The Final Laudation
The Final Laudation is a ceremony which confers knighthood upon an Elind Knight’s apprentice. Though it has taken many forms over the centuries, the ritual has always involved three key moments: the commendation of the candidate’s bravery, wisdom, or similar; the candidate’s divestment of their name and individual identity; and the blessing of their stoy by two or more traditionally bitter rivals.
After successful completion of The Ordeal of the Simulation, the apprentice and their master return to the Elind priory where the apprentice began their training many years before. It is there that the ceremony of The Final Laudation is held.
The ritual is conducted by the master, with guests limited to those living in the priory at the time. This includes the prior, their students, and any Knights traveling through the area and spending a night under the priory’s roof. Significant figures from the apprentice’s past are not knowingly invited. If they’re there already, fine. If not, also fine. This is not meant to be a party. It is meant to be a serious, solemn affair.
As mentioned above, the ritual typically includes the following three stages:
After brief introductory remarks from the prior, who welcomes the Knight and their apprentice to the priory, the Knight begins the ceremony by sharing a story which highlights the apprentice’s individual accomplishments. Any virtue of the apprentice might be highlighted, but the tales told typically revolve around the qualities of bravery, kindness, or wisdom.
At the end of the story, applause is showered upon the apprentice. The apprentice, however, is expected to remain humble and emotionally centered throughout. This, it is believed, is the best way to prepare them for the next section of the ceremony.
In the second stage of the ritual, the apprentice divests themselves of their name and their individual identity. They thank their parents for their name (or whoever else might have be responsible for naming them in their culture). They speak to the support of the families and communities they’ve belonged to, and how they couldn’t possibly have gotten where they are in life without the help of others. And then they transition into a proclamation of their desire to give back to the world by giving up themselves, by leaving behind the selfishness of personal ambition to serve the greater good.
The proclamation (or “vows” in some circles) is as follows:
I was everything and everything was me.
Now, I am one part of a something.
Now, I am one part of we.
And we are the shield of the just, the weapon of the true.
I am no longer me; we, forever after, are you.
Once the apprentice has finished speaking, they are asked four times by the crowd surrounding them—once from each of the cardinal directions—“Who are you?” And only when they have said aloud four times, “We are the shield”—only then are they ready to be elevated from apprentice to Knight proper.
After the apprentice’s proclamation, they step aside and their master returns to center stage. The master then invites two individuals from the crowd, two traditionally bitter rivals whose conflict has been resolved by the Elind. As with other elements of the ceremony, rivals whose conflict was solved by the master and apprentice are not knowingly invited to partake. This is about the Elind in general, and not about the individuals being honored on this day.
The master asks the apprentice to present their Stoy for the blessing, which the apprentice then does without hesitation—any sign of a flinch being seen as a form of attachment, and a reason to reconsider the apprentice’s elevation altogether.
The master then asks the rivals to stand on either side of the apprentice’s magic staff and to hold it between them. Once they have done so, the master asks each of the rivals a series of questions—the content of which is left to the master to decide—which are meant to prompt emotional responses in the rivals. Only if they can get through the questions without descending into anger or violence—only then is the Elind declared ready to accept a new Knight into their fold.