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The Sons of Venor
The Sons of Venor are a unique group inside the confines of the galaxy. Unlike other civilizations participating in The Harvest, the Sons of Venor are not of a specific race.
The Sons of Venor started as a spiritual cabal at the aristocratic core of a long-extinct civilization. Their culture revolved around the ritualistic hunting of dangerous lifeforms. As a house of power, the Sons of Venor gained popularity inside their civilization first, and among other members of the galactic family later. As the Sons of Venor acquired power and independence, they became an eclectic group encompassing any race, financing their activity through their unique skill set of hunting — something which they also use in both war and assassination. It is believed that the Sons of Venor have been involved in most of the significant political and military conflicts that have engulfed the galaxy. Most times, they acted as surgical tools used to kill, sabotage or kidnap high-value targets.
Starting as a small cabal, the Sons of Venor are now a large decentralised state with no planet to call home. The Sons of Venor have evolved into a confederation of "houses." Each house functions as a smaller group with its own political views and rituals. Any individual that tries to become a Son of Venor needs to engage with a given house and overcome its specific rite of passage, known as "The Bloodening." The same goes for any child born inside the Cabal. Being born inside a given House does not grant the privilege of membership to that house, nor the Sons of Venor as a whole. When that child or "Unblooded'' matures, they will need to overcome the bloodening or die trying.
From the moment a Son of Venor becomes a full-fledged hunter, they may choose the quarries that interest them. The boldest of the hunters go immediately after their own mentor. It is not ritualised, but among the Sons of Venor, any hunter that has not yet hunted their mentor is not yet considered a true hunter. This is part of the purely utilitarian and meritocratic vision of their society.
As previously stated, each house has its own unique quirks, and the Sons of Venor currently comprises over thirty houses. For example, the Midnight Daughters is a female-only House that specialises in group hunting, honour and fair fights. The Bonesmiths elude any political involvement and are renowned as gruesome mercenaries specialised in melee combat. Each house is governed by an Ancient — the best hunter among the house members — who chooses five Elites that act as ministers and counsellors. The Council of Ancients governs over the Sons of Venor. As the houses themselves are self-governed, the council of Ancients only becomes meaningful when they call for a Crusade. There is historical data of only three Sons of Venor Crusades, and two of them ended with the extinction of races that affronted the honour of the Sons of Venor. The Third Crusade happened when the first Harvest took place, and ended in a bloodbath both in orbit and on the planet's surface. The Third Crusade was the worst crisis the Sons of Venor have ever overcome, and the Harvest has become one of the most important trials a hunter may conquer.
Fundamentally, the Sons of Venor always seek the thrill of the hunt. In their eyes, the act of hunting and testing one's abilities is the only way for self-improvement and demonstrating one's value. Failing at a hunt is the most shameful act a Son of Venor may incur. A Son of Venor that fails at a hunt may regain their honor committing honorable suicide or declaring themselves as a sullied prey. If a sullied prey was a popular hunter before, they become a desirable quarry for any Son of Vanor that wants to gain fame and reputation. The merit and reputation of hunts is managed through a hunting ledger. This accounting system scores the desirability of prey and objectifies the hunting results of all the Sons of Venor. At the top of any given ledger, there is always an Ancient. Hunting and killing an Ancient immediately grants the title of Ancient to the hunter. The most prominent Ancient in the history of the Sons of Venor is the current ancient of the Wild Manes house. He voluntarily became a sullied prey a century ago, and has since killed more than 15,000 hunters that tried to usurp his title.