Royal Escorts of the Southern Star
The Royal Escorts of the Southern Star are an all-female, elite branch of the Tachibana-Larssen Royal Guards. They guard the queen of Sudland, Queen Tatsu Tachibana Larssen, the royal princesses, and other noblewomen and girls of Sudland. They are selected and trained from a young age, and all are excellent swordsmen and martial artists. They are also trained as maids and servants for cooking, tailoring, bathing, and so on, but typically, those day-to-day tasks are done by dedicated maids of the Royal and Noble Attendants of the Southern Star.
Long sword, spear, whip sword, rapiers, bows, knives and daggers, as well as unconventional weapons, whips, needles, poisons, eye irritants, smoke, and so on.
The Chief Escort reports to the Commander of the Tachibana-Larssen Royal Guards. She has two Assistant Chief Escorts. One or more of them are with Queen Tatsu Tachibana Larssen at all times. Under them are Deputy, Lieutenant, and Adjutant Escorts that protect and serve the royal princesses and noblewomen. The lowest rank (and youngest) of the Escorts are the Handmaidens. Selected girls that pass their initial training become Handmaidens at nine or ten years old. After three years of training and service, those that show proficiency in martial arts continue their training and become Adjutant Escorts at about twelve years old. Those that do not pass the martial arts tests can choose to leave the Royal Escorts or can become Royal and Noble Attendants of the Southern Star. Those that continue to excel can become Lieutenant Escorts at eighteen years old, and by 22 years old can become Deputy Escorts. The best are named Escort Commanders at 26 years old. The Royal Escorts swear an oath of absolute loyalty and chastity at the time they become Adjutant Escorts. Romantic relationships are strictly forbidden. Those that violate the oath are summarily removed from their posts and are dismissed from the Royal Escorts in disgrace. The leaders recognize that many young women cannot fulfill the oath of chastity, so at each stage of their training and service, from Adjutant to Lieutenant, from Lieutenant to Deputy, and from Deputy to Commander, they can choose to leave the Royal Escorts honorably. They can join the Royal and Noble Attendants of the Southern Star or do whatever else they desire, without prejudice against them. Except for the Chief Escort and her two Assistant Chiefs, all of the Royal Escorts must leave the service by 32 years old, unless they beg for and are granted a stay.
Being an all-female unit, the Royal Escorts of the Southern Star favor lighter weapons, such as long swords, spears, whip swords, and bows. They are experts in small unit tactics, hand-to-hand combat, mobility, and personal protection. They frequently use unconventional methods, traps, movement, guile, and ambush to defeat more heavily armed and armored foes.
The Royal Escorts are trained beginning at an early age. Most come from military families and are selected for service by the age of nine years old. It is considered a great honor to be selected as a Royal Escort. The younger girls begin by learning and performing maid service for the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Sudland. They also learn horseback riding, acrobatics, silent movement, camouflage, and beginning martial arts: hand-to-hand combat as well as small weapons, such as knives and rapiers. As royal maids, they are also taught to read and write, and most importantly, they are taught complete obedience and loyalty the the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Sudland and the nobility of Sudland. As they get older, they increase strength and acrobatics training, and begin their training with long swords, spears, bows, and whip swords. They are taught silent and secret communication methods. They also learn more advanced maid services, such as embroidery, sewing, hair styling, cooking, and so on. Some learn architecture and construction to take care of royal and noble residences. The oldest and most accomplished Royal Escorts are expert fighters and military commanders, and can perform strategic and tactical planning and logistics for the queen's entire household and entourage.