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Fierach

Order of Force Majeure: Dawn Komturie

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On the outskirts of the city of Predator's Keep, great machines toiled and hard-bodied men laboured in construction of a grand citadel of glass and concrete. It would be months before the large structure, more like a fortress then any ordinary building, would be completed, but the mere construction heralded the appearance of a powerful organization on the world of Valucre for the long term.

The Order of Force Majeure, a Knightly Order from beyond Valucre extended their reach onto this world, to safeguard it from threats most unknowable. The witch-space in between the dimensions is referred to by many names; the Twisting Nether, the Immaterium, the Void. They are home to thirsting gods, hellish daemons, and eldritch phantoms. It is a hellspace where logic and reason fails, and to be a Knight of the Order of Force Majeure means to defend against that horror, and be the first, and last defense for all the mortal realms.

One of the two Masters of the Knightly Order brokered a deal with the sovereign of the Red Kingdom, the Red Queen. It was through this mutual understanding that they were allowed to build on her lands, and establish a formidable presence. Hopefully before long, Order personnel on this realm would at least, have a place to be able to call home. 

The fortress known as the Dawn Komturie. 

---

New Location of Importance in Predator's Keep:

Check back for constant updates and quests

Edited by Fierach

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Amidst the hustle and bustle of construction crews, and the smokey belch of machines stood a single man in a suit, taking practiced puffs of a cigarette, shouting orders, directing the workers, and generally managing the affair, all with a giant, pulsing vein on his forehead.

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Mark Kang cursed that blonde-haired, sweet-looking Librarian that talked him into this. However in the name of the Hidden Schools did he get suckered into overseeing the construction of this place? His specialty was in law, not architecture! He was the one who suckered others, not the other way around. Oh if his former associates could see him now, they'd wonder how in the hell they ever thought about making him partner. 

"Brand new world, first Craftsman, first pick, she said" Mark sighed, recalling the conversation. First pick of the soulstuff coming in from a whole new world? A heavily inhabited planet with its own rich histories to study, nations to negotiate with, and deities to exploit? It was the sort of opportunity Craftspeople just salivated at the thought of.  Now that he was here though, Mark thought he'd rather be in the second or third wave instead of the first, because having to lay the foundations of the business sucked.

He reached over and grabbed a thermos of coffee, unscrewing the cap and taking a good whiff of the brew within. He was going to run out of the stuff he brought with him soon. Wonder what passed for good coffee in Valucre. This world had to have coffee right? He resolved after the day's work to check the shops near his place of stay for a decent supply of coffee.

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As Mark strolled through the interior of the new citadel, examining the fruits of his long nights and careful contract executions, he was pretty happy with the results, and imagined his boss would be too. The main welcoming chamber was a well-lit, spacious thing, fit for any dignitary or royalty who visited, and the main attraction at the center of it, was a globe of Valucre, fitting for the Order of Force Majeure's first permanent presence on this world. Beyond the stone walls and lush entrance the fortress became steadily more modern in design, with training areas, barracks, and armories. The current area of focus was a great engineering and research bay, that stretched across two entire wings of the circular citadel's lower levels. Grand booms stretched out of the ceiling and out of one side of the construction, evidence of future docking and garage spaces, the Order intended to establish a fleet of vehicles or airships eventually, and they would have to have a place to house them.

The Craftsman even managed to negotiate central air conditioning throughout the entire structure at a vastly reduced cost.

As material and men continued to flow into the construction of the Dawn Komturie, the city of Predator's Keep would become somewhat enriched as well. The off-world trade and connection brought upon by the link between that of Sigil City, where many of Predator's Keep's original inhabitants came from, was extremely lucrative.

Eventually, Mark would retire to his favorite coffee shop. It was a relatively new discovery that he had finally settled on in the last month, and enjoy a local brew, and flirt with a pretty hostess he had met there. There was still more work to be done, but the necromancer had adequately settled into the flow of things. Maybe this Valucrian assignment wasn't so bad.

Edited by Fierach

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"Our duty is restrained only by the laws of nature and the rules of the universe."

-Founder Dithakar Yodsuwan, Master Knight

Dawn Komturie was shaping up to be quite a sight. Its monolithic presence could be seen miles away even though the construction phase wasn't yet completed. The craftsmanship displayed all around was sophisticated and their approach towards aesthetics appreciable. Throughout the years, however, many societies had come and gone, several of them disappearing without so much as a whimper. The marks they left behind varied in how deeply carved into memory they were, some taking decades before the passage of time buried them beneath the procession of historical course and others much less. In the next few years, the fate of the Order of Force Majeure as it was known on Valucre would be lain bare for all to see. Whether good, bad or irrelevant. 

So far, they had succeeded in generating a few waves. During the invasion of Last Chance, soldiers from the Order had been declared present, and were said to have played a contributing role in the defense of the city. That much was mentioned in news articles everywhere and considering the chaotic state of Valucre, which had left so many cities in upheaval, there were people flooding to the Komturie in droves searching for refuge. In fact, many of the newly appointed initiates had likely joined out of necessity. 

When Stello arrived, the very first question he had to answer was if whether he was a displaced refugee, to which he responded no. Then he was required to submit identification papers. After producing them, he was allowed entry and now he'd been wandering around seeking to understand. The Citadel explained much but if there was something about Stello that never failed, it was his thorough nature. 

He had parked his prowler, a beastly terrain bike, underneath a shaded area outside the Citadel and laid down across it, using a bundle of blankets to soften the surface. Two kickstands allowed it to sit perfectly upright, making the whole set up possible. He was dressed well enough not to look like a squatter but at the same time, it might not be surprising for the city guard to come along and ask him to move eventually. 

As he lay there, he was in possession of two books, one which was currently held in both hands and the other resting flatly on his chest. Both revolved around moral philosophy, a topic he found to be deeply invigorating. There were times he wanted to yell at the words, sometimes in approval and other times in question but although he withheld being vocal, he sometimes gestured at the specific passages that evoked his spirit with a one hand as if to say that the answer to life's questions had been here all along. 

"The Law of Polarity," he spoke quietly. "This law states that everything is on a continuum and has an opposite. We can suppress and transform undesirable thoughts by concentrating on the opposite pole. This is the law of mental vibrations. Fucking genius. I've been doing this shit all my life." 
 

Edited by LastLight

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The Dawn Komturie was nearly complete.

Or rather as complete as it would be. As the Force Majeure's first major base on Valucre, it would always be undergoing changes to meet the needs of the growing organization. Its construction was accelerated in recent months, thanks to the increased profile granted by the actions of its members, in defending Terrenus, and ventures on other continents. The citadel was capable now of housing roughly a company of fighting men, support personnel, infrastructure and vehicles. The Citadel even had a few sleek-looking airships docked, bearing similarity to many designs made by those of the Imperium of Kadia. 

Inside, the fortress's entry level, the warm welcoming chambers, conference rooms, and assembly halls steadily gave way to a strange, but oddly fitting mesh of classic stonework in a modern layout, white marble and sandy limestone crafted offices and training rooms. There was a large cafeteria, well-stocked and well-prepared to feed many mouths.

If heading down from the entry level, the stonework then gave way to concrete and ceramics. Dark granite and reinforced support columns pierced through large halls filled with training rooms for every form of combat, armories, and barracks. The layout was circular, with a large space in the center, and the room there was off-limited to all but the highest Knights and Force Majeure Custodes. If heading up, steel and glass replaced most of the materials that were immediately noticeable, resulting in a more well-lit and airily locale. It was ideal for embassies, or approved merchants to take up residence, and the higher levels were also connected to the double-layer bridge that connected the Komturie to the rest of Predator's Keep, a rather scenic route by all accounts.

The Dawn's exterior featured multiple weapon emplacements, large cannons on a turret, with numerous anti-ordnance measures nearby. The most common sight however, was that of a Custode Guardian. Ever patrolling or standing vigil around the fortress, the main line of defense was easily visible. Although each Guardian's full plate armor seemed to differ slightly in design, or heraldry, they still looked uniform, if only due to the posture of their drill, and their iconic halberds in hand. It was one of these many Guardians who first found Stello, and after studying him from a distance, called it in. The call was intercepted by the Mark Kang however. The Craftsman assured the Guardian that he would see to Stello, if he was suspicious or not. The esquire had spent long hours in the office, and a stroll outside would do him some good.

Stello would find a rather professionally dressed, and handsome young man calling out to him from a few paces away in greeting. If there was no sign of hostility, the Craftsman would walk up to, and abruptly sit down next to Stello in the shade. 

"Hows it going?" he asked rather casually. "Is that your bike" he pointed at the contraption nearby.

@LastLight

Edited by Fierach

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Stello's reverie endured for quite some time. It was deep enough that it could be said the environment around him had disappeared, but that wasn't necessarily true. The trance that he had immersed himself in had absorbed everything else that his senses perceived. These scents, sounds and architectures were actually drawn unto itself and made a part of it, ultimately transforming it all into something else, something that these newly discovered moral understandings would forever become associated with subconsciously. 

"The Law of Attraction. Our feelings, words, thoughts and actions produce energy that attract like energies. Positive energies attract positive energies while negative energies attract negative energies. This demonstrates how we are responsible for creating the things, events and people that come into our lives." 

Being the obstinate sort, he found pleasure in the idea that these energies he exuded would dictate the shapes of the aspects defining his life. It made him feel like there was a greater sense of control and all it required was effort, of which he had vast wells of. As he flipped a page, one of the sounds around him reached out, cutting a clear path through his deep ruminations on its way to reach him and he snapped back into the present. 

His head turned softly, both eyebrows raising as he speculated on the fellow approaching him. After taking in his choice of garb and the way he presented himself, it became swiftly clear that he wasn't law enforcement. Although that knowledge kept the edges round and smooth, the way he sat in his vicinity and made an effort to establish some sort of communication between them made him wonder what his intention could be if not to tell him to find a more appropriate place to relax and do some reading. 

"Good," he responded. The greeting was met fluidly and without aggression. The question, however, garnered a pause, one that he took to readjust his head on the bundle of blankets that supported it. "I'm layin' on it," he assured in an unnecessarily roundabout way. Had Mark been a Custode Guardian, he may have seen fit to procure documents of ownership. 

"Friend of mine over in my home town of Hell's Gate is a mechanic. She builds these. We call them Range Prowlers. They make the wilderness your bitch when you’re on the move. If you're interested, let me know and I'll fix you up with what you need to get in contact with her.” 

Closing the book, he finally began to sit up, revealing an eye grabbing depiction of a black anvil on his shirt supporting a glowing red billet and releasing bursts of brilliant red particles after being pounded by a hammer. Black Anvil Hymn, the title of his shop, hovered low and to the right of the design. Now that he was up, he reached for the ball cap hanging from one of the handlebars and swept a mass of black hair to the back of his head before restraining it with the hat, visor facing backwards. 

“I’m not familiar with your accent so you must be a local. Picked a good spot, didn't I? The sun's real pissed off today." 

Turning towards the rear side of his prowler, he reached for a small compartment built on top of the rear fender and opened it. The inside was packed with ice that had been there a short time, leaving a cold puddle of water with chunks of ice drifting on its surface. From within, he procured two bottles of water, each with lemon slices floating inside. Small particles of pulp had freed themselves and now swirled around freely. They weren't sweetened but the lemon wasn't so concentrated that the drink was sour. It lent its flavor to the water in subtle fashion. 

It was clear he had prepared the beverages himself. The thick layer of condensation and cold water that dripped from them made them a tantalizing sight in the heat. The first one was gestured in Mark's direction before being tossed for him to catch and the other he kept for himself, twisting open the cap and drinking from it in gulps. Then he settled it over his lap and peered at his company. 

"I'm Stello Lavis by the way. I'm a Terran citizen. Read about this place on the news and decided to come out and learn more about the Order." 

Now that he had read about the laws of nature and the universe, he was curious to know if whether the doctrine trickled down from the higher ups of the Order to the citizens and if so, what level of dedication it was adhered to with. 

"Do you believe in this stuff?" 

To clarify what he meant, he held up the other book he'd been reading for Mark to see. It was a volume depicting in great detail each of the laws of nature. 

"The laws of nature?" 
 

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"Lots of rules and regs for those where I'm from. Which is actually nowhere near here" he added cryptically.

Mark glanced at the bike again, picturing riding one, wind in his hair, selfie to send to his colleagues back in Sigil. They would be jealous. Hell, he was a genuine Frontier Craftsman now, out on the fringe of what he called the civilized world.

"Being that I am, Mark Kang, Craftsman for the Order of Force Majeure, I'd say belief isn't the point. The law itself is."

The Craftsman pulled out a red and delicious-looking apple from his pocket and held it up for Stello to see. "Look here". He tossed the apple up, and caught it coming down. "What do you see?"

Mark went on, before his new friend could answer.

"There are many constants in the world. Life, death, taxes. Gravity", Mark flipped the apple back up and caught it again for emphasis, "There are many belief systems in the Force Majeure, but we're not really religious. Some are more philosophical then others. Can be called strength of character, can be called coping mechanism. Master Yodsuwan is a great source of inspiration for many in the Force Majeure, and many take after him in an effort to find purpose"

He stopped playing with the apple, and pointed at himself with a jerk of a thumb.

"As for me? I practice law. It pays well"

And with pots of coffee and circumstances willing, the law was something he could manipulate as well.

@LastLight

Edited by Fierach

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Stello wasn't entirely certain what being Craftsman of the Order of Force Majeure amounted to but the way Mark made it sound, it seemed as if he intended to make it clear that the ability to speak on their behalf was a privilege he held within grasp. His display with the apple communicated things clearly enough. Whether he believed in those laws was irrelevant because they were as indisputable as the law stating that water is wet. There was no need for further explanation. 

As he elaborated on the structure of the Order, mention of taxes actually bringing an amused smirk to his lips, Stello gathered that it was a group built around the examples of one man and perhaps a few others that he hadn't read about thus far. He figured that to better understand them, he might venture to read into Master Yodsuwan's personal history if he could find it anywhere. But right now, he was beginning to believe he had found a person whose insight should be enlightening enough not to squander. 

"Must have been quite a guy for the Order to have formed according to his example." 

Gulping from his drink again, he pondered, mind working quickly in search for the most efficient way to understand. He had a question in mind, one that at some point during his life had become his favorite way of summarizing groups like the Order of Force Majeure but he wasn't sure if Mark's answer would suffice. It depended on how familiar and, given his focus on law, how similar he was to the founders of the Order. It took a few moments but he figured out the right way to usher it forth. 

"Being that you're part of an organization that is molded by someone's example, you would ideally have a good understanding of his character. I have a statement in mind. If you can, tell me how you think he'd respond. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." 

As he waited for Mark's answer, he glanced his way. 
 

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Well now Stello was going to get Mark started. The professional settled in next to his new friend as he thought about the question presented.

"Master Knight Yodsuwan would say yes, but reluctantly. I think Master Knight James Eredas (he'd have heard of him, the Master Knight active on Valucre and the man who led Force Majeure forces at Last Chance), would avoid the question altogether and reply with "Only human"."

He shrugged. "Which can mean a lot of things" he gestured about. "Sometimes I think James just likes being mysterious and vague, but... I can tell that he believes solidly in something".

Mark leaned back a bit, looking up at the tree, "It’s all about context, you know? The Force Majeure promotes independent thought, critical thinking, and the ability to make the appropriate judgement calls on the spot. One thing that senior Knights like to harp on is something they call one's truth."

The Craftsman continued on, his voice taking on the tone of a deeper, and wiser-sounding man. Clearly he was imitating one of the Master Knights. "Believe in your truth. Your truth may bend, it may change, but it cannot break. As long as you can keep your truth, you will keep yourself" , now back to his normal voice, "I believe the quote in question touches upon the essence of that nebulous thing one would refer to as a person's character. There are cases where the needs of the many outweigh the need of the few. There are cases where the needs of the few outweigh that of the many. Quantity is not the end-all when it comes to assessing the value of something, especially not something as inherently impossible to measure like a mortal life, and there are many philosophical dilemmas created to illustrate such”.

If Stello allowed Mark to blather on, he’d be launching into some famous examples of the dilemmas, such as that of a run-away rail-cart bound to kill either one man, or a number of people, the illogical logic of some human-like fictional being named Spock, how the needs change when it came to wartime and authority, if a leader had to sacrifice his soldiers to survive to continue to lead, or if he would give his life for his soldiers.

Ultimately, or if asked to get to the point, Mark would conclude that he thought that Dithakar Yodsuwan would try to meet everybody’s needs, nomatter what it took of him, while James Eredas simply asked that whoever was making the decisions be prepared to live with the consequences of, no matter what the final result might’ve been.

@LastLight

Edited by Fierach

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The level of attention that Stello applied to Mark's words was nothing short of diligent. It was with the same meticulous care with which he forged a blade in all its facets, from how he brushed the slag off a piece to keep welds clean where necessary to the methodical approach taken when the edge was sharpened. He was a less than learned man but that wasn't due to lethargy. His interests didn't cover vast landscapes, only small ones but those small number of things that did evoke him were consumed the way fire consumes dry grass.  

His eyes remained angled to his right, only shifting when some of the words sparked an idea but his attention was always leveled squarely on Mark until it all was over, including the lengthy dilemmas he outlined. It left him rather surprised. Pleased, even, though it didn't show. For one reason or another, this was one of those rare times in life when listening to something that stoked the spirit opposed him as a difficult truth to accept. 

Taking in a deep breath, digressing within himself, he answered, "There was a killer line in one of the books that your answer reminds me of. One's truth, I mean. It's a law that states that one will receive a set of problems and that they must remain true to themselves when solving them. In other words, solve them in the way you believe you should. The way your convictions tell you to. The way one's truth tells you to." 

It never hit him that he was sitting in the shade discussing philosophy with a man he had just met, probably because nothing about it came off as strange to him the way it would have to most others. Those that stuck around him long enough could discover that despite how dedicated he was to maintaining his appearance and to attracting the attention of some of the lesser willed women of the world, he was quite complex otherwise.

"Which brings me to my next question. If James and Yodsuwan hold firmly to this belief of one's truth and they instruct their members to do so as well, what happens when someone's truth within the Order runs contrary to theirs? What happens when one of them chooses to save the lives of the few because of a family member over the lives of the many?" 

@Fierach

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Mark looked thoughtful. "Well to be sure, the Order is quite open, but individuals are extremely well-disciplined. Even to join the Custodes, applicants aren't accepted on basis of combat ability, but purely on moral character and strength. If, say for example, a Custode Militant had to leave because his felt his duty to certain old loyalties superseded that of the Force Majeure, based on the type of character that he would've been to have been accepted to begin with, he would be trusted, and could leave freely."

"As for Knights, they're a different breed altogether. It doesn't matter much if their truths run contrary. If there were two Knights, and one wished to save the many, and the other wished to save the few, they would each work to further their respective goals, even if ultimately that means nobody gets saved at all in the end. Sometimes, the enemy wins, or a bad contract has no loopholes, and there is nothing that can be done about it. That is just how it is" Mark sighed dramatically, then gave Stello a wry grin.

"Although, quite honestly, anybody capable of defeating two Knights of the Force Majeure together would probably be somebody that'd guarantee a no-win scenario no matter what. I'm sure you've heard of what our Knights did at Last Chance." Likely the very reason Stello took interest in the Force Majeure to begin with. The Daemonslayer James Eredas was already known to many higher-ranking individuals in the various governments and territories of Valucre even before having faced off against and defeating the Rage King, Fuererkonig. The Knight Tenkai Matsumoto was instrumental in blunting the attack of the undead dragons against the city, and his battle and capture of the necromancer who created them and led them was now a tale told time enough to have been begun distorting into myth.

"That was only two of them”, he held up two fingers to emphasize the point then shrugged, “And a half, I guess, can’t forget the apprentice that was there".  Each Knight was a complete force to be reckoned with, supposedly as skilled in a boardroom as they were on the battlefield. They were men and women of many talents.

@LastLight

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The oil on her alabaster skin stung in the heat of predators keep as she wiped the sweat from her brow. She whistled an easy tune as she stood upon an unnatural stone extrusion in the side of the caverns face. Beneath her was a massive hole in the earth whose black maw howled with winds from unknown vistas. Above the sky was painted an acrid orange from the billowing smoke that choked the air. Yet she was unbothered. She focused diligently as her hands worked the hard stone of the cavern wall, preparing it for the geothermal installation. It was a dirty, somewhat lonely job, made especially for her but it was worth the pay and Sapphira liked to party hard. She was trying to build up enough money for training for the Heaven or Hell. 

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Some time during Mark's explanation, what he had projected would have been James' response helped round the edges of the logic behind it all. Only human, he would have said. Sometimes contracts have no loopholes. Sometimes the worst things simply could not be avoided. In the eyes of the pessimist, that point of view comes off dismissive. Maybe even too accepting of failure. In the eyes of the optimist, however, it sought to free the soldier from the shackles of guilt or shame so that the battle was met without constraints. Stello understood. 

Mark wasn't entirely wrong about the reason why Stello was here. It was certainly related to the defense of Last Chance but not because of the grand victory that had been achieved there. After all, he had read articles and heard stories of great military victories prior to then and yet, he never set foot in a recruiting office. Not even to understand, the way he was attempting to now. 

That was because despite his comfortable footing, despite the distance between him and real hardship like what those refugees were facing or what the family members of the people who perished in Ashville were forced to accept, there was still a struggle taking place inside of him. One he thought he might have been able to resolve in this place. 

"I did hear. That was the first time I ever read that the Terran military received aid from a foreign military force. Kind of nice to see that they can make friends, too. Especially after all the shitty history between them and Genesaris. And with other countries as well." 

As he chewed on a lemon slice, complete with the skin, he pondered. The next question would be different from the others in that it might finally offer insight into the purpose of his curiosity. 

"How are potential custodes gauged for their moral character and strength? They gotta follow a knight around, strap his armor on for him before he kicks some ass and take it off when he needs to take a piss and hope they do something admirable in the meantime?" 

@Fierach

Edited by LastLight

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@Sings Through Pain

Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop.

There was no way Sapphira would be unable to hear the heeled footsteps of the woman approaching. Coming into view with graceful stride and noble poise, Knight of the Order of Force Majeure Sheryl Wainwright would arrive to greet the young fighter. 

"I heard you could be found here. Diligent as expected"

The blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman smiled brightly. She seemed completely unaffected by the smoke as well, a soft, unseen breeze constantly ruffling her uniform.

"I don't think you are content with this, Sapphira?"

Sheryl_Wind_Reference_3.jpg

Edited by Fierach

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"Hardly. I'm not clear on the specifics by which the Custodes recruit, but I know most of them around the Komturie are local. There are a lot of tests involved, psych evaluations, background checks, even for those who aren't taking an militant role. And no, they don't cater to the Knights' every whim. The only people who might remotely fill that role of... well I guess we'll call it a squire, to be polite, they would be the Seconds. Basically knight-apprentices", Mark leaned forth and gestured to lay it out for his companion.

"Custodes. Both noncombatant staff, and militant combatants" he divided a bit of air in half with a wave of his hand. "They are ordinary people, like you and me. Well, not me. But still, ordinary people, perhaps more loyal and dedicated then most. Very well disciplined, trained, and equipped."

He motioned toward another bit of empty air, indicating a separate power structure. "Knights. They're crazy. But in the good sense, you know? Sometimes the only way to defeat madness is to have some of that madness on your side. Yes they command the Custodes, but individual Knights work alone most of the time and are expected, and encouraged to be self-sufficient".

If Stello was listening carefully, he'd note that Mark didn't seem to be part of any aspect of the Order of Force Majeure, other then being a Craftsman, whatever that nebulous title meant.

@LastLight

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