Friday, February 5, 2010

The Hundred Men

In the current era, not many organizations hold as much respect as the wandering group of knights and warriors known as the Hundred Men. Officially created in the Age of Sorrows, at the tail end of the Great War, the Hundred Men stand for the tenets that the Storm Knights abandoned in their quest for ultimate power: peace, justice and the protection of those who need it.

The origins of the Hundred Men began in the birthplace of mankind, the prosperous nation of Syr. An older knight named Gannon Coldriver, in service to the Syrian Riverlords in the south, had grown tired of the politics and bickering amongst the nobles of his district. Gannon had grown up from a poor family on the outskirts of Sorin. He had been taught the value of community and aiding his fellow man by his father when he was just a child. As many children do, he admired the Riverlord Knights growing up and when the time was right he joined the order. But all was not as he had dreamed about and throughout his thirty years of service he watched as politics replaced ethical codes.

The various counts, barons and dukes were constantly vying for power, using their position and money to influence the king at court and send the Riverlords to whatever duty served the interests’ best. While the nobles’ intentions still created good for the people they protected, their politicking often left areas of the country unprotected in a time where vigilance was paramount. To Gannon, the Syrian elite seemed to care more for their lands and their popularity at their keeps and castles, than they did the welfare of the people as a whole.

Finally tired of it all, Gannon decided to resign from his post and take up his own banner to help Syr in a different way. He elected to become a free-roaming mercenary, but instead of working for coin or title, he dedicated his service to those in need most. Gannon was a respected member of the Riverlords. He had won several accommodations during his many years of service. When he stepped down, a ripple hit the Riverlords, and some of those who called him friend started to follow in his stead. Gannon tried to dissuade them, for fear of the knighthood’s ranks been depleted too greatly, but in the end ninety-nine other men refused to listen to his pleas. They too had grown tired of the aristocracy’s attempt to use the military for their own ends, rather than the nation’s benefit. Together, one hundred men left the Riverlords and set off to do what their king could not seem to: shore up the weakness in nation’s defenses by aiding its common man and teaching them the principles of justice by action.

Word of this group started to spread like wildfire as the Age of Sorrows was coming to a close. Others joined the “hundred men” in the quest to help restore what had been lost by the greedy Storm Knights. As the group grew in size, they began to spread out, relying on monthly meetings in secret locations and traveling messengers to help keep the budding knighthood well connected to its more distant members. Cells of the group appeared as far south as Mierg and Corval and even penetrated the rocky barrier of the Dantroth Peaks to reach the refugees in what would one day become Rynell. They were even instrumental in assisting the Brotherhood in destroying Geldain Ramuk’s Gray Army at the end of the War. And everywhere they went, the words of their deeds preceded them.

Today, the Hundred Men is quite a bit larger than it started, but it maintains the name as a reminder to the group’s humble beginnings. It was the people that first began calling them thus; the same people they swore to protect referred to them as “true knights” and “saviors”. As a result, the organization honors those it serves by bearing the title the people have given them with humble pride. The Hundred Men are not a secretive organization, but they also do not promote their presence openly or allow any within their ranks to claim fame or stature as a result of serving the group. Such acts, they believe, are the reason for the downfall of the Storm Knights and they will not see this mistake repeated once more. Therefore, the Hundred Men tend to spread word of their presence to those in the know with signature marks on posters, walls and through simple catch phrases with signature responses. It is even said that they possess a hand signal that can be used to mark members of the knighthood.

Those that serve the knighthood and stray from their practices (whether that be by claiming fame in the name of the Hundred Men or by using their position to exploit others’ goodwill) are stricken from their ranks and marked on the back of their left hand with a sideways H. Such a practice lets all that see the shunned know that he/she is no longer in favor with the Hundred Men, and in fact, may soon be considered an enemy. Given the people’s love of the knighthood, such individuals often find more harassment from shop owners and common folk than they do the knights themselves.

The Hundred Men are most active in areas where corruption, tyranny and exploitation of the common man can be found. They maintain a sizeable presence in Rynell and Mierg’s inner cities and towns. To a lesser extent, members of the knighthood can be found in the other nations of the world, including T’zarak where they are presently trying to establish a treaty of support with the current Fahir.

While is has been centuries since Gannon Coldriver first took the brave step to leave the Riverlords and try and make a difference for his fellow man, the spirit of his courage and bravery lives on in the Men, Elves, Dwarves and Cerenoth who, these days, continue his stride towards a better tomorrow by first tackling the problems of today.

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