Despite the wonders that exist in the world of Lythia, greed and deceit still trouble society. There are those willing to rebel against the social order established under the rule of law. Some are forced into it by circumstances beyond their control, those times when law and society bar them from honest means. Some do it for fun. And some do it for reasons understood only by themselves. Characters who opt to become a part of this underworld may find themselves drawn into the web of the Lia-Kavair.
POSSIBLE SPOILER INFORMATION
Origins of the Lia-Kavair
Thieves, rogues, scoundrels, bandits, highwaymen, beggars, and other ne'er-do-wells often band together in gangs for protection. The Lia-Kavair is a group that sees to the maintenance of its own existence regardless of social, economic, or political policies. As such, it views these gangs and criminals as tools for their own prosperity through careful monitoring and control of them.
The Lia-Kavair traces its origin to a semi-mystical cult of Imik in the Azeryan Empire. It is rumored that the first Al'Rahk Turmash led his band of loyal followers across the empire in a silent conquest of the Azeryani underworld and eventually, this cult spread across Lythia. Elements of this cult's existence on Hârn can be traced to approximately 690BT along with the arrival of Navehans. True or not, the element of being the trusted hand of Naveh that cuts the purses of the gods and men that servethem has all but been forgotten.
Organization and Ranks
Membership in the Lia-Kavair is exclusive. Promotion is based on a system of guarded trust and can be highly selective. Therefore the ranks within denote efficiency regardless of the means employed. There is only one way to leave the Lia-Kavair.
This is the lowest level of actual membership within the guild. All Lia-Kavair hold this title and refer to each other by it if they encounter one another in the completion of the guild's wishes. The new initiate is chosen based on their attitude, discretion, and competence. It is impossible to simply join one must be carefully observed and chosen before a Shadow will approach and start mentoring. Often the novice Brother/Sister is unaware that their tutor/accomplice is grooming them for membership until it is too late. Once initiated, the Brother/Sister starts a program of instruction under the watchful eye of their Shadow. Furthermore, they are required to gain the approval of their shadow for all aspects of their life. Refusal or rebellion ends in death. This group forms the bulk of the membership of the Lia-Kavair. Because of the groups low status within the guild, they suffer the highest attrition rate. These members often are ordered to the most hazardous missions, or impossible ones in order to cull out the weak or disloyal. Those who succeed despite the odds show the promise to become Shadows.
When a Brother or Sister prove themselves to their mentor's satisfaction they become a "Shadow", a full fledged member of the Lia-Kavair. These people represent the true nature of the Lia-Kavair: planners, deceivers, and thieves extraordinaire. Their duties include the observation of marks, the training of Brothers and Sisters, and the intermediaries of the Masters orders to the rank and file. Performance determines the assignment of a Shadow to become a Master's Protigi, so ruthlessness, cunning, and ambition often mark holders of this position. This is why a Shadow is never told the identities of his Master's other Shadows, although personal discovery is not discouraged. A careful and cunning Shadow can also exemplify himself in the eyes of his Master by doing so well that he is promoted by the Turmash of his region to establish a new foothold elsewhere in the territory.
Master is the highest rank achieved by most PC Lia-Kavair. A Master watches over the entire activities of his region. A master's domain is seldom determined by geographical boundaries, but usually by "cells" of Lia-Kavair. Each cell normally controls one or two criminal industries in a Masters control, e.g. Prostitution, Gambling, Smuggling, Trafficking, Racketeering, Extortion, etc. Furthermore, a Master may form cells for the most important operation the Lia-Kavair conducts: information gathering and brokering. A King or Lord has a powerful tool indeed if they are willing to tap into this network, if they are willing to pay the price Some Masters are not assigned to a region, but to their Turmash directly as an advisory and active elite. These Masters, called "Master Shadows", are removed from the administrative and managerial functions of Masters and instead are Experts in their fields, answering only to their Turmash.
Turmash control a large territory and oversee operations of several Masters. They are free to act in whatever manner they see fit, as long as it does not overreach the tenets put forth By their Al' Rahk Turmash. Two Turmash are typically assigned by each Al'Rakh Turmash to administer their territory. The Turmash primarily act as advisors to their Al'Rakh Turmash and are responsible for the implementation of their wishes. Although they know the identity of their Al'Rakh Turmash, they are seldom told the identity of their three other peers.
At the top of the power structure are the Al'Rakh Turmash. Al'Rakh Turmash control a territory spanning entire Kingdoms. On Hârn there are three Al'Rakh Turmash: One for western Hârn, one for eastern Hârn, and one for Northern Hârn. Al'Rakh Turmash maintain their power based on the overall guild prosperity for their region. Promotion through assassination is not unheard of.
Anyone who is a willing or unwitting accomplice of the Lia-Kavair are referred to as the Outsiders. The Outsiders are (usually unknowingly) the pawns of the Lia-Kavair. Where there is a gang, you can almost be assured that there is a brother leading them, or a shadow watching them. The ranks of the Outsiders are filled with not only rogues, but any larcenous hearts that seek to gain corrupt officials, renegade Shek P'var, greedy priests, in short, any weakness that a person has that can be exploited is usually done at this level. The Outsiders are the criminals who get caught in order to direct attention away from a more critical area. This is what the common folk think the Lia-Kavair is. Little do they know that the Lia-Kavair is the power and profit behind the crime, and not merely the well publicized petty thug.
At each level from Brother/Sister up, all members are expected to conform to the following rules:
- Don't get caught. There is no room for failure.
- Never rat out a brother.
- Remember the rule of thirds give 1/3 to your boss, keep 1/3 for the emergencies, and spend 1/3 for yourself.
- Always follow the orders of a boss. Never take on a mark unless it has been assigned or cleared by them. The freelance job you pull may step on a brother.
- If you aren't clever enough to pull a job properly, be clever enough to redirect the blame away from the Lia-Kavair and let some Outsider get pinched. If you don't, see rule 1.
DAGGERS AND AMBITION
The pipe smoke hung heavy in the tavern as people of all means were drinking, eating, and discussing news.
A vendor, cheeks stuffed with potatoes and rabbit, graced us with a rather unappetizing view of his mastication when he spoke. "Ya know, I've 'ad afrien' once 'oo were killed fer refusin' ta pay Lia-Kavair thoogs."
Isstvan chuckled. "Oh sure. And how, pray tell, did he tell you who did it if he was dead? Are you keeping company with Gulmorvrin?"
This remark raised a low chuckle from around the common table. The quick tongued wanderer continued.
"Of course you know the Gulmorvrin remark was in jest I hope. All good folk have heard stories of the legendary Lia-Kavair. Their exploits are whispered in darkened corners, lively taverns, and children's beds all across Hârn. They are a convenient scapegoat for many of the disappearances, murders, robberies, and burglaries that take place across the continent. It makes for a good story except for one often overlooked detail: they do not exist!"
Merrick opted to reply with another mouthful of stew. How appealing. "They are out there ya know. I've 'eard an awful lot at me stall."
"Have you ever seen them?" was Isstvan's bored reply.
"Well, no," Merrick responded, "but I've 'ad to correct a shoplifter or two."
"Now, I know what you must be thinking. But allow me to explain why they may have existed, but do not any more." Isstvan lit his pipe and waved for the bar-wench. "We live in a perilous world filled with Gargun, Ivashu, Morsina, and Night People. We enjoy the discoveries of the Shek Pvar, the blessings of our gods, and the rule of law. We live in a world where anything is possible. But how could the Lia-Kavair possibly exist? Either the mages would discover them, and despite the best efforts of Naveh to keep them hidden, sooner or later they would be discovered by priests, guards, or even good folk like you and me."
Merrick pushed away his empty bowl and took a deep pull from his flagon. He wiped his thin lips on his sleeve. "Ya cannot deny that rogues are plaguing honest, 'ard workin' folk like you an' me."
"True, there are cutthroats, brigands, footpads, muggers, burglars, and
other ne'er-do-wells abound, especially in our cities. Some of these rogues
loudly proclaim they are exercising a grim sense of duty for the Lia-Kavair.
Hah! And you fall for it, not unlike duping a tribesman with the wonders of
a glass bauble." Isstvan took another pull from his pipe. " These are merely the fabrications of a fearful lot, who, in an effort to prevent righteous retaliation for their crimes, conjure forth an image of hundreds of eyes upon the victim, their steely knives waiting to cut out a loose tongue. Now how, gentle and common folk, can a band of thieves, willing to steal, lie, and murder, possibly function without wiping each other out? The truth is they are lying and we conveniently blame this phantom brotherhood of rogues for our problems. We send our guards to find shadows, instead of directing our attention to much more tangible and proven threats." Satisfied with his words, he ordered a glass of Melderyni wine.
The vendor shook his head. "I dunno, I still worry more about the Lia-Kavair comin' to me stall or worse yet, 'urtin' me family."
"That ignorant remark is precisely what I am talking about!" Isstvan fumbled for his purse. "While we grasp at straws, the Navehans are killing, the Gargun are raiding, the Morsina steal our children, and the Ivashu rend hapless travellers upon our roads. But we fear that which we fail to amend so we create a bogeyman to put our fears at ease. Instead, we have created just another greater fear that can never be stopped. It is time to dispel this grimly romantic image of hooded mur-derers and cloaked thieves huddled in lavish dens underneath our towns in a grim legacy of crime. We must address, nay, demand, that our guards and sheriffs bring justice to the everyman instead of blaming their failures upon some imaginary cult. Murderers and thieves are just that - murderers and thieves - and unchecked will further propagate this silly rumour."
He rose and dropped some pennies upon the table. "This should cover both of our meals. I have to rest, for tomorrow I lead a caravan to Tashal. Good night Merrick, and put such nonsense out of your head. Focus instead on keeping safe from real threats."
"May Halea show ya the way to prosperity, ol' frien'." Isstvan stepped onto the dark streets of Burzyn and went a little ways before slipping into the alley that would lead him to his wagon that he slept in while traveling.
Merrick ran out after him but a moment later, for Isstvan had carelessly left his pipe behind. He turned along the alley and made his way towards Isstvan's wagon. Just as he realised how dark it was, he felt a sudden blinding pain at the base of his skull. Merrick staggered, but the ground rose to meet him. The last thing he saw was a cloaked silhouette and the outline of a drawn dagger.
Isstvan left with the caravan in the morning. Merrick's stall stood empty, waiting for its proprietor. But a stall does not feel the worry that Erla felt all that night when her husband never came home.
You waited a long time for this. Now, after years of mentoring, you are ready to prove yourself. Others are squeamish at the thought of killing somebody, but they don't get far. The Guildmaster made sure to set the conditions of this final test so that you will prove yourself loyal and capable. Failure or hesitation means death, for although you cannot see them, you can sense the quarrels aimed at you that will insure your failure will not betray the Lia-Kavair.
No pressure. None at all
You wonder what you would have had to do if your fingers were quicker, or your tongue was glibber, like Isstvan's. What if you had the wits to comprehend the elements as the Shek Pvar do?
No matter. You were a bit of a scrapper and a bully as a kid anyway. At least you were good at hide and seek.
Besides, the dips run faster than you do, and you are not slick enough to pull off a con. And the mages have a problem with one of their own willingto break away from their code.
The Lia-Kavair are not idiots. Too many eyes looking for us, seeking to bring
us down. They can afford to be selective in whom they choose to make
contact with for membership.
Hmph. "Us." That isn't the first time you thought of yourself as a member of this elite brotherhood. The trick is, proving yourself so that the journeymen and masters see you as one of them.
ell, if you didn't show promise you wouldn't be here. At least you hope that is the truth.
Footsteps approaching. A man whistling a little tune. It's getting close to show time. All I have to do is wait for the fat vendor.
Nope, that's Isstvan. He must be leading the mark somehow.
Here comes the mark, just as planned. I wonder how Isstvan got him to follow? No matter, one swift blow to the head and he will be harvesting wheat in Rethem, if he's lucky. He'll be too busy worrying about slavers instead of the Lia-Kavair.