The Writ of Barnesy Edit
In 218, a proposition was brought to court by Earl Barnsey, a prolific advocat and merchant. He was frustrated with the lack of communication throughout his trade routes, importing silks from Ardesia and ivory from peaceful parts of Soderon, and believed that a more streamlined method of communication than the messenger post be established. The existing post was made of civilians, who were often robbed and killed in the process. Citing the ever-growing male population, and the swollen numbers of the Asp and Rose, Barnsey brought forth the idea of a two new orders: the Order of the Oak and the Order of the Hart. The Hartsguard was given the task of protecting the Queen's Forests and roads, maintaining and protecting the various wooded areas.
The Growth of the Order Edit
Historically one of the most peaceful orders, the Order of the Hart is still one of the largest. They are the least reliant on technology, and live in cabins in various parts forests throughout the realm. There are approximately 7,000 Harts in the Islands, as many are densely wooded, and another 8,000 on the Continent. Due to foresting, many of the woods have diminished in the last two centuries, but the wilds between Ardesia and Hartleigh still span many miles and require constant maintenance and protection. Known primarily as a "pure" order, the vast majority of the Hart are either full-nobles of bastards, but they are known to employ women as well, so long as they are from good families.
Trout's Scouts Edit
The most famous retinue of the Order of the Hart were called Trout's Scouts, named after their captain Sir Fesham, known as "the Trout" or "the Fish". During the Ardesian War in the 320s, the Order of the Hart was constantly engaged in border disputes with Ardesian mountain merchants, traveling tinkers, and mercenaries. While not officially recognized as a war by the Ardesians, Carine I ordered the Hart to use all means possible to rid the area of the threat. Over the course of five years, Trout's Scouts--a retinue of about 500 knights in total--were able to rid the area from north of the Purney Rise to the Gray Sea, essentially creating a secured border against Ardesia for the first time in known history. A peaceful period between the two countries has since existed, with sea and trade routes overseen by the Hart and kept safe.
The Harsguard prefer the use of the longbow and shortbow, though many do carry firearms, these are typically small and designed for close-range. They are masters of covert action. Their colors are brown and red; when they are working in camoflauge, they remove the red sashes (which are meant to distinguish one another in the forest during patrol, and avoid friendly fire).
The Battle at Vezina Ranch Edit
A small retinue of Hartsguard, captained by Sir Osric Levelly, came into contact with a handful of captives in the spring of 402 in the forest around Vezina Ranch, recently appropriated from Lady Coreene Vezina, a cousin of the queen ruled no longer loyal to the crown. The Order of the Hart, some seventy or so, then met up with a retinue of the Order of the Oak, captained by Sir Jesper. They were set upon, however, by the Order of the Asp; though smaller in number, the Asp were able to drive away the Hart who were out of their element, and the Oak who were under supplied, having been left behind by the White Wave some weeks before. Two days later, after regrouping and recieving reinforcements, they laid seige to Vezina Ranch.