THE ORDER OF THE WINGS

APPEARANCE - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - ORGANIZATION

MEMBERS - TRAINING - ORIGIN/HISTORY

The Order of the Wings has been an important order in Eyelian society and still is in today's United Kingdom of Santharia. It is made up exclusively of female warriors who each have chosen a gryph as a partner, and who fight from their gryphs’ back. Most members are of Eyelian origin (often called the "Tamers") although there are cases of other races joining too. These other women are thoroughly taught in the ways of the ancient traditions of the Tamers folk, so that they come to love nature as much as any Eyelian.

The women are trained especially for aerial combat, fighting often with ranged weapons, such as the bow and arrow. Although the Eyelians don’t have a standing army, theirs being a peaceful race, the Order of the Wings could still be called an army. They are indeed formidable fighters, much to be feared once they have mounted their gryphs.

An Eyelian Gryprider
View picture in full size Image description. A tamed gryph bearing the sign of the Order of the Wings with a female Eyelian fighter. Picture by Eshóh K'ryvvlen.

Appearance. Most members of the Order have the same appearance as other Eyelians. They are tanned, with brown hair – bordering on black – and brown eyes. They are rather small for a human tribe, yet at the same time muscular and strong. Only the few women who have come from other tribes have a different look.

Their clothes do not differ from other Eyelians’ either. They wear a short skirt, which is handiest to ride a gryph, and a sleeveless top. Colours are mostly earthen, greens and browns. Some choose to carry the Order’s coat of arms on their chest.

Either on one of their arms or on their chest, the members carry a tattoo of a gryph’s head. Members receive this when they first join the Order.
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Coat of Arms. The Order’s coat of arms is a black gryph’s head on a teki red background. It is surrounded by a band of gold.  Return to the top

Territory. The Order of the Wings is located in the Rimmerins Ring. The buildings of the members are on the higher reaches, to make the gryphs feel at home. They also own some fertile lands lower down, to provide the members with food. These are taken care of by the girls who have been accepted the first time, but not yet the second time. These girls are between 8 and 18 years old. (For more explanation, see the Members section.) Return to the top

Organization. The Order of the Wings is led by women who are chosen from among the members. The leaders are called the Ma'eila, which is both the plural and singular form. When a new Ma'eila has to be chosen, all full members who are present in the Order at that time assemble. Those who are willing to lead, and have enough experience for it, step forward, and the candidate that has the approval of two thirds of the members, is chosen as the new Ma'eila. She stays that until she resigns, is too old, or is proven to have abused her power. There are in all five Ma'eila of the Order.

Each unit also has its own leader, called a Ge'elota (plural: Ge'elotas). Very often she is one with a very good knowledge of tactics in battle, who can make rapid decisions, and who the other members of the unit trust enough to follow her orders without any hesitation. Choosing this leader is a matter for the unit, and not for the entire Order, but it has the same principle for a basis.

All other members are equal in their rights. If a dispute comes up between two women from the same unit, it will be settled by their own Ge'elota. If the dispute subsists between two (or more) women from different units, the Ma'eila will be called upon to judge who is in the right.

Other Activities. Some members are not only trained to fight, but also to negotiate in diplomatic missions. This is mostly because they have one of the fastest ways of transport around Caelereth. They are trained especially to avoid warfare if it is possible. Of course, they sometimes don’t hear of a coming war until it is too late, yet when they hear of it in time, they will always try to prevent it. In such a case, the faster a diplomatic envoy reaches its destination, the more chance of success it has. Still, the Order does not see itself as a pigeon-service, they won’t send a diplomatic envoy for any trifle. The matter has to be grave enough, and the Ma'eila decide whether it is.

Another activity of the Order is patrolling. They receive payment from the Kingdom to patrol the Manthrian lands, to protect certain important buildings or to escortfamous or important people who are on a mission for the Kingdom.

Sometimes a wealthy merchant or nobleman, for example, who doesn’t travel by an Order of the Kingdom, but who is afraid of robbers, will ask them to escort him too. In that case, he pays them out of his own pocket. This means extra income, besides the Kingdom’s payment. With the money received from the Kingdom and the various noblemen and merchants, the Order pays their employees, such as the smith.

Non-Members. There are also those people who are not a member of the Order, but help to make their life a little easier. For example, there is the smith, who makes arrows and spears. There are two cooks for their meals, together with a baker for the Order's bread. And there are some husbands of members.

Actually it doesn’t happen very often that a member of the Order marries. Most find their lives adequate as it is, not really missing a male companion. There is even a group of members who honour an age-old tradition: they swear never to bed a man. The Eyelian heroine Candillia the Willful, who was also member of the Order, had taken this oath but broken it. Marrying is, however, not unheard of, and those who do marry are assured of a place for their husbands in the community. Those members who do take the oath, take it willingly, but are expected to abide by it. Therefore, when they break it, they are banished from the Order, which is what happened to Candillia.
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Members. In the first instance, the decision to become member of the Order is not the girl’s to make, but her parents’. When an Eyelian family has a daughter after a first-born son, when the bloodline is secured, they will sometimes decide to bring her to the Order. Being a member is a very prestigious task, and it is therefore a great honour if the girl is accepted by the Ma'eila, the leaders of the Order.

When the girls are five, their parents bring them to the Order’s quarters in the Rimmerins Ring. The majority of these new starters are Eyelian, but other tribes are accepted as well. Other races are not accepted into the Order at all. There is a very simple reason for this rule: it would be impractical. As elves for example mature much slower, their training would take longer than it does humans. Their playmates would become members long before they are ready for it. Each year, about ten to twenty girls join the Order.

In the first year of their joining, they are already given a young gryph to care for, one that is too young to look for a partner. This teaches the girls a sense of responsibility very early in life. When there are more gryphs than girls, older members will take care of the rest of the gryphs.

For about two to three years, the girls receive a general training, in geography, history, and so on. There is also time for play, either with the gryphs or with each other, to teach them to be part of the group.

After this period, they receive their first real test. First, the Ma'eila decide whether they are up to it, or not. If they are not, they continue in the same pattern as before. When they are found ready, however, they are assigned to a girl of around 18 cycles, who is about to become an actual member, but who faces her last test. The two of them have to find the egg of a gryph, and they have to work together in order to find it. If either one leaves most of the work to the other, she is not accepted. To find out whether they have worked together or not involves more than just asking one question. The girls are both subjected to extensive questioning and conversations by the Ma'eila and the Ge'elotas, who are the leaders of a single unit. Any lies quickly come to light in this way.

Not every quest succeeds, but the egg is not the most important part of the quest. Even if the girls didn’t find an egg, or somehow lost it, they can still be accepted for the next part of their training, as long as it is apparent that they had worked together. The quests are not the only means of the Order of getting new gryphs. They also have some tame gryphs, who have chosen another gryph as their partner, but who have remained with the Order, and they hatch their own egg and the eggs that the girls have found.

Very often, when the two girls really worked together during this quest, a tight bond of friendship is formed, one that lasts a lifetime. It does occasionally happen that the girls can’t stand each other, but still managed to work together, in which case they are accepted but put in different units.

Another aim of the quest is a kind of survival training for both the girls, but especially the younger one, as the older already went through it once. The way the younger girl acts during this quest is another factor in accepting her: has she been brave enough? The Ma'eila and Ge'elotas are quite experienced in getting the answer to that from the girl herself, even had they not the other girl to talk to.

If the young girl is accepted, the next part of her training begins. At first, it is very similar to the way it was before, general lessons and playing, but slowly the playing looks more and more like training, until she is ready to learn how to fight. Apart from this, they also have to do some general chores, which teaches them to do some decent hard work with their body, instead of always training to fight. One example of such a chore is farming, another is keeping the gryph stables clean.

Apprentices also start learning how to fly, from the back of the gryph that they take care of. At this point, the gryph is still not ready to bond. Training gradually becomes more and more intensive, and the girls also learn battle tactics. This training lasts for a few years, until the gryph is ready to choose a partner. Very often, in fact almost always, they pick as a partner the girl that has cared for them. When there were more gryphs than girls, the other gryphs either pick another gryph or fly away to pick a partner in the wild. However, as their life is rather easy within the Order, they usually stay there.

Once the gryph has chosen the girl and the girl has chosen the gryph, a ceremony is held to confirm this. After the celebration, the girl is ready for her second survival test, now as the older girl. She now knows exactly what is expected of her, as she has already done this once, and she explains everything to the younger girl.

If she passes for this test too, she is accepted as a full member of the Order. The new member is put in a unit and can now help patrolling, but training continues still.
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Training. A unit is formed by thirty women. They sleep in the same dormitory, they fight together, they do almost everything together. This is another way of working in a group, apart from the training sessions. A unit always consists of either experienced members, or a mixture of experienced women and inexperienced girls, who have recently been accepted as full members.

When the young girls are accepted after their first test, they start to learn how to fight. These training sessions are the same for the girls who have been accepted for the second time, with this difference: the younger girls train with each other, the older girls train with their unit. They are taught to fight both individually and in a group.

The individual fighting concentrates mostly on shooting with bow and arrow – first shooting at a standing target, then at a moving target, than at a moving target from on top of their gryphs. The trainees also receive some instruction on the use of spear and staff, so that they aren’t defenceless if they should ever be separated from their gryphs. Another extensive part of the individual training is attacking with the gryph itself, using its beak and talons as quite effective weapons.

Of course there will always be people who are not good archers. These form a unit within the unit, concentrating entirely on fighting with their gryphs. They can also use spears for even more damage to the enemy. This makes them quite a lot more dangerous even than the other fighters, especially when they are attacking together. The most dangerous situation for the enemy is, of course, when the whole unit attacks together, both gryph archers and gryph fighters – the latter swooping down on the enemy archers, thus protecting the gryph archers.

This example is a good instance of group fighting. The trainees are taught as soon as possible to fit within the group, to respond to orders immediately and to learn to recognise the need of the group. Not only the riders, but the gryphs also are taught the same thing. As a result a rider has almost no need of explicit gestures to convey orders. Slight pressures of knees or hands are enough.

Apart from this, the Eyelian girls have a small advantage over the few members from other tribes, as they are also taught to communicate with their gryphs. The other tribes can join these lessons, but they don’t have the same talent of talking with animals, so they can’t learn the gryph's language.
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Origin/History. The origin of the Order is lost in the mists of time. It is believed that it was founded early on, some time after the Eyelians came to the Sarvonian continent crossing over the sea from Nybelmar, possibly in the time when the Eyelian Kingdom took shape. Within the Order it is told that five women had gone in search of a gryph’s egg to hatch, and to care for the gryph hatchling. Each had gone separately from the others, but they had agreed that in one year time, they would meet again. The place of meeting was to be the Rimmerins Ring. One, the oldest of the five, went to the Ring to find her egg, the others sought other mountains in Sarvonia. After a year, all five had found an egg, and they met again with the eldest. Together, they made a warm nest for the eggs, and hatched them. In time, the gryphs chose them as their partners. The women stayed together, and more and more women joined them.

Still, now, there are five leaders for the Order, in memory of those first five. Over time, long after the first five women’s time, the Order began to see the advantage they would have with an airborne attack in combat, and they started to practice combat skills.

On a side note, some Compendiumists believe that the Order was founded during SW I, in order to fight alongside the other humans. The Order itself, however, places its foundation a long time before that, as is told above.
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 Date of last edit 27th Sleeping Dreameress 1666 a.S.

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