The Flaming Brand
The Flaming Brand are the disciplined military and religious force that protects The Gleaming City and its interests. They keep to a strict code of duty with an ascetic fervour and work dispationately in the furthering of the goals of their masters. The primary duty of the rank and file of the Flaming Brand is to the Lord whom they have been placed into service of. This at times means members of the Brand can come into conflict with the other Lords and their own battalions of the Flaming Brand. Ultimately, however, all Flaming Brands exist to support the hegemony of the Gleaming City itself, and despite their servitude to any specific Lord, this overarching loyalty is the source of their focus and fervour. Their holy leaders are the final word for any activity performed by the Flaming Brand, and the Lords know not to challenge their authority.
LeadershipThe leadership of the Flaming Brand consist of the a central group of three, known as the Holy Caldera. These in turn are served by the High Wardens, the group of nine nameless, but extremely powerful, functionaries who serve the Holy Caldera and control the infrastructure of the city. The leadership group is kept apart from the political squabbling of the Lords of Fire, and manage the distribution of the Flaming Brand forces amongst the Lords to ensure none are able to amass too much power, and that they continue to serve the holy purpose of the Gleaming City.
Ranks and formationsBeneath the central leadership group are the thousands of monastic warriors that are given into service of the many Lords. They work together in units of 10 members known as a Dek to combine the strength of the magics they employ. Each Dek is led by its most senior member, the Dek Keeper, who controls and channels the magic fed to them by the other nine members of the Dek - the Dek Bearers.
The most common arrangement of a Dek is triangular, in rows of four, three and two Bearers feeding into the focal point of one, being the Keeper. Other formations are employed for various offensive, defensive and exploratory methods for channelling the blood magics. At times of greater need, Deks can be combined into larger configurations. A common form seen on the fields of battle is the Hexdek, consisting of 6 Deks, usually controlled and channelled by the will of their Fire Lord at their centre. The energies that are able to be released under this formation are extreme, and were last seen during The Destruction of the fledgling Dam Nation many years prior.
The Dance of FlameMembers of the Flaming Brand are all practitioners of Blood magic, with a focus on the manipulation of heat exchange, fire and other explosive energies. They do so through ritual and complex kinetic dances to focus and combine their magical energy to devastating effects. The dances are not performed by any individual, but a complex interweaving of all members of a Dek. Simple dances may require the smallest and swiftest of movement, but the more powerful rituals may require hours of trance-like interweaving of motion. The practitioners spin and jump, use each other's bodies as leverage, and as percussive and musical instruments to augment the performance of the ritual. When a Dek is in total unison, the magics channelled and transformed can look and behave more like quickened lava, or glowing gas than fire itself, and is mesmerising as much as it is destructive.
DisciplesNew disciples of the Flaming Brand are trained in the Beaconspire at the heart of the Gleaming City. They learn the blood magic techniques from the more senior members, and will often be assigned to the Lords of Fire as lower-level servants, prior to their full graduation to Bearer status.
Transformation from Disciple to BearerTo assist the efficient joining of minds and sharing of energies within the Deks, all Flaming Brands beyond the Disciple levels undergo severe magical alterations of their own bodies and brains. The formsal initatiation ceremony is known as the Feast of Welding and involves the violent transfiguration of both mind and body. Those who fail will usually die, or be rendered into dribbling Soulhusks by the process. These unfortunate souls are sold to the Usokufa to become Bodyservants.
The Flaming Brand is highly structured with multiple levels of seniority within its ranks.
- The Holy Caldera
- The Fire Wardens
- Keepers of the Brand
- Bearers of the Mark
- Disciples of the Flame
Mythology & Lore
The oldest of the Lords of Fire were alive long before the Destruction, and know of the reason for the formation if the Faming Brand. They lived countkless lives as thralls to the Elder Gods within their prisons beyond the Astral Sea. The Destruction weakened the bonds of the Elder Gods enough to allow the Lords of Fire to escape the prison, leaving heir masters behind as they found a world ripe for mastery. This is the event known as the The Mortugurra Incursion.
The Flaming Brand was formed by three of the most powerful of the original Lords who escaped during the Mortuggura Incursion. The are the High Caldera, and despite their religious asceticism, they are the true power behind the Lords of Fire. The High Caldera recognised that without protection, the Elder Gods would find a way to follow their servants through from their prison. They set up the Flaming Brands as much as a protection from otherwordly incursion as much as to control the lands of Shadowfire.
Tenets of Faith
The Flaming Brand has a number of core tenets that are used to justify the centralisation of power to the few, the obliteration of others that seek power, and the subjugation of the weak through force and the control of wealth. The core justification is that it is toprotect the whole of Shadowfire from the Elder Gods that seek entry from just beyond the Rift.
- Power is the ward which protect the world from the wrath of the Elder Gods
- The powerful have earnt their right to wield it
- Power can only be mastered through discipline
- It is only through duty that power is earned
- The wielding of unearned power is sacrilege
- Debt to power must be paid
- Unpaid debts weaken the world
The Lords of Fire understood the way Uhd - The Prime Duality, magic and divine will manifest far better than most of the learned academics of the Protectorates, and any other aprt from perhaps the oldest living among the Deepkin. They learnt well from their old masters and the fall of The Stoneforged Assembly before the Destruction. Undisciplined faith has the power to make manifest some of the worst outcomes imaginable, including the proliferation of base desires such that drove the The Godling Wars. The strict heirarchy of the Flaming Brand exists solely to control and centralise the power generated through faith into the control of the Lords of Fire and the upper echelons of the Flaming Brand leadership. The lower ranks are led in their worship of their leaders, and the power generated is gathered to the leadership. It is rumoured that the Lords and Leaders of the Flaming Brand have mastered the magics of this faith in such a way as to tether the resulting Godlings to themselves, co-existing with the divine made mainifest by their own servants.
Religious, Monastic Order