Description & CharacteristicsEdit
Makai Knights (or Magical Warriors) are a group of specially trained men adept in martial and magical arts that combat Horrors. Founded by the secretive Makai Order and regulated by the Watchdogs, the knights secretly patrol their respective territories to protect civilians from Horrors. Armed with special magical equipment, the knights carry an oath to maintain the light over the darkness in the makai realm.
For equipment, each knight have their own set of Makai Armor and may carry a Madougu (as an advisor and Horror detector). When facing a difficult Horror, the knight can bring out his weapon (magically crafted soul metal blade) and form a circle that opens a portal that instantly opens near the knight to don a wolf-motif armor for battle. Due to the dangerous properties of the armor itself, no Makai Knight can stay in their armored form for more than 99.9 seconds. If this time limit is surpassed, the armor starts to burn its wearer.
The mystical properties of soul metal limits the level of exposure a trained handler can utilize. Too much contact with soul metal, even for trained users, can be fatal, as soul metal eats away human flesh on contact and is tougher than any other alloy due to its unique properties. The knight's weapons are also made of soul metal; it has minimal side effects as the blade of the weapon is wrapped in other materials that would limit direct contact with it.
Makai Knights also possess a Madou Lighter that emits Madou Flames to help identify Horrors. They can use the same flames to encompass their armored bodies and weapons to increase damage potential, it's a technique called Blazing Armament. Makai Knights can infuse those very flames upon their Madoubas (if they have one) to increase their power in combat; each knight applies these methods differently relative to their equipment. The armor can be enhanced by infusions of spiritual energy, evidenced by the different forms Garo takes in various situations. When greater power is needed, they can summon their Madouba to increase their damage potential in combat, which is capable of utilizing Blazing Armament in concert with the armored knight.
As a discipline, Makai Knights must be able to control their emotions (their yin and yang) at all times. If there is an overwhelming amount of yin (darkness), the darkness can also affect personality disorder and create a self-conflicting dark persona that attempts to take over as the dominant personality. If this darkness affected them while in their armor and they surpassed the time limit, the armor's inherent demonic powers start to take over the knight, giving him tremendous power, but turning him into an uncontrollable monster known as a Lost Soul Beast (心滅獣身 Shinmetsu Jūshin) with his very soul being worn away in the process. The armor also eats the body away if the process is not stopped in time; should the knight over-come the process with his darkness, the armor itself will take a new dark twisted form and no longer be concerned of their time limit. To remedy the matter, a knight has to perform routine purification to cleanse themselves from the evils they're exposed to. However, the preventive measures aren't full-proof as a knight can succumb to darkness if they will it themselves. Should all measures fail, a Watchdog will dispatch another knight or a Darkness Hunter to cut down the tainted knight.
In the most difficult of missions, Makai Priests also play a supportive role as each knight has a priest(s) they seek for assistance and equipment maintenance over the span of their career. Whenever missions become challenging or require their expertise to hunt down the Horror(s), the priest(s) would assist the knight to complete their mission(s). Because there are no rules over how many priests can assist a knight, they can have as many priests to assist them in a mission.
The Makai Knights Corps was founded by the Makai Order, specifically the Makai Priests. In the past, the priests stood alone battling against the Horrors. Unfortunately, even though Makai Priests are well adept in martial arts, magic, and anti-Horror knowledge, there existed Horrors that are smarter and/or stronger than what they can handle. Facing such dangerous threats required an elite force and the priests experimented with developing armored fighters; there were other kinds of warriors, including the Dragon Knights, before they eventually settled with the Makai Knights for that purpose.
Development & TrainingEdit
The Order required self-sufficient/independent warriors that's highly adept in martial arts (stronger than their priests and greater combat strength against Horrors), strong mental and emotional discipline (to handle their emotions, manage against potential dark energies, and see through illusions), and mastery over Soul Metal (due to its dangerous nature); creating a full-fledged Makai Knight is a lifetime of training. Because males are physically stronger than females, the order decided to exclude women from ever becoming a knight.
The first considered candidates are young boys from their order, usually the sons of Makai Priests and knights. It was done this way to ensure loyalty as well as secrecy from public exposure of their order; the selection process isn't exclusive to people within their order. While it is preferred to train a son of their order, orphans and/or those who have suffered by the hands of Horrors are allowed (under the instructor's own discretion) to be trained as well. However, those who have established themselves within the order are documented and archived with their personal information as well as their lineage to keep track of their activities. Training to become a knight has multiple options and paths: boot camp, dojo training, apprenticeship, and/or private training.
For boot camp, there exists a Makai Knight Boot Camp within a secluded forest(s), where they can secretly train without the obstruction of modern society. The camp divided the boys into groups of four, each identified by color. For their own protection against potential discrimination and/or mistreatment (due to the individual's personal history, lineage, and pedigree), each of the candidates are instructed to never reveal their true identities and only identify themselves by an assigned color (blue, red, gold, etc). Each colored group have their own assigned living quarters, a group leader (for leadership training and team-building exercise purposes), and a veteran Makai Knight to monitor their progress.
For an unspecified amount of time, the groups are taught to master the basics that's required of a Makai Knight. From sunrise to twilight, the teams endure a rigorous training regiment to strengthen their bodies and minds. For early levels of combat training, the groups are pitted against one another in live barchess and various combat-type games to help develop their combat skills as well as use of strategy. Due to their constant exposure to darkness, the teams endure mental/spiritual training to master their fears over darkness, sexual temptation (as Horrors often take the form of beautiful women), emotional distractions, and various resistance training to ensure their good nature will trump over their dark nature to prevent personality corruption. As all future Makai Knights will don a soul metal forged armor and armed with soul metal forged weapons to battle against Horrors, basic mastery over soul metal is a necessary skill to graduate. Alternatively, there's the Makai Knight Dojo. A single experienced knight will train a group of trainees and pass on his personal knowledge until they reach a proper age to begin an apprenticeship with a knight.
In addition to their standard training, the younglings may have acquired other teachings. Especially when it comes to younglings with priests as relatives. Some of the knights-to-be picked up partial priest training and can utilize magic. Because there's no rules about such matters, knights-in-training are allowed to exercise magic; the most talented can double as both priest and knight, but it's extremely rare to have a person fully trained in both disciplines (like Reo Fudō and Sigma Fudō). Most of time, the knights select particular magics that can give them an edge in combat, such as seals, illusionary talismans, and object levitation.
Once their training had matured to a certain level, the groups are disbanded and the trainees are then assigned apprenticeship under an experienced Makai Knight to finalize their training; others might receive their final training from their fathers (or next of male kin) to achieve knighthood. While most knights are trained this way, not all train under such traditional means. A veteran Makai Knight and Makai Priest has all the knowledge, experience, and means to train a new knight; it's possible for a student(s) to skip the traditional ways of training and take private training (such as Rei Suzumura and Ryūga Dōgai) to become a knight as well.
For those that took the Makai Apprenticeship route, the would-be knights would be given a standard soul metal sword and a garment to show they're trainees. The assigned knight would often take their student(s) to live missions to allow them to get used to combat as well as hone in their training. Unfortunately, the life of a trainee is dangerous as there's no such thing as a Makai Armor Trainer Set. The apprentice is forced to figure a means to survive on his own while his master is fighting; training fatalities are possible. After completing their trials, the new knight will be given a soul metal forged weapon (not necessarily a sword) and Makai Armor (usually passed down from father-to-son or from master-to-apprentice) to begin solo missions. Relative to the design of the armor they inherit, the knight learned and adapted a combat style relative to the equipment they posses.
There's also the Phantom Makai Knights Corps, a stealth group of knights. Children who were orphaned by Horrors within were conscripted into their group, where they would be trained to become knights to specialize in stealth tactics and group attacks. Similar to military methods of command, the knights answer to a commander and are placed in teams, where their lead captains will manage their training as well as their missions. This is a more closed collective of warriors as they have only code names, not much of a past, and have little interaction with other people within their own society.
Once a Makai Knight, the order will assign each knight to a specific territory (or zone). Each zone are only specific to them and other knights are not allowed to cross into neighboring zones and interfere in another knight's business without consent. Each zone also has a Watchdog, it is they who delegate missions and commands from the upper-hierarchy to direct the designated knight (relative to their experience, skill, and abilities) with an Orders Document. Should a knight require disciplinary action, a watchdog has the power to detain and potentially kill the knight if necessary. However, there are also roaming knights.
While not actually ronin (masterless wandering samurai), there have been knights that have either went rogue and/or don't answer to watchdogs; they simply travel around and do as they please. Reasons for wandering knights have never been fully explained, but they continue on the mission of slaying Horrors, but do so at their leisure and don't answer to the watchdogs. Before even the established hierarchy of the watchdogs, it was the priests that organized the knights' missions to begin with; an experienced priest have the power to organize and command knights in missions without the scrutiny of watchdogs on certain situations.
In terms of lifestyle, a knights' life is a high-risk occupation as well as a lonely one. Due to the exclusive culture of the Makai realm, members of their order often maintain an invisible social separation between normal people and people of their world. Even between members within their order, they were all taught to react with suspicion and hostility first before Because of this, it's a common occurrence for a woman of their world, usually a priestess, to marry a knight. Once they start a family, their children's sex determines their roles within their culture. If it's a girl, they will be raised and trained as a Makai Priest. If it's a boy, they have the choice between becoming a priest and/or knight. However, it's also based on the decision of the parents and/or relative to their natural talents. For those that choose neither, they have the choice of living the secluded makai life or a normal civilian life, provided they don't expose their culture or face prosecution.
While not fully explained, there are two unofficial classes of knights: the titled and nameless. Based on observation, titled knights are better respected, held in higher esteem than their lesser counter-parts, and utilize special equipment. Knighthood doesn't guarantee a title; all knights gain a title in connection to the armor they're given, but also based on the armor's design. The Order mass-produced a standard armor design for their corps (different in only gold, white-silver, and bronze colors); the most exceptional and talented become titled, they utilize special armor that stands apart from the other knights. However, makai society is conservatively traditional as they still practice the birthright of inheritance; a lesser talented knight could inherit a powerful armor set simply because they're luckily high-born. Although biased and unfair, their armors possess a rich history and those famous deeds carry weight and great expectations to the heir of that title.
Unfortunately, lesser-achieved knights along with their standard armors aren't as well-regarded. They live in more simple settings and less compensated for their troubles. Due to having less specialized and/or sophisticated equipment, they have to improvise and their own survival rate might be lower as they are less prepared compared to the titled. However, titled knights carry the most difficult and dangerous of missions. Due to their hazardous career and pedigree, they're well-compensated for their missions (evidence of their personal estates and extravagant properties). Interestingly, the knights never quarreled over such differences and only focus on their mission against Horrors and show respect the most accomplished amongst them, such as Garo.
The best and the most accomplished knights are promoted to handle more special missions, the Senatorial Makai Knights. They are considered the elite of all the knights and answer directly to the Senatorial Watchdogs without a Orders Document. However, the position is relative to their abilities. The average knight's career is approximately 30 years or roughly ending around their 50's (if they didn't get killed by Horrors). By then, the knight's body has grown old and strength has declined. Either the knight continues to fight until he's no longer able to or he'll forfeit his title for a younger knight to inherit his title, usually a son and/or disciple.
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