The Crows of Maeve, the crows or blackbirds for short, are a clandestine group of operatives in the Starlit Court that officially undertake assassinations and intelligence missions outside the Starlit Court on behalf of Knightly Orders and the Castellan but also on occasion unofficially work for The Lady both outside and inside the Court. Their members are exclusively Sidhe that emerge for this specific purpose from the Unseelie Court. They are the founding group of the Office of Sihi intelligence and represent its most elite and highest ranked operatives.
The Crows were formed shortly after the Realm Sundering from several of the Sidhe that emerged during it. At first as a continuation of their service to The Lady, acting as her hands in the tenuous peace, but quickly found a place as servants of Sihi’s government as a whole. Their actions are largely shrouded in mystery as they keep little to no records of their activities and their numbers are similarly opaque although their original number was 144 and it is believed that they never exceed this in the time that followed. During times of peace and travel their numbers dwindle only to rise again in times of strive or exüloration. As such the Crows have seen a flurry of activity in the days since Sihi arrived in Beacon Space.
Method of Operation
Most members of the Crows operate solo making use of whatever resources they can in the field. They try to build networks of funding and favors using special coins minted from infused material making them almost unforgeable. Much of their work is in this rather than in specific missions for the Starlit Court but it allows them to operate in deniability from the Court when necessary and makes their movements and motives very hard to track. It can be hard to tell if any of their actions are missions from the Court and its Knightly Orders or simply establishing their network. They gather and trade in information and undertake infiltration, extraction and assassination missions sometimes for compensation.
Internal Hierarchy and Decision Making
While Crows often follow military command structures on missions their internal politics and hierarchies are a complex web of resources, favors and expertise. They have no clear and enforced command structure and, besides Maeve themself, no leader. Most decisions are made in a complex and informal consensus finding process that is held by those Crows who hold or contribute the resources that are affected by the decision. The weight a Crow’s voice has in this process is determined by their resource contributions, their expertise on the matter and their overall standing among the crows. Seniority plays a large part into the latter aspect. As such there are Crows who, after a long life of work have amassed both large amounts of resources and expertise, can be perceived as leaders among the Murder.
Young Crows tend to get their start in the business of gathering resources and contacts by inheriting some from older Crows. Mostly this is from Crows who are retiring or have been killed but it is not out of the question that a senior Crow might transfer part of their network to a particularly promising protegé, especially when they move from more active field work to the bureaucratic aspects of the Murder or OSI. Such transfer of course represents a large gamble as it weakens the giving Crow’s standing and limits their operational options in the future.
There are also semi-regular meetings among the Crows to determine the broader direction of their work and decide on which areas require extra attention. While all Crows are free to use their resources as they see fit for the protection of the Court, acting against this larger consensus in a significant way will greatly diminish a Crow’s standing and will make future cooperation with other Crows much harder. If a Crow believes that the direction the Murder is taking is wrong it is expected they argue their case rather than go rogue. But in the end results speak the loudest among all the voices in the Murder.
The Marks of the Crow
Special coins minted by the Crows of Maeve from bleed infused material. They are not a traditional currency but represent a boon or favor owed by the Crows and to an extent the Starlit Court. They are about an inch in diameter and a dark purple with a crow on one side and a skull on the other. The Crows use them both as rare gifts but also as membership signifiers in their underground networks. When presented to a Knight it shows that the person has been of service to Sihi and should be treated as such. When spent they can purchase a mission from the Crows or gain clemency from OSI.
- Éraic Stormshadow of the Sidhe
- Blodeuyn of the Sidhe
The Office of Sihi Intelligence
After the Civil war 574 it was decided that the Starlit Court needed a more centralized intelligence agency that could anticipate and re-empt situations like this in the future. With the Sidhe offering to build such an institution in a neutral way as not to advantage any of the Orders. As such, in 568 the Office of Sihi Intelligence (OSI was created. It exists to aggregate and corroborate the intelligence gathered by knightly scouting parties. It has broad policing powers but is mostly focused on keeping the Orders in line. They rarely take direct action but rather, after seeing a threat in the data they collect and analyze, induce the best positioned Knightly Order to intervene. The exception to this are The Crows of Maeve. A secretive group of Sidhe operatives who were instrumental in establishing OSI but are now operating more independently while still being ostensibly part of OSI. Because the Crows often act on OSI intelligence and OSI itself carries a part of their mythos and the danger they represent, a visit from an OSI officer can be quite a tense affair.
The Head of OSI is always a Sidhe chosen by Maeve and rumored to be a member of the Crows in order to maintain a maximum of independence and neutrality. While Sidhe make up a disproportionate number of OSI members, the only prohibition from joining is for knights or those bonded to a fae. Most of the people in the employ of OSI are data analysts or investigators but they do maintain a small strike force for police raids. Besides the position of leader and the special rank of the crows, the hierarchy of OSI is mostly flat. Analysts and Investigators sometimes group together for projects but often work alone or in pairs and either act on their findings or transfer it to the crows. When they need more fire power they turn to local police or a Knightly Order who are oath- and honorbound to assist.