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"Our flag has not flown in battle for nearly 1,000 years, but that does not mean we have been idle."
Grand Master Enzo Moretti[1a]
Knights of Magritta

The Knights of Magritta are a secret society with members throughout the Old World, but strongest in Tilea and the Empire. Originally a knightly order founded to liberate Estalia after the Arabyan invasion of 1448 IC, the crusading knights found they were not wanted in their home country only a hundred years later. They left Estalia and went underground, dedicated to continuing their original mission.[1a]

The Knights of Magritta have become a powerful secret order and they are always on the lookout for promising new members or allies.[1a]

Purpose

The Knights want to lead a new crusade to Araby and conquer it once and for all. Their argument for many centuries was that the south was the soft underbelly of the Old World and vulnerable to renewed aggression from Araby. Better to strike first than be surprised later.[1a]

History

The Knights of Magritta were founded in 1448 in the wake of the Arabyan invasion of Estalia. Magritta, the greatest of Estalia’s cities, had been the first to fall to Sultan Jaffar and his enormous army. The Knights came together to recapture the city that was the symbol of Estalian freedom and in so doing liberate their lands from the invaders. The original knights were all Estalian, but they soon accepted members from the Empire and Bretonnia as these nations became involved in the war.[1a]

After two years of conflict, the combined armies of Estalia, the Empire, and Bretonnia succeeded in liberating Estalia. Still unsatisfied, the Old Worlders followed the Sultan’s fleeing armies back to Araby. After sustaining great losses, the crusading armies brought Jaffar to battle at El-Haikk and decisively defeated him. This defeat led to the overthrow of Sultan Jaffar and the break-up of his empire.[1a]

Once Jaffar was beaten, most of the crusaders decided it was time to leave. Rather than stay and try to carve out new kingdoms, they simply looted the towns they had captured and then returned to the Old World. Only the Knights of Magritta and the knightly orders of the Empire wanted to stay in Araby. They continued the fight for nearly a century but the unity of the crusading army was broken. Much glory was won and a measure of vengeance was taken, but Araby was not conquered.[1a]

Back in Magritta, the leadership of the Knights continued to press for fresh crusades to Araby and spent years building a fleet to harass Arabyan shipping. These activities were popular at first but became less so as time passed. Most Estalians wanted to forget the war, and consequently membership began to decline. A hundred years after the Battle at El-Haikk, the Knights of Magritta had shrunken greatly in size and influence. Furthermore, they increasingly angered the merchants of Magritta, who were in the process of building a powerful trading empire in Araby. Every time a ship of the Knights attacked an Arabyan convoy, it hurt the merchants who ran Magritta. Eventually, the most powerful merchant families determined to get rid of the troublesome knights.[1a]

A series of levies and taxes, aimed squarely at the Knights, followed. These tactics were designed to drive the Knights into bankruptcy or at least cause them to disperse their fleet. It quickly became clear to the Knights what was going on. The Grand Master of the order conferred with his advisors and made a fateful decision. In 1556 the fleet of the Knights of Magritta sailed out of the harbour. Onboard was the entire membership of the order. They left all their holdings behind, empty of valuables or any clue of where the Knights might be going. They were never seen or heard from again, sailing completely out of the pages of history.[1a]

Before they left, the Grand Master had some harsh final words for his countrymen. On the quays of Magritta, he gave a speech to the assembled crowd that ended with the following prophecy: Estalia will never be united until the Knights of Magritta return to their native soil. This gave birth to a legend that has only grown in stature as the centuries have gone by. With Estalia in continuing disunity, many people have begun to ask what has become of the knights, and when will they ever return?[1a]

The Knights Today

Even those who remember of the Knights of Magritta think they must have died out long ago. They would be surprised to find out that the Knights not only still exist, but also continue to thrive. Granted, their days of glorious battle are largely behind them, but as a secret society in the Old World they have a long reach.[1a]

Like many secret societies, the Knights of Magritta have a public face. They founded and continue to run three military schools, known as the Aquila Academies. These are dedicated to Myrmidia and teach the art and science of war. The original school is in Luccini (Tilea), while the others are in Nuln (the Empire) and Carcassonne (Bretonnia). These schools provide a ready source for recruits and ensure that many officers in these nations are sympathetic to the Knights’ causes.[1a][1b]

Structure

The Knights of Magritta divide their members into three groups.[1b]

  • Students - This group includes both actual students at the Aquila Academies and other allies and agents who do not know about the existence of the Knights of Magritta. They do much of the grunt work of the organisation without realising for whom they really work.[1b]
  • Teachers - Students who prove their loyalty and pass a series of physical and mental challenges become teachers. They are told the basic history of the Knights of Magritta and sworn in as full members. They swear oaths of loyalty, obedience, and secrecy. Some teachers are instructors at the academies but most are at large throughout the Old World. There are two grades of teachers in the order: junior teachers and learned teachers.[1b]
  • Masters - These are the leaders of the Knights of Magritta. They know the full history of the organisation and each commands a number of teachers and students. The masters elect one of their own to become the Grand Master, the leader of the entire organisation.[1b]

There are in theory five grades of masters: junior master, learned master, senior master, master of the academy (of which there are three), and grand master. In reality, there are a number of other honours and titles that can be bestowed on a master. Many of these are purely symbolic, like knight of the door and brother of the rope, but they contribute to the real pecking order of the Knights of Magritta.[1b]

Goals and Motives

The goals of the Knights remain the unification of Estalia and the conquest of Araby. They have worked behind to scenes to achieve these aims since 1556. To achieve these things, of course the order itself must prosper. It is thus imperative that the Knights continue to expand their influence and accumulate wealth. When the time for crusade comes, its war chests must be full to overflowing.[1b]

Symbols and Signs

The original symbol of the order was a crimson doubleheaded eagle on a white field, but that is never seen in public anymore. The academies use the golden eagle of Myrmidia with a spear clutched in its claws. Luccini uses a red field, the Empire a black one, and Carcassonne a blue one. Members use variations of the triangle as a secret sign. It represents the three Aquila Academies on the map. Meaning is imparted by the use of colour. A red triangle means danger, for example, while a white means help is needed.[1b][1c]

Membership

True to its roots as a military order, the Knights of Magritta recruit most heavily from soldiers, particularly officers. The Aquila Academies only reinforce this, as the cadets schooled there provide the most ready source of new members. That said, the order controls more than just military schools and mercenary companies. Its ranks include the merchants of several trading companies and politicians of various stripes. The military character of the order is strong, but the Knights long ago became a secret society and that means they have members in all parts of society.[1c]

Most members of the Knights of Magritta are worshippers of Myrmidia, but this is not required. They are not a religious organisation per se, but historically the ties between the Knights and the Cult of Myrmidia are strong.[1c]

Recruitment

Most members these days come through one of the three Aquila Academies. Individual masters do recruit on their own, though sometimes academy graduates look down on these “orphans.” In theory three masters are supposed to agree on making a student into a teacher, but this isn’t always possible. One master is the sponsor, and he is ultimately responsible for the actions of the candidate. Making a student into a teacher is not lightly done.[1c]

A candidate is tested for physical and mental toughness, as well as trustworthiness. If a student is deemed worthy, he is taken from his bed in the middle of the night and brought blindfolded to an old battlefield. There his sponsor asks him to swear an oath of secrecy. If this is refused, the student is taken home and never has another opportunity to join the order. A candidate that swears the oath is put through three ordeals.[1c]

The Ordeal of Obedience

The candidate is armed with a spear and shield and told to stand at attention until commanded to stop. The masters and teachers then engage in a mock battle. Various friends of the candidate cry out for help amidst the mayhem. No matter what the candidate hears, he must ignore the entreaties for aid and stand at attention.[1c]

The Ordeal of Blood

The candidate is told the battle is now over and that he must understand the price of victory. He is knocked to the ground and must crawl through a field strewn with pieces of recently slaughtered animals.[1d]

The Ordeal of Water

The candidate must now be purified. He is held upside down while bucket after bucket is poured onto him. He must not cry out or ask for it to stop. A certain amount of choking is expected.[1d]

If the candidate makes it through the ordeals, he must then swear the oaths of loyalty and obedience. The new teacher is then taken to a secluded location to learn more of the order. Heavy drinking is customary, but not required.[1d]

Member Benefits and Responsibilities

Members swear obedience to the Knights of Magritta so they are bound to do whatever is asked of them. Since the organisation is a secret society, teachers and masters must have a public occupation. Knights are expected to excel in their chosen fields, as doing so puts members in better position to help the order. Oftentimes members have jobs in groups the Knights control, such as the various mercenary companies. Knights are commonly tasked with aiding the order in one or more of the following areas: recruitment, finance, and intelligence.[1d]

In return for upholding their oaths, Knights receive the support of a powerful secret society. They have access to manpower, money, and information, though these are not provided without good reason.[1d]

Allies

The Knights of Magritta have maintained their secrecy over the past millennia. They have allies through the Aquila Academies and their other ventures, but none of them know about the existence of the Knights behind the scenes.[1d]

The greatest allies of the Knights are the religious orders of the Cult of Myrmidia: the Knights of the Blazing Sun, the Order of the Eagle, and the Order of the Righteous Spear. In fact, many graduates of the Aquila Academies go on to join these organisations, so the borders between the groups are often fuzzy.[1d]

The Knights of Magritta also have many allies amongst the mercenary companies in the Old World. The ties are particularly strong in Tilea, which its long history of mercenary warfare.[1d]

Enemies

The Aquila Academies are not beloved in the north. The Cult of Ulric views the schools with contempt and sometimes, outright hostility. Myrmidia is a foreign goddess and the idea of treating war as an art or a science is repugnant to Ulric’s followers. They have prevented the founding of an academy in Middenheim, though they lack the power to do anything about the Nuln school.[1d]

The Knights of Magritta believe that no enemies know they exist. This was true for many centuries but things have changed. Shihab Ibn Alim, an Arabyan sorcerer, discovered the truth of the Knights of Magritta twenty years ago. The Sultan of Copher hired him to find out who was sinking so many of his ships. Shihab captured a Sartosan pirate named Fredo Tellini, but learned little from him. He tasked one of his bound spirits to follow the pirate and then released him. Tellini, a teacher of the Knights of Magritta, unwittingly exposed the order. Since then Shihab Ibn Alim has been gathering information about the Knights of Magritta and working against their interest. He has the ear of a sultan and powerful djinn servants. The order has a formidable foe working against it and it doesn’t yet realise it.[1d]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Shades of Empire
    • 1a: pg. 89
    • 1b: pg. 90
    • 1c: pg. 91
    • 1d: pg. 92

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