- For the book of the same name, see The Adamantine Arrow (book).
|Name:||The Adamantine Arrow|
|Atlantean Diamond:||Ungula Draconis|
Through conflict one purges weakness and becomes greater than one could imagine. Claiming descent from the Ungula Draconis (or "Claw of the Dragon") of Atlantis, members of the Adamantine Arrow say that their Order arose from the Exiles who protected the shards of fallen Atlantis. Carrying both weapons that brought death and instruments that created life. Members of the Adamantine arrow follow the Adamant Way which encourages strength and adaptability. The name Adamantine refers to the durability of the order's resolve and illustrious shine of their honor.
The Adamantine Arrow is assured of its roots in Atlantis, but it does not claim any particular historical event as its own. Instead, it champions the common virtues of warriors from many cultures. An Arrow might claim that these virtues are the spiritual radiance of the order's legacy after the Exile, a torch burning to guide soldiers of all ages away from petty violence to a common ethic of justice. If this is true, though, it poses a paradox, for the order carries within it the capacity for atrocity, rule by junta and a thirst for violent, self-justifying power. Like the occult art of war, this flaw can manifest in endless varieties, making it hard to detect and check. The Adamantine Arrow recognizes the essential problem but is not always sure whether a particular action upholds its ideals or sins.
Every order practices essential occult defense techniques, but the Adamantine Arrow goes further, internalizing the metaphor of war. It is the order's political stance and occult praxis. For some, it's a hard, ascetic path that burns away cowardice and encourages action over contemplation. Others see the order as the perfect platform to lead the secret battles of the Awakened, selling services to the highest bidder or even seizing places of power away from the weak. Above all, though, the Adamantine Arrow acts. It is not given to purposeless cloistering, navel-gazing meditation, or weak pacifism. It knows the Awakened are in the midst of an esoteric war, and it brings a strong hand to bear for the right side.
Warriorship is never its own virtue. Only righteous service gives an Arrow's life meaning. After the Fall, the order defended other mages from the new dangers of the Fallen World and swore oaths of loyalty. Today, this is still the Adamantine Arrow's primary role. Its mages defend Demesnes, sanctums, and cabals as long as they are legitimate heirs to Atlantis. Some Arrows purportedly guard evil things that cannot (or because of some cruel fate, must not) be banished from the world. Sometimes a threat arises that requires martial leadership. Sometimes an Arrow's charges are morally or mystically weak, and she feels the best way to uphold her oath is to take command. But while the Adamantine Arrow is respected, it cannot guarantee that its members are virtuous souls. Power, not prudence, motivates many members to take up the mantle of rule.
The Adamantine Arrow isn’t in the business of churning out unthinkingly loyal foot soldiers. The Order’s small numbers make this impractical, and besides, mages have a strong appreciation for independent thinking. Arrows study science, liberal arts, trades and professions to understand how magic affects different aspects of the Fallen World — and when spells aren’t even necessary.
Despite what envious outsiders say, magic isn’t the primary reason why Arrows have strong, tough, quick bodies. Order mages simply work harder; they run, pump iron, wrestle and swim. They shock their bodies by constantly altering their exercise routines. Hand doctrine drives this intense commitment because an Arrow’s body is part of her personal microcosm. The body’s flaws become the microcosm’s flaws. And, practically speaking, fit mages are better fighters. Arrows use magic to get workouts and eliminate “imperfections,” but don’t respect mages who rely on the Arts for basic physical competence. An order mage doesn’t use Life instead of doing pushups, but does use Life to ensure that he recovers from training faster, avoids injuries and eliminates his flaws. In certain times and used to justify barbaric practices, Arrows barred admission to mages with certain “imperfections” ranging from deformities to specific eye and skin colors. Superstitions held that a sufficiently “imperfect” body held a corrupt microcosm that needed to be eliminated. Few modern Arrows believe these sorts of things, and those who do are usually ostracized from the order.
Arrows who pass through the gauntlet of physical training that constitutes their apprenticeships are ready to learn the order’s secret arts. Some of these methods are so old that Adamant Sages believe these secret arts are fragments of Atlantean arts, but others claim that the secret arts are only a few centuries old. Some systems have long forms with more than a thousand postures, but others repeat five to 10 over and over again. Every posture supposedly resembles an Atlantean rune. The mage becomes the rune with his movements and channels whatever it represents. There are allegedly forms for every sign and sigil, but no Arrow knows them all. The mage becomes a perfect symbol so that his body matches his soul’s bond to the Supernal Realms. Every new technique makes the link stronger, via the principle of sympathy. He perfects the universe within, bringing the broken worlds closer together. Legends say that the Arrow who masters every form becomes a divine being, like one of the Oracles.
The Adamant WayEdit
The Adamantine Arrow practices what it calls the Brilliant Road or the Adamant Way. The Atlantean name had no precise translation and meant both "unyielding wisdom" and "light of thunder." The Adamant Way is divided into five precepts -- the Hand. The human hand creates, communicates, and destroys. It is always meeting, negotiating with, and vanquishing the external world, and is one of the primary gates for the sense of touch. Accordingly, its five "fingers" -phalanxes in common Arrow parlance- represent the ideal ways for a warrior to conduct herself in the Fallen World. Each Phalanx has three further Corollaries that refine the first thesis, akin to joints of a finger in the Hand analogy.
- The First Phalanx: Existence Is War - Conflict defines the cosmos. This is as true for stars and planets as it is for the human soul. Every aspect of existence can be rendered down to a battle between opposing forces. All beings learn wisdom by first separating themselves from the unity of things, and then by separating the unity of what remains. Only by examining what has been broken can a mage understand its original wholeness. If she remained in original bliss, the unity of all things would be felt in much the same way a cell is connected to a greater colony of tissue: Like a machine, without true understanding. Life is more than suffering: It is a continual test of will and creativity. Arrows often use the language of Taoism or pre-Socratic philosophy to define the subtler aspects of the First Phalanx, but none of these belief systems cleave to the metaphor of warfare as much as the order’s doctrine. Martial artists often explain their practices in terms of metaphysical forces, but the Adamantine Arrow explores this from the other direction. Warfare is a lens that clarifies the truths of magic, metaphysics and natural law.
- First Corollary: Opposition Defines Power
- Second Corollary: Unopposed Power destroys itself
- Third Corollary: Power Obeys Strategy
- The Second Phalanx: Enlightenment Is Honor - To an Arrow, honor is more than a personal bond. An oath is a covenant with the universe, in which a mage vows not only to act in a certain way but to express some greater principle with her words and deeds. An oath is a formal expression of her relationship with the cosmos, carving her soul into the shape that fits tightly between the magical and mundane worlds. When an Arrow promises to protect a companion, she shares the meaning of her vow with her charge and her enemies alike. Oaths should never be broken, but they shouldn't be too narrow, either, lest a warrior place her judgment in formal words rather than in dynamic thoughts.
- First Corollary: Promise Only What You Would Have Others Promise in Your Place
- Second Corollary: Word and Soul Must Agree
- Third Corollary: Honor Is Your True Name
- The Third Phalanx: Adaptability Is Strength - The ideal warrior is a polymath, able to connect the lessons of disparate disciplines into a broad way of looking at the world. When he wrestles with an enemy, his medical studies help him twist and break joints. When he runs a business, he applies military strategy to personnel and resource management.
- First Corollary: Do Not Have Preferences
- Second Corollary: Die Every Day (based on the words of the Hagakure)
- Third Corollary: Employ Magic Strategically
- The Fourth Phalanx: The Supernal Is the Self - War and defense aren’t the Adamantine Arrow’s sole concern. Every order has a philosophy about the nature of mages and magic: the premise for everything they do. In the Adamantine Arrow’s case, the Fourth Phalanx provides this basic metaphysical doctrine. Mages are living reflections of the true world. That’s why the order fights for them. Every Awakened soul contains a universe. Physical discipline is more than a matter of muscle and bone; it's a way to explore occult reality, which lies embedded in the flesh just as Atlantean wisdom can be found in the Fallen World.
- First Corollary: Self-purification Is Essential
- Second Corollary: The Body Is Sacred
- Third Corollary: The Mind, Body and Soul Battle Eternally
- The Fifth Phalanx: Service Is Mastery - A true warrior has no ambitions — only duties. He pursues justice and destroys evil with no thought for his own desires, unless they push him to excellence. Sometimes he assembles a sworn war band to hunt the enemy. Sometimes he defends a narrow pass alone, throwing his life away for a promise. Sometimes, he even kills the man who occupies a throne he swore to serve. Outsiders say that Talons are slaves to duty, but the order wouldn’t have it any other way. Duty inspires action. Action creates power. Power exists only when it is used.
- First Corollary: Serve Mandates, Not Individuals
- Second Corollary: A Throne Is a Warrior’s Prison
- Third Corollary: Revolutions Are Creative
The modern Adamantine Arrow is a meritocracy -- mostly. Personal politics matter. Pragmatic Arrows believe that gathering support and currying favor are strategies that deserve the same rewards as heroism, intelligence and fighting ability. There are five universally accepted titles, but their precise names might change from place to place. Arrows don't usually have to ascend to a higher rank when their reputations grow. There are battle-hardened Talons who never want to abandon their basic duties. There are occasions when the worthiest Arrows must take up a new office. Somebody needs to captain a cabal or advise the Hierarch, and even though Arrows of any rank can do so in an unofficial capacity, it's often important to speak with the weight of tradition. Formal rank also makes it easy for other Arrows to find the right warrior for the job. Each rank has a specific oath to keep that defines his station within the Order.
- Prospect - A mage wishes to join the Adamantine Arrow and is not currently a member of another order must make his intentions known to the ranking member of the order in the Consilium. At that point, the mage is a “prospect.”
- Talon - Arrows who survive apprenticeship become Talons. Talons serve the order, protect mages, and uphold justice. Talons are also expected to present the best side of the order to other mages and keep their vows at all times. Their oath is "No Talon Is Alone".
- Banner-Warden - Banner-Wardens have been solely dedicated to protecting a special cabal that have been deemed worthy of protection. Their oath is "The Banner Is the Warden's Honor".
- First Talon - First Talon is "officer" status in the order. Their oath is "You are a soul in many bodies. Do not defile any part of your soul."
- Thunderbolt Guardian - Thunderbolt Guardians are teachers and counselors, versed in several useful fields. At this rank, no additional oath is levied.
- Adamant Sage - Adamant Sages are the most accomplished Arrows in the caucus. They have formidable talents, but fall short of the warrior-poet-philosopher ideal that the order sees as Supernal ideal for their order.
- Magister - An Arrow who gains enough status to be called a “magister” is truly a force to be reckoned with, but magical prowess and skill in combat do not a magister make. Most Magisters are skilled in various mundane fields of study and among the fittest humans on the planet.
While the Adamantine Arrow is, in many ways, the army of the Diamond Orders, the order is far more a collection of affiliated militias than a single, unified military. From among the multitudes of local units of Arrows, however, a few broad generalities emerge — certain overarching philosophies of martial service. Needless to say, adherents to these differing ethics don’t always see eye-to-eye, though they (usually) manage to keep their conflicts civil.
- The Black Tower: The Black Tower believes in the supernal sancicity of the oath even more than ther est of their order. Just and righteous oaths fulfilled in honor brighten this world, even if only in a small way and for a handful of people.
- The Council of Dragons: The Council of Dragons believes that there exists another sort of wisdom: the knowing of what is true and the power to act upon that knowledge. They are master tacticians that emulate the virtues of the atlantean dragon, seeking to transform themselves into supernal paragons.
- The Crucible: The Crucible believes in the spirit of heroism and that true heroism is a way to strengthen the Supernal in the world.