The Complete History of the All-Seeing Eye, Forward and Chapter I
Thanks to a combination of leash laws and drunkenness, my vacation was cut short. That means I have some new material. Older Sleepwalkers might remember a few fiction pieces I did to supplement the D&D campaign I was in at the time. I left the campaign, but a lot of the ideas were good, so I’ve retooled it a bit into this pseudo-history fantasy-espionage piece. I’ll try to provide regular updates. Enjoy!
Everyone knows that the organization known as the All-Seeing Eye was formed in Seaquin during the Regisian War. Everyone knows that the group, once a government body but now free to act somewhat independently, employs the best information brokers, bodyguards, and consultants on the continent. Everyone knows that they have become an integral part of the fabric of politics—any viscount or duke without at least one operator from the All-Seeing Eye is hardly considered to be important enough to warrant the wax on a seal of dismissal. Even their motto—“Our Work Is Never Done”—can be seen adorning plaques, badges, patches, and even street graffiti. Everyone knows what ASE is now—but its founding, rumored to be steeped in blood, treachery, and no small amount of good fortune, has been kept secret since the end of the Regisian War.
Until today. Now, using recently-unearthed official documents and groundbreaking interviews, archivist and historian Adrian Doyle has compiled the first comprehensive history on the origins of ASE, the impetus behind its creation, and its controversial founders, especially the early days of what is known only as Sanction Team. With Centennial celebration of the victory over Regesia approaching, the council in Seaquin declassified certain information, and allowed a number of archivsts access to what have been until now closely guarded state secrets. Now, the portrait of ASE’s early days, especially the mysterious and controversial Agent Six is, while by no means complete, at least less indistinct.
In this text, Doyle tells how an untrained and undisciplined group of expatriates destabilized an empire, sowed the seeds for one of the most powerful groups of modern times, and won a war. He tells how a wartime unit became a state security force, then later an independent contractor. He tells of triumphs, failures, and the most daring of exploits.
He tells of ASE.
This is their story.
Pallus Titus Porphicus XII, Wis.
Chief Archivist of His Majesty, the Honorable King Steppengard VII, Ruler of the Realm, &tc
Chapter I: The Line Is Drawn
In the year Owl 1341, the shadow of war had fallen across the world. High Inquisitor Harrovan, Baroness of Regesia, had declared a Holy War on the infidel Free Realms, sweeping out with an army of jackbooted zealots to plant the bloody banner of Regesia over the Seven Cities.
Her army was swift, savage, and seemingly invincible. Supplemented by mercenaries from the south and their own battle priests, the Holy Army of Regesia fielded a combined force of airships, biomantically-modified warbeasts, and shock troops that obliterated every force that tried to stand against them. The Night of Knives burned dozens of independent cities to the ground and turned thousands into homeless refugees. Within two months, the Holy Army had conquered Frejya; one month later, they conquered Iopos. It took half a year for the remaining Free Cities to mount any effective resistance, and by then, the mountain snows had melted, giving the Regesian Holy Army a perfect supply line stretching across the continent.
The fate of the Free Realms was in jeopardy as the Regisian Holy War threatened to swallow the entire continent in fire, steel, and blood. Far away from the fighting, Seaquin, the smallest of the Free Cities, knew it would soon felt the cold gaze of Regisia fall upon them. Seaquin was small and ill-prepared for war, but it had the one weapon the larger Cities did not: time. When reports and refugees began pouring in from Seaquin, the Parliment took swift action, appointing Parliment member and hero of the Pirate Wars, Xavius Foebane, as General of the Army of Seaquin.
General Foebane acted quickly, calling up the military reserves and demanding volunteers. The results were greater than anyone could have hoped: everyone—merchants, sailors, smiths, and countless refugees, displaced from their homes by Regisia and anxious to strike back—answered Foebane’s clarion call. In just under three months, Foebane had raised an army that would, in time, prove to be not only powerful enough to stall the Regisian advance, but to turn the tide of the war. To this day, it remains the largest volunteer army ever assembled.
Foebane had his soldiers, and with the Holy Army locked in desperate combat with Ryklos, Verbanu, and Weal, he had the time to train them. But then the news came that had the potential to turn the tide of the war irrevocably toward Regesia. At that time, Regisia had signed a treaty with the powerful and notoriously isolationist Kingdom of Dassan, a major military power in the area, one that Seaquin could not hope to counter. For Seaquin to be able to stand against Regesia, it needed the manpower Dassan could provide. If the armies of Dassan joined with Regesia, the Holy Army would be unstoppable; if they joined the Free Cities, they might have a chance.
Foebane did not set out to create a formal intelligence bureau, but he did recognize the need for unconventional agents and tactics. When his own forces proved unable to meet the demand, he reached out into the boiling refugee community. And that’s where he struck gold. It was a ragtag group of thugs from a hick town in the North who not only volunteered, but succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Patriots without a county, petty thugs, thieves, con men, and itinerant holy men–it was these men and women, thrown together by fate, that would form the foundation of the All-Seeing Eye.
They weren’t soldiers. They weren’t spies. They weren’t agent provocateurs. They weren’t even mercenaries, or professionals of any kind. They had no education with information gathering and had no formal military training. But they were not without experience. Like the rest of the refugees displaced by the Regesians, they had been bloodied during the Night of Knives. They had fought Regesian forces, and won. They had learned, through brutal confrontation, the beginnings of the unorthodox tactics that they would become their trademark during the war, tactics that Regesian High Minister Ku’hul Nam would later call “the basest, most vile, most deplorable, most dishonest techniques ever employed in wartime.”
Foebane saw in these refugees not only rage at what had been done to them, but a bond forged in the fires of combat. They were a team, and they were what he needed. Foebane granted them the unique rank of “Special Agent,” and tasked them with personally carrying out missions that “stood outside the bounds of traditional warfare.” Officially, they were known as a Seaquin Special Operations Sanction Team, a term they would carry with them for the rest of their career. They were the ones who decided on their famous code name: Agent Six, a name meant to confuse and intimidate the Regesians. They would waste their time looking for the first five, the newly-minted Agent Six reasoned.
The name was the first of ASE’s mind games, but far from the last. Many of the founding Special Agents were con men, and ASE was the biggest con of their careers. During the war, Regesian intelligence reports estimated that ASE employed over 2,000 Special Agents; they had 32. The ASE sigil, a watchful eye, was inscribed everywhere in Regesia, making it seem like the omnipresent Agent Six was everywhere. Even their name was meant to invoke fear and superstitious wonder in their foes–but that’s another story.
It is important here to note that governments have kept their own spies for as long as there have been secrets to uncover, which is to say, since the beginning of time. Seaquin was no exception; though smaller than most, the city-state had its own spies who were no less brave and skilled than any other. Sanction Team were not spies. They were not sent to gather intelligence. Their purpose was much more singular: force Dassan to renounce its treaty with Regesia by any means necessary. They were expected to bribe, blackmail, seduce, and assassinate their way across the continent, and there was literally no strategy or tactic that was considered taboo. By the end of the Regesian War, Sanction Team would be responsible for hundreds of deaths and millions of vicars of property damage. Giving the Special Agents of Sanction Team a target was considered to be a last resort comparable to a large-scale firebombing. Sanction Team was not assigned; they were aimed.
And so the group, an untrained and undisciplined team with no knowledge of diplomacy, politics, or even the most rudimentary basics of spycraft set out to pit two nations against one another.