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The Knights of Imphras II
The Knights of Imphras II is an elite order of paladins and clerics who pledge fealty to the crown of Impiltur and dedicate their lives to the defense of the Realm of the Sword and the Wand. The Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike, as the order is formally known, is composed of holy warriors of the Triad (Tyr, Torm, and Ilmater) who specialize in hunting down and destroying fiends and other buried legacies of ancient Narfell.
Because Impiltur is confronted by many threats from within and beyond its borders, members of the Knights of Imphras II must deal with a wide range of situations, from daggers hidden amid the, robes of court life to the horrors of unexplored demoncysts that lie beneath the surface of Impiltur's uplands, and respond with an appropriate degree of tact and martial prowess.
History of Holuse Heltharn of Impiltur
In the Year of the Dawndance (1095 DR), Imphras Heitharn, War-Captain of Lyrabar, united the city-states of Lyrabar, Hlammach, Dilpur, and Sarshel, the wood elves of the Grey Forest, and the shield dwarves of the Earthfast Mountains to face the menace of the hobgoblin hordes advancing from the Giantspire Mountains, from where they had only raided sporadically before. After a terrible struggle, the combined host of Imphras was driven back to the shores of Bluefang Water. There, with the aid of Soargar, Mage Royal of Old Impiltur and Archmage of Lyrabar; his apprentice, the young sorceress Sambral; and the visiting archmage, Velgarbrin of Baldur's Gate, the folk of Impiltur routed the hobgoblin horde. Soargar then breathed his last, but only after telling Imphras of the lost Crown of Narfell and the cache of magic blades contained within his tower. In the Year of the Gleaming Crown (1997 DR), after two years of diplomacy between the cities, the people of now-reunited Impiltur crowned Imphras as king, ending the era known as the Kingless Years (926-1097 DR). King Imphras I raised a small tower at Filur, from which he ruled, and, in time, he wed Sambral and had two children.
Queen Sambral died in the Year of the Rose Pearls (1122 DR), and, after grieving for her, Imphras I soon passed as well. Their son and eldest child Imbrar took the crown. King Imbrar's younger sister Ilmara became a sorceress under Mhilra of Milvarune and found the Scrying Stones of Myth Drannor. Princess Ilmara then founded Ilmwatch, to guard against the return of the hobgoblins.
In the Year of the Luminar Procession (1127 DR), Ilmara saw the hobgoblins stirring in one of the Scrying Stones, so King Imbrar marched into the mountains, accompanied by his Royal Guard, who bore the blades that were collectively known as Soargar's Legacy. Imbrar and his men were never seen again, but neither were the hobgoblins - so Ilmara sorrowfully took up the Crown of Narfell and reigned as Impiltur's queen.
In the Year of the Parchment Heretical (1167 DR), Ilmara finally took a husband half her age, one Rilaun of Sarshel. Rilaun became sorely wroth when Ilmara named their first son, Imphras II, king upon his birth in the Year of the Earth Shaking (1169 DR), as was the law. Rilaun took up arms to seize the crown, but he was murdered before he could do so. Queen Ilmara continued to rule as regent until the Year of the Immoral Imp (1185 DR), when Imphras II was crowned king after he reached sixteen years of age, again according to Impiltuian law. In time, King Imphias II wed Lasheela of Dilpur, and they had two sons: Talryn (born in 1188 DR) and Lashilmbrar (born in 1190 DR). After years of illness, Lasheela died of a wasting disease in the Year of Private Tears (1204 DR), and Imphras II married his longtime mistress Rebaera Osterhown within months of his first wife's death. She bore him three sons - Kuskur (born in 1205 DR), Velimbrar and Elphras (identical twins born in 1207 DR) - before dying giving birth to a fourth son, Fylraun (born in 1209).
In the months following his marriage to Rebaera, Imphras II became a wanderwit, leaving the day-to-day rule of Impiltur to his unscrupulous court advisors. In the Year of the Gamine (1208 DR), Crown Prince Talryn attempted to have his father declared unfit to rule, but his brother, Prince Lashilmbrar, who had allied himself with key members of the royal court, secretly betrayed him. Although forced to flee into exile, Talryn retained the title of Crown Prince, in accordance with Impilturan law. The next year, Lashilmbrar and his allies orchestrated Impiltur's involvement in the destruction of Urdogen's pirates, nominally to eliminate the threat to Impiltur's merchant fleet. Once again Talryn escaped his brother's treacherous hand through chance, when his ship was blown off course before its expected rendezvous with Urdogen's fleet. Three years later, Tairyn learned of his father's death from a captured Impilturan merchant and returned to Impiltur in expected triumph. In truth, the death of Imphras II was a ruse secretly engineered by Lashilmbrar and his allies, and the "Pirate Prince" was executed by his father's royal guard within moments of disembarking at Lyrabar's docks and proclaiming himself king. Lashilmbrar then had his father strike Talryn's name from the royal records and had himself named crown prince.
King Imphras II died in the Year of the Winged Worm (1225 DR), and the Crown of Narfell passed to his eldest living son, Crown Prince Lashilmbrar. As king, Lashilmbrar long resisted fathering rivals to his rule, but he eventually married Thelmara Rorntarn, who bore him two sons, Imphras III (born in 1276 DR) and Rilimbrar (1280 DR). Prince Kuskur married Elthinda Balindre of Telflamm, daughter of that city-state's merchant prince (equivalent to a hierarch or grand prince), and she bore him one son, Thaum. Prince Velimbrar married Almarean Dintersan, and she bore him four daughters and then a son named Soarimbrar. His twin, Prince Elphras, never married, and vanished in the Year of the Defiant Keep (1244 DR) after raising a castle near the Great Barrow. Prince Fylraun, the youngest son of King Imphras II, married Marea Forgecrown, who gave him two daughters and a son, also named Elphras.
In the Year of the Deep Moon (1294 DR), the adventurer-prince Thaum plotted to advance his claim on Impiltur's crown. He secretly plotted to have King Lasilmbrar, Queen Thelmara, and Crown Prince Imphras III assassinated. Although Prince Rilimbrar was also a target, he was the only one to escape his cousin's trap. Rilimbrar's survival foiled Thaum's plot to place his father, Prince Kuskur, on the throne, but it did have the effect of elevating Rilinibrar to the title of king and Kuskur to the title of crown prince (at least temporarily). As unaware of his son's involvement as everyone else was, Crown Prince Kuskur agreed to return to Impiltur and serve as regent until Prince Rilimbrar came of age. Since Rilimbrar was likely to have sons of his own, there was little chance that Thaum would ever inherit the crown.
With his father away and his doddering maternal grandfather on the throne of Telflamm, it was a simple matter for Prince Thaum to empty much of Telflamm's treasury to hire an army of mercenaries. With his army and his only child, Imphras, in tow, Thaum sailed across the Easting Reach and sacked the city of Sarshel with complete surprise. Thaum and his mercenaries then marched on the Tower of Filur and seized the throne of Impiltur. Regent Kuskur and King Rilimbrar fled into hasty exile, but without access to Impiltur's treasury, they were unable to muster much of a fighting force to reclaim the throne. Instead, Kuskur turned to Queen Ilione of Aglarond and requested her aid. Ilione sent her mysterious apprentice, known only as the Simbul, to dispatch Thaum with magic, a mission she accomplished in short order.
With Thaum dead, his army of mercenaries melted away. Efforts by Thaum's son Imphras (later Imphras IV) to hold the throne himself came to naught, and King Rilimbrar was restored to the throne in the Year of the Black Hound (1296 DR). Crown Prince Kuskur never returned to Impiltur, choosing instead to live out his remaining few years in self-imposed exile in Velprintalar. His grandson Imphras was placed under house arrest in the royal tower at Filur, remaining there even after he became Crown Prince Imphras IV.
King Rilimbrar wed Ilbritha Eirlthaun in the Year of the Singing Skull (1297 DR), but she bore him only daughters, who could not legally inherit the crown. The eldest of the daughters, Princess Sambryl (born in 1299 DR); grew into a skilled. wizard like her great-great-great-grandmother and near-namesake, the wife of King Imphras I. As King Rilimbrar grew old in the late 1330s DR, the members of his court grew nervous. The honorable king seemed unlikely to have a male heir, and the traitorous Imphras IV, great-great-grandson of Imphras I, stood next in line for the throne, despite pleas to have him summarily executed; according to Impilturan law, unless no male heirs exist, a woman is not allowed to rule except as regent, and then only if she is the reigning queen. In order to remedy this situation, King Rilimbrar had his daughter, Princess Sambryl, wed her second cousin, the crown prince, in the Year of the Highmantle (1336 DR), although the marriage was never consummated. He then appointed the twelve living male heirs of the fourth and sixth sons of Imphras II as a ruling council, effective upon his death and revocable only after Sambryl was no longer queen, and invested the Lords of Imphras II with the collective authority to oversee the realm in the name of the crown. The aging king then decreed that the Lords could select replacements from the citizenry of Impiltur with the approval of the monarch (a process that has occurred four times since the founding of the Lords).
In the Year of the Wanderer (1338 DR), King Rilimbrar passed away, but not in the fashion long expected. A mysterious fire destroyed the royal tower at Filur, killing the king, the queen, Prince Verimlaun (the son of Soarimbrar the Elder), and then Crown Prince Imphras IV. When it was determined that the crown prince died after the king, Sambryl became queen of Impiltur and moved the royal court to Lyrabar. However, since Imphras IV was never crowned, he is considered to have never ruled. As queen, Sambryl could not rule, but she could serve as regent for the next living male in line for the throne, if he were not of age. Because the next in line was the infant Prince Soarimbrar the Younger, the eldest child of the late Prince Verimlaun, Sambryl became the reluctant regent.
Under the regency of Queen Sambryl, King Soarimbrar the Younger never formally acceded to the throne for he was murdered just days short of his coronation at the hands of unknown assassins in the Year of the Bow (1354 DR,). Next in line was his infant nephew, King Imphras V, who died of a wasting sickness at the age of four in the Year of the Wyvern (1363 DR). The third boy-king of Sambryl's regency is King Imbrar II, younger brother of Imphras V, rightful monarch of Impiltur, and a few months shy of sixteen years of age. Despite the fact that Sambryl's regency is expected to come to an end before the end of the Year of Lightning Storms. (1374 DR), little is known about Impiltur's boy king, for the Lords of Imphras II have long kept him hidden away. Despite years of investigation, the Lords are unsure who is responsible for the deaths of so many recent kings and whether it is one of their own, hoping to preserve the oligarchy at the expense of the monarchy. Only Queen Sambryl is apparently above suspicion, given her obvious disinterest in ruling.
As a result of all this royal turmoil, Impiltur has rarely acted outside its borders in the last century. The ever present threats posed by the legacies of Narfell, coupled with the nigh-constant intrigue surrounding the throne, have nearly paralyzed the realm. Only the end of the regency and the commencement of a new reign promises to restore Impiltur to its full potential - a prospect that might well inspire thoughts of another regicide in some quarters (within and beyond the borders of the realm).
History of the Knights
In the Year of the Dowager Lady (726 DR), the unburied legacies of ancient Narfell precipitated the collapse of Impiltur's Durlarven dynasty, driving most of the Impilturan populace into exile and allowing King Agrosh the Scaled to seize the throne. Determined not to repeat the mistakes of Cormanthor's Weeping War (711-714 DR), the churches of Tyr, Torm, and Ilmater proclaimed the Triad Crusade, and noble knights from across Faerûn marched on Impiltur to answer the three gods' call.
In the aftermath of the Fiend Wars (729-7 32 DR), the newly crowned paladin-king, Sarshel Elethlim, established the Order of the Triad by royal decree as a home for those who had survived the crusade. The Order gained fame at the Battle of Moaning Gorge (756 DR) in combat with Ndulu's horde of demons, and it earned further prominence during the Harrowing of Nord (788-807 DR), as the never-ending hunt for fiends under King Nord came to be known. The Triadic knights served the Elethlim Dynasty ably and well for decades, but the plague that felled the monarchy in the Year of the Spouting Fish (922 DR) proved their undoing as well.
During the Kingless Years (926-1097 DR) and the early years of the Elethlim Dynasty, the tradition of Triad-pledged knights continued in the lands of Old Impiltur, but the number of such holy warriors slowly waned as lurking fiends and other terrors picked them off one by one.
In the Year of the Shrike (1196 DR), nearly a century after the monarchy was restored, King Imphras II returned from a royal hunt convinced he had seen a sign from the gods after observing a shrike attack and defeat a small demon. Immediately thereafter, Imphras II established a holy order of knights, the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike, to serve the monarchy and rebuild the traditions of the fallen Order of the Triad.
In the years since their order's (re)establishment, the Knights of Imphras II, as members of the order have come to be known, have served Impiltur's monarchs and regents with distinction, never failing in their duty to the Realm of the Sword and Wand or the royal house of Heltharn. Time and again, by working in concert, the heirs of Sarshel's crusaders have driven back fiend-led threats both insidious and overt.
The Knights Today
The Knights of Imphras II have always served at the bequest of Impiltur's reigning monarch. After King Rilimbrar established the Lords of Imphras II in the Year of the Highmantle (1336 DR), he reconstituted the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike to serve as the elite army of the dozen-strong Council of Lords. King Rilimbrar selected three, of the Lords to served as the ruling Triumvirate of the order, one each from the three churches of the Triad.
The Triumvirate leaves the day-to-day affairs of the order to the Council of Shrikelords, forty powerful paladins and clerics who collectively direct the group's efforts. Every Knight of the order is assigned to serve one of the Shrikelords, but the details of that assignment vary from unit to unit. Some Shrikelords organize their units into regular army companies, while others assemble elite strike teams to meet the needs of the day from among the assembled Knights.
All Knights are considered members of Impiltur's warswords (the standing army), with most holding officer positions within the corps. The chains of command within the army and the order are distinct, and, while theoretically it is possibly to report to one's direct superior or have one's superior report to you, in practice such a situation never occurs.
The Knights Foes
The most enduring legacies of ancient Narfell to plague the kingdom of Impiltur are the tiny pockets of the Abyss known as demoncysts buried beneath the land, which house imprisoned fiends and other unspeakable horrors. The Knights of Imphras II are Impiltur's first line of defense in confronting such horrors and the fiend-tainted spawn they have birthed. Because escaped fiends often recruit tribes of evil humanoids from the Earthspurs and the Giantspire Mountains and fleets of pirates from the Sea of Fallen Stars, the Knights often find themselves in battle with orcs, hobgoblins, buccaneers, or worse. Members of the order must also deal with those who would traffic with such fiends, including those who venerate the Gods of Fury and the Cult of Eltab.
The Knights' Allies
The Knights of Imphras II are strongly allied with Impiltur's monarchy, and with other groups loyal to the crown. The order receives significant backing from the churches of Tyr, Torm, and Ilmater. The Knights have fought alongside the Just Knights of the House of Tyr's Hand in Milvarune and the Disciples of St. Sollars the Twice-Martyred of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose.
Membership in the Knights
Joining the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike requires the sponsorship of one of the three churches of the Triad and a pledge of fealty to Impiltur's crown. Would-be Knights are admitted on a trial basis until they prove their wisdom, bravery, and endurance by confronting three foes of Impiltur. The Test of the Triad can only be completed when three senior knights of the order agree to sponsor the new recruit. Traditionally, most recruits fulfill such a requirement by destroying at least one fiend, participating in a pitched battle against a host of invading humanoids, or unmasking a threat to Impiltur's crown. All applicants who die in service to the order's goals and cannot be brought back to life are posthumously admitted to the order, even if those who have not yet passed the Test of the Triad.
Knights of Imphras II (Expansive Religions): AL LG; 200,000 gp resource limit; Membership 700; Mixed (humans 630, shield dwarves 35, halflings 28, others 7).
Authority Figures: War-Captain Engarth (LG male ranger 2/paladin 9 of Torm/Triadic knight 7), War-Captain Limbrar (LG male Damaran human paladin 42 monk of Ilmater), and War-Captain Rilimbraun (LG male Damaran human cleric 9/paladin 7 of Tyr).
Important Characters: "Sarshel of Laviguer" (King Imbrar II - 15-year-old boy king in deep disguise) (LG male Damaran human paladin 7/Triadic knight 1).
Associated Skills: Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes), Ride.
Requirements: A member of the Knights of the Imphras II is expected to participate in activities organized by his superiors on a regular basis. The Knights are dedicated to the defense of Impiltur against all threats, including the depredations of coastal pirates, hobgoblin hordes from the Giantspires, and the legacies of buried Narfell.
Favored in Guild Benefit: Members of the Knights of Imphras II gain access to a variety of goods and services that make their adventuring exploits easier, particularly for those tasks done in the service of the Knights. Training, spell access, and shares of the spoils brought in by Knights' actions are all available, so long as the member continues to contribute to the efforts of the Knights.
Because the Knights are pledged to the defense of the monarchy, they can draw on the royal treasury for the purchase of arms and armor. Any such item the character wishes to purchase (within the strictures of the gp limit) can be bought for 90% of its standard value, with the crown paying the difference. In addition, characters who battle would-be invaders of Impiltur are permitted to keep any personal items the interlopers carried, while the crown only claims siege weapons and the invaders' supplies.
Knights also have access to free spellcasting within the organization. Once per month, any member can request a single spell be cast upon him. This can be a divine spell cast by a member of up to two levels higher than the requester, or an arcane spell cast by a member of up to the same level as the requester. Thus, a 5th-level Knight could request a single divine spell of a 7th-level caster or a single arcane spell of a 5th-level caster. If any expensive material components are needed to cast the spell, the requester must provide those (or the coin to purchase them). Spells with XP components are not available through this service.
Once per month, as part of the preparation for a mission, a Knight receives disposable magic equipment (scrolls, potions, and wands) equal to 10% of the Knight's expected character wealth from the leadership. This benefit most often takes the form of curative magic, specialized spells needed for unusually tricky or difficult missions, or extra firepower for raids. Occasionally, a member can receive permanent magic equipment on loan (usually with defensive or unusual properties, such as nondetection), but he is expected to return these items upon completion of the mission.
The archmage Soargar, last Mage Royal of Old Impiltur, witnessed the plague, in 922 DR that decimated the royal family and the disappearance at sea of Princess Aliia in the Year of the Cracked Turtle (924 DR). Two years after that, Soargar watched the realm fracture into a mass of warring conspiracies, as each noble family attempted to place one of its own on the vacant throne. In the hope that the glory of Old Impiltur could one day be restored, he saw to the safeguarding of many of Impiltur's treasures until the day the kingdom would once again stand united.
Just before Soargar breathed his last in the Year of the Dawndance (1095 DR), he bade Imphras, War Captain of Lyrabar, to go to his tower and claim the legacy of Old Impiltur. There, New Impiltur's first king discovered the wondrous Crown of Narfell (see page 71) and more than five score magic blades long thought lost. The swords were given to Imphras's loyal battle companions, who became his Royal Guard in time; and were subsequently lost with King Imbrar and his warriors in the Year of the Luminar Procession (1127 DR). (For more on their fate, see page. 137 of Champions of Ruin.)
The sage Othiiyr Velthrann of Tsurlagol has made the study of the swords of Imbrar's Royal Guard his life's work. Othiiyr has recorded the rumors and tales surrounding the lost blades of Imbrar, and specifically noted the histories and last known whereabouts of at least a dozen blades known to have been brought out of the Giantspires by diverse means. With Othiiyr's help, the Knights of Imphras II have made it an ongoing quest for the entire order to recover the lost swords of Soargar's Legacy. At present, seven of the blades have been recovered and are wielded by the Lords. Most young Knights of Irnphras II dream of finding their own sword of legacy and thereby demonstrate their fitness to join the Lords of Imphras II.
The seven swords currently held by the Knights of Imphras II are named Caercailyss (the Elftear), Heilean (o' the hills), Jiirnysyn (the Thorned), Melyntaan (Wormtongue), Orindaarg (the Ironstar Blade), Velswyryn (the Chimera), and Xinylnik (the Bone-eye). Othiiyr is familiar with the histories of nearly a dozen others, including Ashram, Voriavver (also known as Demonbane), Ellendrin (the Weeping Blade), Felthann (Liluth's Summertongue), Galathos, Iltornar (the Goretooth), Malagar (the Burnfang), Palreth, Sarghathuld (Orcbane), Tendar (the Wailer), and Ulfindos (the Corsair Scourge). Efforts are under way to recover them all.