War Hymns of the Iskar Astartes
"I cannot fathom how these armored men on horseback are able to overcome our Eldar. We are masters of the arcane arts, able to call fire, lightning and poison mist to our command. They approach our city gates in blocks and lines. They should be decimated! Reduced to ashes. Who among you can explain this vulgarity?" Leunoc Sabrine, a Saturnine Elf and Archmage of the Magisterium delivered to the generals of their Eldar forces in the council room of Xathrus where the Sorcerer Lords of Dalair had been debating for several hours. The Iskar Astartes of the Dawn Realm had launched an offensive against the western flank of their borders and had delivered defeat after crushing defeat to their forces. The Archmage had insisted that the Knights of Iskandar that were storming their lands in crusade should have been easily felled, and in no uncertain terms insinuated that there must be sympathizers for their cause amongst the generals and mages present, as that was the only explanation he would accept for the success of their enemy's campaign. A grizzled battle mage whose face bore the deep scar from where a lance in a recent combat had struck his cheek stepped forward with an exasperated breath, repeating again the merits of their opponent: "My lord, these Knights do not wield pollaxe and lance alone. They are dolled in divine sorcery! Their Canticles summon weapons of scattering light. Their words of power create barriers of force and living armor. The very pinions of angels guard them as they charge across the battlefield. I beg you, Archmage, we must surrender. We are not prepared for such a force."The battle hymns of the Iskar Astartes are their means of war, delivered to them from the throats of Solars and Seraphim in their Canticles of Light. These hymns imbue the Knights of Iskandar with awesome, radiant power to dominate the battlefield. In the first crusade that followed the assassination of Lord Ellemex, so astonishing were the power of the Canticles that the Magisterium had lost the entire western frontier of their Elder Realm after only a few months of campaign. These hymns are what other nations and armies refer to as 'divine sorcery' and what have made the Iskar Astartes one of the most fearsome fighting forces in the world of Orr, for none have known greater fear than to receive a charging line of the Knight's sun-tipped lances. This primer will serve as record of those Canticles:
The Canticles of Squire Chief among the Canticles are the hymns of the squire. These battle hymns are perhaps not what make the Iskar Astartes so feared but they are what allow the Knights of Iskandar to operate as the most efficient and functional military force in Orr. These Canticles serve a variety of purposes such as animating armor so that a Knight may arm himself, shoeing warhorses, packing camp, mending chainmail, and allowing the Knight to rest even amidst the thunder of warfare. These simple cantrips may be overlooked by those whom have never seen the horror of warfare, but to an experienced soldier they are invaluable tools that make the hell of war more bearable. Through these Canticles the Iskar Astartes are not as dependent upon quartermasters or armorsmiths when engaging in long term campaigns, increasing the mobility of their forces and the speed at which their armies can prepare for march.
The Canticles of Steed
The war hymns of steed are the crux of Iskar Astartes dominating battlefield presence. These Canticles can summon celestial beings as their mounts such as warhorses, pegasi, hippogryphs, gryphons and winged lions. With these fearsome steeds the Iskar Astartes are nigh untouchable, and armies that have been trampled beneath the glittering hooves and razor sharp lion paws of the Knights of Iskandar will attest that few battalions in all creation measure to the sight of a charging line of Knights atop these mythical creatures. Armed with sun-tipped lances and spears, the opening forray of war against the Iskar Astartes are often the critical moment of any battle for if they reach the ranks of their enemies this proud charge can decimate nearly any army found before it. The Magisterium and the armies of Drin have developed specific tactics to counteract such a fearsome charge, but the mobility of Iskandar's forces often means that they can circle or strafe their opponents to form a new charging line. In addition to the summoning of such mounts the Canticles of Steed can create barriers of light and force to protect the ranks of the Iskar Astartes from blackpowder volleys and ranged spellblasts, or blind their enemies as they press forward.
The Canticles of Paragon The concept of the "Paladin" originates in Iskandar and it is this Canticle from which the term is drawn for this hymn alights the weapons of the Iskar Astartes with blazing, sun-dripped radiance and provides powers unto them to shield allies, heal wounds, and grant inspiration to their brothers in arms. To wield this Canticle a Knight of Iskandar must swear an oath to his realm that they are duty-bound to fulfill. For all the marvels of science and sorcery in the world of Orr, the Canticle of the Paragons stands among the most magnificent powers in the world of Orr, and even the enemies of the Iskar Astartes must begrudgingly applaud and respect the spectacle and might brought forth by these hymns.
The war hymns of the Iskar Astartes are drawn from chapters of the Canticles of Light, a spiritual hymnal bestowed to the Knights of Iskandar by the angels of Elysium. The Canticles manifest themselves in the way of resounding song and the clarion of horns from the heavens, they also bathe the world in beams of radiant light or coat armor and weapons with molten sunrays. The appearance of celestial steeds often begins with scented smoke that forms into the powerful figure of the steed that has been summoned. In times of great duress and trial the angels of Elysium themselves may be called to battle if the cause of the Knights is true.Because the war magic of the Iskar Astartes is so reliant upon song and hymns, their armies often include a special regiment called the Clarions who form a choir that travel with the Knights upon the battlefield, mending wounds and casting spells of protection. It is from this group that the world of Orr receives the profession of 'cleric' and many spells which the clerics of Orr wield draw their somatic component from the the Canticles of Light, whether it be a simple psalm or verse of one of the sacred hymns.
- Material Components
- The material components of the Canticles require objects of integrity and purity, such as pearls, diamonds, holy water, and untarnished silver.
- Gestures & Ritual
- Historically the Canticles are cast through song and hymn but may include instruments such as trumpets and even war drums.
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