Durant, House of Protection
House Durant is one of the eldest of the Houses of Magic, and has faithfully served the people of Mellorian for well over three hundred years. It has but a single purpose: to ensure the safety of the populace against all threats, be they mundane or magical. From enemies abroad and those closer to home. The founders of the House recognised that the power invested in Mellorian by the World Tree would eventually lead to devastation and chaos unless there were those to stand against it.
Each member of the House – from a powerful Wizard to a lowly recruit, takes a solemn vow of service that may only be broken by death or by a ranking Master of the House releasing them from it. Those who seek to join the ranks of Durant are dissuaded from their ambition at every step by the House’s experienced sergeant-at-arms; turned away from the doors no matter their origin or their skills. The Durant vow is taken very seriously and the House has no desire to admit those who will not observe it to the letter.
Only when the long journey to High House Durant is taken for the third time will an aspirant be permitted entry. The road to Tolven’s Roost is arduous and the mountains in which it rests afford little shelter or comfort. Despite this hardship, and the gruelling training that follows, the forces of Durant number in the thousands, representing one of the strongest military forces in Mellorian – a fact that others view with some concern.
House Durant are fabulously wealthy, made possible by their skill at construction and fabrication of materials of war. ‘Durant-made’ is a byword for quality of the highest order, and so their master craftsmen, forge-smiths, and Wizards are in constant demand. All of the cities of Mellorian have been designed, or at least embellished, by House Durant and so those cities have been built to last, and also to grow.
The House ensures that no Prince nor city has an advantage over the other in terms of defence or design, and through this fairness they help to create parity between the rulers of the land. Since the House’s inception, it has been extremely successful at enforcing a level of peace via such even-handedness, and has made it clear that access to their assistance will be denied to any faction that takes up arms against the other. Such is the advantage of a Durant-forged blade over any other type of forged weapon, that to give up the boon would surely lead to a position of weakness.
Kul’shen, in the east of Mellorian, stands as proof to this fact. House Durant levied a punishment of fifty years without their support against the Prince of Kul’shen for organising a punitive raid upon their neighbours, Vaetoran. Though the ban is now ended, the city is still seen as weak and backwards by the rest of Mellorian. With such power at their command, House Durant has earned the enmity of many other great Houses, and they constantly seek out ways to sabotage the high standing which the Durant hold in the eyes of the Princes, and the people.
The Wizards of House Durant use the root Aknihr, also known as the root of Protection. It draws power from the depths of the world, the deepest roots of the World Tree, and is strongly affiliated with minerals extracted from the soil. This is what allows the artisans of House Durant to exceed any others; the material conforms as much to their minds as to their hands.
A Master Wizard of Durant has command over the land and its hidden bounty. They are able to direct a portion of its power into artefacts – imbuing them with remarkable qualities that cannot be rivalled, or creating flaws in fine quality items, thus transforming them into worthless trinkets. In the right hands, a great-sword forged by House Durant can cleave through steel reinforced gates in a single blow. A cuirass of polished steel can repel even the most deadly of blows. But this is not the full extent of their power. A truly gifted Wizard can summon the aid of the land to form walls of stone and earth, and in rare cases, to cause fissures in the ground and small quakes.
House Durant has signed many territorial pacts with the cities of Mellorian and are responsible for the protection of key trade routes across the continent. There are many bandits and other dangers in the wilds of the land, and to keep the vital mechanism of trade passing between the cities, the House ensures the routes are policed. Though the other Great Houses publically chafe at the additional power, and no doubt the funds obtained, which such a duty brings House Durant, they are secretly glad that the Durant forces are spread so thinly across Mellorian. No House, no matter their ultimate aims, wishes a direct confrontation against the full force of House Durant. Like the land itself, they will endure and outlast.