Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire
Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire: Forward
There exists in all of us a need to belong. A desire to be a part of something, great or small, dark or heroic. I would argue it is by our design, that this longing exists. Throughout time, among humans, among the elves, among the Arkati, even among the Drakes themselves, there existed a semblance of community. A rough design of structure. Whether it was on the peaks of Nagothrym, or the united halls of the Elven Empire, the presence of order has always been, whether due to the basic needs of survival, or apathy and comfort.
What unites a great people? Is it their self-acknowledged purpose? Their attunement to the elements around us? Is it their faith in a cause, or a deity, or something darker? Or, is it their unlawful actions, their disobedience and rebellion that are the only common threads of accord among them? I would tell you it is all of these things and more. I would go so far as to suggest that we do not walk Elanthia as unique as others -- or ourselves -- think we are.
That is why a son of a prince and the son of a blacksmith may find commonality amidst their faith, or that servants of the Grandfather may walk two paths but serve one god. It is why, despite these fractured pieces of interest and passion in all of our lives, we do not easily mesh to create a whole. I have spent years, scouring chronicles of the history of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and time and again it has sung to me of order, of belonging, of common ground, and common cause. In my research and labored efforts, I have cataloged a number of organizations that have existed, or still do, among the lands and cities of the Turamzzyrian Empire. While my work is far from complete, and may never be finished in my spark of a lifetime, I feel my work thus far will provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and in turn, its people and the societies they form.
By my Hand,
Lord Brieson Cassle of Highmount
Adjudicator of the Hall of Mages
Cataloged this Day, Volnes the 1st of Lumnea, 5115.
The Hall of Mages
In 4362, the Hall of Mages was founded in Tamzyrr by Emperor Immuros, and the initial response exceeded the Emperor's hopes. The number of imperial spellcasters increased markedly over the remainder of Immuros' reign. In 4547, the Hall of Mages, controlled by the House of Kestrel, became involved in a serious dispute with The Arcanum, the magical school in Toullaire. Led by the wizardess Hyla Kestrel, an official complaint was lodged with Empress Eschylle that The Arcanum was allowing reckless use of magic. No official action was taken, but many students turned to the Hall of Mages, favoring structure and reason over the recklessness espoused by The Arcanum. In 4565, a major magical catastrophe destroyed the city of Toullaire, causing a devastating earthquake that damaged Krestle, Immuron and Elstreth, and even shook the city of Tamzyrr. The disastrous combination caused several volcanoes to erupt, hurling a huge cloud of dust and ash into the air that covered the region for several months. Dust fell as far away as the Kezmon Isle. Imperial historians call the territory the Wizardwaste, but the citizens of Krestle and Immuron call it "Ba'Lathon", which translates to "Land in Pain" in the elder Kannalar tongue. Faced with the clear proof of the folly of irresponsible and unrestricted magical training, Empress Verranna passed a law requiring mandatory registration of all wizards and sorcerers within the Empire, and required all elemental magic instruction to be approved and guided by the Hall of Mages. Casting of elemental magics (Minor Elemental, Major Elemental, Wizard, and Sorcerer Circles) without registering would lead to imprisonment, and using elemental magic against another individual would be punishable by death.
In 4922, Emperor Trydall bestowed the hereditary position of Royal Magister upon the patriarch of the House of Kestrel. The Royal Magister governs the study of arcane arts within the empire and serves as advisor to the emperor. As the founders and leaders of the Hall of Mages, the governance over arcane study was not a true change for the Kestrels. What was significant, however, was that with the appointment to a hereditary advisor position, the Kestrels gained in political strength. The Royal Magister is an official position close to the emperor and on equal footing with the Sentinels, with the additional advantage of always being at the emperor's side, whereas the Sentinels must advise from a distance. With the bestowal of the Royal Magister position, the Kestrels ceded their lands local to Tamzyrr, and Trydall granted them a small earldom south of the city, including The Swale.
The Hall of Mages began in Tamzyrr, with two satellite colleges forming later in Elstreth and Nydds. Years later, additional satellite colleges were built in Phannus, Immuron, Brantur, Connedale, and The Swale.
Within the Hall of Mages, there are several specific organizations and roles dedicated to special goals or responsibilities of the Hall itself. There exists an entire group of adjudicators that operate similarly to imperial inquisitors. These adjudicators are dispatched by high ranking members of the Hall of Mages, often the Royal Magister himself, and deal with the research, investigation, and sometimes judgment over crimes against the Empire or the Hall of Mages. Often times, these investigations involve crimes of powerful magic, which is why the expertise of the Hall is called into service. In addition, another group referred to as the Witchhunters, exists as a powerful segment of the Hall that is specifically designed to help hunt down, and bring justice to, rogue spellcasters. While they themselves often employ a variety of magic, they are also trained in many anti-magic techniques, allowing them to better combat arcane users. Another prominent branch of the Hall is referred to as the Archivers, who serve throughout the main college and all of its satellite sisters, tirelessly working to catalog and protect the tomes and artifacts of the Hall, in addition to providing scrivener services.
Their symbol is a golden hawk overlapping three blue spheres.
The Imperial Drakes
In 4935, the House of Kestrel founded the Imperial Drakes, a new branch of the military consisting solely of skilled wizards. With this organization, magical training for military mages could be standardized and focused for specific military needs, and a military officer would know what the minimum capabilities of an allied spellcaster would be. Previously, allied spellcasters had wide variances in capabilities, leading to battlefield errors when one may not be able to perform as required.
The Imperial Drakes have been instrumental in a number of battles throughout the recent history of the Turamzzyrian Empire, using their might and magic to aid in conflict against the Horned Cabal and other nefarious creatures and enemies along the Demonwall. One of their greatest accomplishments was when a trio of Imperial Drakes defeated Tyrgh, the Chaos Lord, and drove his creatures back into the depths of the Wizardwaste.
Because of the fame and adventures surrounding the legend of Imperial Drakes, enrollment in the Hall of Mages has increased exponentially.
All members of the Imperial Drakes begin their initial studies among the lower echelons of the Hall of Mages, learning rudimentary skills and control with their magic before graduating to the Imperial Drakes, where they then undergo years of training and seasoning to become some of the finest mages trained in combat for the glory and defense of the Turamzzyrian Empire. The Imperial Drakes exist as a branch separate from the Hall of Mages, yet also report to the Royal Magister, who ultimately oversees their regime and training.
The Wardens of the Hallowed Scroll
Long before the creation of Chaston's Edict in 4310, there existed an organization known as the Wardens of the Hallowed Scroll. They were a mixed group of scholars and magic users, comprised of elves, humans, and half-elves. They dwelled in a library tucked into icy caverns along the base of the DragonSpine Mountains. They existed solely for knowledge, both its pursuit and its protection. Many among them served the Grandfather, Fash'lo'nae, himself. Rarely did they make themselves known to the rest of the world, those of the Turamzzyrian Empire, or the Elven Nations. Little is recorded of their contributions in history as their organization was known more for its talent of observations and study.
Somewhere around year 4314, an elven member of the Wardens, known in some rare records by the name of Nexur, embraced his insane theory of a Twilight of the Elves, using his mastery of runes and magic to destroy all enemies of Elvenkind, seeking to make himself a king to unite all of the elven houses. His plan was thwarted early on by fellow Wardens of the Hallowed Scroll, but the battle that ensued destroyed the arctic library along with a majority of its members and students. In the end, only a few Elders of the order remained, and Nexur was said to have been encased in an icy prison to wither away.
While no proof that the Wardens of the Hallowed Scroll still exist today, it is still rumored that a smaller version of the organization may still thrive in some corner of Elanthia, watching, observing, and learning.
In 4317, increased piracy in shipping lanes between Kai Toka and Tamzyrr caused Emperor Chaston to respond with an increased focus on the imperial navy, finally building it out and strengthening it to combat a growing trend of seafaring threats. In response to merchant outcry and preserving the safety of the Empire's commerce, the imperial navy was officially born. In 4319, shipbuilding became a major source of income in Tamzyrr, forcing a sometimes fierce competition amongst new rival shipwrights of Kezmon Isle. By 4320, the Western Sea became bloated with imperial warships, and piracy dwindled significantly.
In 4873, in the midst of a terrible storm, Kezmon Isle mysterious disappeared, leaving many to wonder if the island sank or vanished due to an elven curse. The tragedy set back the imperial navy for several years as Tamzyrr remained the prominent expert in ship construction. Years later, the port towns of Ubl and Idolone grew to rival the old naval forces of Kezmon Isle.
Presently, four Admirals serve over large imperial fleets, one out of Tamzyrr, Ubl, Idolone, and Fairport. Their respective flagships are called, "The Sea Drake II," "Charl's Pride," "The Emerald Jewel," and "The Torren Tide."
In addition to the official naval force, a number of imperial squadrons have gained some notoriety for their history, bravery, and deeds in service to the Sun Throne.
The Kraken Squadron
Ubl is a port city in the County of Allace, and though not as large as Tamzyrr or Fairport, it has a thriving fishing industry and is renowned for the quality and skill of its sailors. At the time, years after the Battle of Skyreach, Ubl had suffered significant losses to ground troops. Nevertheless, they were still able to produce a large number of ships for the Imperial Navy, and they furnished ships and the sailors to man them when needed. One such group is known as the Kraken Squadron. This fleet of naval ships is comprised mostly of galleys of various sizes, and they are renowned for their seamanship and aggressiveness in naval combat.
In 5026, a well organized fleet of krolvin under the leadership of Czag Dubra Drenloth, a ruthless krolvin warlord, led an assault on the shores of Ubl and took many of the docks and ships by surprise. For weeks, the port town was assaulted, their very life blood of sea trade cut off by the menacing blue apes. At the time, Lady Cera the Crow was the commander of the Kraken Squadron, and her fleet had been days out in the waters on a routine patrol. They learned of the attack on their home but were warned to await reinforcements from Tamzyrr and Idolone. The commander refused to let her city suffer.
In a brave and selfless act, Lady Cera led the Kraken Squadron in a full-on attack at the backside of the krolvin fleet, mercilessly tearing through them with no other purpose than to save the city, even at the cost of themselves. The battle known as Crow's Courage allowed the townspeople of Ubl to better manage landlocked defenses and safely transport refugees, when normally they would be focusing on fighting at the docks and coasts. In addition, the Kraken Squadron's fearless and suicidal tactics allowed reinforcements from Idolone to arrive to help in finishing off the remnants of the krolvin galleons, sinking or destroying almost every last one, including the Czag Dubra's flagship.
In the aftermath of the battle, only a handful of ships belonging to the Kraken Squadron remained, and over the years, their ranks would be replenished. But to this day, all members of the seafaring brigade still hold Commander Cera in high honor, knowing that even though she died that day, the sacrifice of her and her soldiers saved countless lives. Many in Ubl were not surprised when they learned of Commander Cera's death, as it was rumored that as a baby she was given a black crow as her pet, as part of the tradition that children receive animals at a very young age. It is said the pet received helps shape the child's personality forever. But days after receiving her pet, long before even her own memory could recall, the black crow died suddenly, leaving the family to replace the animal with another bird, but never truly forgetting the omen displayed for their daughter.
Their symbol is a black kraken on a field of white and blue.
The Bluewater Brigade
This unit is a seaborne heavy infantry and medium cavalry unit with its own independent regiment of archers and siege engineers. Capable of fighting from both the decks of ships and in land battles, this unit is extremely versatile and exceptionally well-trained and led. Completely self-sufficient with its own magically trained personnel and triage, it is not uncommon for this unit to be moved by sea far behind enemy lines to capture supply trains, or to set up advanced outposts or fortresses in the enemy's rear areas. Many times this unit has fought, completely surrounded and massively outnumbered, and has always managed to hold out until reinforcements arrive, eating their horses, if necessary, to survive.
The origins of the organization can be loosely tied to Kezmon Isle, and the group was originally started as a series of merchant ships with trained mercenaries to help provide protection. The Bluewater Brigade saw tremendous losses during a few months in 4277 while pirate raids on Kezmonian vessels increased to historical levels. It was never confirmed, but rumored that many of the mercenaries contracted with the Brigade were ex-pirates or pirates themselves, planted to help better track and raid the merchant ships. That same year, Tamzyrrian Overlord Selantha Anodheles offered protection and an alliance with Kezmon Isle, and in a matter of weeks, the level of piracy became almost non-existent.
After the imperial alliance was formed, the Bluewater Brigade expanded its services and slowly transitioned to more of a military escort unit than merchant vessels. They saw years of action against the krolvin in the Western Seas and provided plenty of aid along the shores between Tamzyrr and Ubl. In 4873, the ranks of the Bluewater Brigade suffered a heavy loss as a terrible storm engulfed Kezmon Isle and its surrounding waters, both causing the entire island to mysteriously disappear and hundreds of Kezmonian naval vessels to go missing, presumably broken apart and scattered to the high seas.
The ships of the Bluewater Brigade that were far from Kezmon Isle during the calamity found a new home in Tamzyrr, but many more members lost their lives over the years to grief and scouring the seas for any sign of the island and survivors, never returning themselves. In recent times, the Bluewater Brigade has been renewed with a heavy focus on prolonged combat, even building appropriate ships able to support soldier and horses, to help move cavalry units more quickly and sometimes more safely than over land and other rough terrain.
Their symbol is a faceted amber gem on a field of deep blue.
The White Sparrows
In 5048, the Horned Cabal cut off trade roads between Idolone and The Swale, drawing much of Estoria's focus in combating the thousands of undead and reopening their land commerce. But not once did Idolone take its eyes off the sea and the ongoing threat of the krolvin. The White Sparrows were formed near the tail end of year 5048, founded by a veteran soldier who some claim had a crippling fear of undead that forced him to use his skills at sea instead of fighting against the Horned Cabal.
The White Sparrows earned their name from the fact that all of their captains, soldiers, and crew painted their faces ghost white, and each ship in the fleet set with a huge white marble sparrow figurehead. The White Sparrows' sole purpose was offense first, defense second. They were loyal to the Sun Throne and at times were instrumental in defending the western coasts, but often their missions and service took them far from the shores and deep into the arctic waters of krolvin territory. It is typical for members of the White Sparrows to be gone for years at a time, waging war far from home and often some never make it back altogether.
It is not uncommon for members of the White Sparrows to appear more monster than man, some even taking to wearing the skin of their hated enemies like armor and morbid trophies.
Many imperial citizens, especially those proud ones of Idolone, compare the ferocity and training of the White Sparrows to the Order of the Golvern Star, except where demons are their speciality for overcoming, the White Sparrows became the bane of krolvin. Over the years the ranks of the organization have shrunk, but most recently, in 5115, the White Sparrows have seen an uptick in membership as many locals of Idolone have sworn vengeance upon the krolvin for their siege and near destruction of Idolone in 5114.
They have no symbol but are often recognized by their armor and cloaks of skin, often krolvin in origin.
Niima's Own was birthed sometime shortly after the year 5010, originally ordered by Count Claybourne, to help the Royal Torren Guard better monitor Maelstrom Bay and beyond. Niima's Own rarely drift far from the waters of Torre, primarily focused on protecting merchant ships, fishing vessels, and working as a buffer against krolvin and pirates. On the first of every month, many naval members of Niima's Own make a small pilgrimage to the Tower of the Sea Princess in Fairport, offering their worship and homage to Charl's daughter, invoking her grace and protection for themselves, their ships, and their sea.
After the devastation brought by the krolvin in 5114 that left Fairport occupied for many months, Niima's Own had suffered countless casualties by the war's end. The force was left with only a handful of ships still active or repairable. This faction of the imperial naval has been slowly rebuilding itself, and has since split their focus between defending Torren coasts and slowly moving into the area of merchant vessel transport and passenger ships, bringing goods and people in and out of the County.
Their symbol is two green dolphins on a field of azure.
The Black Tide
The Black Tide is one of the longest known factions of the imperial navy, dating back to the summer of 4222. It was the ships of the Black Tide that helped protect shipping vessels during the trade and defense alliance between Tamzyrr, Elstreth, and Kai Toka. The group gained infamy over the years in successfully countering piracy, which helped provide efficient results after Kezmon Isle submitted to governance by Overlord Selantha Anodheles in Tamzyrr. Throughout history, the Black Tide has been treated and trained like a specialized unit of the imperial navy, eventually exploring new tactics and strategies thanks to the magical knowledge and education of House Kestrel.
Their soldiers are trained and fiercely loyal to the Sun Throne, and every one of their ships houses a handful of mages trained in the elements of water and air, providing many useful talents to the naval fleets. The hardened and veteran warriors, augmented with the presence of powerful magic users, has allowed for the Black Tide to gain a reputation for being the fastest and deadliest ships in the Western Sea. They are the bane of krolvin, pirates, and enemies of the Sun Throne, providing swift and deadly action and justice on the high seas.
Their symbol is a golden crown and cutlass on a field of black.
The Swans of Selanthia
The capital city of Tamzyrr was rocked by the explosion of Mount Ysspethos when it erupted suddenly in 4327. The imperial palace itself was left mostly in ruins, the destruction even claiming the lives of Emperor Chaston and his daughters. In the aftermath of the event, Chaston's young cousin Immuros ascended to the throne and ushered in an age of great economic prosperity for the Empire, working to repair the shattered city, public buildings, and neighborhoods. While Emperor Immuros did reduce the standing imperial army at the time, he did not reduce any forces within the navy, and it was during this time the Swans of Selanthia were born.
Technically considered part of the imperial navy, the Swans of Selanthia are more ceremonious than combat ready, their members trained but rarely tried. The Swan ships, recognized by their ornate designs and heavy white masts bearing the crest of Selanthia, provide more decoration in the waters near Tamzyrr than any real protection. Many Tamzyrr nobles send members of their families to train and serve with the Swans, knowing full well they will likely face no danger while still garnering some military allocades to help further their family name.
The Swan Ships have been prominent at many imperial celebrations, from coronations to festivals, the sea vessels providing the backdrop of many lavish parties, or glorified escort ships for visiting nobles. While the members of the Swans of Selanthia are indeed trained in combat and naval tactics, few have seen conflict, and their inexperience causes other members of the imperial navy and factions to look down upon them as nothing more than show.
Their symbol is a golden white-beaked swan on a field of crimson.
The Imperial Army
The Imperial Army is a standing military force commanded by the Sun Throne, and its size alone is enough to overpower any provincial force, or even two or three of them combined. Throughout history, imperial soldiers were dispatched to many locations to provide additional support, and this remains true even to this day. Under the command of Empress Myna'lyanna, imperial garrisons were established in strategic areas of the Empire, such as locations like Kragsfell, Barret's Gorge, Hendor, and Jantalar. While imperial strongholds do not exist in every region, the forces can easily be mobilized to address any threats, be they foreign or domestic.
As the Turamzzyrian Empire is not currently in a period of expansion, the Imperial Army's focus is less on conquest and one more of defense. The scope and skill of the imperial army is designed in such a way to protect the Empire's interests against threats such as the Horned Cabal, the scourge along the Demonwall, and enemies at their borders, while still being prepared to crush any province with a leader who might be less than loyal to the Sun Throne. The Imperial Army serves as a comforting shield that can be quickly turned into a threatening sword.
While the Imperial Army is large in size, and its focus is primarily dealing with conflicts on land, there are a few specialized groups that operate within its organization but serve more of a specific role.
Their current symbol represents the Anodheles line, a crimson starburst on a field of gold.
The Imperial Blades
While the seat of the Sun Throne has always had the protection of close and trusted defenders, the official position of Imperial Blade was not ordered into existence, and subsequently recognized, until the year 4281. This position underwent a score of new training regimes and oaths after the Kannalan Alliance sent back imperial emissaries tortured and whipped after having been dispatched on a peacekeeping mission. After such an affront, Empress Selantha Anodheles declared war on the Kannalan Alliance, and at the request of her own counsel, tested and trained more members to serve as the newly named Imperial Blades, whose sole purpose in life was to provide protection for the Empress or Emperor, even at the cost of their own lives.
The Imperial Blades consist solely of men, each one spending years being conditioned to obtain fierce loyalty to the command and defense of the Sun Throne. Members of the Imperial Blades hold no land and no titles beyond their service and duty, and are forbidden from marriage or siring children. Their life is the Sun Throne, and anything else is deemed a distraction and punishable by death.
Most recently, in 5103, the Imperial Blades played a critical role in scouring the Empire seeking out the responsible parties in the assassination of Empress Mynal'lyanna.
Their symbol is of crossed golden blades on a field of crimson.
Made up only of troops with no familial attachments and not formally based in or hailing from any city, The Orphans are a shock unit attached directly to the Imperial Army. Very well organized, trained, and led, they are a mixed unit of heavy foot and cavalry whose main purpose is to break the lines of any defenders they face. This is a reinforced brigade-sized force of approximately 1,200 troops. The Orphans, though solely a part of the Imperial Army, are also a sea-worthy unit, occasionally being transported by The Imperial Navy to their destinations. There are no Knights among their numbers, although there have been a number of members who have been knighted for bravery and service to the Empire, though always posthumously. Since there are no Knights in the ranks of this unit, many soldiers of various races, such as half-krolvin, giantmen, and dwarves, and even those of questionable legal background, serve in The Orphans without prejudice or judgment.
While there is little prejudice among the ranks of the Orphans, the rest of the imperial army and imperial citizens often view them as nothing more than fodder since they are typically thrown into the front lines of particularly risky combat situations where the likelihood of survival is greatly diminished, which essentially means their life and blood are less valuable. Despite the fact that The Orphans hold no titles or land, and many dwell in the shadow of imperial racism, they still have a home and a purpose, and to many, that is enough.
The Grey Order
Miners turned mercenaries, the Grey Order is primarily comprised of human citizens of the Barony of Talador who once toiled in the dozens of mines in the area that have since been mostly exhausted. The miners had endured less than ideal living standards under the cruel rulership of Baron Lerep Hochstib, and once mining became a dying trade, there was little elsewhere they could go, and so naturally many adapted to a life of the sword, having already been in good physical condition.
For years, The Grey Order served as a mercenary group, deriving their name from the "ash and soot" from their long days of mining. They were typically used as armed escorts for wealthy merchants in and out of Talador, the few who existed during those times. After the death of Baron Lerep Hochstib and a semblance of freedom returned to Talador, the members of The Grey Order were officially conscripted into service within the imperial army, but maintained their own faction and leadership. Many within the group even became skilled engineers and sappers, often called upon for their expertise in tunneling under enemy defenses. The ranks of The Grey Order had dwindled off over the years, but most recently in 5114 they have seen a new flood of recruits sign up for their organization.
The influx of new members is easily explained as a result of the boom of business that has recently come to Talador with the discovery of blood marble in a once abandoned silver mine. The highly sought after material has reached elevated levels of demand all throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire, and Talador is finally exploring the wealth that comes with such a commodity. But fortune does not always bring the right kind of attention, and while many merchants and other traders have flocked to Talador in recent times, so too have bandits and other unsavory types, some even trying to illegally mine the blood marble themselves or explore other sealed-off mines currently untouched.
The ruling council of Talador has tasked the soldiers of The Grey Order to focus primarily on protection for their mines and workers, and who better to be assigned to such a job than a group whose origins began in that industry.
Their symbol is a grey pickaxe on a field of black and white.
The Black Hands
It was the year 4500 when an old retired sea captain named Eli "Blackhands" Gladden started up a mercenary company comprised mostly of fellow ex-pirates and some unsavory imperial sailors. Old Blackhands was given his nickname due to the fact that his hands were mostly useless, scorched black and charred by a gruesome incident, supposedly because he had wedded the daughter of an Archmagister of the Hall of Mages. The confrontation ended with the sea captain without his new bride and blackened clumps for hands with barely a finger or two left. It's unclear in the legend what happened to the captain's wife, although many presume her angry and powerful mage father whisked her back home after leaving the captain wounded as a warning.
After his hands were crippled by fire, Eli Blackhands Gladden used what wealth he had amassed on the high seas and started up a band of merry mercenaries to help provide protection for merchants and other trade vessels up and down the length of the Tempest River. His services could not have come at a better time, as sea pirates had recently gained a strong foothold along the river banks through the regions of the Turamzzyrian Empire. Because of this his business flourished and even expanded, many members of his crew branching out to provide protection along other vital rivers that winded through the lands of the Empire.
In 4518, the Lords of Waterford within the Kingdom of Hendor met with Blackhands and offered him a sizable amount of money to bring his group of skilled mercenaries into service to the Hendoran Kingdom, where they could continue to operate as normal, but reap the benefits of an officially recognized branch of the Kingdom's military, and full pardons for many of the seedier members of his company. It is said that Captain Eli met with every single member of his organization to hear out their opinions before finally accepting Waterford's offer two and a half years later in 4520. As promised, the Black Hands Company continued with business as usual, but now benefited from additional perks and respect brought about due to their affiliation with the Kingdom's army.
Shortly after the deal with Waterford, Captain Eli officially retired and left behind his home and his trusted servant and was never seen again. Some say he traveled south to once again see his bride who was stolen from him, and if that tale is true, then it is likely the captain finally met his demise at the end of an angry father's wrath. Others say he merely set off to find a new comfortable home, likely upon some shore, to await Gosaena's arrival for him.
Regardless of their founder's fate, The Black Hands continued to grow until their numbers suffered heavy casualties during the Witch Winter, when the Kingdom of Hendor eventually collapsed. Those soldiers and crew that survived escaped far to the south into the protection of the Turamzzyrian Empire. In 4650, a few years after the Turamzzyrian Empire recaptured the fallen cities of Hendor and imperial citizens began to once again settle the area, the Black Hands sprang back into full operation with many of the veterans resuming their old roles. Some took on the positions of officers and captains in a new specific branch of the Imperial Army with the Turamzzyrian nobles providing the funding needed to allow for new training and recruitment to strengthen the unit. The presence and success of the Black Hands were crucial to many northern and eastern nobles, as it helped to ensure safety along the vast rivers and offered a measure of economic security.
Their symbol is a black hand on a field of navy blue and gold.
Birthed on the fringes of the Wyrdeep Forest, the Falcons are a specialized branch of the imperial army that are predominantly stationed in the Barony of Bourth, where they spend much of their time patrolling the vast forests and landscape between Gallardshold and Krestle. They are a mixed bunch, consisting of woodsmen, hunters, rangers, and soldiers. Some knights of both the Empire and Bourth have even joined their ranks, preferring the open life and view of the great wilderness to the politics of imperial court. Every member of the Falcons is trained to be an expert archer and scout, and throughout history, small numbers of them have been dispatched to various locations throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire when their skills were greatly needed in times of war or espionage.
The Falcons are a strong brotherhood of men and women, loyal first and foremost to the Sun Throne, and second to the wild, preserving and protecting life, blood, and nature alike. Their group is quite friendly with the Elves of the Wyrdeep and are often involved in some of the trading agreements and shipments that happen between the humans and elves in the region, their presence and respectable conduct helping to ease tensions and keep the peace. Despite their ways of preservation, they hold no such mercy for the undead and barbarian monster races of the region, and when faced in combat or conflict against these beings, their wrath is swift and unmerciful.
Their symbol is of three black falcons ringed by a white circle.
Each region, be it Duchy, Earldom, County, or Barony, has its own army raised with fierce loyalty to the local nobles and by extension, the Sun Throne. These forces are primarily confined to their borders, but in times of great crisis they can be diverted as necessary to provide relief or military aid to other regions across the Turamzzyrian Empire. It is only done so with extreme caution as to prevent weakness in their home territory. Furthermore, the soldiers of the Imperial Army have been known to work closely with provincial armies in the past, especially in large scale wars against enemies of the Turamzzyrian Empire.
Some of these Provincial Armies have gained some notoriety over the ages.
The Silver Shields of Immuron
In the well-fortified city of Immuron in the Barony of Honneland, the Silver Shields act as the city's guards. Every year, a great tournament is held in Immuron called, "The Feat at Rallick's Field," the first one reportedly occurring back as far as 4769. While the tournament was formed originally to discern the knights with the highest level of skill to be selected as officers during the Second Elven War, the tournament itself, which is hosted by the Silver Shields, has now become a renowned annual festival of great celebration and physical bouts.
Many of the members of the Silver Shields participate in the legendary tournament, and more than a few continue to bring home fame and victory, only further adding to the high honor, respect and discipline that has become the reputation of these guards and soldiers. Their training is difficult, only a third of the recruits lasting until the end, and their loyalty to both Honneland and the Sun Throne is unmatched. The streets of Immuron know little violence and crime, as the townspeople are primarily orderly and peaceful, with such peace managed and controlled by the military presence of the highly trained Silver Shields.
Their symbol is crossed purple lances on a field of silver.
The Royal Torren Guard
The origin of the Royal Torren Guard goes back to the founding of the Kingdom of Torre in 4240 by Gardiel of Torre and the establishment of a military force under the King's control. The military force did not arise out of the ether, but was the resulting combination of Gardiel's own private force and the forces of three other members of the Circle of Regents, a confederation of seven powerful leaders in the area now known as the County of Torre. In an agreement with his allies, Gardiel acquiesced to the permanent inclusion of their forces with his to form the royal army of the kingdom. The military forces of the other three members of the Circle of Regents were subsequently dissolved to remove any remaining threat to the newly enthroned king. For nearly two hundred years, this force was known as the Royal Army of Torre.
The army was organized in four companies, which reflected the four separate forces of its origin. While each company initially mirrored the philosophies and discipline of the original leader, gradually the influence of Gardiel and subsequent Torre kings became the overwhelming morality influence, which unsurprisingly was one that demanded strict obedience to order from its foot soldiers and creative minds in its officers. Each company was commanded by a captain and the four captains overseen by the commander, a kannalan title that has survived in the Torre region in the place of the more standard and preferred title of general elsewhere in the Empire.
In the wake of the annexation of the Kingdom of Torre by the Turamzzyrian Empire in 4417, the army that had served King Yamaus of Torre understandably was expected by the rulers of the Empire to reduce its size as to reduce the confidence of success of the leaders of Torre should they reconsider their allegiance to the Sun Throne. At this point, the Royal Army of Torre was renamed the Royal Torren Guard, a name it has carried for nearly 700 years of service, and while it retained its original organization of four companies and command structure, the numbers of each company have since been lowered. The modern Royal Torren Guard has retained a more mobile stance with only one heavy company of the four. Captains are provided the unique and traditional state power since the days of the Royal Army to perform capital punishment without the need of higher authorization.
Their symbol is a white stork clutching spear tips in its feet with wings spread upward on a field of blue and yellow.
The Dragoons of DragonSpine
Along the base and foothills of the DragonSpine Mountains, in the year 4883, several gem and ore mines were discovered as imperial forces pushed back monstrous hordes and expanded the Empire's territory. The city of Kragsfell in the Barony of Highmount saw increased business and trade because of these mines, and there quickly became work-a-plenty for woodsmen and stoneworkers. In order to help protect their financial interests in the mines along the lowlands, the Barony of Highmount created a specific branch of cavalry units called the Dragoons of DragonSpine, whose sole purpose was to patrol the range of the mountains, scouting and defending against T'Kirem giantmen, orcs, and goblins, and to prevent any incursions of elves.
The members of this unit are trained in martial combat and highly skilled when fighting on horseback or sometimes even yak and mules. Many of them are also skilled in archery and carry their own messenger birds to quickly dispatch warnings or information to officers and various outposts around Highmount. They are fierce in combat and know the wilds and region around the base of the DragonSpines better than any other soldiers or units in the area. The Dragoons are a source of pride for many citizens of Highmount, and each year a number of knights and decorated officers travel to Immuron to partake in the annual tournament named, "The Feat at Rallick's Field."
Their symbol is a red horse before grey mountains on a field of white.
The Sunriders of Seareach
The Sunriders of Seareach are based in Phannus in the County of Seareach, on the edge of the Sea of Fire and Tehir territory. These troops, founded in 4895, were initially a dismal failure as they were not equipped and poorly trained to deal with the harsh conditions of the desert and the hit-and-run tactics of the Tehir. During that time, imperial soldiers set up two strongholds in the Sea of Fire where the Sunriders operated. After heavy losses in 4902, primarily to desert conditions and poor organization, Emperor Rallick II recalled the bulk of the soldiers from the edge of the Sea of Fire and left the strongholds behind to operate more as functional outposts to provide a small measure of comfort and protection for hunters and trades bold enough to brave the vast land beyond. The Sunriders remained as the predominant fighting force at the strongholds, but their role switched more to defense and trade protection and very few incursions happened into the Sea of Fire.
Over sixty years later, in 4966, copper was discovered within the region of the Sea of Fire. This caught the interest of Emperor Yarrowe, and so once again a focus was placed upon the desert land, and imperial soldiers were dispatched to strengthen the garrison at the two strongholds and provide protection for the copper mines. The County of Seareach began to actively recruit for members of the Sunriders, and for a time, their numbers swelled as the Empire embarked on numerous small-scale conflicts with Tehir tribes and warbands. Time had made the Sea of Fire no easier than before, and so many soldiers eventually left the Sunriders, positioned elsewhere within the Empire, while others found their lives claimed by Tehir raiders or other dangers of the sands.
It was not until 4968 that the then commander of the Sunriders was replaced, his position soon taken over by Commander Drenden. This new commander immediately converted the infantry unit into light cavalry and copied the tactics of the Tehir raiders with whom they have had numerous costly engagements. Such tactics included using yierkas as mounts, and so far the changes and new leadership have worked well in keeping the Tehir raiders at bay, increasing the safety of the imperial copper mines and emboldening trade caravans moving through the region.
Their symbol is a red cutlass before a golden sun.
The Order of Llaestal's Guard
The fall of the Kingdom of Hendor came in the year 4630 after the Ice Queen Issyldra had spent years suffocating the region in a bitter unyielding winter, and her ice creatures had spread across the land bringing death and destruction. In the end, everyone in Hendor had perished or fled. It was not until 4632 when a heroic group of adventurers out of the Turamzzyrian Empire, led by Llaestal Anodheles and Rasimm Roelas, were able to attack the Ice Queen's citadel Rimefast and kill her. The defeat of the Ice Queen allowed the eternal winter to finally end, and over the course of several more years, imperial forces fought back barbarians and monsters to reclaim the lands that once belonged to the kingdom that was Hendor. By 4644, the major cities of Hendor such as Lolle, Waterford, and Nydds had been reclaimed, and finally the Mensyl Pass was recaptured in a great battle by General Jyllander.
In the rebirth of what became North and South Hendor, often referred to as the Broken Kingdom, a special order of noble knights and soldiers arose called the Order of Llaestal's Guard, named in the honor of the bravery of Llaestal Anodheles. Founded in Lolle, the capital of North Hendor, the Order of Llaestal's Guard is considered to be the highest ranking and respected order of knights in all of the region. Their loyalty and skill are nearly unmatched in Hendor, and so it is often that the Northern Sentinel throughout history has dispatched members, soldiers, or entire platoons of these knights to help take care of highly critical missions of imperial interest.
Over the years the Order of Llaestal's Guard has evolved in their role, evenly split between both combat and military operations, to also being involved in peacekeeping missions in helping to protect and stabilize areas that might be in unrest. They are indeed the powerful right hand of the Northern Sentinel, and equally act and obey in every manner commanded.
Their symbol is of a fiery sword on a field of blue and silver.
General Jyllander recaptured Mensyl's Pass in 4644, years after it fell to the Witch Winter and hordes of monsters and other barbaric humanoids. After the Pass was reclaimed and the Turamzzyrian Empire's northern expansion re-opened, Mensyl Keep was re-outfitted and repaired, expanding its size to help house a very large battalion of the Hendoran army, specifically called Mensyl's Marauders. The warriors stationed at Mensyl Keep are a very tough and skilled lot, expertly trained in various forms of combat and survival. While their unit is primarily contained to Mensyl Keep, they are in no way complacent.
The Marauders are frequently put to the test, time and again, as they launch coordinated scouting parties and military strikes against monstrous hordes in the area, often beating them back to the cold of the DragonSpine mountains but rarely stopping there. It is not uncommon for the Marauders to depart on an operation and not return until every last goblin, orc, or troll enemy is dead. At that point, the Marauders tend to return to the Keep, spend a few days of rest, then head back out to the wilds, always vigilant against the imperial enemies of the north.
Because of their constant conflict with hordes of orcs, ogres, and trolls, many members of the Marauders themselves also belong to the Guardians of the Sunfist but put their loyalty in that organization second, as there is no higher oath to them than the one made to Hendor and the Turamzzyrian Empire. Every soldier among the Marauders carries with him a sharpened drake dagger, more for ceremony than actual use. It is said that when each soldier is on a mission in the wilds and not at home within the Keep, they sharpen the drake dagger each night as a show of respect and acute awareness to the history of Hendor's greatest loss during the Ice Queen Issyldra's reign. It is also said that among the Marauders, many boast that should the Ice Queen or another like her return, there shall be a great reward for the first Hendoran who can thrust the fiery blade of their drake weapon into the heart of their enemy first. The tradition has gone on to become quite embellished, as some claim whosoever accomplishes such a feat, should that day ever come, would be granted tremendous amounts of riches and land, as well as the hand of a nobleman's daughter.
Their symbol is of a drake dagger on a field of white and silver.
The Grey Wolves of the Thane
In the County of Trauntor, which includes the Demonwall cities of Brantur and Barrett's Gorge, the Order of the Golvern Star is well known. However, the Order, which is an autonomous Imperial Army unit, is not the only cause of soldiers in this county. Trauntor has long been very militaristic due to the presence of the Demonwall, and its soldiers supplement the Order of The Golvern Star. House Greythane has their own soldiers known as The Grey Wolves of the Thane. These soldiers are exceptionally well-trained and often see regular combat along the Demonwall. Trauntor, being so military oriented, has very little crime, and punishment for criminal activity is swift and harsh, freeing the soldiers of the Grey Wolves from the need to patrol the cities which allows them to concentrate on their duties at the Demonwall.
So it is that while the primary purpose of the Grey Wolves' creation was protection and support for the Count of Trauntor and his family, their duties have been split to help supplement the forces, be it of arms or scouting eyes, for the Order of the Golvern Star. In fact, many new recruits to the Order of the Golvern Star often serve in some capacity within the Grey Wolves before joining the fabled order of knights. Many times, the Grey Wolves will be seen guarding segments of the Demonwall along Trauntor as units of the Golvern Star knights patrol beyond the wall and into the demonic wasteland far from imperial protection. As Barrett's Gorge is the preferred starting point for any imperial invasion into Elven Lands, and likewise a prime target for elven enemies, the area is always heavily supplied and defended. Despite the low crime in Trauntor, a selective group of Grey Wolves remains at the Greythane keep, always ready to defend against any enemies foolish, or brave enough, to strike.
Their symbol is a grey wolf's head on a field of black and green.
The Greensmen of the Deep
The Barony of Bourth, to which the cities of Krestle and Gallardshold belong, is also home to Wyrdeep Forest. Woodsmen are plentiful in Bourth, and it is said that the archers from this region are second to none. The Barony of Bourth regularly supplies levies of archers as part of its contribution to the security of the Empire. One of these units, and one of the more infamous, is called The Greensmen of the Deep, and they are renowned for their outdoor lore and their skills with bows at long range.
House Caulfield of Bourth is proud to boast of their home-grown archers, whose skill is nearly unmatched in all of the Turamzzyrian Empire. The Greensmen are trained from a very early age, as many hopeful parents often push their children towards it, but to their dismay, very few complete the training. The walls of Bourth's major cities are lined with the Greensmen of the Deep, from Krestle to Gallardshold, their sights and arrows are trained to the horizons and the woods, ready to kill any enemy before it can come into view of the gates.
Every year, just after the first of spring, an annual archery tournament is held in Krestle called the Green Games. The competition itself is restricted to Greensmen of the Deep, but citizens and visitors travel from all over to witness the festivities and fierce contest. One of the most popular rumors about the Greensmen of the Deep relates to their origin, as their style, preparation, and tactics of their archery skills appear closer to those of the elves than other archery regiments within the imperial army. It is said that long ago, in the founding days of the Greensmen, that the human guard captain of House Caulfield had come to know the love of a Nalfein woman on the edges of the Wyrdeep Forest. The legend has evolved over time, but it claims the guard captain rescued a wounded Nalfein woman from imperial outlaws, and while nursing her back to health in secret, they fell in love.
In their time together, the elven woman taught the captain of the archery style that he then passed on to his own men, which eventually became the standard training for the group. No true evidence of this origin has been found, save for the eyewitness accounts of some of the captain's own men claiming he often went off into the edges of the Wyrdeep by himself, disappearing for days during his off duty time. One day the captain returned, crippled by a foul mood, and was eventually forced to resign his position because of his love of the tavern spirits. Years later, upon his own death bed, the retired captain made no confessions or shared no secrets into the rumors about his life, and merely welcomed his death as if embracing the arms of a lover. Some say he prayed for death, that he might rejoin his lost love in whatever awaited them both beyond. But one thing is certain: the Greensmen of the Deep have mastered the art of the bow, and forever does their aim fly true.
Their symbol is of a black yew longbow ringed by three white hawk feathers.
The Red Brigade
The Red Brigade is one of the newest faces to the ranks of provincial armies, having only officially formed in the year 5114. After the coordinated multi-region strikes against the Turamzzyrian Empire by the dark summoner Elithain Cross and his monster allies, Baron Chydenar of Mestanir sought to create a new faction within his military arm that was primarily designed to help provide simple protection for citizens, escort supply caravans, and provide defense for refugees when rumors of monster hordes sweeping into the Barony had surfaced. Able to be spotted by their sweeping red capes, the Red Brigade became a growing force of reassurance for many imperial citizens within Mestanir. While more seasoned soldiers and groups set off to meet the enemy hordes face-to-face on the battlefield, the Red Brigade took up the torch at home, working to patrol the streets, some farmlands, and overall work at keeping the peace during times of uncertainty.
While their passion for the innocent and their loyalty to House Chydenar and the Sun Throne was fierce, their experience in battle was not. So it was that the Red Brigade almost suffered annihilation in late 5114 when a host of demonic chimera took to the skies over the capitol of Mestanir, laying waste to hundreds of miles of farmlands and over two thirds of the entire city. Brave adventurers from Wehnimer's Landing, Vornavis, the Order of Voln, and other allies helped in Mestanir's time of need and aided in securing refugees far away from Mestanir, but were only able to help a small fraction of the overall population.
Before, during, and after the chimera assault, the Red Brigade, despite their inexperience, did indeed find bravery that day in the face of carnage. They suffered heavy casualties, but their sacrifices permitted hundreds of Mestaniri men, women, and children to escape the capital before it was nearly destroyed. None in Mestanir question the courage or have forgotten the sacrifice of the members of the Red Brigade that died during the war, and many of the fallen were knighted posthumously, lending further honor to their legacy and the names of their family. In fact, since the beginning of rebuilding once more in Mestanir, Baron Chydenar has hand-selected certain surviving members of the Red Brigade to become his new appointed house guards, claiming their loyalty in the face of all odds is unmatched.
Their symbol is of a gold shield on a field of red.
Tornak's Irregulars are born and bred in the cold valleys of Krinklehorn, tucked away near the southern base of the DragonSpine Mountains in the Barony of Dragach. Some time ago, Baron Farneth McGarry's life was put in danger on a hunting expedition when he suffered a fall, disappearing into a cavern where he broke a leg and arm, leaving him a potential victim to a cave bear awoken nearby. A young woman, known as Selgrid, who grew up as a trapper for her family, overheard the commotion of the imperial soldiers seeking to rescue their Lord, and she rushed in to drop herself down into the pit, where she single handedly defeated the bear, tended to the Baron's wounds, and helped to free him from the pit. Because of Selgrid's bravery, Baron McGarry appointed her as commander of a new provincial army within the Barony, named Tornak's Irregulars. The unit's fealty is to House McGarry and the Sun Throne, but their primary focus is the safety of the region near the mountains, protecting the Barony and its people from barbarians, monsters, ice creatures, and any wild elves from the Wyrdeep Forest.
Led by now Commander Selgrid Tornak, a demure and soft spoken woman until she enters battle, the Irregulars are a heavy cavalry unit that has seen service in many skirmishes and battles along the low hills and cold lands of Dragach, fighting back beasts and barbarians alike. Known for their tenacity and ferocity in battle and their habit of sounding hundreds of warhorns made from curled horns of mature mountain sheep throughout their charge, these men and women are excellent horsemen and fiercely loyal to their commander, of whom it has been said can drink any of her troops under the table. Many times, enemy lines have broken solely from the sound of those warhorns due to the reputation this unit brings with it to the battlefield.
This unit's battle standard is crossed golden lances beneath a white horse head on a field of scarlet. On a side note, Selgrid Tornak has thrice been chosen for knighthood for bravery on the field of battle and she has declined, respectfully, all three times, citing her aversion to spurs, believing them cruel to horses.
Their symbol is of a red bear on a field of white and green.
The Order of the Golvern Star
Founded in 4848, the Order of the Golvern Star is a martial organization formed in response to the embarrassing loss of imperial forces at the hands of the Faendryl. Created by Sir Pyrrhon Von Kammersteyl, a knight from Immuron, a large gathering of warriors were trained to his ultra-disciplined ideals, as they sought to never again let the dark elves and their summoned demons gain the upper hand. The Order is fiercely loyal to the Sun Throne, and while largely autonomous, they serve the role of a unique and elite arm of the imperial military, specifically designed to combat demons and other dark denizens of the world.
The knights of The Order of the Golvern Star (OGS) are most notably stationed at sections along the Demonwall, but it is not unheard of to see smaller numbers of their organization in other areas of the Turamzzyrian Empire, depending upon the Order's goals and activities.
The OGS is not directly associated with the imperial military structure. While the Golvern Star often assists the imperial military in times of battle, from the perspective of training, chain of command, and day-to-day functions, the two are completely separate. Even along the Demonwall, battle plans are coordinated between the military and the OGS leadership, but the organizations do not mingle for patrols or combat.
The citizens of the empire have lifted the Order of the Golvern Star to almost mythical status due to their constant battling against the Scourge, and it is considered a great (and rare) honor to be asked to join their ranks. Individually, OGS knights are formidable opponents, and it is generally believed that only the best of knights from other orders are on a comparable martial level. However, as a group, the OGS knights are considered to be virtually unstoppable. Their discipline, unflinching adherence to orders, fearlessness, and lack of compunction in carrying out their duties make them a unit with a single-mindedness that is, at times, terrifying to observe. Their might at arms is seldom on display for the general populace, however, as the OGS is rarely involved in conflict in the inner empire. The majority are stationed along the Demonwall, either near Barrett's Gorge to combat the Scourge, or along the southern border to aid Duke Chandrennin.
Only slightly less so than the legends of their martial skill, the members of the OGS are renowned for their incredible, some say inhuman, mental, and emotional discipline. Beyond the fierce resolve displayed in their approach to combat and their duties, this discipline has given them a large degree of resistance against mind and emotion-based attacks, such as the aura of terror and despair exuded by demons and some of their spawn.
The membership of the OGS is strictly human warriors, predominantly male, and only gained through invitation. Nobility is not a prerequisite for knighthood in this organization. Early in the training, candidates are given the opportunity to decline to proceed (a common occurrence), at which point they are dismissed from the Order without loss of honor. Reports from those who have declined membership at this point have indicated that the training focuses on rigorous mental and emotional discipline, absolute submission to the commands of their direct superior, and intensified training at arms.
Once joining, a member of the OGS is considered always on duty. Nobles or members with obligations outside of the Order are relieved of those obligations. Land and wealth are either given to a relative or donated to the OGS to be overseen by one of the Order's seneschals (typically elder members of the Order.) Marriage is not prohibited outright by the Order, but it is rare for married candidates to proceed beyond the initial stage of training, and rarer still for a knight to have children. It is unheard of for an OGS knight to marry after joining the Order.
The Order has a fair amount of wealth as a result of the donations of prospective members, but they are not an economic force within the empire. The wealth generated from their property is primarily used to maintain the needs of the Order.
While some of the OGS knights were knights in other orders prior to joining the OGS, the OGS is not a chivalric order, per se. In many ways, they are more myrmidons with an extreme sense of duty and discipline than righteous cavaliers pursuing the chivalric ideal, though their beliefs overlap in several areas. The members of the OGS do not engage in tournament competition with the chivalric orders of the empire, and they often ignore individual challenges to duel from those whom they consider inferior foes. Most OGS members were not knights of other orders prior to joining the Golvern Star; few knights are willing to humble themselves to take the status of squire in the OGS after having attained knighthood elsewhere.
The OGS does not have law enforcement authority unless it is bestowed by the Emperor, a Sentinel, or the lord of whatever territory they inhabit. However, since the OGS has a primary purpose of defending the Empire against the Scourge and places its forces there unless needed elsewhere, it is likely that an OGS knight found elsewhere in the Empire is acting with the authority of the Empire or one of her nobles. For occasions when the OGS has need of law enforcement authority for their own affairs, the Order must request bestowal of this authority from the Emperor, a Sentinel, or the territorial lord. When such authority is requested by the OGS, it is seldom denied.
The Order will occasionally accept special missions for the imperial throne, or infrequently for their own purposes. The nature of these missions is rarely revealed, though the missions are evidenced by occasional sightings of OGS knights, alone or in small groups, in various regions of the Empire and on the frontiers. The OGS is autonomous by and large, but it honors all requests from the imperial throne, and it is recognized by would-be usurpers as an unshakable loyal foe. Other nobles of baronial rank and above may request the aid of the OGS at times, primarily as escorts or security for internal diplomatic events where a neutral party is desired, and the Order rarely declines.
Finally, there are more than three dozen other orders in the Turamzzyrian Empire, and most have a more chivalric bent than the Golvern Star. While the OGS is certainly the order with the greatest historical effect on the Empire, some of these other orders play key roles in patrolling the fringes of Ba'Lathon, combatting the Horned Cabal along the southern borders, defending against Tehir raids, protecting overland trade routes throughout the Empire's interior, and maintaining imperial control over the western edge of the DragonSpine.
Their symbol is of a golvern star on a field of black.
The Order of the Crimson Fist
Founded in 4822, the Order of the Crimson Fist achieved early notoriety as courageous knights with expert prowess, skill in combat, and unquestionable loyalty to the Sun Throne. Their accolades only grew in number during the events leading up to, and including battles within, the Third Elven War, also known as the Faendryl War. Often referred to as the cousins of the Order of the Golvern Star, these knights of the Crimson Fist were well-disciplined and trained specifically to face off against "black elven sorcery" which resulted in a number of victories against the Faendryl armies and their summoners.
One of the last well known heroes of the Order was Sir Gallestan the Mighty, who was said to have slain a half dozen demons before being struck down himself in 4842 on the road to Ta'Faendryl.
The Order of the Crimson Fist remains a fully functioning fighting force today, and while the Order of the Golvern Star is primarily stationed along the Demonwall, the knights of the Crimson Fist find themselves more often than not beyond the Demonwall, taking the fight directly to the Faendryl, their abominations, and the Scourge.
Their symbol is of a crimson fist on a field of black.
The Company of the Three Maidens
It was in the year 5048 when the Horned Cabal led a massive offensive in the southern region of the Turamzzyrian Empire, their undead forces cutting off critical trade between the Swale and Idolone. It took almost three months for the undead force to be driven back, and it was due to no small part from a company of heroes comprised of Imperial Drakes and knights of Idolone. After their victory, business slowly returned to the old trade routes between the Swale and Idolone, but fears of the Horned Cabal returned to the area and continued to stifle the growth both regions needed so desperately.
So it was that a wounded knight of Idolone named Sir Clayton Grantham started up the Company of the Three Maidens. The knight had been injured during the final battle against the Horned Cabal, and it kept him from performing his regular duties as an oath bound knight. Despite his new physical weakness, he refused to sit idly by and not contribute somehow to the protection of the Empire and the defense of her people. The knight started up a mercenary company that was dedicated to aiding and escorting travelers and caravans along the trade routes between the Swale and Idolone. The name of the organization is said to have been named after the knight's three young daughters who he himself claimed would be maidens for all of eternity, and never allowed to wed.
Despite the overly protective nature of Sir Clayton Grantham for his daughters, his claims eventually became false, when two decades later he died of natural causes, and his daughters went on to take over the mercenary trader group, marry, and have children of their own. Two of the daughters help run the organization based out of The Swale, while the third daughter manages part of the business on her end in Idolone. The Company of the Three Maidens are a fair and just group of mercenaries, mostly comprised of loyal soldiers who prefer the freedom of being hired help over conscription into the imperial army.
In recent years, as the success and wealth of the Company has grown in the south, the leadership of the organization has looked into the possibilities of extending their operations even further north.
Their symbol is three golden rings on a field of blue.
The Ulterlain Traders
The Ulterlain Traders face fierce competition with the Company of the Three Maidens when it comes to landlocked trade routes between The Swale and places like Idolone, but their business has flourished in their dealings with Ubl and Tamzyrr, where they have set up smaller headquarters in each port city location to expand their reach throughout the coastline. The Ulterlain Traders originated in The Swale, where they maintain a number of warehouses and barracks for their mercenaries in need of shelter, and their hubs in Ubl and Tamzyrr are growing rapidly.
Because The Swale is landlocked and a heavily trafficked area for trade, the Ulterlain brothers, Roland and Randall, have invested heavily in fleets of merchant vessels and shipwrights throughout Ubl and Tamzyrr, providing a luxury service of quick and far reaching trade, and ensuring high profits from it within The Swale. The Ulterlain Traders are the go-to mercenary and transport company for many nobles in the region, who hardly mind the higher fees, which is a small price to pay for the luxury transports provided, and the powerful, guaranteed protection afforded.
Their symbol is of a crossed silver and gold swords on a field of blue.
The Golden Smiths
The Golden Smiths are a renowned organization known along the streets and among the imperial barracks of Tamzyrr, and their reputation spreads far and wide. They are, in fact, a group of highly skilled and highly sought after human blacksmiths, whose craftsmanship is extremely coveted and often compared to the work of dwarves. The Golden Smiths, while all experienced blacksmiths, are also trained in many areas of combat, sometimes even competing in various local tournaments, but never leaving their day jobs. Their weapons are primarily circulated among the higher ranking officers of imperial and provincial armies, and collected by nobles all throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire.
Throughout history, in times of great conflict, the Golden Smiths have suspended their work and taken to the battlefield, lending both their skills and weapons against imperial enemies. While they are not enlisted into any faction within the imperial army, they are indeed considered a powerful fighting reserve, and both their presence and their products provide many citizens with a sense of peace and pride.
No one is for certain where the secrets of the Golden Smith's forging process came from, and none among the group dare to even think of sharing it outside of their organization. Speculation insists that the knowledge came directly from the dwarves, while others say their talents were first born in the Kannalan Empire. Others, a bit more radical in their theory, put forth that Eonak himself blessed the original Golden Smiths with the divine knowledge to forge their blades, which explains why all members of the organization are devout followers of the Arkati smith himself.
Their symbol is a golden hammer on a field of grey and red.
The Crown Trade Council
The Crown Trade Council can date their very beginnings back to 4883, when the small northern town of Mestanir was founded near a range of mountains called the Crown of Koar, a very popular and powerful religious site. The Council began small early on, consisting of only four merchants who had gained some initial wealth and notoriety in Mestanir's early years. They sought to capitalize on the frequent pilgrimages that Koar followers made to the area every year, when they visited such holy places like the Crown of Koar. For years their influence and reach expanded, as did the number of members and merchants within the union council. Using their position, the Council worked to help influence economic policies and even construction development near the capital of Mestanir and other outlining areas, to help promote a welcoming environment to those travelers passing through.
But over time Mestanir became well known for its practitioners of arcane arts, many whom did not willfully adhere to the registration laws within the Hall of Mages. Such a reputation eventually began to hurt business, and some historians speculate that the crafty leaders of the Crown Trade Council actually sought to undermine the magical community of Mestanir and were frequently aiding the military officers of Baron Lerep Hochstib, months before he launched his invasion of the barony. Despite their rumored meddling, Jantalar's initial invasion was easily thwarted as the might of the magic users within Mestanir overpowered the Jantalarians with devastating spells. Ever the opportunists, the Crown Trade Council tried to secretly support both sides, one side of their mouth spoke unity with the people of Mestanir, while the other side whispered secrets to Jantalar.
After Jantalar's failed attacks, they returned later employing Mandis Crystals, dangerous artifacts that drained mana from their surroundings, essentially making magic users powerless. The results were catastrophic. Victory easily fell into Jantalar's hands, and many of the magic users were executed or expelled, with only a few pockets of illegal magic users going underground to secretly pursue their craft. However, after Baron Hochstib's takeover, the pilgrimages of Koar's devout followers were still permitted in the region, and the Crown Trade Council was surprisingly left alone, free to conduct their business as usual. That fact alone was all the evidence some historians needed to prove that the Crown Trade Council was involved with Jantalar's occupation efforts.
In 5103, Baron Hochstib was killed after an unsuccessful takeover of Wehnimer's Landing, and subsequently his oppressive reign ended there. Years later, in 5107, Emperor Aurmont Anodheles invested Lerep Hochstib's sister, Delphinuria, as the new Baroness of Jantalar. The Baroness, very much unlike her brother, took great strides to make amends and renounced Jantalar's claim to Mestanir, finally freeing them to reclaim their land and barony.
Despite the changing of rulership over the many decades, the Crown Trade Council has ever remained an influential force in the region, swift on their feet and able to take advantage of every opportunity as it arose. Most recently, in 5114, when entire swathes of land and towns were destroyed in the barony, including two thirds of the capital, the Crown Trade Council saw heavy losses in their warehouses and staff, but ultimately came forth from the disaster still in a powerful position. Despite the setback, the Council continues to grow, always scanning the horizon for their next big profit.
Their symbol is of a silver coin before a golden crown on a field of red.
The Troubadours of Tamzyrr
The Turamzzyrian Empire saw a boost of imperial pride in 5903 as Empress Mynal'lyanna sparked a revival in restrictions on non-humans in accordance to Chaston's Edict, and also significantly increased the military in a pro-expansion movement for the Empire. Such actions saw growth across all regions in the shape of swelling in the size of armies as the Empire strengthened its position to defend both its current lands, and perhaps soon turn eyes outward into future conquests to broaden their borders.
It was in the winter of 5903 that the Troubadours of Tamzyrr were born. Unfortunately, their origins are as wide and far flung as the members of their organization. It is only fitting perhaps, that a group comprised primarily of bards and other performers have hugely embellished their history. Some sing of the Troubadours starting from a group of retired adventurers who still sought the glory of battle without facing the front lines of war. Some claim the group sprung up out of an elaborate scheme for a handful of knaves to impress some local maidens in their self-proclaimed fame and misrepresented service in the imperial military. But there are others who would say that the group began more organically, like many do. A minstrel meets another, a bard greets a friend, armies fight and serve together, and the performers make long lasting relationships.
Whatever their past, the Troubadours are famous all through Tamzyrr and beyond. While bards and performers they are, there is certainly no lack of fighting prowess among them. Members of the Troubadours, alone or in groups, can often be found traveling with imperial armies, especially in times of war or conflict, as they seek to acquire some level of fame with their experience, tales, and songs. When not deep in the chaos of battle and war camps, the Troubadours gather many times a year to host festivals, carnivals, and are always lending their musical and entertainment talents to imperial courts and galas.
Their symbol is of a silver mandolin on a field of crimson.
The Elders of the Everwatch Tower
The Everwatch Tower is an old fortified stronghold that is just outside the city of Mestanir, its creation and its members dedicated to the worship of Koar and the expansion and protection of that religion. Mestanir itself is home to many holy sites, including the Fist of Koar and the Crown of Koar. The Everwatch Tower stands as an ever present guiding light and watchful eye in the region, providing both a safeguard and warning against enemies of the God King Koar.
In the lands between Mestanir and Jantalar, the worship of Koar is very prominent, and even conflicts among imperials and other noble lords have left places such as the Everwatch Tower untouched, for none sought to invoke the wrath of the Arkati King. To that end, the highest ranking clergy members of the order, called the Elders of the Everwatch Tower, do not often take action in the squabbles of imperial lords and their conflicts, unless dictated otherwise by the Patriarch of the Church of Koar. The Elders are comprised of devout followers of Koar with unquestionable loyalty to the Church, and in turn, the Turamzzyrian Empire. Often it is from the Everwatch Tower that holy men are selected to serve in new capacities, such as a prelate of a provincial region, or even respected positions within the First or Second Watchers.
But the Everwatch Tower, despite its preference to remain uninvolved in imperial politics, is anything but complacent in regards to the ever growing battle between forces of Liabo and Lornon. The Everwatch Tower, contrary to its namesake, is actually a massive fortress that some say holds more dwarven workmanship than human, but none in the Church will admit it. The stronghold houses hundreds of highly trained warriors, all with a fervor for Koar and spreading his light, all while defending against the forces of darkness. While the Order of Voln is established with the primary purpose of battling the undead scourge of the world, the Everwatch Tower's purpose is to keep at bay the evil that can at times run rampant in the world, all while ushering in the truth of Koar's Light.
The Elders of the Everwatch Tower understand that peace and light are not always accomplished, or sustained, with gentle words and a hand of mercy. The members of the Tower are educated and trained to embody the message that darkness often responds only to force, and more often deserves justice, not compassion. So the Everwatch Tower stands, always a powerful, stabilizing presence in the northern area of the Empire, and never hesitant to mobilize against the opposing forces of Koar's Light.
Their symbol is a white keep on a field of gold.
The Griffin Sword War occurred in 5096, and years later, a second war of its name came about in 5099. It was during these wars that the balance of all Elanthia was at risk as the Dark Alliance created a powerful threat to man and god alike. The combined forces and followers of Luukos, Sheru, V'tull, and Mularos seemed nearly unstoppable, and the Dark Alliance grew too close to their end goal for anyone's comfort. Although members and worshippers of Liabo proved successful in the end after both catastrophic conflicts, there were others whose perception of balance was transformed from the fire and carnage of the chaos during these wars.
Once members and warriors of the Everwatch Tower, a group of highly trained and rigidly devout followers of Koar left the confines and laws of the Tower and instead sought to purge all of Elanthia from the taint that was the worshippers of Lornon. Never again would they allow such darkness to unite and threaten the world and all of innocence. Never again would they allow such evil to foster and gain a foothold. So it was that the Blameless were born. A group of skilled and powerful zealots of Koar who used every ounce of their being in a holy crusade to purge the darkness of Lornon from the world. Despite the youth of their creation, their numbers have swollen and the ranks are filled with a variety of all professions and ages, each one providing a range of skills and assets in their defense of Koar's Light, but all rallied behind one goal.
The Blameless are not considered to be an officially recognized section of the Church of Koar, as rumors abound about their questionable tactics when hunting down and meting out justice against Koar's enemies. This often puts them politically at odds with much of the Church, who preach as much about mercy as they do justice. However, despite this conflict of interest, there has been no action taken against the Blameless, or their leaders, or even against members of the Church of Koar known to aid the Blameless, or even use their unique skill sets.
Regardless of what holy banner they may fly, the Blameless are respected and feared by worshipers of both Liabo and Lornon. It needn't take much to fall into the target of the Blameless, especially if there is proof, or sometimes even just speculation of those being involved in rituals and worship of Lornon Arkati. Because of their zealousness, throughout their recent history there have been a few occasions where the Blameless were used by political, or even merchant rivals to eliminate their opponents who were, in truth, completely innocent of any connections to Lornon Arkati and their cults. Tales persist of one imperial noble in Jantalar framing his House rival with false evidence and testimonies linking him to an Ivasian cult, and once the Blameless were informed, they hunted down the rival noble and murdered not only him, but his entire bloodline, to weed out the dark stain of the entire family.
Over the years, stories such as those have faded with only a few arising from time to time, and more often than not, with no evidence to backup such tragic acts of zealotry. Regardless, the reputation of religious butchers is a heavy cloud the Blameless will likely never be able to shed, but more troubling is the fact that they embrace it.
The Daughters of Lumnis
Lumnis, is often seen as the Queen of the Gods, as she is the wife of Koar. She is worshipped as the divine guardian of knowledge, and the birth of wisdom that comes along with it. Because of her honored status among various races and cultures throughout history, many have formed together under her name. One of the more well known groupings within the Turamzzyrian Empire is called the Daughters of Lumnis. They are recognized by their signature hooded cloaks created from feathers of scarlet, blue, gold, and emerald hues. They wear such a garment in respect to the legend of Lumnis' birth, when a flight of colorful parrots took to the sky, heralding her arrival, which caught the attention of the Drakes along the peaks of Nagothrym. Likewise, all Daughters wear a white silk veil over their mouths, proclaiming that true wisdom is seen and received through one's eyes.
The Daughters of Lumnis are a peaceful order and have various numbers all throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire, primarily in the western and southern provinces. There are a number of libraries and academies for scholars that are fully operated by the Daughters as they seek not just to appreciate the beauty and truth in the world, but to spread such a knowledge to others. Truth and love are the pillars they steadfastly embrace to counter the darkness in all corners of Elanthia.
Wisdom, as the Daughters see it, is a lesson more often learned than taught. Many among their order are seen as divine Oracles, and it is not unheard of for their seemingly ageless seers to be sought after by ruling nobles before embarking on important matters of state and war. But true to the nature of Lumnis, the Daughters are wary to have a heavy hand in any political or military plans, and sometimes their advice is seen as more puzzling than offering any clarity.
In 5092, a boastful nobleman in the city of Brisker's Cove sought out the divine arts of a Daughter of Lumnis, seeking her wisdom on a political maneuver he was going to engage in against his family's long rivals. Despite the Daughter's vague guidance, the nobleman felt empowered by her words and soon found his plans had gone awry, resulting in heavy losses both in fortune and life among his house. Outraged, the noble lashed out and murdered the Oracle, ripping out her eyes and sending them back to the local chapter of the Daughters of Lumnis. The Count of Seareach was petitioned to take action and carry out justice, but refused to take action, and so the Daughters of Lumnis removed all operations from the County of Seareach. To this day, the Daughters will not operate within Seareach, and offer no counsel to their rulers and people.
Their symbol is of a white shroud on a field of grey.
The Children of Many Colors
The Children of Many Colors, sometimes referred to skeptically as the Children of Many Burdens, are a group of men and women, all of human or half-elven race, that are highly devoted to their worship of the Arkati Lumnis. Their order is younger and more controversial than the Daughters of Lumnis, of whom they often find themselves at odds with. The Children have established their order into a series of ranks, each based on the Spheres of Knowledge that Lumnis has mastered. The Children within the order enter into two spheres of influence that they select or feel drawn too. These are represented by bands they wear proudly upon their arms, the color and style determined by the area of study or mastery. There is red for Planar, blue for Spiritual, black for Chaos, green for Elemental, and white for Order. No member may delve into more than two areas of expertise, save for the Mother of Many Colors, a matriarch-like figure who wears all five colors represented by gemstones upon her crystal crown.
The Mother of Many Colors is said to be timeless, having been around long before the order's conception and walked the world even before the rise of the Turamzzyrian Empire. She is celebrated and honored among the order as one who is divinely close to Lumnis, often mirroring many of her attributes, traits and even miracles. Some within the organization revere here as holy as the Goddess herself, which is the root cause of their conflict with the Daughters of Lumnis, who argue that to place such focus and power into one mortal has the potential to draw them away from the true path of Lumnis. While the conflict between the two organizations is never violent, it can indeed turn into heated arguments that when such members from both groups cross paths, typically during festivals or large gatherings, their scathing words and rebuke of each other drives many onlookers away.
The nickname, Children of Many Burdens, came about for this organization due to the darker tone its members usher in in regards to soothsaying. Many a wandering gypsy has loose ties to the Children, and their tellings of fates and futures often portend of doom. They respect and cherish the beauty of the world, as Lumnis herself once did, but they focus so much more on the threats of the world, such as chaos, war, and dark magic, that their outlook is often bleak, and so too are the fortunes they deliver.
The Fellowship of Night
The beginning of the Fellowship of Night has no recorded date, and none alive still recall its conception. Some insist ancient tomes indicate it was birthed during the Age of Chaos, where the world knew the dark days of Despana and the Undead War. Others say its original members were elves and half-elves, initially guided by Ronan himself in the years following the Age of the Drakes, when the Arkati rose to power and shaped the world. What is known, is that many orders involved in the worship and tenets of Ronan often claim some connection to the Fellowship of Night. From this Fellowship, many groups have grown to a level of renown, chief among them the Order of the Dreamwalkers and the Order of the Night's Blade. So it is often with religion, the spark of a new idea or the stroke of a new method can spawn forth a new path altogether.
Some say the membership of the Fellowship of Night lives on, practiced by small pockets of loyal Ronanites who have not sought to join the other splinter groups that have formed throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire. Others debate that the Fellowship no longer exists as one entity, but instead is represented in many facets among each group of Ronan followers in existence. Unfortunately, beyond its name and associated rumors, little else is recorded of the Fellowship.
The Order of Dreamwalkers
An ancient group of devout Ronan followers, the Order of the Dreamwalkers's origins are said to be loosely tied to the once Fellowship of Night, before breaking off into their own path, and ultimately goals. Throughout their history, there have been many who have surfaced across Elanthia, but recently the most notable among their order have been Chaeye, Tseleth, Indhis, Llumen, and Beonas. Chaeye was most prominent during the Griffon Sword wars, offering her aid and powers to help battle the evil of the Dark Alliance, and working to reclaim and restore the pieces of the Griffin Sword itself. Llumen and Beonas themselves played active roles during recent history, when one of their own, Indhis, betrayed them, nearly killing their entire Order and seeking to throw Elanthia into darkness, challenging the Arkati themselves. Tseleth, now an ex-Dreamwalker himself, fled the Order once he was defeated by Indhis, and Ronan smote him with a curse that led to his eventual descension into further darkness.
The Order of Dreamwalkers has always been small in size, but the scope of their goals and powers has been anything but. Long have they served Ronan, to the point that few over time have developed difficulty assessing reality and the realm of dreams. Today, little mention of the Dreamwalkers occurs, but is hardly evidence of their inactivity. Many suggest that behind the veil of obscurity lies a war unseen, that the Dreamwalkers' lives are filled with endless conflict, battling the minions of Sheru, Luukos, and other dark gods of Lornon. In fact, some monastic scholars go on to say that should these Dreamwalkers ever make an appearance, whomever it may be among the Order now, that it would surely herald troubled times and danger, indeed.
The Order of the Night's Blade
In the year 4993, a time of change and conflict swept across Elstreth in the Duchy of Aldora. For too long, the citizens of Elstreth knew too well the struggle against the undead minions of the Horned Cabal. It was because of this constant danger that the Order of Voln swelled in numbers throughout the city and region, proving to be a powerful and critical defense against the unholy scourge. As a direct result of the valiant efforts of the Order of Voln, racial tensions slowly faded in the area, and while pockets of it still exist today, it is no where near the levels of the past. The Order of Voln was blind to race, and so many ordlyn and elves joined its ranks, fighting and dying for the safety of Aldora and its people. In time, the entire slave market of Elstreth collapsed, and only criminals remained in chains and service.
But in the endless battles against the Horned Cabal, it was not those loyal to Voln alone who rose to fight, defend, and die. In the winter of 5022, in the aftermath of the conflicts of the Battle of Tyllan and the Battle of Skyreach, a new order of Ronan was formed from many of the survivors of both events. They took upon the name of the Order of the Night's Blade, reconfirming their commitment to Ronan and their dedication to fight against the undead, terrors, and nightmares of the world. The Night's Blades have worked frequently with the Order of Voln near Immuron, as they both fight to combat the horrors creeping from the depths of the Wizardwaste.
In recent history, due to the ever spreading darkness of evil, the Order of the Night's Blade turned their eyes also to the north, slowly building up awareness and forces in those regions as they maintained their defense, in alliance with the Order of Voln, against the minions of the Horned Cabal.
Their symbol is of a black sword on a field of silver and white.
The Green Sisters
Imaera, the Goddess of Nature and Autumn, is one of the most revered Arkati throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire, especially along the outlying areas of the provinces, where nature and land play more prominent roles in the daily lives of imperial citizens. The Green Sisters, as they have been come to be known as, traced their original foundation to the outskirts of Talador long before it had been annexed as part of the Turamzzyrian Empire in 5030. The group consisted of women healers and rangers, many who preferred to focus on the protection and nourishment of nature and less occupied by the struggles of the mortal coils of men. However, drastic measures eventually caused the Green Sisters to take a more active and tragically costly role during Jantalar's invasion of Talador in 5087.
The Green Sisters worked tirelessly to try to help run communications between the merchant council of Talador, the military officers of Jantalar, and Baron Lerep Hochstib, himself. The Green Sisters understood that the conflict was unavoidable, but wished to help mitigate the destruction done to the land in the surrounding area, as flesh was not the only victim of war, and so too would nature suffer. Unfortunately, because of their mission, the Green Sisters lost favor in the eyes of both sides as many Taladorians viewed them as traitors, while the Jantalarians often saw them as a pesky obstacle to overrun. For months, the Green Sisters' reputation of powerful earth magic kept them from being easily swept aside by Baron Hochstib's forces, and so the talks continued, and their pleas were heard, if for nothing else than to appease them.
It was on the first morning of Autumn in the year 5087 when Baron Hochstib dispatched a host of Jantalarian soldiers accompanied by three dozen witch hunters, whose greatest ability was to help combat against magic users. At the time, the Green Sisters' primary residence was in a Temple of Imaera, just a half day's travel from the main gates of Talador's capital city. Historians recount that Baron Hochstib, in all of his cruelty, specifically waited until the first recognized day of autumn to strike the Green Sisters, finding no small pleasure in the irony of murdering Imaera worshippers at the change of the season. The witch hunters struck first, assaulted the Temple of Imaera and its surroundings with massive destructive spells, then augmented the abilities of the Jantalarian soldiers, effectively squashing any magical counterattack the Green Sisters could hope to mount. The battle was over quickly, and is known today as the Harvest of Blood, one of the last conflicts before Baron Hochstib officially invaded Talador and occupied it.
The remaining Green Sisters who had escaped the massacre, or had not been present when it occurred, shifted their focus away from trying to mediate, and instead provided what services they could to the Taladorian forces, often in the form of their healing arts. Their efforts were short lived, because Talador lacked the fighting force to properly stand up against the Jantalarian might. In addition, it is said that many within the merchant council of Talador, even the ceremonious Baron Donnebrugh himself, struck a secret deal to allow Baron Hochstib's abrupt victory.
After the dust of the war settled, and Talador was firmly in the grasp of Jantalarian control, the Green Sisters found themselves returning to their work, despite their losses, and trying to find some level of comfort and worship in the new rulership. At that time, a renowned healer referred to as the Earth Queen, took great measures among the surviving Green Sisters to refocus their order onto the land and the protection of nature, to move beyond the war and not lose their sight of Imaera's true nature. It was the Earth Queen's logic that the wars and lives of men would rise and fall, but the laws of nature needed to be protected to ensure the cycle continued.
Because of the realignment of their faith and purpose, the Green Sisters branched out, almost a third of their surviving members finding new residence in Oire. They became heavily involved in erecting new shrines and temples to Imaera where their people hold the Goddess of Nature in high regard, praying and reflecting on her in their daily lives. But the Green Sisters still began to rebuild in Talador, seeing the war-torn land not as a blemish to avoid, but instead as a wound to heal. In modern day Talador, great revelry occurs in the month of Imaerasta where locals celebrate the marriage of Imaera and Eonak with an event called the Festival of the Land's Bounty. For days, the citizens of Talador enjoy feasting, singing, dancing, and handfasting. These ceremonies are commonplace during these annual events.
Their symbol is of a green leaf on a field of gold.
Keepers of the Golden Key
In Connedale, in the Barony of Dragach, there exists a large Temple of Lorminstra nestled among the mountainous valleys of the harsh, cold region. Because of the proximity to the Dragonspine Mountains, the Temple faces survivable conditions in the summers and chilling dangers in the winter. But it is in this place of worship, and almost eternal cold, that the Keepers of the Golden Key feel at home, ever surrounded by the natural display of the Goddess of Winter.
The Keepers of the Golden Key are a solemn group of scholars, healers, and clerics, who pride themselves on their vast religious and philosophical knowledge and are ever willing to offer their restorative arts to travelers to and from the DragonSpine Mountains. Connedale is a waystation for those braving the dangers and cold of the DragonSpine mountains, and more often than not, those adventurers never return from their journey. The Keepers of the Golden Key hold regular sessions both in their Temple and at a smaller church within the city itself.
Many Dragach citizens visit the Keepers when praying for those traveling into the mountains or even asking for prayers on their behalf to help Lorminstra guide their souls home if they are lost or never return. It is because of this that many of the members of the Keepers of the Golden Key are treated with high regard and praise, as they are seen as not only healers and counselors of the flesh and soul, but also as having a direct line to the Goddess of Death and Rebirth, so that even if their loved ones perish, there is some hope that their souls will find peace.
Every year in Connedale on the Eve of the Reunion, the Keepers of the Golden Key host an all day and night Ceremony of Remembrance to honor the lives of lost loved ones. Each night during this ceremony, when the veil is said to be weakest before the Ebon Gate, the Keepers perform a great commune to the Arkati Lorminstra, and if the Goddess shows favor upon the region, then many spirits of the dead will wander down from the mountains, returning only for the night to share tales and be with their families once more.
Their symbol is of a golden key before grey mountains on a field of black.
The Warlords of Kai
The Warlords of Kai are a relatively new group among the history of the Turamzzyrian Empire, not officially coming into existence until 5103 after the fall of Baron Hochstib and the end of the Jantalarian conquest. After Hochstin's sister was appointed Baroness and the new ruler of Jantalar, the demilitarization of the region began almost overnight. As funding for the military was downsized and recruitment was halted, many soldiers and knights among the Jantalarian army had little place to turn, and a majority of them had no family or profession waiting for them back at home. Because of this sudden change, many among the Jantalarian army turned to a life of crime, raiding the areas between Talador and Jantalar, and some even joining up to become what is now known as the Murkwood Bandits.
But not all turned to crime, despite having no family or job waiting for them. Many ex-soldiers and knights lobbied the new Baroness to approve the creation of the Warlords of Kai, a group of lukewarm worshippers of Kai, who would be allowed to open a fighting arena in the capitol, pitting their own ranks against criminals, animals, and even captured monsters from the wilds. While many of the Warlords tout praise to Kai and even wear a silver-studded crimson sash in honor of the warrior Arkati, most of their loyalty lies to themselves, as the fighters have become ever prideful over the years. But over the years, some among the Warlords have gained a genuine worship to Kai, thanking him for his protection in their battles within the arena and worshipping him for the skills and expertise they possess.
As the success and reputation of the Warlords of Kai has grown, so too has their gladiators and arenas. Over a dozen fighting arenas exist across Jantalar today, providing a suitable venue for ex-soldiers and even those seeking fame in combat.
Their symbol is of a crimson axe on a field of silver.
The Grey Mystics of Yssian
The Yssian mountains run north to south in the region of Selanthia, separating shorelines to the west, and plains and hills to the east. Many storms that move along the western coasts are buffered by these mountains, generally keeping the weather more moderate for the rest of Selanthia. Settled into the depths of the Yssian mountain range is a stone monastery dedicated to Jastev, where a number of monks, scholars, and priests reside throughout the year, fully dedicating their lives to the worship of the Great Seer. But chief among these residents are the four elders of the temple who many refer to as the Grey Prophets.
Little is known of the birth of these Grey Prophets, as the earliest documents indicate they were all identical brothers, quadruplets born within minutes to their mother, a proud servant of Jastev, who had foretold her own death, but gave the ultimate sacrifice to bring her sons and prophets into the world. It is suggested, because of the recorded history and the dialect of the scholar's writings, that this event occurred long before the Turamzzyrian Empire was formed and might have dated back to the early ages of the Kannalan Empire. Nothing is known of the time between their birth and their ascension to influence within the temple or its founding.
Despite the mystery of the legend behind their origins, the Grey Prophets have held great sway over the history of the Turamzzyrian Empire as it is rumored on many occasions an imperial ruler has gone to them, traveling into the great mountains to seek their guidance or warning before participating in a great undertaking. The Prophets themselves were taken more seriously, and visited more frequently after the death of Emperor Bezzender in 4303. It is said, but not proven, that Emperor Bezzender had sought the advice of the Grey Prophets about his plans to attack the Kingdom of Hendor, to which all of them warned him of doom if he chose to do so. Despite their message, the Emperor pressed on and found only defeat when faced against Hendor, and months later, the Emperor and his heir are poisoned by House Lampion.
Other such warnings throughout time were ignored, such as the eruption of Mount Ysspethos, which resulted in the death of Emperor Chaston and his two daughters, and the mysterious death of Emperor Jasdurel, who some among his court claim was foretold a year before, and some claim he died at the hands of anti-imperial agents of the recently annexed Kingdom of Torre. It is unclear at this time if Emperor Aurmont Anodheles has ever consulted with the Grey Prophets, but given that the Turamzzyrian Empire is in a state of peace with little to no focus on conquest and expansion, it is unlikely the devout Jastev followers would be called upon anytime soon.
Speculation does surround the Grey Prophets' identities however, as what small clues exist of their origin all indicate they were human. That alone raises many questions about the longevity of their lives. Some historians point out that the Prophets themselves are anointed by Jastev, thus making it easily explained that the divine hand of an Arkati can strengthen the mind and flesh of any mortal, making them last throughout the ages. But there is another school of thought that persists. The original Grey Prophets, while experts in the arts of divination, foretold of their own eventual deaths much like their mother. To this end, the founding brothers took it upon themselves to secretly train hand-picked members within their own organization to eventually ascend to their position at the time of their deaths, indicating that over time, the actual Grey Prophets have changed. This theory is embraced by many, as the Grey Prophets' appearance is similar to one legend of Jastev, who has at times appeared as an old wizened man with a thick grey beard. So it is, too, that these Prophets appear in such a manner, their heavy robes and thick beards providing an easy concealment of their features beneath.
But while the Grey Prophets are the true power and head of the order, it is their servants that also carry out a very important role. The Grey Mystics, as they are called, exist of many different ranges of age and skills. Some are scholars who seek knowledge and the mastery of divination. Others are artists content to be confined to their temple, surrounded by the teachings and truths of the Great Seer. Others come on as great servants, devout in their worship of Jastev and loyal in their aid to the Grey Prophets, hoping to one day ascend to their position should the rumors prove to be true. At times, Grey Mystics even depart from their mountain home, traveling the world to bring their gifts of sight and knowledge to others, as it is not uncommon for imperial citizens and even minor nobles to request their service. However, the Grey Prophets themselves speak only to the ruler of the Sun Throne of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and rarely do they offer warnings unless asked. It is because of this some have come to even call them the Grey Guardians, as their faith is bound to Jastev but their purpose seems bound to the kingdom of humans.
The Erudites of Fash'lo'nae
The city of Nydds is just south of a land full of hills that borders the Sea of Fire, and it is a city full of culture and an open embrace of foreigners and strangers. It is considered to be the heart of knowledge throughout all of the Turamzzyrian Empire as it houses dozens of imperial colleges and even a satellite college of the Hall of Mages. Because of this scholastic environment, people in the area are allowed more freedom than one might find in other areas of the Empire, as many feel knowledge and education rises above any ignorance of race. But with all of that said, human superiority still exists, even if only as an undercurrent. And, while elves and half-elves freely walk the streets and attend many of the colleges, they can never hope to rise to the same ranks as humans in the political structure.
One of the largest colleges in Nydds is the Halls of the Patriarch, established to provide religious education for those aspiring to join the Church of Koar. It was founded by the Patriarch in the time period of Emperor Rallick II, and a special tax was ordered to help support the endeavor. In 4918, Lelandri, a young priestess of Koar, had excelled in her studies at the Halls of the Patriarch, gathering with her a small following who would attend weekly meetings and seminars with her, many of them in secret. Over time, her name became well known, and the secrecy of her education sessions with fellow peers began to circulate. The Headmaster of the Hall had sought to investigate, as the college's education was the rightful job of the instructors, and they could not allow any deviation. While students studying with students was not forbidden, it certainly needed to be managed. The Headmaster was then later shocked to learn that it was not Koar's Light that Lelandri had been preaching to her fellow students, but instead she was now a professed follower of Fash'lo'nae, the God of Magic and Forbidden Knowledge.
Lelandri was immediately expelled from the college for her conversion to Fash'lo'nae, but no other punishments were brought against her. In Nydds, diversity and knowledge were supported and heavily fostered, but the Halls of the Patriarch would not be used as a secret location to spread faith in the Grandfather. So it was that when Lelandri went peacefully and without asking, nearly three dozen students left with her. With no official academy to now call home, Lelandri led her seminars all throughout Nydds, even occasionally traveling to Waterford, where she always held meetings in libraries, regardless of their size, or those in attendance. It was out of this movement that the Erudites of Fash'lo'nae were born.
Since their founding, the Erudites have grown in size and reach, small pockets of the faithful scattered all throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire. There is truly no one center location for the Erudites anymore, as knowledge is best when explored and shared, and so it is often that members of the Erudites travel more than anything. However, the heaviest population of their order still remains within the walls of Nydds, where some members still hold monthly seminars throughout libraries in honor of Lelandri's memory.
Lelandri herself disappeared some fifteen years later, as her and her elven lover left on a voyage out of Seareach to travel beyond the Western Sea in search of surviving remnants of the Ashrim culture. Whether their mission was successful or not, neither of them returned.
Despite their seemingly good natured goals of education and knowledge, the Erudites are not immune to controversy. A number of their members have gotten in trouble over time, some having even suffered imprisonment in imperial cells for their dangerous methods of research. In addition, in recent history a firestorm of rumors have circulated surrounding the Erudites of Fash'lo'nae, many suggesting that some within their ranks are actually Faendryl elves, using the magic of illusion to conceal their true identities. Some in Nydds have no qualms with this, since they argue knowledge transcends race and blood, but others worry it may all be an elaborate dark elven conspiracy to infiltrate a segment of imperial life or even jeopardize the greatest educational center in all of the Turamzzyrian Empire.
Their symbol is a stylized yellow flame on a field of grey.
The Maidens of Ivas
In the fairly ordinary and uneventful barony of Oire, the Villaunne family maintains a long history of fair rulership, and the most well known thing about the region besides their famous wines is their ability to avoid the manipulations and trappings of the political landscape that plagues many of the other nobles and imperial lands. However, that is not to say the Villaunne does not have their share of sins, regardless of how small in comparison to the rest of the Turamzzyrian Empire. While unproven and never acknowledged by the Villaunne family, it was decades ago that the then Baron's wife was discovered to have been an adultress, caught in affair with one of the Baron's own maidens in the keep. In a fit of rage, the Baron was said to have murdered his wife, and would have done the same to the maiden had she not escaped in the chaos. The official statements indicated that the Baron's wife had grown ill and unfit to make public appearances, and weeks later, she died from the sickness. But few in Oire believe the story, and taverns and small farmsteads were ripe with gossip regarding the wife's infidelity and the sultry maiden. But nothing was ever confirmed, and any and all investigations into the matter were covered up. Years later, the Baron himself took his own life, his young son inheriting the baronial throne and working hard to put the lives of Oireans first and foremost. The people of the barony found these efforts to their liking, and the brief stain on the name of the Villaunne family was soon forgotten.
A wealthy merchant from Vornavis had sailed the western seas for a majority of his life, for the sea had always held his heart in more ways than the coldness of his wife and their bed back home ever could. He had never sired children, the spark of his once passionate marriage flickering into smoke as his wife, after the passing of her father, grew distant and forlorn. The life of a sea captain's wife only made her loneliness even more surmountable. But while the merchant sailor held a deep love for the sea and his trade, he would one day become enraptured in the arms of a lover deep in the dark halls of a brothel in Brisker's Cove. He fell madly in love with the seductress, her body covered in majestic ink, each mark holding a story she would recount to him as they lay naked after each tryst. Her hair was a deep color of seaweed, and for him, she always smelled of the ocean. The captain had found his true love, a woman who embodied the passions of his life at sea, and generously fulfilled the desires of his flesh. So it was that one day when his crew stopped for the night at Brisker's Cove, he returned to the brothel as was his routine, but he also begged for the green-haired woman's hand in marriage, to sail by his side as the beautiful pearl that had captured his heart. The woman refused to accept his proposal until he returned with the heart of his wife, claiming she could not trust in his loyalty until the strings another woman once held were severed. Weeks later, the merchant captain returned to Brisker's Cove after tragically murdering his wife in Vornavis, carving out her heart and bringing it as his act of loyalty. When he arrived back at the brothel, he learned that the green-haired woman was gone. The guilt of the murder and the sting of the double betrayal is said to have caused the captain to drown himself, still clutching the heart of his wife before succumbing to the depths of the sea.
These are the beginnings of the Maidens of Ivas, two women of no connection outside of their worship of Ivas and the long string of victims they created throughout their lives. It was by a chance meeting in The Swale that they became aware of each others' existence, and their alliance--tho some dare say relationship--was born. From these two women spawned a history of Ivas worship and converts, as their arts and pleasures expanded, especially along coastal cities and ports where their talents thrived. As the Maidens grew from two to twelve to thirty to a hundred, so to did their depravity. Many brothels operating within seedier towns of the Turamzzyrian Empire are owned, or at one time had some ties to, members of the Maidens of Ivas. Some have not been content to the confines of pleasure houses and so many have set about traveling the lands, sometimes in large caravans. It is not unheard of for them to be spotted amongst the camps of imperial soldiers during times of war and other conflict. While many of the Maidens of Ivas do not resort to murderous results like their founders, there are always some who push their devotion to the next level.
The Sheruvian Order
Never far from the sleeping minds of innocents lies the horrors of nightmares, seeking power from their fear and pleasure in their crippling anxiety. The Sheruvian Order has no recorded time of history within the Turamzzyrian Empire, and many say they existed in imperial lands long before the fall of the Kannalan Empire. So in truth, it stands to reason that as the light of the Sun Throne expanded, it was in the shadows that the Sheruvian Order already existed. It is because of this alone that some claim is cause for the zeal of the Sheruvian Order within the Turamzzyrian Empire. To their thinking, these Sheruvians see their order, members, and methods to be the truest form of worship to their Arkati, the Bringer of Terror. They are cold, calculating, and cruel, matching the attributes said to be powerful in the God of Nightmares himself.
This overzealous behavior has caused the Sheruvian Order to suffer no one else among their faith as equals. Throughout history, the Sheruvian Order has found numerous allies among followers of Luukos, Mularos, and even Marlu on occasions, but when faced with competition from other Sheruvian cults, they do not tolerate their existence. There is only one voice for Sheru among the Turamzzyrian Empire, and when any other voice rises, it is soon silenced or joined to theirs. It has always been the goal of the Sheruvian Order to spread their influence and ultimately serve Sheru in ushering in horrors, and because of this, many in their ranks have sought after positions of power or bending the ears and wills of those who held them. There lies no greater opportunity to bring about terror than from a position of authority.
Rumors among imperial historians often point to a number of rulers, even among minor families, who may have had decisions and decrees influenced by the subtle whispers of the fear-mongering Sheruvians. But the Sheruvian Order has not always known great times of power of influence, and for a time, they suffered during the aftermath of the First Elven War in 4610 when dozens of new Sheruvian sects seemed to spring up overnight, their own message being lost among the new sea of voices. But true to their cause and rigid faith, the Sheruvian Order turned inward, focusing not on the fostering of unbridled fear, but instead of maintaining their place among the echelons of their god.
To this end, the Sheruvian Order mobilized their forces in 4611 and essentially led an underground war against other non-controlled Sheruvian cults, systematically hunting them down and forcing them into assimilation or crushing them. Regardless, both tactics resulted in terror, fear, and the things of nightmares, so their dedication to Sheru suffered not. The unification lasted for three bloody years, and often the conflicts would spill into the streets of imperial towns, most notably in places like Tamzyrr, Elstreth, and even Idolone. When the dust of the conflict settled, the Sheruvian Order had been wounded, but stood victorious, annihilating a number of their competition while bringing in some to their ranks.
In present day, there has been little headway made by rival Sheruvian cults, allowing free reign of the Sheruvian Order to continue to dominate within the shadows of terror that reach all corners of the Turamzzyrian empire.
The Luukosian Order
Cradled in the shadows of Tamzyrr lies the ancient Luukosian Order, whose power and reach have grown in parallel with the Turamzzyrian Empire's own expansion. Since the dawn of the Sun Throne, there has been, and always will be, those whose ears are more easily swayed by the silk whispers of the shadows, the honey-coated promises of power, influence, and wealth. Behind each string lies the followers of Luukos, the Eater of Souls. Perhaps it is by happenstance or careful manipulation that a handful of changes of power have come about in the history of the empire as a result of the deadly poison Luuksian deathwort. In 4307, House Lampion poisoned Emperor Bezzender and his heir with the deathwort. Again in 4832 Selantha II narrowly avoids death by the poison, but her son Morlan is not as fortunate when his drink was laced with the substance. Again in 5074, the Southern Sentinel Marcus Calquinor marshals imperial forces to battle the undead minions of the Horned Cabal, but he is assassinated and in the ensuing chaos, the undead armies nearly overcome the defenders. In time, it is Luukosian cultists who are assumed to be behind the murder, but no proof is ever discovered.
Even in most recent times, in the year 5103, Empress Mynal'lyanna was assassinated in Solhaven by a bolt covered in Luukosian Deathwort, and even that same year when Baron Hochstib lost control of his conquest and suffered many defeats, it is said he called upon Luukosian followers to help him infuse his body with Mandis Crystal shards by conducting mass killings in a series of dark rituals. Some rumors even persist that part of the reason for Empress Mynal'lyanna's death was that she refused to follow commands by the Luukosian Order, who had originally helped place her on the Sun Throne after the mysterious deaths of her siblings, freeing her to be the only surviving heir to ascend.
The dangers the Luukosian Order present do not end with the nobility and their people, as many suggest that within the very Church of Koar itself there has slowly been corruption taking place. While it is unknown if this is true or how far their reach may go, it is becoming more and more common for some to believe that there are pockets of high ranking clergy throughout the Church of Koar that are secretly agents of the Luukosian Order, using their position and power to further spread the Serpent's mission of lies, betrayal, and death. Over the years, proof of the cult's expansion has been unearthed by members of the Order of Voln or other Liabo organizations as they seek to uproot the underground Luukosian cells throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire. It is believed there exists dozens of smaller sects with a few powerful underground strongholds in areas such as Tamzyrr, Vornavis, Jantalar, and even Elstreth, a place where they seek to help overthrow the efforts against the Horned Cabal.
The Sand Snakes
Tseleth was once human, and a member of the Order of the Dreamwalkers, which he shamefully abandoned after facing a defeat at the hands of Indhis, the Red Dreamer, and at the time, a fellow Dreamwalker. In response to his cowardice, Ronan cursed the human and forced him to wander the sands of the Sea of Fire, doomed to live an eternal life of torment and exile. It was in that place that Tseleth came upon the ruins of Bir Mahallah and underwent a dark transformation that resulted in him becoming a spirit eater for Luukos, the Father of Lies. It was during this time, as a new servant to Luukos, that he used his powerful artificer powers to create living and animated constructs out of the dead and their souls. His most famous creation, his lieutenant, was an abomination known as Athamael, who would later play a critical role in Tseleth's temporary demise before he was later resurrected as a lich by the Luukosian Morvule.
But during Tseleth's time in the Sea of Fire, he formed a following of fellow Luukosians, comprised primarily of Tehir. Over time, these so-called Sand Snakes become an eerie conglomerate of both living and undead, and while recent reports have shown Tseleth's activity has taken him away from Bir Mahallah, it is said the Sand Snakes still exist today, lurking in the depths of the Sea of Fire. This truth is confirmed by imperial scouts, and even Tehir traders who tell of twisted, soul draining Tehir that dwell near the Lost City.
The Southern Order of Voln
The Southern Order of Voln is in fact a handful of monasteries in the south region of the Turamzzyrian Empire that have united under an agreement known as the Righteous Indenture, which came into effect in the year 5024 shortly after the conflict and tragedy surrounding the Battle of Skyreach. These monasteries in the south have all been aligned with the Grand Master of the House of the Paladin in Elstreth, and both respect and adhere to his orders and requests. This unification was created to allow for better cooperation and a more efficient response to the dangers posed by the Horned Cabal. Much of its premise and focus is centered more on military action, both offensive and defensive, against the darkness of the Horned Cabal, and spend less time focused on theological matters.
The Southern Order of Voln, more of a conglomerate of monasteries bound with one unified goal and voice, have found great success in recent times in their efforts against the Horned Cabal and have been heavily praised and funded by the Chandrennin family in Aldora. It is said that more imperial youths are signing up for service among the Southern Order of Voln, at three times the rate of those enlisting in the imperial armies. Because of this, many think the Chandrennin's have a heavy sway with the direction of the Southern Order of Voln, but many will argue it is in fact the reverse, that the Grand Master of the House of the Paladin is one of the most powerful and influential men in all of Aldora.
The White Fists
The House of the Paladin is the largest Voln monastery in the southern empire and is housed within the Duchy of Aldora in the capital city of Elstreth. It's prime benefactor is the Chandrennin family, where the Duke himself has placed heavy focus and contributions to the order. There is no greater enemy to Aldora than the Horned Cabal, and no greater ally than the Order of Voln. While the House of the Paladin operates as both a center for research and training, it too has facets created to help physically combat against the undead and darkness of the Horned Cabal's armies. One specific, more well-known branch, is that of the White Fists, a group of zealous Voln monks mostly comprised of Halluckites and a few Dandrellians.
Because of the scale being tipped towards the philosophical position of the Halluckites, the monks of the White Fists face not only combat against the undead minions of the Horned Cabal, but their goal is also to target the living supporters of the Lornon Arkati such as Luukos and Sheru. Their belief is that to release the undead merely peels bark from the tree, while vanquishing those who do the service of the dark gods strikes at the roots. While some of the House of Paladin do not necessarily subscribe to that concept as the White Fists, they still tolerate the existence of their more militant brothers, for Lord Voln blesses all of their endeavors equally.
It is said that Duke Chandrennin is heavily influenced by the Grand Master of the House of the Paladin, which has allowed Chaston's Edict to become almost non-existent throughout Aldora, and tolerance for non-humans has spread due to the Order of Voln's work in the region. It is because of this acceptance and righteous mission that orders such as the White Fists have grown in number over recently years, as non-humans have found a new home in service to the fight against evil.
Their symbol is of a white fist on a field of black.
The Halls of Solace is the primary center for knowledge and research in all matters related to the Order of Voln. Over the ages, nestled away in Nydds, the Halls have become an immense library where young and old followers of Voln alike come to become educated in both their faith and their purpose. It was also the largest depository of original works from the founding monastery at Kedshold, before it was destroyed by imperial troops during the Kannalan War. Generally, when a question of knowledge is discussed amongst the monasteries, the Grand Master of the Halls of Solace is given the most deference. But knowledge, like true life, does not grow if not nurtured.
Out of the Halls, an order of scholars and healers were founded, aptly named the Solacebringers, and sometimes among the more devout, referred to as the Sons of Fasthr. They exist because of what transpired at Fasthr's Monastery, and of the Order's need to preserve and expand their knowledge that was originally split from the old ruins, a majority going to the Halls of Solace, and other caches of tomes and research ending up in Fairport and the region where Highmount is today. These Solacebringers, in fact, spend very little time in the Halls. Instead, they are assigned to scouring the world, seeking out lost knowledge regarding their order and faith wherever it might have scattered. In addition, their travels afford multiple opportunities to heal and preach, bringing comfort to those who seek it, while also educating them on the truth of the Order and its crucial role in the events of the world today. It is through their pursuit of lost knowledge that they solidify their faith, and it is by their words and healing arts that they expand it.
Their symbol is of a white tree on a field of black.
The Battle Dancers of Leya
The Battle Dancers began as a group of skilled warriors and monks, many experts in small blades and martial arts. They sprung up out of the need of defenders within small rural communities on the outskirts of Tamzyrr, where imperial soldiers rarely visited, and in the time of conflict, they were slow to respond. Bandits, and even monster hordes, continued to be a problem during this time, and so many who felt a connection to the lesser spirit Leya formed together to provide a much needed resistance to these thieves and savages. Over time, as these enemies dwindled and the reach of imperial might expanded, the original purpose of the Battle Dancers was rarely needed.
Not ones to become accustomed with complacency, the Battle Dancers had already gained a reputation for their highly regarded skills in combat, and so over time, more and more became increasingly invested in entertainment events. Presently, most of the Battle Dancers of Leya provide more ceremony than true combat, showing up at many imperial festivals and performing great feats of combat and dancing. But this is not to say they are in any way weak, as each Dancer still possesses a honed sense for fighting, and it is very common for them to find themselves at the defense of those unable to protect themselves.
Because of their most recent success over the years as entertainment, the Battle Dancers of Leya have sprung up in other locations throughout the Empire and have gained popularity in places like Vornavis, Chastonia, and Hendor.
Their symbol is of an ivory shield on a field of deep blue.
The Reeds of Jes'Tamaline
Aptly due to its name, Barony Riverwood has no shortage of winding rivers that criss-cross along the entire wooded region. The area is plush, filled with plentiful game and resources, and the harshness of winter is never long and always mild. There is a legend among those in Riverwood, of a local spirit named Jes'Tamaline. It is said that ages before the first town in the barony was founded, there existed a dark plague on the land where all streams and lakes were turned foul and poisonous. Many of the denizens of the woods and small hamlets anguished, some in silence, and some with great crying voices, but all consumed with their own suffering. Rumors insist that one lone hermit did not weep for the boils and diseases of the people, but instead wept for the dying of the forest itself. Some claim that the Goddess of Nature, Imaera herself, had intended the plague to run its course, to allow the natural order of events to occur until the grief of this hermit both got her attention and moved her. The hermit was alone when she died, her last breath given in her countless care of the forest, where her body fell upon blemished land, her lifeless frame mere feet from a river turned black and brown with death. Because of her service and compassion to the world around her, Imaera was gifted the soul of the hermit by Lorminstra. In turn, Imaera release the soul, giving birth to the nature spirit of Jes'Tamaline, who was now gifted with immortality to forever watch over the wilderness that she loved.
There is no proof of Jes'Tamaline's existance, but history tomes do indicate a great plague that once ravaged the lands before Riverwood was formed, and in them lies no explanation for how the rot came to an end. This alone is more than enough evidence many citizens of Riverwood need to claim Jes'Tamaline is real, as it can be explained that through her rebirth and guidance that the lands were freed of their blight and offer the rich landscape that the barony now possesses. While many pay regular homage to the spirit of Jes'Tamaline and share a certain respect of nature, there exists a group who call themselves the Reeds of Jes'Tamaline that take their service to another level.
The Reeds are a mix of all ages, and it is not uncommon to see a few elves, sylvans and half-elves among the humans in this group. Many of them, in fact, still worship other Arkati but have dedicated their time and lives to the importance of Jes'Tamaline's mission. These men and women have no houses or owned land within towns and cities, but instead live in small pockets of makeshift homes along the edges of rivers or nestled into the many plush groves throughout the woodlands. Some travel and dwell alone, others exist in smaller communities in the wild. They are not political in nature, and much like the legend of Jes'Tamaline, they care less for the plight of the citizens, and more for the safety and nourishment of the land around them. To this end, the Reeds are known to be peaceful until the forest and rivers that are their heart and soul are threatened.
In 5049, a nobleman in Riverwood had undergone a hefty investment to start up a massive logging operation that would have seen hundreds of miles of woodland destroyed for the profit of exports to other provinces. Two days before his operation went live, the nobleman went missing from his house, his fate never discovered. Some say that it was the constant threats from the Reeds of Jes'Tamaline that finally gave him cold feet, and he fled the area. Others claim those same threats bore fruit and that, in the middle of the night, the Reeds kidnapped the nobleman, killing him and burying his body within the depths of the woods, never to be found. Regardless, the disappearance of the main investor caused the logging operation to close down within a week, and the forest was saved.
In Riverwood, there is an understanding among many of the merchants and nobles. The land is seen as bountiful, but it must be protected and replenished. While some lumber extraction does occur in Riverwood, it is always controlled and done within reason, while equal actions are taken to ensure the land is rebuilt.
The Sea of Fire is home to an unusually high density and variety of spirits. Amongst these are the jealous spirits - raamaani - many of which, though not all, are known to outlanders as the undead. While most Tehir know how to deal with raamaani, rarely is combating them a full-time pursuit. Most spirit-callers and warriors have numerous responsibilities to their tribes and families, such that they cannot devote themselves exclusively to the hunting of hostile spirits. There are those select few tribesmen, however, that do make a passion of such work, and these spirit hunters are known as the Xshitha Raamaani, literally, "Those Who Fight Jealous Spirits."
Those outlanders who are familiar with Voln and the teachings of his monastic order would see the Xshitha (singular: Xshithi) Raamaani as kindred spirits, and the Spirit Hunters would likely view the order of Voln in the same manner. Their goals and abilities are essentially the same, although there are key differences within the cultural and religious frameworks surrounding the two groups.
The ability to harm the unliving with the very touch of one’s body is especially revered amongst the tribes, and the art known as An Khesra - "Hand Memory" - is very similar in effect to the unarmed fighting style of the Voln monks. The name of the art is derived from the tribal notion that harming the undead is synonymous with reminding them what it was like to be alive, thus making the undead vulnerable once more to what the living were. Thus, "Memory" in this context, is similar to what outlanders know as "Blessing."
Unlike the Voln monks, the Xshitha Raamaani do not belong to a unified order. They are scattered amongst the tribes, and most have their own training methods that a Spirit Hunter from another tribe might not recognize at all. A tribe may have only one or two Spirit Hunters who pass their secrets down to a select few apprentices, and most never leave their Tribes to share this information with others. Thus, the method of advancing along "steps", as a Voln monk would understand it, is typically proprietary to a particular Tribe.
Also, the Xshitha Raamaani do not frame their conflict with the undead as part of a larger conflict between pantheons of Arkati. Not all desert tribes recognize the Arkati as outlanders see them, and even those that do, don’t always organize them along the same lines. Though the powers of a Spirit Hunter are roughly the same as one might find in the repertoire of a Volnite, often it is local/tribal spirits who grant this power rather than the Liabo Arkati. These spirits require their own unique tasks in return for their favor, and their reasons for doing so can vary wildly. A local spirit of the Sea of Fire may have a personal vendetta against undead, or it may wish to protect the tribe that honors it, or it may simply not care about anything but its own power and views the Spirit Hunter as a means for increasing its worship and prestige. There can be differences on the Spirit Hunter’s end, as well. While he depends primarily on the spirits involved and their relation to him and his tribe, often the Xshitha Raamaani views the attaining of these powers not as "dedication" to the spirits granting them, but rather as bargaining with them. It is more of a transaction between two equal parties than devotion to a higher being and its beliefs. The high density of spirits in the Sea tends to make the Tehir simultaneously more spiritually aware and more jaded and practical towards interaction with spirits than the typical outlander.
In addition, those Arkati that outlanders see as central to their conflict are often seen differently even by those Tehir that recognize them. Luukos is perhaps the most prominent example. Not all Tehir view him or his manifestations as inherently evil (though most wouldn’t consider him particularly friendly or trustworthy either,) and there are those who connect him with the First Serpent, a legendary snake of enormous size that is said to dwell in or around Bir Mahallah, considered by some to be an instrument of vengeance against those who wrong Creation.
There is no dedication amongst the Xshitha Raamaani to the releasing of all undead. For the most part, they are interested in opposing only those Jealous Spirits that threaten them or their tribes and families, as there are some undead that are not Jealous Spirits, and some that have even allied with certain tribes. The Spirit Hunters also do not see all cursed souls as worthy of release and redemption. There are those they believe fully deserve to spend eternity tormented, roaming without rest or peace. Unless personally threatened by such a jealous spirit, most Hunters will not make any effort to free it. The Voln sanction against all undead is looked upon with derision by many tribesmen, seen as an overly simplistic view of the nature of undeath and the variety and hierarchy of spirits.
Aside from these doctrinal differences, however, there are more similarities than not between the Order of Voln and the Xshitha Raamaani, and it’s unlikely that even the most zealous members of the two groups would ever do more than argue philosophy over ale or khava. In fact, it is not unheard of for Spirit Hunters outside of the Sea of Fire to be accepted into the ranks of Voln’s monks that they may assist each other better. Much like the mortal members of the groups, their various patron spirits rarely come into conflict either, and many of the powers they grant are effectively interchangeable. Xshitha Raamaani who are adopted into the Order typically have no problem also adopting its terminology in the interest of facilitating communication. When describing the throws and grapples of their art, An Khesra, to an outlander they may refer to "Charl’s Throw," even though many Tehir in the Sea of Fire have barely any conception of ocean-related spirits, and certainly wouldn't be seeking one out for its favor. It’s simply easier to adopt the terminology than to try to explain the differences when the effect is much the same. Not many outlanders would care to know that the particular Tehir learned his art from his Tribe’s patron spirit, a being whom they've never heard of and whose name an outlander might not even be able to pronounce.
Built on the edge of the massive Wyrdeep Forest, Gallardshold is a stronghold that has a small military garrison with the assignment of protecting the woodcutters, trappers, and other hunters of the area to secure the region's timber business. Even as human superiority seems to be on the rise in some areas of the Turamzzyrian Empire, it has significantly lowered in Gallardshold where Baron Caulfield and his family enjoy a relative peace with the independent elven communities of the Wyrdeep Forest, as well as many beneficial trade agreements between the races. In fact, in some areas of Gallardshold, elven culture has bled through, providing a slow mixture of styles.
However, despite the peace and relaxed view of Chaston's Edict, there still exists an undercurrent of racism in some hearts and minds of citizens within Gallardshold. Because of this, there exists two forms of demonstration -- one in support of the elves, half-elves, and sylvans of the area, and one that displays their opposition. Some townspeople wear a single hawk feather braided into the right side of their hair to show their support of the elves of the Wyrdeep and how they should be exempt from the cruelty of Chaston's Edict. Those who do not support this belief, or the elves, wear a white leather bracelet around their left wrist. While there exists a difference of opinions, there has been relatively no violence until more recent times.
Somewhere in the summer of 5099, a group of unnamed half-elves began to strike out at citizens in Gallardshold who openly wore the white leather bracelets to demonstrate their support of Chaston's Edict. At first, these series of attacks were thrown at the feet of the elves of the Wyrdeep until masked half-elf citizens of the town came forward, taking credit for the attacks and declaring they would continue until all racism was washed out of the city. Shortly after their announcement, many of the townspeople came to call them the Gallard's Guardians.
The anti-Chaston Edict group of half-elves have seen their numbers rise over the years, even if some refused to join in on attacks. Many provided shelter, weapons, even intelligence to these so-called freedom fighters who only sought to bleed the intolerant. Because of that, the outcry of those wearing the white bracelets have ebbed and flowed, often times turning the streets and taverns of the city into bloody brawls, and sometimes the attacks have led to murder on both sides. Baron Caulfield has been able to do little to help put the conflict at rest, as Chaston's Edict remains a law of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and while the Baron may be able to get away with ignoring it, he would be unable to officially make any laws or take specific actions against it without endangering his own position.
Pirates. Anti-imperialists. Freedom fighters. Bayrunners. They'll answer to every one of those and never offer an apology for it. They don't often talk of their beginnings, but some locals insist the first operation of the Bayrunners, before they even called themselves such, was around 5022. It is said a number of them may have once been river pirates who had been successfully run out of River's Rest during the Smuggling War after the Great Cataclysm, and some of the original founders were said to have been descendants of native Resters who were displaced by the imperial colonization program centuries before. Whatever the case, their blood is Torren, and their mission is wealth at the cost of the Turamzzyrian Empire. While many citizens of the County of Torre peacefully live their lives under imperial rule despite not being overly pleased with it, they do so in relative peace. The Bayrunners are a stark contrast to that, seeing the Turamzzyrian Empire as an oppressive boot on the throat of the once great Kingdom of Torre, and while they may not be able to defeat it with force and fire, perhaps they can enjoy victory by striking their purse strings.
The Bayrunners are celebrated as heroes by some in River's Rest, even in Fairport, where their piracy throughout Maelstrom Bay and the surrounding Western Sea is well-known, and by some, well-appreciated. But the Bayrunners, while a constant thorn in the side of the Empire and its naval fleets and merchants, take certain actions to help win the hearts and support of the people who dislike imperial rule. Over the years, Count Claybourne and his family have tried many different strategies to help combat the Bayrunners efforts, and to their credit, many of these attempts worked, but a majority of them only showed results for the short-term. The Count and other justice officials have been unable to gain any long term advantage over the Bayrunners, and there have been no large accomplishments towards their defeat.
Because of this constant conflict with no victory in sight, many merchants who utilize Maelstrom Bay have began to budget what they call "The Bay Tax" into their financials, as there seems to be no easy way to avoid the piracy, and certainly not doing any business is not good business. Tragically, many of these merchants make up the difference in their losses by increasing prices locally, ultimately having an adverse effect on the citizens of the region. The irony is not lost on the Bayrunners, who understand their piracy increases costs for the citizens they claim to be helping, but overlook it by arguing that in the big scheme of things, their operations save more money in the end, especially if one day they are successful enough to break free of the chains of the Sun Throne.
The Red Hats
In 4417, the Kingdom of Torre was annexed by the Turamzzyrian Empire. In laws, in land, and in claim, the Sun Throne now ruled above the new County of Torre. But the greatest piece of Torre was absent as a result of the annexation, and that was the hearts and minds of its people. A nameless man, his birth and race lost to the passing of time, dared to defy the loss of Torren pride and independence during the ceremony of swearing an oath from the County to Emperor Jasdurel Burzost. It is on the salt-stained cobbles of Fairport where the Red Defender, so aptly named that day, he openly declared opposition during the ceremony, even moving towards the procession. Whether his intentions were murderous or not, it was the crossbow bolt of a Torren guard that sunk into the side of his cheek, sending a spray of blood onto his dusty white hat before both it, and he, collapsed to the ground.
While the Royal Torren Guard is well known for their lack of imperial sympathy and refusal to obey many of Turamzzyrian laws, it is the action of one of their own on that day that gave birth to the Red Hat Movement. From that day forward, the Red Hats sparked to life. They saw themselves as a true rebellion, and that the fact that the loudest voice of dissension was silenced by a Royal Torren guard, only lent credence to their message that the guards were not their allies and just another puppet of the Sun Throne. While the movement has seen its membership rise and fall over the ages, there has never been a shortage of sympathizers to their cause, consisting of fair, law-abiding, but freedom supporting individuals, who have on numerous occasions provided information and shelter for suspected Red Hats.
For a brief period of time during the Turamzzyrian resettlement in the County of Torre, nobles from Tamzyrr, on becoming aware of the Red Hats, established a pseudo-society branch of the group. The members of the society gained admittance after engaging in some form of petty theft or crime, though some members developed notorious reputations for their thefts over the time of their membership. The original Red Hats deigned to allow the showy version of their brotherhood to continue for the purpose of infiltration of the Turamzzyrian outsiders and to glean intelligence which was used against the rich who played at being criminals. As the Turamzzyrians inter-married with Fairport's existing nobility, the native Torren nobility's own reflections on such criminal behavior rubbed off, and membership in the false brotherhood tapered off until it became an embarrassing fact of one's ancestors.
What once began as the idea of freedom fighters, the Red Hats are very much now a criminal organization and no longer confined to Fairport. Their philosophy is now to reject imperial oversight and rule, not just over Torre. Their hands are in a number of smuggling operations and thieves' guilds throughout Fairport and its surrounding areas, and they use their resources and agents to constantly undermine the efforts of imperial soldiers. This sometimes puts them at odds with the Royal Torren Guard, who may like to look the other way, but in some cases, they cannot. While the Red Hats serve their own agenda, which rarely is aligned with the Turamzzyrian Empire, there have been occasions when external, or even internal threats, have forced these two sides of the coin to work together. Most recently in 5114, a gathering of krolvin fleets waged a long war against the Empire, ravaging cities and ports up and down the western coastline. In fact, the krolvin victorious continued to mount, which resulted in the Fall of Fairport where the krolvin had completely overrun the city, nearly destroying the Tower of the Sea Princess, and began to slowly build a new foothold on imperial soil. It was the gathered might of imperial reinforcements dispatched from other provinces, in addition to the strategic strikes and intel provided by the Red Hats, that ultimately led to Fairport being reclaimed and the krolvin pushed back to sea.
Of course, in the aftermath of the conflict, all returned to normal with the Red Hats continuing to operate in the shadows of western coast, their voice and actions serving as an ever-constant torch of defiance against imperial dominance. To wear a red hat is to have a friend in almost every port in the Empire.
The Hedgewizards of Mestanir
The northern town of Mestanir was founded in 4883 near a powerful religious site known as the Crown of Koar, which would become a great beacon for many pilgrimages over the years. By 4897, Mestanir not only became a well-known Barony for its holy followers of Koar, but it also became a hotbed for practitioners of the arcane arts. The Hedgewizards of Mestanir came into existence around this time, and are less-structured than any organization within the Turamzzyrian Empire. In fact, the Hedgewizard title itself is most often used by those not of Mestanir, or of town officials, who condemn the unregistered wizards and sorcerers. Centuries before 4565, after the destruction of Toullaire, Empress Verranna passed a law requiring mandatory registration of all wizards and sorcerers within the Empire. As Mestanir came into existence and its magical population grew, many refused to go along with the centuries-old law. In fact, it was the lax requirements in Mestanir and lack of persecution that caused the practitioners of the arcane to grow to such numbers in Mestanir. They had truly found a community that allowed them to be free of imperial judgment for their magic.
The Hedgewizards, as they are labeled by others, existed in small pockets, or even sometimes independent of one another. Some were noblemen by day and summoners by night. Some were more blatant with their magic, displaying it in the open, always in defiance of the registration laws and always undisturbed by Mestaniri officials. So while the collective group of Hedgewizards were viewed as outlaws because of their failure to register, they were in truth more rebellious than criminal. That was not always the case, though, as some more unsavory mages and sorcerers came to Mestanir to dabble in dark magic, but they were more of an exception to the norm. However, in 5092, after the Northern Sentinel Earl Wierlund of Hendor died, Baron Hochstib of Jantalar attacked Mestanir and moved his invading forces into the region.
Mestanir was able to withstand Jantalar's initial invasions as their so-called Hedgewizards easily overwhelmed the attackers with mass spells of destruction, and witch hunters assigned to Jantalar were too few to overcome the number of defenders. Having recently ascended to the Sun Throne, Empress Mynal'lyanna supported Baron Hochstib's efforts against Mestanir and permitted him the use of Mandis Crystals, which are dreadful artifacts that nullify magic in an area. With the power of the Mandis Crystals, Baron Hochstib and his army easily conquered the small Barony of Mestanir.
After the successful occupation, Baron Hochstib expelled all mages from Mestanir, and gruesomely put to death those who did not comply. Because there was no active registration of magic users in the region, there was little the Baron had to work from in regards to weeding out the Hedgewizards. So while many practitioners of the arcane flee or die in defiance, many cling to the shadows, ever watchful as they live double lives while keeping up appearances and then practicing their magic in secret. So it was, for many years following, it was in the shadows alone that magic occurred, save for the small number of those who surrendered to Jantalar and registered with the Hall of Mages. Of those, their lives were a constant struggle, for the Jantalarian occupiers despised them, and the townspeople were taught to fear them.
In 5107, years after Baron Hochstib was killed, his sister Baroness Delphinuria was instated as the new ruler of Jantalar by Emperor Aurmont Anodheles. In the Baroness' first act, she announced a writ of relinquishment that renounced Jantalar's claim on Mestanir and restored its powers, privileges, and property. It wasn't much longer until Emperor Aurmont Anodheles appointed an old friend, Seurdyn Chydenar, as the new Baron of Mestanir. It is rumored that Seurdyn himself was actually an activist among a group of hedgewizards during Jantalar's control, and such speculation was born out of his close ties to the Nesbithes, a prominent hedgewizard family. Once Jantalarian forces had been expelled from Mestanir, years before the area truly became free again, Seurdyn Chydenar had married Sionwryn, the eldest Nesbithe daughter. After his investiture ceremony, Baron Chydenar spoke of the importance of the Barony's future, and that to ensure its success, the days of secret spellcasting must be over. He expressed his desire to slowly ease the spellcasting community into registration with the Hall of Mages, and with his wife Lady Sionwryn and her family beside him, he predicted it would be a success.
In truth, the Wizard Baron, as he is sometimes referred to, was correct in his prediction. His having long suffered under the oppression of Jantalar made many spellcasters in Mestanir, those who were hiding and those who have returned, appreciate the new rulership and feel a sort of kinship with a man who understands their art. Many wizards and sorcerers have now registered with the Hall of Mages, and the numbers remain steady year after year. However, it is still known, but rarely discussed, amongst those who still practice in the shadows of Mestanir who refuse to bend to the overreaching hand of the Hall of Mages and will stop at nothing to keep at least what they deem their freedom of magic.
The Arcane Eyes
In the capital city of Mestanir, magic was heavily restricted by decree of the Hall of Mages, and so it was only natural that an underground movement of rogue spellcasters who practiced and taught their art outside the observant rule of the Empire sparked to life. Many subversive groups flourished in the shadows, one of them being a wealthy group of summoners called the Arcane Eyes.
Many of the notable members of the Eyes were influential and wealthy nobles and merchants within Mestanir who knew full-well that their passion for the dark arts would lead to their imprisonment or execution. So during the days, they spent their time in the affairs of politics and entertainment, and at night, they retreated to their extravagant manors and the evil secrets of their magic.
They spent countless decades perfecting their summoning art, whether it was calling forth demons to bend to their will, or breathing life into golem minions. It was only a matter of time until their sight went beyond Mestanir and, in time, beyond the Empire. Small groups of the Arcane Eyes began to form in many nations and cities from Ta’Illistim to River’s Rest.
Many of the branches of the Arcane Eyes were diversified in their minor objectives, but overall their major goal remained the same: power. They did not desire to overthrow rulers and wear crowns of gold, but instead they sought to use their power to manipulate, influence, and further their own knowledge.
During this time, a powerful summoner by the name of Sebasation Stone,who also dabbled in dark magic, was gaining influence among his noble peers. His power and wisdom was seemingly unmatched, but his philosophy troubled many of the founders. Having originated in Mestanir, most of the founders had at least a loose devotion to Koar. So it did not bode well when Sebasation Stone began to sway minds into believing that great power lied beyond the Arkati. He took time to remind the others that in an age long ago, the Arkati themselves were servants to the Drakes. Even their idol Koar was rumored to be the last living Drake.
Despite the truth of Sebasation’s words regarding Koar, he was still seen as a heretic among his brethren. So it was that Sebasation’s secret rival, Elithian Cross, hatched a plan to end Sebasation. Elithian convinced his daughter Madelyne to seduce Sebasation’s son, Grishom, and get close enough to murder Sebasation.
Elithain’s plan took months to come to fruition, as the naïve and noble Grishom eventually fell madly in love with Madelyne and became enraptured with her, never thinking for an instant that she had ulterior motives. It was late one evening when Madelyne, who had earned passage into the Stone’s inner sanctum, confronted Sebasation while tending to his garden of sirenflowers. Not suspecting his son’s lover, Sebasation was murdered with surprise in his eyes. His death was not silent, and Grishom was soon there and bore witness to his father’s murderer, clutching the bloody dagger in her hand. Fully enraged, Grishom attacked Madelyne. They struggled, and in the end, Grishom disarmed her and killed her with the same bloodstained weapon.
Unfortunately, Grishom’s mind was shattered and was unable to handle the burden of his loss. Seeing no harm in Sebasation’s death, the elders of the Arcane Eyes defended Elithian, and in fact, helped to frame Grishom for the murder of both his father and Madelyne. Supporters of Grishom’s father quickly came to his side, and a full conflict was about to escalate when another outside force struck Mestanir.
In the year 5092, Baron Hochstib of Jantalar launched an invasion into the barony of Mestanir and conquered the land, annexing Mestanir, its capital, and other cities into its control. During this time, facing the alarming Mandis Crystals, many of the members of the Arcane Eyes fled the city and barony of Mestanir, regrouping and merging with many of the smaller branches throughout Elanthia.
It was the Jantalar invasion that kept the Arcane Eyes from dragging their conflict into the streets, but it did not keep them from breaking off into two different schools of thought. In 5107, Baron Hochstib was killed and Emperor Aurmont Anodheles appointed his sister, Lady Delphinuria, as Baroness. Upon the change of rulership, the Baroness relinquished Jantalar’s control over Mestanir, and they were once more their own barony.
It was not long after that the small force of Arcane Eyes, still in Mestanir, began to increase in both size and influence once more, especially in light of the new Baron of Mestanir declaring an open mind to a variety of arts of magic. The faction of the Arcane Eyes were old supporters of Sebasation Stone, so it was no large feat for his son Grishom to rise in the ranks.
But living in the shadow of a legend was not easy for Grishom, on top of his already fractured mind. So Grishom sought to achieve fame and power that outdid those before him. It was then Grishom discovered many of his father's old rituals and possessions, among them a large chunk of the ever-chaotic urnon.
Using his father’s musings, which had been untested, Grishom began to seduce women to fall in love with him, and in the end, he would murder them before conducting a ritual to channel their spirits to power his magical creations. Knowing the irony of his situation, and that now Grishom was perpetrating the very betrayal of love that had happened to him, he sought to find some comfort by being selective in his victims. Madelyne, his father’s murderer, had black hair and emerald eyes. So too, were all of Grishom’s victims.
Years passed and Grishom’s attempts at creating a perfect golem, one to serve and destroy at whim, continued to fail. His peers began to speculate whether to continue their support or not. Finally, Grishom came to the desperate opinion that in order to gain any control over the urnon, he would need a very significant sacrifice.
Grishom, along with some of his fellow summoners, orchestrated a massive human sacrifice of women, imbuing their spirits into the urnon block. The dark ritual was successful from a creation perspective, and soon the urnon began to calm and take on the form of a featureless woman. However, still chaotic in nature, they were unable to control the urnon golem and it turned on them, striking out in fear and even killing some of the summoners present before escaping into the night.
Losing face among the Arcane Eyes, Grishom had squandered an incredible amount of influence and power. Not only had his magical creation escaped, but it had cost the lives of other summoners, as well. Seeking to regain his greatest construction, Grishom enlisted two of his old allies, the summoners Albright and Raznel.
Albright and Raznel set off on the golem’s trail, following her for nearly two years. Meanwhile, Grishom Stone began to build his presence elsewhere by purchasing an island on Mist Harbor and funding the renovations of the Bathhouse and Museum in Wehnimer’s Landing. Little did Grishom know that his urnon golem, with no memories of her past, and now believing she was a human named Mirayam, would arrive in Wehnimer’s Landing and forever alter the city’s course.
In present day, the Arcane Eyes are all but a scattered group of individuals, their power and influence seeming to have waned over the recent years of being hunted down and conflicts arising from internal unrest. Time will surely tell if this organization's activity and membership ever returns to its once former glory.
Their symbol is of a silver eye.
The Celestial Cenobites
In all great civilizations and kingdoms, there often exists a black mark among their history and people. While the Kingdom of Hendor, now known as North and South Hendor, has seen its share of them, there exists one that is rarely discussed in present day. Those that are unspoken among many Hendorans are named the Celestial Cenobites. It began when it all ended, in the year 4630, when the Kingdom of Hendor officially fell to Issyldra the Ice Queen. During what is known in history as the Witch Winter, many in Hendor starved, fought and died, or fled the area. It would not be until 4635 when imperial forces from the Turamzzyrian Empire would help to liberate old Hendoran territories and wedge them from the grasp of monsters and other humanoids, eventually seeing a resettlement of humans in the area as Hendor was brought into the Empire as both north and south baronies.
But it was during the aftermath of the fall of the Kingdom of Hendor that the Cenobites came into existence. Before the Witch Winter, the Cenobites were a group of scholars and monks who were dedicated to the worship of Fash'lo'nae, often crossing the lines of morality to see the pursuit of knowledge carried out. Because of this, they often operated in secret. When the forces of Issyldra the Ice Queen descended on Hendor and the kingdom eventually collapsed, many of the Cenobites fled their home. As they wandered in the northern wilderness, many facing starvation, there was one among them who proclaimed he had received a vision, and that during his slumber an old man bearing the yellow eyes of Fash'lo'nae's symbol spoke to him, directing him where to travel. The dreamer then shepherded the Cenobites further north where they eventually came upon the ruins of an old fortress bearing the remnants of the Kannalan Empire. The Witch Winter continued, and while the Cenobites had escaped the arctic minions of the Ice Queen, they could not so easily overcome the seemingly endless winter.
After thorough exploration of the old fortress, a few storage reserves were found, indicating the area was used far more recently, but those inhabitants had died without a trace, or abandoned the stronghold. The Dreamer, as he came be known among the Cenobites, helped to try to organize those that remained, as they numbered around one hundred, with hardly enough food and supplies to last that number for months. The Cenobites survived, eating sparingly, over the course of two months, only losing a few of their ranks to the dangers of the cold. But it was not much longer before unrest began to settle in, as hunting became nearly impossible in the wilderness, and far too often those who left never returned. Supplies dwindled rapidly and many cases of theft occurred as corruption began among those who were tasked at protecting the food. Many even turned on the Dreamer, questioning his vision and whether Fash'lo'nae had truly led them to this spot, and if so, why do they suffer? It was then that he who is known as the Upstart gained for himself both a reputation, and set the Cenobites on a course that would forever change their existence and mission.
One night, in the last and nearly depleted food storage, the body of the Dreamer was found murdered, his skull hollowed-out and his brain feverishly being consumed by the Upstart, who claimed he too had received a vision--that their new home had been but a step in their evolutionary process, a means to grow more powerful, not to wither away and die. Thus began the first cannibalism of the Cenobites and their new, twisted ideology that had them believing that by the consumption of the brains of their victims, they can evolve both their intelligence and their mental powers. The Upstart was unfortunately the next victim, the second casualty in the birth of his new form of worship. From there, chaos reigned.
The nearly one hundred Cenobites that had arrived soon dwindled to half that number in the coming days and weeks, as small pockets of the group formed together, some forging alliances while targeting others. Cannibalism was in full swing, all under the banner of Fash'lo'nae and repurposed as steps towards ascension. In truth though, many written documents recovered from that time seem to validate their theory, as even though they fed on their victims to survive, many experienced heightened senses of intelligence and the development of mental magic they had never previously been able to perform. Of course, these magical feats of the mind only further worked to fuel the murder and cannibalism. Those wisest among the Cenobites knew that such a pattern would result in their extinction, leaving only one, or a few behind as survivors, which was perhaps Fash'lo'nae's goal all along, they reasoned.
But their speculation was put to rest in 4632 when a band of adventurers from the Turamzzyrian Empire vanquished the Ice Queen, ending the eternal winter that had nearly suffocated all of Hendor. In the coming years, monster and barbarian forces would move into the region, and imperial forces would clash with them in their conquest to take back the region and eventually claim it as part of their Empire. But the thawing of the ice and unsettling chaos in the area allowed the Cenobites to stop their cycle of self destruction and move their efforts and research outward. Over time, a shrine to Fash'lo'nae was built within the old Kannalan fortress, and a large number of the Cenobites remained, turning to capturing and eating victims outside of their order, such as imperials, monsters, and barbarians in the area. Other Cenobites chose to depart, settling in other small pockets through the Turamzzyrian Empire and beyond, wherever they felt the Grandfather led them in their pursuit of more knowledge and power.
In 4645, a year after General Jyllander captured Mensyl Pass, imperial forces began to successfully spread out, resettling the old Kingdom of Hendor. It was then that imperial soldiers discovered the old Kannalan stronghold and the cannibalistic Cenobites that awaited within. The battle lasted for days, as many among the Celestial Cenobites were highly trained monks, devout in their faith but skilled in combat. In time the imperial army defeated the Cenobites within the fortress and sent those few who remained scattered, many of them eventually meeting up with the smaller sects of their order that had already established new footing elsewhere.
Today, the Celestial Cenobites are more of a concept than a fully organized group. There exists some level of communication among many of their underground cells, but it only happens rarely, and usually only in times of great importance. Despite their more independent nature of each other, they still all subscribe to the ideology that the consumption of brains and cannibalism leads them down the path to further enlightenment as they embrace, at least what they determine, to be Fash'lo'nae's true calling for his followers. Meanwhile, the old fortress still remains abandoned, with rumors claiming the spirits of the fallen still haunt its stone halls.
The Blackwood Ravagers
The Barony of Jantalar is known for a good many things, but while in recent times many reflect on the tyranny of Baron Lerep Hochstib and the wars with Mestanir, Talador, and Vornavis, there exists a side to Jantalar that is not always in the forefront. One of the most thriving industries in Jantalar, even when it was at its military height, its lumber mills and the skills of their woodworkers are unmatched throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire. While Jantalar has many dense and lush forests to the north, many of their crafters even import different styles of wood that help to ensure their craftsmen have a variety of options. However, among Jantalar's forests, there exists a region of thick trees aptly named the Blackwoods, which stretch out like a half-moon on the northern border of Jantalar, even spilling into the Barony of Talador.
It is in the depths of this dark forest that the Blackwood Ravagers have found their home for the last two decades. The Ravagers are cruel, destructive, and often times possessed with dangerous levels of zeal for the V'tull, God of Combat and Lust. Despite their known alignment with the Berserker Arkati, their nefarious tactics of kidnappings and murder make them criminals in the eyes of the Turamzzyrian Empire. Many of the Blackwood Ravagers can date their origins to the fallout after the Griffin Sword Wars, where many of those V'tullian followers who worked with Zerroth, a powerful champion of V'tull, had sought out a new home and purpose. While some scattered and were hunted down, others found the depths of the Blackwoods to their liking, which allowed them to remain close enough to civilization to have access to an ample amount of targets.
Over the years there have been a number of incursions, primarily in Jantalarian territory, when members of the Blackwood Ravagers will strike out at merchant caravans, farmsteads, and sometimes even being bold enough to attack towns, striking deeper into imperial footholds. While the Ravagers always leave a trail of blood and victims, they are always beat back into their Blackwoods, time and again. In recent years, the Blackwood Ravagers have resorted to mass kidnappings as if baiting imperial soldiers and bounty hunters to tread into their forest, meeting them in combat in their familiar territory. It is reported by some eyewitness accounts, that weekly, sometimes daily blood sports and combat rituals occur within the depths of the Blackwoods, as the Ravagers are almost always occupying themselves in some form of bloodlust and battle, even amongst their own.
The Sons of Sorrow
"He who is the Sorrow of the World, may he take great pleasure in the suffering of their flesh, may he delight in the bleeding wounds of their hearts, and may one day I too know the blessing of such pain."
That is the credo of the Sons of Sorrow, a group of elite noblemen operating out of the imperial capital of Tamzyrr. Their true names are unknown, along with anything regarding their identities, with the sole exception of their noble birth. That information alone is founded primarily on rumors and a few accounts of survivors who claim to have once been captives of the Sons. Many times these surviving victims are so traumatized that they remember very little else, and many dismiss their claims as wild notions born from Zelian madness or illness. Few, at least among imperial nobility, can fathom that any among their peers could be sadomasochists and would participate in such acts of depravity, torture, and sometimes, even death.
Despite all of that, the rumors persist and there exists enough witnesses and rumors to help frame loose details around the Sons of Sorrow, who go to extreme measures in secret worship of Mularos. Some say many of these sadistic noblemen have financial ties to the Conquest Fetes that transpire in Tamzyrr, where constant and glorified battles to the death could easily serve as a den of wickedness for Mularos followers, who would find such agony fitting to their pleasures.
But the Sons of Sorrow's reach is said to go beyond the bloodstained combat arenas and underground slave markets, and indicates that many hold ownership over dark brothels, where all manner of torture and decadence exists. Of course, even those of questionable carnal tastes avoid these particular brothels, as many have claimed, on more than a few occasions, that some who have entered have never returned.
Disciples of the Shadows
For as long as the worship of Arkati has been established, so too has there been those who were driven to stop it at all costs. One such group is referenced throughout the history of the Turamzzyrian Empire as the Disciples of the Shadows. They are a group of loosely organized cults bent on the destruction of all Arkati relics, temples, and shrines, in addition to the wholesale slaughter of those who worship them. In the past, these demonic cults were responsible for the destruction of religious archives, mass murders of priests and other followers of Arkati, and have even been known to converge on entire towns and cities, seeking to burn them to the ground simply to destroy the holy temples and faithful worshippers within.
The Disciples worship an ancient being called Althedeus. It is said Althedeus was created by the titantic power unleashed in the war between the Drakes and Ur'Daemons. When the war ended, the Drakes had won, but many of them were lost to madness and fear, and it is suggested that out of this fear the chaos being of Althedeus was born, essentially the child of both the Drakes' and Ur'Daemons' energies, empowered by the death of the great beings and fueled by their fear. However, being a force with no physical manifestation, he exists beyond Elanthia among the valences, potentially influencing other planes but never having a body or presence in the physical world. The truth will always be a mystery, but many agree that his creation spawned from the clash of the Drakes and Ur'Daemons, and the power they unleashed caused Althedeus to manifest.
Throughout time, Althedeus, known as the Shadows, had many other names based on time and culture. The Krolvin legend is that a great shadowy evil once ravaged many krolvin clans in their original cluster of arctic islands. Little else is known of what the shadow force could have been, as the krolvin were never quick to discuss any weakness, and those that survived the conflict are long gone. The Sylvan legend is that Althedeus is a being of chaos, born from the shadows thrown across Elanthia in the aftermath of the war between Drakes and Ur'Daemons. When Althedeus was first learned to exist, it is said the ancient creature made an attempt to cross over into Elanthia, but the sylvan's magic of preservation was able to trap the demon's essence in what is now called the Heart of the Wyrdeep, and that the forest itself is managed as a safeguard--a prison--keeping Althedeus from crossing over. The Tehir legend is a very ancient one, unknown to many of the living Tehir, even today. It is said Althedeus could have once been known to those in the Sea of Fire as the great Maw of the Void, a dark powerful force that some of their shamans blamed for infant mortality among their tribes. The Erithian legend is that a small group of Erithian sailors once embarked on a voyage even further east, beyond their continent. Only two of the Erithians returned alive, but they had gone insane, unable to speak and spending their waking moments sketching images of dark horrific scenes and gruesome shadowy creatures. It is rumored that Althedeus may have spawned those creatures as some of his original servants. When another voyage of Erithians sought to discover what chaos those before them had found, they never returned. Even beyond the world of Elanthia, it is said the extraplanar Ithzir held the name Grak'na'Den and had taken measures to guard their world from him.
The Disciples of the Shadows had firmly believed, likely under manipulation by this demonic entity, that Althedeus was beyond the Arkati; that it existed as a being more worthy and powerful than the gods. It is because of this unyielding faith that the Disciples sought to desecrate all tools of worship for the Arkati, be it their followers or their temples. They truly believed that to snuff out the minions of the Arkati and their holy places, they could help make a place for the Shadows to reign. Over the course of history, the scale and tactics of the Disciples have grown and waned. Many times their actions were the catalyst for the faithful of both Liabo and Lornon to unite on some occasions as they attempted to squash out the rising pockets of these anti-Arkati cults. Each time they proved successful in the end, as the Disciples would rise up from time to time, and then be chased back into the darkness or underground. It would sometimes be decades or centuries until they resurfaced, each time eventually finding defeat. While the Disciples could be of any race, many were humans, elves, half-elves, and even some monstrous humanoids like orcs and ogres. As they evolved in their depravity and worship of the Shadows, their physical forms would often change, resulting in pale or grey skin, yellow eyes, and often times red or black veins on areas of their flesh.
While the time period of their origin remains unclear, and some suggest they even existed during the Age of Chaos, the oldest document recording their activities came from scholars in a monastery in Elstreth, where he claims to have encountered some of these followers in the Southron Wastes. If the scribe's recounting is to be true, it certainly does not make the Disciples exclusive to that area, as they have been seen and their attacks felt all across the Turamzzyrian Empire and Elanthia throughout history.
In the year 5114, the Disciples of the Shadows rose again in prominence and staged dozens of coordinated strikes throughout the human and elven lands, attacking and destroying a number of Arkati shrines and massacring their followers. Their newest attacks were all created for the purpose of attempting to finally usher in a new Age of Shadows, where Althedeus would reign over the world with the bones and blood of the Arkati beneath him. In 5115, the combined efforts of countless adventurers from all over Elanthia were able to stop the birth of Althedeus in their world, in the end unraveling him from existence and sending the twisted Disciples to death or scattering across the world. Despite the destruction of Althedeus, not all of the Disciples of the Shadows are on the run. Their activity is still historically low, but there remains some pockets who still attempt to bring ruin to temples of the Arkati and death to their followers. It is rumored they still seek this goal as a means of one day resurrecting their shadow god.
The Hand of Bones
It is unclear how long the Hand of Bones have been in operation. Some say even as early as the first years of the Turamzzyrian Empire and that their agents were secretly employed by Empress Selantha against high value targets in the Kingdom of Hendor during their conflict that originated in 4292. Regardless, little is known of the Hand of Bones save for their worship of Onar the Assassin. This unlawful sect of assassins have been rumored to have a hand in numerous mysterious deaths, especially of nobility, throughout the history of the Empire, but there exists little evidence beyond speculation. Most notable of these rumors are old accounts of Nalfein soldiers near Barret's Gorge claiming they had been harried, and some of their commanders murdered, by shadowy figures wearing white skull-shaped rings. It's said one such figure released the poison inside his ring into the glasses of Nalfein commanders, and the next morning they were found dead, mere moments before imperial warhorns had sounded and the Nalfein outpost was overrun during the Second Elven War.
The rumors, of course, are dismissed by imperials as just more elven lies used to justify their conflict with the humans. Given the nature and business of the Hand of Bones, one can surely expect such an organization exists within the Turamzzyrian Empire, but its size and locations are unknown. In current times, the two most prominent rumors surrounding this band of Onarian assassins is that they are used by nobility against nobility, and also sometimes employed to strike out in secret against Ta'Nalfein.
The Murkdeep Bandits
In 5087, Jantalar invaded and occupied Talador, making it formally part of Jantalar. The reasoning behind this invasion was the lack of noble leadership in the province. This hostile move by Baron Lerep Hochstib caused new rules and edicts regarding inter-territorial relations to be established. In 5103, Baron Lerep Hochstib was killed after an unsuccessful attempt to take over Wehnimer's Landing. In 5107, Emperor Aurmont Anodheles invested Delphinuria Hochstib, Lerep's sister, as the Baroness of Jantalar. As her first ruling act, she renounced Jantalar's claim to Mestanir, finally freeing them. However, Talador remained under Jantalarian control.
As the war machine of Jantalar slowly died down and conquest was no longer it's goal, many Jantalarian soldiers found themselves without work, and many without homes or families to return to. Because of this sudden demilitarization of Jantalar in the aftermath of Baron Hochstib's death and failed war, many returning soldiers fell into a life of banditry, finding new work and more pay in criminal activities.
So it has come to be that there are regions of woodland areas between Jantalar and Talador that are infested with thieves and robbers, loosely organized, but all under the name of the Murkdeep Bandits, so called after the forests in which they dwell. The bandits discriminate against no one, robbing from merchants, nobles, and travelers alike. They seem content with their new lives, or perhaps are patiently waiting for the day another push for imperial expansion provides them with the profits of war over thievery.
The Silver Kings
One of the most notable criminal organizations in all of the Turamzzyrian Empire are called the Silver Kings. These Kings are organized by three nameless men, their referenced titles being the Crown, the Scepter, and the Blade. The Silver Kings are all of the ranking members who are united as one under these three leaders who help orchestrate the large scale plans and operations of the unlawful order. The first activities of the Silver Kings are said to have occurred around 4479, when Emperor Roginard amended Chaston's Edict to add restrictions to other non-humans, such as dwarves, giants, and halflings. Prior to this change, Chaston's Edict had only prevented elves and half-elves from owning land or positions of power, making many of them outcasts. It's believed that some of the first operations of the Silver Kings were providing smuggling services for non-humans to escape the intolerance of some imperial regions. Of course, this was not done out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of influence and greed. From here, the three founding members, their names forever forgotten to all, created the titles for themselves and began expanding their organization through activities all in direct opposition of imperial laws.
Over the years, with an eye on profits and power, the Silver Kings expanded into almost every fathomable angle. They invested in smuggling operations at port towns on the western coast with heavy activity in Tamzyrr itself. All across the Empire they financed brothels and taverns, always owning a share of the profits and always having a base or front for their operations, if needed. Where there is profit, there are the Silver Kings, who manage their business ruthlessly and are known to completely eradicate or swallow up other criminal organizations who encroach on their established territories. This is not to say that the Silver Kings have never formed alliances, especially for financial gain, but if too much conflict and competition exists, they take measures to ensure their business does not suffer.
In present day, while the original founders of the Kings are long gone, their positions and titles remain, and it is speculated they are passed down over time to descendants or those hand picked to be worthy of the power. In addition, many among the Silver Kings and their leaders are said to have firm and influential ties among nobles in many provinces, as well as connections to wealthy merchant families and even justice officials. In fact, some theorize that the Silver Kings exist still today because they have successfully immersed themselves in many aspects of imperial life and business, that the law allows them to operate in a strange coexistence, otherwise the Turamzzyrian Empire would see bloody war in all corners of their domain.
The Brotherhood of Rooks
The Brotherhood of Rooks were born in the imperial protectorate of Wehnimer's Landing in the year 5112. Their benefactor at the original time was a mystery, and they seemingly sprung up overnight, first appearing as hooded figures wearing dark bird masks with razor-sharp silver beaks. For many months these Rooks terrorized shopkeepers in Wehnimer's Landing, using intimidation to get them to sign up for protection or face risking their shops and livelihood or even their lives. It was later discovered that the Rooks were merely using magical items to maintain their bird-like visage and help them to move quickly and unseen throughout the town.
The Rooks have primarily been self-contained to Wehnimer's Landing, but in recent years, have had some small incursions into Solhaven where they conducted a number of bank heists, attacked ships from Vornavis bringing supplies to the Landing, and were even involved in a smuggling operation arming krolvin warships with weapons and armor to raid imperial towns along the Western Sea.
The Brotherhood operates on various levels of secrecy, and many times, fellow members are even unaware of the identity of those who serve alongside them. It is said the ranks of the Rooks are filled with the likes of merchants, tradesmen and commoners, all the way to pirates, bandits, and thieves.
It has since been learned that the Brotherhood of Rooks has had connections to many imperial criminals, such as Elithain Cross, Drangell, and Stephos DeArchon. Because of their criminal activities within the Empire, even on a small scale, and their proximity to imperial lands being based out of Wehnimer's Landing, they are deemed an unlawful organization in the eyes of the Sun Throne.
Their symbol is of a red outline of a rook.
The Black Fog Federation
At a time in the early ages of the Turamzzyrian Empire, piracy along the shipping lanes between Tamzyrr and Kai Toka was commonplace, so much so that a huge shift was made towards the training and size of the imperial navy to help combat the sea raiders. During this time of increased piracy on the high seas, one such man gained notoriety and fame for his brazen attacks against imperial ships and officials. His name was Bloody Malovor, and he was widely known for two decades of infamy and unrivaled fortune on the seas. Eventually, the experience and skill of the imperial navy hindered all piracy, and by 4328, buccaneering had dwindled down to become almost nonexistent. Bloody Malovor was never captured or killed, and some say when he saw the tide changing, he simply retired off of the massive wealth he and his crew had obtained and lived a comfortable life along some pockets of islands far from the Western Sea. Other rumors imply that Bloody Malovor was actually granted an imperial pardon and, with a new name and cleaned-up appearance, he actually became a high ranking officer in the navy fleet outside of Tamzyrr.
While the true fate of Malovor is unknown, it is around 4331 that a woman by the name of Shade emerged on the Western Sea and launched a coordinated attack on two port cities on Kezmon Isle. The attacks were heralded by a thick black fog that rolled in from the sea and blanketed the dockets of the port towns, even some of their streets, obscuring the defenders view of the raiding pirates. Because of the element of surprise and the seemingly magical fog, Shade was successful in plundering great wealth from Kezmon Isle, hitting the bustling ports right at the beginning of their summer festival where the docks were filled with expensive wares and treasures ripe for the taking. Shade's fleet departed, making off with their trove and leaving behind a storm of rumors and speculation. Many Kezmonians who had survived the attack had claimed to have heard the pirate captain herself proclaiming to be the daughter of Bloody Malovor, but others dismissed it as a fear tactic and nothing more than a ploy at infamy.
It was eventually learned that Shade, who was half-elven, was likely the daughter of Bloody Malovor and an elven sorceress who he had met at one of the many docks in Ta'Nalfein. The timeline of Shade's arrival would indicate she likely got into piracy after her father's retirement or disappearance. Imperial wizards would later explain the black fog to be connected to a sort of sorcery or elemental magic, but the fact that Shade employed it in simultaneous locations hinted that there were others among her crew who also had mastered such arcane arts. Over the next three decades, the Black Fog Federation was formed, a loosely allied group of pirate captains and fleets, some human, some elven, some half-elven, all with the goal of raiding imperial ports. The Federation suffered gaps of inactivity over their history as they constantly found new threats of the growth of the imperial navy, the presence of krolvin on the seas, and many times internal conflicts among factions of the pirate alliance. The most successful of any pirate attacks over its history were always when done with the aid of trained magic users who employed the signature black fog to conceal their raids.
Historical archives in Idolone go on to tell the story of Shade's demise, that she was in fact captured by imperial officers of the navy. Some say she was tried and executed for her high crimes, while others speak of a more nefarious end--that she was tortured and brutalized beyond recognition in the process of trying to get her to reveal the whereabouts of Bloody Malovor and essentially his infamous treasure trove. Regardless of how she met her end, after she was captured she never returned, and for many years, infighting spread among the pirate captains of the Black Fog Federation, and their entire alliance was likely to dissolve. It would be another fifteen years before the next attack was ever orchestrated by the Black Fog Federation, and over time, their magical tactics have been weakened or disappeared altogether. Some say this is likely due to the countermeasures installed in many large imperial ports by the Hall of Mages, which provides for easier means to dispel the fog before the pirates are able to deal any significant attacks. So while the Black Fog Federation remains at least in name, very rarely are their strikes still heralded by fog, and if so, it is typically in smaller ports that lack the proper defense resources as larger cities.
The Ivory Thorns
So little is known of the Ivory Thorns that of those few who have heard their name, many of them believe their existence to be a fable or some other manufactured lie among warring imperials, or even rumors supplanted by elven factions. There are absolutely no details surrounding their origins or members, and all that exists is the faintest of whispers among a small population of people within the Turamzzyrian Empire. But despite any documents or evidence of this group's existence, the few who speak of them do so with such a passion and zeal that they are openly mocked or even locked away as mad Zelians working to spread conspiracies and cause treason.
But what details can be gleaned, whether true or contrived, state that the Thorns are highly skilled killers under the employ of a mysterious figure known only as the Ivory Baron. Whether or not this man is even of true nobility is uncertain, as the title itself may be nothing more than a tactic of misdirection. Whispers suggest that the Ivory Thorns come from all walks of life, but a majority of them were once bloodthirsty and greedy imperials or criminals, all of which have been reformed, retrained, and reborn into silent killers that can be wielded against enemies of the Sun Throne, be they domestic or foreign. In the last sixty years, it's said the Ivory Thorns had seen their highest levels of activity even though it was mostly done in secrecy, so none of which can be confirmed. Conflict will always be a constant factor among nobles within the Turamzzyrian Empire, whether it is disagreements and issues amongst rival provinces, or even against enemies beyond their borders, such as the elves and krolvin.
It has been during some of these conflicts that the Ivory Thorns have been utilized to successfully, and secretly, eliminate threats, whether by hunting down rogue witches, rival merchant lords, pirate kings, or elven royalty. No records of recognition of this group has ever been mentioned in any official capacity, because to acknowledge the existence of this group, and their use from time to time, could very well ignite civil war among imperial provinces or even a Third Elven War.
In fact, some even go so far as to say that the Ivory Baron and his Thorns no longer exist, that over ten years ago, the operation was silently terminated, which also called for the eradication of many of its assassins so that no trail of their existence remained.
Kalahaya - the Black Wind
In the heart of the desert, in an ancient tomb complex near fallen Bir Mahallah, dwells a tribe that is not a tribe, but rather a band that is spoken of in hushed whispers throughout the Sea of Fire. They are a clan of assassins, dedicated to the art of secret murder, which is normally anathema to the warrior culture of the Tehir. They are known as the Kalahaya - the Black Wind.
Ask the tribes and they will tell you that the Kalahaya is as old as the Tehir themselves. Even the Black Wind itself doesn’t know how long it has existed, its origin long buried in the sands, though they credit their founding to a group known as the Nao Javar, the Nine Shadows. When these men lived, however, remains a mystery...assuming they were, in fact, men, and assuming they do not still live.
The Kalahaya have no singular identity, as they adopt and train outcasts from all tribes, thus physical appearance, dress, and even tribal dialect can vary wildly from one assassin to the next. The assassins will adopt anyone they feel has the potential to learn their art well, and should an individual survive training, he or she is considered a full member of the clan, regardless of background.
The subterranean tomb complex that the Black Wind inhabits is referred to as Yaehe Iraj, the Silent City. Very few are willing to venture near even the outskirts of cursed Bir Mahallah, never mind explore the underground necropoli, so the home of the Kalahaya has remained secure for ages. Some say the Kalahaya may even have some limited immunity to the dark power that roils at the heart of Bir Mahallah, allowing them to survive where few, if any, could reach safely, and perhaps even to speak the name of the cursed city aloud without drawing its ire. As the Kalahaya are not known to be nomadic, it is assumed that they have learned to be self-sufficient with the resources available to them in the Yaehe Iraj and the surrounding area.
Those who wish to procure the services of the Black Wind do not seek them at their home, but rather perform very specific rites to draw their attention. The nature of these rites vary depending on tribe and region, and generally involve leaving a very specific sign in a particular spot. It is rumored that some Tehir who have left the desert still retain knowledge of the Black Wind and how to contact them, and that the assassins are not only willing, but quite capable of accepting contracts outside the Sea of Fire.
The Kalahaya do not accept every contract presented to them, however. No outsider has yet determined what their criteria are for accepting an assassination, and they will either refuse or accept with no explanation given as to why. If they accept, payment must be granted in advance, and the payment is always something the client is able, though not necessarily willing, to pay. This payment is sometimes given in precious gems or metals. Sometimes it may be in a particular service, or in something the client has absolutely no knowledge as to the value of - the offering of a strange or seemingly worthless object, or a task with no explicable value behind it, and so on.
The Kalahaya do not practice the art of disguise in order to safely approach a target. The nature of tribal society prohibits the effectiveness of such attempts - everyone would easily be able to identify a stranger. Thus, they focus on stealth and misdirection as their prime assassination methodology. Their preferred weapons are the knife and katar, though the Wind’s trainers are practical. Should a member show exceptional skill with another type of weapon, or even magic, that talent will be exploited to its fullest lethal potential.
There are countless tales told about the Black Wind, and nearly every tribe has their own unique stories regarding the nature and exploits of the assassins. Only the Kalahaya know where the truth lies, and, in fact, the Black Wind itself spreads many of these legends and rumors, the better to keep their nature secret and their potential victims unsure and uneasy.