The Blessed and Loyal Military Order of the Holy Mount
Concepts by Dean Martin and Fraser Ronald
Written by Fraser Ronald
The Knights of the Holy Mount, often simply called the Holy Knights, are no longer a religious order at all. They have become a military unit rather than a militant arm of the Church. While still considered a branch of the Church, the only member of the Church that has any influence on the Holy Knights is the Patriarch.
While all members of the Blessed and Loyal Military Order of the Holy Mount are commonly called Holy Knights, the Order only encompasses 100 Knights. The other members of the Order are Initiates. In order to join the Holy Knights as an Initiate, an individual must renounce all worldly wealth and connections. One must sever ties with one’s family and one’s friends. An Initiate of the Holy Knights has no personal wealth. Even the armour, weapons, and mount of the Initiates are the property of the Order.
The centre of the Holy Knights is their Grand Temple. The Grand Temple of the Blessed and Loyal Military Order of the Holy Mount is found, as one might imagine, at the Holy Mount in Bordeleaux, Eresbor. The Grand Temple is the home of the Abbot of the Order and his Monastic Council, made up of the three Brother-Generals of the Order. The Abbot is a life-long post, and when an abbot passes, the Brother-Captains hold a secret vote to choose a new Abbott from among the Brother-Generals. The Brother-Captains then elect a new Brother-General from amongst their numbers.
While there are only three Brother-Generals, there are numerous Brother-Captains. Many cities have chapterhouses, which are bases for the Holy Knights. Each chapterhouse is commanded by a Brother-Captain. Beneath each Brother-Captain is a Brother-Sergeant. Brother-Sergeant is the lowest rank held by a Holy Knight. While the Brother-Captain is responsible for all the business of the chapterhouse and acts as a representative of the Order, the Brother-Sergeant is charged only with leading the Initiates.
Initiates are divided into Initiate-Novice, Initiate, and Initiate-Brother. When an individual first joins the Holy Knights, he is an Initiate-Novice and acts as the personal servant of a Brother-Sergeant. After a year of service, he begins his military training as an Initiate. Most, but not all Initiates, have had martial experience or training, however some are simply peasants or serfs. Some Initiates never graduate their training. Those who do not perform to the expectations of the Brother-Sergeant have the choice of remaining with the Order as an Initiate-Novice, a servant to a Brother-Sergeant, or to leave the Order. When an Initiate graduates to Initiate-Brother, he receives his sword, armour and bracers.
The sword, armour and bracers are the mark of the Holy Knights. All martial members of the Order bear a greatsword in imitation of the twelve chosen knights of Herotus, whom they seek to emulate. Each greatsword remains the property of the Order, and they are fashioned in the armoury at the Holy Mount. The greatswords of Initiates are engraved with a paean to the god Herotus and a prayer for potency in battle. The armour of the Initiate is a suit of scale armour Initiate-Brothers all wear Bracers of the Initiates, fashioned of steel and bearing the mark of the Holy Knights.
When a there is an opening among the Knights, the Brother-Captains elect a new Brother-Sergeant from among the Initiate-Brothers. It is usually the case that only those Initiate-Brothers who have accomplished some deed of note are ever considered for admission into the Knights. Should there be no Initiate-Brother of note, it usually falls to political machinations and influence. It is in this manner that many Initiate-Brothers who have little martial ability are promoted into the Holy Knights.
When an Initiate-Brother joins the ranks of the Holy Knights, he gains the blade, bracers and armour of the Holy Knight whom he replaces. The Bracers of the Holy Knights are similar to the Bracers of the Initiates, save that they are fashioned of silver. The armour of a Holy Knight is a breastplate and greaves. When an Initiate-Brother becomes a Holy Knight, he travels to the Holy Mount, accompanied by the Brother-Sergeant who commands him. At the Holy Mount, the armour of the knight whom he replaces is fitted for him, and is then presented, along with the bracers and sword, by the Abbott in a grand ceremony. It is at this time, the Initiate-Brother learns many of the secrets of the Holy Knights, including the legend of the twelve greatswords which the Order seeks.
The marks of the Holy Knights, the sword, armour and bracers, are protected by the Order. If an Initiate or Knight falls, that individual’s armour, bracers and sword must be recovered. Should an individual outside the Order acquire any of these items, the Holy Knights will undertake a quest to retrieve them. As with most actions of the Order, the end justifies the means, so in pursuit of lost items, the Order will undertake any stratagem, regardless of morality. The death of the individual who has the item(s) is usually the result of such a quest.
Any member of the Order, Knight or Initiate, entering a city in which a chapterhouse operates, must register his presence immediately with that house. All chapterhouses are required to provide full hospitality to any travelling member of the Order. Laypersons are absolutely forbidden entrance to any chapterhouse, though visiting dignitaries have been housed in the Grand Temple. Holy Knights are prohibited personal wealth and are expected to hand over any excess funds beyond that needed for personal maintenance to the nearest chapterhouse or Church. Therefore, a member of the Order may have excessive money in his possession only if there is neither a chapterhouse nor church nearby. There has been a problem within the Church of defining what is excessive, and certain members of the Order have asserted that the maintenance of a castle, personal guard and entourage are “necessary” for the proper maintenance of duty.
The Order has taken great lengths to maintain the secret of its true purpose. The Abbott and the Brother-Generals are aware of the true nature of their search for the Lorestaves. They know that Herotus vanquished older powers whom the world calls demons, and that the Lorestaves will release those older powers into the world. The Abbott has sent the Holy Knights to seek out Incarnos and the Lorestaves. He wishes the Lorestaves returned to the Holy Mount, though what he will do with them what he has them in his power, he has not yet decided.