The Order of the Asp was begun at the coronation of Queen Gaerta, the third queen in succession after the Great Collision. She and her husband, Lord Eorl Blanchely, created three original orders, those of the Asp, Alder, and Rose. The Asp was intended as a military branch designated to maintain the borders of the ever-increasing land appropriated from the Soderon people.
The First Retinue
Under the leadership of Sir Genlen Bowerstop, a second-generation soldier in the Queen's army, the Order of the Asp saw its most impressive growth. Sir Bowerstop was a second-cousin of Queen Gaerta, and rumored to have been involved with her at some time; it was believed she created the Aspguard itself in order to keep her from him, yet keep him in her debt as well.
Bowerstop was a headstrong and cunning leader who is credited with designing and implementing the structure of knighthood in the realm. He believed training young boys from the age of twelve as pages, and then ascending to full knightship upon the death of their mentor, or the age of twenty-five. Enlistment in the Order of the Asp trounced all other orders at the time, but the numbers were necessary to hold back the ever-present Soderon threat. When Sir Bowerstop fell to Soderon arrows in the year 104, the Order of the Asp had approximately one thousand men in its service; forty years later it would bost close to 20,000.
The War of the West
In the year 246, with numbers stable and a firm foothold in the north of Soderon--now dubbed The Territories--the Order of the Asp held most of the continent's supply of horses, and became one of the most mobile forces known to date. Known for their ruthlessness and resolve, the Asp fought a thirty-year war with the Soderon, eventually pushing them south past the Alsan River.
The borders continued to prove difficult, however, for the Soderon had deveolped unique tactics, including raiding and burning, guerilla fighting in the mountains, and unexplained phenomena, like sandstorms, according to the account of Sir Ulstan DeClye. In his "Annals of the War of the West" Sir DeClye wrote:
- "I would not be so hasty to judge my bretheren for their unusual suspicions. Though my logical mind tells me I ought cast away their whisperings and suppositions, I myself have seen strange things with my own eyes; the further we go past the Alsan River, the more likely we discover those among our number falling ill, getting lost... simply falling by the way. It is a harsh land, that I know, but I cannot understand the strange phenomena as of late. Just yesterday a sandstorm came out of nowhere, not a trace of wind before its fall, and buried half our retinue. I would advise Queen Yvanne to abandon this mission any further than we have gone, but it is unlikely she will see the reason in it."
DeClye was one of a handful of survivors in his retinue. In the course of two years, he and the retinue of Sir Percy Corbett were reduced from a total of 5,000 to scarcely 100.
The War of the Winds
The War of the Winds was no sole war, but rather the series of scuffles taking place between the years 280 and 380, until the combined forces of the dwindling Order of the Asp and the growing Order of the Oak at last put the Soderon at bay. Though raids continued, even on after the date of 380, most were half-hearted and required little in the way of royal interference.
The Dwindling of the Order of the Asp
By the culmination of the War of the Winds, the Order of the Asp had dwindled in number to scarcely 200. The two largest retinues were headed by Sir Sally Din and Sir Corbin. Even among the other orders, the Asp continued to garner a bad reputation for being difficult to control, disorderly, and base. Having been allowed to enlist non-royal men (and sometimes women) into their ranks, the Rose and Alder believed them to be "lesser" orders, in spite of their long-standing history. Even the addition of Sir Gawen of Fenlie, a longtime Roseguard and champion at Hartleigh Castle, to their ranks did little to dispel this sentiment. As the fifth century began, even the average citizens of the realm were growing wary of the Asp. Much of this slander is believed to have been at the hands of some of the queen's advisers at the time who wished to do away with the Asp altogether in order to allow the Order of the Oak more freedom.
In the year 402 the Order of the Asp was blamed for the murder of innocent villagers in the Territories towns of Vell and Barnet, and by order of Queen Maelys I, dissolved. Sir Corbin's regiment was absorbed into the Order of the Oak, and Din's were all declared traitors to the crown.