The Black Mysteries, Part III

By Ed Greenwood

Members of the Order of the Black Flame seldom advertise their presence or reveal their identities. They learn that the unknown always induces more fear than the known, and through uncertainty they can leave would-be foes at a loss to know how best to act against the Order. ("A confused foe is a weak foe.")

Wherefore the written Black Flame symbols are all most nonmembers ever see of the Order until kukris come stabbing at them in the dark.

Larbran is the only symbol members of the Order ever willingly share with nonmembers. It resembles three dark, filled-in, elongated triangles arranged so the longest one is vertical, point uppermost, and the other two (the same size as each other, and a third the length of the long one) jut out from the base of the long triangle at forty-five-degree angles, points outermost. Larbran means "The Order can be contacted, or messages left for it or received from it, here."

Muzmyr ("MUZZ-meer") looks like a capital letter "E" of modern written English, laid on its back and with a round circle projecting from the "back" or "bottom" of the middle arm of the three arms of an E. It means "Cache of the Order here."

Urude ("OO-rood") resembles a stretched (widened) capital letter "N" of modern written English, with a hollow circle attached to each of its ends. Urude means "Friend of the Order lives here." If two urude are drawn, one "atop" the other with circles touching, they mean "A member of the Order lives here."

Zaerel ("ZAIR-el") looks like a drawing of a single human eye with an "X" where the pupil should be. Zaerel means "This is the place" ("for the mission," which usually really tells Order members "this is the dwelling of the person you're assigned to slay"). If three zaerel are drawn in a line so that their pointed ends are touching, it instead means "Just here is the danger/hidden thing you were warned about." If a zaerel is drawn with lines extending from the pointed ends of the "eye," those lines mark the boundary of some peril (such a ward-spell or baneful magic).

Black Names

Members of the Order of the Black Flame often make use of a common pool of false names when referring to each other. These aren't obvious code-names like "Ember" or "Falcon," but rather personal names, used and re-used so that the work of many agents, over the years, will seem to be the work of one entity. They do this in part to build up the "long-lived, deadly, indestructible" reputation of the Order, and in part to conceal members' true identities.

These "black names" are known to include Baerem Windtooth, Hindul Ahrnstone, Mevvur Iliphond, Durlar Meleer, Orsarrin Mulkth, and Rospur Eldree.


Like any secretive organization, the Order of the Black Flame makes use of recognition words and pass-phrases by which members can know each other, particularly when encountering each other in the dark, or conversing in crowds when to speak plainly would be to reveal too much. These change from time to time, when they suspect outsiders may have learned some of them, but the following are watchwords known to have been valid recently. Recognition words are usually uncommon words of speech slipped into apparently innocent conversations (and answered with other recognition words, to make sure a nonmember hasn't unwittingly used an Order word). Pass-phrases are always answered by other pass-phrases, in a trading-wise-quotations dialogue sometimes "set up" by a phrase like: "Wise sages have said that . . ." or "An old bard once told me . . ."

Recognition Words:

avauntance (boasting)
dadacky (decayed or rotten)
meynd (mixed, mingled)
smur (light misty rain)
teeled (buried)


"Behold a light where there is no brightness."
"Black is the devourer."
"Dread is the mark of wisdom."
"Good is the night that holds both flame and fang."
"In darkness, seek a bright flame."
"No word is sharper than a whisper."
"One lord over bright and dark."
"Triumph is a black burning."
"Truth is a dark thing."

Oaths of the Order

Members of the Order utter two sorts of oaths: formal "swearings-by" and curses (emotional swearing).

Here are some known formal Black Flame oaths:

"By the flame that dieth not."
"Firelord forfend."
"Steel within and flame the shroud."

Curses used by Order members include the following:
"Burn me!"
"Douse all!"
"Mark of the god!"

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