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The Dark Coven was a group of former mercenaries and cultists. It was founded by Szek'Thuul with the goal of being the "darker powers" answer to the Order of Astrid Knights.



HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

The warlock Szek'Thuul had attempted to recruit followers since his arrival into the valley, but at this time they were little more than lackeys. However, it soon became abundantly clear to him that he would need much more than simple mercenaries if he hoped to combat the Astrid Knights , who were the biggest obstacle in his way towards power. Additionally, he concluded that the divided nature of all the separate cults and factions opposed to Beldin in the valley meant none of them would ever succeed. Thus, he took it upon himself to establish a council that would serve as a unified guild of agents serving Beldins enemies, regardless of creed or race, much like Astrid.


First IncarnationEdit

The first incarnation of the Coven was formed of the following agents:


Szek'Thuul

Thilan

Richard

Delas

Sarthek

Hoit (previously known as Ander the Mottled)

Jan Osprey

Ellie


Unfortunately, this incarnation of the Coven met with very mixed results. Initially this was due to several powers trying to take over the group indirectly. The first of such guilds was the Scarlet Cast. The Cast seemed to be divided on exactly how to treat the Coven, with one half accepting them as an allied party, while the other half attempted to assimilate them as the cults militant arm. Even though Szek'Thuul himself had made pacts with Gargauth, he chose not to go through with this attempt, as the Coven was meant to be an order for all the darker powers, not just Gargauth. This led several misunderstandings, but eventually it was resolved.


The other problem was that the Covens agents were all exposed within months of its formation. Some members were exposed by the Astrid Knights , while others were revealed by the spy Infernae (who was later captured, tortured and killed by Thuul for his actions). Prior to this, some members had even left the valley all together.


Things took a turn for the better when Malark claimed the Beldin Throne. Thuul had performed several tasks for Malark in the years before, and so was chosen as the new kings first agent. Indeed, the Coven was slowly being poised to become Malark's own Knights. However, when it came time to hunt down rebel clergymen in the south, Malark vastly underestimated the opposition. He sent the Coven to initiate the Clergy Purge, but when they arrived at the Temple of the Red Knight, they faced a much greater opposition than was anticipated; a Solar was summoned and guarded the gates, and past it was nearly every paladin and cleric that had remained in the south. The Coven was outnumbered and too poorly equipped to deal with this, and after a vicious battle, nearly every member including Thuul was killed.


Jan Osprey was the only Dark Coven operative not present at this battle.

Second IncarnationEdit

Though Thuul was slain and was at the limits of his infernal pact, his deeds and power qualified him for devilhood, and so when he passed on into Gargauth's realm, he became a horned devil.


Meanwhile, Jan Osprey went into hiding for a while, trying to avoid detection by the now victorious Astrid Knights and newly reinstated Aelfhiem regime (which had now outlawed the worship of devils). Thuul did what he could to indirectly guide her, but was otherwise powerless to influence her or any new members directly unless summoned. Even so, some new operatives were approached by Osprey and her own agents, though none had joined in full yet.


The operatives that would form the new Coven were:


Dusk (formally known as Horizon, paladin of Torm)

Waron Kley

Wayloyl

Jan Osprey

Kragg

Finn


It should be noted that no one except Osprey was actually a full member of the Coven. Rather, they were prospective members who had been offered positions and were still undergoing trials, though many of them later claimed to not fully understand what had been going on.


Finn was arrested, along with his apprentice, shortly after he began aiding Osprey. His apprentice was pardoned, though Finn himself remains in the Beldin dungeons. Wayloyl had mysteriously disappeared around this time as well, though he was not arrested by any agency.


Eventually, the arch-lich Arguile the Black, along with his colleagues Raynald Smith and Thrakken Bronzebeard, summoned Osprey and her new associates. By command of the Death Queen of Astrid, they were to hunt down Thuul's half brothers and bind them into artifacts. With these artifacts she planned to create a permanent mortal host for Thuul to possess via the Crown of Thuul.


The Coven's mission was successful, but it cost them the entire team. Waron turned out to be a double agent, and reported every single detail and the names of everyone involved in the operation to the Astrid Knights, who quickly deployed and ambushed the Coven just as they were completing the ritual. However, Arguile, Raynald and Thrakken rebuked the assault in time for Thuul to be summoned into the crown, which was then taken away by Dusk and Osprey, who both fled to the woodland roads just outside Kretins Krawl, hoping to avoid the rest of the knights. Unfortunetly for them, they were caught just as Dusk wore the crown. As soon as Thuul possessed the body, he quit the field and fled further north, but Osprey was caught by Mith Ischarri. In the next few weeks she would be interrogated and then summarily executed by a shadow copy of herself.


Kragg was not present at any of these events, but was arrested for his involvement with the Coven. After weeks of imprisonment and interrogations, he was conscripted into the Astrid Armed Forces and placed under Zssadra Tharress's command.


Thuul, now in complete control of Dusk's body, joined the Death Queen's generals, and was since been seen only once. He ensured he would not be forgotten by casting a violent meteor swarm on the village of Riverfern.

Mere months after he joined the Death Queen's quest, he realized her plan would destroy the Mythal and open a demon gate, utterly destroying the valley and making it completely useless for him or his baetezu masters. He thus attempted to stop her, but was overwhelmed by her forces, who tor apart his mortal host and dragged his spirit into the Black Sun citadel. Though Thuul was later rescued and returned to the mortal realm, his last death as in Dusk's body marked the end of the Dark Coven.

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