Friday, 29 January 2010
Elesalia - The Rose Blades
The Rose Blades are an order of female paladins, or paladines, who operate from a settlement near the Lake of Light. They have a close connection with the holy community on the Isle of Aleandar. They are named for the distinct pinkish hue to the metal of their swords.
Recruits for the order comes from all over Elesalia, from Helfgel in the west to the elven human protectorates in the eastern forests, from the Sultanates to the northern barbarians. It is said that the warrior goddess of the paladines, Siranis sends visions to those whom she has chosen when they reach sixteen. Those who have sufficient courage and determination to follow their visions make the journey, which can be hundreds of miles in some cases, to the Lake of Light, where they are received by the order. Worthy candidates for the visions of the goddess are few and many turn back or fall by the wayside into slavery or death at the hands of men or monsters.
Siranis is the Yirovian goddess of guardianship, faithfulness, dignity and duty. She requires no less in those who worship her. She is said to be stern but kindly, forgiving of all save infidelity in whatever shape or form she finds it.
In the year 640BP, there arose a great evil in the Yirovian valley. Some say Dusanbakh, a sorcerer discovered the power that had driven the Empire of the Snake and sought to recreate that evil again. He raised the undead from their graves and flung them against the forces of law and goodness.
Under the influence of Gal Haktal, the green avatar of Tiamat, whose realms included choking, decay, disease, fungus, poison, envy and malice, Dusanbakh and his hordes attacked the isle of Aleandar, a shrine to Clerestris, goddess of healing and mercy. It was captured and defiled.
The sorcerer was only defeated through much effort, battle and sacrifice. The wizard Crusios, a former adventurer and native of the city of Jemorria, who had helped the forces of good retake the valley, was later asked to join the Mages of Power.
Amongst the many brave warriors who fought for Yirovian and to liberate the Isle of Aleandar were four paladines, two senior and two apprentices. Peranta, Maskis, Romavel and Jehatia.
They did not begin as a group, but each pair was drawn to the conflict by a determination to fight evil and drive back darkness. Romavel was killed during the fighting and her body laid to rest on the Isle of Aleandar, in what is now known as the Chamber of the Broken Heart.
The remaining paladines had little time to rest, since the scattered undead, still infesting the valley, were a long time clearing. When eventually they returned to the sanctuary of the Isle, they found a new task waiting for them.
Following the liberation and reconsecration of the Isle of Aleandar, it was decided that the sanctuary required guardians. It could clearly no longer rely on its benevolence and neutrality to protect it and so the three surviving paladines formed the order of the Rose Blades, to fight for law and goodness and to protect the sanctuary. They obtained weaponry and training from the Khereseth and over the years built up a powerful force of paladines with the new recruits that Siranis sent them year by year.
In the year 442BP, a bond-pair of Rose Blades, Nelessia and Trema together with Chamis, a silvering and Delanda, a cleric of Clerestris joined with others in an attack on the Shadow Hands, who had struck a foul blow at the heart of the human settlements in the Ghafan region. Both Nelessia and Delanda were killed. Chamis, though badly wounded was granted full Rose Blade status by Siranis herself.
The Rose Blades are still in existence, pledged to defend the Isle of Aleandar and to seek out threats to law and goodness all over Elesalia. There is no saying where they will be encountered; they voyage at the whim of the goddess and consider it an honour to fight and die in her service.
SOCIETY AND ORGANISATION
There is no formal hierarchy within the order, but older paladines who have retired are consulted on matters of importance. Direction and leadership come through the influence of Siranis and the holy women who live on hermitages on the islands of the Lake of Light.
New arrivals come at the rate of perhaps two a year to join the order, which tends to cover the natural wastage of death from old age and combat.
The paladine receives her rose blade at the discretion of the goddess Siranis, if the girl’s performance, devotion and piety have pleased her. Most, if not all of the paladines become Rose Blades by the time they reach 20. It is possible that a girl will not be awarded the rose blade, in which case she is destined always to be the junior partner in a bond-pair or what is known as a silvering - a sort of associate Rose Blade, obliged to play the supporting role whenever another sword is needed.
Bond-pairs are formed by mutual agreement between paladine and apprentice; it is by no means unusual for a paladine to remain a solo operator.
When the senior paladine of a bond-pair reaches an age where she deems it too much to be adventuring or wielding arms any more, she hangs up her sword and goes through a ceremony where she officially hands over seniority to her pair partner, who then has the right either to become a lone paladine or to take a junior partner.
If this happens to a bond-pair and the junior partner is a silvering, then she must apply to another lone paladine to take her on as a partner. It may be that the 'junior' partner turns out to be older than her 'senior' partner.
When on a mission, a bond-pair often takes with it auxiliaries, being clerics (from the Isle of Aleandar) and women-at-arms. In the early days, male fighters were hired as supporting swords but it was found that although generally they behaved themselves, there were incidents that led to deaths and it was decided that a woman-only rule should be enforced. It also led to fewer casualties on missions since men were more likely to try foolhardy rescues.
The age range of paladines is, at any one time,
The numbers in each age range may vary by one or two, depending on whether more have been killed in combat but the total number in the order will never exceed 130.
88 of these will be in their 50s or below, and therefore of reasonable military age. Of the 88, perhaps 30 will be lone paladines, 58 being in 29 bond-pairs. From 4-6 of the 88 paladines will be silverings.
It will be noted that those over 50 would tend not to be peregrinatory and may well have moved into mentoring or become clerics at the behest of the goddess. At most, a quarter of the paladines get a peregrinatory calling and of those, perhaps 10% die on adventures. They have the right to be buried on one of the islands of the Lake of Light, although only truly exemplary paladines or those who died in extraordinary circumstances can be laid to rest on the Isle of Aleandar.
Occasionally, Siranis informs a paladine through dreams and omens that she has been chosen for motherhood. This often happens when the soul of a dead paladine is required to be reincarnated - the goddess might have in mind a specific destiny for which she is needed. To ensure that the prospective mother is worthy of the honour, the goddess will send her visions of her future mate and it becomes a holy quest for her to seek him out. Once found, she must then woo and mate with him. This quest she must undertake on her own, and it is for this reason that the choosing of a paladine by the goddess often falls upon a lone paladine, rather than one in a bond-pair, because if it is the latter, the bond-pair is almost always broken by this event.
If a bond-pair suffers a casualty, then depending on the grief with which the survivor takes the loss, she sometimes retires from paladinhood and becomes a holy woman, setting up a hermitage on one of the smaller islands of the Lake of Light. Sometimes, she may become a cleric, sometimes a mentor for the new arrivals each year.
A bond-pair will live in a small complex of two houses, joined at communal chambers. Each complex has a training yard, stables and an armoury. Most have a garden where the paladines tend fruit trees, vegetable patches and herbs for various culinary, medicinal and magic purposes. Older bond-pairs may well have acquired servants who will be housed in rooms adjoining the complex. Amongst the complexes are small shrines where retired paladines live and tend to effigies of Siranis, or of Clerestris, the goddess of mercy and healing.
A Rose Blade is a very serious character, much like Siranis herself. She will be faithful unto death itself if she has given her word. Though the joys of the world have not become strange to her, a paladine of the Rose Blades can sometimes allow her determination and duty to make her appear somewhat humourless. Rose Blades will take a very dim view of oath-breakers and will associate with them only in extremis and then only for a very short while.
As has been noted, the establishment of the Rose Blades was accompanied by an influx of training, weaponry and armour from the Khereseth. Over the next 222 years, the master weaponsmiths continued to supply the paladines with the fruits of their forges so that it can now be honestly said that the Rose Blades hold one of the largest hoards of Khereseth armour and swords anywhere in Elesalia.