Templars

The Order Militant Templar

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Forged in battle at the foundation of the Church in northern Aequor, the Order of the Knights Templar are knights sworn to both Church and nation to protect the faithful. Originally created to protect the northern realms of Aequor from Iceniala raiders, these knights are sworn by the church to defend against the evils of the unfaithful, and to protect the faithful from the physical dangers posed by heretics and enemies of the church. To do this they needed the help of the church to fund the building of of small militias that answer to the Knight and move as one to defend against the evils that might threaten the church, or her flock. Of the Orders Militant they are the most militant of orders, taking both Knights (Hedge and Noble alike), as well as commoners into the order to fill their ranks.

While Noble knights are not required to give up title or land when they join the Order, and many of those that join are second or third sons or daughters who don’t stand to inherit much, it is required that nobles pay the order a tithe as well as the church from the noble’s incomes. This ensures that the order is well supplied, and indeed, the Templar’s when amassed for battle are some of the best equipped knights and foot soldiers in the west. Hedge Knights are treated like the commoners as far as devotion, and both are expected to live in either a Noble Knight of the Order's castle, or in one of the Templar’s many fortress monasteries, the largest of which is Fortress Benide in Northern Aequor.

A little under one hundred years ago the Templar Order gained both numbers and strength when the Northern Kingdom of Aequor decided to move north and quell the barbaric and savage tribes the Icenaila. Many young Knights, both noble and hedge pledged their swords to the Templar Order, and soon the small numbers of the Order where over flowing with members. Immediately the High Priest decreed them the military arm of the One Faith, and soon the civilized West as a whole was sending young knights to join the order. The Army that was built was powerful. Strong enough that when supplemented by the Kingdom of Aequor's own forces on their crusade and supported by a few minor nobles of Galenthia and the Principality of Kentaire, the Northern Tribes were pushed back, and thought to be nearly destroyed culturally.

Though Aequor was pushed back to the Fortress built by the Templars and a mighty siege erupted there, the fortress, and the Templars not only held the line against the sea of barbarians, they were instrumental in pushing them back. The stories of Templars during the Northern Crusades are many, and all involve heroism and devotion to the One Faith and the church, while serving their Kings.

When working with the other orders, the Templars tend to provide the backbone of military engagements, and indeed are a staggering half of Rikton's standing army. Though the higher command elements know of the Inquisition, few of the rank and file, and certainly none of the common infantry know anything beyond rumors of the Inquisition's existence, unless they are among the rare few chosen to serve as an Inquisitor's protector in his retinue. A few proven brothers or sisters of the Order might be taken on as Brethren of the Order of the Vigil, but Templars are virtually never made full members of the Vigilants, because they do not want to cannibalize the strength of their fellow Holy Orders to supplement their own.

Organization:

The first person inside the order a prospective recruit meets, these men, typically just referred to as Sergeants, are both Drill Instructors, and unit leaders in the field. Sergeants also act as those in charge of smaller field units within an army of the Church and typically a Chapel or Cathedral will have a Sergeant and a small unit of Templars that act as a sort of Temple Guard. These men are some of the most skilled in the order, and are considered some of the most righteous defenders of the Faith inside the order. Note that it is very rare for heirs or heads of noble houses who are also Templars to advance beyond this rank, save for among certain families of Northern Aequor. (A strong application is required)

Recruitment and Lifestyle

Those who live permanently in the hierarchy of the Templars find themselves living the life of a soldier as well as devout member of the One Faith, something prospective members might find surprising giving the military nature of the Order. Morning consists of Prayer and a hearty breakfast except when in the field, when other soldierly matters need to be attended, in which case the long sermons are replaced by group prayers led by a Chaplain of the Order of Saint Michael, or a Knight-Sergeant if a Chaplain is not available. Afternoon is training and drill work, with the evening being spent on a hearty dinner, and chores that one’s duty must see accomplished. This structured lifestyle acts as both training for new recruits, as well as keeping the Templar’s highly elite edge and appearance in the field of battle.

Of the Orders, the Templars are the easiest and unsurprisingly the largest of the Orders Militant. All one needs to do, be they common, or Noble is make a pilgrimage to Cathedral, and there in the presence of a Bishop swear an Oath to first the One Faith, then to the Orders Militant and finally, if Noble, to your Kingdom. Once that is done, the individual is sent to a regional monastery or fortress. These may be anything from Chapels, to Cathedrals, or like in the North, the Massive Fortress of Benide in Aequor. Once there, they are assigned a Sergeant who determines if the individual will be of use to the Order, if they are, they remain with the Sergeant where they are given an assignment and roll to fulfill within the Order. If they are found unworthy, they are simply sent home.

Missions

The Templars are a military organization through and through. As the military arm of the church it is their duty to enforce the will of the One Faith militarily, defend those who are of the One Faith, and to fight the evils of the heretics and savages of the North and South. Typical missions are raids on the Iceniala, patrols along the Great Salt River in the South (both on foot and in warships), as well as military maneuvers in preparation for war. When on official church business, Templars often wear the white surcoat with the red cross such as shown on the shield above.

Many Noble Templars wear "two hats" and function both as warriors of their homelands and liege lords as well as warriors of the church. While in theory this might create a conflict of interest should the Church call them to arms while the nation is at war, in practice most of the Templars that stand in such positions already live in areas where barbarians and heathens are in abundance (such as Northern Aequor, Southern Galenthia, or along the Western Coasts of either), and thus they tend to be fulfilling both duties at once when they go forth to fight. Still, it is rare for heirs or heads of house to ascend to high rank in the Templars (beyond the rank of Templar Sergeant), except among certain houses of the Duchy of Murnord in Northern Aequor.

Most Templars that are landholding nobles often end up becoming "reserve" Templars, still holding all the rank, rights, and privileges of their Templar rank, but focusing more on the administration and defense of their family's lands than serving the interests of the Church. Should a crusade be called however, the Church may well call them to arms if needed, and they are expected to answer.

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