|Name||Knights of St. Zane|
|Mission Statement||To defend those who cannot defend themselves from the depredations of magic users and the bloodkin.|
|Associated Orders||The Scribes of St. Zane|
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs
- 3 Hierarchy
- 4 Knights at Demongate
- 5 Political Authority
- 6 Code of the Order
The knighthood was founded shortly after the retreat from the continent where Steelhold had once been, as a group devoted to the defense of the common people against the hordes of darkness. Their first Grand Master, Urist McKnight, was killed, along with much of the rest of the order, during the first bloodkin invasion, but their efforts helped to stem the tide and throw the bloodkin back in disarray.
The Middle Years
The few remaining members of the order continued their work of defending the world and spreading the faith of Armok, and eventually the order began to grow in size again. As the bloodkin began to be forgotten, however, they became less and less influential.
Sometime during these years, the archives began becoming more censored by the members of the Scribes, on orders from the council of masters. Exactly when this happened is unclear: an anomaly in the otherwise immaculate records that the scribes keep of the activities of the order.
Founding of Demongate
When reports arrived of Bloodkin invasions in the south, the Knights worked to convince the leaders of the dwarven civilizations to found a series of fortresses on the border to stem the tide should the bloodkin come northward. Part of this was the founding of Demongate, and the knights send one of their low magebane's, Sir Brenzen to watch over the fledgling fortress.
The Knights of St. Zane swear their lives to the Dwarven God Armok, lord of the gods. They vow to seek out and slay all users of magic, whom they believe to all be followers of the Imposters. They believe that Armok interceded in the world at Steelhold through his Saints: Emdief, Lorius Zane, Rhaken, Modi, and Jackal.
The knighthood consists of six "sworn" ranks and one "unsworn" rank.
When a dwarf applies for membership in the knighthood, they must first prove their worthiness by accepting duties as a squire to a member of the knighthood. They are usually apprenticed to a knight commander, rather than a knight. The duties of a squire are mostly waiting on the needs of their master, but they are given a lot of free reign in their actions otherwise. In order to become a knight, they must prove knowledge of the creed of the knighthood and swear to dedicate their life to the order.
The lowest level of the knighthood, knights are those who have been accepted to the order. They serve as the bulk of the knighthood's military force, and have few to no powers within the order.
When a knight shows promise in the field of battle or in tactical ability, they are usually promoted to the rank of knight commander. Knight commanders lead squads of knights and serve as training officers for younger knights.
The low magebane is the first level of more bureaucratic knights. They are usually promoted from the ranks of knight commanders when a spot opens up, and only 200 low magebanes exist at any given time in the order. The main duties of the low magebane are overseeing the local affairs of the the knighthood and making sure that everything remains in order. They are also the first level allowed to read some of the texts copied by the scribes, specifically those regarding magic and the bloodkin. They also are granted the authority to knight a squire or civilian in case of an emergency or as a reward for an extraordinary act of bravery, provided the one to be knighted agrees.
The high magebane is a step above the low magebanes. Only 50 dwarves at a time may hold the rank of high magebane. Their duties include managing a larger area, such as a large fortress or a small barony, and seeking out those who would challenge the knighthood. They are given leeway in terms of their activities as long as they adhere to the code of the knights. They have access to more texts and more parts of texts than the low magebanes do, as they are trusted to be able to handle the knowledge they gain. They have the authority of emergency disclosure, which allows them to divulge secrets to those without the authority to hear them if they deem it absolutely necessary. To ensure accountability, they must inform a scribe of their decision, and the decision and information disclosed must be recorded for review by the council should the need arise.
The nine masters of the order make up the high council that advises the Grand Master. They are the generals of the order as well as it's spiritual leaders. At least one is usually present at most knighting ceremonies, and they serve the other knight's spiritual needs.
The Grand Master of the order is chosen by secret vote from amongst the Master's every time the previous Grand Master resigns or dies. He is the ultimate authority of the knighthood, but is encouraged by tradition to listen to the advise of the council of Masters.
Knights at Demongate
The main knight at Demongate, and the highest authority in the area, is Sir Brenzen. Two squires were sent to assist him early in the fortress, but both have died over the years. The only other full knight in the fortress, Olin, died within a few years of her knighting by Sir Brenzen during the Test of Faith.
The knights do not exist as a political entity, per se, but due to agreements with the main dwarven governments they have a certain amount of influence. They have their own sets of laws that are enforced within the order, though they have no jurisdiction over those not sworn to them.
Crime and Punishment
The Council of Masters serves as the jury in any trial, with the Grand Master handing down the sentence should the accused be found guilty. The legal system of the Knighthood is more ordered than the dwarven judicial system, as members must be proved guilty of crimes in order to be sentenced. They also use a separate system of punishments.
Minor infraction of the knights code: should a dwarf be found guilty of a minor infraction of the code, they are required to spend a week in silent penance for their crime. The exact nature of this penance varies, but is usually a week spent in contemplation and prayer.
Negligence: The most open-to-interpretation of the crimes, negligence is usually invoked when a knight misinterprets orders or makes an easily avoidable mistake. Punishment is as above.
Major infraction: For more major infractions or repeated infractions of the code, the punishment is more severe. The punishment can be anywhere from temporary suspension to outright expulsion from the order.
Concealing information: The crime of concealing information involves a knight not telling their superiors something that, while not hugely detrimental to the order, resulted in negative consequences for the short-term goals of the order. It is punished as above.
Treason: The second most severe crime of the order, this involves defection and spying. Treason is required to be punished by death. Only two trials for treason have been recorded, both in the early years of the order, and were swiftly dealt with.
Magic Use: The most severe crime, punishable by immediate execution. This crime has never been invoked, but there are rumors of the knights conducting secret trials of magic users they have captured through illicit means.
Leaving the Order
Leaving the order is a somewhat complicated process for those who have taken their vows (all non-squires). Normally, one is required to consult with the council of masters and state reason for leaving the order, followed by a ceremonial revoking of authority. The intention of the revoking of authority is not, as is widly believed, meant to shame the one who is leaving, but is meant to symbolically free them from their duties. One cannot leave the knighthood while on trial for a crime, but other than that they are free to leave once they have fulfilled the requirements. The council of masters is required to hear any request to leave within a week of the request being made, to ensure accountability.
Code of the Order
- You will not kill those helpless to defend themselves and have not taken hostile action against innocents. To do so is to mar the honor of the order.
- You will not use unfair tactics to cripple your foes. Battle is an honorable task, and you should preform it with honor.
- You must defend innocents with your life, should such situations arrise. There is no greater honor than dying to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
- You may not surrender to those who would inflict harm to innocents.
- The order is your first home, and your superior is your supreme commander.
- You shall not inflict unneccesary pain upon a living creature of any kind.
- Captives are to be treated with respect, and under no circumstances may captives be harmed out of revenge.
- Live life ever vigilant for danger.
- Hunt down those who would use magic. Magic is the work of demons, and all magic users must be brought to justice.