Several centuries ago, when the Kingdom of Arcadia was still mostly confined to its southern territory and encroachments from primitive creatures in the north were more common, the Great Faiths responded to the situation. The Greenway founded the Clover Fellowship, common folk who pledged to respond at a moment’s notice whenever the alarm was raised. The Golden Rule founded The Order of the Golden Rule, a fraternity of knights and lords who built and manned many of the defensive fortifications seen in the north today.
Once the north was more settled and incursions into the civilized lands became much less frequent, it was decided that the Clover Fellowship would be sufficient to deal with the occasional hostilities, but the expense of maintaining the Order of the Golden Rule was no longer warranted. The defensive fortifications were sold to local lords and the order’s charter was revoked by the Supreme Hierophant.
The Grand Master of the order at the time was Earl Sir Brendan Anguy. He believed that by fielding a permanent army many valuable fighting techniques and tactics had been learned by the order. The Earl believed also that these methods should be preserved, fearing their loss if the order disbanded. He also believed that the north still required defending. Thus, after reading the Supreme Hierophant’s missive himself wherein the order’s charter was revoked, the Grand Master refused to allow the missive to be read by or to anyone else, allowing that as long as the Supreme’s Hierophant’s words were never actually read aloud, those who favored continuing the order’s mission could not be held to account for disobeying the writ.
Reagardless, without ecclesiastical charter, the order could no longer continue as a military and religious order. A Grand Council was convened to discuss the order’s future. It was decided that they would continue without the charter, in open defiance of the Supreme Hierophant. It was also decided that the expense of maintaining the order would be provided by hiring out their services to local lords who had need of more men to defend their lands but, while lacking soldiers, had no such lack for coin to purchase them. They would also exchange their services for present and future political and legal considerations. The name of the order was also changed to The Order of the Golden Sovereign, an obvious play on words, considering that the gold coinage of the realm is colloquially referred to as the “gold sovereign”; but it was decided that the change reflected well the order’s change in focus and allegiance.
The Supreme Hierophant was furious. He responded by declaring the order and all its members heretics, tools of the evil Bacchus and Morrigan, and thus unclean in the sight of Gideon and Bethany. In light of this, King Reynald II had no choice but to strip the heretics of their titles and estates, leaving the lords, knights, and all their retainers and men-at-arms homeless. In protest, some of the members converted to the Greenway. Others were determined to remain true to their faith, regardless of the Supreme Hierophant’s pronouncement against them.
A century or so ago, a successor to the Supreme Hierophant would absolve the order and its membership, providing that they had not “gone over to the green”. Most members offered the absolution, accepted. The order, however, remained a commercial enterprise, unwilling to return to ecclesiastical authority. And why should they? After more than a hundred years as a commercial enterprise, the Order of the Golden Sovereign had grown influential and wealthy; and to be deemed a “sovereign knight” often held as much clout as a “knight of the realm”, if not more so.
The current Grand Master is Sir Dunstan Molle. The order’s present membership numbers approximately twenty-five thousand (about twelve-hundred of them trained as sovereign knights) comprising units of infantry, cavalry, archery, artillery, plus other units in irregular and support roles. Still primarily used in the north, it is not unheard-of for the order to to operate anywhere in the kingdom, including the south. Famously, King Harald III caused quite a controversy in his court when he hired several units of the order’s renowned bowmen to supplement the royal levies for several months while waiting for his vassals to marshal their forces after a difficult winter.
As No Redemption for the Wicked begins, The Order of the Golden Sovereign is encamped in the field for its annual “crucibles”, a period of intense military training where nearly the entire order is present to perform drills and practice maneuvers for hours on end, day after day. The action will quickly settle upon a particular Knight-Commander Gorman in command of the order’s irregular units. Despite the order’s long and distinguished history, Gorman is about to change everything.