The Custods are an ancient family order in the Custod world that starts out small but grows to large numbers. When it was a small family group, keeping track of them all and setting assignments was much easier, but now there are so many, and it’s been so long many Custods are so distantly related they couldn’t find a common ancestor for twenty generations. (To the point that by the time of The Enthronement that many Custods could freely marry one another.)
How does the Head Custod keep track of them all and ensure they are properly trained and doing their work? Family structure and delegation.
The first body we need to cover is the Custod Council. The leader of which is of course the Head Custod who is the male heir of the last Head Custod. The Head Custod can trace his right to the position all the way back to Cedrick Custod himself and is the most direct descendant. Many joke you can tell he often has traits many recognize from The Merlin himself such as a surprising sense of humor and his talent for magic. Only a rare few Head Custods have not been talented full-magic wielding enchanters.
The Head Custod has the final say in all decisions and placements of any Custod in their rank or assignment. Custods choose their own class, making this the only major placement the Head Custod does not give final approval for. He ensures all the Custod Code is met and manages or does away with any Custod traditions that are needed or perhaps are no longer necessary.
Head Custod’s Assistants
The right hand of the Head Custod gets a bit more complicated. This position is often called his right advisor. Normally, it is the eldest second Custod, so the Head Custod’s closest younger brother or eldest son of that brother. When the Head Custod is the only male heir then the eldest son of his eldest sister would be his right-hand. It’s rare that there isn’t someone who fills in this position, but when there isn’t, the Head Custod will select someone who is the next closest equivalent.
The left hand of the Head Custod, also known as his 2nd councilor, was created by tradition and not Custod Code. The left-land is always the eldest male descendant of Aleph Custod, Cedrick Custod’s adopted gargoyle son. This position is always given to a gargoyle. It ensures the Custod Council has a gargoyle representative as all gargoyles are Custods being descendants of Aleph Custod.
Though the Custod Code does not require it, Custod tradition states the wife of the Head Custod, right-hand, and left-hand be a part of the discussions and rulings done by the Head Custod and his assistants.
The Custod Council is required by the Custod Code to help the Head Custod carry out the work. It is the main governing body of the Custod Family and is made up of at least twelve members, excluding the two assistants of the Head Custod and the Head himself. There are no other formal instructions given in the Custod Code, but there are many traditions that dictate who should be chosen for this council.
The most strictly followed is ensuring the highest-ranking member of each of the Custod specialty types is represented. These types are formed and dissolved as needed, but there are a few that stay constant throughout history:
Custod tradition dictates the best male and female of each of these classes be part of the Custod council. Most commonly, this is a married couple, mirroring the kind of structure of most courts in Potentate kingdoms. This is done to ensure a diverse way of thinking to cover all possible problems presented to the council.
The Custod council is also traditionally filled with older more experienced Custods who have attend the highest rank in their particular class but are now considered too old or battle scared to continue in the more active roles in their classes. Many Custods aspire to reach this rank in their old age.
Duties of the Custod Council
Though the Custod Council has many duties, the main one is giving advice and counsel to the Head Custod in his duties. The Head Custod oversees giving all Custods their unique assignments, deciding when a young Custod is ready to take the test, and he alone decides if a Custod has abused their right so badly they require being disinherited*. The council assists in helping the Head Custod come to a decision but does not make the final verdict.
The second, yet most common and most involved, duty the Custod Council handles is helping assign Custod Ranks and Class Ranks as many of this must be approved by the Head Custod, and he relies heavily on the council’s advice to assign these regularly. A Custod can try to change classes later in life as well, but this is rare apart from Custods who live to older ages and desire to leave the more physically demanding classes for something easier on their bodies such as Provider or Negotiator.
The third task is handling disciplinary action for Custods who are accused of abusing their power or breaking their oath. This most commonly comes up with someone has a complaint about how a Custod used their authority. (More often than not, these do not come to disciplinary action as it is most common for a criminal to use this plea to try to get off for whatever they had done wrong.) When a Custod is found guilty, these punishments vary widely from working to make up for their mistake to being disowned as a Custod. (Though the Head Custod alone can enact that particular punishment in most cases. See notes below.)
Custod Classes and Ranks
The six Custod Classes help organize Custod by their skills and specialties to make it easier for the Custod Council to make assignments. A Custod chooses which class they will join after their Test is completed. In addition to their class, every Custod is given a Custod Rank that is in two parts. A Custod is first given this rank before they go on their Test and is given again once they returned and have chosen their class. The rank is updated upon request, often annually or when seeking a promotion.
There are two parts to the rank. The first being the Fighter or Warrior rank. The second is the Magic or Enchanter rank. The ranks are a 1-10 scale with 1 meaning they are the best of the best, and 10 meaning they are the wimpiest there could be (though this still could often outdo most common fighters.).
For example, the Merlin, Cedrick Custod, was considered a 1/1 rank. (1 fighter and 1 enchanter.) His brother, Damian Custod, was a 1/2 rank (1 fighter and 2 enchanter). Though King Roxorim became a Potentate, before becoming one he was a 2/7 rank. Arylana Custod was a 3/7, and her husband Mercutio was a 3/9. Though these rankings were not fully established until long after their deaths, Cedrick Custod created a basic ranking system that was kept in the family archives and used by later Custods.** Add something about this Ranks determining their standing in a army would the Custods are called to war.
The first and most common Custod Class is that of Guard. These Custods are trained to be guards to various people or groups. Most commonly royalty, especially during times their nations may be at war. However, guards might also guard places of importance for the Custods such as their family tombs, archives, or other religious structures that may require guards not belonging to any particular government.
There are three ranks within the Guard Class:
The ranks are fairly straight forward, and normally, you’ll find all of these ranks in a guard team.
High Guard: The high guard is the senior on the team (many times a father or mother with their children or nieces and nephews as part of their team). They do most of the daytime guarding of the protectee and organize the deputy guards and guards to create a rotation to keep any one guard from being too exhausted. When it is a location that is being guarded, they are the organizers of the shifts.
Deputy Guard: The deputy guards most commonly are the night shifts as they are higher ranked so ready for the most likely attack time and can be trusted to keep awake on their shift. They also stand in for the high guard when needed to organize a guard shift or preparing a special guard for an event.
Guard: The guards are the base group. Most are either training or working towards qualifying for deputy guard (though some would rather not take night shifts so don’t bother trying to improve their rank). It can take many years to rank up, so a vast majority of the guard class of Custods are basic guards for at least a quarter if not half of their lives.
The Custod Rank of each guard does not relate to their Class Rank necessarily, however is taken into consideration when brought to the Custod Council to decide if they should be promoted when the Custod applies for promotion.
The assassin class is considered the most elite and prestigious class in the Custod Family. Becoming an assassin is not easy. It takes a lot of work. The assassin class is among the most organized and strict classes.
The assassin class has more ranks than any other class. There are twelve in total with the highest being Shadow Assassin followed by Master Assassin then Chief Assassin. The main difference between these two top class ranks is a Shadow Assassin has mastered shadow magic as well as all assassin aspects and weaponry. A Master Assassin has mastered all aspects of the assassin class but cannot do shadow magic.
Assassin Duties: The kind of assignments assassins take on involves more than just assassinating a target, though of course this is a large part of their purview.
If you have read The Custod Chronicles: Burning, then you’ve seen how the basic strategy that is often used by General Mercutio to take cities: send in an elite member of his army in to open the gates to let their army in. Cedrick Custod was most commonly assigned this task. In the Custod Family in later times, it is an assassin class Custod you’d ask to handle such a task.
The most secret and delicate of operations are done by the assassin class Custods. Most spy missions needed by the Custod Council will be assigned to an assassin in addition to many other assignments. Most of their basic tasks are not well known because of their secret nature. Also, the amount of assassin class Custods that exist at a time is much smaller than any other class because the demand for it isn’t as high and because the class is so difficult to attain.
Original Assassin: Though Cedrick Custod never had a formal class in the Custod Family (other than Head Custod) many consider him to be the first of the assassin class.
Though his brother, Damian Custod, is considered the real founder of the assassin class. Many of his unique fighting skills are taught and used in the assassin order such as the signature double wrist blades, hand to hand combat styles, throwing stars, smoke bombs, and shadow magic used by the shadow assassins. The standard uniform of the assassin class of all black clothes and black cloak is also accredited to Damian Custod, though some debate that as all black for an assassin just makes sense.
Becoming an Assassin: As mentioned before, becoming an assassin Custod is no easy feat. It’s a long process that we will only go into the basics of here. (For more see: Becoming an Assassin Custod after reading this article.)
After a Custod passes their Test and declares their intent to become an assassin class, they choose a different class to work in while training. They work in that class and train under an elite assassin or Head Custod for two to four years before they will take the series of tests to qualify to become an assassin Custod. The tests themselves are intensive and often take a year or more to complete. Challenging even the most determined and well-trained of Custods. Once they pass the test, they still are shadows to higher ranked assassins until they obtain at least assassin eighth class.
Assassin ranks are more closely tired to the Custod Rank, however not perfectly. Most assassins have a rank of at the very least 7/9 if not higher. So, an assassin tenth class still is likely to at least be a 7/9. Some master assassins are only 3/8.
Generals are the Custods that master battle strategy in everything from proper war battle fields to handling security for a village at risk. Generals are often request by Potentates to help the with particularly trick problems such as an uprising group that is hard for him or her to deal with hostile dragon attacks, or if war does break out between nations, helping lead his armies.
There are ranks within the generals’ class just like the other classes.
As with most classes, moving up the ranks is determined by the higher ups and then passed by the Custod Council. The general class is fairly basic and does exactly what it sounds like. They would have the highest rank if a Custod army was required to be formed, though those with a higher Custod Rank would serve under them. High generals would likely fulfil the role that Majors fulfill in government militaries and trickle down from there.
Their Custod Rank have very little to do with their class rank. Their class rank directly correlates to how well their strategies and men have performed in battle.
This class is the most elegant of the classes. It has less of the battle and fighting angle and much more strategy and people skills. If the assassins are thought of as the elite fighters, the negotiators are seen as the most elite of the strategists. They don’t deal with armies; they deal with nations and groups.
The classes of a negotiator are less connected to their skill and more what they specialize in. There are three areas they could specialize in and what they choose to specialize in can change if they choose.
International Negotiators: An international negotiator deals with helping nations get along. If the Custods have particular interest in a discussion taking place between two nations or perhaps a summit they have arranged, they will send an international negotiator to keep an eye on it and try to ensure war does not break out between the nations.
National Negotiators: A national negotiator deals with helping governments get along within a nation. Often, they will sit in on court meetings for a nation that has recently come out of a war or is rumored or believed to be on the brink of war, with the goal of preventing war breaking out or a peaceful transition from wartime to peacetime. Sometimes, sending such a Custod to a court has frightened a nation from causing war to avoid being seen as the aggressor, as having the Custods fight on the side of your enemy almost always spells humiliating failure for the other side.
If the Custod have any reason to want to keep an eye on or ask questions of a particular national government, a national negotiator will be sent in to handle the talks.
Regional Negotiators: A regional negotiator handles disputes between two parts of a nation. Such as trying to help negotiate a peaceful resolution to a dispute between two city states, regional areas, or governorships will be handled by this type of Negotiator Custod.
State Negotiators: A state negotiator will handle disputes within a city or city state. These disputes are many and a Custod is often brought in to help prevent it from escalating to battle.
Negotiators also have a ranks of 1-10 to show how many successful negotiations they have. This is just added as a first class, second class, etc.
Most negotiators are called in by other Custods of other ranks who notice or are dealing with problems where a more skilled negotiator may be called for. Assassin Custods often will tip off a negotiator to come into an area under the guise of visiting. Though Guard, General, and Naval Custods often will call upon Negotiator Custods skills as well.
Many negotiators will take up residence at various Potentate courts to keep an eye on things even in times of peace and no hint of war is suspected. Many Potentates like having a negotiator as a part of their regular court to not only speak on the Custods behalf but to speak for them to the Custod Council on the Potentates behalf. Very few nations do not have a Negotiator Custod as part of their regular meetings.
A Negotiator Custod’s Custod Rank has almost nothing to do with their class rank because the rank is most commonly chosen by the Custod themselves. Though if a certain Custod shows skill in an area outside their rank often the Head Custod will ask or require them to take on assignments outside what they chose.
Provider Custods are often looked down on as the weakest and least of the Custod classes, but they are key, and more important than they get credit for. They are the second largest class (though at some points in history have been the largest). Provider Custods provide for the daily needs of the other Custod classes. Their ranks are so many it would be near impossible to name them all.
Custods do not get tax money from any nations, nor do they take any money from the people. Because of this, they must provide for themselves. Many Custods find their duties do not take up their entire time and will take up a trade to support themselves, but many are not able to this. (For example, the entire Guard class cannot become farmers or performers while managing their guard duties.)
The provider class support these Custods in two ways. First, by running full time businesses or working for businesses to raise the funds needed for those Custods who cannot support themselves. Secondly, by providing the tools and means they need to perform their duties. Some Provider Custods do both at the same time.
Some common examples are those who work in theaters. The most lucrative and world-renowned theater in the world, The Armuary Theatre, is run by and almost fully staffed by Custods. Part of a Custod’s blessing is particular skill in dexterity and movement, making them excellent dancers, actors, and singers. And after generations of cultivating these gifts, many of the worlds most talented performers are Custods who choose this class to use their skills to provide for their fellow Custods. Though some of these skills work in trades that are highly taxed, it still generates more than enough to contribute. (To learn more about how the finances of this organization works see: How Custods Make a Living.)
Part from running or performing in theaters around the world, Custods own some of the most lucrative businesses in the world. As Cedrick Custod, the Merlin, was the most powerful enchanter ever to live, his children were quite talented in using magic to invent things that improved the lives of people around the world.
Some of the most famous of these inventions are their railway systems with magic powered trains, impressionnors (much like our cameras), imaginals (TV screens that can project live video with specialized impressionnors, however the technology to record those videos was never widely available), and imajoels (handheld video game systems).
And the businesses are run and owed by provider Custods for the most part. Most of all those needed to repair or make new versions of these inventions. This keeps many Custods busy and employed making money to support themselves and other Custods.
The other part of the Provider class is those that make the tools Custods need to do their jobs as. Most think of the blacksmiths, silversmiths, armor makers, and the like but some Provider Custods also work in construction and carpentry to help build homes, and ranchers who raise and train horses.
Of course, many Custod with other classes that do not involve them working all the time will also take up a profession in various fields either with Provider Custods or in their own towns working for the common public.
For Provider Custods, their Custod rank has very little to do with their class. Their class marks what job or craft they work in. For example, a Custod who is a primer actor in a theater will be a Provider Custod - Actor class, a blacksmith will be a Provider Custod - Blacksmith class, and so on.
The final class is the naval class, which is exactly what it sounds like, Custods who special in seafaring and water-based combat.
This is the second smallest class. That is because most of the nations in the world for most of its history are land locked. The inability to communicate over vast bodies of water has mostly prevented the ability for nations that are far away to be part of the main Custod/Potentate network. But there are enough seas for there to be disputes in how to handle pirates and wars on the oceans on the east, north, and west coasts of the known world.
Naval Custods behave the most like a Custod army full-time because they are used as the international peace makers on the oceans when the waters are not clearly known to belong to one nation or another. Also, many rival nations (such as Englaria and Spearim, or Purerah and Japcharia) are coastal nations and will try to avoid Custods getting involved with their conflicts by trying to hide them by fighting by sea.
This, along with the uncertainty of handling pirates on the high seas, created the need for a full-time Naval Custod force. Though small, these Custods keep busy and rely heavily on their own smaller or mixed divisions of Provider Custods to help build and design better warships. Some Provider Custods work closely with the Naval Custods to help fish safely on dangerous or disputed waters.
Naval Custod ranks are broken up to mirror the overall Custod organization to allow them to handle their own affairs at sea.
Most of the positions are straight forward.
The commadore is the highest rank and manages the docks and organization of fleets of ships.
The captain rank are the leaders with their under classes marking how high, a captain runs the ship, his first mate is his second with as many lieutenants as a particular ship may need. (At least one but often two on larger vessels.)
The shipmen are the fighters on a ship that handle the cannons or other weapons used on the ship for the actual combat as well as in person fighting when boarding an enemy ship. Their class rank correlates to their Custod Rank almost one for one. How many are on a ship depends on the size of the vessel.
The Sailors are the ones who manage the running of the ship, they keep it in shape, manage the sails rutter, and so forth. The ship's size will dedicate on how many sailors are on board at a time.
Crew are like the Providers of the ship. They handle food, water, rationing, keeping the ship clean and running well, keeping everyone healthy and so forth.
And that’s the basic structure of the Custod Family. There are a lot of moving parts and some classes are formed and dissolved over time. The use of the Custod Rank is used to organize the Custods if they ever had to be pulled into be used as their own army. The threat of forming has arisen a few times, but so far, has never happened. But the organization to do so if needed is in place.
I hope you enjoyed that very long read! It’s a great background to have when you’re dealing with Custods throughout my works, and though some time periods adjust this or don’t even fully use this, it’s helpful and fun to learn about.
* Apart from in cases of infidelity in which the magic in the Custod blood is immediately removed. The Head Custod feels when this happens, feeling a unique magic sickness for a time which leads him to seek out who the offender was.
** Being a 10/10 has become a type of insult among Custods and has extended to people outside the Custod family as an insult on par with calling someone stupid, dumb, numpty, nincompoop, ect. Though this is spelled tenten rather than being written out 10/10.