The Salvation of Geoff
The Knight Protectors of The Great Kingdom
In the early days of the Great Kingdom the ancient enemies of the Aerdy, the Ur-Flan, summoned forth a demonic creature to slay the Aerdy king while he was traveling. The fiend set upon the king and would have slain him but for a group of simple commoners who came to his aid and, through cleverness and bravery, slew the abomination. This group of loyal yeoman would be honored by the Aerdy king and appointed as his personal guard- his knight protectors. A formal charter for the Knight Protectors was granted shortly thereafter in -107 CY by the grateful king. Since that time, the Knight Protectors have upheld a tradition of excellence exceeded by none. Only the most skilled and loyal warriors are asked to join the ranks of the Knight Protectors, and many of the knightly orders throughout the Flanaess are based upon their traditions. The structure of most knighthoods in the Flanaess follows the model set down by the Knight Protectors, even though the doctrines of each order may vary beyond this. The Knight Protectors’ training emphasizes horsed combat, with all members being proficient in the use of the lance. In addition to being trained as elite heavy cavalry, Knight Protectors are known for upholding lawful causes and for their selfless defense of the helpless and the innocent.
Those wishing to join the Knight Protectors are only open to consideration if they are a proven warrior. Unlike many other less reputable knightly orders, the Knight Protectors do not accept pretenders who merely seek a title of knighthood as a sign of social distinction. The Knight Protectors seldom take on squires, though the practice is not unheard of. Throughout the order’s history, the Knight Protectors have allowed warriors of any faith or social standing able to abide by the order’s strict guidelines entry to their ranks, so long as the supplicant is worthy and is sponsored by a current knight of the order. The credo of the Knight Protectors is to uphold the will of the (rightful) king, show respect to those of or above your own station; demand respect of those below your own station, help those who are in need, and do nothing to defame or embarrass king, country, or the order. A similar credo is followed by most other knightly orders throughout the Flanaess. The Knight Protectors is home to all manner of holy knights and the tenets of the order serve to maintain a peace between members whose faiths publicly oppose one another, as in the case of the order’s Heironean and Hextorite members.
To maintain the quality of its membership, supplicants are evaluated by a body initially formed for this very purpose- the Council Gallant. Made up of the Knight Protectors’ most senior members, the Council Gallant not only judges the worthiness of potential new members, but acts as the ruling council of the order itself. Shortly after the inception of the order, the Knight Protectors were made autonomous by the Aerdy king himself, so as to distance the order from the increasing intrigue of court politics. Though independent of the king, the Knight Protectors continued to place an honorary contingent of knights at the king’s disposal. The Knight Protectors’ original charter charged the order with protecting the Aerdy king and his people, and with enforcing the king’s laws throughout the land. The Council Gallant is responsible for defending the order’s tenets from outside influences, even those of the sitting king.
Leading into the Age of Great Sorrows, the order was rocked by the treachery of the notable knight Lord Kargoth and a group of 13 other influential knights who were seduced to his cause. These fourteen knights would become the first death knights. By their acts of treachery, and indeed their very existence, the death knights would become the arch nemesis of the Knight Protectors. Over the next hundred years, the Knight Protectors sought to destroy the death knights and those who served them. While many minions of the death knights were put to the word, not a single death knight was able to be destroyed. With the scattering of the traitors, the Knight Protectors looked to be in the ascendant once again, but the worst was yet to come.
The Age of Sorrows was a time of strife that heralded the downfall of one of the brightest lands in all the Flanaess. The Great Kingdom, a land renowned as a beacon of law and order, began to come apart at the seams, as the petty machinations of power hungry nobles sought to gain influence within the kingdom. As strife began to permeate all lands of the Great Kingdom, the Knight Protectors were sent far and wide to quell the unrest in lands as far west as the Nyr Dyv. It was at this time that the order’s arch nemesis, the death knights, once again revealed themselves. Scattered throughout the turbulent kingdom, the Knight Protectors became east targets for the resurgent forces of Lord Kargoth and the other death knights who began to hunt members of the order with almost complete freedom. As a result, the Council Gallant was forced to recall its far flung members from the troubled border states to combat this dangerous menace. Many Knight Protectors were hunted down and slain by the death knights while attempting to return to the order’s base outside of Rauxes. The gathered strength of the order was enough to force the death knights into hiding once again.
While the Knight Protectors and other loyalists were preoccupied with the threat of invasion by outside forces the unruly border states, tired of the ever increasing demands of the king for taxes and man power to combat the growing disloyalty throughout the kingdom, finally rebelled. As a result the Great Kingdom lost half of its lands. The Knight Protectors had also become less than welcome in the now independent border nations not only due to their enforcement of the king’s will, but also due to the rampages of the death knights and their minions who continued to display debased forms of their own personal heraldry or that of their former order.
After a time the Great Kingdom became more stable and the Knight Protectors began to recover their strength. This time of rebuilding came to a sudden halt with the ascension to power of Ivid I in a bloody coup that saw the last Rax king and most of his known family assassinated. The Knight Protectors did not support Ivid I as the rightful king, and as a result the order’s charter was revoked and its membership declared to be traitors. The politics of the Aerdy noble houses had failed to penetrate the ranks of the Knight Protectors, but not those of an unlawful king. The order found itself beset on all fronts by enemies they had no hope of standing against. Those members of the order present in the capitol at the time forcibly fought their way out of Rauxes and took flight to the four winds. The Knight Protectors were driven from their headquarters at Morshaldin Castle which was ransacked and partially destroyed, but in time was rebuilt as a base for a new order of knights personally devoted to Ivid I known as the Knights of the Majestic Companion Guard.
For the next few years Ivid I spent vast resources hunting down the members of the order until his attention was diverted elsewhere. The death knights themselves also took advantage of the situation by emerging to quietly aid in the destruction of the Knight Protectors. As a result of these events, the members of the Knight Protectors went into hiding and have yet to recover any outward semblance of their former strength. Some of the scattered knights chose to serve one or another of the various Aerdy noble families, or one of the great lords of the Aerdy provinces. Others chose to take up service with one of the many knightly orders of the west. Many of the Knight Protectors maintained their oaths of service and have continued to pass down the order’s original purpose of aiding the people of the Aerdy lands, as they are able to. Since the rise of the Ivids many Knight Protectors, past and present, have fought under the banners of nations opposed to the Naelax over kings, and ultimately wish to see a rightful Aerdy king reign from the Malachite Throne once again.
Over the last few hundred years, the Knight Protectors as a knightly order has devolved into a mere shadow of its former glory. Many of the greatest warriors of the former Great Kingdom continue to instead seek service with one of the influential Aerdy noble families rather than join the Knight Protectors. Compounding this problem is the inherent lack of trust which has been slowly growing within the order ever since the betrayal of Lord Kargoth. The tenets of the order are no longer enough to guarantee civil relations among its members of opposed faiths, and more than a few clashes have occurred between Heironean and Hextorite knights in particular. Recently this tension has increased dramatically and the competitive rivalry that previously existed between the Heironean and Hextorite members of the order has since devolved into open animosity. It is not lost on many of the order’s membership that no fewer than three of the traitorous death knights are devoted to the Herald of Hell, which further fuels distrust among members of the order. Most Hextorites have since left the Knight Protectors to take up service with house Naelax, either previously under the Ivids, or currently with Overking Grenell of the North Kingdom. Others have gone over to Overking Xavener of Ahlissa who openly entreats other former Knight Protectors to join his service, though few of these knights trust Xavener’s motives and so remain aloof. Those few Hextorites that yet remain within the order are a testament to the old ways of the Knight Protectors and as such tend to be highly respected by most members of the order regardless of their faiths. Some knights however still keep a close watch upon all Hextorites within the order.
With the fracturing of the Great Kingdom at the end of the Greyhawk Wars, the members of the once formidable Knight Protectors remain scattered and as such the order currently does not truly exist (or so it is commonly believed), for they have no patron nation, or even a known base from which they publicly operate. For now, members of the Knight Protectors operate clandestinely within the lands once known as the Great Kingdom and aid those in neighboring nations that still value what the Knight Protectors stand for. The Knight Protectors continue to seek out new members from among the winners of tournaments and other champions whose beliefs coincide with the ideals of the order. Currently there are less than a hundred members within the order, but membership is on the rise, as hidden bases of the Knight Protectors continue to operate within the Bone March, the Adri Forest, Sunndi, and other outlying lands. The original heraldry of the Knight Protectors is Sable, a sun or; an arrow gules dexter; an axe argent sinister. This heraldry has not been used in quite some time, currently for the reason that the Knight Protector’s host nation in effect no longer exists. It is also to be noted that since the time of Ivid I displaying the order’s original heraldic device was a crime punishable by death, and is also to the current day an invitation to be hunted by the death knights and their minions. The current Knight Protectors use a variety of symbols to denote their loyalty to the order; one of these being a mailed fist clutching a burning orb.