The Westridge Ducal Guard are the elite knights and footmen of Westridge who are sworn to protect the House of Montclair in both war and peace. Due to their ultimate fealty to the Crown and Kingdom of Stormwind, many Ducal Guardsmen also serve in the Royal Army as part of vanguard units. Customarily leading the charge during field battles, these veteran men and women are well known for their prowess in combat.
The Ducal Guard of Westridge serves not just as an exclusive order of elite troops within the First Regiment of the Elwynn Brigade, but also as the personal protectorate guard of the Duke of Westridge. The order demands supremacy in martial prowess and unyielding devotion to the House of Montclair as it safeguards Westridge and, in the duke's name, all territories of Stormwind. Obtaining membership is a grueling task, not fit for the weak of body, mind or spirit.
The Westridge Ducal Guard's origins are traced back to the founding of the noble house of Montclair centuries ago when the Montclairs married into the House of Wrynn and were granted the Duchy of Westridge to maintain. The men-at-arms in service to House Montclair would become the duchy's guard, standing to protect the Montclair bloodline and its newfound holdings.
Legend has it that the Ducal Guard fell into turmoil during what would come to be known as the Brightwood Rebellion. At the time, the reigning Duke Ralaph Montclair was considered an ineffectual leader of Westridge who only acted on edicts passed by the House of Wrynn, taking no initiative to stop his lands from deteriorating during a time of famine. Of the Duke's two younger brothers, the eldest, Alexander, blamed the House of Wrynn and advocated secession while the younger, Frederick, believed that the Duchy needed the Kingdom of Azeroth's support during its time of need.
When the Brightwood Rebellion broke out and the kingdom was thrown into civil war, Alexander Montclair secretly gathered support from the disheveled men-at-arms of the Ducal Guard, promising them land and titles should they aid him in seizing power and declaring Westridge independent from the Kingdom of Azeroth. At his command, the Ducal Guard under his sway assassinated the reigning Duke Ralaph in his sleep and quickly took over Westridge Keep and the surrounding countryside. Frederick Montclair gathered his own supporters and barely escaped with his life as he fled to Stormwind City.
Upon arriving in Stormwind, it is said that Frederick and his guard were greeted by King Samson Wrynn, who gave the following term for his aid; that each soldier and knight of Westridge now swear firstly to the House of Wrynn before their loyalty to their ancestral patrons of the House of Montclair. Frederick bent his knee to Samson Wrynn before all of his men-at-arms within the halls of Stormwind Keep, encouraging them to do the same. Not one of his knights refused the call. Each swore ultimate fealty to the House of Wrynn, binding them by oath and honor to serve the King of Stormwind and preserve the Kingdom of Azeroth.
With the full support of the Azerothian Army and King Samson Wrynn, the youngest of the three brothers Montclair was able to crush the rebellion and bring the traitor to his knees. Alexander Montclair and his supporters were executed for their betrayal and Frederick was elevated to the Duke of Westridge. For their loyalty to the crown, the Westridge Ducal Guard were reforged as an elite unit of knights and armsmen of the newly established Royal Army.
The Westridge Ducal Guard has since served the kingdom and Westridge with pride, weathering the Orcish Wars and preserving the Montclair bloodline. It remains one of the most elite units of the king's army within the first regiment of the Elwynn Brigade.
Oath of Loyalty Edit
On my honor, I pledge absolute loyalty to the House of Montclair and the Duchy of Westridge;
To lead with distinction and to follow without condition;
To know the enemies of my liege and, as a master of battle, to never falter before them.
My blood for the bloodline.
Code of Honor Edit
- Absolute Loyalty to Kingdom, Liege and Guard – The guardsman exemplifies absolute loyalty to his kingdom, to his liege, and to the Ducal Guard after those.
- Lead with Distinction, Follow without Condition – The guardsman should expect to lead others in the absence of orders, and follow with unconditional obedience otherwise.
- Responsibility for Self and Team – The guardsman takes immediate responsibility for any actions he or his team take, or any incidence those actions may cause.
- Never Hesitate, Never Quit – There is no place for the weak-willed or hesitant. Only by firm and resolute application of force will Stormwind survive. No sacrifice is too great.
- Know the Enemy – The Guardsman understands his enemy as well as he understands himself. Ignorance of the enemy is ignorance of his profession.
- Master the Trade – The guardsman who does not constantly expand and improve upon his capabilities is a guardsman that will soon be beaten.
While their primary purpose is to defend the House of Montclair, the Westridge Ducal Guard swear ultimate fealty to the King of Stormwind and most members serve as elite troops of His Majesty's Royal Army. This is a requirement laid upon the Duke of Westridge by the King, and as such a certain percentage of his personal guard must serve in the Army at any given time, often on rotation. The end result is that members of the Ducal Guard remain both loyal to the Duchy and to the Crown.
The First Guard is chief in organizing the Westridge Ducal Guard and maintaining its standards, working alongside the Lord’s Hand in protecting the Montclair bloodline and continuity. It is the First Guard's direct and personal responsibility to ensure the physical safety of the Montclair bloodline. Sometimes his job is more than just protecting The duke's wife and children, as the First Guard is often charged with ensuring the duke continues to have a bloodline. While the sanctity of marriage, the good order of a household, and the general physical and spiritual health of the Montclairs all fall under the oversight of the Lord’s Hand, the First Guard provide him with the tools necessary to do the job. In many cases the two roles are held by the same man, though not always.
Immediately reporting to the First Guard are the master guardsmen, a cadre of highly experienced guardsmen responsible for maintaining standards of discipline and enforcing the word of the duke and First Guard. They oversee the many of the most critical functions and operations of the Ducal Guard, serving often where the First Guard himself cannot be for various reasons. The guardsmen who serve the chambers and halls of Westridge Keep itself are invariably master guardsmen, for no lesser amount of experience would suffice for such a critical task.
Those men and women of the Ducal Guard who have served with distinction may be promoted to senior guardsmen. These veteran guardsmen are responsible for directing training and commanding unit formation movements in battle. The bulk of the Ducal Guard are known simply as guardsmen, and while at the bottom of their internal ranking system they are still extremely talented soldiers.
Despite the ranking system, the Ducal Guard treat each others as equal brothers and sisters, no matter their position. The fraternal overtones are strong and date back many generations, and it is not uncommon for members to consider the Ducal Guard their second family. An overwhelming number of Guardsmen serve for life, and many who do not perish honorably in battle continue to serve the Duke even after retirement in advisory roles.
Off the battlefield, Ducal Guardsmen are expected to maintain the holdings and interests of His Grace, the Duke of Westridge. Accompanying him as often as he permits, they serve as his personal bodyguard and assistants. Likewise do they serve as his messengers of justice, holding authority and great influence across Westridge. It is said the Guard are the duke's eyes, ears, and hands made manifest. The most trusted and veteran among the Guard protect the duke's family as well, keeping a watchful eye over Westridge Keep.
Order Leader Edit
Count Ismond Barathen Laldere is a well-known knight of the Brotherhood of the Horse for his service in the First Regiment of the Stormwind Army, having conducted numerous campaigns in the various locales of Azeroth on its behalf. He is as well known for his barbarous tactics in defending Stormwind as he is for his barbarous appearance; despite his average height, he stands as a brutish and imposing figure. He was born a bastard to a woman of the House of Montgomery of Wanduke, who perished in childbirth, and an unknown father. He was then raised by outcast relatives in Grand Hamlet until the time of the First War, where he began to prove himself while fighting as a man of the First Regiment.
Through numerous successful campaigns, and contributions to both the Army and Westridge, he quickly rose to prominence within the courts of Westridge and became a close friend and confidant of Duke Maxen, who raised him to the Lord’s Hand and provided him with lands within the duchy. With the death of the former Count of Wanduke, Richard Montgomery, he has since inherited the territories of Wanduke and continues to serve the House of Montclair with pride and distinction.
All guardsmen are expected to master the skillset required for all roles of the Ducal Guard and have the capability to serve in any position to meet the demands of each engagement. While the arms and armor of the Ducal Guard are specially crafted for each member, the multitude of roles and physical expectations combined with the sheer difficulty of wielding the equipment demands that each guardsman maintains themselves in peak physical condition and prowess.
When embedded within a formation in a defensive role, a vanguard is expected to absorb the brunt of enemy frontal attacks. Carrying their tower shields and polearms, vanguard units are chosen to work closely in tandem with the formation they are embedded in and rarely break formation. Impervious, implacable and immovable, these warriors are legendary fighters capable of laying waste to all but the most terrible foes withing giving ground. Vanguard are renowned for their stubborn refusal to retreat, and their presence on the line effectively means total commitment to a battle.
When given more authority to wreak havoc on their own, linebreakers serve as shock troops and duelists against greater foes. Attacking from the flanks and penetrating deep into enemy formations, these units can quickly create problems for the enemy. Bearing either large two-handed weapons or dual-wielding quicker instruments of death and destruction, these soldiers become masters of single combat and are veritable engines of destruction on the battlefield. As they advance deeper, their blades blur and weave, knocking aside arrows in mid-flight and leaving trails of bloody spray wherever Westridge steel tastes flesh.
Greatswords are heavy infantry skirmishers that wield massive blades, specializing in disrupting enemy formations in one-on-one combat. They are often utilized against pikes and spears, sent ahead of the formation to break the shafts and leave their points to be trampled into the mud. Once formations are broken, greatswords can be dispatched into the fray to decimate the enemy ranks by cleaving through men unguarded by their comrades.
Musketeers are heavy infantry armed with flintlock technology developed with the emplacement of new foundries and production facilities in the northeastern county of Westridge. Although still held to the same stringent physical and martial standards as the rest of the guard, the Ducal Musketeer was created to enhance the ranged capabilities of the guard. Renown for the sheer terror they inflict on the battlefield, these expertly trained marksmen, specializing in formation volley fire but trained to handle their weapon with independent talent, the Marksmen are equipped with heavy, expensive and durable Wanduke-fashioned rifles and pistols – often carrying four to six of the latter. With the extensive flintlock technologies they carry, the Musketeers forgo carrying any of the traditional pikes and axes of their brothers in arms but still carry the staple broadsword sidearms and are known to wield them with every bit of the efficacy of their comrades.
How to Join Edit
Any enlisted soldier within the ranks of the first regiment of the Elwynn Brigade ranked Private or higher who wishes to become a candidate for membership within the Ducal Guard must compose a letter, with a copy sent to the Lord’s Hand, First Guard and Duke of Westridge requesting an audience and elaborating upon their qualifications. The letter must contain the soldier's full name, any aliases they are known by, a detailed personal history starting from their birth and including their service record, why they desire to and believe themselves worthy of serving the House of Montclair, and the names of all of their living immediate relatives. Any of them may offer an audience where they will determine whether or not the candidate is to be approved. Should one be accepted, they will be formally declared an aspirant of the Ducal Guard.
The aspirant will be informed that discipline is paramount to serving in the Ducal Guard. At no time will complaints or outbursts be tolerated, nor will substandard performance. They are expected to understand and follow orders to the absolute letter with minimal need for clarification, even if the orders do not immediately make sense. They are also expected to follow strict personal hygiene standards to the highest degree, and substandard maintenance of their issued gear or their own bodies will constitute negligence of duty.
Basic Aspirancy Requirements:
- The tabard must remain clean at all times and free of rips, tears, or stains. Damaged tabards must be mended immediately. Replacement tabards will not be permitted.
- Armor and weapons must be maintained according to strict standards of cleaning, oiling, sharpening, and/or colouring. Damaged armor must be repaired immediately.
- Health must be maintained. While aspirants will not be removed from aspirancy simply for sickness, it will result in negative influence on their progression and often ultimately result in dismissal from aspirancy.
In order for an Aspirant to rise to the status of Guardsman, he must complete the Ducal Guard Trials to the satisfaction of the First Guard.
Trials of the Ducal Guard Edit
The Rite of Cleansing Edit
The Rite of Cleansing is strictly ceremonial and offers no true challenge. The rite represents changing from one’s old form, to beginning a metamorphosis into the form of a guardsman. The First Guard will ceremonially shave all hair from the head and face of incoming aspirants. Female aspirants are given the option of short-cropped hair rather than baldness, however, guardsmen are rarely skilled barbers and the result is often a hack job. The second stage is for the aspirant to bathe within Westridge waters – thus, requiring that the ceremony takes place within the duchy. For enlisted soldiers, this portion often takes place in the river near Westbrook Garrison.
The Rite of Discipline Edit
The Rite of Discipline is not a singular, standalone trial. Rather, it is instead an interim period between trials wherein the aspirant is expected to dedicate much of their time to personal fitness and education. Alongside expecting to reforge their bodies into what will be needed to undergo the tasks they are obligated to fulfill, they are also expected to educate themselves on matters of Westridge history and feudal politics. Furthermore, they must develop an understanding of the intricacies of the stratagem and tactics which will be required to complete their duties both as the protectors of the House of Montclair and as a shocktroop of the Royal Army.
The Rite of Interrogation Edit
When an aspirant has determined they are prepared to continue on with their training, which is often well after their Rite of Cleansing, they may approach the First Guard or the Lord's Hand of Westridge in order to begin the next trial. The Rite of Interrogation consists of an oral examination wherein the aspirant will be asked numerous questions related to their academic training; while it sounds simple, many aspirants fail to complete this trial to the satisfaction of the individual testing them due to the rigorous standards of the order.
The Rite of the Bulwark Edit
With their knowledge base tested and proven, the aspirant may move on to the next trial which will test their physical prowess and capability. One of the critical moments in an aspirant’s training is a test of their abilities against poor odds. Given their tower shield and weapon, they’re pitted against three opponents and tasked with defending a high-value target. As they are still but an aspirant, some do fail this test. However it is not a victory the Master Guardsmen look for, but perseverance. They seek confirmation that the aspiring guardsman will never give up or back down, even when they’re losing. These tests are often held in front of their peers in the army, more as a public relations showcase but also for the added peer pressure to succeed.
The Rite of Devotion Edit
With the required training completed and the aspirant having proved themselves, the final trial is the Rite of Devotion which is typically completed after several days or even weeks of reflection. Eventually, the day will arrive where the aspirant is to be sworn in. Among a gathering of his peers, the aspirant will recite his oath and ritually draw his own blood before the Duke of Westridge. Assuming the duke accepts his oath of fealty, the new guardsman is thereby given his personal arms and armor.