The High Guard
This is the ultra-elite unit tasked with safeguarding the High Lord and members of his House. They are carefully selected by the ruler and the Ryndar. Historically, the High Guard consisted of thirteen members, hence their nickname of The Thirteen. Over the years, the number of the High Guard has varied, but always in multiples of thirteen.
This is actually the name given to the somewhat disreputable group of military misfits that Mikhael Stormdanovich was given command of during his first year serving in the Cymerian Guard. The Morrighan were disbanded when Mikhael left the Guard after completing his two years of service. When he returned to Harkania in the spring of 3539, he asked Seneschal Thoreson Windwalker and Hawke Windwalker to help him find and restore the unit to service.
After the Battle of D’hassa in September 3539, High Lord Mikhael Stormdanovich had them formally vetted and assigned as his High Guard. Keeping to the tradition of The 13, there are always twelve Morrighan plus a commander on protection duty at any given time although the Ryndar may deploy them in smaller units at his discretion.
The Morrighan’s reputation has grown over the years. People tend to either trust them implicitly or fear them, but almost everyone respects them. Their loyalty to the High Lord is well known. They are known to be specialists and in our modern world would be an ultra-elite special forces unit.
The Morrighan is also known as:
High Guard, Harkania High Guard, Cymerian High Guard: This is the original name given to the elite special unit whose detail is the guarding and protection of Cymeria’s royal family. Each member of the unit is a specialist and the best at what they do.
The 13: This name evolved from the beginning of the High Guard’s existence. At the outset, when they were first created, there was only thirteen total (twelve guards plus the Ryndar).
The Harkanian High Guard was formed shortly after Mathias Azarov came to power as the first High Lord of Cymeria and the first Warder of Harkania March after the Interregnum in 2050 (Menfolk Age of Iron).
After one or two assassination attempts and the need to occasionally move really fast, Mathias Azarov decided to create a small, elite personal guard/military unit. Their primary purpose is to protect the High Lord, High Lady, and heir. The Seneschal allots guards to the remaining family members as needed.
The Morrighan would be the equivalent of knights. All carry the rank of Thane, receive land grants, etc., just as knights do. Their leader is the Ryndar. Ryndar is a title, a noun, and a rank.
Traditionally, the Ryndar is chosen by the reigning High Lord before his Ddyrchafael. The Ryndar undergoes the Quickening ritual at the same time as the High Lord is confirmed. It sets a certain level of ability to withstand a High Lord’s arcane powers and unlocks arcane abilities in the Ryndar. It is the Ryndar’s job, should his High Lord become non-functional mentally or a danger to himself and others, to be the one to stand against him or strike the death blow if that is the only recourse.
Also, traditionally, the Ryndar should be someone the High Lord trusts implicitly as he literally holds the HIgh Lord’s life in his hands. Therefore, the Ryndar is often chosen from amongst the High Lord’s childhood companions as long as he/she meets the criteria of being one of the most elite, if not the most elite warrior in the land.
While there is no onus against women in the service, the position of Ryndar is traditionally male.
Upon taking his oath, the Ryndar is granted a substantial landholding that is his over and above his service to the High Lord or previous service to the Cymerian Guard.
As stated, Thanes are the equivalent of knights. The word thane pertains to rank and title.
The High Lord, with the assistance of his Ryndar, carefully chooses the Thanes. It is possible, however, that they will solicit names from the Seneschal. A man or woman requesting to be considered would be viewed with suspicion.
Without exception, Thanes, like their Ryndar, are the most elite warriors in the land.
As with the Ryndar, the Thanes are also granted lands to hold in perpetuity in exchange for their service. Where possible, these lands are granted in the Thane’s home March and as near to family lands as possible.
There is no dishonor in declining the land grant and requesting a different boon instead. It is recognized that not every man or woman desires to be a landholder. There is also the possibility that the Thane is the heir to an estate and thus chooses to decline the land grant.
There are currently thirty-nine members of the High Guard (the Morrighan) in addition to the Ryndar. This allows three shifts of thirteen (twelve members per shift plus a watch officer). Although the Ryndar is always considered on-duty, he does have to have time to sleep and attend to personal business. This number includes several Ravens (Cymeria’s spy network) who work from within the Morrighan.
The Morrighan are not always clad in a formal uniform, as their job often requires them to be discreet and even unnoticed. Leaving the Guard of the House to be obvious, they tend to blend in with the crowd although each wears the distinctive Dikaya head badge that distinguishes them at a glance.
Their uniforms are designed of a supple and fine scale-mail burnished a dark shimmering gray and black. Like the other services, most wear the heavy Sidan silk undergarments to add a layer between their bodies and the armor. Although headgear consisting of a metal skullcap and nose guard is available, it is rarely utilized.
Their badge is a stylized Dikaya head that is worked into the center of the neck and throat guards.
Oath and Fealty
The Harkanian High Guard’s Oath of Service is to the Ryndar and then to the High Lord. The reason that their oath is first to the Ryndar is because he could be put in the position of having to end the High Lord’s life to protect Cymeria. Should the Ryndar be killed, die of illness or fall in battle, the Thanes will protect the High Lord at all costs, including with their lives.
Oath of Service
I do swear honor, fealty, and service to the Ryndar of Cymeria, High Lord of Cymeria, the land of Cymeria and all the peoples within its borders and to those that guard this land and its peoples. By this Oath, I am bound to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or in plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying from this hour henceforth, until my service is no longer required or death takes me.
End of Service
At the end of the High Lord’s reign, the current High Guard is disbanded and may either return to the Cymerian Guard or retire. The new High Lord selects a completely new High Guard loyal to him and his High Lady if he is married.
If the end of the High Lord’s reign coincides with his Crossing, as is most often the case, the 13 continue to serve his family until the new High Lord is confirmed or will serve the High Lady should she become regent. Their service is not done until after the High Lady abdicates or Crosses and a new High Lord is confirmed.
After retirement, the Ryndar’s Quickening will gradually fade. A retired Ryndar is known as Rytsar.
- Ryndar: Hawke Windwalker (Played)
- 2nd: Oréas Windrunner of Moonhunter Pack (Played): Officially, Oréas is a member of the Morrighan and serves as a second-in-command. He is also the second-in-command of the Ravens.
- Rytsar: Gero of Dawnrunner Clan
The below list is to be used for names to reference and as a placeholder until we get Players interested in playing Morrighan.
- Edgtho: Expert Scout and Tracker (assigned to the Heir)
- Tristan Arrius (Played): Expert Scout, Tracker, Archer
- Wulfgar: Master Swordsman
- Rethel: Swordsman, Master of Horse
- Halga: Strongest Man in all the Land
- Skeld: Healer and Scholar, Deadly with Fighting Knives (assigned to the Heir)
- Taliesin Ben Beirdd (Weath; NPC): Bard, Storyteller, Teacher as well as Expert Swordsman
- Ragnar: Expert with the Axe
- Bors: Brawler and Melee Expert
- Dagon: Master of the Spear
- Geraint: Master Archer (Chief Guardian assigned to the Heir)
The Heir’s Guardians
There are three Morrighan assigned specifically to the Heir to Cymeria, Vasily Stormdanovich. They act as the watch officer of his detail.
- Geraint: Master Archer; Chief Guardian of Vasily Stormdanovich (the heir).
- Skeld: Healer and Scholar, Deadly with Fighting Knives
- Edgtho: Expert Scout and Tracker