Order of Malleoch
“They [the Diabolists] are a terror that hides in dark places, preying on the weak and the defenceless. Only when the last of their benighted souls are banished to the outerdark, to be preyed upon by the demons that dwell there, I shall consider my task fulfilled. Until then, my only pleasure shall be in seeing the look on their faces in that fleeting moment before my blade does its work.”
Duke Rasmus Grigori, Master of the Order and Primus of Malleoch
Sometimes circumstances make it necessary to do something reckless in order to defeat a powerful enemy. When the Council of Great Houses realised they lacked the vision – or the tenacity to stamp out the Diabolist menace, it was clear that something of unusual boldness was called for.
In a heated debate that lasted a day and a night, the Masters of each House finally reached an agreement that would see the creation of a new order; one with far reaching powers and the duty of stemming the rising tide of evil. It was decided that no Great House should have individual supremacy over this new force, yet all would bear collective responsibility for their instruction and maintenance. It was not an easy decision to create a powerful weapon that was beyond their control, but the situation demanded decisive action.
It was noted by Master Geld of Durant that of all the Roots Vanathar, the Root of Sanctuary, was the greatest proof against the dark powers of the Diabolists. Therefore he proposed that all those adept in using Vanathar would be given over to the new organisation and any subsequently discovered novices would be offered up in kind.
As Vanathar is a sister-root to Aknir the Root of Protection, the majority of such wizards came from within the ranks of Durant, the foremost among them Geld himself. The other masters nominated Malbrecht Geld to be the first Primus of ‘Malleoch’, and tasked him to begin the process of marshalling his newly found power against the minions of the Wyrm of Darkness. The Masters hoped they had selected a tireless and canny leader, but in this they were only half right.
Geld was a headstrong individual – a trait not altogether uncommon in those touched by Vanathar. He did not wait long before engaging the enemy, and had done little in the way of preparation. His first sortie was a disaster, one that ultimately cost him his life and those of his greatest wizards. Malbrecht was certain that if he managed to cut of the head of the enemy then, via disarray and bloody ambition, the remanider would be certain to fall on themselves in an orgy of internecine violence. It would have been a sound strategy, were it not for the fact that Geld had no idea whom to target.
Unfortunately for the Primus of Malleoch, he was unaware that there was no single Diabolist leader at this time, but rather a loose confederation of three sorcerers of prodigious power. Against one, or perhaps even two of such skill, the magic of Vanathar and the bravery of his allies would have been sufficient. With three, the outcome was a sickening reversal that cost the Order at least five years recovery time. The fate of the first Primus of Malleoch is a well-known story, and his folly used as a cautionary tale for all recruits to the Order. The phrase “Gelden-thought” is used in the common tongue to mean any decision that appears wise but lacks sound judgement.
In the years that followed, a painstaking process of rebuilding and reordering took place under a wiser and more patient Primus. Lady Vartressa, known for her grim resolve and pragmatism, refused to engage her foes until she deemed the work complete. Though the Masters of the Great Houses chided her for inactivity, she refused to accelerate her strategy. After five years of planning, training, and no little building, she judged the time right.
Though her inactivity was seen as weakness by others, she had spent that time investigating her foes in such detail that the mistake of her predecessor would never be repeated. On the fifth anniversary of Geld’s death, two-score Diabolist leaders were hunted down and brought to justice. The ‘head’ that Geld had sought in rabid fervour was taken instead via calm consideration and the swiftest of action. Of the men and women that had personally slain Primus Geld, she had them brought to the Chapterhouse fortress at Emteph and took their heads with her own blade. The skulls of those Diabolists now act as candle-holders on the desk of the Primus, even to this day. Vartressa was the only Primus of the Order to know the shame of retirement in old age, but her work in organising the forces of Malleoch is felt long after her death, and her name is held in the highest honour.
Wizards of the Order still utilise Vanathar to fight against the horrific blood magic of their enemies. Vanathar, the Root of Sanctuary, is the power drawn from the celestial firmament and from ancient places steeped in the power of creation. It is the magic of the heavens and of the earth, and as such is closely linked to Aknir, the Root of Protection. Wizards of the Order are adept at creating warding runes and protection circles, which they use both defensively and offensively. They are adept at channelling energy into their bodies, often using the magic to empower limbs or favoured weapons to a brutal efficacy.
Most importantly to the Order, Vanathar is anathema to blood and dark magic due to its close connection to the Hallowed Heavens. The magic of the Diabolists is usually difficult to defend against for Wizards of the other Houses, being so alien to their understanding of sorcery. Due to the Root of Sanctuary, the members of the Order are as well defended against this as is possible for a Mellorian wizard. Many common spells within the Order are based on deflecting or abrogating malicious energies and so a hunter of the Order can rely on their learning to aid them against Diabolists, no matter how deadly their opponents may be.
The Order is currently fighting a shadow-war on innumerable fronts. The sudden audaciousness of the Diabolists has overwhelmed even the Order’s legendary adaptability; and unless this can be redressed soon Mellorian’s best defence against the darkness will be swept aside. The current Primus of Malleoch, Master Grigori, has requested a convention of the Great Houses to tackle this crisis, but if a solution cannot be found quickly, the damage will be far greater than even he fears to imagine…