The Knights of Mercy and Grace
'...And you, Human, must follow our words, lest we summon up every curse that lies buried beneath these sands and pour them upon you and your children, and their children, and in turn their children, for so many generations that your blood will surely never survive.'
Tarran and Gaeioa are, if anything, known for their long, dangerous wastelands. Sand blows across everything from the smallest village to the biggest city. Sandstorms have been known to completely bury the smaller settlements, only for the dunes to spew them forth years later, complete with petrified corpses, and even preserved food.
It is this harsh wasteland that the Knights of Mercy and Grace call home.
Though the principles they hold to were founded long before the empire they serve, the Knights themselves came into being during the reign of Emperor Altan Lorant of the Bloody Sun. The Knights were formed to conquer the surrounding barbarian tribes, which wer far more numerous then, than they are now. Armed with years of training and the best weaponry and armor known to that day, the Knights slaughtered Oraino, Uljik, and Farisuni tribesmen by the thousands. In less than a year, the fledgeling Tale Empire had expanded its borders to meet Kalmshan.
It was not until Emperor Mihaly Gyula the Young came to power that the Knights entered their now familiar duties as Tallian police. When Mihaly declared green and white as the nations new colors, in honor of Cyrus and Darius, His head general, Nalin Archana, adapted the Almarakar style to police actions, and the streets of the capital soon became flooded with Knights. Over time, units were sent to other cities, and they too had soldiers patrolling the streets.
When the Ivory men were first discovered, Knights in the newly developed Gaeiod-Yan armor were sent by Emperor Aja Hakan the Fiery Goat with an ultimatum: Convert, or die. The White ones fell beneath the Knights onslaught, and the knights in turn were killed in the treacherous waters of the Southern sea. Hakan died, before his dream of purification could be realized, and his succesor, Nen Misu of the Cool Waters, ordered off the assualt, and extended his hospitable hand toward the barbarians.
When Empress Kabrihava Sauda the Beautiful came to power, Tale was turned upside-down. The years of strictly male rule abruptly ended, and misandronous sentiment swept through the empire in less than a year. Even after death gripped her, she still remained on her throne, her simple refusal to stop ruling, even as a corpse, kept the feminist movement alive and well. Th Knights, too, felt the effects of her rule, and their ranks swelled with women. The Knights truly strained under Kabrihava's weight when civil war seemed it's nearest, under the leadership of the nwly elected Grand General, Yamir Vivek, and his strict policing of the Tallian populace, tale did not break itself.
The Most recent action of the Knights has been in Mirdroll, the western continent, where the act as guards against the dangerous flora and fauna, protecting the colonists with their lives. Az Sanjeet was recently elected the New Grand General, and has taken great interest in strengthening the Units along the Kalmshani Border, as well as along the Lovers mountains, where the Egoyo dwell. His interest in the colonies at Mirdroll remain mild, at best.
The Principles of The Wrym:
The Principles of the wrym are a strict code of honor adhered to by the Knights of Mercy and Grace. The code is swamped in legend, and said to have been founded ages before the knights, or even the Tale Empire, had been born. The Legend states that Arash, the great champion of man, was commanded by Viova to wander for forty years in the Northern Wastes. At the end of the term, covered in blisters and half-dead, Arash finally began the journey back to his homeland, but, as he neared the border of the Wastes, he was approached by a Two-Headed Wrym, or rather, two wryms, Cyrus and Darius. Arash drew his sword, but the two commanded him to sheath it. The Wryms taught Arash the Code, and instructed him to teach it, in turn, to his people, lest they exact their revenge. Arash did so, and was then taken away to the War-palace of Viova. There was a time when people forgot these teachings, just prior to the Knight's founding. It was then that the great Sandstorm of Karn'ola happened, the lone survivor, found curled up in the ruins of a building eaten away by sand, claimed he saw the Wyrms when he was found, then promptly died.
Cyrus - Mercy:
Cyrus taught the Principles of Mercy, which, despite their name, have little to do with forgiveness. Instead they preach a quick and painless death, and therefore deal with the art of warfare, and especially, tactics. In its most basic form, the Code of Mercy is presented as such:
I - Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
II - Thou shalt make war against heretics without cessation.
III - Thou shalt allow thine enemy to defend himself.
IV - Thou shalt take up thy armaments at thine emperor's first word.
V - Thou shalt kill not for the glory of thine self, but for the glory of thine emperor and thine gods.
VI - Thou shalt follow the words of thine priest, general, and emperor, even if the lead to an dishonorable death.
VII - Thou shalt avenge the wronged
VIII - Thou shalt exhibit honesty toward thine priest, general, emperor, and enemy.
IX - Thou shalt not attack from behind.
X - Thou shalt defend the weak and innocent.
XI - Thou shalt exhibit courage in all thy actions.
XII - Thou shalt live and die in the name of thine emperor and thine gods.
Darius - Grace:
The Principles of Grace command obedience to one's lord, family, and nation. Though the nature of these relationships is infinitely complicated, Darius still found himself able to deliver their draconian laws.
I - Thou shalt follow the rule of thine emperor and the words of thine gods.
II - Thou shalt keep thine word.
III - Thou shalt be attentive to that which pertains to thee, and delve not into that which does not.
IV - Thou shalt exhibit self control.
V - Thou shalt defend thine family, thine emperor, and thine country.
VI - Thou shalt respect the people.
VII - Thou shalt defend the weak and innocent.
VIII - Thou shalt remain loyal to thine family.
IX - Thou shalt be polite and courteous in all things.
Rank and Organization
The Knights are organized into four tiers of ranks, with the first referred to as a 'Zeroth' tier, as it is comprised solely of the Initiate rank. These ranks determine a Knights place in the heirarchy, the a General or Unit Captain (who are above the tiers) can allow for exceptions to the rule if the so desire. In addition, a Knights are sorted into their barracks by tier, sleeping in the same building as the rest of their rank.
Sifalla - A Sifalla knight is in fact, not a knight at all, but occupies are position much more similar to a page's. The Sifalla are tasked with cleaning and caring for the Unit's facilities, but will graduate into full Knight hood when their Patron deems them ready, though a captain may graduate them early or veto a graduation attempt. The Sifalla are paired with a patron of the same gender from tier two, though in the more remote stations they are often 'Traded' and forced to perform sexual favors for their Patrons or the other senior knights. Most Captains do not look kindly on this, but a few are willing to turn a blind eye.
Birintaze - The Birintaze are the lowest of the 'true' knights. Their duties are drastically reduced, but their training increases exponentially. A birintaze is not allowed to choose a specialization yet, but their former patrons continue to guide them in their strength (albeit with less power over them.)
Yeniki - At this stage, a knight is formally emancipated from his patron, though a particular benevolent one will still supply their former charge with advice. The Yeniki experience less intense training than the Birintaze, and begin the steps toward their strengths, but are still forbidden from most special training.
Eksi - An Eksi knight begins their saga of specialization here, selecting three styles, in additon to Bayar, to train in. The knight trains in these styles to the exclusion of all else, and but still follows a training schedule like that of the Yeniki.
Ayribir - The Ayribir drop one of the styles that the learned as an Eksi, focusing now on two of their chosen styles and Bayar. Their training schedule intensifies, but it is nowhere near as much as a Birintaze's.
Insa - The Insa are the elite of the Second tier. Dropping yet another specialization, the Knights know focus on one chosen style and Bayar. Their training schedule increases to match that of a Birintaze, though considerably more focused.
Tanem - The Tanem Are the elite Knights, and few make it to this rank. A Tanem is treated with the privilege of dropping Bayar in favor of their specialization. Their training slightly exceeds that on the Birintaze and Insa.
Tanem-Grad - The cream of the crop, a Tanem-Grad is powerful enough to influence even the Unit captain, who is himself chosen from their extraordinary ranks. A Tanim-Grad has the right to forego his training, but few do so, instead taking their specialization to newer heights, and posiibly even developing their own sub-styles.
Equipment and Fighting styles:
The Knights are versatile, and while particular individuals or units may exceed in one fighting style, they are all trained to meet a variety of situations. Over the years, specific equipment has been developed to help them in these tasks, and each piece is ordained by a priest of Viova before being put into use.
Seriba (Lit. Fast Light) - Seriba equipment is frequently coated with blue luzeroint, and never have a unit mark, so as to meet the demands of Viova, but not to identify the bearer to a particular unit. Seriba style is designed for stealth, and quick movement on foot, though Knights using this style are permitted the use of some breeds of Sirrush, if they're available. Seriba equipment consists of a Yatagan, Darts, or occasionally a small bow, and Scale armor. On rare occasions, Seriba may include a small metal buckler, painted blue or white.
Iyalt-Bed (Lit. Beautiful golden Beast) - Ceremonial armor and weaponry developed early in the Knighthood's history, Iyalt-Bed is front-heavy armor covered in gold leaf and blue luzeroint. Iyalt-Bed is always designed to mimic an animal, either the totem of the individual warrior, (if they have gained enough status,) or the patron animal of the unit. Large, golden hafted pikes with blue-luzeroint covered blades are commonly seen with Iyalt-Bed, but priest of sanction different weapons for war-heroes.
Gaeiod-Yan (Lit. Gaeioa's Fire) - Often lumped into the ceremonial category wit Iyalt-Bed, Gaeiod-Yan's place in the equipment Hierarchy is not clearly defined. It consists of Brass ringmail, with patterns in the mail colored with red luzeroint. Yan armor, as it is commonly known, breaks many of the principles armor normally requires, including the matching of a heavy helm with much lighter armor (normally a helm is only allowed to be up to the same 'class' or lower.) This helm also carries a miniature Brazier on top, and the Equipment style was the first to make use of the War thurible, burning red smoke rather than the now standard green or white. The armor is used purely for scare tactics, and is rarely used, as the risk of heat exhaustion is much greater than normal in it. Yan armor gained popularity during the Purification of the Ice, the brief crusade against the Ivory men of the far southern seas.
Almarakar (Lit. to take or to break) - Almarakar is used against individuals wanted alive. The armor used is a light form of brigandine, consisting of white leather studded with steel coated in green luzeroint. It's bearer's are equipped with blackjacks, a mace, and a small dagger, used exclusively for defense or a cutting tool. Almarakar both began the knighthood's place as a police unit and lent them the familiar Tallian colors as an armor choice.
Bayar (Lit. Standard) - One of the more recently developed, Bayar has become the most popular of the knight's armors. Consisting of plate armor over the chest and torso, in addition to scale armor on the legs and arms, the armor has become a standard among most units, and has become even more common than the Almarakar in police units. Bayar borrows the helm of the Iyalt-Bed, a stylized Bascinet often taking the form of an animal. Many knights favor the armor sans helmet, however, so as to avoid heat exhaustion. The Bayar Style allows for a wide variety of weapons, including the War-thurible, the Seax, and the Hand-and-a-half sword. Many varieties of shield are also avaliable to a Bayar user, including Targes and Bucklers. Sirrush are also allowed for this style, but only the strongest breeds, such as the Tallian Sundrunner and The Soul Wrecker, are sanctioned.
Okmak (Lit. Arrow-thrower) - Okmak is an expensive armor designed to stand against and return long distance attacks. The armor consists of steel rings, coated in white luzeroint, sewn into green leather. Okmak does not have an associated helmet, but is traditionally worn with a green luzeroint coated circlet. Knights using this style weild both short and long bows. Light Sirrushi are sanctioned by priests, but not commonly used.
Bahara'harad-Niok (Lit. The Bahara'hara'raha's death) - The most recently forged armor, Barahara'harad-Niok (called 'Niok,' Or 'Death,' for short,) is used both against the rare incursion of Bahara'hara'raha on Tarrani sands, and to defend the Mirdroll Colonies. The armor is deceptively weak, consiting only of a tight mohair suit and a mohair cloak. The Cloak, however, is soaked in a caffeine solution, a material shown to be poisonous to the Bahara'hara'raha. The Demons exhibit even further decreased cognitive skills and paranoia. Once poisoned, they are driven into nets. The Niok users also carry small bottles of powdered caffeine for use as grenades, and paticularly long spears coated in it. though casualties when facing the beasts remain insanely high, they have drastically decreased with the use of Bahara'harad-Niok equipment.
Kamatez (Lit. To run swiftly) - Kamatez armor is, like Seriba, a light armor style. Unlike its cousin, however, Kamatez is used primarily for scouting from sirrushi. Kamatez armor is a light leather, painted with green and white luzeroint, fitted with metal plates over the arms an legs, painted in similar fashion. Kamatez users are also equipped with a sallet, a small metal helmet, and a boar spear, a lance designed to be easily withdrawn from charging combatants.
While each fort, outpost, keep, or any other structure is tailored to it's particular needs, a particularly obscure section of the Principles of Grace demand that noble warriors (in this case, the knights,) reside in buildings meeting the following principles whenever possible. These tend to take the form of particular rooms or even furniture, but occasionally manifest themselves in a particular occupation that atleast one Knight must follow at any one given time.
Priest - The Principles do not state a particular god that the Priest must follow, though Viova is preffered. A Knightly priest must lead the unit in a morning prayer, and must give a sermon every night before the Knights retire. Most units have their own preferences for priestly rituals, The Empress' Wings, for instance, always has two priests, (the left and right 'Wing,' respectively,)one who leads the morning prayer, and another who delivers the nightly sermon.
Barracks - A Knightly barracks does not, contrary to popular belief, have to be seperated by sex, but instead by rank. Some units do indeed seperate by sex, and individual Generals and Grand Generals have ordered such seperation to occur, but it still remains common practice for both genders to reside in a common barracks, out of convenience if nothing else.
Armory and Armorer - The armory itself is self explanatory, the Armorer is less so, acting more as a librarian than a smithy. A Knightly amorer, occasionally known as a custodian, concerns himself with organizing equipment by build, measurement, and style, making sure to clean and prepare all armor before it is used. Most custodians have little skill in smithing, and the Knights must send damaged armor off to a nearby town for repairs.
Map Table - While referred to as a table, the code merely specifies: 'Any flat surface in which a map can be laid.' The Code further states that a unit must also have a map not only of the Twin Continents, but also of Tale itself, and the area the unit is assigned to.
Other completely self-explanatory items:
A mail carrier (Does not have to be one of the Knights)
Sufficient Food and Water
A Unit Banner
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? Responses (15)-15
Cyrus and Darius? they are Persian?
That's how I got the names, and the concept, actually. I use a lot of persian, middle eastern, turkish, and greek names in the Ylfharn setting.
Okay, I must say I am impressed. This is a minutely detailed society, but still...
It needs the essential pillars of a society: How is it structured? Where do they meet?
So far we have a history, a set of rules and a set of equipment / fighting styles. We need to know ranks, where they live, impact on society, etc...
I agree with AG. Keep going on this one! I love the story and the back ground and I shall not make my ruling on it till it is dun.
You worked hard on this I know. Your love for the knights is obvious and all the interesting details puts this over the top! The tiers were great and the different armor was a unique touch. That was my favorite. Well done!
I might be adding more comments as I re-read and fully digest the info.
Two paws up. Well constructed, very complete, has some really nice details. You could of broken all of these up into a couple of posts (would of been my prefered format, but all is good). I am linking this to the Order of Order codex for you.
You really took a long time over this.
well...I feel remiss in not having commented or voted on this submission. I particularly enjoyed the styles of armor as presented and the incorporation of the luzeroint. This is really nice work Roack.
Thanks for all your comments guys, and as horribly cliche as it is, I couldn't have done it without all of you.
Wow... A lot of work.
I don't know if I ever gave this proper attention. Marvelous. I do love Ylfharn.
God damn this is good. Yet even now though I can still see the gaps that AG was critizing back in 06. For example what is Bahara’hara’raha or was the Queen actually undead? At any rate, I don't think those need be weakness, I think great RPG fiction is a jumping of point of the readers ideas. Great world building hints at depth and back story. This does that so well, it makes me want to play and write.
I really can't say enough good things about it.
I can't really say anything that hasn't already been said.