In the world of The Star-Runner Chronicles, there are five major factions known or suspected to be active on an international level. They are the International Werewolf Hunters’ Association (IWHA), the Restorationists, the Boxenwolves, the Midnight Guard, and the Hunter Wolves’ League (HWL). Join me as I explain the motives and methods of each group as clearly as I know how.
The International Werewolf Hunters’ Association
As was touched on in this blog’s very first entry, the International Werewolf Hunters’ Association—or, IWHA—was established in the year 0 P.W.D. right after the end of The War of Destruction. That year, the Templars—the lead faction of the Alliance of Humanity—merged together with the Huntsmen of Light, Humans against Human Extinction, and the Holy Knights of the White Rose to form an organization dedicated to the total eradication of werewolves.
Of course, werewolves were not the only race this new organization targeted. The other werebeast tribes and the windigoes were also marked for death by their brutal code. Under this code, no werebeast is to be spared as they are all branded as pure evil. Even infants, children, and the unborn are not innocent in the eyes of the code, and any werewolf hunter who is bitten or scratched on the job must self-terminate before they too become an evil monster.
The IWHA accepts new hunters as young as ten years of age (or their race’s equivalent), and only humans, seraphs, orcs, nagas, elves and a handful of other pre-approved races are allowed to join. Becoming a werewolf hunter is not as simple as simply filling out a form, however. Before being allowed into the organization, all candidates must complete an exam consisting of both a written portion and a combat evaluation. Only those who score seventy percent or higher are allowed to move on to the next phase—rookie squad.
Rookie squad is a two year period where a new hunter works with three to four other rookie hunters around the same age, under the supervision and command of an experienced hunter with a flawless record. The assignments the squads take are handed down directly from the IWHA’s central headquarters and must be completed in strict accordance with the Werewolf Hunters’ Code. After this period is over, each rookie’s record is evaluated by a panel of high-ranking IWHA officials who decide not only whether or not they’ve earned an official license, but also what rank they begin with. At one time, the starting ranks were from X-1 to X-3. However, when Falcon Bendis completed his rookie period, the X-0 ranking had to be invented because X-1 was simply not low enough to describe his performance…and Falcon’s father, Blade Bendis, had bribed the panel to license him at all costs.
Once licensed, a hunter is able to form their own team and pick and choose jobs of their own volition. Hunters move up in the ranks based on how many missions they successfully complete and how efficiently those missions are completed. In recent years, hunters who use melee weapons like swords, metal knuckles, and axes have taken efficiency penalties for completing missions with their weapon of choice as the IWHA has pushed to phase out such “obsolete” weaponry, while marksmen have been rewarded with a mild bonus. How good a hunter actually is with the weapon is not taken into consideration at all, which has led mediocre marksmen to shoot past superb swordsmen in the rankings, creating unspoken tensions within the ranks.
The IWHA is able to operate as it does only in nations where they have an agreement with the government which allows them to act as judge, jury, and executioner to all werewolves within their borders. While the vast majority of nations have signed these agreements, there are three hold-out nations: Vardan, Thinsbyll, and Mossburn. These three nations have their own laws concerning dealing with dangerous werewolves and reserve the power to grant hunters’ licenses and regulate their authority in their own way. The magic cities of Avalonia, Meduwa, and Lokroix likewise ban the IWHA from having any authority within their city limits as part of their commitment to providing a safe haven for magic users of all kinds to study in peace. Needless to say, the IWHA’s top brass are not fond of these bans and have been trying for centuries to get them lifted.
The Restorationists, founded in 5 P.W.D., are a multi-racial group of activists from all walks of life dedicated to restoring the peace that was shattered by The War of Destruction and the events leading up to it. Their biggest objectives are the debunking of the IWHA’s false lore and ending the oppression of the various races which whole-heartedly backed the werewolves during the war. There are no age limits or any other restrictions to joining the group. The only requirement is that one is devoted to ending the IWHA’s tyranny.
The most visible arm of the Restorationists is the segment of the group which focuses on peaceful protests, civil rights law, and political lobbying. It is this branch which helps continue to keep Vardan, Thinsbyll, and Mossburn safe for people of all races, as well as stages protests outside of IWHA hunters’ stations. They are the public face of the organization, one which hides the activities of the other branches easily from all but the most inquiring of minds.
The next branch of the Restorationists are the members involved in subversive activities such as spreading the true lore among the populace through underground newspapers and magazines, smuggling banned books from the magic cities and hold-out nations into IWHA partner nations, and keeping books which were supposedly wiped out during The Great Purge in print and circulating. For these Restorationists, the greatest blow that they can strike against the enemy is to keep blasting away at the fortress of ignorance that the IWHA tries to keep the general public inside. Within this branch, scholars and journalists work hand-in-hand with smugglers and pirates in their quest to enlighten as many people as possible as to what is really going on in the world.
The third and final branch of the Restorationists are the members involved in hardcore espionage against the IWHA and organizations and governments allied with them. They are a secretive bunch composed of ninjas, career thieves, and it is even rumored that there are a few IWHA licensed hunters among them. Their main goal is to keep tabs on the IWHA’s movements and sabotage any plans they may have to increase their influence or make a move against the Restorationists or their allies. Some say that this branch has been behind several assassinations and thefts of artifacts from museums and private collections in the past. They leave no definitive trace that points to the Restorationists, however, so the organization has so far avoided any serious run-ins with the law.
The Midnight Guard
For the Midnight Guard, The War of Destruction did not end at the Battle of Whippoorwill Wood. They are a rebel faction which continues to do battle against the Alliance of Humanity even over a millennium after the rest of the world has acknowledged the defeat of the Free Beings’ Alliance. Most people consider them a bunch of fools, but in their minds, they’re intrepid freedom fighters.
Members of the Midnight Guard are well known for attacking IWHA hunters’ stations, especially in the western regions of the northern continent of Rinan. Small squads of Midnight Guard are also known to attack groups of IWHA hunters randomly on the road all over the world. However, the largest known battle between the IWHA and the Midnight Guard occurred in the year 993 P.W.D.
That year, a group of werewolves and humans known as Hand in Paw had built a series of peaceful farming villages in the mostly unsettled region of Great Bowl Valley. The IWHA got wind of these settlements and sent a force of seven hundred hunters to wipe them off the face of the map. However, the Midnight Guard had stationed three hundred of their own soldiers in the valley in case of such an attack.
Though the Midnight Guard’s forces fought bravely, the IWHA had more fighters and bigger guns. The Midnight Guard was defeated, and one thousand, two hundred, and fifteen members of Hand in Paw were mercilessly slaughtered. However, the Midnight Guard’s efforts were not in vain. Three hundred and fifty Hand in Paw members managed to escape because the Midnight Guard’s forces were there to protect those villages, and continued to protect the settlers as they were forced to retreat.
The Midnight Guard is pretty much always at the losing end of the fight, but they never give up. They truly believe that they are always one victory away from turning the tide of the war.
A shadowy terrorist organization which both the IWHA and its allied nations firmly deny the existence of, the Boxenwolves are a group composed entirely of werewolves who seek revenge on humanity for the suffering of their kind. They will stop at nothing for their revenge. Kidnapping, extortion, forcible transformation, murder…nothing seems to be beneath them. Because of this, the Restorationists and the Midnight Guard both view them as enemies as well.
Boxenwolf agents are rumored to have infiltrated several governments, militaries, and police forces, but the most dangerous ones are always the most difficult to ferret out until the last second. They also are known to organize packs to terrorize certain towns or regions, and some of the most notorious man-eaters have been suspected to have been either members of the Boxenwolves, associates, or sympathizers of the organization. These rumors are all generally whispered in low voices in the seediest places and often brushed off as wild conspiracy theories or urban legends…well, by most. Organizations like the IWHA, the Restorationists, and the Midnight Guard take these stories all too seriously.
Some people believe that the Boxenwolves have been gearing up for a big strike over the past few years. Rumors abound about the search for some ancient weapon of devastating destructive power and a secret war to keep it out of the hands of the Boxens. There are conflicting stories about which of the world’s many artifacts of doom the Boxenwolves are actually after, however. Knowing them, it could be any one of them—or every one of them.
The Hunter Wolves’ League
The Hunter Wolves’ League, or HWL is the most mysterious and mythical of the five factions. Said to be a group of werewolf hunters who are themselves werewolves, it is rumored that many among them are actually IWHA licensed hunters with positions within various branches of the organization. It is rumored that many more are unlicensed hunters who operate under the IWHA’s radar. Allegedly, they are the arch nemeses of the Boxenwolves.
The HWL is said to operate out of secret clubhouses called dens scattered throughout the world. According to rumor, they specialize in taking out ferals and rogue packs, helping innocent werewolves to avoid protection by forging kills, and teaching werewolves who are unable to handle themselves how to properly deal with their wolf halves and their powers. Along with the Restorationists, they are said to work to preserve the true lore and ensure that those who have need of that knowledge have access to it.
Many hunters have been suspected of being members of this nebulous organization over the years, though all who have been investigated have so far come up clean. However, chatter about the existence and activities of the HWL has become more frequent in light of the controversy concerning Wolfsbane Bendis and Ren Ascot. Although it is highly unlikely that any werewolves could exist within the IWHA at all, some Ascot supporters claim that the HWL is somehow involved in the whole mess.
And so ends our run-down of the various important factions of the world. Join us next week as we interview Calvin Bendis (you can skip it if you don’t want any spoilers for the first book)! Until then, check out The Star-Runner Chronicles series on Amazon.com (print and kindle ebook editions available). You can also take a peek at my Twitter page at @DanielleVFreman, snoop around my Pintrest page, and check out my Fan Works Spot if the mood strikes you (constructive critique encouraged). And, of course, if you like my books or my blog, spread the word to all your friends.
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