The Witch Hunters, known also as the Witch Hunters of Merhaven, the Merhaven Brigade or the Witch Seeker Covenant is a armed faction based in Merhaven, Terriviére in the Lesser Kingdoms, dedicated to locating and eradicating users of dark magi.
The Witch Hunters have a long and complex history, from mercenaries hunting down individual witches for coin, furious peasants lynching those they perceived to have brought misfortune upon their communities and religious fanatics who took it upon themselves to correct the evil-doers in the world.
However, the School of the Arcane Arts realized that there were far more sinister powers at work than some old hags casting petty curses and peasant superstition. They realized that there were organized groups of individuals who actively practiced the forbidden dark magi to wield great power at the cost of their own selves and those unlucky enough to be affiliated with them. The school then put together a group of dedicated and skilled individuals. Among them were Varosian cavalrymen, Taznar sappers, Kingdomer knights and Jynker trackers and mercenaries whom the School funded and instructed to find and then capture or kill practitioners of the forbidden path.
A special prison has been constructed in Merhaven to house important dark magi users. Those who hold special positions in covens or have intricate knowledge of dark magi that the School wishes to research are detained , whilst common and low ranking witches and wizards are often tried and executed with extreme prejudice, usually by hanging, drowning, burning or decapitation.
The founding of the brigade took place when the lightwar was over and focus could be shifted to domestic matters. The Witch Hunters encountered difficulties at first when they had no exact knowledge of what dark magi users were capable of but slowly became more efficient and formidable as the school researched the dark magi and could provide special training. With new knowledge, tools and weapons the brigade fanned out over the lesser kingdoms to gather more soldiers and do their task. During this campaign, known as The Great Hunt, the brigade executed many individual dark magi users, scattered the Lythrefang Coven and completely eradicated the Morvudd Coven
Aware of its continued existence, the Brigade and the Lythrefang Coven have played a deadly game of cat and mouse over the last few years.
The Merhaven Brigade usually patrol the lesser kingdoms in hunt for dark magi users and, their arch-nemesis, Lythrefang Coven members. A Witch hunter party generally consist of one warmage, two cavalrymen, two knights and a varying amount of sappers, trackers or swordsmen. Special expeditions are sometimes made to other parts of Anvaris if there is information on a coven, important witch's or wizards location.
Members of the Brigade receive special training on how to defend oneself against dark magi and how to counteract it. They use special equipment, weapons and armor made from a material known as deranium which has been noted to possess magi canceling and absorbing properties.
Although the brigade might be funded by the Scool of Arcane Arts, they are also supported by the Lesser Kingdoms. This means that they are required to follow the councils rules and double as roaming guards throughout the lands.
The Witch Hunters have also had a problem with impostors outside of the Lesser Kingdoms, most notably in Varosia, where bandits, criminals and brigands have disguised themselves as Witch Hunters in order to accuse and kill specific individuals or trick people into assisting them with food, coins or other goods.