Beneath the Golden Moon
Life at Menekod
It's early spring; the levy has not yet arrived for the year's
campaigning. The only troops that are stationed here are the people
who are always here. Year after year, these men and
women serve at one of the strictest military bases on Hârn, and
"Tell your friend not to get cute down there. The marines
at Guantanamo are fanatical."
"About being marines."
[All quotes taken from A Few Good
The Chain of Command
There are three factors in determining the relative authority of
members of the Order. The first is rank,
and generally this is the most obvious and important factor - a Baseka
obeys his or her Mekednir, regardless.
The second is nobility, or lack of it. It is not uncommon for nobles
to be serving in the Meken (as either Meken or Baseka) under non-noble
commanders. Depending on the commander, this might make either no
difference, or lead to greater consultation with the subordinate than
would otherwise be the case. Where matters become trickier is in
patrol units, which often consist of a Ûnir accompanied by one
or two Melana. In such instances, unless the Mekednir is noble, there
is some doubt as to who actually has the right to command and lead the
entire group. Naturally this varies with the individuals involved.
The third, and least important, factor is membership in the Order; least important only because it is
impossible to rise very high in the ranks without becoming a full
"... why did you give him a Code Red?"
"Because he broke the chain of command, sir."
"He went outside of his unit, sir. If he had a problem he should have
spoken to me, sir, then his sergeant, then company commander..."
Etiquette and Forms of Address
The Order of the Checkered Shield has
its own set of titles that are used when referring to its
members. The accepted form is always Position then
Personal Name; eg, Chabla Syman.
"Sir" is generally appended to the end of sentences when talking to
higher ranking members. However, it is never used as
a prefix to the name of a noble member, as in Sir Syman. The Order of the Checkered Shield is not a
secular Order, and holds itself well apart from the ordinary customs
of Kanday. Most members of the Order
call noble non-members "Sir" with a perceptible sneer, as if they were
lower than the lowest Meken.
"We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It's that
Alongside an amount of training unmatched by any military force on
Hârn outside Azadmere, the Meken at Menekod work under
conditions of strict discipline. For precisely these two reasons the
permanent garrison is several levels above those who swell the numbers
during the summer. Such training, and the whole atmosphere at
Menekod, have the effect of making the Meken at Menekod into very good
killers - a fact not always to be appreciated, particularly by the
more orthodox Laranians.
"Did you assault Santiago with the intent of killing him?"
There exists a large degree of conflict between the traditional
teachings of the Laranian Church and the
Order of Hyvrik and the necessity
of training a force of troops capable of guarding and extending the
northern frontier against a military force with no scruples and the
best mounted warriors on Hârn. From out of this conflict has
come an adapted Laranian "doctrine" which in places runs quite counter
to mainstream beliefs. This "Menekod Laranianism" is restricted
largely to the Meken, who both bear the brunt of the fighting, and are
mostly overlooked by the nobles in the Church and even the secular lords.
"What was your intent?"
"To train him sir."
"Train him to do what?"
"Train him to think of his unit before himself. To respect the Code."
"What's the Code?"
"Unit, Corps, God, Country."
"Lieutenant Kendrick, do you think Santiago was murdered?"
"Commander, I believe in God and His son Jesus Christ, and because I
do I can say this: Private Santiago is dead, and that is a
tragedy. But he is dead because he had no Code, he is dead because he
had no honour. And God was watching."
Religion is a vital part of the atmosphere of Menekod. It pervades
everything and influences everyone, from the Chabla down to the newest
Meken. The troops may not be priests, but they are most certainly
warriors of the Goddess.
"Did you report Private Bell to the proper authorities?"
Every day begins with a dawn service, from which no one is exempt. The
nobles (with the exception of those few who are Meken) are led by the
Chaplain in the chapel, while the Meken gather in the courtyard. Those
on guard duty gather on the walls to hear, and those elsewhere
(including those out on patrol) are expected to have a period of
prayer at this time.
"I have two books in my bedside, lieutenant: the Marine Corps Code of
Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am
aware of are my commanding officer Colonel Nathan R. Jessop and the
Lord Our God."
Meken are the grunts of the Order, and
as such get to do all the jobs that no one else wants to do. They
perform manual labour, stand guard duty, go out on patrol, and spend
their off-duty time cleaning their equipment and trying to amuse
themselves. Their primary responsibility is to serve the Ûnir by
obeying their superiors, the Baseka and Mekednir.
Each Baseka commands two Meken, making one of the three trios in each
Ûnir. The Baseka is responsible for most matters relating to the
trio: making sure all the members are properly kitted out and where
they should be at the right time; helping them in training;
maintaining discipline; and so forth. Often Baseka take on an almost
parent rôle, with many of the same responsibilities. It is
normally the Baseka of the most experienced trio in the Ûnir who
will be given the honour of unfurling the banner of the unit on the
courtyard walls each morning.
It is the Baseka who chooses the name for the trio, which is that of a
Trios are expected to stay together even off-duty, though the fact of
the matter is that this varies considerably among the Ûnir. It
is the responsibility of the trio to look after its own members - if
one stays too long at an inn, for example, it will be the other two
who fetch the lingerer.
Mekednir are in charge of an Ûnir, and they are the ones who
must eventually take full responsibility for everything that happens
within them. In the normal course of events, however, many details are
handled by the Baseka, while the Mekednir deals with matters such as
training the troops, leading religious activities within the
Ûnir, and making sure the unit functions properly.
Patrols, which generally consist of a single Ûnir and sometimes
also a Melana or two, are led by the Mekednir. However, if a Melana is
present, the leadership becomes slightly less clear-cut; it is
expected that the Mekednir will at least listen closely to the advice
of the Melana, even though under all circumstances the Meken will obey
their Mekednir rather than the Melana.
On being promoted to Mekednir, the soldier chooses the name for the
Ûnir, and this name is taken from the Laranian Calendar. While the proper,
Laranian, name is rarely used by the troops, it is known by all in the
Ûnir. Mekednir rarely ever command more than one Ûnir
during their careers, since they are the defining characteristic of
the unit; if a new Mekednir is appointed over the same trios, the new
commander will usually choose a new name, thus creating a new
Ûnir. This is also the case with trios. The notable exception is
the Skirmishers of the Unshakeable Ash
and Bethaglion trio within it,
which never change their names, despite changes in Mekednir and
Ûnir are independent units, particularly when only the permanent
garrison is present. It is the primary social group of the Meken, and
interactions with those outside the unit is almost never as close as
those within it. The members of an Ûnir fight and live together,
both at Menekod and when out in the field, creating bonds that are not
easily broken or surpassed.
During the summer months, when the garrison at Menekod is bolstered by
the levy, each Tirman is given control over two or more Ûnir in
the field. Outside of these campaigning months, the Tirmana are given
overall charge of the Ûnir. They draw up duty rosters and
inspect the troops at drill, and such like things.
The difference between the rank of Akrana and Tirman is minimal,
particularly during the winter months. When large forces are fielded,
they sometimes take on the rôle of Reblena - that is, leading
the entire force, if no one of higher rank is present.
Melana (Companion) are in many respects similar to the squires of
knights outside the Order - this in
spite of the fact that most have already been squired before joining
the Order of the Checkered Shield. Thus
they have to look after not only their own equipment, but that of
their mentor also.
Generally speaking, Melana (Companion) act as full Melana, only under
the command of their mentor as well as the Reblena of the Melana.
Melana have almost none of the responsibilities pursuant on
differentiations of rank within their number, except those relating to
Melana (Companion). The responsibilities of being a mentor to a Melana
(Companion) are mostly those of guidance and instruction into life as
The duties of the Reblena are many and varied, ranging from leading
troops in the field to planning campaigns, reviewing the soldiers, and
co-ordinating the chapter-houses.
In contrast to most fighting forces in Hârn, the Meken of the Order of the Checkered Shield do have a
relatively standard set of clothing and equipment. They are also very
conscientious about the use of banners, badges, pennants and so forth
to mark affiliation, even at the trio level. Here follows a quick
run-down of such devices:
- Each Ûnir has its own banner, which is the most important
symbol of the unit. Normally this banner is only displayed on the
courtyard walls of Menekod; it is occasionally used during large
battles. In the latter event the companies of several Ûnir
commanded by a Tirman does not have its own standard.
- In large battles, when the banners of the Ûnir are
displayed, pennants are attached below to show the trios that comprise
that Ûnir. They are typically the name of the trio written in
black on coloured cloth (just which colour is often significant, and
considered important by the trio members).
- Badges of rank
- There are two badges of rank, for the Baseka and Mekednir. Each
Baseka is designated by a red triangle, point up, and each Mekednir by
three red triangles stacked in a pyramid, with the central triangle
formed by these in white. Examples of these are available in the
diagrams for each Ûnir.
- Badges of identification
- Each Meken, on the left shoulder of their uniform, has at least
two badges marking where they serve. One at the top gives the Laranian
name of the Ûnir; at the bottom is the trio name. Between the
two is either the badge of rank (for Baseka or Mekednir) or the device
of the Ûnir.
- Clothing of rank
- To denote the ranks of Tirman and Akrana, complex needlework is
employed. For Tirmana, a red and white checkered band (of varying
complexity and ornateness) is sewn around the sleeves of the
uniform. Akrana also have these bands, and a similar one around the
A Note on Living in Small Places
Menekod is a good-sized castle. It also has lots of people in it, few
private chambers, and a single hall where most everyone eats. This
means that most people know the other people in the place quite well,
at the least by name and face. So, even though a person may not have
any contact with a particular person during the course of their
duties, they do know about them, have probably exchanged some words,
and may even be close associates or friends. Thus, while there is a
fairly clear-cut system of rank and status operating at Menekod, the
intimacy of the place ensures that these divisions are commonly
crossed, in some instances to a great degree.