Tabaxi Wind and Fire: Chapter 2
Order of the Crimson Cross
In 785E, Duke Staphen, second son of the King, received a vision in a dream. He saw a crimson cross that descended slowly from the cosmos onto a map of Tabaxi. Once on the map, a pool of crimson flowed from the cross across Alma and then the rest of the world. A voice was heard: “Go and spread my word!” Duke Staphen shared his vision with the Archbishop of Waltz. The Archbishop interpreted the voice to be that of Avalon and proposed a Chivalric order be founded to serve the Church of Avalon in its missionary works. Thus, the Order of the Crimson Cross was founded to protect pilgrims and missionaries in their work for the church.
At first, the Order mostly escorted Alman pilgrims on their journeys to the many Avalonian shrines and relics throughout Tabaxi. But in 802E, a mission in Mudore was beset by rioters. The mission itself was burned to the ground and the missionaries slaughtered. The Church of Avalon announced a crusade against the Mudorans, the first of its kind, and at the head was the Order. The now King Staphen III led the order personally. The campaign was largely successful, culminating in the founding of Vascone, a crusader fort deep within the heart of Mudore. It was Staphen’s devotion to the Church coupled with his ferocity against the Mudorans that earned him the surname “The Zealot King.”
The Order has since been at the head of most crusades against the Mudorans. These campaigns have had varying degrees of success, although most recently the Mudorans have pushed the Crusaders out. Indeed at the end of the 970 Crusade, Vascone was sacked. Although it was retaken in 973E, by the end of the Afdol War it was completely razed. The Order looks now to recoup its losses and launch another crusade against Mudore.
The sovereign of the Order is the King himself, although the Church of Avalon has great control of the Order as well. The Order is run internally by a council of five members: the Grand Master, the Prelate, the Chaplain, the Chancellor, and the Master-at-Arms. The Grand Master is the head of the Order, only answering to the King himself. He is nominated and appointed by the Prelate and the Chancellor. The Prelate and the Chaplain represent the Church of Avalon within the order. The Prelate is always the current Archbishop of Waltz, but not an official member of the Order. The Chaplain on the other hand, is always an ecclesiastical member of the Order and is nominated by the Knight Commanders and elected by the order as a whole. The Chancellor is responsible for the treasury. He also acts as judge if any claims of unchivalric behavior should be reported by fellow knights against another knight. He is nominated and elected by the Order as a whole. The Master-of-Arms is the head of the Grand Master’s Retinue and is the only actual knight in that retinue. He is also the only knight allowed to bear arms in an Assembly of the Knighthood. He must be a knight and is appointed from within the Order by the Grand Master.
Attached to the council are two retinues, made up of guards and advisors who are not members of the Order. The Grand Master’s Retinue consists of the Master-of-Arms and sixteen other sergeants. These sergeants are mounted in battle. The other retinue is the Prelate’s Retinue. This retinue consists of four ecclesiastics of various ranks. They are appointed by the Prelate and advise the Order on spiritual matters.
Under the council are thirty-two Knight Commanders. These are the highest ranking non-council knights. They command the companies in battle. They are appointed by The Grand Master out of the titled Knights Companion. They hold their position for life or until they elect to resign. A Commander’s banner and shield is displayed within the Order Chapel. They are also permitted to display their family’s heraldry on their shield and tabard. They are obliged to go to war whenever the Order is called upon to do so.
Under the Knight Commanders are the Knights Companion. These are full members of the Order. A Knight is declared a Companion to the Order upon successful completion of sufficient service. There is no limit to the number of Companions within the order, but there is usually around two hundred. They are also permitted to display their family’s heraldry on their shield and tabard. They are not obliged to join the order in any militaristic function.
Below the Knights Companion are the Knights Errant. They are considered knights, and their names are prefaced with “Sir.” However, they are not considered full members of the order. Indeed, a Knight Errant’s role is to seek full membership by engaging in service on behalf of the Order. This may take the form of escorting pilgrims on pilgrimage to embarking a crusade. Once they have garnered enough honours the Grand Master enrobes them in the Order as a Knight Companion. They are not permitted to display any heraldry on their shield or tabard other than the crimson cross on a field of white, the Heraldry of the Order. At any given time, there are roughly three to five hundred Knights Errant. They are obliged to be a part of any crusade or military action the order is engaged with. The only exception is if they are excused because they are engaged in other Order business or in the employ of the King.
Servicing the Knights of all ranks are the Squires. These are the sons of knights of any order who have served as a Page before. They may be asked to go on campaign with the Order. Their services may include fighting on foot or horse.
Pages serve the entire order. They can be of any social rank, although peasant pages are never promoted higher than page. They are never brought on campaign.
The Order also fields an army of ten thousand strong made up of mercenaries, yeoman, and any levies Order members can spare. This ten thousand is divided into thirty-two companies each commanded by a Knight Commander.
Grand Master- Lord Ermer Redcrown, Earl of Bittenhollow
Prelate- Archbishop Donnel Otyl, Archbishop of Waltz
Chancellor- Lord John Toland, Marquis of Southfist
Master-At-Arms- Sir Sigismund Redcrown, Baron of Hollowvale