Eagle Knight of Andoran
The Eagle Knights of Andoran are viewed by many as a shining example of the best of humanity in the face of a dark and cruel world populated by tyrants and filled with injustice. Others view them as benevolent but misguided ideological imperialists. Based within the nation of Andoran, the Eagle Knights find inspiration in its creed of common rule by the people, free mercantilism, and the respect of individual liberty. In many ways, they are best characterized as a military order devoted to the preservation and spread of Andoran’s philosophical tenets.
The common impression of an Eagle Knight is that of a soldier or paladin dressed in the blue and white regalia of the order and clad with the hallmark golden epaulets. Even the least foot soldier within the Eagle Knights’ ranks stands among the best of the Andoran military from which most of their number are initially recruited. Not all Eagle Knights are so open in their self-identification, however, nor are they all recruited from the upper tiers of the Andoran military, or even from the Andoren people.
Frequently operating beyond the borders of Andoran, the Eagle Knights recruit non-traditional soldiers, many of them from the diverse ranks of adventurers and others equally at ease on the battlefield, performing diplomatic missions, or delving into a crypt beneath a ruined city. Rogues, bards, and rangers find equal opportunity alongside fighters and paladins so long as they hold to the same philosophical and nationalistic beliefs. Barbarian and druid Eagle Knights are exceedingly rare. Clerics and arcane spellcasters are actively recruited into the organization’s fold, bypassing the typical military origins of their fellows. Clerics of allied churches often straddle a line of loyalty, though within Andoran this line often becomes very blurry as both are wont to cooperate in their shared goals. Wizards and sorcerers are prized for their diverse and powerful abilities. Diviners are especially valued for their abilities to plumb the future and provide detailed information that oftentimes eludes agents on the ground, even deep-cover sleepers.
Structure and Activities The order’s current leader is General Reginald Cormoth, paladin of Iomedae and a sitting Executive Consul of the Andoran People’s Council. Cormoth serves as the Eagle Knights’ public face—spokesman as well as commander. Officially known as the Guardian Tower of the Golden Aerie, the Eagle Knights’ headquarters is a massive, seven story column of white marble whose interior was quarried and converted into a gigantic watchtower overlooking the Andoren countryside. The column itself is ancient, and prior to its restoration 150 years ago, it was part of a sprawling, cyclopean ruin discovered and explored by Eagle Knights who carried the column back, piecemeal, as a spoil of conquest to the greater glory of Andoran. The exact location of that ruin, and the circumstances behind its discovery, are not entirely clear outside of the Eagle Knights’ higher echelons, but following the column’s restoration, the Knights erected a golden statue of Talmandor atop it in honor of their—and Andoran’s—celestial patron. Rumors persist that the column and the ruins in which it was found might be connected to an ancient center of archon influence on Golarion, or that they might have some deeper connection to the legendary avoral lord himself.
Cormoth has held his position within the Aerie for a decade. Before that he served as a high-ranking member of the Andoran military and, most importantly, the unacknowledged operational leader of the Eagle Knights’ Twilight Talons. In his present role, Cormoth serves as the hand behind the Eagle Knights’ operations within Andoran and as an elite adjunct to the standard Andoren military and its foreign and covert activities, with each of these areas’ operational management delegated to his three under-marshals. Below Cormoth, General Hedrik Traxxus of the Golden Legion, General Andira Marusek of the Steel Falcons, and the publicly unnamed Marshal Helena Trellis of the Twilight Talons control the three branches of the Eagle Knights’ operations. Collectively, any ranking member of the order is known as an Eagle Knight, with their respective branch added to their title for formal address. For instance, General Traxxus is an Eagle Knight of the Golden Legion.
Operating within Andoran, the Eagle Knights of the Golden Legion operate alongside the nation’s military as elite adjunct units, doubling as field commanders and trainers depending on the needs of a particular area. The Golden Legion guards Andoran’s borders and its interior trade routes and keeps a watchful eye on the nation’s wilder regions. In the infamous Darkmoon Vale, for example, the Diamond Regiment operates under Commander Ingrid Odeber, the woman many say General Traxxus is training to take his place.
Not simply bound to serve as defenders of Andoran proper, the Eagle Knights of the Steel Falcons act beyond their patron state’s borders, spreading Andoren philosophy like armed missionaries. Although the Steel Falcons do not openly acknowledge it, their foreign activities include guerilla, shadow, and proxy warfare directed against groups threatening Andoren security and those holding hostile ideologies, particularly the slave trade. In fact, the Gray Corsairs—a fleet of unmarked ships infamous for sinking a trio of Katapeshi slave-galleons and dozens of allied pirate vessels—are crewed, supplied, and directed by the Steel Falcons. In recent years, the Steel Falcons have launched operations against inland interests of Katapeshi’s faceless overlords, pirates of the Shackles, and suspected mercenary proxies of the Cheliaxbased Aspis Consortium. Hoping to spread their ideology to other nations, the Falcons even provided a small number of military advisors to the fragile government of Nirmathas, helping to mold that nascent land in Andoran’s image while keeping it free of Molthune’s control. Warfare aside, the Steel Falcons have made numerous exploratory forays to exotic locations.
The results of one recent attempt to reach and map the ruins of legendary Kho are still unknown. Operating without acknowledgment of their existence, the Twilight Talons are the Eagle Knights’ spies, saboteurs, deep cover agents, and—at times—its assassins. Eschewing the uniforms, symbology, epaulets, and other overt regalia of their kindred Knights, the Twilight Talons utilize a covert system of hand signals and passwords to recognize one another and prevent their discovery by the same groups they seek to infiltrate. As a final identifying mark, each Twilight Talon operative is marked with a magical tattoo, invisible under ordinary circumstances but revealed by speaking a command word unique to each individual tattoo. Known only to General Cormoth and Marshal Helena Trellis but widely speculated upon with paranoia by their affected targets, the Twilight Talons have agents among the governments and militaries of Andoran’s rivals of Cheliax, Taldor, Katapesh, the Shackles, and Nidal. These spies only provide information, rather than risk breaking their cover to act in more immediately disruptive ways. More open action is provided by Twilight Talons who infiltrate groups without state support, such as independent slave traders and pirates, mercenary hirelings of the Aspis Consortium, and foreign puppet extensions of the diabolist churches of Cheliax. The Twilight Talons report their findings and pinpoint targets of opportunity for the larger forces of the Steel Falcons.
Perception and Rumors Despite their noble intentions and the prestigious light in which the citizens of Andoran hold them, the Eagle Knights are not always held in high regard outside their patron nation’s borders.
Realms such as Cheliax and Nidal are feared for being beholden to infernal powers and seeking to expand the mortal dominion of their distant masters—the collective lords of Hell and the god Zon-Kuthon, respectively. Likewise, should the crumbling empire of Taldor ever seek an expansionist renaissance, a return to its ancient days of conquest and cultural assimilation would be feared by all of its neighbors.
Not all threats, however, come at the direction of diabolic masters, the whispering of mad shadows, or a crumbling empire in search of conquest to obscure its own rotten heart. Some threats come wrapped in callous, blind benevolence and unwanted ideological and cultural conquest. It is this threat that many of Andoran’s imperial and aristocratic neighbors fear, and the Eagle Knights are viewed as the heralds and carriers of Andoran’s high-minded political infection.
The support of the Eagle Knights often comes to those who need it, along with a push for Andoran’s social and government model. Even enlightened nobles who share the Eagle Knights’ hatred of slavery feel a creeping worry that their own success and entrenched social power might be threatened by Andoran’s waxing ideological tide. This perception, rather than the open hostility of diabolists and slave traders, is more likely to stunt and inhibit the Eagle Knights’ goals in the world at large. Some suspect that the Eagle Knights are compromised by loyalties divided between Andoran nationalism and their founding philosophy as inspired by the legendary Talmandor. Perhaps such concerns are correct, and perhaps they are overinflated by the Eagle Knights’ rivals, but they exist nonetheless. While the knights’ crusade against slavery and the promotion of open trade between nations is supported by the merchant lords of Druma, some within the mercantile oligarchy worry about undue foreign influence from Andoran’s more radical political elite arriving by way of their smiling, always well armed missionaries.