The Even Handed

The Even-Handed were a cult of assassins based in a hidden stronghold in the Wyrmsmoke mountains. They were allied with the Red Hand, but preceded them. How long they’ve been around, and in what form, isn’t known.

The Even-Handed are divided into two orders: the Right and the Left.

The Right
The Right are avengers – holy assassins sent to murder key targets. They are prepared, even expected, to die in achieving their task – it’s hard to stop an assassin who doesn’t need an escape plan.

It is said that the Right are born, not made. When a rare yellow star called the Gleam passes through the constellation of the Eye, the Right ride out in search of babies born that night, seize them, and take them back to the cult. Their families are killed. The babies are raised knowing that when they die they will journey through the Eightfold Heavens to the final, forbidden heaven, where only the beatified may tread. At the age of 14, they drink the fabled Black Lotus Tea, die, and through the arts of Vaurom are reborn. Having taken the first step on his journey, they devote themselves to his service.

The Right is commanded by the undying Vaurom, who claims he was the first – and will be the last – man to walk the earth. Vaurom dies like any man, but at each funeral another Vaurom appears with all the knowledge and understanding of the old one, and the body of the last is interred in the Impossible Crypt with the countless others.

The Left
The Left are the spies, agents, and facilitators of the cult. They are the ones who make the Right’s missions of murder possible. Usually, a member of the Right will have no idea that the guard dozing at his post was quietly drugged by one of the Left, or that the precise information he has on his target was provided by a team of agents gradually and thoroughly infiltrating the household. The Left are expected to return from their tasks, carrying word of the success or failure of the Right.

The Left are also known as the Bastards – they are foundlings and orphans delivered to the cult, who will take hungry young mouths from desparate families with no questions asked. It’s rumoured that the Left sometimes create their own orphans to ensure a steady supply.

The Left is commanded by Salea, who is either a crone, a child, or a darkly beautiful woman depending on who you ask. She is a Sinchild, and she and Vaurom were wed in an unspoken ceremony beneath a black moon. It is said that Vaurom has no idea that did not grow from a seed she planted.

Together, Vaurom and Salea wrote death upon the world, choosing their victims according to an unseen design, until they wed their fortunes to those of the Red Hand. At Brindol, their strength was broken, and the Left and the Right largely eradicated – some say fighting broke out between them, one side turning on the other, and few walked away. Now their mountain fastness lies empty, and the Even-Handed are only a tale told by firelight.

The Even Handed

Scales of War ChrisGardiner