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The Order of the Lakes

by Jamuga Khan

This is the Order of the Lakes. Founded by some adventurers roughly 500 years go its primary goal was to be an excuse. An excuse? Yes, an excuse for shipping on galleys.

The order is open for all fighters who want to become paladin, knight or avenger, as the OL cares for its members. Many members are clerics, but thieves and magic-users will be accepted, too. To fulfil its primary goal the leaders of the order founded a company (owned by the order), the Order of the Lakes Enterprises (OLE). This holding owns two subsidiary companies, the Pan- Alphatia Company (PAC) and the Alphatia Coast Guard Agency (ACGA). These companies use galleys for their respectively purposes. The ships of the PAC and the ACGA are always manned by members of the OL. Every people of the Alphatian Empire, empress or slave, has the right to ask a OL captain for help. He must not help, but often it colours the grey everyday's life. (And XPs don't fall out of the sky.)

In the past there was sometimes confusion about the order and its companies. To be a little be more exact, here a explanation about the companies and their functions.
The Order of the Lakes Enterprises is a holding, no more and no less. Its sole purpose is to manage the companies which do the real work. Of course over the years the OLE has become a player in the intricate games of Alphatian high finance. Many money has come from investment companies, and they got many profit.
The Pan-Alphatia Company is a trading company which commits much of the trade on the rivers and lakes and in the coastal waters of Alphatia. Normally the PAC only ships its own goods, sometimes the goods of other companies. Despite of being armed, ships of the PAC cannot be hired to fight.
The Alphatia Coast Guard Agency serves as the Coast Guard for every kingdom, which doesn't want to do the job itself. (The coast guard is not the Alphatian Imperial Navy; in Alphatia it's each kingdoms assignment to protect its own coasts.) Again this business is done on rivers and lakes and in coastal waters. To prevent fights between galleys of the OL, the standard contract doesn't allow aggressive actions against other kingdoms. (Anyhow, there exists always the possibility of additional contracts when a king wants his coast guard fighting against a kingdom not protected by the ACGA.) The ACGA can form the whole coast guard of a kingdom or complete the regular units. Two points are interesting: First there is one field of business, where both companies overlap. When a kingdom wants to ship military or emergency supply (after hurricanes or earthquakes), this can be done by ships of the PAC and the ACGA. Second, the ships and the crews are not related fixed to the two companies, but to the OLE, which distributes them. Of course, when switching from one company to the other a ship will have to be equipped properly as a military unit needs more military equipment while a trader needs the cargo capacity. Besides the ships related to the PAC and the ACGA some ships are used for purposes of the order, protecting the chapterhouses or simply shipping any waters.

The symbol of the Order of the Lakes is a white galley on blue background. Sometimes the OL is translated as Order of Lakim as it was founded on the Isle of Lakim in the Lake Llyn. The chapterhouse in the city Lakim still exists but is a hoax. Officially it is the main chapterhouse and it is a great one, but the real one lies on a little island in the Shiell Lake. Likewise are secret chapterhouses on islands in the Crystal Lake and the Lake Lagrius. (Remember, the founder were adventurers, always vigilant and paranoid.) Some smaller are located in a number of harbour towns. The location of the three companies were in Sundsvall, after the destruction it was moved to Lakim.

The OL maintain an imposing fleet of galleys of all sizes, from small riverboats to even some war galleys, some of them pure traders, some fitted for battles. In the last decades the OL tried to expand to the Alatians and there were considerations about the IoD, Norwold and Esterhold as well. But all these plans came to an abrupt halt when the great war broke out.

The WotI was a heavy burden for the OL. Many knights and novices of the order served on ships of the Imperial Navy and never returned. The knights on the main island were transported to the Hollow World. The other, including High Master Admiral-Knight Ardannabras, retreated to the greatest remaining chapterhouse in the Lake Lagrius.

Over the centuries the OL has developed a real political goal: To construct a system of channels to conduct an island-spanning galley shipping traffic. To achieve this some noble members were sent into the Grand Council, among these the Admiral-Knight Solturnun. Now being a floating continent without a surrounding ocean, this goal is likely to be achieved over the next decades. The leader of the HW branch of the OL is now Low Master Admiral-Knight Halzunthram (a successor of the mage who tried to conquer Glantri). His title is new, a joke for all members of level 9 and higher. The official (and even true) reason is, that he does not want to be elected as the High Master as long as the death of High Master Ardannabras is not confirmed (not very likely, as he still lives). He said: "If I cannot be the High Master, let me be your Low Master." But the real reason is of course the fact that he now leads the branch of the Order of the Lakes far beyond the surface.

The fate of the knights remains covered by the mists of future. But most likely they will do what they have done always: Shipping galleys.