Coldforged Civilizations: The Orders of Drimm Pt 2.

I’m rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged Material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to continue my look into This week we’re going continue with the other 5 Orders of Drimm. With that, let’s dive in.

The Orders

Last week I talked about how the orders came about, the prophets that foresaw the future, and the Order of Zeal, the order dedicated to Takannas, deity of War and Fire. This week, we’ll take a look at the rest and see where they lie within the functioning of Drimmak Society

The Bulwark Order of Elsurak

The Bulwark order of Elsurak was created by the prophet of Nera, Lusia Shardbreaker, when she located the halls of what would become Elsurak along the coast of the Drimmen Mountains, and after clearing it, settled in, along with her followers.

The Bulwark order is focused on providing defenses to those who travel and trade, be it on the ocean or on land. They are defensive-minded people who see the safety of people to move freely between areas as a paramount obligation. Nera, as the deity of water, exploration, travel, and discovery, was optimally favored for such an endeavor, with a patient and tender hand, but also a fierce sense of purpose.

The Foundations of the Bulwark are long and complicated, detailing in many direct and indirect ways in the methods that the Bulwark should address specific events. There are two main, and overriding tenets that guide the order, however, and provide direction when the other foundations come into conflict.

The first is the Foundation of Order, which implores the members of the Bulwark to provide stability, protection, and defense to those in their care. This also means providing for the common welfare when applicable and obeying the reasonable and well-meaning orders of the upper clergy, Marshalls and other leaders.

The second is the Foundation of Guidance, which instructs the order members to be the voices of wisdom and temperance in heated and frustrating situations. There will always be situations where violence is the only answer, but they should be judged and weighed against the needs of the whole group, and only used when needed.

Within the city of Elsurak, the Order was ruled by the Grand Marshall of the Iced Waves, who set the rigid directions for the order, led its troops when needed, and acted as the focal point of pilgrimages to hear their wisdom. Outside the city, the Order was known for being caravan guards into other kingdoms, as well as between the Drimmak cities, as well as being excellently trained marines, accompanying merchant ships who were worried about raiders and pirates.

This same function is what they pursue in Aldashir, being hired out to guard caravans and protect merchant ships, developing a strong enmity with the pirates of Brokensail. Their expertise and relative scarcity among the Aldashiri has led them to be rather expensive guards, though their reputation guarantees that they will be worth the cost, organized and loyal to their charter.

With all that has happened since the expulsion, the Bulwark has taken it the best, rekindling their desire to protect their fellows and others and providing that service, though they see it as a necessary, if foul, evil to charge so much for their services. One day, they hope to retake their home from the giants like any other proper Drimm, but they wait patiently and home their skills.

The Order of the Holy Light of Taralin’s Ankh

The Holy Order of the Ankh was created by Jusima Ironhands, Daughter of Yakira Ironhands, the Prophet of Taralin. The Prophet had been slain during the routing of the monsters within the Halls they had found under the mountain of Yormarak, the whispering alabaster halls that gleamed once they cleaned off the vile grime.

Taralin is a deity focused on the cause of life, defending it, preserving it, and ensuring its cycles continue by fighting the undead and immortal. The Order of the Ankh focuses on these aspects of his portfolio, seeking justice when others are unable or incapable.

The orders followers have a code of conduct, one that they swear to when they are initiated, and that drives their actions. Taralin has never been one to hold fast to the rules and sees the necessity in breaking them if there is just cause and reason to do so, and the Code follows this thought process, putting, instead of specific codified laws and rules, guidelines of conduct.

There are three main guidelines that followers are expected to understand, called callings. The first is the Call to Guard. This directs the Order of the Ankh to protect those who are unable to protect themselves, to guard the weaker and the vulnerable, and to assist those who have need. It is the duty of a Knight of the Ankh to put their life on the line when called.

The second is the Call to Justice. This call directs the orders adherents to fetter out justice, being truthful and fair in their punishments and striving to be the embodiment of justice as they live, as they travel, and as they speak with their companions and enemies.

The final directive is the Call to Reckoning, which builds on the other two calls to form the tenants of the order. The Call to Reckoning issues the charge that no evil deed should go unpunished, and that those who seek to abuse those lower than themselves, to enslave and attack and berate will find at the other end of a sword or axe a Knight of the Order of the Ankh. Those who escape justice and attempt to avoid the consequences of what they have done will, ultimately, reckon with their deeds, and often from the cold eyes of Knight of the Ankh

The order was once ruled by the High Justicar, who was expected to justly and benevolently rule the city as a beacon of wisdom and personal responsibility. Outside of Yormarak, the order became a form of a marshal, hunting down escaped or fleeing prisoners, criminals and traitors, pursuing them through their flight and bringing them back to the Hall of Atonement to meet their reckoning. It is a small and devout group who swear into the thankless life, and they are often seen as infected with wanderlust.

The order has become a form of both police force and bounty hunter while at Aldashir, being hired to bring known criminals, evildoers, and vile beasts to justice, scouring the entire continent for them and either destroying them in their lair or bringing them back to face the justice they so deserve, as dictated by their hiring. The order is no indiscriminate force, though, and they are careful with their contracts, using the priests of the order to ensure that the person being tracked down is a truly worthy individual.

The order has grown accustomed to life in Aldashir, and their Grand Justicar Yasuth Stonetooth has proven to be a popular and stout successor to her father, who requested the honor to die defending their halls, allowing many to escape as he and his picked squad held the lines.

The Order of the Sentinels of the Mountain Depths

The Order of Sentinels of the Mountain Depths came into existence at the behest of the Seer and Oracle Driklen Greybrow, though he was unable to see it founded, dying of old age prior to ever setting foot in the halls of Plathrak where his followers were destined to find their home.

Like all of the Orders, that which is dedicated to Evalrun reflects the personality and tone of the deity that they follow. Like Evalrun, the Deep Sentinels are a dour collective, intent on performing their important duties, gathering wealth, and exploring the depths of the earth, proving themselves in combat against those who would take their holy caves and halls.

The Sentinels are the force that continuously pushes deeper into the earth, locating new halls, exploring deep within and searching for great treasures. The order follows the Five Laws that were written by Driklen prior to his death before the halls were even located. He gave these to his followers before the thought of the order even existed, and they gave form to what was to come.

The laws are held to strictly, with those breaking them being punished severely, though rarely in the form of corporal punishment, and instead with fines and charity work, both of which are seen as demeaning to those who follow Evalrun.

The First Law is one of stout defense and guardianship: Protect what is ours. It provides guidance and purpose where none else exists due to familial ties, bonds of fellowship, and a general propensity to claim that is common among the Drimmen, and expresses itself strongly among those who favor Evalrun

The Second Law is one of constant exploration: Seek deeper. This is the motivation that many of those who follow Evlarun have to push ever deeper into the earth. They search for a wealth of gold and silver, of gems and marvelous deep caverns, but it is all in service to the Second Law to delve further into the core of the world.

The Third Law drives those individuals to excel in what they do: Reward Yourself. It’s a simple and fairly specific law, yet one that often comes into controversy as to what and how it means its words. Many of the strongest adherents believe that it directs its followers to hoard their wealth and create vast sums of riches that they can pass on later in life, while others believe that it is a reward of status and power. Either way, it extorts personal gain.

The Fourth Law is the only one of joy: Celebrate the Subterranean. Here is where many followers take their only solace and believe it allows them the revelry of the deeps that they so enjoy. While many portions of the beliefs of Evalrun are dour, their regular underground feasts are sights to behold, with magical effects glittering off of gems and fires, glowing stalagmites and stalactites, ever-flowing mushroom beer, and food of all sorts. This is often combined with the Third Law into a jubilant affair of self-promotion and debauchery.

The Fifth Law is simple and Cold: Root out the Usurpers. Before they found their own halls the followers of Evalrun were aghast to learn that there were vast underground complexes that were held by twisted and vile beings that desecrated the very ground they walked on with their hideous stench and vile offal. This was combined with the Second Law to push out the Troglodytes from the halls and has now been used to justify the retaking of those same halls from the now-usurping giants. This Law has rarely been used by those both cold and ruthless against unlucky Drimmen who dare to defy their elders and lords.

The Order of the Sentinels came to rest at last in the massive and gaudy halls of Plathrak, and they were never content with what they held. Unlike the other halls, they searched ever downward and ever onward to new locations and even dug their way into natural and unexplored caves, following the second law. At Plathrak, the Grand Marshal of Black Stone ruled with a cold stare elected at the death of each prior Grand Marshal for a life appointment. There they would direct the delves and defenses of the massive holdfast, gathering great wealth and power to themselves. In other holds, they were the defenders of the unexplored passages, well trained in coordinated fighting, combined arms, and facing unexpected monstrosities.

At Aldashir, the Order of Sentinels forms the backbone of the forces that the King deploys, the hardened and gritty center that opponents break on. They are motivated by treasure and gold unlike any of the other orders and don’t complain about the morality of their commander or their assignment. They are often distrusted by the other orders for being “simple” mercenaries, but they know that this training and experience will help them rout the giants from their homes one day, and make them richer than could reasonably be expected otherwise. Their current Grand Marshak, Urik Blackscale, is a walking testament to the wealth and experience brought in by the Aldashir, a grizzled, wealthy, and powerful veteran who itches for battle.

The Order of Bones

When the order of bones was founded, the ships of the shattered culture that would become the Drimmen were still afloat on the seas after the Shattering. The first Speaker of the Bones was Yurist Blindeye, who offered to take aboard his ship, the Casualty any of the dead of the flotilla and house them within until they could find a proper location to bury them. Over time, as many died during the trek, the crew became smaller and smaller, replacing those who died on other ships and making room for the bones of the dead.

Those who remained aboard were dedicated to the cause of Dagor, and became the order of bones, taking care of the dead from that flotilla until the day they discovered Othrak deep under the mountains and finally laid their wards to rest.

The Yursit put down no laws or codes and guided those who followed him with his wisdom, judgment, and logic. It was only decades after his death that those who followed him decided to put down his wisdom in over a hundred and fifty proverbs, of which there are a few that have taken primacy as core guidance.

The First is the Guidance of Keeping, which asks each of the members to understand that each and every set of bones interred in their care is a person, someone’s family member, and at the very least a member of the Drimmak. These are to be warded with reverence and care, to ensure the peaceful slumber of those spirits within.

The Second is the Guidance of Rest, which teaches that those unruly and unholy beings of raised bodies are to be exterminated at all costs, with those that cause harm or damage to others being hunted down rapidly and furiously.

The Third Guidance is that of Solemnity. The Duties of the deity of death are not for those of the faint of heart or those who are filled with mirth and glee. Instead, it is a cold and necessary duty that is partaken with the gravest of honors. Even the destruction of the undead is not something that should be gleeful but seen as the righting of great wrongs.

The fourth main guidance is that of Resolve. While there are many things that need to be done in the world, the keeping of the dead is something that everyone will eventually need. The tasks that are needed are tough, and they will test the will of many a good person. The resolution to continue on in the face of grief, of terror, and of other discouraging factors is the trademark of a Knight of the Order of Bones.

Within the catacombs above and under the Hall of Othrak lie the remains of a thousand dead generations of Drimmen. Here, the most important and well off clans would send those who have passed to be treated and cared for in personal and individualized tombs. These tombs fill a maze of tunnel works within the mountain, with those of Kings, Knights, and heroes all marked with their deeds from their life or stacked atop and beside each other to form artificial walls, ceilings and halls amid the caverns.

Within each of the Great Halls, the order there represented the guardians of the tombs, preventing tombs from being robbed, and providing security to the legions of the dead. They also were called on when undead would raise their head, both in the halls and out, to hunt down and vanquish the restless souls as well as those who would wield the necromantic power to do so. These rare warriors were so stalwart and doggedly resolved in their duties that few made it out during the great exodus, staying and dying to protect their wards. There are even baseless rumors that a branch of the order still survives within Othrak, fighting the giants to this day.

In Aldashir, the Order of Bones is sent on those same specific undead hunting expeditions that they undertook when the Kingdom was whole, hired individually or in small groups to undertake perilous excursions, and for a high price. Under the direction of the current, very new, High Marshall of the Order, Kyruk Ashenblood, they have begun to tend and carve out the growing catacombs of their own dead beneath their new citadel, unwilling and unable to let their dead brethren suffer the indignities of a lack of final rest.

The Skyshield order

The Skyshield order, dedicated to the diety of cold, sky and ice, is fairly a misnomer, as they neither shield the sky nor have the ability to fly or perform other aerial practices. Instead, they are one of the few orders who take glee in being outdoors, under the great, wide sky, honoring their diety in the best way they know how to, maintaining a relationship with the sky and its wild, open companions.

Formed by the Oracle of Ice, Oshara Whiteblade, the Skyshield order is the front line scouts, the eyes and ears of the Drimmen nation, and were strongly represented in every major and minor Hall in the Kingdom. Their own Great Hall is a relatively minor affair of simple trappings and fewer individuals than the rest as well. The Order was a disparate group, held together by a shared, and some would say strange, love of the outdoors, the open air and the great sky. Its rules and obligations were few, the guidance of its founder was not lost to the ages, passed down through the oral tradition of the Mediators, the priestly arm of the order.

This guidance tells the members of the order to always be vigilant, as they are the first ones who will be expected to notice danger and to provide a warning to their vigil. It reminds them to watch not only the physical world around them but to be spread far and wide, among the other kingdoms of the continent, paying attention and reporting back any information that would prepare their own for what is to come. It admonishes them to be always moving, avoiding settling down in one static location from where one would always be watching the world. It mentions that to be truly a Skyshield, you must be attentive to the little messages that the world provides, and to maintain health and vigor so as to provide the necessary warning.

The Skyshields, much like the Zealots, feel the loss of their homeland deeply. They feel they should have seen the giants coming, somehow, even though they were secretly negotiated with and clouded by magic in order to achieve their first victory, and attacked through a truce to achieve their second. It is a great shame on them, and they seek as much as the Zealots to return to their homeland and bring combat to the giants.

The Skyshields are excellent rangers and stalkers, as well as lookouts, proficient in ranged combat and long-distance endurance and fortification construction. They were a major presence in every hall, where they manned the upper outposts, the ranging stations, traveled to other kingdoms and gathered information Of all the orders, the Skyshields are the largest, as they are not trained front line skirmishers and many of them were abroad at the time of the exodus.

Until such time as they are asked to attack the giants in the great halls, led by their Ranger Lord, Jurin One-eyed, they seek out jobs to keep their skills sharp and to gather gold, allies, and resources for Aldashir. Their services as skirmishing troops, engineers, and lookouts are always in demand, and they have been able to translate that into a constant source of gold for the King.