The academics-at-arms was a very skilled military organisation of the Knights Academy in Sanctaphrax during the First Age of Flight. Their primary task was to defend Sanctaphrax from both internal and external threats.
The academics-at-arms were comprised exclusively of squires who, after completing their education in the four Lower Halls of the Knights Academy, did not graduate to the Upper Halls. Members of different races, not just fourthlings, made up the ranks of the academics-at-arms, but only those who were Sanctaphrax born and bred were part of the organisation. There were different positions within the academics-at-arms, such as swordmaster, rock-guardian, cage-master, missile-loader, catapult look-out, and slingshot look-out. Academics-at-arms wore simple black tunics with red duelling patches on them; more patches indicated greater combat prowess. They wielded a variety of different weapons, including swords, crossbows, axes, bludgeons, pikestaffs, and knives, and were protected by full-length shields with the red oval of the Knights Academy and hard, heavy armor, depending on their position in the organisation.
The academics-at-arms were led by a leader-elect and by captains, who had less authority than the leader-elect, from within their own ranks. The hall masters of the Knights Academy also had some authority over the academics-at-arms.
The academics-at-arms all lived in their own personal alcoves in the Academy Barracks in the Knights Academy.
When they were off-duty, academics-at-arms spent their time sleeping, eating, drinking, consulting cloud charts or ballistics lists, discussing tactics with their comrades, polishing their weapons, or practicing with their weapons.
When they were on-duty, academics-at-arms spent their time doing different tasks depending on their position in the organisation. Some manned the swivel-catapults and other weapons along the perimeter of the floating rock and kept watch (and during snowy weather they sometimes used giant snowballs as ammunition to have fun shooting things over the cliff, though they weren’t supposed to), and some patrolled the streets of the floating city. The rock-guardians protected the Stone Gardens and prevented any unauthorized people from harvesting flight-rocks or even entering the Stone Gardens. After the Battle of the Knights Academy the academics-at-arms took up the jobs of the gatekeepers as well, guarding and operating the entrances to the Knights Academy.
Role in Conflicts
In the time of early Sanctaphrax the academics-at-arms were led by Quode Quanx-Querix against the Blood-Red Glister. They suffered many casualties but managed to seal the Blood-Red Glister up in the stonecomb, where it remained, unable to harm anyone, for many years before it escaped as the stonecomb shifted.
In the year 16 ᴇ.ʏ. the academics-at-arms played an important role in the power struggle against Hax Vostillix and the gatekeepers. They hated the gatekeepers and the gatekeepers hated them even before things became openly violent. The academics-at-arms’ basic equipment needs were neglected by the furnace masters of the Hall of White Cloud as the gatekeepers received all the equipment they could ever want. The academics-at-arms fought in the Battle of the Knights Academy against the gatekeepers, and they won with the help of the Upper Halls squires and professors, the treasury guard, and two giant tree fromps, although many academics-at-arms were killed. After the battle the remaining academics-at-arms took up the jobs of the disbanded gatekeepers in addition to their other duties.
Some academics-at-arms played a small role in the conflict between the Leagues of Undertown and the sky pirates in the year 17 ᴇ.ʏ. A small group of academics-at-arms, including Phin, who were the best at rock harvesting were paid ten gold pieces each by Zaphix Nemulis to harvest the large flight-rock for the Bringer of Doom quickly and quietly.