Gemini Lodge

History of Gemini Lodge

Gemini Lodge had its origins in the Sacred Band of Heresketh, a city on the coast to the west of Valina. The military unit retained its identity while Heresketh was a subject state of the Theklan Hegemony, and fought with distinction in the conquest of Bethan. But in 4732 it was broken up. Those couples who so chose became members of the Sacred Band of the Imperial army, and moved to Thekla. The others became officially just one lokhos of the militia of Heresketh: Gemini Company of the Heresketh Hoplites. This lokhos preserved the trophies and traditions of the Aotos o ’Eresketh, including the cult of its heroes Demoleon and Elman. But since it lacked an official military sanction to do so, the properties were owned and the rituals pursued by the members of the lokhos in the character of their mess-club, a private fratra.

After the Civil War (4792–4797) the aristocracy in Heresketh declined. In 4883 the dedicated core of the Gemini lokhos removed to Thundering Vale. The original intention was that each couple should buy one membership, with the protégé enlisting as the companion of his mentor, but about half of the couples preferred to collect 100 minai rather than remove to Thundering Vale. The forty couples that moved to Thundering Vale were forced to buy two memberships each, which caused some temporary financial embarrassment. The companionships remained essentially vacant for some years, until Gemini Lodge began to emulate Skywalker Lodge in taking on students.

The couples that remained in Heresketh soon abandoned their Sacred-Band traditions. The city government maintained the cult of Demoleon and Elman, but in a half-hearted fashion. The annual festival declined, and after 4920 no priest could be found with any real connection with the cult. In 4922 the temple in Heresketh was burgled, and the city government allowed the outraged members of Gemini Lodge to remove the surviving treasures of the temple to Thundering Vale. The festival of Demoleon and Elman in Heresketh was reduced to a dance-pageant in the annual festival of the city. The cult of Demoleon and Elman survives only in Thundering Vale, where it is a core value of Gemini Lodge.

The impression of piety and perhaps of aristocratic hauteur that Gemini Lodge made in sweeping off the treasures of Elman and Demoleon evidently had its effect on the city. The following year he sent his daughter Briomarre to join Gemini Lodge, with profound effect on the institutions of Thundering Vale.

Legends of Gemini Lodge

The heroes of Gemini Lodge are Elman and Demoleon, the founders and heroes of the Sacred Band of Heresketh.

Born about 4485 AED, Elman was the son of a river-daimon and an unknown father. A youth of extraordinary grace and beauty, he was selected at the age of seventeen to dance in the festival of Heresketh. Elman’s looks and athletic dancing attracted the interest of the tyrant Gandorekh, who called the youth to sit at his left hand during the subsequent feast. It is not clear that Elman, who was rather innocent and soon became drunk, understood what ensued. In the morning Gandorekh gave him a panoply so that he could enlist as an ephebe among the hoplite class, and ordered the temple of Amaranth to provide him with a bed and to feed him from the sacrifices. Elman dined at the palace every full moon for the next two years, and the legends recount twenty-two stratagems and strokes of fortune by which he evaded Gandorekh’s advances on those occasions.

The commander and instructor of Elman’s troop of epheboi was a handsome young aristocrat named Demoleon, a descendant of anaxoi, a noted swordsman, and a reputed avatar of Luciphage, who had a dash of leshy blood in his veins besides tracing his ancestry to several major daimons. At first inclined to disdain the favorite of the tyrant, he grew to admire Elman for his courage and the forbearance with which he accepted the hostility of the other noble youths. He took the young man under his wing and so drew a share of the disapprobation of the aristocratic opposition. In due course the two fell deeply in love. Each cutting a lock of his hair with his sword, they tied them in a true lovers knot and dedicated it at the temple of Jolian.

At the end of Elman’s ephebeship Gandorekh held a banquet, at the culmination of which he pressed his claims for a 23rd time. This time meeting open refusal, he tried to force himself upon Elman. Demoleon attempted to rescue his protégé, but they were both overpowered. Elman was borne off in bonds to Gandorekh’s chamber, in a high tower overlooking the sea. Demoleon was beaten and abused by the guards and cast into an oubliette to die.

After suffering several indignities at the tyrant’s hands, Elman managed to escape his bonds, and struck his tormentor a mortal blow with a brazen vessel. In a final fit of spite, the dying Gandorekh seized Elman and threw him out of the window, to fall 35 metres into the bay. Gandorekh’s body lay on his chamber floor, with the door bolted on the inside. None of his chamberlains dared to have the door broken open: on the second night the corpse was animated by its own spiteful ghost. For a period of seven months (some versions say seven years) Heresketh was ruled by a gruesome revenant who smoked himself over a fire to stave off disintegration, assiduously avoided daylight, and was now motivated by spite unmingled with sensuality or lust.

At the end of that time Demoleon escaped from his oubliette. (Various lays mention three different means by which he is said to have done this—it is clear that Demoleon never explained the truth. Perhaps the most convincing is that he made a deal with his great-grandfather Coryon, exchanging his life for the means to destroy Gandorekh. Others include a comparatively straightforward Luciphagian miracle, and making a ladder by tying together the bones of his predecessors in the oubliette using string he twisted out of hairs plucked from his own head.) Once out of the pit, he single-handedly stormed the palace, bested Gandorekh in an exchange of miracles, and burned the lich on a pyre. Acclaimed by the mob, Demoleon was offered the royal crown of his ancestors, which he refused. He skulked in the basements of Gandorekh’s palace, pale with grief and assiduously avoiding the sunlight, while the aristocratic republic of Heresketh was restored.

Elman meanwhile had been rescued from drowning by Sejula, the daimon of the bay at Heresketh, who bore him off either to an inaccessible island or to an underwater grotto (possibly it was the Shee). There she sought to win his love by gifts and importunities. Elman resisted her blandishments, and spent his time strolling the beach and singing sadly of his lover.

Some time after Demoleon’s escape, nine messengers brought the news to Elman: Three in his dreams, three by signs and omens, and three by verbal messages. Elman went to Sejula and begged for his release. This she granted on condition that he grant her nine boons: one for his rescue, one for his release, and one in payment of each of the seven years (or perhaps months) she had given him food, shelter, and love. Elman acceded to this request, and Sejula demanded that he service her on three nights and make a miraculous sword, pipes, and girdle as a patrimony for any child she bore as a result. Three more boons she reserved for use in future.

Back in Heresketh, Elman discovered that Demoleon’s health could only be restored by recovering and returning his final breath. Elman tracked this down by using his abilities as a spellsinger to interview a long succession of daimons who had noted its passage. These interviews, and the tortuous course of the fateful breath, are recounted in detail but differently in different versions of the lay. Eventually, Elman had to go in to the mountains to capture a monkey in whose lungs the breath had lodged after its vicissitudes. While he was returning home the monkey escaped, and committed a nuisance affecting the person of a petty basileos. The monarch’s chief companion caught the monkey and wrang its neck. Elman challenged the warrior to a duel, ran him through with a sword, and sucked the final breath from his lips. Condemned to death and cast into a cell, Elman sang a spell by which he was turned into a swallow between sunset and the setting of Coryon, flew to Heresketh, and restored Demoleon to full life. According to one version this task was subject to a deadline.

Over the next ten years (approximately 4513-4522 AED) Elman and Demoleon set a notable example a warriors and in pioneering the sea-dragon fishery. They excited the emulation of other couples, who also dedicated knotted locks of hair on the altar of Jolian. In 4523 Heresketh got into difficulties in a war against its neighbour Katarngé, and was subjected to a long siege. Demoleon and Elman gathered the dedicated couples together into a crack unit that dared to sally forth against the champions of Katargné. Initial successes gathered them new recruits. After the siege had been going for an hundred days Demoleon challenged the anax of Katarngé to put up one hundred champions against his fifty couples, the result to determine the outcome of the war. The anax accepted, but the archons of Heresketh repudiated the deal. Nevertheless Demoleon took his followers out to make good his offer. The youths of Heresketh were victorious, though Elman and many others were killed, and it was years before Demoleon grew back the eye he lost in the fight. The anax was true to his word, though he commented that his obligation was to Demoleon’s city, and not to Heresketh as such.

Demoleon buried Elman’s ashes in the Temple of Jolian, married, and retired into the life of the magistrate. There he earned a great good name by dealing fairly and honestly with conflicting interests, as a scrupulously honest trustee for his nephew Erekhthan, and by making good the three boons that Elman still owed Sejula. One of these was to find a husband for Elman’s and Sejula’s daughter Erdaine, for whom he contracted a marriage to the anaxos Aristarkes I of Thekla in 4531. In 4540 Demoleon retired into the priesthoods of Sejula, Coryon, and eventually Jolian. At the end of 4559 he resigned his priesthoods, put his affairs in order, and died apparently of natural causes. His ashes were buried in the temple of Jolian alongside his friend’s, and their statues were erected there in 4579. The Sacred Band that they founded continued as a major force in the affairs of Heresketh until its dissolution in 4732 AED.

Customs of Gemini Lodge

In the hunt, Gemini Lodge cultivates a special expertise in the chase on foot with hounds or harriers, and therefore values endurance, fast running, the use of javelins, and the training of dogs.

In quieter moments, Gemini Lodge excels at music, dance, and swordsmanship, and specialises in teaching these arts to students at Thundering Vale.

Gemini Lodge is still dedicated to the traditions of a Sacred Band: each member is presumed to have a lover, ideally another member of the lodge or one of its companions. Considerable allowances are made for lovers, and institutional rigidities are not permitted to thwart the purposes of love.


Prospective members spend six days during the Festival of Thundering Vale camping in the portico of the lodge, during which they display their athletic and musical skills, especially swordsmanship, sword-dances, and singing. The adepts of the lodge treat them to banquets, symposiums, and hunts—and report on these to the Housemaster. On the sixth evening they dine with the housemaster, who forms his final impressions, and on the seventh day presents a slate of nominations to the lodge assembly. It is expected that this slate will be approved by acclamation, though there has on occasion been vigorous debate before the voting. There is an understanding that the housemaster considers acceptance of his nominations to be a vote of confidence in his leadership: if it were defeated, he would feel obliged to resign.


Each member is entitled to nominate whomever he chooses as his companion (but not to replace his companion with equal arbitrariness). If they are lovers, they share rooms, but this is not very often the case. Usually, the companions are assigned to shared rooms, with their student-lovers, if any. Room assignments and sponsorship arrangements are freely altered to bring lovers together. Lover or not, the member is expected to supervise his companion’s instruction, arranging classes and providing guidance, tuition, a personal example, and moral support.


The annual festival of Gemini Lodge is the Feast of Elman and Demoleon, which is celebrated at the Seventh Full Moon. It is notable for its music, sword-dancing, and its dance-pageant.

Totem: swallow and black snake (winged serpent). Motto: One and inseparable.

Officers of Gemini Lodge

Housemaster Gemini

The head of Gemini Lodge is House-master Gemini, informally known as the Aotiarkh. The Housemaster is elected by the members, usually from among the huntmaster-adepts of the lodge. The office is nominally annual, but the incumbent is usually re-elected by acclamation every year until he dies, retires, or is appointed to a senior post in the College.

The Housemaster is in charge of admissions of members, nominating a slate of candidates whom the lodge assembly is expected to ratify by acclamation. He has some disciplinary authority, and presides at the lodge assembly. But the members retain the power to choose and admit their own companions.


The Seneschal of Gemini Lodge is appointed by the Housemaster: by convention the Housemaster appoints his own lover to the post, which attracts the honorary title of Hypoaotiarkh. The seneschal is in charge of hiring or buying the lodge’s servants, organising their work, and disciplining their lapses.


The Purser of Gemini Lodge is elected by the members for annual terms, usually from among the adepts of the Lodge. Members find the duties disagreeable, and usually a candidate has to be dragooned by the Housemaster, and will only serve for three to five years before refusing to stand for further re-election.

The Purser is the treasurer of Gemini Lodge, responsible for collecting and disbursing dues and incomes, paying expenses, and rendering accounts.

Master of Students

The Gemini Master of Students is appointed by the Housemaster, usually from among the huntmaster-adepts of the lodge. He is in charge of discipline among the companions, and for arranging for members to conduct classes as needed. It is up to the Master of Students to arrange with the masters of students in other lodges for those lodges to teach Gemini their specialities, for Gemini to instruct their students in swordsmanship, music, and dance, and to make adjustments for the honorariums involved.

The Master of Students also chooses, within the limits of practicality, which members will teach what classes and earn the honorariums. This power brings some patronage among the less experienced members.


The Khoregos is the chief dance instructor of Gemini Lodge and Thundering Vale. He supervises the dance classes that are run for companions, and casts, choreographs, and directs the dancing at the annual Festival of Elman and Demoleon.

The Khoregos is elected by the members of Gemini Lodge, who favour most of all avatars of Elman, and otherwise huntmaster-adepts of their own lodge.

Long service as khoregos is considered an advantage in candidates for the priesthood of Elman.


The Tympanistes is the drummer, conductor, and concert-master of the Gemini Lodge pipe band and gamelan, and premier sword-dance instructor of Thundering Vale. The Tympanistes is elected by the members of Gemini Lodge, who favour avatars of Demoleon, and otherwise huntmaster-adepts of their own lodge.

Long service as tympanistes is considered an advantage in candidates for the priesthood of Demoleon.

[Master of Hounds]

Because of Gemini Lodge’s special expertise with hunting dogs, the Master of Hounds for Thundering Vale is usually appointed from among its huntmasters. Filling that post is almost a right and duty of the lodge.


There are three priesthoods attached to Gemini Lodge. Least prestigious is the priesthood of the Lodge itself, which is to say of the Lodge building, its grounds, and the numinous objects therein. This priest is elected by the members: the incumbent nominally holds his post until the age of eighty, but his tenure is often cut short by death or retirement. The members are sentimental, and often award this post to a corrodian whose younger lover is still an active member. The duty of this priest is to maintain the shrines and icons in the building and grounds, and make sure that appropriate observances and offerings are made in due time.

The twin priesthoods of Demoleon and Elman are more prestigious. They are elected by the members, who prefer to elect avatars of the respective heroes, or a couple of lovers, and preferably a couple of lovers who are avatars of the heroes. These priesthoods are sometimes occupied by avatars who are under, even well under, the usual age of Gehennese priests. The duties of these priests are jointly and severally to maintain and guard the temple of Demoleon and Elman (and its treasures), to organise and officiate at the annual festival of Demoleon and Elman, and to perpetuate the memory of the heroes among the new generations of the lodge members.

Gemini Lodge treasures

The chief treasures of Gemini Lodge are the arms and armour of Elman and Demoleon. They were worn and carried in war and on parade by the Aotiarkh of the Sacred Band of Heresketh and his lover from 4523 until 4732, and are now kept in the temple of the heroes. This temple is also the repository for a huge collection of votive offerings made in the Temple of Jolian at Heresketh, in the same building when it was the temple of Elman and Demoleon, and in the temple of Elman and Demoleon at Thundering Vale, over a period of more than five hundred years. The most precious pieces were stolen in 4922, but even the residue is of considerable splendour. But the members of Gemini Lodge do not value it as highly as the complete collection of the knotted locks of hair of every couple who have been members of the Sacred Band of Heresketh, of Gemini company of the Heresketh Hoplites, or of Gemini Lodge. These are arranged on the wall of the temple in rough chronological order, but are (perhaps unfortunately) unlabelled.

Another six ancient panoplies are kept in the trophy-room: ones in which leaders of the Sacred Band and their lovers died side-by side in battle. These have all been gilded. Also to be found in the trophy-room are the winged serpent standard of the old Sacred Band, a collection of enemy standards taken in battle, and notable pieces of loot captured by the Sacred Band in wars including the conquests by Thekla of Periander, Samariopolis, Borillis, Elmis, and Bethan.

Besides all this, each member’s room contains a stand on which is displayed an hoplite panoply that was worn on at least one occasion by a member of the old Sacred Band while performing an heroic deed in battle. The oldest of these date from the 46th Century, and feature bronze helmets or bronze helmets and cuirasses. Newer ones are entirely steel, and were displayed in companions’ rooms up until the lodge was first expanded. The best such panoplies are gilded in token of warriors who died gloriously while wearing them.

Another important treasure is the Gemini Lodge gamelan, which is a large and exceptionally well-tuned collection of percussion instruments, notable for including a glockenspiel, a set of steel triangles, and a frame of tubular bells spanning three octaves.