The Sovereign Military Order of the Holy Sword of Nortender , commonly known as the Nortender Knights or the Order of Nortender was a Christian sovereign military order of northern Aels. The Nortender were among the most powerful of the northwestern aelian military orders. The organisation existed for most of the Middle human age, second coming of darkness and Late human age.
Founded after the First War of the Power (2203-2223 a.a.H), the goal of this military order was to Christianize and settle the former lands of the Dark Legion of Demons, in Polforia, it will exist until The Cataclysm.
While the settlement of Polforia remained, the knights of Nortender kept their hold of northwestern Polforia, and will take part in the Second War of the Power. After it, they entered in conflict with the Karentian church and will be proclaimed heretic.
The military membership was large, but as well they counted with volunteers and mercenaries augmenting the force as needed.
The human-elven alliance of the Empire of Whide Axis, that had defeated the forces of the Confederation of Free Peoples, the dark legion of demons during the First War of the Power, decided afterwards to try to pacify the former demonic region of Polforia, settling and Christianizing the region.
The settlers knew thought that while defeated, some demons had escaped the exile, and remnants of the Dark Legion still wandered in Polforia and eastern Aels. Considering this, and as well other dangers that may exist in the cursed lands of Polforia, it was decided that in order to defend themselves –and the human settlers- was going to be instituted a Military order: Men of the Sword and the Cross, to bring the light to the shadows of the Dark Legion.
At first, many veterans of the First War of the Power joined the order, and many people, who had lost everything in the war, signed up to become settlers of Polforia.
Aside of these territories that where of the demons granted to the church, as well many free settlers and minor lords wanted to try they lucks in Polforia, and at the beginning of the Middle Human Age –between the first and the second war of the Power- there was a significant effort made by northwestern aelian humans –and high elves of Whide Axis, who hadn’t returned to Ushaenor- to settle in western Polforia.
However, only after some 60 years, most of these settlements had failed. After the initial enthusiasm, the Military Order of Nortender lost much of the support it once had. Polforia itself was seen as a damned land, even without the great demon lords, with many of the former servants of the demons still roaming in the swamps and woods.
As well, while the northwestern aelian settlers expected to be received as liberators from the human and kanovs of Polforia, who had lived under the demonic rule, instead they only met resistance:
And so, much of the advances were lost: and while the remnants of the Dark Legion organized themselves as new demonic states –often warring on each other, as they did with the Christian humans-, gathering the storm clouds darker and darker, The Order of Nortender and the human settlements were slowly pushed once more westward, and the human population in this new frontier declined.
This wouldn’t be the end however for the Military Order of Nortender, as they adapted to face the challenges. They retreated to the lands of the shores of Hieyokscream, concentrating their Christianization efforts in the amazon tribes.
In 2296, Connie I, duchess of Priva in north-western Polforia, appealed to the Knights to defend her borders and subdue the pagan Hieyokscream amazons, allowing the Knights use of Hieyokscream as a base for their campaign. The Head of the Order, Uwe von Beem, who had seen his order and human-elven settlements in Polforia to be pushed westwards, considered Hieyokscream a good training ground for his knights for the wars against the demonic remnants in central Polforia. With the approbal of the archbishop Freder II, it was bestowed on the Order a special imperial privilege for the conquest and possession of Hieyokscream, with nominal karentian sovereignty.
The conquest of Hieyokscream was accomplished with much bloodshed over more than 50 years, during which amazons and kdaimons who remained unbaptised were subjugated, killed or exiled. Fighting between the Knights and the Amazons was ferocious; chronicles of the Order state the Amazons would "roast captured brethren alive in their armour, like chestnuts, before the shrine of a local demon-god".
The native nobility who submitted to Nortender had many of their privileges affirmed in the Treaty of Cverri. After the Amazon uprisings 2320-2343, however, much of the amazon nobility emigrated or were resetled, and many free amazons lost their rigthts. The amazon noblewomen who remained were more closely allied with the weseuros landowners and gradually assimilated. Peasants in frontier regions had more privileges than those in more populated lands. The Nortender knights often accepted baptism as a form of submission by the natives -human and non-human-. Christianity along Karentian lines slowly spread throught amazonian culture. Bishops were reluctant to have amazon religious practices integrated into the new faith, while the ruling knights found it easier to govern the natives when they were semi-pagan and lawless. After 50 years of warfare and brutal conquest the end result meant most of the amazon tribes that resisted were either killed or deported.
The Order ruled Hieyokscream under chapters issued by the Karentian Archbishop as a sovereign monastic state.
To make up for losses from diseases, plagues and to replace the partially exterminated native population -and as long to strenghten the weseuros elements- the Order encouraged the immigration of colonists from both the five kingdoms of the northwest (mostly Hunclech, Sargonic and Degolandic) and from the failed colonies in Polforia, which were being hard-pressed by demonic dark legion remnants.
The colonists included nobles, burghers, and peasants, and the surviving amazons and kdaimons were gradually assimilated. The settlers founded numerous towns and cities on former amazon and kdaimon settlements. The Order itself built a number of castles from which it could defeat uprisings of amazons and natives, as well as continue its attacks on the demonic remnants of Dol-Nur, Khar-bad and Tempo-katzooine, with which the Order was often at war during the 2300-2400.
The assimilated amazon warrior women became then warrior nuns, of the Order of Saint Creöle, a sister order for Nortender.
As well, as the demonic states grow stronger, and the distances with the Christian aelian world longer –as the Olga’s Wall mountain range routes were cut again, with goblins, orcs, trolls and other monsters cutting the ways-, slowly the interpretation of Nortender of Christianism changed.
The Order of Nortender accepted into their ranks as well dwarves, kanovs, elves and more, and many of the cloister precepts of the original order changed.
The Knights of Nortender, permanent fighters against the demons, became fanatics. But as well it was seen, that the only way to fight fire was with fire, and many monster, creatures and demons were adopted into their service, to fight the demons.
For the Second War of the Power, the Military Order of Nortender and Saint Creole were a dangerous, poisonous spine in the flank of the Second Dark Legion: A spine that despite the efforts of the demonic generals, they weren’t able to get rid off.
The Knights of Nortender and the Warrior Nuns of Saint Creole where some of the better fighters humanity had against the demons, having fought them for more than two hundred years. However, as due the Second War of the Power made stronger once more the contacts between the regular church authorities and the leaders of the Order, the differences had become more apparent.
While an uneasy alliance, the Church couldn’t get rid of such useful warriors, and such relations were maintained during the whole second war of the Power.
But after the civil war of the Dark Legion -the War of the Four Black Kings- ended, and with it, the Second War of the Power, the relations between the Sovereign Military Order of Nortender and the Church entered a breaking point.
The Order was disbanded by the Church, and its followers, declared heretical, being excommunicated from Christianity.
While this ban meant the prosecution of Nortender and Saint Creole orders within the Northwestern Aelian kingdoms, within the fortress of Nortender in the Bay of Hieyokscream, the Knights continued to hold their power.
As a gesture of defiance, they adopted as their own banner, the yellow cross of the heretics.
Because of this, when the Emperor of the Holy Sargonic Empire, Camilo VIII –the Apostate- entered in conflict with the church due to his reforms to the religion, he looked for support within the Order of Nortender, and will be theologians of the Order of Nortender, the ones who will defend the views of Camilo VIII in the conclave of Nisseau. –in which Camilo VIII will be excommunicated, proclaimed a heretic, enter in open conflict with the Church, and become Camilo VIII The Apostate or simply The Apostate.-
Along with the Knights of Nortender, The Apostate will march with his armies in the religion wars that tore apart the Holy Sargonic Empire, and with their help, he will try to force his religious views on the Imperial territories to his opponents.
While the alliance of the Apostate Emperor with the demons caused a break in the relations between the Order and The Apostate, they will still play an important role for the rest of his reign.
However, they were unable to retain the north for the Apostate against the human Sukkeses barbarians of the North, and they were militarily defeated.
However, despite their military defeat, they where ultimately victorious against the Sukkeses, as they were converted to Christianity in the Nortender Heresy.
After these military defeats and the losses suffered in the religious wars of the Apostate, the Order never completely recovered:
And so while in the Third War of the Power they will play an important role in the initial campaigns of the North, they were eventually defeated in the north, and only some errant monks perpetuated the Order after the fall of their castles and fortresses, and keeping alive the word of the Nortender Heresy.