The Fists of Hextor

"Might makes right. It also makes a pretty good living."

The time often comes when even the most tyrannical despot may face military challenges that cannot be overcome by the strength of his own army. Humanoid invasions, organized insurrection, and even well-supported peasant uprisings have toppled more than one evil but civilized monarch who lacked the might to restore order in his own demesne. Fortunately, support can be found for the discriminating tyrant, provided he can pay the price. If he can afford them, he just might be able to hire some of the most infamously brutal mercenaries ever known: The Fists of Hextor.

Created and supported by the Church of Hextor, the Fists of Hextor are considered part of its clergy. They serve the Scourge of Battle by fighting only in those causes approved and sanctioned by Hextor's priests. Well-known both for their efficient brutality and their strict adherence to any bargain struck, those who would hire the Fists of Hextor must take care to stipulate the terms of their employment most carefully, lest they find themselves the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding. (An infamous disagreement between the Fists of Hextor and a past employer resulted in the mercenaries sudden withdrawal from the field of battle at a crucial moment, leaving their former employer to the tender mercies of his opponents.)

Those who would hire any number of Fists of Hextor must first approach the Church of Hextor and establish the nature of their cause to the satisfaction of its Discordians (priesthood). Generally, a prospective employer must demonstrate that the fighting to be undertaken by the Fists of Hextor serves, or at least does not conflict with, Hextor's dogma. Those who seek to crush unlawful rebellions, thwart the random savagery of humanoid invasion. or restore the rule of law to uncivilized lands are typical of the sort of employers the Discordians accept on behalf of the Fists of Hextor. The more ruthlessly tyrannical the supplicant, the more likely his request is to be granted.

An explicit agreement is then drawn up by the Church, and signed by the highest-ranking priest in the vicinity and the Fists of Hextor employer, who are warned to honor the exact terms of the contract in order to avoid conflict with both the Fists of Hextor and the Church. (Unsurprisingly, not every employer who prevails with the help of the Fists of Hextor has been happy in his victory.)

Employers who violate a contract suffer not only the obvious consequences, but are never permitted to hire the Fists of Hextor again. Finally, the Church requires a substantial tithe in return for providing its most skilled warriors for the cause in question. The exact price depends on a variety of circumstances, including the immediate needs of the Church, the number of Fists of Hextor required, the nature of the fight ahead (battles for causes deemed pleasing to Hextor often require a smaller tithe), and the hazards to be faced. Any agreement that brings the Fists of Hextor into conflict with the Church of Heironeous is almost certain to be approved with alacrity. If an employer possesses both good fortune and a deep purse, he hopes that a Patriarch-General, a battle-scourge of truly formidable power, leads the Fists of Hextor he hires.

Once engaged, the Fists of Hextor fight with cold, merciless efficiency. They pursue they their goal with single-mindedness and an unbridled ferocity that has earned them a reputation for cruelty. Fists of Hextor continue to fight until the opponent is defeated, the terms of their agreement are fulfilled, or the contract is terminated. In no event do the Fists of Hextor quit the battlefield for any other eventuality. They are quite prepared to die in the service of the Champion of Evil. A martial faith, the Church expects the Fists of Hextor to prevail even against considerable hardship, and to employ any methods necessary to ensure victory. Failure is not tolerated, which is undoubtedly the chief reason the Fists of Hextor are so zealous in their pursuit of success in warfare: Should they fail to achieve their designated objective, a fate far worse than an honorable death in battle awaits them upon their return to their church fathers.

Becoming a member of this infamous fraternity of lethal mercenaries is no less difficult task than attempting to hire them. Those who would join must first seek out a temple dedicated to Hextor and present themselves to the clergy in charge of recruitment. Obtaining an audience with these clerics requires little, but what follows is always arduous and sometimes fatal. Hextor's clergy have no need of run-of-the-mill cutthroats or brigands: They desire only the most callous and brutal soldiers. Candidates must prove themselves by undergoing a series of rigorous and sometimes sadistic tests, known collectively as the Trials of Hextor. The Trials are designed to weed out the faint-hearted and weak-willed from the suitable applicants. The Trials require the applicant to inflict what can only be termed casual brutality and suffering, and sometimes even death, on targets chosen by the recruiting clergy. The Church of Hextor believes firmly that the Trials allow applicants to demonstrate the proper attitude and resolve necessary for inclusion in the ranks of the Fists of Hextor. The Trials also have the incidental benefit of exposing any infiltrators who might think to gain admission into the organization and spy or wreak havoc from within. More than one brave paladin or cavalier has revealed himself for what he was by refusing to participate in the slaughters and indignities required of potential Fists of Hextor, so consigning themselves to death rather than a violation of their principles or moral codes. The horrific details are left to each campaign to determine.

After an applicant has satisfied the recruiting clergy of her worthiness, she enters the same temple of Hextor where she first sought the honor of becoming a Fist of Hextor, to await the time of the induction ceremony. The Church of Hextor inducts new Fists of Hextor only at certain times of the year that conform to the deity's holy days, and the accepted applicants must await these appointed times confined within the temple structure. They are unable to exit, even as far as the immediate exterior grounds, on pain of death.

While awaiting induction, they pass their days receiving tutelage in the religious dogma of Hextor from the recruiting clergy and performing whatever menial or degrading tasks the clerics set before them (as further proof of their devotion to Hextor, of course). When the time of induction arrives, the clergy collect the current candidates and take them to the place of ceremony, often a remote and isolated location some distance from the temple, though some of the larger and more prosperous temples of Hextor boast ceremonial sites within their very walls. (These are usually located far below the main floors, to deaden the sounds that the ceremony produces.) The induction ceremony is rumored to be so cruel and inhuman that it forever changes the outlook of the survivors. Those who survive become Fists of Hextor. Folk speak in hushed tones, with many a paranoid glance over their shoulders, of human sacrifice, ritualistic murders, and orgies of bloodshed so vile as to make what the Fists of Hextor perpetrate on the field of battle seem a stroll in a summer meadow by comparison. However, since the Fists of Hextor and the clergy of Hextor are forbidden to speak of the ceremony to anyone outside the Church structure, no concrete details are known. What facts reveal are merely the visible evidence: the candidates who survive the ceremony to become full-fledged Fists of Hextor invariably emerge from the induction ceremony bearing hideous scars on their faces, necks, and arms. These, too, remain unexplained by those who bear them, though it is not unknown for the expression of a Fist of Hextor who is questioned about them to linger somewhere between pride and fear.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn