Saturday, November 1, 2014

Twin Kingdoms: The Black Watch

"Darkness gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Black Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."

The Black Watch is a non-aligned military fraternal order located in the East of the Twin Kingdoms.  The Watch has guarded the west from hostile invasion from the Black Tower and the Wilds many years.  It's headquarters is the famed Castle Black and it guards the Black Gap.  Volunteers from both kingdoms are accepted.  Lords often give criminals a chance to escape the dungeon by taking "the Black," an oath to serve the Black Watch until death.

To be a member of the Black Watch is to eschew home and kin for the brotherhood.  Both kings of the Twin Kingdoms send men to serve in the Watch.  By far Wolfthorn is the largest contributor of troops.  Mostly criminals, and outcasts but all are taken even the high born.  But whether highborn or commoner, once there the novice swears the Black Oath which is followed by a rigorous training program and indoctrination.  Merit and ability are prized in the Watch, not blood and kin.  In the Watch a common man can become a Knight or a Warden and a man who may once have been a noble's son might now scrub dishes or sweep dung in the stables.  The Watch is a rare place where a man can be more than what he was born.  Once trained for duty on the Watch a novice becomes a Brother.  To desert the Black Watch bears the penalty of death.  The Watch has their own hierarchy with the top post being held by the Watch Warden who also bears the title of the Black Baron and his estate is known as the Barony of the Black Gap, an area bequeathed to the brotherhood for their upkeep from House Windsor. Beneath the Watch Warden are the Black Wardens, Rangers, Knights and the Brothers themselves.  When a Watch Warden passes on, the new Watch Warden is elected from among the Black Wardens, Rangers and Knights by all members of the Brotherhood. Once elected the Watch Warden serves for life.

The Black Watch has stood so long that is has developed it's own cult.  The Brothers have temples and shrines setup for the honored dead of the Watch.  Those whose bravery in death led them out of the Black into the Light.  While most brothers serve as guards in the castle, keeps and towers of the Black Gap many find work in the kitchens, stables, smithies and fields of the Watch proper and the Barony itself.

The Barony of the Black Gap has a small population of peasants.  There are 7 scattered villages, towns and a single large city, Baldur's Gate located just outside the Black Castle.  These folk are not bound by the Watch nor are they required to take the Black Oath but they live in a highly regimented militaristic society.  They do however owe military service to the Watch Warden in the Baronial Militia when called upon.  Each village has a warden as it's mayor.  The local warden is responsible for the protection and governance of the village he is assigned to.  The estimate population is 29,000 souls not counting the Brothers of the Black Watch themselves.

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