The Knights of the Old Gate are the knightly order of Thorkan. They were originally the guards who stood at the Old Gate when it was established in the First Era, but as Thorkan grew, so did the guards. When Rurn Montrend became the first Duke of Thorkan, he was also the Commander of the Gate Guards. After a small, yet bloody revolt near the gate, the Duke knighted all who remained and formed the knightly order.
The Old Gate was constructed in the First Era, and families from the nearby villages would send their second or third sons and orphans to the Gate, to join the guardsmen and protect the villages from raiding bands of Orcs and bandits. The guardsmen of old rarely married, due to a harsh life at the Gate, but were supported by the villages and a hunting and foraging party that would range through the forests to the west or the plains to the east, for several days once per month.
At times, the guardsmen numbered no more than five, decimated from illness, an Orc warlord, and a poor harvest for the local villages. At other times, such as when Rurn was the Commander, they have numbered over one hundred. When they were knighted following the revolt, however, there was but fifty. Since their elevation from simple gate guards to a knightly order, the Knights of the Old Gate have participated in every major battle that has taken place in Thorkan, and many of the minor battles as well. Currently, the knights number seventy-five, with maybe half that number as squires. The order is not simply an honor guard, as those who are lucky enough to be inducted are true knights, with martial skills that are usually unsurpassed by other Thorkanians.
Seven Knights reside in the Granite Keep, the personal guard detachment of the Duke, who is often the Knight-Commander of the order. The remaining Knights reside in a massive stone structure with a courtyard known as 'The Barracks,' which stands beside the Old Gate, and consists of four stories. The basement is used for storage and also contains the kitchens and meeting hall. The first floor has few rooms, housing the smithy and storage for unassigned weapons and armor, and gives most of its space for training. The second floor consists entirely of single rooms for Knights and Knight-Brothers, and each room contains a bed, a small writing desk and chair, a wardrobe, and a stand for their armor. The top floor is reserved for Knight-Errants and the Knight-Protectors, who have suites, instead of single rooms. Their accomodations are much more personalized however, and generally include larger beds, a personal shrine to their chosen deity, a larger writing desk, a book shelf, an extra chest of drawers, and a table with three matching chairs.
The current ranking system is thus:
- The Knight-Commander is the leader of the Knights of the Old Gate and almost every Duke of Thorkan has held the title, as long as he meets the criteria.
- Knight-Protector (x2)
- The Knight-Protector is divided further into Senior and Junior, with the Senior Knight-Protector serving as the second-in-command of the entire order and also serving as the Commandant of the Barracks. The Junior Knight-Protector resides in the Granite Keep and is in command of the Duke's guard detachment. The Junior and Senior titles are dependent upon which Knight-Protector has been in the order longer.
- Knight-Errant (x6)
- The Knight-Errant functions as a field commander, but also lead the training for Knights and Knight-Brothers. One Knight-Errant serves in the Duke's guard detachment, one more serves as the Quartermaster, three others lead training, and the sixth heads the ceremonial detachment that still mans the Old Gate. This is the lowest rank that may take a squire.
- The Knight becomes a Knight-Brother after he has experienced combat or has committed a valorous deed. With the rank comes more responsibilites, however, as Knight-Brothers form the ceremonial detachment of the Old Gate, are expected to become more proficient in their chosen weapons, patrol the road into the Wrothgarians, disperse any band of outlaws, covens, necromancers or other undesirables, and form the final five spots of the Duke's guard detachment.
- The job of the Knight is to train in the sword and shield, horsemanship, and general strength. They are also to devote themselves to the Nine Divines, and maintain the cleanliness and orderliness of The Barracks. At times, they are also asked to join one of the patrols or to assist in the dispersement of an outlaw camp.
Armor and AppearanceEdit
Knight-Errants and above are allowed to maintain neatly groomed facial hair, and hair no longer than the bottom of their earlobes. Knight-Brothers and Knights must remain cleanshaven and their hair may not be so long as to cover the tops of their ears. However, if a Knight-Protector or the Knight-Commander find fault with ones general appearance, the offending party will be forced to remedy the offense immediately, with more than four offenses at any rank resulting in a demotion.
The Armor of the order starts off as regular steel plate and keeps the full-faced helm, but is etched and layered in such a fashion that some claim it takes style cues from traditional Orcish armor, while others attribute those cues to that of the Ancient Nords. Regardless, it is a strong, yet beautiful armor and a white cape, trimmed in wolf fur, with the black symbol of the Old Gate, earned at the Knight-Brother rank, puts it all together.
In terms of weapons, every Knight is taught and trained in the sword and shield, and once proficient with that, they are trained in the basic use of a war-axe and shield, a greatsword, a battle axe, and a spear. Upon attaining the rank of Knight-Brother, they are allowed to choose whether they wish to take up one of the aforementioned arms or continue with the sword and shield. During their years as a member of the order, they are allowed to upgrade from the basic steel weapons that they are issued, and many of the Knight-Brothers who remain bachelors often use their stipend to afford such weapons.