The Order of the Ebon Flame
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The Order of the Ebon Flame

The Order of the Ebon Flame is a militant order of Knights in service (currently) to Bane. Their home is on the mainland of Faeurn, deep in the plains of the south known as The Shaar. The Order is ancient, having served (at the very least) Jergal for centuries before he surrendered his portfolios of Tyranny and Strife to Bane.

Though they currently serve Bane, The Order is not particularly spiritual, nor are they particularly agnostic; they serve the Lord of Tyranny and Strife, whatever name he wears.

Though they are "evil" (by alignment, Lawful Evil for the vast majority), they are an ancient Order steeped deeply in their own sense of Honor as Knights. They are the very epitome of "Civilized Evil".

The Order's headquarters is the city of Ebonhold, deep within the Eastern Shaar; founded when the Order first came here, it has never fallen to an enemy.

The heraldry of the Order is the upraised gauntlet of Bane, chaised in gold, set within an ebon flame, on a gold field. (see depiction)

Beliefs

The Order of the Ebon Flame is, ostensibly, a militant holy order of Knights in service to Bane. In reality, they are an Order that predates Bane by centuries, of which he is well aware. Mostly, they share the beliefs of the followers of Bane, but with a few very important differences.

They do not follow Bane out of any pure religious belief in his primacy, but out of a belief in the old maxims of "Might makes right" and "It is the place of the strongest to rule". Instead, they follow Bane because he has proven (through his ascension to godhood and his reclamation of that godhood following it's loss) that he is the strongest and most able to lead.

The Order believes firmly that it is the place of the mighty to rule, and the place of the weak to serve. They also believe that Strife is the crucible of advancement, society, and progress; without conflict and strife, society would stagnate, technical and magical innovation would slow or cease, and eventually, society would collapse.

They point to the rise and fall of ancient Netheril as proof of this. (see the section on the History of the Order for more information regarding the Order and Netheril). As such, the Order believes that only through constant testing and conflict can the Order (and society, even their enemies) grow and prosper.

The Order also believes that Strife does not mean Chaos. The Order itself is highly regimented, carried by traditions of Honor, Duty, and Service. This is not to say that those traditions have remained unchanged for over a thousand years - when the Order (or more likely, one of its members with influence) finds that a tradition has grown outmoded, they are welcome to challenge to change the way things are done.

Given their beliefs about personal Honor and their sense of Duty, the members of the Order of the Ebon flame do not come across as your typical Baneite. In fact, they are nearly inidistinguishable from other Knights; they will protect the weak as other "goodly" Knights might (for different reasons, mind you), they will enforce justice (of a surety, harsher than most goodly people would countenance), and behave in a generally chivalrous manner.

It has not been uncommon for Knights of the Ebon Flame to count members of other Knighthood's particulalry religious orders devoted to Torm, Tyr, and Helm, as friends, or at least, friendly enemies. The current Knight-Commandant of the Order, in fact, was the brother of a powerful and respected Knight of the Golden Lion, in service to Torm. During the Avatar Crisis, the brother's met on the field of battle. Before the battle was joined, the two men and their officers dined together. The next morning, the battle was joined, and no quarter was shown by either side. Lord Avryn, Knight-Commandant of the Ebon Flame killed his brother in single combat. When the battle was over, he accepted the surrender of the Knights of the Golden Lion, and gave them time to carry their dead (including his brother) from the field for burial.

A Knight of the Ebon Flame will:

- protect the weaker souls of his fief in return for their service and tribute
- treat even his foes with Honor and respect until they prove unworthy of such treatment.
- never plot treason or murder from the shadows; if you would see a man dead, do it yourself in honorable conflict. if you would throw down a King, do it from without, in open battle.
- never harm an innocent; no man who rises in armed conflict against you is innocent.
- respect and honor the accepted rules of war between nations
- never allow a matter of personal Honor, or a matter concerning the Honor of the Order, to pass unchallenged. (where a Knight of a goodly order may allow an apology to redress a dishonor, a Knight of the Ebon Flame is nearly always likely to press for blood)
- always behave in a chivalrous manner until those you are dealing with prove unworthy of civilized treatment.
- seek to advance the power, influence, and respect of the Order
- strive to create strife whenever possible, through open conflict and challenging the beliefs of those around you. (strife does not mean fighting, necessarily).
- seek to advance the cause of the Lord of Tyranny (in this case, Bane, at the moment) as he is our Lord; the most fit to rule all, for he is the strongest.
- seek to strengthen oneself through conflict and martial trial, to better Serve, and one day, Lead.

History of the Order

The Order of the Ebon Flame has existed for more than a thousand years, and it's own records no longer go back to the Founding of the Order.

It is commonly held by the Order that the Ebon Flame was founded by a Netherese Lord after the fall of Netheril; appalled at what the complacency and weakness of his homeland had done to their people, (and the world) he sought the favor of a deity who would always be strong, who was a leader who inspired strength and change. He found this deity in the person of Jergal, who held dominion over Death, the Dead, Strife, Tyranny, and more. Fleeing the fall of Netheril, the first Knight-Commandant founded his Order in the open plains of what is now The Shaar. From here the Order has ruled a large stretch of land for more than a thousand years. A king in all but name, the Knights-Commandant of the Ebon Flame rule with an iron fist, always serving the Lord of Tyranny.

The Order transitioned from the worship and service of Jergal to that of Bane when Jergal gave up his powers to the Three; there was some fractional struggle, as Bane held some precepts that the Order did not agree with (many of these have since changed, but some have not, Bane gave up trying to change them), but overall the transition was mostly seamless.

Over the centuries the lands directly ruled by the Order have grown and shrunk as the power of the Order (and it's numbers) have grown and shrunk, but the core lands of the Order have never fallen to a foe.

After the Avatar Crisis (the Order was riding to Tantras to serve Bane when he was killed by Torm), the Order briefly served Cyric. Seeing the Mad God for what he was, however, the Order was ready to abjure him (and possibly seek to slay him and place one of their own in his place - it would not be out of place, since it is, after all, the place of the strongest to rule) when a portion of his power (and the portfolios of Fear and Tyranny) was wrested from him in the Cyrinnishad debacle, and gave way to the rise of Iyatchu Xyvim, the Godson.

the Order were among the first of the "Old Banites" to switch their alliegance to the Godson. They served Bane's son for many years, until Bane himself returned, bursting from the husk of his son to reclaim his place as the Lord of Tyranny, Strife, and Fear. The Order viewed this rebirth with profound respect - Bane had beyond doubt proven his strength and worthiness to lead - so powerful that not even Death itself could stop him.

The Order has politely resisted attempts by the renewed Church of Bane to fully integrate the Order into the Church. They respect the Church as the priesthood of their God, but they do not wish to involve themselves in the internecine conflicts that constantly tear at the underbelly of the Church. They do aid the Church when asked to do so; relations between the Church of Bane and the Order of the Ebon Flame are as cordial as they can be given the nature of the people involved. Currently, the majority of the Order's Knights are serving alongside the forces of the Church of Bane in their war against the followers of the Mad God Cyric.

Organization of the Order

The Order of the Ebon Flame is a militant order at heart; though also a religious one due to their service of the god Bane, their primary aim is military strength.

The Order is led by the Knight-Commandant, the most powerful and capable Knight in the Order (ostensibly, at least). a Knight-Commandant rules until he is deposed (in a duel of Honor) or dies in service. As the Knight-Commandant is expected to lead his men to war, this is a very real possibility. Since the founding of the Order, no Knight-Commandant has died of natural causes or old age. The Knight-Commandant is also known as the Lord of the Order. In addition to his duties as head of the Order of the Ebon Flame, the Knight-Commandant is the feudal ruler of all the lands controlled by the Order.

Below the Knight-Commandant are the Knights-Counsellor. There are 13 Knights who hold the rank of Knight-Counsellor; they form the Ebon Council. 12 of the Knights-Counsellor are positions held by worthy warriors of the Order - Any Knight of the Rank of Knight-Captain or Knight-Commander can challenge any of the sitting Counsellor's for his place (such duels are typically to the death). According to tradition, such a challenge should only be issued if one believes that the Counsellor is no longer fit for his duties, but there have been instances of personal feuds that have precipitated rapid changes in the ranks of the Counsellors. The 13th Knight-Counsellor is always appointed by the sitting Knight-Commandant.

The Ebon Council, as a body, governs the workings and traditions of the order (not the day-to-day workings, that is the purview of the Knight-Commandant) and advises the Commandant. Only members of the Ebon Council may challenge the Knight-Comandant for leadership of the Order; this includes the Knight appointed by the Commandant.

From time to time, the Knight-Commandant and the Ebon Council may appoint a Knight to the rank of Knight-Champion. A Knight-Champion is a member of the Order who has served in extra-ordinary ways or has been appointed to perform a specific task in the name of the Order. A Knight-Champion holds equivalent rank in all matters as a Knight-Commander, but a Knight-Champion holds no lands, unlike a Knight-Commander. If appointed to see to a specific task, the Knight-Champion outranks any other Knight in matters dealing with his or her appointed task (save the Knight-Commandant or the Ebon Council, voting as a body). Knights-Champion appointed to a specific task revert to their original rank when their task is finished (though successfully completing such a task is likely to garner a promotion where applicable). A Knight-Champion appointed for extra-ordinary service retains this title for Life, in addition to any other formal ranks they may hold.

The Highest rank outside of the Ebon Council and the Commandant is that of a Knight-Commander. A Knight-Commander is a high-ranking Knight, who in addition to his duties to the Order as a Knight, also holds a fief of the Order's lands, called a Commandery. Such fiefs usually include attendant lesser Knights and men at arms, as well as any number of fortifications. A Knight-Commander commands all of the Order's forces stationed in his Commandery, and, in his own lands, outranks everyone but a Knight-Chamption (in some situations) and the Commandant of the Order. Appointment to a Commandery is the sole discretion of the Ebon Council. Knights are nominated for these positions by the Commandant, and approved by the Ebon Council. There are currently 26 Commandery's in the Order's lands.

The next highest rank a Knight may attain is that of Knight-Captain. A Knight-Captain is generally an experienced Knight who commands other Knight's in battle. Knight-Captains often lead Order forces when they are on campaigns. If there are many Knight-Captains present, the seniormost Knight is considered to be in command, unless orders from the Commandant specifically place one Knight in command.

Below Knight-Captain is the rank of Knight-Lieutenant (pronounced like the British did/do; "leftenant"). A junior officer, a Knight-Lieutenant is usually assigned to lead the Order's foot troops into Battle; other times they may serve as a second-in-command or assistant to a higher ranking Knight.

The lowest "true" Knightly rank in the Order is Knight-Companion. A Knight-Companion is usually a younger Knight who has just recently earned his spurs. While the lowest ranking Knight in the Order, a Knight-Companion is still a true Knight; higher in rank than any other non-Knight and still considered a lesser noble in most lands. The ranks of the Knights-Companion make up the bulk of the Order's mounted forces, though some prefer to fight on foot (and may be assigned to lead companies of foot into battle).

A young squire who has earned his spurs but has not been sworn into the Order as a full brother is considered a Knight-Bachelor. A Knight-Bachelor is still treated as a Knight, and accorded all the respect and priveleges due his station, but is not considered a full member of the Order until such time as the Ebon Council, the Knight-Commandant, or a Knight-Commandery has sworn him into the Order as a full brother. Realisticaly, this means little - except that since he is not a full member of the Order, he may, if he chooses, choose *not* to take his Oaths, and remain a Knight Bachelor or leave the service of the Order alltogether. This happens rarely but isnt unheard of. It is not looked down on; that is the purpose of the rank.

Below the Knights are two ranks; Squire and Armegar. A Squire is exactly what most presume it to be: a Knight-in-training. Most Squires start their careers at a young age, between 8 and 12. They serve a veteran Knight (generally, a Knight-Companion of at least 10 or more years experience, or a Knight of a higher rank) and learn the ways of the Order and Knighthood from him, including martial and political training, horsemanship, archery, and other Knightly skills. A Squire becomes a Knight only when his mentor deems he is worthy; although betimes a Squire may perform a valiant service to the Order and be Knighted by the Commandant, such is rare. There is also a somewhat small number of Squires who never aspire to Knighthood; they serve as personal armsmen to a Knight they have served for decades and are happy in that station.

The rank of Armegar, in most lands, could be considered a Knight-Errantry; An Armegar is a Squire who has completed the bulk of his training, but still lacks the final bit of polish that makes a man a Knight; in some, it is feared they may never gain the thing they lack. They are promoted to Armegar and usually given a task or quest to complete to prove their ultimate worthiness of Knighthood. Many fail to do so and remain as an Armegar for their entire lives; there is no dishonor here, and Armegar's often serve as officers for companies of foot soldiers.

Non-Chivalric Members of the Order

Not everyone who servers the Order is a Knight - in fact, most of the military men who serve the Order are not Knights. The bulk of these lay followers are simple soldiers, though calling them "simple" is probably a bit of a disservice. The Orders' Companies are highly regimented, well trained, thoroughly drilled and experienced men-at-arms (or women). Each Commandery is responsible for providing 5 companies of troops for the Orders' service, and is expected to maintain its own companies for self-defense.

The Order employs three types of lay troops - heavy infantry, medium mounted infantry (often referred to as "Dog Soldiers"), and bowmen. Of the three, bowmen make up the smallest of the cadres of troops, since the Order prefers to close in and deal with its enemies in the crash of melee combat. The Order maintains the archers purely for military reasons - it would be foolish to try to field an army without archers or other ranged combatants.

The bulk of the Order's lay troops are heavy infantry; they are heavily armed and armored (Chain Hauberks and Breastplates, Kite shields (medium shields), and swords and weapons of choice. Combat is fought in tight formations, with the men in the 3rd and 4th ranks carrying spears or other polearms into battle to provide overlapping defense and attack patterns.

The Order also employs companies of "dog soldiers" - medium mounted infantry. Dog Soldiers are somewhat lightly armored - usually chain shirts with leather breastplates, pauldrons, bracers, and greaves. They carry round shields (medium shields), scimitars or longswords, a footmans mace, and a short horse bow. Though they are mounted, they dont fight on horseback - their horses are not armored, and are lighter mounts - because they arent carrying a man in heavy armor. They move quickly from battle to battle, and prepare the field to recieve the enemy. To whit, the are also light fiend engineers - each man carries on his pack a small shovel, hand axe, and hammer. They will dig simple field fortifications, ditch-and-dike forts, and other preparations. They hold the enemy at bay, and harry him until the heavy foot and archers can arrive to take up their positions, at which point the dog soldier will fall back on their mounts and fall back to prepare a fall-back position. The dog soldiers are highly sought-after by Knight-Capains, and being chosen to command a company of Dog Soldiers is seen as high praise of a Knight's abilities.

The archers that serve the order are much like those in service to other armies - though they tend to use a composite bow rather than the longbow employed by other archery companies.

In addition to these companies of men, a small cadre of specialists serve with the Order as well; wizards, bards (in a tradition similar to nordic Skald's, they accompany the men into battle and keep a record of the company's battle honors), and other specialized roles, such as non-chivalric Priests of Bane serving as chaplains to the troops.

The companies of troops use a standard military ranking system, though it is a little sparse on ranks compared to a modern military force.

The lowest rank is that a footman or trooper; most troops fall into this rank. The average foot soldier, archer, or dog soldier falls into this rank.

Above this rank is Corporal; usually a seasoned soldier of some experience who leads a squad of 4 or 5 troopers, sometimes more, particularly in the case of the archers, where one Corporal leads as many as a dozen men.

Above corporals are Sergeants; usually gruff, long-time veterans of war and excellent leaders of men. Sergeants lead groups of 20-25 men into combat, groups of men called "spears"; another term often used for sergeants is "spearleader"; in addition to the sergeant who handles day-to-day command, each Spear is led by an Armegar, Squire, or junior Knight, and serves as the officer. On rare occasion, non-chivalric officers such as wizards or chaplains may lead a spear.

Command of the company is in the hands of a senior Knight, usually a Knight-Lieutenant or higher, or, sometimes, rarely, a non-chivalric officer.

Larger formations are commanded in turn by more senior Knights.

Non-chivalric specialists, such as chaplains, skalds, or warmages, have no specific rank designations. Their authority, if any, is given them by the Knight or officer with whom they serve; for instance, if a Chaplain is serving with the Knight-Captain in command of a company of heavy foot, that Knight may assign him any authority he wishes. Amongst the companies, if a non-chivalric officer claims authority or rank, men from other companies (who wouldn't have intimate knowledge of any authority granted by a superior) will take any claim of authority at face value until it is proven that said person is lying. Claiming unlawful authority is an offense that carries a death penalty, so it is rarely an issue. Rank title for such person uses their service type (such as Chaplain) and the command to which they are assigned (Chaplain to Sir Kelthys and Second Company) - thus, a Chaplain who serves with Sir Kelthys (commanding second company) outranks a Chaplain serving with the First Spear of second company, and someone who carries the rank of Chaplain to the Commander would outrank Second Company's chaplain, and so on.

there are Chaplains, Skalds, and War-magisters that serve with the Order most often. Other agents of the Order are rare enough that they have no formal titles.

The Order on Thain

The Order has, in the past, sent two scouting missions to Thain; initially, then Knight-Companion Vyranna Moriel journeyed about the island for many months, gathering intelligence on the local populations and political groups. She was recalled to the mainland to serve with the forces deployed alongside the Church of Bane's forces in the Vilhon Reach. When she returned, a year or more later, she brought with her (then) Armegar Jesse Blackrose, who had served with her in the Reach. They were sent to scout locations for a foothold for the Order on Thain; they were again recalled when a Cyricist uprising in Amn brought the Order into the field to supress them. Again, they were gone for more than a year. With the last great Cyricist uprisings put down, the Order has finally turned it's gaze on other areas of interest, other places where their influence may be spread. Thain came to the attention of the Ebon Council as a land ripe with opportunity - small cities and towns constantly besieged, looking for strength and leadership; trial, both martial and moral, in which to temper young knights. Again Dame Vyranna and Ser Jesse, accompanied by armsmen and arcanists of the Order, have found themselves sent to Thain, this time tasked to establish a permanent foothold on the island.

Members of the Order seen on the Island of Thain

Dame vyranna-moriel
Knight-Champion to the Order,
Knight-Captain, Knight-Priestess of Bane

Ser jesse-blackrose
Knight-Companion to the Order,
Knight-Priest of Bane

Sergeant cressin-d-orville
Spearleader, First Spear, Company Blackrose
Sergeant-at-Arms, Company Blackrose
Lay-soldier to the Order

War-Magister runas-imrathon
War-Magister to Dame vyranna-moriel and Company Moriel

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