The Silver Shields

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The Silver Shields

Post  Berserker on Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:42 am

While knights are perfectly ordinary in Adrila, they are a rarity in Tyrica. As of today, only one order of knights exist within Tyrica's records: The Silver Shields. Dedicated to the defence of Tyrica as a whole, and Silverdale in particular, they are highly respected individuals, and in contrast to most of their adrilan counterparts, they hold considerable plots of land, and are required to muster an army of their own in times of need. As they are highly proficient with their weapons in addition to being tyrican, each member of the Silver Shields is a mighty individual warrior, as well as being adept commanders and leaders in battle.

Organisation
The Silver Shields answer to King Dalbred of Tyrica, and to him only. Below the king, one finds the Grand Master, elected from the most elite among their number; Grand Master is a position one holds until death. The Grand Master is normally the King's commander in chief on any battlefield Tyrican forces deploy to, unless a lower ranked knight is decreed commander by the Grand Master himself; thus, the Silver Shields are always in command of Tyrica's military forces, in addition to what soldiers they muster themselves. The Grand Master is also the one to determine when the Stalwart Sword is to be drawn from its sheath and by whom it is to be wielded in battle. The Grand Master cannot wield the sword himself, according to the Silver Shields' ancient codes, as a measure of preventing the Grand Master from staging a coup against the king.

Below the Grand Master, one finds the five Masters. These positions are inherited from generation to generation, as each Master is expected to sire a powerful son, though if a Master dies without a son to inherit his position, the remaining Masters will elect a new Master from the other knight houses, while the former Master's knight house will need to find a new head of their house. It is also the Masters who elect a new Grand Master, whether from their own number or from the knights below them.

From here, the ranks of the Silver Shields differ from those commonly found in Adrilan orders. There are several knight houses spread across Tyrica's lands, and while some are small, where the only knights may be the house's lord and his sons, others are great, where the lord of the house commands dozens of knights in addition to hundreds of common troops. The head of each such knight house is known as Lord Knight, and the knights below him are simply that; knights. Each Lord Knight is responsible for the state of his realm and his army, and answers to the Grand Master in military matters, while he answers directly to the king in civilian matters. The Lord Knights command a great deal of respect from their subordinates, be they knight or peasant, and woe upon the simple farmer who does not address a Lord Knight as "sir". After all, the Lord Knight stands responsible for the safety and well being of his every subordinate.

There are some ways to become a regular knight of the Silver Shields. The most common way is to be born into the position, as son of a Lord Knight. The larger houses see fit to have more knights than the Lord Knight has sons, however; these promote the most devoted and respectable soldiers in their forces to knights, essentially elevating them to the same position as the Lord Knight's sons. It is a great honour to be promoted in such a fashion, and such a ceremony often goes on for days before the actual promotion takes place - not to mention all the celebrations taking place afterwards. Nevertheless, the Lord Knight's son is still first in line to take the Lord Knight's place when he dies, and the Masters of the order tend to choose from other houses rather than risk having one of these promoted knights among them.

Houses
Each Lord Knight in Tyrica is lord of a house of knights. These houses, rather than their lord, are what holds tracts of land across Tyrica, given to them by the king in return for the Silver Shields' support in times of war. Within the realms held by each house, the Lord Knight is the unquestionable ruler, save for the king himself, and thus, each different realm may differ quite a lot in terms of taxation, army recruitment and even laws, as many Lord Knights are quite fond of writing additional laws for their subjects, some even contradicting the laws set by the king. It is no secret that the Lord Knights each believe themselves quite capable rulers, some of which even have only moderate loyalty to their king.

As a result of these powerful Lord Knights throughout history, quite a lot of vast castles and elaborate manors have been erected across Tyrica, many of which are supported by villages that have grown up around them, yet also creating a distinction between those who belong to a house and those who are only subjects of each lord; a certain distaste for nobles is often heard in inns frequented by peasantry, while those who dwell in the castles thank their creators for not having to interact with the filthy peasantry more than necessary. Nevertheless, many a peasant can thank the knight houses for creating a demand for their produce, as well as offer them jobs; scribes across the land attribute the size of the kingdom's coffers to the co-existance of knight houses and common peasantry.

A knight's duties
To formally become a knight, be it as an aspiring soldier or a Lord Knight's son, one must swear an oath of service to the country. The oath has a history dating back to the founding of Tyrica itself, and is older than the Silver Shields themselves, though it was their founder who first swore the oath.

"I swear upon the shield that I carry, and the sword that I wield,
I shall give my own life, if in doing so, I save more lives than the one I yield."

The oath states the philosophy the knights live by; to nobly sacrifice oneself, though not in vain, is the greatest honour a knight can achieve. It is remarkable how few knights have broken this oath. Most, if not all, knights prefer dying over living as an oathbreaker; oathbreakers are expelled from the order, and in some cases even Tyrica itself, stripped of all honours and having their names removed from the order records. Essentially, their very identity is as good as erased.

As their oath implies, their greatest duty is to defend the Tyrican people with all that they are, with every ounce of their strength, until their bodies fail and their life slips away - and even their death is to be their last act of duty. To a knight of the Silver Shield, nothing brings greater honour than such an act, and there are many tales of aging knights, whose time is almost up, venturing into the Grimscathe mountains and beyond to slay - or at least weaken - a mighty threat.

This single, all-important duty to the knights lead them to ever strive to improve themselves and grow stronger, as the mightier they are, the greater their death, and the more honour they bring upon their house and their people. This has led the knights to become tremendous foes to any man-sized creature, be it spellcaster or swordsman, and even ogres - whose physical forms are even stronger and tougher than those of the knights - are hardly a match in a duel with a knight. Truly, the greatest weakness of the Silver Shields is that they are so few compared to knights of other countries - they are perhaps a thousand at best, while the knights of Adrila number in the tens of thousands.
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