Under Feet of Clay
Various Cavalier Orders (generally known as Cavalry Orders) exist in Calopius, though these ideological organizations are relatively small. Most horses in the realm are too small to be ridden effectively, better suited to working chariots. Those who can afford riding horses, often bred from those captured during the Barbarian Invasions, are often headquartered in the plains around Dikethaleos or north of Periandropolis. Many organizations are just a few dozen strong, but their history goes back to founding figures given quasi-heroic status. Each has a guiding code, and while their full membership may be scant, they are supported by staff of squires, cooks, and other laborers.
Order of the Cockatrice : Founded by warriors dedicated to their own glory and seeking the immortality of eternal memory, the Cockatrice Order stands for the advancement of individual power. Those who can prove their worth might be invited to squire for a Cockatrice Rider, who often carry a banner with the most impressive monster they’ve slain in solitary combat. For most, this is the cockatrice, which is released on a potential member as a test of strength and endurance. Since entry to the Anthrotheon is predicated on heroic glory, the Cockatrice Order is willing to forsake or even betray allies, though only if it will not impugn upon their sterling reputation. They are known to keep a fortress known as The Venomspire, but none save the members themselves know where it is located. Many speculate it is north of Dikethaleos, near where the road turns east toward Biasophoros.
Order of the Dragon : Dedicated above all else to finding, fostering, and strengthening a cohort of like-minded allies. Loyalty is paramount to the Order of the Dragon, who take their name not from the Dragons but from those who rallied groups to slay dragons from the north. Their founder, a human warrior named Stephanos Nomizos, gathered a party to slay a massive blue dragon harassing ships on the coast between Solon and Periandropolis. Their keep, Summachion, is still located on the cliff the dragon is believed to have fallen. The Order of the Dragon is respected where it is known, but they are relatively new in the scope of other orders, only a few hundred years old. Their words and expansion are ongoing, and members of the order are encouraged to venture far and wide to increase the name of their Order and bring glory to themselves, their allies, and the Dragons as a whole.
Order of the Flame : Honor and glory above all else is dictated by the teachings of the Order of the Flame. Borrowing the myth of the Fire-Thief, this Order teaches that the minds and souls of mortals were kindled with primordial fire, meant to eventually burn out. As such, these warriors are often seen as zealots, seeking deadly combats and impossible odds. Fire burns bright, fades, and then dies, and so the Order itself knows it too will someday fade, when all its warriors have met their glorious end. Until then, they keep a tower west of Biasophoros called the Torchlight, where the walls themselves are carved with the tales of the honored dead and drenched in permanent firelight.
Order of the Hammer : Most powerful south of Dikethaleos, the Order of the Hammer is one of the most politically active Cavalier Orders in Calopius. Often drafted from former hoplites or aristocratic families, the Order of the Hammer believes that the strongest are fit to rule, and as such seeks to prove their own strength above all else. Coupled with this, and counter to the beliefs of the Order of the Cockatrice, the Order of the Hammer believes deeply in strengthening their allies as much as themselves. With a surprising number of Dwarves for the region, the Order is noted for political conservatism, and has been vocally supportive of Dikethalean attempts at self-reliance and isolationism. Their voices are few, but respected. They keep a fortress to the south of Dikethaleos known as The Crucible.
Order of the Lion : These few cavaliers are a potent force for the preservation of the sovereign lands around Dikethaleos. Each member is sponsored and funded by one of the Doctorae of the city, who utilize their hybrid academic-political standing to guide the city from their academic appointments. Despite the centrality of the metropolis for their functions, the Order of the Lion is largely dedicated to fending off the monstrous and orcish intrusions from the Dark Forest of Chaos to the north, and their citadel stands on a hill overlooking the farming plains to the northwest of the city. From Auraepezon, the Lions ride out in force to preserve order and the authority of their Doctorae.
Order of the Scales : Dedicated to the rule of law and fulfillment of contracts, the Order of the Scales is the sole Cavalier Order that maintains the roads between Cleobonomos and Solon. Their numbers are few, but their rule as arbiters and protectors is legendary. Members of the Order of the Scales must renounce citizenship in all metropolises, to remove their bias in offering judgment, and their funds are reliant upon tithes offered when one of the Order serves as judge. These outriders are also able to be rallied to locate escaped criminals, departing from The Blackiron Citadel to offer swift justice.
Order of the Seal : A secretive order dedicated to the preservation of relics and secrets, the Order of the Seal is often believed to be linked to some secret societies in the University of Dikethaleos, though as with all shadow organizations the precise details are not forthcoming. When out on mission, cavaliers of this order display dark banners with bright eye emblems, though more often than not they are under some form of disguise. On several occasions, these secretive cavaliers have made their way to the Hall of Records in Charoni, and been granted access to normally locked rooms for unknown purposes. Stalwart warriors, members of this order value discretion, stalwart devotion, and self-sacrifice for the greater good. Many look to Mikroxenos as a supreme exemplar of dying to preserve a secret. Their base’s location is unknown, but it is often called The Halls of Mystery.
Order of the Shield : A selfless order dedicated to the service of the common folk above all, the Order of the Shield is well known and respected in Calopius. With over fifty full members, plus squires, attendants, and supporting staff, they are the most numerous cavalier order in the realm of Calopius. Their work is charitable, and the only pay they claim is offerings freely given. For this reason, they are often known as the Mendicant Equestrians, or Beggar Cavalry. Their base of operations is midway between Pittacae and Dikethaleos, a few days journey west from the main road. Known as Vikae’s Rest, the squat and ancient fortress is widely known to have long ago been a hiding place for brigands and thieves, and was purged by the Noble Seven, the founders of the order. Their seven shields still hang over the common mess hall today, and they claim no single leader, instead a council of seven determines the course.
Order of the Tome : The most famous cavalier order in Dikethaleos among the Literati, the Order of the Tome is a scholastic order dedicated to the preservation of texts and gathering of hidden materials. While there are only about twenty members of this order, they make residence on the edge of town in Acrobiblon. These cavaliers often serve as a sort of postal system, locating, acquiring, and delivering rare books and ideas to their collection to preserve them for future generations. Valuing this knowledge and the good it can do for the future over life itself, these riders would rather see themselves killed and a book protected than a book burned. That said, there have been a few vocal members of the Order who have argued that some knowledge should be purged, especially as relates to fell-rituals associated with Gaia, necromancy, or the rites of the Barbarians.
Order of the Star : The Order of the Star is the only truly Periandropolene cavalier order. Dedicated above all to the service of the gods, these cavaliers embrace the democratic ideal and the arrangement of the Trisdekatheon, elevating thirteen riders as the representatives, or Higher Order, while any others are recognized as the cavaliers of the Lower Order. These cavaliers dedicate themselves to the will of the Trisdekatheon as a whole, often taking Xiphios as the exemplar of the will of the whole. They are housed in a guild hall modeled after a temple north of Periandropolis known as Starfall Grotto, where they make offerings and libations. Their primary sacred duty is the protection of the temples on Temple Top, while secondary duties involve the recovery and reconsecration of lost statues and altars, and on occasion escorting religious dignitaries between cities.