Gendin’s Journal – Knights of Polaxis

a page from the journal of Gendin, son of Arissa and Temone of the dwarven Clan Gilderlo

The Knights of Polaxis

October, 1443 AWR

While the history of the Lords of Rendelshod is muddled and convoluted, the history of the Knights of Polaxis is very well defined.

Note that while I verified using other sources, the majority of my information comes directly from Thorin, husband of Meselda of the Clan Gilderlo, Meselda herself, the Archmage Susafras, his wife the High Cleric Paprazzi, and the Masterbard Edine. All have different points of view, but all experienced the fighting between the Council of Rendelshod and the Knights of Polaxis, and the accounts are quite similar when allowing for the different viewpoints.

The short tale:

The demon Lord Jxtl had the Lords’ goddess Epixenie killed, starting the first Wars of Rendelshod. Nineteen years later the Lords of Rendelshod assembled and traveled to Jxtl’s home to kill him. They lost, were transformed into undead warriors, and scattered across Trivana as were their fabled weapons, the greatswords called Cleavers. Eight thousand years later the Council of Rendelshod recovered Teroip Stemtarp’s Cleaver and gave it to him (it?), and shortly thereafter the other Lords recovered their weapons. The Lords assembled in a crypt beneath the Castle Rendelshod, traveled to Jxtl’s home, and killed him. [Unfortunately they killed his mortal form, so he reformed a new body a century later.]

The surviving thirteen Lords traveled back to the crypt where they regained their mortal bodies. They ceded the Castle to the Council of Rendelshod and acquired castles in the Pahkian lands along the west coast. During this time they found a new god, the demi-god Polaxis, and renamed themselves the Knights of Polaxis.

A few years later they opened a feud with the Council, which lasted until the Council disappeared nearly sixty years later.

When the Council appeared fourteen hundred years later, the current Knights re-ignited the ancient feud, which is continuing to this day.

The long story is a bit more confusing because of all the details.

When the thirteen surviving Lords of Rendelshod returned to Trivana from defeating the demon lord Jxtl, they regained their mortal form. Their torment of existing for eons as undead warriors was ended.

In hindsight, it appears that few learned anything from their torment. Epixenie died because of her arrogance and overconfidence — Jxtl’s tricks caused her to put herself in a position where his forces killed her. Jxtl defeated the Lords for the same exact reason — their arrogance and overconfidence in attacking him in his demesne.

Sadly, their eight millennia spent as undead did not cured them of that affliction.

Teroip Stemtarp, the senior lord at the conclusion of the original Wars of Rendelshod, was out of step with his peers. He was more introspective and lacked the arrogance that marred his fellow lords. Yet he gave in to pressure and led them on their ill-fated attack upon Jxtl, an event that ended the first wars of Rendelshod.

Side note — with the Lords’ defeat and cursing at Jxtl’s hands, it is reasonable to believe that Jxtl’s side would go on the offensive. However, something happened and hostilities ended with a whimper, not a bang. I can find no answer to why the wars ended as they did. The following centuries were a dark time for mortal creature in Trivana and records are incomplete.

Another side note — at the time the Lords regained their mortal form, they had to learn modern languages, as their language, Cantonnar, had been dead for millennia. During their time, all humans in Trivana spoke a single language. In the millennia since then, the language morphed in multiple directions, so there are at least five main human languages with which I am familiar, and several dozen dialects.

In Cantonnar, a “p” at the end of a name is silent, so Stemtarp’s name is pronounced “tear-roy stem-tar”. Apparently scholars who studied what for them was a dead language did not known this. At least one scholar took Stemtarp to task for not speaking Cantonnar correctly. Thorin very much enjoyed repeating this story to me.

Back to the main account:

Following their defeat of Jxtl, when the Lords re-assembled in the crypt beneath the Castle Rendelshod, most wanted to oust the Council of Rendelshod. Some wanted to punish the Council for daring to use the name Rendelshod.

Stemtarp’s force of will was strong. At age seventy-one, he had been the senior lord for over forty years. He gained that position through charisma, force of will, and making the best decisions. At his advanced age, he still held the respect of his nominal peers, and persuaded them that the Council was their ally, not their enemy or rival, and that the Council had honored the name and made it something proud again. There were a few holdouts, but he ground them under his boot by reminding all that they had not done their best by their own illustrious name.

A year later the Lords assumed control of numerous keeps in the Pahkian lands — nothing all that surprising given the fractious nature of Pahkians. Relations with the Council were sporadic, but cordial.

Oddly enough, Thorin and Stemtarp became friends. Thorin and other Council members visited Stemtarp’s new home several time. Distances that most would consider daunting are not for those mounted on hippogriffs. During long conversations Thorin learned much of the history of the Lords in general, and Stemtarp specifically. They also discussed the formation of the Knights under the demi-god Polaxis.

Two years later Stemtarp was killed in battle. Years later, evidence pieced together indicated it was a setup. Stemtarp was ambushed and murdered by his own companions, the other Knights.

Gravon Mendor became the senior lord. He was the eldest behind Stemtarp, and even then was thirty years younger. The Wars of Rendelshod had taken a hard toll on the Lords. Far too many died and in some years a Cleaver (their famous weapon) was carried by three different men in turn.

With Mendor’s ascension to leadership, the cordial relations with the Council ended abruptly. He wanted the Castle Rendelshod for himself and had been the chief holdout against peaceful relations with the Council. The Council’s position was the castle had been abandoned for 8,000 years, they had retaken it and cleared all monsters out, and besides — the Knights had agreed to the Council keeping it.

Mendor started with subtle attacks, then went full frontal when his forces captured Baerden, Thorin’s brother. They tortured him to death and arrogantly dumped his body in front of Rendelshod.

Mendor himself led a force of two hundred experienced soldiers to the gates of the Castle Rendelshod. They rudely dumped Baerden’s body in front of the gate, turned, and rode away.

Susafras told me they had to magically stun Thorin. In his enraged state he would have taken on the entire enemy force.

When we awoke and calmed down, the Council planned their retaliation and coldly executed the plan.

The Knights had faced hordes of demons — it did not prepare their force of over two hundred soldiers to face retaliation from the Council. Fourteen members of the Council killed all but one of the Knights’ force. Mendor, who had faced hordes of demons both in Trivana and in the Abyss, fell before Thorin’s enchanted blade. In his rage he shattered Mendor’s Cleaver, a sword that had been held by more then 5,000 years of Lords.

Yet another side note — Thorin carries a weapon called the “Force Weapon”. Deactivated, it is a hollow tube of light but incredibly hard metal, one inch in diameter by a foot long. When activated the tube becomes a hilt and a three foot long blade of black energy extends from one end. The black is so black it glows, giving an unwholesome appearance. This is not like a Rod of Force, where the blade is magical energy. This blade is solid and can be touched, like it was steel. But it is cold, enough to burn fingers, and it is magically sharp. Ancient fragmented legends mention such a weapon, but no origin is known. It predates dwarven history, which is the oldest known history. Regardless of its origin, the force weapon was constructed of sterner material than the Cleaver.

Exactly one survivor, a junior officer, was allowed to live. He carried the shards of Mendor’s Cleaver and a message to the remaining Knights — the Council considered the matter closed. Mendor died for his sin, and the Council would take no further revenge.

But the Knights wore arrogance as if it was their birthright. They declared war on the Council.

During the following fifty-nine years, Thorin personally killed seventeen Knights, and destroyed six more Cleavers. The other Council members killed another nine Knights. But the line of replacement Knights was long. There were always more arrogant men willing to risk death to attain such a notable title.

Thorin disappeared and two years later the majority of the Council did as well. All assumed them dead.

The few remaining Council members abandoned the castle, and the Knights took it. They held it less than a year before abandoning it when several goblinoid bands settled in the area and made it too difficult to keep. In the succeeding fourteen hundred years, no one held the castle for more than two years. The reasons are legion, but the end result was that no one could keep the Castle Rendelshod. That, too, is a topic for another day.

Eventually the Knights retreated to the Pahkian kingdoms, where to this day they hold sway over nearly half of the land. Pahkia is a land of conflict, and it seems to suit the Knights.

When Thorin re-appeared from the past during my quest to find the Carnith Stone, his passage was blocked by a Knight of Polaxis and his forces. My esteemed grandfather (and then some) was in our time less than five minutes before he slew another Knight and destroyed an eighth Cleaver.

When the remaining Knights learned of the Council’s return, they re-ignited a feud that should have ended fourteen hundred years ago. They immediately sent an expeditionary force to take the Castle Rendelshod. The Council met that force two days ride from the castle and inflicted heavy casualties, including the death of two more Knights. Thorin increased his tally to nine Cleavers destroyed.

I try to remain outside of the conflict, but in this case it’s all but impossible. The Knights are fools who re-ignited a dead feud and took on a war they cannot win. Of the eighteen Knights, nine carry the Cleavers created by Epixenie, and nine carry inferior blades produced by Polaxis.

They remind me of a dog that tangles with a porcupine this week, a skunk the next, and another porcupine the third week — never learning anything from his experiences.

As Ron of the House of White is fond of saying, “Stupidity cannot be fixed.” The Knights are living proof of this truism. In the four years since Thorin came to our time, he’s broken two Cleavers. The Knights continue the fight, and at this point Thorin’s opinion is “nine down, nine to go”. My great great and then some grandfather sometimes seems like a force of nature. The Knights will not win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *