The Patriotists were the Letherii Empire's secret police, chartered to police the empire and distinguish between the loyal and disloyal. Under Invigilator Karos Invictad's leadership, they arrested and detained citizens with impunity--as many as three hundred a week, sentencing around a third of them to execution in The Drownings. They wrote their own rules of behaviour for different segments of the population and then set about enforcing their compliance. They rewarded weaker potential targets for exposing stronger, and therefore more troublesome, targets and established their rule of fear in one section of the population at a time. They counted on the citizenry being easily cowed and their leaders kept isolated and open to betrayal for the price of a purse of coin. Failing that, opponents were quietly eliminated outright. Tanal Yathvanar thought the organisation a perfect haven for the perverse to indulge their cravings for power and immunity.
The Patriotists took over the functioning of the Drownings to execute as many as a hundred of the most egregious traitors every week. Unlike the traditional punishment, the secret police made sure to burden their victims with crushing weights so that none survived. When the bookmakers had complained, several of their own were sent into the canal to keep the others quiet.
Patriotist officers were required to wear a weapon belt holding a dagger and a shortsword. This privilege was denied to all other Letherii barring soldiers. Regular agents of the Patriots carried truncheons on their belts and wore grey Raincapes and gloves. Agents often worked in the streets in threes, with one following a pair of agents discretely at a distance to serve as reinforcement or to summon aid. Passage through Letheras' streets was made risky by the presence of Patriotist squads and their spies looking for signs of disloyalty.
The Patriotists' headquarters in Letheras consisted of a walled central compound, a stable, and at least four outbuildings. It stood atop several levels of ancient dungeons where hundreds of prisoners were chained in underground cells for weeks, starved, and brutally questioned. Spiralling stone steps led to corridors of cells, many of which had not been used in centuries. The lowest levels had been inundated by floodwaters, leaving silt and the stench of stagnant, filthy water behind. A disused inquisition chamber in the lowest level was filled with arcane and rust-seized torture devices.
The compound's outer wall was decorated with an array of heads that changed on the Invigilator's whim.
- Karos Invictad, Invigilator
- Orbyn "Truthfinder", Section Commander
- Tanal Yathvanar, Karos' personal assistant
- Sirryn Kanar, lieutenant
- Kanorsos, agent
In Reaper's Gale
Invigilator Karos Invictad turned the Patriotists into his own personal fiefdom, waging secret war against the city's elite to enrich himself and make his organisation the true rulers of the empire. He sought to become famous, beloved, and powerful--and a man to be feared. Although ostensibly working in partnership with the powerful Liberty Consign of Merchants, he was in fact using their vast wealth to secretly bankroll his organisation and line his own pockets. More funds came from the estates of those he arrested and made disappear. He believed himself to be the wealthiest man ever to have lived in Lether.
From his first day in office, Invictad's agents had attacked any organisation who could oppose him. He outlawed the Rat Catchers' Guild and sent a hundred agents to Scale House to make scores of arrests. All turned out to be illusions. The Patriotists also worked with Chancellor Triban Gnol to isolate Rhulad from his fellow Edur and slowly take back control of the throne. They arrested First Concubine Nisall and executed her after torturing a "confession" from her. They also attempted to keep Emperor Rhulad focused on external affairs rather than their own operations. The Patriotists' reportedly arrested four agents of the Bolkando conspiracy within Letheras to stoke the Chancellor's talk of war with their neighbours. Eventually the regular talk of pre-emptive war forced the Bolkando to turn the imaginary conspiracy into a real invasion.
Tehol Beddict organised another secret scheme to collapse the Letherii economy, causing Master Rautos Hivanar of the Liberty Consign bring concerns of a shortage of coin to the Invigilator. The Master was suspicious that a thief was secretly hoarding coins in an attempt to commit economic sabotage and signs of a severe financial strain were already starting to appear. He requested the Invigilator secretly conduct the investigation so that the members of the Consign would remain unaware of the issue. Hivanar also pressured Karos to be more careful in the Patriotists' campaign against academics and scholars from the city's influential families.
Relations between the Patriotists and the Liberty Consign quickly soured, and Rautos Hivanar began taking steps to disassociate the Consign from the secret police as it launched covert war against the Edur of the palace. The Master sent his concerns about the Patriotists to Chancellor Gnol. Rather than denying the allegations, Karos bragged to the Chancellor he had undertaken his own plan to bring down the wealthy merchants. The other unknown conspirator's work had simply enhanced his own scheme.
The city descended into riots and anarchy as the economy came to a standstill and Adjunct Tavore Paran's Bonehunters approached the city. Tehol's guilt was uncovered and he was arrested and tortured, receiving Karos' personal attention as an angry mob besieged the Patriotists' headquarters for several days. Four outbuildings and the compound's stables were burned to the ground. At least twelve agents were killed by the mob, leaving only fourteen on guard. Karos attempted to appease the mob by tossing them the contents of his private stash of wealth from the walls to no avail. The Rat Catcher, Ormly, brought the reborn Brys Beddict to the Patriotists' headquarters to save Tehol and their entrance into the compound was preceded by a flood of rats. Brys killed any Patriotist agent who stood in his way before finally slaying Karos Invictad in his office.
Patriotists in Drene, serving under Section Commander Orbyn Truthfinder, served as the muscle keeping Factor Letur Anict in power. Their agents kept the populace cowed with arbitrary arrests and violence and helped the Factor exterminate his enemies, the Onyx Wizards of Andara. When Drene descended into violent riots over the same economic issues as the rest of the empire, the mobs turned against the Patriotists killing thirty-one agents. Liberty Consign assassin, Venitt Sathad, determined that the Patriotists had outlived their usefulness. They would be served up as sacrifices and Factor Anict removed to restore order. In an attempt to save his own life, Orbyn Truthfinder sent his agents to eliminate the Factor's personal guard so Venitt Sathad could assassinate Anict.
Notes and references
- Reaper's Gale, Glossary
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 1, US HC p.32-34
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.762-763
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 1, US HC p.47
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 3, US HC p.83
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 2, US HC p.65
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 3, US HC p.83-84
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.762
- reaper's Gale, Chapter 2, US HC p.58-59
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18, US HC p.532-534
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.181
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 3, US HC p.84
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, UK BCA edition p.248/251-254
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.132
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 19, Epigraph
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.813
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 1, US HC p.35/47-48
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.247-249
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18, US HC p.532-534
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.762-769
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.783-784/802-803
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 2, US HC p.60-64
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 16, US HC p.458-460
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 19, US HC p.572-576
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.708-709