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.
Neheli's Own - Past and Present
by Marc Tizoc Gonzalez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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.
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'
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.
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.
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
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