The Knights of the Solar Sigil are a reclusive brotherhood of fighting men and women, rarely seen, but often whispered about. Despite continued efforts by many of Tamriel's powerful governments to bring them to heel, the Sigil remains fiercely independent operating without regard for borders or treaties. Shrouded in secrecy, the Sigil’s fiery origins are nearly as mysterious as its membership.
Members of the Sigil are driven by a burning desire to destroy evil and they work to that end with no regard for their own lives. Those who are inducted into the Sigil sign their lives away but in those fleeting years of service the order affords them incredible powers to meet out their brutal brand of justice. Most members of the Sigil have been personally touched by tragedy and are predisposed to this suicidal life style while others are attracted by the power and prestige. Of one thing you can be certain, members of the Solar Sigil are fanatical in their pursuit of justice fighting against incredible odds and in the most hopeless of circumstances to attain their goals.
The Legend of Hornan Jamfire
It is said that the Solar Sigil was born on the day that Hornan Jamfire attempted to repair a sword of great power. Hornan was a common man but with a very uncommon gift in sword craft. Though his days were spent pounding out horseshoes, Hornan slaved tirelessly through the night to forge masterworks of steel. The legends say that Hornan was so obsessed by his craft that he refused to take payment for his blades, believing that each blade he made was a tribute and offering to his God Zenithar.
Many nobles and kings sought out Hornan’s talents, as his legendary blades became synonymous with victory. But one fateful day, a mysterious nobleman made an unusual request of Hornan. He asked the sword smith to repair a blade that had been broken. The blade was of exquisite design, beyond even Hornan’s ability to craft. So moved by the art, Hornan refused to tamper with “perfection” and refused the request. Disappointed, the nobleman took the sword, and was never seen again.
One year later, it is said that Hornan awoke in the night. A strange call that whispered to him on the evening breeze compelled the sword smith to return to his workshop. Inside, he found the broken but mighty sword resting on his anvil as if waiting for him. Seeing the return of the sword as a sign from Zenithar, Hornan donned his apron, took up his hammer and set to work. Some who tell the story, describe the sword burning from within as Hornan labored over its repair. Hornan worked like a man possessed, reportedly pleading to an unseen man for rest, then cringing and crying as if whipped by a ghost. Town’s people, hearing of the strange behavior of Hornan Jamfire gathered round his shop to watch him hammer, temper and curse in frustration. After twenty days of grueling hell, Hornan’s Hammer fell silent. A village boy found the sword smith collapsed onto the floor, mumbling nothing more than “It is finished.”
Hornan slept for weeks, all the while mumbling like a madman. All the town’s healers tried to make him comfortable but his fever would not come down. Hornan’s right arm had been burned horribly from his fingers to his elbow—it could not be saved. After the healers amputated the limb, Hornan was said to slip into a deep depression for months. He ate very little, and spoke even less. Many thought his spirit broken, and the once mighty Hornan would simply fade from the world in the discomfort of his bed. Then one cold and moonless night, seven months after he had repaired the stranger’s great sword, Hornan Jamfire rose up from his bed and walked out of town.
In the years that followed, many stories were told of a horrifying knight in red armor who roamed the countryside. Wielding a flaming sword joined to his right arm, the fierce knight is said to have single-handedly cut a swath of death through the ranks of evil creatures a mile wide. He killed without mercy. He descended upon entire bands of Ogres with no fear. This knight is believed to be the founding member of Solar Sigil and while the blade has vanished into time the order of knights it inspired still exists today.
The Solar Sigil
The legends are quite true. Hornan, in his attempt to repair a great magical sword, took on the psyche hidden within the blade. Over the course of his twenty days of labor, Hornan absorbed large amounts of energy. His blood was polluted with magic and his mind was poisoned by the unrelenting call of the sword.
The sword was a magical blade call Hellfire. Hellfire was forged many years before by a Bosmer craftsman to be gifted to a mighty King of the Wood Elves on the eve of wild hunt. The blade was imbued with magical properties that gave it incredible but fleeting powers of destruction beyond the capacity of other mystical weapons. The tool was designed to impart unimaginable power but itself die when the King was slain. However, unknown to it's maker and it's wielder, the blade was home to a most dangerous and cunning intellect and in the moment of death, preserved its sentient contentiousness, outwitting its owner and thus beginning a chain of possessions that would see it passed down through the ages between unsuspecting nobles and collectors.
The weapon used dark powers of suggestion to manipulate mortals into doing its bidding. Through prolonged exposure to the blade, Hellfire achieved a "transference" of its psyche into the body of Hornan. Hellfire then used Hornan as a tool to complete a mission of brutal revenge against countless dark mages and many other individuals who's transgressions were never discovered. Historians have speculated that the sword's creator trapped the life's essence of a demon in the blade seeking harness the creatures powers of destruction. However, it is believed that he had inadvertently trapped its consciousness as well and, when given the opportunity, the fiend sought to take revenge on those masters of the dark arts who had ever attempted to summon and bind it.
Hornan assembled a group of men around him and discovered, quite by accident, that a co-mingling of his blood with that of his men produced the same transference of magical power. The Solar Sigil is a close-knit band of men and women of many races bound by blood, magic, and the Hellfire’s thirst for vengeance against the profane.
The Solar Sigil hand selects all of its members from elite fighters of all races. Members are indoctrinated into the ways of the Sigil through a series of tests in combat, horsemanship and strength. Due to the racial and cultural diversity of the order, there is much variety and intermingling of combat techniques making the Sigil very deadly and particularly unpredictable on the battlefield. The tests culminate in a secret ceremony in which small cuts are made over the candidate’s body that is then submerged in a bath of his “brothers’” blood.
Not all candidates survive the violent transference of magical power into their bloodstream. Those who do are forever altered.
The symbol of the Solar Sigil is a golden sun on a blood red field. This symbol is considered by the men and women of the Sigil to be sacred. It can be found emblazoned on armor, weapons and horses. Many Sigil members sport detailed tattoos of the symbol on their backs.
The most sacred display of this symbol however is considered to be the banner. Sigil members go into battle with the Solar Sigil banner flying overhead and will sacrifice their lives to protect it from harm. The sacred banner is carried into battle by a "Banner Ward". The Banner Ward is usually the senior knight in each squad and a soldier of distinction. Any squad, when accompanied by a banner, is seen to fight harder and with more ferocity creating speculation that the presence of the banner imparts some type of battle lust.
Squads that have lost banners have been known to suffer crippling blows to morale. When a banner is dropped or captured, squad members will change their tactics to recover the banner and if necessary a new Ward will be appointed. In the heat of battle the first knight to recover the banner will become the Ward. This is considered to be a great honor and is proof of a knight’s commitment to the Sigil and prowess in battle.
On the battle field the Sigil breaks into multiple squad formations of 20-30 men and horses. Each squad has a Banner Ward and a field commander. Each squad also shares a single initiate who acts as a squire to all the squad members tending horses and maintaining weapons.
The structure of the Sigil is similar to other martial organizations in that is relies heavily on a rank system. Determination of rank is based primarily on battle performance but also on blood ties to Hornan Jamfire. The current field marshal of the Solar Sigil is Engram Shine of Hornan's Blood (4E 200).
Engram is one of Hornan's original recruits and is said to have acquired his magical transfusion from the blood of directly from Hornan. A man of few words, Engram leads his men by example charging into battle without hesitation. Engram is in the advanced stages of "consumption”. Whether because of his impending death or foolish bravery, Engram seems to have no regard for his own life and his men follow him without question.
The ranks of the Sigil consist of Field Commanders, Banner Wards and Initiates. Field Commanders are the most experienced combat veterans and serve as squad leaders. Banner Wards are charged with the task of protecting the Sigil Banner and also server as second in command at the squad level. The remaining knights are combat squad members. The Squad-Initiate serves as a squire and is in constant training to complete the required tests to become a knight.
Initiates are taken into the Sigil by squad vote and rarely number more than one per squad.
When the sigil is not involved in open warfare they conduct war games and hunts to stay sharp. Squads train as a unit practicing techniques documented in a battlefield combat manual penned by Hornan himself. The manuals are known as the Pages of Fire and each field commander carries a copy which he is required to protect with his life. The edicts of these pages are known only to Sigil members and the manuals are considered sacred by the membership.
Every initiate receives an elaborate set of red plate armor upon their graduation into the senior ranks for the Sigil. The rank of Knight is only achieved by those initiates who can withstand the final test. Although the trials of the Sigil would test the mettle of the most experienced soldier the "Blood Bath" is the ultimate test of will.
Each initiate, must fight their squad-mates to the point of exhaustion. The combat test is followed by a week long fast and trial of hard labor. The labor, combined with any injuries suffered at the combat trial, often prove to be more than what most initiates can handle at this stage. Those who reach the end of the week still standing participate in the blood bath.
The transference of magical power is a test of each initiate’s tolerance for pain. In order to allow the mingling of blood a grizzly ritual of mutilation is conducted. Initiates are cut by the swords of their squad-mates and submerged in a bath of water mixed with the blood of their brothers in combat. As their blood mingles the transference occurs. These baths can take as long as a day for the process to be complete.
Following the transference ritual the initiate is cared for and nursed carefully back to health by the men and women of his squad. Following a full recovery, he takes the oath of the Sigil and is welcomed into the organization. New members receive a suit of the Sigil's signature red plate armor and a war horse of the highest quality. After completing the membership ritual the new knights are allowed to participate in combat maneuvers and study the writings of Hornan.
Entrance into the Solar Sigil is a death sentence. Following transference the body of the subject knight is slowly consumed by the very magic that gives him or her their power. This phenomenon is known as consumption. Some knights have been known to survive for many years with the magic in their blood while others "flame out" in a matter of months.
The knight’s body is consumed in stages each with its own visible symptoms. In the early stages of consumption the knight will begin too lose their hair. This is usually accompanied by growing resistance to heat. Later, the knight's skin will begin to look red as if sunburned and he will develop the ability to produce and wield flame at will as well as a considerable resistance to the cold as if lit from within. In the advanced stages of consumption knights begin to produce "The Halo". The Halo is a crown of ethereal flame that persists around the knights head. In some cases, the Halo can make it impossible for the knight to wear a helm but is considered a symbol of status and respect.
The destructive nature of the magic makes the knights of the Solar Sigil a fatalistic group. They tend to view their own lives as inconsequential and Sigil knights are generally resigned to and desire to die in battle. In the end, those that are not killed in battle are taken by the consumption. According to witness accounts, the victims collapse and burst into flame. Some have even reported individuals transforming into elemental creatures of fire but this cannot be confirmed.
The knights of the Solar Sigil tend to be chaotic in attitude but live and fight in a very structured way. The organization seems to have no other purpose but to destroy evil at its roots. There have been cases where the Sigil has allied itself with political groups to further its goals but these cases are rare. The Sigil has been known to come into conflict with governments as it wanders the countryside with little to no regard for borders or sovereignty. Their zealotry as also been known to place them in direct conflict with other organizations such as the Dawn Guard and Vigilants of Stendarr. Thus far, attempts by rulers to curtail or influence the Sigil’s activities have been unsuccessful because of its elusive and lethal character.
There is considerable mystery surrounding the Solar Sigil's sources of funding. While having no apparent source of income or support system the Sigil manages to fund its operations and keep its members supplied with the best equipment available.