The Boundless Weald is not by any means a safe place for a burgeoning civilization. During the day, its winding pathways and brambled clearings are traversable and relatively without danger. At night, however, when darkness becomes trapped under the Weald’s thick canopies, feeding off itself in perpetuity until the Rast awakens, dangerous creatures prowl the shadows just outside of Rastvel.
Thus the organization known as the Ra’as. With a name that means “Light” or, more accurately a concept opposite that of Rast in ancient Rastvellan, these individuals protect Rastvel’s borders during long nights, ensuring that no creature trespasses its wrought wooden walls.
Because of the group’s opposition to the Rast, which, by normal culture, should be venerated, they are not held in high respect. Instead, the Ra’as are seen as a necessary evil, a concession made to protect the people of Rastvel against the Rast’s more bestial aspect. As such, the majority of the organization’s ranks are pulled from orphans and the Mogn. Those without purpose in Rastvel often find themselves drafted into service as shieldbearers or bowmen, given the barest amounts of food in shelter in return for the service during the night.
Above these draftees are the officers of the Ra’as. Despite holding a position which would be treated with respect in the ranks of the guard, these individuals never rise above Tam during their service. A normal Ra’as unit consists of several shieldbearers, five archers, and a single officer, with one unit being assigned to each of Rastvel’s five gates on any given night. A sixth, floater unit remains in the city center, ready to reinforce any one of the gates if the tide of battle turns against the unit assigned there.
The Ra’as operate in combat by sending a rank of shieldbearers to meet the brunt of an enemy assault, holding back attacking creatures with nothing but a thick length of treated wood between themselves and a monster’s claws. While the creatures are so preoccupied, a line of archers opens fire repeatedly, shooting sharpeend wooden arrows into the mass of invaders until none remain. Casualties among shieldbearers are very high, with archers faring slightly better, but still losing enough that an officer’s presence is often required to keep the men from breaking under enemy attack.
Though on occasion something worse decides to attempt to attack the city, the Ra’as usually deal with enraged wildlife, driven to a frenzy by the suffocating darkness out in the Weald. Krensha are common attackers; black, jaguar-like creatures with the ability to pull back the skin of their face to reveal the skull below, often accompanied by Rast Wolves and sometimes a single Worg. Despite research performed by Rastvel’s top scholars, the reasons for these attacks are still unknown. It seems, sometimes, that the creatures’ goal is not to enter the city to kill its inhabitants, but rather to get away from something else in the darkness of the woods.
In the shadows below the branches and between the trees, the Rast wakes, and hungers.