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    Neheli's Own - Past and Present
    Posted on Tue, August 28, 2001 by Toran
    Also known as Neheli's Own, this formation of four light cavalry companies holds a special place in the history and pre-history of the Kingdom of Keoland. Herein is detailed the group's illustrious past and present situations.

    Author: MTG



    Neheli's Own - Past and Present

    by Marc Tizoc Gonzalez (mtizoc@canonfire.com)
    (Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)

     

    The current article is a revision of four posts that I made to Greytalk in Spring 2000, which itself was an elaboration of a thread that I started in the AOL folder in Summer 1998. In detailing the history of Neheli's Own, I continue to rely heavily on the "Geopolitical History of Keoland" by Kirt Wackford. As I understand it, his excellent article incorporated works by Joe Katzman and other contributors to the Geoff Project.

    Out of Darkness

    When the Suel House of Neheli fled the doomed lands of the Imperium, a formation of war charioteers accompanied it. Though but a small company, a young scion of Neheli named Sorvannis commanded it, and the company's soldiers were steadfast in loyalty to their young captain; also, the charioteers had become generally sickened by the rampant slaughter that distinguished the final years of campaigning against the Bakluni, before the Invoked Devastation.

    With the last of Neheli's patriarchs killed in the ongoing fray, Lady Katarine of the Sibilant Sisters of Neheli took the initiative and resolved to lead the remnants of her once mighty house in search of a land far from the taint that had corrupted and ultimately destroyed the great empire. Young Baron Sorvannis was the nephew of Lady Katarine, and when he received Imperial orders not to capture but to slaughter the matriarch of the disloyal house, he elected to defy the Imperium. (Whether the decision to order young Sorvannis against his house was but a sign of the madness that had corrupted the Imperium or was a providence of a secret patron remains unknown.)

    Sorvannis invited any of his men who wished it, to follow him and his house into exile and hope. In the twilight of the day of their decision, the maleficent Invoked Devastation washed through the lands toward its northward destination of woe, and every charioteer agreed to the exodus.

    In the years that followed the Twin Cataclysms, the mobility and power brought to it by the war chariots allowed House Neheli to successfully make its way eastward into the Flanaess. After following the dawn into many adventures, these noble Suel eventually reached the blessed river, Sheldomar, and there they founded a new home in the great valley of the same name.

    The Dawn

    Once in the sacred valley, Neheli's Own contributed to the defense of the northern prairie from Oeridian and Suloise raiders alike and saw the securing of Niole Dra from those selfsame bandits. It was at this time that light horse riders first supplemented the chariots of old. Charioteer and rider alike defended the holdings of the Neheli and secured their subject peoples. It is from the members of the ancestral company that the kingdom's current day masters of horseflesh descend from, and the Keoghish skill of horse breeding thus approaches a millennium of tradition.

    While the charioteers were not at the forefront of the nascent kingdom's expansion into the western and southern forests, the skilled and loyal riders maintained the integrity of the nation's heartland and thereby earned the love of the people. In the dawn of the Common Years, Nehelian charioteers rode with the groups that founded Gradsul and Gryrax, and horsemen defended the young towns of Flen and Cryllor. However, the riders were not involved in the early years of Longspear.

    By the beginning of the fourth Common century, the horse riders and charioteers were a respected component of the kingdom's Royal Army and had served the scions of Neheli for over seven hundred years. While few of the holy warriors of the martial faiths and none of the destrier-riding knights affiliated with the charioteers or light horse riders, the intricate Oerth Discs of Fharlanghn, at the front of each war chariot, and the feathers braided into the manes and trappings of the coursers were emblems of the riders' rectitude.

    Indeed, throughout the fourth Common century, the royal battalion was at the forefront of the kingdom's conflicts, and its actions saw to the establishment of the Gran March, citadel-city of Hookhill, and zealous order of the Knights of the March. By the middle of the century, Neheli's Own received the opportunity to spill Baklunish blood once again, after some eight centuries of abeyance. Indeed, along with the Knights of the March, the riders' companies pushed west of the great pass at Thornward. The lamellar armored tribes of what would one day be called Ket fought hard, however, and seemed to have endless reinforcements from the west. Also, the fierce horse archers of the Bakluni out ranged and were more mobile than the javelin-throwing charioteers of Neheli's Own. After years of campaigning, the Keoghish invasion sustained an ignoble defeat when the siege of Molvar and battles at Lopolla failed.

    Darkness, Again

    These defeats signaled the start of a dark era for the companies. The first time that the riders forded the Javan River was at their monarch's behest that the Yeomanry be forcibly brought into the fold, "for the will of the throne, is the good of the kingdom." Though the Royal Army had yet to descend into the abhorrent practice of contrived massacres that characterized later campaigns, to the present day, the free people of the Yeomanry bear the Nehelian Riders no great love, and in particular, Yeoman congregations of the Great Liberator in Loftwick begrudge the royal battalion. In later years, when the Yeomanry declared its independence, the great chariots of the company were burned in a grand conflagration. Though the Yeomen did not harm the beautiful horses of the riders, they did ensure that their newly freed lands would have nothing to fear from the soldiers that had served the imperialistic Keoghish throne. In fact, it was only the recognition that the riders would rather die to the last (after inflicting great harm) than surrender their horses, which prevented the Yeomen from taking the fine steeds for their own.

    Even before those actions, however, the company commanders disliked what service their sovereign had recently demanded of them. Though still loyal to the throne, after the western defeats and for the next few decades, the riders begged the king's indulgence that the companies needed time to consolidate after having campaigned for most of the century. Generations of the riders had come to age "in the saddle," and the rosters of the companies (especially those stationed in the north) bore many holes. Thus the riders did not take part in the eastern campaigning beyond the Lortmils when the Bloodking sought to subjugate the townships of the Wild Coast and the dark woods that border it.

    This reprieve ended when the forces of Furyondy took the plains of Bissel during the middle of the fifth Common century in that series of conflicts known today as the Short War. While the company of charioteers stationed in the Yeomanry lost its chariots to zealots of Trithereon, the company based in Hookhill ground itself against the combined forces of Furyondy and Veluna. Repeatedly the Hookhill Company found itself out-ranged by the arbalesters of the Voll. Additionally, the riders' traditional javelins were inadequate to the task of piercing their enemies' plate mail armor. While the charioteers acquitted themselves well against light and medium armored infantry, the heavy cavalry of the northern allies were impervious to the charioteers' best efforts.

    However, a smaller company based in Thornward had supplanted its javelins with crossbows and completely replaced its chariots with coursers in the decades after the defeats at Molvar and Lopolla. This company was able to harry the encroaching armies' supply lines, but its riders were too few, and their support too little to deny the fact of Keoghish defeat and that Furyondy had come to rule the Littlemark.

    But the throne afforded the royal battalion no respite. Shortly after the cessation of active hostilities, the Thornward company reconstituted itself with the remnants of the Hookhill charioteers and found itself thrown into the western lands of Geoff where (sans chariots) it bore partial responsibility for the annexation of that still heavily forested land. Following negotiations between the throne and the rulers of Geoff and Sterich, the company was finally afforded "retirement," and it has garrisoned Flen ever since.

    Meanwhile, the survivors of the Yeomanry uprising had retreated to Longspear, and together with the small garrison at Cryllor, the riders helped maintain the still tense border with the Yeomanry. Along with other elements of the Royal Army, levies, and noble contingents as well, the companies based in Gradsul and Gryrax were ordered into the battles against the self-styled Sea Princes. These companies were especially eager for the fray since in the confines of the streets, neither had succeeded in preventing the sacking of their garrisons a decade earlier by the southern pirates. Though hampered by the marshlands around Westkeep, the riders nevertheless served the throne faithfully, and many of their enemies died with feathered javelins protruding from their jerking bodies. However, with the death in battle of the monarch, the riders followed Lord Skotti and earned honors while covering the rear of the subsequent general Keoghish retreat.

    During the years of Tavish IV, Longspear was ceded to the Yeomanry, so Cryllor became the garrison for the riders. Similarly, after Westkeep, the Gryrax garrison never returned as events rapidly commenced to recognize the rule of Prince Corond from that fair city. Only in the years of the Hateful Wars did Neheli's Own see action when the ancestral company at Niole Dra defeated a wayward band of euroz that had spiraled from the Lortmil Mountains and rampaged a path through the countryside. Similarly, the Gradsul Company helped break the siege of Jurnre in 506 CY. However until the so-called Greyhawk Wars commenced, the companies held peace for most of the century.

    The Present

    Today the formation is a royal battalion of some four companies. It is uniformly comprised of light cavalry and numbers just under a thousand fighting horse-riders in total. The light war-horses of the company are the pride of the kingdom, being renown for their sure-footedness, endurance, and of course, speed. The horses bear half barding of leather, and each rider makes sure to tie certain feathers to the pommel and bridle of the horse's tack; these feathers have symbolic significance as prayers to Phaulkon, lord of winds, for increased speed.

    The armament of the soldiers traditionally comprised light lances and feathered javelins -- this being the armament of the original charioteers. As the Common centuries progressed, horse riders gradually supplanted the charioteers, and during the fourth Common century, the war chariots passed into the annals of Neheli's Own and the songs of the kingdom. However, sightings of the lost ancestral chariot of Sorvannis occasionally are reported.

    After the Short War, the four remaining companies of Neheli's Own adopted the light crossbow in place of their traditional javelins. While some officers and individual soldiers chosen for merit or bloodline still carry the traditional three javelins in the saddle-sheath, the majority of the companies' riders practice javelin throwing only as a sport. However, the company stationed in Niole Dra does have every soldier armed in the traditional manner. The Niole Dra Company has not seen combat since the beginning of the sixth Common century, however, and it is mostly used for ceremonial marches or other martial displays. Thus today each rider is girded with studded leather armor and holds a round steel buckler shield. In addition to a crossbow of good quality, sergeants and officers wield light lances. A saber and the ubiquitous dagger are a rider's standard secondary weapons.

    In campaign, the companies of Neheli's Own are expected to scout well ahead of an army's vanguard, neutralize enemy scouts on foot, harass enemy formations that lack missile weapons, and make flanking actions. Riders have also been utilized well behind the war-front in surgical strikes against enemy supply depots. The companies operate best in flatland terrain, but their excellent mounts provide adequate service when traveling through hill or forest.

    The Greyhawk Wars

    Within the past decade, several of the companies saw action and all accounted themselves well. The combination of superior mobility and ranged attacks via their crossbows consistently served them well. While none of the companies sojourned north to fight the fell armies of the Old One, some individuals made their way northward with their captain's blessings. To the west, though inactive due to the dithering of the throne, the Flen Company aided refugees from Geoff and Sterich and patrolled the eastern bank of the Javan River in force. Partially due to its action, the giants' offensive was stopped cold on the western bank.

    Not only did the Gradsul Company help repulse the Scarlet Brotherhood's initial attempt to take Gradsul, subsequently, the riders bore the onus of scouting and guarding the northern border of the Dreadwood for some sixty leagues west of the port city. In the months to follow, the company was at the head of the Keoghish forces that forced the border ever southward. Eventually Neheli's Own returned to Westkeep, and in 590 CY the company was among the expeditionary force that captured the city.

    Similarly, the Flen Company (along with the reserve garrison based in Cryllor) committed itself to the three-year campaign that eventually recovered Sterich. While the company as a whole has not taken part in the liberation of Geoff, certain individuals have been known to sojourn north, and elements of the company still guard Sterich's northern border. Overall, the riders of Neheli's Own have excellent morale. No few of the officers are eager for future opportunities to prove their persistent worth to the throne.

    The heraldic device used by the Nehelian Light Dragoons varies by company. While the colors used are always those of the kingdom, black and red, each company incorporates (quarters) the heraldry of their garrison town. After all, the garrisons have been the riders' homes for most of the Common Years. Additionally, the ancestral company at Niole Dra holds older heraldic designs that include the war chariots and a courser rampant as well. Officers and sergeants bear the device on lance pennants, and every horse-rider proudly bears the device on their small steel buckler shields.

    Neheli's Own - Nehelian Horse Rider
    Neheli's Own - NPC's
    Neheli's Own - Magic

    Note: Keoland, Military, Sheldomar
     
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    Re: Neheli's Own - Past and Present (Score: 1)
    by Taras on Tue, August 28, 2001
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Well, that was a rather impressive peice. A couple've questions, though. Given my rather great lack of knowledge about obscure weapons (as in, if it isn't a long sword, it's obscure), what exactly are "arbalesters" and what do they wield?

    Also, is there any chance of getting you to defect to Imperial Aerdy and detail some of the military units out thataway in a similar fashion? :P




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