were initially helpful to the Order of the Green Flame, as Cedric Lockmare belonged to the organization himself, against the knowledge of his father. While Cedric’s assets within the Darklighters came in handy, the adventurers noticed a widening divide in the ranks, and many of the watch that seemed to belong to a splinter faction loyal to another party. When The War of Two Kings began, Cedric disappeared for a time, taking a company of trusted rangers with him. The adventurers witnessed the aftermath of a terrible skirmish in which Darklighters turned on one another.
Chronicles of Arkengard – Developments
Maddy Lavellan, a lieutenant in the watch, began to notice strange things about her fellow Darklighters. The ranks swelled with strangers with pitch black pupils and dark motives. Feeling she could no longer fully trust them and wanting to find her friend, Adlyn Lockmare, Maddy withdrew from active duties and went alone for a time.
Chronicles of Arkengard – Alternate Timeline Developments
Maddy returns to a time where the dark-eyed faction now controls the watch, and is almost immediately labelled a rogue agent. Further, the organization has turned into a secret police, gathering detailed information on all the major families within Arkengard. Dov, spying on the mysterious coup as a horse, confirms that they are assassinating Darklighters disloyal to their goals.