(The Knights of the Lost Kingdom of Kearun)
he Knights of Kearun were once a distinguished order of warrior poets over a millennium ago, in the days before the dwarven ascension, composed of men and women with an undying loyalty to their king, country, and the pursuit of understanding the universe. While knightly orders were not uncommon, the Kearundye (translated from old Kear, meaning Shields of Elder Land) were, if anything, unique. What made their order so radically different from those of the dozen warring city-states of the per-ascension era was not their martial prowess, but their scholarly pursuits. The thaumaturgic knights of the Kearundye drew forth magics and ancient secrets, and blended them harmoniously with steel, creating a perfect balance of mage and warrior. It was said that the magi of the Kearundye first learned this method from an unknowable being thousands of years before their fall. As to who or what this was remains an enigma, possibly dying with the final magi, after the kingdom of Kearun fell in 25A.A.
The Kearundye existed in four separate orders, working cohesively to protect the kingdom; the Ivory Order, the Ebon Order, the Crimson Order, and the Azure Order. Together, these brave knights would ride along the ruin-rich country-side of Kearun, uncovering long-lost artifacts from far-gone civilizations.
When not uncovering the secrets hidden within their boarders, they would defend their people from the voracious creatures that roamed to cool slopes and rocky hills that spotted their landscape. The Kearundye firmly believed in the freedom of all men, and refused to allow any person to be in their debt. For the services they rendered, they would ask for payment in return. The payment was usual meager, and often little more than a night’s lodging and a warm meal. If a Knight of Kearundye was to save a man’s life, and the man felt indebted, the knight would take him on as a squire for a brief time, allowing the man to pay off his debt.
With Kearun’s army bolstered by the Kearundye, the kingdom never attacked it’s neighbors, nor did it show any desire to expand it’s boarders. In fact, Kearun and the Kearundye came to the aid of many of it’s neighbors when they found themselves standing against the likes of monsters, extra-planar threats, and the roaming undead of the Lich Wars. Such steadfast bravery left Kearun in the good graces of all the surrounding kingdoms. When the city-states began to war with one another, Kearun humbly declined to intervene. They kept to their own kingdom, patrolling their boarders. Those armies foolish enough to attempt an invasion soon found themselves regretting their decision. Not cruel by any measure, the Kearundye would wipe out a third of the attacking forces in the first few moments of a battle, then allowing them to retreat. It was a strong message, “Kearun is not to be trifled with”.
The reign of the Kearundye came to a swift end when the might of the dwarven army, fresh from their victory at Gromdal, arrived on their doorstep. The dwarves demanded surrender, but the people of Kearun refused to recognize the dwarven empire as their rulers. The battle that followed was brutal. Losses were heavy on both sides, and each fought valiantly. The Kearundye ultimately lost, fighting to the last man.
The Knights of Kearundye followed the code of freedom. They believed that no man, woman, or child should be owned by another individual. They believed that all the humanoid races, even those of monstrous descent, deserved to be given a chance to make their own decisions in life. Their vows were as follows
- I will not tolerate slavery in any form. If I witness one individual being sold to another, I will intervene with words or actions if necessary.
- If I encounter any escaped slaves, I will make it my duty to take them under my care until they find a safe home.
- I shall not willingly deal with any who support or benefit from slavery.
- I keep no slaves. Those who wait upon me do so of their own volition, or because they are in my employ and are treated with the utmost respect.
- When visiting others who keep servants, I will treat them honorably. I shall inquire as to their happiness and treatment. Those who are treated as no more than slaves will gain my strength to support them.
- Shackles and bonds are forbidden unless used on an individual convinced of a crime. Placing another in chains is akin to being a slaver.
Knights who violated any of this code’s tenets was to perform penance by placing themselves in servitude to the individual who was wronged. If the exact individual could not be found, a person of equivalent social class was sufficient. The length of servitude was dependent on the severity of the transgression. Minor transgressions required a day. If an entire family was enslaved as a result of the Knight’s action, (or inaction), up to a month of servitude might have been required.
The Ivory Order – Consisting of fighters, clerics, and magi who adapted to the rigors casting in full plate, the Ivory order was the shining steel shield that defended the kingdom of Kearun. Their bravado and zest for battle was legendary. These knights were easily spotted upon the battlefield, wearing armor of brilliant white steel, as bright as ivory.
The Ebon Order – If the Ivory Order was the shield of Kearun, the Ebon Order was most certainly it’s razor-sharp sword. An elite group, consisting completely of magi, the Ebon Knights wielded sentient blackblades that were bound to their wielder, and his bloodline. Among them existed an even more exclusive group, the Kensai; warrior-poets who shunned the use of all weapons but their chosen blade. The Kensai adopted the fighting styles of several far off lands, from the stoic, lightning fast swordplay of the far east regions, to the chaotic dance of the desert-dwelling tribes of the southeast.
The Crimson Order – While the Ivory and Ebon orders defended the land from those who would threaten it’s people, the Crimson Order was defending against those within the boarders of Kearun that would turn their scholarly quests into ones of blood and depravity. Magic is power, and there are those who find it’s lure a corrupting influence. Necromancers whom would bind the souls of living, and reanimate the dead to do their bidding, or evokers whose power over destruction lead them to cause unimaginable harm; these were the enemies of the Crimson Order. One of the most feared orders in the kingdom, the red-hooded knights were on the move constantly, seeking out enemy spellcasters and dealing with them with ruthless efficiency.
It’s rumored that those taken alive were whisked away to a special prison built to suppress the lay lines, so that magic could not be touched, essentially making it a living hell for those drunk on their powers. Those who believed in such claims refereed to this place as the Crimson Keep. Within the walls of this secret prison, time was said to move more slowly in a state of quasi-stasis, allowing for full sentences to be be carried out in shorter times, and allowing the prisoners to return as productive members of society while still retaining a semblance of their youth. Unfortunately from within the walls, the passage of time is even more disorienting. Hours seemed like weeks. Days like years. For a transgression that would require a five year sentence, the prisoner would feel like it were 500. The existence of the Crimson Keep has never been confirmed, and is believed to be only a rumor derived from an old makazz’i children’s rhyme.
No time for rest when ill deeds you reap,
No time for food, no time for sleep.
And though you will tire, where ever you creep
Out of shadows the red cloaks will leap
They’ll take you away somewhere cold and deep
Where madmen of old shall silently weep
And within your cage, you shan’t make a peep
For there’s no time nor sound in the Crimson Keep
The Azure Order – The Azure Order was comprised mainly of true mages, who have dedicated their lives to the understanding and workings of the universe. They were scholars, whose grasp of magic far outreached their companions, but that does not mean they do not see their share of battle. The Azure Watch, as they were sometimes called were called upon to protect Kearun from threats and dangers beyond tangible boarders. When threats arose hailing from different planes or worlds, the Azure Watch was the first, and sometimes only line of defense. It is unknown how many challenges from beyond could have threatened the lives of all in Kearun, or even the world at large. The Azure watch would never tell. They kept to their secrets, and sought no glory for their deeds. When asked about all that they faced, they would humbly say “You would sleep better not knowing”