Erin Hoffman (zhai) wrote in dqj,
Erin Hoffman

The Guardians

I'm looking through this and not seeing a heck of a lot of new information, but hopefully it's useful anyway:

The Guardians

Di'Quinasev's Guardians are an elite group of fighters and battle leaders originally formed to keep watch on the great Planar Portal created by Nakosana in the age of Zhaiseriden. They became formally recognized both as Di'Quinasev's protectors and as a city shortly after the discovery of the dragon cave to the northeast of the Portal; although none disputed that the four elemental dragons could certainly care for themselves, Guardian's honor escalated in the eyes of the Di'Quinasev population at large.

Led by the Guardian Commander, who is appointed by a circle of Captains composed of the eldest and most esteemed of the Guardians, the Guardians impose upon themselves a strict hierarchy governed first by rank -- Commander, then Captain, then Sergeant, then Lieutenant, then unranked -- and second by veteranship; the selection of Guardians occurring annually places individuals in convenient 'classes', groups of ten that often remain close to one another throughout their careers. In addition to these classes, gryphon guardians are also placed in Wings composed of four individuals and one Wing Leader.

Unless and until they decide to retire, Guardians hold their posts for life. While they certainly can be dismissed for poor conduct, such instances are quite rare, for most troublesome individuals not weeded out by the Trials themselves are removed during the first five years of training required to be certified as a Senior Guardian.

While the Guardians keep an array of personnel hired to maintain their everyday living needs, there are three categories that report directly to the Guardian Commander and are considered brother organizations to the Guardians as a whole, if they are not already Guardians in their own right (as is the case with the Shiftwarriors).

The Messengers
Critical to any army is the speed with which commands can be carried. While the Guardians as a single organization have one MindLink assigned to them at all times, as a representative of Guardian City, that MindLink is not enough to relay commands across an entire field, or multiple fronts. To address that need the Messengers were formed shortly after the formal recognition of Guardian as one of Di'Quinasev's cities, and trials for Messengership are held concurrently with the Guardian Trials. The Trial is non-complex but neither does it simply involve sprinting; an applicant must obtain a series of commands from a central trainer, follow them explicitly, and prove their navigation skills across a grueling trail leading all the way to the Blue Cliffs by way of several convoluted waypoints. This they do, each following a different path, and those that have completed the trail most rapidly while still collecting all of their markers are inducted as full Messengers in the service of Guardian City.

The Messengers train separately and report to a specific First Messenger, who in turn reports to the Guardian Commander. The First Messenger holds an office in the Guardian administration building in the North Quarter, and, following the Second War, now also attends council meetings with the Guardian Commander at the Blue Cliffs.

The Shiftwarriors
A unique brand of human warriors paired with shapeshifting steeds, the Shiftwarriors are an elite group of veteran Guardians. In order to apply for the badge of a Shiftwarrior, a Guardian must have passed his or her trial and served as a Guardian for a minimum of five years. After that point he or she will enter into a series of interviews with the Shiftwarrior Captain and, if approved, be permitted to select a young and specially bread warrior shift. These shifts are bred by a small group of what are considered the finest animal trainers on all Di'Quinasev, centered in the West Quarter of Guardian City. They are bred for intelligence, speed, and loyalty, as well as strength and battle courage. A prospective shiftwarrior selects a pregnant female and remains with her through the third trimester of her pregnancy, even sleeping beside her in the final week to ensure that he or she is present at the moment of the shift's birth. From that first breath, the shiftwarrior will not leave the shift's side even for the direst emergency for a period of two years, after which the two will be tested and certified as shiftwarriors in full.

The warrior shifts are born in the shape of a slender, heron-feathered quadraped with a long, sharp beak, muscular ostrich-like legs, and a set of grasping talons set on long arms from the shoulder -- six limbs altogether. This is the shift's primary form, and though seeming innocuous, is its most familiar and therefore most deadly. Being loosely related to the birds raised by the Kena'tar'sai, the shift in this form is wingless, having instead the forward slashing talons; it is strong enough to easily bear the weight of a fully armed warrior on its back, and its eyes are as sharp as a hawk's. The second form that the shift takes is more conventional, and of likely human imagination, for no species like it exists on Di'Quinasev naturally -- a pegasus. The third form is a great maned land-serpent, usually venomous, though some shifts, for reasons unknown, are not able to form the paralysis-venom that this shape is known for. The fourth form is of a huge six-pawed bear, its fur thick enough to repel normal arrows and its claws massive. The fifth and final form is of the pair's choosing, and is made in the last three months of the shift's training, when the pair have bonded closely and learned each others' personalities. All of the shift's shapes are expressed in the same color pattern, giving the shift a unique identity, and this identity is further underscored by the choice of the fifth form. There are varying schools of thought on whether the fifth form should be mandated by the warrior or chosen by the shift; it is this choice, perhaps seeming innocuous, that in fact divides the shiftwarriors into two non-aggressive but sometimes competing factions, one favoring free choice and one not.

The Healers
Last but certainly not least, the Guardian Healers hold office in the largest hospital in Di'Quinasev. What began as a specialized school for combat-related surgeries and field treatment of injuries has grown into a massive complex home to the finest healers in Di'Quinasev. The Adepts themselves, having come to Guardian as a place with the greatest need of their arts, found that their concentrated presence in Guardian began to draw students from all over the world. The only solution was to found a formal school to give organization to the chaotic array of masters and apprentices, and instruction was formalized. Today most of the healing at the hospital is in fact done by apprentices and junior members of the healerie learning their craft, though indeed the presence of so many masters ensures that treatment here is the finest to be offered on the plane.

Guardian Mages
While not formally recognized as a full group at this point in time, following the Second War there were left a great number of veteran elemental magic-users who had nearly achieved Guardianship in their own right. While the Guardians have always had a cadre of mages assigned to them for augmentation of their Wings or units in field work, such posts were generally assigned to mages in training, and were not recognized as a full lifetime career for a given mage. This attitude is gradually changing, and some have begun to speak of the addition of Mage Trials to the Guardian Trials.
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