Bloodright : Rise of the Border Princes
Gang of Thugs
The chief gang of brigands found in the northern fringes of The Beast Shards, they have been harassing the caravans that enter and leave Frandor’s Keep over the last six months. The gang has all sworn a blood oath of loyalty to Rikar the Raven, whose status among them has risen to an all-time high. The primary members of the gang are known to have the tattoo of a raven on their right shoulder – a permanent indication of whom they serve and a reminder that death is the only way out. The gang includes humans of various origins, most of whom are quite young, mostly due to a high turn-over and short life-expectancy, than anything else. They know this, however, and are proud of it.
Woe to anyone unfortunate to run into these thugs. I believe they have taken their name from the fact they swarm over their victims like their namesake over a dead carcass – picking them clean. It is terrifying to behold, and just what their leader Rikar prefers. Fear of his gang serves his own private agenda, as well. Many of the common folk in The Keep feel he is the real power to be reckoned with. Perhaps an exaggeration, but close enough.
No one but Rikar knows the exact size of the gang, since he keeps them split-up into raiding groups most of the time. He and about two dozen men station themselves in Quarrytown, with a grand open view of the front gates, while others of the gang have a camp in the rocky crags nearby, watching for marks with keen eyes. Rikar himself, being a wanted man, is always surrounded by personal troops – attempts to capture or kill him have, so far, been unsuccessful – his troops willingly fight to the death to buy his escape, every time.
Rikar’s “Kingdom” is centered on his control of Quarrytown, from which he receives a piece of every transaction. He also has eyes and ears in The Keep, and influences matter therein. Once people have paid his “taxes”, they are generally allowed the protection of his men and can move about Quarrytown unmolested – until they misstep. The river and nearby gullies are the final resting place for the bloated bodies of those who’ve crossed the Ravens.
The presence of The Ravens is felt within The Keep, where his agents have begun demanding protection money from its merchants and tradesmen. Once paid, they and their shops are are spared from vandalism and theft. However, the tribute is a significant levy and the merchants are desperate to be free of the unwelcome imposition. Angered traders have lodged their protests with The Keep’s Lord Rainford, demanding his exercise of judicial powers and influence with Lord Sandus Rainford, and their mounting pressure is beginning to bear fruit.
A bounty of 10 sp is placed on the heads of The Ravens, for each one brought in, dead or alive. Rikar’s bounty is presently at 1000 sp, a fact he is quite boldly proud of. If anything, the rising bounty has emboldened his troops, inspiring them to greater boldness. Worse, there seem to be no end to the ruffians waiting to join their ranks, almost an endless supply of thugs at their disposal. Although Rikar is a stern and brutal leader, he watches over those who serve him and pay their dues. Stolen meats and grain are often dispersed among the residents of Quarrytown, and as Rikar boasts;
“Who feeds you? Clothes you? Not the incompetent Lord Rainford! But I who does this!”