The Orders of Knighthood
Seven Noble Houses of Nexus:
There were seven, one the Baron's House Argaen, the other six lesser Houses, ruled originally by Knights of the Empire. Of the seven, only three remain.
House Argaen was destroyed some 40 years ago. There was usually a Priest (of Pandora) born to the family each generation. Their symbol is a Silver Dragon with a white rose between its foreclaws.
House K'tevrimon The House was founded 500 years ago, the title bestowed by Empress Tairyn herself. The founder was a loyal Knight of the Empire, given a landhold in the Nexus area. He was murdered, the "official" history says by Enemies of the Empire, but the thought even then was that it was by his wife's lover. She bore a son 6 months after his murder, and there were rumors that it wasn't of K'tevrimon blood, but he inherited the title, and from that point on the House was less than nice to it's peasants and the like. 250 years ago, Pylain K'tevrimon slew Raaelinius, Crown Prince of the elves in a "hunting accident". About 50 years ago, the elves, with proof of the murder, destroyed the keep and slew every being in it.
It was believed that the elves slew the adults to a man, and took the younger children with them to raise, but with the occupation of their village by the Hoards soon afterward, little is known.
The symbol of House K'tevrimon is a black panther with a sword in its maw, in front of the Imperial Crown.
Known vassals of House K'tevrimon
House Anubis The house founder was Dal'nar Anubis. The symbol of House Anubis is a copper dragon with a black background.
The Imperial Crown was made of Platinum, rising to a central point which was embossed in gold and set with a single moonstone.
The symbol of the Knights of the Empire was a single broadsword down over the Imperial Crown. Those who were knighted, as opposed to Inheritors, had twin roses wrapped around the hilt.
The Knights of the Empire:
The Order of the Unicorn:
The Order of the Unicorn was considered the most elite of the Orders of the Imperial Knights. Its membership was composed exclusively of dedicated Paladins of Aalynor. Membership to this Order was not automatic, needing to be earned through deed, trial and quest.
Symbol: A white unicorn imposed over a rose, blood dripping from one thorn.
The Order of the Moonstone
The Second Ranking Order of the Knights of the Empire, the Order of the Moonstone was comprised completely of individuals who were marked as Heroes of the Realm. In fact, several Knights of the Unicorn were also Knights of the Moonstone. (Members of all other Orders were simply promoted to the Order of the Moonstone, although Knights of the Sword and Knights of the Silver Heart had also been known to carry both ranks as well.) The Name of the Order comes from the single Moonstone set into the Imperial Crown.
Symbol: A single broadsword driven clean through a moonstone, the stone wrapped in roses.
The Order of the Silver Heart:
The Third Order of the Imperial Knights was the Order of the Silver Heart, to which paladins of all faiths were admitted, after having quested to earn their place within it. So long as the Knight in Question was a paladin in good standing, the Order of the Silver Heart was available to them if they sought it, and could accomplish a quest to prove themselves. The Order is named after Dilanis, whom all the Knights revere, thinking that the hardship of the world was caused by her death in the Godswar.
Symbol: A black sword driven down, separating the two rings of Dilanis' symbol, the whole emblem was crimson to show the mourning. The rings are flanked on each side by diagonal broadswords, their blades twisted in white and crimson roses.
The Order of the Sword
The Order of the Sword is somewhat outside the standard ranking of the Orders, as its members were the Justicars of the Realm. As such, only the most honorable and just knights were ever allowed to join the Order of the Sword. The Order was largely comprised of Paladins, who accepted the fact that their admission into the Order would prevent them from attaining the Order of the Silver Heart, or the Order of the Unicorn (once a Sword-Knight, always a Sword-Knight). Still, the Order of the Sword was one of the most respected.
Symbol: The Sword of Knighthood over a set of balanced scales, the Imperial Crown on one side, and three roses, one black, one white, one red, on the other.
The Order of the Gryphon
The Order of the Gryphon was the fourth ranking Order of the Knighthood, and comprised the "aerial cavalry" of the Imperial Knights. Acceptance to the Order of the Gryphon was difficult, as was admission to all Orders above it, requiring quests to reach this level. Most Knights of this Order were given "bonded" mounts (Gryphons), from the Imperial stable, however some of the more legendary Gryphon-Knights went on long quests to find a bonded mount and return with it. Tales of Pegasi, Jungle Gryphons, and even Wyvern are told of some of the greatest Heroes of this Order. Unsurprisingly, the small number of Gryphons raised restricted membership to an elite few.
Symbol: The silhouette of a Gryphon swooping down, the sword of the knighthood, with its roses, in it's talons.
The Order of the Silver Wyrm
The Order of the Silver Wyrm was originally created with good intentions, and is, in fact, the fifth ranking Order of the Knights of the Empire. Thinking that the children of Knights, or nobles, would be trained by their sires and environments, the Order was created to allow these already-trained knights to be elevated above those who lacked that training and leadership. However, as many have said, true nobility is not something that you have simply because you were born into a title, and as such, a bit of a stigma was carried by Wyrm-Knights, even amongst the Knights of Other Orders - for the question of whether or not the individual was worthy of their rank always lingered. As such, the common people still sneer at the Order, with many expressions for describing uselessness or rank without ability being comparisons to the knights of this Order, even despite their fine performance as a cavalry unit.
Symbol: A great Silver Dragon, wings spread, holding the Imperial Crown in both talons.
The Order of the Shield:
The Order of the Shield is by far the most numerous of the Orders of the Knighthood, for it allows any member to join it, save those of Noble Blood who are started as part of the Order of the Silver Wyrm. Many Shield Knights tend to sneer at the Order of the Silver Wyrm, and although the Wyrm-Knights are technically higher in the Imperial Knighthood, the bad blood and horrific tales of bad orders has somewhat diluted that power. Entrance into the Order is still by no means easy, all individuals must find a knight to sponsor them, and prove their honor and loyalty.
Symbol: A kite shield over the sword of the Knighthood, a single red rose on the shield.