Greyhawk: Return to the Classic
Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom
Of all the orders of knighthood in the history of the Flanaess, none was greater than the fabled Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom. Once many hundreds in number, their membership has since dwindled to perhaps no more than two dozen today. Throughout their history, these knights were formidable warriors with a matchless reputation for courage and honor. They have become the model for numerous orders of knighthood that have sprung up in the Flanaess in their wake, including the Knights of the Hart and the Knights of Holy Shielding. Their legends permeate the cultures of all the former provinces of the Great Kingdom.
Even the founding of the order was an auspicious occasion. It occurred in the year 537 OR (-107 CY), when an attack upon the traveling train of the king of Aerdy was foiled by a group of young men, primarily woodsmen and farmers from a nearby village. Ur-Flan insurgents released a winged horror upon the royal tent city in an effort to assassinate the leader of their conquerors. The young men of the village thwarted the attack, at the cost of most of their lives. The king was so impressed with the courage of the survivors that he raised them up as his “Knight Protectors.” From its inception, the order was unique in the Great Kingdom in that it chose its own membership through contests of skill and courage. Positions were not royally appointed, nor could they be bought, like many other knighthoods in the kingdom that were Jallarzi, Mordenkainen, and Otto in battle known to come cheaply (for example, the knights of Medegia). The Knight Protectors numbered followers of both Heironeous and Hextor in their ranks; while this produced strong rivalries, deadly conflicts were few. The goal of the order was always a united and protected Great Kingdom under an honorable and lawful monarch.
Few events shook the order as greatly as the betrayal of the paladin Sir Kargoth, who made a pact with the forces of evil and unleashed a demonic terror upon the Great Kingdom in 203 CY. The abomination was destroyed at great cost, but the fallen knight seduced no fewer than thirteen members of the order to his dark banner. Kargoth’s treachery cursed everything he touched, and sunlight turned all fourteen traitors into the first and most powerful of the socalled death knights.
The order went into slow decline after this upheaval, as many loyal knights spent much time hunting down the renegades. The royal House Rax went into slow decline at about the same time. In 443 CY, Ivid I set about hunting down and destroying the remaining Knight Protectors, for they opposed his ascension to the throne after he assassinated the last Rax overking. He did not succeed in destroying them, but they were widely dispersed, and some disappeared from the courts of the provinces to go into hiding. Most Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom live now in Ratik, refugees from Bone March, where Clement was a powerful member of the order until the province’s fall in 563 CY. Those Knight Protectors stationed in Almor are now in Rel Deven. Some purportedly hide in the Grandwood and Adri Forests, and a few joined the Iron League and are in Sunndi. The order’s old heraldry, showing the great crowned sun of Aerdy guarded by a white axe and red arrow, is no longer used.
With the apparent passing of Ivid V in Rauxes, some expect the Knight Protectors to emerge from their dormancy and take a more active role in the recovery of the Great Kingdom’s former realms. How they will reorganize and what their new goals will be are as yet unknown to the outside world. Overking Xavener has expressed no interest in them, but no animosity toward them, either. Grenell of North Kingdom might consider a Hextorian order of knights, but not of the caliber of old. Rel Astra has its own knights, the Iron Nation cavalry. Perhaps the Knight Protectors will again rise in Ratik or Ahlissa.