The Executors of Aetolia
The Executors are an ancient assassin cadre that once served Severn personally. As such, the profession's past is a sordid one, their vicious fighting style historically turned toward the obliteration of the Ankyreans after the Manipulator had deemed them no longer necessary.
Trained as expert trackers and taught practical forms of shadow charms, they operate with fluid grace and brutal agility in pursuit of whatever quarry that catches their eye.
An ancient art practised by Severn's Executors in the era of the second Ankyreans, Shadowdancing involves the use of a large, circular blade compatible with acrobatics, agile feints, and complex trickery. Known as the most graceful of killing arts in that bygone era, a skilled shadowdancer was rumoured to possess awe-inspiring control of their own body and the shade they cast. Whispers tell of mystical techniques that allow an Executor's shadow to act independently from the greater whole that casts it, ensuring that these fabled assassins were never alone on the battlefield. Trained in those elder days as magehunters, the first Executors hunted down renegade Ankyreans and utilised their perfect control of their own silhouettes to double their numbers and thus their odds at comparative demigods.
Modern practitioners of the martial school recognise now that its practice requires expert contortions, blinding speed, and a supernatural oneness with their shadow to achieve the greatest effects. Woe betide those that incur the wrath of those that wield the ringblade, for Executors one and all possess a grim determination to see their enemy reduced to ribbons in order to complete their mission.
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As the final years of the Age of Conflict came to a close, Severn meticulously engineered the Second Ankyrean War to achieve the complete extermination of the Ankyreans. Yet for all His machinations, not every Ankyrean was caught within His deadly web. Some fled from the horrors of war, while others discerned the deceit of the God and chose to escape. To these elusive few, Severn assigned His Executors - a cadre of zealous assassins with a single, unyielding purpose: to fulfil Severn's divine will.
Forming compact units - for no lone rellyw could rival the power of an Ankyrean - the Executors fanned out across the continent. Through their mastery of Shadowdancing, Artifice, and Subversion, they relentlessly pursued their demigod adversaries. Into the deepest corners of the wilderness they ventured, where their targets sought refuge away from the prying eyes of man and God alike.
Wielding ringblades, Executors practised the deadly art of Shadowdancing, seamlessly working in tandem with their partners to execute their targets with deadly grace. With Artifice, they navigated the wilderness with stealth, tracking their quarry and conjuring inked creatures to hunt alongside them. Employing Subversion, the Executors set deadly traps to waylay their targets, making use of precise bolts to harass them from a distance.
As the final Ankyrean fell, Severn's plan was at last complete. He enacted the Grand Artifice - a great veil to rob the world of its memories - and granted His faithful Executors reprieve in the form of a new existence. Many settled in the tranquil village of Nuunva, living their subsequent lives as Indyuk warriors.
Following Severn's demise some centuries later, the cryptic inheritance the fallen God bequeathed His city of Spinesreach guided the mortals to the village of Nuunva. Here, they unearthed and rekindled the dormant memories of the Executors. Thus reawakened, the Executors reaffirmed their commitment to carry out their God's dying will.
How are the powers of the class accessed?
Shadowdancing is a martial style that hinges upon focus, physicality, and the subtle manipulation of one's own shadow to supernatural ends. Employing annular weapons known as ringblades, users of this combat school shift and turn as if they were the shadow of a candlelit flame, tearing through their foes with ethereal poise and single-minded determination. Each movement and each fell strike ensure that the user's shadow properly positions itself to lash out and aid the Executor in battle, usually through manners of trickery, distraction, or vexation. Consummate masters of the art often display the ability to entirely separate from their shadow for a brief time, effectively doubling their own killing prowess in legendary displays of bellicosity.
In an effort to support their offensive arts, Executors of old followed in the footsteps of their Immortal master and delved the secrets of Artifice - a field of deceptive charms, mind-over-body resilience techniques, and other shadow magic. The defining technique of a practitioner of Artifice is the ability to render accomplices through ambient shadow and mental imagery, allowing them to fabricate terrifying beings rooted in the deepest, most psychological fears of mortal minds. An Executor is often accompanied by a coterie of these creatures, ensuring they are never alone in battle. Unstable and vicious, these beings are never considered friends or allies and even those that command them look upon them with a suspicion that necessitates the knowledge of banishment and binding charms to keep them under control.
Finally, Executors practice the art of Subversion. Steeped in strategy and philosophy related to clever ambushes, this school of thought expounds upon the importance of bleeding an enemy into weakness before engaging them. A varied selection of archery techniques, tracking know-how, mechanical traps, and alchemical toxin production fills out the entirety of this diverse practice, ensuring that an individual agent is never at a loss for options.
Visual style of the class
Owing in part to their function in society of ancient and modern ages, an Executor is often clad in clothing that best suits clandestine operations. This typically means no hanging or loose folds of fabric, nothing that could snag or tear during infiltration, and sturdy boots or other footwear that serve best for a long journey. Jewelry or trinkets that make someone highly identifiable were considered outright forbidden in the elder days. However, the evolutions of enchantment and adventurer protocol necessitate being more lax with this standard in the current era, meaning that Executors of the current age might sport rings or amulets invested with magic but very little cosmetic embellishment as a compromise. They favour dark materials that blend into the shadows they are known to manipulate, including the metal of their annular, exotic weaponry.
In combat, an Executor moves with chilling grace and terrifying efficiency. Every movement serves a purpose, for each movement manipulates the shadow that serves as their silent companion in all attempts upon their foe's life. Flourishes, dizzying heel turns, clever feints, and tricksome slashes conspire into the ancient shadowdance, allowing them to tear an opponent into bloody tatters with swift, successive strikes. As if possessed of a mind of its own, the fighter's shadow often shifts and moves of its own accord, creating distractions and confusion that allow yet more dangerous assaults.
Never operating alone, each agent is accompanied by constructs birthed from mortality's most primal fears, all of whom lurk within their master's shadows as a fierce coterie capable of breaking the body, mind, and spirit of whosoever the Executor stands against. These creatures emanate the inky darkness of ambient shadow's manifestation, lending them the appearance of psychologically horrifying art that has escaped from its canvas.
Executors are lithe and graceful, with a small degree of muscle evident due to the physically strenuous activity that comes with their trade. Though they lack the intense physical regiment of other battlefield-dwellers, their repetitious review of Shadowdancing forms often ensures they stay in excellent physical shape.
Side effects of use
Due to their continual association with primal embodiments of terror, an Executor might display behaviour others would display as 'unnerving' or 'on edge'. Haunted by the constant presence of these beings due to the needs of their profession, they might grow desensitised to normally terrifying displays or topics. They are utterly at home in darkness and might recognise shapes or patterns where there is naught but the void of absolute darkness. Continual usage of Artifice's arts might also affect a user's memory or cause them to question their own reality at times, especially if they are adepts or novices just coming into their power.
Subversion's constant application of traps and ambush tactics often means that Executors display single-minded, mechanical thinking that aids in formulating battle strategies. In spite of this, the field does come with some downsides - early students might find they burn or scar their hands when working with freshly concocted toxins, or else injure their fingers when catching them in the components of their traps.
The constant need for stealth and subtlety often ensures that Executors develop into very closed-off, private individuals who divulge very little of their own feelings, thoughts, or plans. This can make them slightly standoffish in social situations.
Roleplaying the class
Executors are, for the most part, soldiers meant to further the cause of the Theocracy. They are warriors of darkness and shadow and were well-equipped in ancient days to tackle the threat of renegade Ankyreans. This translates to the current era, where they are especially capable of hunting down sorcerers and ending their lives in a blink and a breath. They are indiscriminate in their haunting violence and reject self-limitations such as chivalry or honour in favour of fulfilling their duty no matter what lengths they must go to. Driven by service and purpose, they often exhibit little care for much else so long as they have a task set before them.
Some Executors choose to adhere to their ancient heritage and put themselves in the employ of a god or goddess as a forgotten echo of a time when the Manipulator dictated their every move. To be an Executor is to face any danger and dispense with all threats and obstacles - even those that could utterly unmake them.
Guidelines for customisation
When customising any Artifice accomplice, please keep in mind that these creatures are primal embodiments of terrors and phobias. Essentially demons, they possess a great deal of ambient shadow within them that eats away at their free will and renders them unwilling, barely controlled thralls for the Executor who summoned them. They are not meant to be cute, as this would directly detract from their power due to a lower recognition of the fears they represent. They are not viewed as companions or friends even by their users and thus they will never possess special trinkets, clothing, or other things one might dress actual pets with. They must always adhere to the aesthetic of art, with a suggestion of leaning towards chiaroscuro appearances. All of them should appear as if they are made of ink in proposed customisations, representing the root of the manner in which Executors summon them.