THE OLD GUARD
Thirty-six years ago, the Royal Guard of Anglamar stood at the end of a long and glorious history as the elite mounted soldiery of the kingdom. They were nearly 1000 warriors strong, knights and men-at-arms, who had served the King for centuries. They fought with distinction in the War of the Crowns, smashing the forces of the Rebel King at Battle Down in one final armored charge. In the North War, they were instrumental in defeating Sargoth's Black Guard at the Battle of Gondaran, and led the allied forces in pursuit of the enemy north to Winter Gap.
In 1454, a plot was uncovered, involving the Black Monk and a cabal of nobles at court to remove King Thelric. Several commanders of the Royal Guard were implicated and beheaded for treason and the order was relieved of its duties, its knights stripped of their commissions. The order's Knight-Commander, Lord Valwain, took the dishonor of his subordinates, resigned his titles and lands and took exile, riding north through Winter Gap where he was lost to history. The remaining core of the Guard, some 300 knights, gathered at Battle Down to await the judgement of the King. While they were encamped, Baron Korwell (acting as friend of the King) and his Swords of Beregond, bolstered by mercenary troops, fell upon the Guard and slaughtered them nearly to a man. The few survivors melted away to the far reaches of Anglamar, where they buryed their pasts in new lives. Only later was it discovered that the Baron of Beregond had attacked the Guard to cover his own complicity in the plot to overthrow the King ... King Thelric established a new order as his Royal guard, the Knights of the Gryphon, and the Old Guard was forgotten.
Now, the surviving members of the Old Guard are old men, living in obscurity throughout Anglamar. They are farmers, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, priests. Some have died over the years, fighting as mercenaries or lowly baronial guardsmen, or as adventurers. They have born the shame of the past in secret, never losing their devotion to the King or to Anglamar, forming contacts and associations throughout the kingdom through whom they maintain a watch on events. They communicate by secret messenger (or magic) and it's said that nothing of importance happens in Anglamar of which the Old Guard is unaware. They know the names of every noble, knight, court official, merchant and foreign agent in Anglamar and where their loyalties lie. They have passed on their legacy to their children and no one knows how many black and gold tabbards of the Royal Guard and swords with gryphon head hilts are hidden in storage rooms, barns and basements across the land.
The Old Guard's suspected allies include the Northern Rangers, the Order of the Blue Star, and the Duke of Arandor among others. Dunadain and Everune in the Gondish hills are important locations, though they maintain a network of informants and agents from Northinghall to Arandor.