A recent phenomenon in the East, the Knightly Orders have been founded to help address the problem of a near universal lack of fighting men in the Sovereign domains. Though certainly the day would have been lost in the battles against the demons and later with Dis without the national armies of the Sovereigns, they would also have been lost without the help of small bands of exceptional individuals. With one side of that formula now lacking, the other must be strengthened.
The Knightly Orders tend to have rather strict entry requirements, usually requiring crushing testing or the invitation of a knight in good standing. Moreover by Sovereign plan, plain coicidence or dangerous quest, each of the major orders have discovered some secret to give their members some advantage over the others, and over ordinary men.
Aside from the benefits of the secrets of the orders, there are also political and financial benefits. Each Knight is given an (albeit small) parcel of land to own. Usually it consists of a small number of farms to extract tax from each year, a bridge to toll, a section of lumber-rich forest, or some other such thing. More importantly being part of an Order confers the status of minor nobility, along with the title of Sir or Lady. Finally, those who join an order are given an infusion of crushed golden Animus Crystal, the rarest form of the gemstone that grows along the Lake of the Fallen Stars in Althea. The wealthy nobility across Kathar covets the substance, which stretches lifespan and increases health and vitality.
The Three Orders of Cetheron
The Knights of the Golden Moon (Knights Auric) (PC’s belong to this Order)
By uncompromising royal decree, the Knights Auric were formed as the first of the new Orders. That the crest of these Knights, a gold moon on a field of black, is nearly identical to the flag of Cetheron is no coincidence. This order is certainly the one closest to its government, most trusted by its Sovereign and beloved by its people. And like its parent country, the Knights of the Moon are a distinctly diverse lot, caring for little other than sheer ability and a certain amount of loyalty and good sense. There are former slaves, former criminals and even the formerly living among the members of the Knights.
The current Procurator (Leader) of the Knights Auric is Kaden Vasheda, the former head of the Sovereign Midnight’s bodyguard. The taciturn Felarri weretiger makes for an imposing figure, given his disinclination to leave his powerful hybrid form, but those who just take him for a brute find to their detriment that he’s as sly and cunning as any other dark elf, despite his condition.
The secrets that this order guards as its own is the most subtle, and in many ways the most feared. Those outside the Knights Auric simply call the secret Mastery. Somehow the order’s veterans seem to gain skills and experience in months where others would take years. Rumors of the method to this secret abound in the other Orders. From psionic thought-theft to deals with dark powers to necromantic rituals draining strength from the common people. The common people, thankfully, just assume some kind of rigorous training, hard-won combat experience or pure skill by their much-beloved protectors.
Those inducted into the inner circle of this Order know the truth of it. What others call Mastery, the Auric call Twinning. The rapid increase in knowledge and experience comes from a pairing of each knight’s soul with another, long departed. The foreign spirit has no power over the knight, but being able to draw upon flashes of former experience and instinct sharpens skill quickly. The ceremony to twin one’s soul is done by a mysterious glowing, undeniably holy-feeling entity who wears an ivory mask. No names have ever been provided, but rumors are always filtering through the inner circle that this being is the one who whispered the idea of Knightly orders into Midnight’s ear, and founded the Knights of the Golden Moon itself.
The Knights of Dusk Ascendant (Knights Noctis)
Unlike Knights Auric, who are much beloved by the people, the Knights of Dusk Ascendant are far more commonly feared. These dark knights have a well deserved reputation for doing what needs to be done, without the concerns for the methods used. There’s no particular danger in being around one of the Dusk Knights at most times, but it’s adviseable to stay well clear of them when they’re ‘on the job’. If their enemies flee into someone’s home, they burn it down. If they flee on a stolen ship, sink it. If a few people have to lose their lives, or property must be lost for the majority to be safe, then so be it.
Duke Argus Lorigar, the founder of the order, became a noted collector of exotic lore after his retirement from the duties of a general. The common speculation is that their secret comes from that collection. Each Knight of Dusk Ascendant is taught a magical technique to bring forth energies inimical to reality. Though taxing to the Knight they can, usually with a touch, cause an object to break down and dissolve into inert dust. This object might be a wall, a metal gate or even a person. A wise man never shakes hands with a potentially hostile Dusk Knight.
The Knights of the Stars (Knights Astral)
The Knightly Order of Dis
Secret societies have long been part of the character of Dis. There are dozens of mysterious cabals of mages, warrior circles, cults and so on as it is. Only one such organization has bothered to call themselves Knights, and they have their roots in Althea, not in Dis.
The Knights of the Black Chalice (Knights Infernal)
The Knights of the Chalice are gone. The last few their number was ruthlessly hunted down less than five years ago, the few remained after the formation of the Knights Inferal a decade before that. The Immortal Sons and the nations of the East hadn’t been idle in regards to the state of the world. The Rot is a dangerous cancer on the landscape, and one that desperately needed to be burned away after the demonic invasion.
The demon hunting Knights of the Chalice, formed by the Immortal Son Laguna at the tail end of the war, and backed by the battle hardened armies of the east, were to play out a dangerous gambit. They would pierce the very heart of the poisonous gloom and slay the primary demonic manifestations of it. With the shadows driven back it was hoped that the portal would be revealed, and could be closed. It might have worked, but Dis, though defeated, was hardly destroyed.
Somehow Dis twisted several of the highest ranking of the Knights of the Chalice to their cause. The center of The Rot was reached, and Laguna and most of the loyal Knights were fighting a deadly battle to slay the shadowy demon lords therein. The call went out for the planned reinforcements, the hammer blow of steel and dragonfire to assist the Knights once the true enemy was found. No men or dragons came to their aid. No messenger reached the armies at the periphery of the darkness. No skirmish into The Rot ever found any sign of those Knights that pierced the heart.
The few remaining Knights of the Chalice, and the nations of the east grieved the loss of their hero, and his band of warriors. Althean warriors under the Crown-General delved into the gloom for months, hoping to recover Laguna’s body, or to slay whatever was holding his soul and preventing magical intervention in his return. It was assumed that the attack had simply failed. It was only in the years that followed, as the remaining Knights of the Chalice were killed one by one that the truth came to light. That the messengers had been subverted or slain. That traitorous Knights of the Chalice were responsible. That those traitors dwelt in Dis now.
Vadraan Marcol, one of Laguna’s first recruits into the Knights of the Chalice was a brash young man of great potential. Perhaps Laguna saw some of himself in the exceptional knight, because in the end he suffered the verysame folly that his mentor did. Pride. Just as Laguna chafed at being in the shadow of his social betters, so did Marcol. Agents of Dis whispered into his ears that he could step out into the light. That in Dis he wouldn’t be just the pupil of a hero. That his accomplishments and talents would be recognized. Marcol now leads the Knights of the Black Chalice, and his ambitions have served him well. The Knights Inferal have quickly become the most powerful faction in the country outside of the Sovereign loyalists. Their members are feared by the populace, and amply provided for by the Sovereign.
The knowledge of the Knights of the Chalice exist in one place only on Kathar now, in the chapterhouse of their traitorous counterparts. That demonological lore, gathered so that Knights could know their enemy, to better hunt them, has proved equally useful in distilling out information on the paths to power practiced by cults and summoners since Kathar learned of the wider planes. It is said that the veterans of the order are so changed by pacts with devils and power siphoned from captured demons that they can no longer rightfully be called men any longer. Even the other Knightly Orders must tread very carefully around them, when they are discovered outside of Dis.