A secret order of warriors dedicated to protecting the world from the forces of the Great Corrupter (called the Dark by some of the other fae, and the Wyrm by the shapechangers), the Ravens are incredible warriors even by the standards of House Scathach.
This society is composed entirely of House Scathach sidhe who are oathbound to fight the forces of the Corrupter and serve Scathach and Her consort, Gwyn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Wild Hunt. In return for this service, they are granted increased fighting prowess even beyond that normally available to their House.
Legend has it that the Ravens were formed in the High Mythic Age by Scathach and Gwyn themselves. Prior to the Shattering, they patrolled the fringes of Fae society, protecting their cousins from the forces of Darkness, and they enjoyed a close relationship with Gwyn's other children, the shape-changers.
When the other sidhe left for Arcadia, the Ravens chose to remain behind with the rest of House Scathach, and continued to guard the Fae from their ancient enemies. During the Interregnum, they forged alliances with the Garou, especially the Fianna and Children of Gaia. There are also rumors that during this time, some of them traveled as far east as Japan, where they fought the Corrupter beside the members of the Beast Courts.
During the Resurgence, the Ravens were roused to action by the Night of Iron Knives, and a number of them threw in behind the commoner Kiths. Their battle prowess was observed with fear by the other sidhe, who spread the word of the merciless warriors of the Raven, calling them heartless executioners.
Membership in the Ravens is open only to members of House Scathach who have demonstrated three qualities: battle prowess, a desire to protect the Kithain from the forces of the Corrupter, and a devotion to Scathach and Gwyn ap Nudd. Not surprisingly, the majority of the society is made up of Seelie fae, though there have been a few Unseelie members in the group's history; the sacred quest of a Raven takes precedence over such trivial things as Court affiliation.
The Ravens recognize three cineálacha, or castes, within their ranks -- the Right Hand (deasach), or paladins; the Left Hand (cíotogach), or slayers (sometimes erroneously referred to as "assassins" by non-members); and the Heart (croí), or priests.
The paladins are warriors. To them falls the task of holding the lines against the minions of the Corrupter Most of them are aligned with the Seelie Court.
The slayers are given the task of destroying those forces of the Corrupter who cannot be dealt with by a direct assault (which is the domain of the paladins). They are expert in stealth and infiltration, as well as assassination. Not surprisingly, most of the Unseelie Ravens are often called to this branch of the society.
The priests direct the actions of both the paladins and slayers, and act as intermediaries between the members of the society and their patrons. Traditionally, they are also responsible for keeping the lore of the society.
Initiation into the Ravens is by invitation of another member only. The members of the society watch promising individuals from a distance in order to judge their worthiness. If the candidate proves worthy, the Raven(s) will approach and perform the initiation ceremony; if not, they withdraw and make no further contact. Since the candidate often has no idea he is being observed, the first time he learns of the group will be when the observing Raven reveals herself to him.
The initiation ceremony is always performed at night, preferably out in the open air, although the ceremony may be performed indoors should circumstances warrant (bad weather, etc.). Long ago, the initiation was always witnessed by three members of the society (two in addition to the one sponsoring the initiate), but in these days of secrecy the sponsor may have no choice but to perform the ceremony alone.
Upon completion of the initiation ceremony, the sponsor administers the Oath of the Ravens and marks the candidate on his sword arm with the symbol of the society---a raven and a hound, surrounded by a pattern of Celtic knotwork. This ritual cements the applicant's membership in the society, and binds him to fulfill its sacred quest for the rest of his life (and sometimes for all those lives that come after!)
Often misunderstood as dark avengers or emotionless executioners, the Ravens are actually the front line of defense between the Kithain and the forces of the Corrupter Their fearsome reputation precedes them, however, and few Kithain would accept one of them without at least some trepidation. Therefore, they move among their fellow Changelings in secret, and rarely reveal their affiliation in this society.
In keeping with this secrecy, the society is rather loosely organized: each member is more or less autonomous; as long as s/he remains true to the Oath of the Ravens (enforced by the society's patrons), the means by which one member of the group combats the forces of the Corrupter may be different from another's, with no friction between them.
It should be noted that the Ravens are ultimately chosen by the Dark Lady and the Lord of the Hunt; thus, the group is composed solely of sidhe of House Scathach. The patrons of the society will accept only those who share a bond of blood with them. While they may accept aid from others, the burden of the Ravens is ultimately theirs alone.
New -- May 28, 1998
This page last revised -- May 31, 2002