- Dame Valarie Urdayne–Paragon of the Warden Order
- Seneschal of the Paladin Order, once filled by Sir Martin Everim, this position remains vacant
- Sir Malcom Grundy–Grand Cavalier of the Third Order
- Sir Ethan Hearth—Exarch of the Fourth Order
Location: Dragon’s Peak Mountain Range
Population: 4,000 at Pan-Fafnir
65,000 spread through 36 granges.
Banner: Twin mountain peaks with dragon wings
They can field an army drawn from the 36 Granges. Rarely will the army be fully assembled and together. Typically two to three granges band together for a large contract. If all of the forces of the Peaks are called to action the army will swell in size. However the losses of such an army would ultimately cripple the community.
The primary income of the members of the Knights of the Peaks is through hired service to houses, merchants, and other groups. Eighty percent of the income from all contracts carried out by the Knights goes back to the community. The remaining amount goes to those who did the work.
They are skilled in martial combat, smithing, harsh terrain agriculture, and scouting in mountainous terrain.
Although greatly famed for their military, the Peaks are vigorous farmers. The lands of the Peak are dotted with collective farming communities called granges. All the money, resources, and commodities of the granges are pulled together and the grange purchases for its needs. These granges were formed as the rocky terrain yields a modest return even with great effort. Arable land is rare. The mountains are famed for their terraced farms. The granges own the farms. Each grange has a forge at its heart. The forges produce the arms and armor for the Peaks. Every night as darkness falls the whole community assembles for worship.
The preferred method of worship is to meet in a building called The Barton. At the Barton there is an hour of training in the manual of arms. Training consists of elaborate community dances with heavy wooden shields and heavy wooden weapons called “hauks.” The dances are rather beautiful to behold. These complex dances teach the community to fight in formation. After the hour of dancing the community breaks into groups that focus on different weapons. The worship ends with a service from a marshall of one of the three orders. All adults attend this gathering.
Many a bandit has been surprised to find a silver haired elder is as deadly with a farming implement as an armored knight. One feature of this collective training is that the granges themselves formulate the battalions. A typical grange can field 200 to 300 soldiers to go farther afield. If the Grange itself is under attack, all adults could create an army of 900 to 1200 skilled fighters.
The children of the Peaks are seen as children to all. A common phrase is “A Son of A Thousand Fathers.” By the age of 8 most children attend the Barton. All adults are considered responsible for all children. As the children of the Peaks grow up in a militaristic farming community there is little play or humor. Merchants have remarked on the dour adult like demeanor of the children. Any Peak parent knows that outsiders do not understand and that play is found through work in the fields and the manual of arms at the Barton.
What is not known to the world is that the Peaks practice polygamy. As they are trying to greatly increase their population a typical Peak household comprises of four wives and three husbands. This social structure is built around combining resources to maximize procreation. If one brother dies in battle the other male sibling is expected to marry the wife.
In current times there are 36 granges that dot the Peaks.
The virtues are the foundation of the culture of the Peaks. They define the ideal person that each Peaksian aspires to become. Each Yeoman is expected to master the virtues of humility, loyalty, defense, and courage to become a squire. A squire is expected to master the virtues of justice, faith, franchise, and hospitality to become a master-at-arms. Each master-at-arms is expected to master the virtues of prowess, largesse, nobility, and mercy to be knighted. Every knight is expected to master the virtues of mentorship, perseverance, sacrifice, and filial piety to become a knight captain. Each knight captain must master the virtue of bastion in order to become a knight commander. Each set of virtues builds off the last in order to create successful and competent leaders who serve the peaks first and their personal interests last.
The Knights of the Peak are an organization almost as old as Azkon itself. It’s history is not a kind one however, and is full of violence and destruction; much of it caused by them, and some directed at them.
The Knights of the Peak are, well, the Knights of Azkon. Short and simple, you are not a Knight unless you have been through the process being knighted by the Knights of the Peak. Calling oneself a knight without earning, earns the ire of those that earned the title. That being said, the process is not one to undertake lightly, it’s said to be the ultimate test of mind, body, and soul.
The Knights of the Peaks are primarily a matriarchal culture. The mothers are the undisputed authority in the Peaks, and their words are heeded by all who are truly of the Peaks.
One unique facet of Peaks culture is the significance placed on names. One will often encounter Peaksians who have either chosen to give up their name or had their name stripped from them as a matter of honor and atonement. Many of them are simply addressed by their rank and Nameless. Though occasionally, great deeds and adherence to the virtues will earn them a deed name. Peaksians are meticulous about addressing one another with the proper name, particularly with those who are nameless. With non-Peaksians they may relax their standards, for they understand that it is impossible for a non-Peaksian to truly practice the virtues and comprehend the meaning of being nameless. More often than not, a knight will chose not to take up their own name but instead take the name of another who is deemed worthy of remembrance, letting their old name be forgotten. In the heat of battle, any name is accepted when in dire straits.
The Knights of the Peak have a strong hatred towards the Hazon Empire. Long ago the Hazon nearly destroyed the Knights of the Peak and obliterated most of the granges. The survivors of the Hazonian Purge instituted harsh survival laws for the community. The Knights of the Peak mutter to themselves about a “Sin” or “Great Evil” within the Hazon Empire. They never speak of the actual nature of the Sin or Great Evil. They only comment to strangers “Never Again.”
Compared to the other great houses of Azkon, the Knights of the Peaks are insular and somewhat xenophobic. Nearly all Peaksians were born and raised in the Peaks, though on occasion they will accept outsiders who chose to embrace their culture and prove themselves worthy. Most Peaksians choose never to align themselves with any groups outside of their order except for in rare circumstances in which doing so is determined by their superiors to be in the best interest of the Peaks.
The leadership of the Knights of the Peak is a strange one. Because of the four distinctly different groups there are four different positions of leadership. Those four positions are Paragon, who heads the Warden Order, Seneschal, head of the Paladin Order, and the Grand Cavalier, head of the Cavalier Order. The Paladin Order is also called the First Order. The Warden is also called The Second Order. The final order is the The Third Order which has the greatest concentration of knights. Each leader has its distinct role and one cannot out rule the other three on major decisions, although the Grand Cavalier is ultimately able to take charge in times of war under certain circumstances. The First Order and the Seneschal above all is in charge of the relations with the other Houses, and the spiritual health of the Peaks. The Second Order and the Paragon above all are in charge of maintaining the defenses of the Peaks, keeping the archives of the Peaks, and training those who have not chosen an Order. The Third Order and the Grand Cavalier above all are in charge of maintaining contracts, ensuring members of the granges are paid, and ensuring the history of the Peaks is not forgotten. The Fourth Order and the Exarch above all have officially declared that they are in charge of dealing with threats to the Peaks, especially demons, and beyond that they deign to say nothing.
While they are each in charge of their own order, the Grand Cavalier can and will make major decisions for the group in time of war. The leadership positions are currently filled by Dame Valarie Urdayne as Paragon, Sir Malcom Grundy as Grand Cavalier, Sir Ethan Hearth as Exarch, and the position of Seneschal remains vacant. Each order has their own method of selecting their leader, but they all listen to the advice of the mothers.
The First Order is greatly depleted, most of the paladins are in their twilight years. They were betrayed and slaughtered in their home, the Vastness. Paladins of the First Order are easily identified by their distinctive black and white tabard. Often the Paladins go afield alone or with a “Spear”, which is a small force of paladins and paladin aspirants.The Paladins tend to worship Arnayan, Aravel, and Tidron, though any of the lords of light are accepted. Paladins of Dania are exceedingly rare, however.
The Second Order is the largest order after the Third Order. If full wardens are rare, there are often a great of aspirants in training. With Enoth’s blessing the wardens serve as a less mobile homeguard adept at dealing with all manners of threats, especially magical ones. After the Hazonian Purge, the Wardens were the glue that kept the Peaks together. The Warden mentality pervades Peak society. Wardens can often be found in a “Shield”, which consists of a few Wardens and their aspirants. Wardens tend to travel together in a formation called a “Shield.” All Wardens and warden aspirants follow Enoth. The Wardens of the Second Order trained the late Evnan Thorn in their path.
The Third Order comprises the majority of the Peak’s forces. Within the Third Order can be found Battlelords and Master Smiths. Noreis is the most common patron for the Third Order, though other Lords of Order and Aravel are not unheard of. In addition to their great numbers, is often the knights of the Third Order who are renowned for their prowess in battle. The best and most trusted of the knights of the Third Order can hope to earn the right to bear a relic weapon and its name. The smiths of the Third Order practice their craft in the hope that one of their weapons would be borne in battle and become a relic weapon in truth. Knights can often be found leading a “Banner”, which consists of the knight, and their squires and underlings.
The Fourth Order is the smallest of the Orders. They only recently chose to reveal their existence to Azkon. Unlike the other Orders, they do not train their own initiates. Promising recruits are chosen from the Third Order. Members from the Fourth Order almost always hide what they are, so that they remain secret in order to better serve the Peaks. The entirety of the Fourth Order is comprised of Templars of Etall and their aspirants. The Fourth Order intends to be the most intense about the virtues and following them as they should be. When on official Fourth Order business, they will wear hooded grey robes.
History of the Knights of the Peaks
The Knights were formed approximately 1,000 years ago as the Knightly orders of the Hazon Dynasty. Over hundreds of years they slowly drifted away until they broke apart from the empire. After the Knights broke away and grew in strength, they chose to challenge the Hazon Dynasty’s might and were crushed for it. It took them until the beginning of the Lord’s War to re-estabilsh their military might, as growing too quickly would draw the Hazon Dynasty’s attention once more.
The Knights took part in the War of the Lords and assisted Olmir Thorn in throwing off the yoke of the Hazon Dynasty. Due to this, they have had a close relationship with the Thorn family and have been hostile towards anyone from the Hazon lands. Their motto, liking to the times of Hazon control, is “Never again.”
In the recent Second Dynasty War the Knights “afield” suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the Hazon Empire. Many of their forces were killed and Sir Aldane was captured; he later escaped. Peace was attained between the Knights and the Empire at the request of Jorrin Thorn, now King of Garresh. More recently, the Third Order reclaimed the grange of Goldgarc from Garresh. With the revelation of the Fourth Order, the subsequent purging of the Vastness and the start of the Qidar war, the Peaks like all the great house are experiencing difficult times.
Perhaps the most infamous event in recent history was the massacre at the Peaks. A group of black hearted indviduals, determined at all costs to obey the orders of the gods chose to slaughter plague infected women and children in order to reclaim a magical artifact. Their actions caused a paladin to fall, becoming a death knight, who then took vengeance against the perpetrators. The mothers decreed that anyone associated with this heinous crime who visits the Peaks must be escorted by a trusted squire or higher ranked Peaksian.
- Serve the Mothers and through serving the Mothers serve the Peaks
- Guard the Peaks and so long as the Peaks remain safe, guard your neighbors and your allies as well
- Every member, women and men alike, spend time as a soldier, many find it to be their permanent place within the Peaks
- Community is based on a daily meeting in a grange where they practice arms and their dances
- The virtues are to be upheld and honored. Humility is above all others.
- Know the ranks of your sisters and brothers within your grange. For should they fall the duty to lead could be yours.
- Never again shall the Peaks repeat the mistakes of the past
- To utterly destroy any invading forces
- To provide military aid to leaders they find worthy in Azkon.
- To repopulate the Peaks and to increase the standing forces to what they once were.
- To ensure the safety and security of their own above all others.
- To make pursue self actualization through mastery of the virtues. To stagnate in mastery of the virtues is to die.
Relationships with other Great Houses
- Hazon Dynasty– Unknown in the wake of the destruction of the Silver City and vanishing of the High Elves
- House Dranir–The Knights distrust House Dranir and are cautious in any non-financial dealings with them
- House Kran–Since being absorbed into House Thorn will be treated no differently
- Library of Arn–They have a grudging respect for the Library in general and cordial relationships with the sorcerers
- House Thorn–Close ally but relationships between the First Order and Garresh are tense.