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Cults of the Past:
The Iron Hand

Hargin of Selna

  Five "Judges" form a panel which directs the operations of The Iron Hand.  Each of these patriarchs or matriarchs was once leader of one of the smaller units, or "reaches", of which the cult is essentially comprised; having distinguished themselves in this lower position, they have moved up to fill vacancies in the all-powerful "Supreme Court".

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  Thus might one have described in brief the structure of one of the past's most controversial sects.  As it was dedicated to upholding law and order, however constituted wherever threatened, its lawful neutral reaches touched many lands.  People who lived in fear of outlaws welcomed them openly; those who considered their rulers oppressive and uncompromising despised them.  The Mithril Chain, The Elfin Legal Defense, and The Border Guard all reputedly called upon their aid at various times; so also did Libra Ficta, Might, and Magice Vincit Omnia.  To these men, the defense of law and order superseded concerns for good or evil.  Thus, during many of the great wars, this group would be found on both sides, working as internal police forces and vigilante groups to prevent governmental collapse and its resulting chaos.

  As implied above, each reach was a semi-independent unit headed by a cleric.  One or more fighters were next in command, and adjunct personnel could include magic users, illusionists, thieves, and monks.  Three members were the minimum for a reach, and indications are that the size of these groups was never in excess of ten.  A larger reach would always contain a second lower level cleric, who was preparing to lead part of the members when the group split into two separate reaches.  The reaches' purpose, obviously, was to locate and correct situations of lawlessness.  The leading cleric had unappealable authority, although in practice it is clear that other members, especially fighters, could question decisions and directions.  If the cleric so chose, problems could be referred to the Supreme Court.

  Em Handson has proposed (in "The Reach of the Supreme Court") that a process of evolution created this structure, rather than the initial divine ordination which the sect claimed.  He maintains that originally there was but one reach, which adopted the name for itself, but as it attracted more interested adventurers it split.  Continuing to grow, arrangements were made for the now independent reaches to communicate.  Growth continued to create complications; there were at one time three hundred known reaches traveling the world, and standards of what constituted lawlessness varied greatly.  Leaders of all reaches could not stay in even slight contact.  Eventually five of the oldest clerics, who could not truly remain active but still ardently supported the sect's goals, established themselves as The Supreme Court of Justice, later to become The Supreme Court.

  The group collapsed rather awkwardly during the empire of King Willnan the Anarchist, who issued an edict banning it in all its forms.  A few reaches remained in the outlying countries, but even the Supreme Court itself was forced to close down, defeated by its own principles.

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