Knights of the Crucible

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Knights of the Crucible
Ar 0207 first fires keep.jpg
Map of the Crucible Keep
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If the blacksmith fails, the armor fails. If the armor fails, the soldier falls.
~ Olrun Cyneheod

Knights of the Crucible is a faction in the dyrwood.

History[edit | edit source]

The group has existed for years - long before they even came to be known as "knights." They started as a group of blacksmiths, led by Olrun Cyneheod, who came together to form a guild. Olrun felt it imperative for the members to unify, sharing their knowledge through the guild in order to keep the skills and techniques they had spent their lives perfecting. He called the guild "The Crucible," insisting that, though their work was used for destruction, they should always be remembered as creators. They would be known as the vessel that withstands the fire to deliver new form into the world, forged in the fire and all the stronger for the tribulation. Olrun, being a veteran of many battles, knew the importance of impeccably made armor and weaponry. He also espoused the necessity for members of the guild to be trained in martial combat.[1]

Olrun led the guild for years, instituting a policy that any man who wanted to join must not only be a skilled blacksmith, but also take the time to learn how to hold himself in battle. He added a training ground to their guild hall and there was scarcely a minute of daylight that didn't see members out on the field, honing their fighting technique. Because of this, the guild earned the nickname ‘Knights of the Crucible.’ They became a de facto militia for the Dyrwood, an honorable group that many turned to for help. They were known to be fair, ethical, and quick to respond. The Knights chose Abydon as their patron, dedicating their works to his name. To honor him, they incorporated his symbol into their own and wore it on their arms. Many of the Knights took this honor further - regardless of what material a suit of armor was made from, something on the right arm was made with iron, celebrating Abydon's moniker, ‘The Iron Arm.’ Both of these traditions are followed by some of the Knights to this day. The Knights’ smithing skill led them to be known throughout the land as the premiere artisans of their craft, leading people to call any item of exquisite quality "of the Crucible."[1]

Their training and dedication truly came into play during the War of Defiance. Olrun, knowing the importance winning this war, sent out a call - all able-bodied Knights were to join the militia. They quickly proved invaluable to the cause and helped turned the tide of the rebellion. This was particularly true in the Battle of Defiance Bay. Admeth Hadret had already been lost in a previous battle and morale for the Dyrwoodan militia was failing. With the help of Glanfathan astrologers, the Knights were able to rout the imperial forces and secure victory for Dyrwood. The new duc, grateful for the help, and knowing that without the Knights, the Dyrwood never would have survived, made a decree. The Knights would thenceforth be welcomed into the duc's castle and become his official royal guard. Their continued service in this role, coupled with an increasing role in providing security across the Dyrwood, led to the ‘crucible’ aspect falling by the wayside in favor of ‘knight.’ The requirement that the members be proficient in both smithing and martial combat has loosened to the point that anyone who applies is guaranteed entrance, even if they possess little or no smithing experience.[1]

What's more, the Knights have become more and more like the Aedyran aristocracy they once fought, losing the favor of the people. By 2823 AI, they are heading towards a confrontation with the Dozens and House Doemenel over control of Defiance Bay, as their forces are stretched thin by the wave of refugees and instability caused by Waidwen's Legacy. The situation is worsened by the High Justice's decision to recall most of the Bay garrison to Fleetbreaker Castle, their headquarters, to concentrate forces in anticipation of a rebellion breaking out in the Dyrwood. Of course, this newly created weakness actually increases the risk, as the reduced manpower makes it impossible to effectively control Defiance Bay and enforce law. Commander Clyver decided to return to the roots and cover the manpower shortage by creating forge knights, modern animats, resurrecting an extinct branch of Engwithan science.[2]

However, this decision is controversial even among the Knights themselves, in particular Forge Master Dunstan, who is tasked with manufacturing shells for the forge knights.[3]

Organization[edit | edit source]

The Knights are a regimented organization with a well-defined hierarchy and unique recruiting criteria. Each prospective member needs to have his soul lineage checked by Dunryd Row ciphers to ensure they do not have a subversive lineage. Every novitiate gets an affidavit from Dunryd Row, and those are stored at Crucible Keep. Of course, forgery is frowned upon.[4]

Furthermore, the evolution into aristocracy is the elephant in the room nobody wants mentioned or even addressed. People who step out of line run the risk of being forcibly ejected from the order, no matter how loyal they or their families were.[5]

Ranks[edit | edit source]

Squire[edit | edit source]

When a candidate shows sufficient prowess in blacksmithing (or, recently, at least the drive and potential), he is accepted into the order as a Squire. Once he is part of the order, training begins immediately. Lessons are divided into two main sections - Body, commanded by the Lord Marshal and Soul, overseen by Lord Crucilar. At this point in their progression the only uniform the squire is allowed is a simple cloth uniform displaying the Knights’ colors.[6]

Novitiate[edit | edit source]

After sufficient training, each Squire is given a three-part test. He must repair a broken piece of armor, he must recite the Canticles of Abydon from memory, and he must be able to land a blow on a Novitiate in combat. If he succeeds at all three of these tasks, he is promoted to the position of Novitiate. At this point he is given his first official piece of Crucible armor - a brigandine. His training now doubles, as only the most valiant of candidates makes it through to the next level.[6]

Justiciar and Templus[edit | edit source]

When a Novitiate shows he is ready (decided by his teachers and trainers), he must make a decision. His training and advancement from this point on will focus on one of the two disciplines: Body or Soul. Novitiates that choose Body continue military training as a Justiciar under the Lord Marshal. Novitiates that choose Soul are given clerical training as a Templus under the Grand Crucilar. Justiciar or Templus, the newly appointed is taken through the Ritual of the Arm. He is given his plate armor and symbol of Abydon. He is then taken to the Smith's Forge (named after Abydon) and is tasked with forging a small nail out of iron. He affixes this nail to his armor under Abydon's symbol and will wear it there for the rest of his life as a Knight of the Crucible. At this point, the Knight's training is fixed. If he chose Body, that is the path he is on until the end of his days. If he chose Soul, there is no deviating from the course. That is why the choice is only presented after he has been through many months of training.[6]

Commander and Forge Master[edit | edit source]

Once a path is chosen, the Knight's life is spent training in his preferred discipline. The pomp and formalities that surrounded his life up to this point are all but gone. The training is far more rigorous and there is less ceremony to mark his progress. For most Knights, Commander (Body) or Forge Master (Soul) are further than they will ever advance. The training of a Knight at this level, while almost exclusively in the discipline he has chosen, is still rounded out with instruction from the other. A Knight is not truly a Knight if he does not have a full breadth of knowledge. When he passes from Justiciar to Commander, the Knight is given a blue cape to wear with his plate armor. When a Templus rises to the position of Forge Master, he is presented with a white cloak.[7]

Marshal and Crucilar[edit | edit source]

After time spent training, an elite Knight that shows true leadership potential and promise is elevated to the next level. A Knight of the Body becomes a Marshal and a Knight of the Soul becomes a Crucilar. At this point, he is in command of a small group of Knights, Commander/Forge Master and below. He is responsible for the recruitment, initiation, and advancement of new Squires. Many Knights do not want to advance to this level and beyond because the role becomes less hands-on and more advisory. Marshals are known by their purple capes while Crucilars are distinguished by a gold cloak.[7]

Lord Justiciar and Grand Templus[edit | edit source]

A Marshal or Crucilar that shows true and effective command over the Knights in his keeping may be offered the position of Lord Justiciar (of the Body) or Grand Templus (of the Soul). Truly a command position, a Knight that accepts one of these roles will be removed from the front lines. Because of this, it is only the most dedicated leaders that take either of these positions.[7]

Lord Marshal and Lord Crucilar[edit | edit source]

The original intention was to ensure that there is not a single Knight that oversees the entire group, with the responsibility split between the Lord Marshal (Body) and the Lord Crucilar (Soul). Any Knight that advances to this position does so only with the support of the Knights as a whole. He must be nominated and selected by a majority of the Knights. Once in the position, he is there for life. The Lord Marshal or Lord Crucilar may step down from his post if he so chooses, but that is only to retire from the life of a Knight. The stress and responsibility of this position is such that many refuse it, even if they are capable of handling it. Lord Marshals and Crucilars are well known and generally respected throughout the land, not just within the Knights.[7]

High Justice[edit | edit source]

However, the gradual evolution of the order away from its humble beginnings into a de facto aristocracy resulted in the creation of the position of High Justice, the leader of the Crucible Knights operating out of Fleetbreaker Castle. The person occupying the position enjoys total control over the organization, with mandated obedience.[8]

See also[edit | edit source]

Items
Books

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Blacksmith Knights: A Short History of the Knights of the Crucible
  2. Built to Last
  3. Dunstan
  4. Osric
  5. Penhelm
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Development of a Crucible Knight, Part 1: Lower Ranks
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Development of a Crucible Knight, Part 2: Senior Ranks
  8. Clyver: ""Here in Defiance Bay, anyhow. The High Justice is the leader of our order, but he's currently stationed at Fleetbreaker Castle.
    "My job is to oversee our forces in Defiance Bay and to keep order for the duc.""