The Vigiles Amicae is a roleplaying guild in Everquest 2, on the Freeport and Antonia Bayle Servers.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Excerpt: From the Concise History of the Vigiles in the Age of Veeshan

It was once said by Cieramos d’Monde of Qeynos, under whose glorious leadership the Trinity was formed during the Age of Turmoil, that the position of resistance to the forces of tyranny in whatever form they express is the only true state of the moral, sapient creature. While it was ever the stated goal of the Trinity to one day establish a separatist community, and no record indicates that they ever did, the Company did at least operate in a state of political neutrality well into the era of Faydwer.

The last battle which the historians can agree the Trinity engaged was that which toppled the old Imperial line in Zek. Though a clan hailed as Deathfist rules there still, the new blood is weaker than it once was, and is frequently culled.

But that is getting ahead of matters.

Historians argue to this day exactly the circumstances of the defeat which humbled the glorious Company after centuries of victories. It is agreed, however, that the Deathfist alliance with a cannibalistic goblin tribe had some part in it, and it is widely supposed that there was a betrayal from within which laid them open to the flanking assault of the orcs. The ranks were not merely decimated, but actually ruined. No more than a quarter of the soldiers who entered the Citadel ever emerged, for what is eaten cannot ever be Restored.

Nonetheless, there was Victory, and the Imperator was felled.

Some of the survivors removed to the desert of Ro following that battle: others retired to farms in the Steppes, the Commons, the turbulent lands of the rediscovered Faydwer, and in one notable case, to the time-troubled overrealm.

It is important to any study of the military and social history of the Trinity to understand the ethic which bound the diverse ranks so successfully, and for so long.

Among the Trinity, it was taken as an article of self-evident reason that to live as citizens under either tyranny in the old Shattered Lands - in conformity, fear, obeisance, or collaboration and idolize "safety" or "security" as new and false gods - caused moral insanity and constituted a form of death. Resistance was the only stance worthy of a sentient being, as much in responsibility to oneself as to all other beings.

If that posture involved grave and constant peril of persecution, imprisonment, or execution, at least one would have lived justly while taking these risks. It was the practice of the Trinity always to offer refuge to those who did this work in the world, and aid them in their cause. It was for this reason that they were known to also seek relics of the fallen gods and other powers, either to keep or destroy them, preventing them from reaching the hands of tyrants.

It was also for this reason that the Trinity was chartered as a bonded free-lance company, open to any and every job offered. Their habit of judging and executing their customers from time to time did little to stem the business they were offered: they had one of the larger fighting forces in that era, and they were more effective in the field than many larger companies. They were frequently sought for staged battles and grand melees, or to eliminate problems which proved resistant to the deaths given by other Companies before them.

Not to resist, on the other hand, was considered to have the certitude of death, howsoever effective the Restoration Arts of the Ravens and others might be. It meant a moral death, a death to sanity and conscience, a the death which possesses sentient creatures who are profoundly ungrateful for their own lives and for the lives of others. Though they walked abroad, in truth they lived no more than the revenants which rise in the chaos-riven lands.

These, the Trinity sought to return to the cycle whenever possible, that on another turn they might better learn the value of the world and the creatures in it. When such lack of resistance proved to be the result of enforced bondage, the Trinity made a habit of freeing the subject, even if they afterwards chose to follow their former masters willingly.

Historians do not agree exactly when the leadership of the Trinity passed entirely to the hands of its last Commander, Ariahdnia z’equidaii chath z’Ress do’ Xiphos, as it is suspected that several of the names recorded in the lists may have been pseudonyms. What is known for certain, is that she was recorded as a Captain in the Freeportian cohort of that force early in the sixth century Anti Rendi, difficult though that may be to believe.

The Trinity passes from the forward attention of history during the next several ages, except as scholars of military tactics are always interested in the struggles of the long dead. The Company itself was formally declared dissolved by the City archivists in both Qeynos and Freeport sometime late in the Age of Faydwer, and it was generally assumed that some contest with the D’Vinnian or Sanguine powers in that region mopped up what remained of the last cohorts.

During the Era of Sentinels, and most specifically after the collapse of the Citadel in Freeport, the next significant mention of the Trinity is in the enigmatic notation in the Gorowysh citizenship rolls. At the same time as they applied to the ruling council for full citizen rights in Gorowyn, three teir’dal are recorded as the High Council of a new House of Trade, registered as the Vigiles Amicae. The Leader of that Council is listed as one Aryadnya z’Ress do’Trinae, and the reigning Primary of that period left this notation on the document:
“On the strength of Reputation and Proven Victory, the Vigiles are named as Favored Allies, and the Fireborn prefect of the Residential district is to be ceded to their use in exchange for Future Service in the name of Reason and Justice.”

Where the Trinity was a highly public mercenary Company, the Vigiles Amicae has largely existed as a quiet presence reinforcing the rule of law in Gorowyn. Within Gorowyn they are known for exactly what their charter states they are: fine craftsmanship in both durable and consumable goods. The private guards allows the House are generally only seen in the rare times the City of Gorowyn experiences strife, or when the local militia is overextended. In these times, the Vigiles seem to perform only as paramilitary peacekeepers and lawgivers.

A notable exception to this unambitious appearance arises during the Age of the New Combine, wherein the Vigiles actually published a Declaration of War, as if they were an independent City-State capable of such action. That Declaration has never been withdrawn, but the terms it lays down are unmistakably drafted as spiritual - if not actual - successors to the goals of the Trinity when it was formed some nine ages before.

“Amicae: In the name of your ancestors and the dead generations of soldiers from which you receive your steadfastness, your writ and traditions, your Praetor summons you to the standard of the Vigiles, the ever-watchful. The drum of war is sounded, and the anvil of liberty rings forth.
Having organized and trained the Vigiles in secret and in the open, to guard all Amicae; having perfected discipline and silence; having awaited resolutely the day our liberties could be shown to the world; now the pattern of time has unfolded an opportunity for glory. Supported by the souls of those who laid down in blood, and those who have chosen to return to the bondage of tyrants for the good of coming generations, but relying first on the strength within our own ranks: in the sacred mystery by which one and one and one together carry more than each alone ever could, we strike in full confidence of victory.
We declare now to the world the right of the Amicae to the unfettered pursuit of their destinies, without regard to the petty circumstances of birth or the avarice of gods and mortals. The abysmal usurpation of that right by any creature makes them our enemy, now and hereafter. In every generation there are those who forget the consequence of attempting such invasion: we must never let them forget that the final victory shall ever be ours.
Let this hereby stand as a declaration of resolve, and a summons to the council of war: the shield and spear of the Amicae be raised! Until by our wisdom and our valor we have reclaimed our Lost, the rule of all Amicae shall be held by the Vigiles arm, under the direction of the Praetor, and held in trust for the people until peace return.
May the woven fate guard us, and may no thread fray in cowardice, selfishness, or sadism. In this path, the Vigiles Amicae must by the nine virtues prove again that we have the right and the worth to claim the destiny to which we are called.
In Strength - we meet under the banner of our bond, Solaceday Eight, in the month of Burningsky.
By my will and hand, Ariahdnia Z'Ress

It is worth noting that this declaration was published in the same period in which there was some chaos on the High Council of the Vigiles. Several Interim Legates were named in succession, and many casualties were recorded - and later struck from the same record. This much is easily learned from the Gorwysh records of the bureaucratic changes within their allies, and even more alarmingly, is followed inside of a year with the shocking Usurption by Amrunrosse to the mantle of Praetor.

The details of that particular event are salacious enough to tempt even the most recalcitrant student of history, but unfortunately, many of the most interesting records are still classified. Corroborating records from other powers indicate that during this period the notorious slaveholding vampiric House of Cel’Voda was destroyed, and there was even some entanglement with the young house Stormharrow, sworn to the Shaded Lotus smuggling ring. The Legate Bellum is struck from the Vigiles record in this period, and is recorded elsewhere as variously a member of the Morag Tong, the Nefarious Inc, The Ebon Syndicate, and other organizations of ill repute.

The clever student will remember that the infamous Valacor Arios Valinos Val’Kavek has a long and torrid history of his own, best treated in a work devoted exclusively to him and his innumerable disreputable exploits. Remember that it was once said of the Captain-Commander z’Ress that she advised:

...always to hold one’s enemies closer than one’s friends, for the former will tell one useful lies, where the latter will tell one only pretty truths which anyone could discover.

The records in the Tower of the Moon and the Library of Light in Maj’Dul hold even more tantalizing hints of the intrigues which drew the Vigiles at last into the public sphere. The Legate Pax, registered in Gorowyn as “Sidhen Finn”, and in Maj’Dul as the Archivist Sytan Fiac, was listed with the Sultanate as a Missing Person, and connected to the personal guard of the Hero, referred to throughout as “Vigiles”.

The Sultanate does not often bother with the affairs of barrashar, except in this case it appears that the Archivist Fiac was a member of the household of the Champion and Hero of Maj’Dul. Local records only refer to the head of this house as “the Champion”, or alternately, “the Hero”, much to the frustration of later scholars, but in the civic records this useful detail is retained: the Estate of the Champion is, and has always been, established on one of the terraces of the Heroes’ Quarter at the edge of the city overlooking the Clefts of Rujark.

This quarter of the City was not even established until some time into the Age of Shadow - or perhaps, it is more accurate to say, re-established. There are references to this quarter in records dating from the Age of Faydwer, but it would appear they were little more than ruins attached to a land grant in the gift of the Sultanate until the current Champion or Hero took formal residence there during the early Age of Sentinels.

The casual student might well reel at this litany of detail, but all is to a point: that is, to assert that the humble Captain z’equidaii Chath has, over the ages, risen to the position of Hero and Praetor, and seems to have gained tacit recognition from several major powers to operate at the very edge of formal law.

That is not to say that history must necessarily conclude that the legendary Trinity gave rise to a new tyrant: rather, it is notable that throughout the history of the Vigiles Amicae, and the Trinity before them, that these organizations were well known to embody both military excellence and a high standard of equity and justice within their ranks.

The Vigiles Amicae, like the Trinity they seem to have been modelled after, are sworn to complete neutrality and equality in its treatment of race, class, god, and nation. That is not to say they are any more permissive of tyranny than the Trinity were: in fact, the records of their campaigns seem to entirely revolve around dismantling threats to the free will they value so highly. Many of their actions in the last two ages have been on the order of rescue missions, and any number of political prisoners escaped in this period seem to have disappeared after one of the Vigiles reported on the situation to the High Council.

It is widely assumed that in the future as more reports are declassified that many currently open questions in current political history will be resolved.

The Vigiles seem overall to be a stable Company, except as there are irrecoverable casualties in any military force. Those few Exiles that have been named by it have always been so because they have violated the central governing principle of their laws. Namely: the right of all sentient life to live according to its nature, insofar as it does not hinder the rights of any other life or collection thereof.

In the early years of the Age of Veeshan, a second Declaration enters the Vigiles history. It appears that shortly after the discovery of the Vesspyr Isles, the Exile Amrunrosse was recalled from Velious, to serve the remainder of her sentence in a variation of House Arrest, on a small estate carved from the western portion of the Heroes’ Terraces. Records indicate this House Arrest was largely nominal, and Amrunrosse was soon functioning in all significant respects as an Equites, or Captain, of the Vigiles guard.

Nontheless, it is notable that the Praetor seems to have allowed - even approved of - the wide publication of the self-titled “Declaration of Truth” broadsheets at the tail end of the Erollissian festivities that same year. Where the Declaration of War was vague and adaptable to whichever cause the Council might consider worth attention, this “Declaration” is highly specific in its scathing condemnation.

WHERE AS it is known that Marconis Fiac uses the aliases Marconis Finn AND Father Fiac AND Father Finn AND Archbishop Marconis AND Archbishop Fiac AND Archbishop Finn, among others yet unknown;
AND WHERE AS Marconis Fiac holds the position of Archbishop in the Erollisian Diocese;
AND WHERE AS it is known that Marconis Fiac took under his tutelage one Fier'Dal;
AND WHERE AS he has not fulfilled his obligation to her education, both in schooling and life skills;
AND WHERE AS he has deliberately undermined her self worth verbally;
AND WHERE AS he has maligned the name of sad Feir'Dal's mother;
AND WHERE AS he has made the false claim of Erollisi speaking directly to him;
AND WHERE AS he has forged a secret military force within the Erollisian sect;
AND WHERE AS he has utilized this force to wage war on his family;
AND WHERE AS he has utilized necromantic magics against his family for personal gain against restrictions by the sects of Erollisi;
AND WHERE AS he has sought to make war on the Vigiles Amicae;
AND WHERE AS he has made truce with the Crushbone clan orcs of Faydwer;
AND WHERE AS his practice of Erollisian healing tends towards coercion of the mind;
It is resolved that a
be leveraged towards the cause of informing all of Norrath of Marconis Fiac's transgressions towards the cause of peace in general, and the precepts of Erollisi in particular;
THEREFORE that this missive be delivered to all major and minor settlements to aid the cause of this
Regarding Marconis Fiac
Signed Lady Folodu Amrunrosse, Adjunct Equites Diplomatic Corps of Vigiles Amicae

It is particularly interesting that Amrunrosse represents herself as a Diplomatic, rather than martial, personage within the Vigiles, as later in the quatrain she not only took command of an entire wing of the Vigiles army, but declared herself Interim Commander of all the armies. Contemporary historians refer to this as the Second Usurption, even though she did not make so bold as to claim the mantle of Praetor at this time.

This newfound restraint on the part of the bardic-trained Amrunrosse is found also in all of the official correspondence during the campaigns she led in this period. The most notable of these is, of course, the effort to extradite the unlicensed chiurgeon Veset dal’Glennil from the walled and warded residential quarter of Freeport. The publicly stated goal of this action was to bring the accused to trial for a litany of crimes, but it is worth noting that Amrunrosse requested for this - and was granted - permission to land a strike team of ten veteran soldiers of mixed talents, and requisitioned the use of a mechamagical Iron Turtle to expedite the mission.

Less widely known was the secondary objective: that is, to free the hostage Hyrokon D’Arkoth, and prevent dal’Gelnnil having an opportunity to transfer him to her alleged master, the Archbishop Marconis Fiac of Erollisi.
Further reading for the interested student may easily be found among the many volumes of the Lives, but particularly those of the Multum Mendacis, the Threadcutter, the Ignis Bello (if, in fact, any volumes of it have survived), and of course, the Apocryphal Journals. The Council records are themselves far too wide for the casual student to find profitable, though any particular details may of course be best illuminated in seeking reputable primary sources.

- Archivist Stargazer Sian
Deadening of Fenin Ro, Veeshan