The Crimson Count, Halbrec Grimm
Just under 300, as of 4E 215
Salthar Vivarian, the Bloodlet Throne
The Obsidian Order was an order of knights that fought alongside the Bloodlet Throne Coven. Their political leader, the Crimson Count, Maldred Tabren, in charge of funds,setting up safe houses, chapter houses, and working with the Coven. The military leader was grand master Halbrec Grimm, in charge of military matters of the knights. He oversaw the training and strategized with his fellow knights.
The knights were based mainly in High Rock, and their numbers made up mostly of Bretons. However, by 4E 15, the Order had set up chapter houses in Cyrodiil and Skyrim.
Their main base of operations was set up at castle Mourne, in the northernmost region of the province, Rivenspire. Though their initial numbers were made up of only sixty, and a small percentage of those actual knights, they eventually grew to nearly a hundred in number by the end of 4E 203, due to aggressive recruitment drives in High Rock. Unfortunately, their numbers were devastated during the war with the Blight.
The Crimson Count, Maldred Tabren, was an ambitious young noble, who usurped his fathers rule of his house, based in the region of Stormhaven. Tabrens command of his house was short lived, as the other nobles in the region eventually allied against him. His forces were defeated, and he was forced into hiding the in the northern region of Rivenspire. He remained hidden their, until 4E 203, when representatives of the Bloodlet Throne Coven, approached him. He was offered leadership of a group of small knights, recruited throughout High Rock.
Halbrec Grimm, already having organized the knights, worked with Tabren to build the orders numbers. Eventually, they were large enough to need a permanent base of operations. The bandit infested castle Mourne was chosen, and the knights cleansed the castle in a single night of furious fighting. After taking it, the order repaired and fortified it. Count Tabren began overseeing the construction of chapter houses in the cities of Northpoint and Shornhelm.
Though mistrusting the Obsidian knights initially, the vampiric warriors gained the admiration of the locals by destroying several bandit groups in the region, and keeping the population of feral vampires in check. This also earned them the trust of other knight orders in High Rock. Count Maldred forged several trade agreements with local merchants, supplying the orders smiths with ebony and steel for their armour and weapons.
By 4E 204,the orders number had reached nearly a hundred knights, supported by squires and smiths, along with the inhabitants of local villages near castle Mourne. When the Blight began abducting villages all over Tamriel, Halbrec immediately dispatched knights to investigate. The knights discovered the existence of the Blight, but all of their messengers heading to the Bloodlet throne were intercepted. The order was cut off from their fellow vampires. When the war started, the Obsidian knights allied with other knightly orders in High Rock, and fought against the Blight. Though ultimately victorious, the knights took heavy casualties, and were forced to retreat to castle Mourne.
They remained their for several months, rebuilding their numbers. Due to their actions during the war, they gained an almost legendary status among High Rocks populace. In addition, they only fed on prisoners they took in battle. This lead to many recruits travelling to castle Mourne, though not all became knights. Eventually, the order expanded into Cyrodiil and Skyrim, diversifying the recruits joining the knights. The knights were nearly at full strength when the cultists of the various Daedric forces emerged. Around the same time, the order came into conflict with the Knights of the Blazing Sword.
Training and Organization
"Vicis per mortem!" The orders battlecry, roughly translating to "Duty through death."
Though the Obisidian Order was, technically, a part of the Bloodlet Throne Coven, based in Skyrim, they were allowed to govern themselves. As such, their recruitment, organization, and tactics varied from standard Coven tactics. Unlike the Bloodlet Throne Coven, who viewed most mortals as vermin or fodder at best, the knights of the Obsidian order did their best to protect and minimize civilian casualties. Because of their good relations with the locals of High Rock, the northern regions of the province in particular, many locals attempted to join the order.
The order accepted any and all recruits, who were given the rank of initiate. Initiates were not vampires, however. They were put through a vigorous training routine, mostly in melee combat. At the conclusion of their initiate phase, the recruits fought in single combat against a knight of the order. Those that passed were granted vampirism, and their training continued. Those that failed, were sent home.
Those that passed the initiate rank, were dubbed squires. Their primary purpose was to assist full fledged knights in battle. Their training included withstanding the sun, as most vampires must, and fighting on horseback and in heavy armour of the order. The next rank, was Obsidian knight, the main fighting force of the order. Those with magical talent, were also trained with swords and lances, in addition to magical skill. These particular knights were called Blackfire sorcerers. Unlike the sorcerers of the Coven, these sorcerers did not raise lesser undead to fight for them. Instead, they used the magics of the Coven to support their brethren, and wreak havoc among the enemy. The elites of the order, were known as Storm paladins. Though they had no holy patron, and were considered 'dark' paladins by others who took the title. The only rank above the paladins was grand master, a title held by Halbrec Grimm.
Knights of the order were lead by a knight-captain, supported by squires and sorcerers. Such a force typically numbered about a few dozen knights. The knights themselves were mounted on heavily armoured horses, and charged with heavy lances, using swords and axes once they were among the enemy. The squires often fought on foot, with spears, and axes, and were slightly less armoured than the knights. The order was often supported by any nearby peasantry, armed with whatever weapons they could grab.
Typically, the knights favoured head on charges, that often shattered an enemy shield line. Once among the enemy, the knights would cut down any surviving foes. Retreating from a foe, even if outnumbered, was regarded as extremely dishonourable. The Blackfire sorcerers often used their magics from mid to close range, using swords at the same time. Many of them carried personally carved staves, that could be used for both channeling magic, and close combat.
The Order of the Obsidian knights had some unique customs and quirks that set them apart from their Coven brethren in the rest of Tamriel.
The Turning, was the Obsidian knights ritualistic ceremony, where initiates were brought into the order properly. The great hall of castle Mourne was where the initiates who were chosen to become squires were assembled. There, many full knights would assemble at the sides of the hall, with the initiates in the center.
The grand master would then fill a blood chalice, with his blood which the order castellans would pass through the ranks. As a full transition from mortal to vampire not only required the vampire bite a mortal, but that the mortal in turn, drank some of a vampires blood. The initiate would then be bitten by a member of the order, completing the ritual.
However, the turning, or the red kiss, among other names, was considered an extremely private and intimate act among vampires. The fact that the knights performed such an action in public, was regarded with suspicion by the Coven. The Inquisitorious, in particular, viewed this as disturbing behaviour.
The Honoured dead
The Obsidian knights did their best to recover their fallen brethren from the field of battle. They even buried those initiates who fought in the Blight war among the knights. They were contained in a large crypt underneath castle Mourne. Castellans maintained the tombs, and because of the orders respect for their fallen, they found the use of necromancy repulsive.
The order held victory feasts after the defeat of an enemy, drinking the blood of their captured enemies.
When any member of the Obsidian knights, up to and including the grand master, committed an act they found dishonourable, they were required to take part in penitence. Though this did not involve praying to any deity, the knights participating in the activity would remove their armour, and kneel in the open, often during noontime, when the sun was at its highest. In this way, the knights 'cleansed' themselves of their dishonour, through enduring the burns of the sun.
Initiate- local peasants, hoping to be brought into the Obsidian knights ranks. Trained in combat, eventually, tested against a knight of the order.
Squire- Those that passed the initiate stage of the training. Vampires that began the path to the rank of knight in earnest. They served the knights, and fought alongside them in combat. Generally less armoured and armed than the knights. Fought on foot.
Knight- The backbone of the order. Generally armed with swords and axes, and carried heavy lances into battle. Armoured in heavy darksteel armour, capable of taking a greater beating than most of the Covens soldiers. Stuck to a strict code of honour. Mounted on heavily armoured warhorses.
Knight-Sergeant- lead the standard knights, often wore surcoats adorned with the heraldry of the order, a red sword, point down, with an ebony background.
Knight-Captain- lead a group of knights, also wore the colours of the order, though in reverse.
Paladin- Armed with heavily enchanted darksteel weaponry, usually warhammers, greatswords, and maces, though they often utilized swords and shields as well.
Castellan- Castellans were armoured in heavy darksteel armour, with a crimson breastplate, denoting their rank. Like their knight-brothers, they rode into battle, and could fight both on foot and on horseback. They used maces, along with swords, forged from the darksteel used by all Coven forces. They were in charge of holding the blood chalices used during the Turning rituals.
Grand Master- A rank reserved for the leader of the Obsidian knights. Oversees all military actions taken by the order. Held by the Breton knight, Halbrec Grimm, as of 4E 215.
Maldred Tabren- Breton vampire. The political leader of the order, though he has no say in the military matters of the order.
Halbrec Grimm- Breton vampire. Grand master of the Obsidian knights. Fought during the Blight wars, often holding the line against greater numbers, single-handedly.Wields the greatsword 'eclipse'
Crassus Redsun- Imperial vampire. Blackfire sorcerer.
Evros Almir- Nord vampire. Knight captain of the Obsidian knights.
Corvis Halmor- Breton vampire. Knight of the Obsidian knights.
Due to the trade agreements made with local merchants, the Obsidian knights were equipped with a large amount of ebony and steel, which they used to make darksteel. The order made use of heavy darksteel armour, and preferred swords, either one handed, or two handed, though they were also partial to battle axes and warhammers. They utilized reinforced heater shields, and greathelms, for additional defence.