Ostensibly, the Forces of Arden are one single unit, known collectively
as "the Rangers of Arden."
In fact, there is more to it than that.
The Rangers of Arden
The Rangers of Arden are a military unit commanded by the Steward
of Arden, a post that has been held for almost 450 years by Prince Dexter,
the King's secondborn son. There are very few who remember the Steward
or Stewards that might have preceded him, and all formal records were lost
in a fire that consumed many of Amber's records in the year 195.
Perhaps Arden's greatest defense is simply Arden. Aside from the few maintained
paths through Arden, Arden is typified by dense underbrush. It is said
that the horses of the Rangers can run through the vegetation, but no other
beast has ever been seen making quick progress off the paths. Many is the
traveler who has had to hack his way slowly through the woods only to turn
and find that his horse has been eaten by one of Arden's many man-eating
plants and animals.
Between the year 177 and 620, no one had given orders to the Rangers
except for Dexter. In 620, that changed briefly in what is turning out to
be a disaster for the Rangers. During an invasion, the Steward realized
that a Curse he was living under was hurting the Rangers in battle. Thinking
only of his men, Dexter turned over leadership of the Rangers to Marshall
Caitlin, the Lady Defender of Amber, for the duration of the battle.
Many losses were taken that day, and the Steward made a cataclysmic mistake.
Fearing a follow-up to the invasion, Dexter went out into Shadow and recruited Shadows
to bolster the numbers of the Rangers. Since then, the Rangers have been a disorganized,
undisciplined mob that has caused much shame and anger in the Steward. Upon Dexter's
request, Marshall Caitlin fielded an army of giant Shadow cat-people to help fend off a
second invasion, one that struck at Arden herself. These cat-people have since been
added to the Rangers.
Disappointed in his once-elite force, Dexter has left Arden to attend to other,
less-important matters, such as saving his King and Father from whatever force keeps
him beyond the Veil. In his absence, Galen, the Regent of Amber, has given temporary
control over the Rangers to Marshall Caitlin, a decision that neither Dexter nor the
Rangers will ever be able to countenance or forgive.
Dexter has arranged the Rangers after his own fashion. Secrecy is the
watchword of the Rangers, and most of their inner workings are unknown
outside of Arden. There are at least three branches though, since two are
known and they obviously do not comprise the sum of the Rangers.
Captain Garrison Trebault's Rim Patrol
The Rim Patrol is the arm of the Rangers that has the most
interaction with the outside world. The Rangers maintain secrecy by simply
not letting the Rim Patrol in on any secrets.
As might be obvious by the name, the Rim Patrol is charged with guarding
and patrolling the edges of Arden. They often spend their time finding
children that have wandered into Arden or helping farmers who have suffered
from attacks by the wildlife of Arden. As such, they are well-liked in
the rural areas around Amber and many Amberite boys look up to the Rim
Patrol and dream of joining when they are old enough.
Captain Trebault is a kind man who is good at managing his men and facilitating
their movements around the perimeters of Arden. He spends as much time
as he can with the Shadow Guardswoman known as Shadow of the Moon. Rumors
abound that he has taken a more than professional interest in her, although
no one suspects the feelings to be mutual. It is unknown whether the Steward
is aware of these feelings, but he does station her with the Rim Patrol
whenever he leaves Arden. Captain Trebault is assisted by two capable young
Lieutenants and his men follow police ranks. Captain Trebault commands
a 2,500 man force, although his Lieutenants have virtual autonomy due to
the wide, decentralized area the Rim Patrol covers.
The Rim Patrol did not take part in the defense of the Invasion of 620, although some saw action (briefly) in the subsequent Giant-Rat War
Captain Donovan Petitgout's Pathsmen
The Pathsmen are the most well-known Rangers to the cityfolk
of Arden. The Pathsmen guard the primary paths through Arden, most of which
lead to the city. They levy tolls on merchants who ride through Arden,
and have the authority to search cargo. In addition, they are charged with
keeping safe any Amberites who venture into Arden, so long as they stay
within sight of a path. They have been trained well not to venture away
from the paths themselves. Due to their duties as customs agents and as
the people who tell Amberites not to go into Arden, the Pathsmen are not
nearly as popular as the Rim Patrol. Still, they find enough recruits each
Captain Petitgout is a bit of a flouncer, but tries to be a no-frills, no-nonsense sort of man, and he runs
the Pathsmen that way. The Pathsmen are rarely meant to cut anyone any slack, but often do, to the Steward's everlasting frustration.
Captain Petitgout has never been very strict about following all of the rules, unlike his predecessor. When
the Steward leaves Arden, Shadow Guardswoman Celenara Lelandris takes up
the office of Advisor to the Pathmen. Captain Petitgout is assisted by
two older Commanders and his men, for some reason, follow naval ranks.
All told, Captain Petitgout has 1,500 men under his command.
The Pathsmen were killed to a man in the Invasion of 620. As incompetent
as the Steward considered the original Pathsmen, their replacements have been much worse.
Captain Edgar Worcester was the leader of the Pathsmen until his death at the hands
of invaders in 620, when he was replaced by Captain Petitgout.
Myrrau's Cats of Outer Arden
The most recent addition to the Rangers, the Cats of Outer Arden
have been the most satisfying to the Steward. The Cats not only live up to
the Ranger ideal, they exemplify it.
No one is quite sure how many Cats there are, in large part because the
Steward has decided that no one should know and counting the Cats is problematic
to say the least. The Cats are actually a sort of giant, cat-men. They are permitted
to eat anyone who strays off of a path in Arden, although due to the Square-Cube Law,
they cannot take advantage of this permission in Inner Arden.
The Cats are ruled by Myrrau, the dominant cat. His loyalty has been earned
both by Marshall Caitlin and by Dexter, in personal combat.
Estimates vary about the size of the Rim Patrol and Pathsmen relative to
the rest of the Rangers. Some say that the two branches form the majority
of the Rangers, some say they are but a tiny fraction. Most people assume
they make up about half of the Ranger forces. One thing is certain, none
of the Rangers will say.
The other Rangers are rumored to have wild hounds at their disposal,
which are said to be able to rip the heads off of bulls.