(Rajput Mercenary Swordsmen) Since the fall of the Gupta Empire, the subcontinent of India has once more fallen into a disunity and chaos to be expected of a land so layered in peoples, cultures and powers. From the ashes of this world has risen a new martial people of ancient lineage but newfound glory: the Rajputs, differenciated by the normal Kshatriya by virtue of their very name's definition - "Son of a King"./n/nNot merely the sons of royalty, the Rajputs trace their lineages (vanshas) back to one of three heavenly Patriarchs: The Suryavanshi of Surya (The Sun God), The Chandravanshi of Chandra (The Moon God), and Agnivanshi of Agni (The Fire God). From these three noble bloodlines descend 36 main clans or Kulas, which in turn divide further into various branches. Nobility of spirit and prestige of rule is not a virtue exclusive to any one bloodline, great dynasties of past and present possessed by all three lineages. Yet at least in Northern India it is the Agnivanshi who stand tallest this day, with the great kingdom of Chauhan in Delhi and the Paramara of Malwa poised for dominance of West and North Indian soveriegnty./n/nAs Holy Sun, Divine Moon, and heavenly flame do change, so too does the political climate of the Rajput kingdoms. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in the single passing of a Chandra's cycle, the passions which borne the Rajput's honor and chivalry as potent to fuel bitter rivalry and conflict. Confederacies have strengthened the Rajput's resistance to the Muslim onslaught as much as internal conflict has whittled away at their resolve to challenge the threat of Turko-Persian invasion. As feudal lords and not mere chieftans of tribes, it is not might alone which heels the noble Rajput to serve a greater Rajput, but it is well might that they bring in a united front against the threat from beyond the Hindu Kush./n/nThese men hail not from any single heavenly dynasty, but are a cast of the whole of the Rajput people. From every lineage and every clan they come, serving as mercenaries for pay, confederate allies, warriors of tribute from vanquished clans, lesser clans under the soveriengty of those greater, or simply individuals aspiring for their divine dharma of battle. Though with the ebb of Rajput affairs they will come to soon feud with the men they fought beside as brothers, the nature of their very union however transient is the hope by which India holds towards freedom from the invading Muslims./n/nAs Rajputs of whom their clan or they individually are of lesser status and wealth, their equipment pales in comparison with that of their countrymen better off. Their armor is the simple round Indian shield highly coveted amongst the Arabian Pennisula, and largely the quilted armor of cotton and leather traditionally worn by the vast majority of India's armored troops. The more experienced amongst them wear light scale shirts, another armor drawing deep from India's history. Their weapon is the scepter by which the Rajput's worth is measured alongside of his horse - the sword, forward swept with an ancestry stretching back to ancient Alexander and the kopis brought forth by the invading Greeks. Their limited armor and complete lack of cohesive teamwork is marginalized by the zeal and individual martial skill they bring to the battlefield. War does not need the mullah's chant or Pope's claim to be holy - the very nature of battle is paramount to their soul's obligation to the heavens, the sole reason of their existence as Kshatriya. It would be wise for the Maharaja of any Rajput Kingdom to field such men, for they fufill both aspects of the proverb "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer".