The Renegade Houses
The olive branch that was offered by Machestaro I to the Knightly Houses, to retain their positions and privileges within the world of Kelbonnar, in exchange for submitting to the Empire of Turelion did not sit comfortably with all of the Houses. Some resisted and found themselves at once under siege by the forces of the first Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar, who annexed their lands, destroyed their keeps and executed any of their members who were caught. Though many of these dissenting Knightly Houses were wiped out, some managed to survive and went underground to carry on the fight for the cause. These once mighty, noble Houses now operate in the shadows, still committed to their founding principles to protect the weak, innocent and defenceless, by acting against the Empire of Turelion and the injustices they see it propagating.
The Renegade Houses is a catch-all term to refer to those Knightly Houses who didn’t submit to the rule of the Empire of Turelion, or the oversight of the Imperial Order of Knights, rather than representing a specific organisation. However, as all of the Renegade Houses were once recognised, legitimate, Knightly Houses most follow the same pseudo-militaristic structure and they are led by a Head of House. When a Head of House dies or steps down, all members of the House vote on who should succeed them. Though all of the Renegade Houses are judged to be the same by the Imperial establishment, that does not mean that all of the Renegade Houses see eye to eye. Arguments and even violent conflicts regularly break out between different Renegade Houses, especially when several Houses are trying to operate in the same area. Occasionally a number of the Renegade Houses can be brought together to act against a particularly high value or high threat target, but these alliances are always temporary.
Like the other Knightly Houses, the Renegade Houses are tightly bound to a strict code of honour and conduct that governs their actions and helps keep them committed to the defence of those who are in need. However, centuries of acting as illegal entities have meant that the Renegade Houses are now much more open to actions that are deemed, at best questionable, at worst outright abhorrent by the Knightly Houses that exist within the Imperial system. For example, in their quest to protect the defenceless against Imperial corruption, the Renegade Houses would think nothing of murdering corrupt officials, or working with criminal organisations to try and destabilise Imperial institutions. Some Renegade Houses have even worked with the The Kelrik Pirates to attack key Imperial and Provincial coastal and naval targets that they felt posed a risk to the communities around them. It is actions such as the above that lead the Imperial Order of Knights and the Knightly Houses beneath it to brand the Renegade Houses as dangerous radicals who must be stopped, whilst the Renegade Houses would argue that as the Empire of Turelion is a threat to all in Kelbonnar, everything they do is justifiable for the greater good.
Though outlawed and their known members branded as dangerous criminals, the Renegade Houses all still hold to the original tenants behind the founding of all of the Knightly Houses in Kelbonnar – to provide protection and sanctuary to those that need it. For the Renegade Houses this means that they actively work to challenge the authority and actions of the Empire whenever they judge it to be too oppressive. This has led the Renegade Houses to assassinate particularly corrupt individuals, to raid Imperial warehouses used to store foods and other necessary resources and redistribute them to the local communities and to fight against the organised crime and corruption that is rampant both within and under the nose of the Imperial system. Obviously this makes them an annoying and painful thorn in the Empire’s side, whilst making them incredibly popular in the areas where a Renegade House operates.
Unlike the Imperial Order of Knights or the Knightly Houses that entered the Imperial system under the Imperial Order’s auspices, the Renegade Houses have far fewer resources at their disposal. As their rejection of the Imperial system makes it necessary for them to operate secretly, instead of maintaining large fortresses or keeps as their main base of operations, each Renegade House will instead maintain a much more surreptitious headquarters. Often these headquarters are located in underground rooms beneath average looking buildings in less affluent areas of the towns and cities they are based in. Whilst many Renegade Houses have affluent backers who secretly support them and their activities, no Renegade House has the cash or equipment resources to draw upon as the Imperial Order and its attendant Knightly Houses do. Often members of the Renegade Houses have to provide and maintain their own equipment with House resources only going to those who have great potential, but who cannot afford to arm themselves.
For more information on the history of the foundation of the Renegade Houses, please see the history section of the Imperial Order of Knights.