The idea of an Iscoine Guard can be traced back to the first Alotournian kings who succeeded the Green Wizard rulers immediately after the War of the Moon. The Hightowers were petrified of assassins (and with good reason; the Green Wizards had ruled Silversong in the place of the royals for centuries due to the mass-assassinations of the royal family during the War of the Moon) and they kept those well-versed in magic and swordplay near them at all times.
Anundarien founded the Iscoine in X.89 by inducting three potent magi into his household. Many speculated at that time that he was making a power-play against the Estari of the Green Wizards but it seemed he was simply increasing his own personal defenses. Though the Green Wizards technically sit in Anundarien's camp, they are rarely politically active. It's speculated that they would protect the king if a rebellion or civil war were to erupt and they have fought the forest goblins in the past, but they rarely carry water for him and never act as enforcers.
Soon their numbers grew to eight and then to twelve, at which the king ceased appointing new Iscoine. He said that there should ever be twelve of them and if one should fall he would ask me to find a new one. They have acted as both his personal body-elves as well as his agents throughout the land. They have doubled as personal messengers when Anundarien could not trust anyone else. Even after he passes into the West, I imagine that the tradition of the Iscoine will continue in the Silver-song Forest.—Tormenlinel, Royal Chronicler, Silversong
The Iscoine are each granted several holdings (which they must administer in absentia) from which they draw rather large incomes as well as unlimited access to the Tower Library in the palace. They live, eat, and spend much of their time with the royal Blade Dancers who form a lesser arm of body-elves in the palace. As Tormenlinel wrote above, there are only ever twelve Iscoine at any given time and they may be assigned to tasks the king cannot trust to anyone else in addition to their normal duties guarding his person. It's rumored that the Iscoine have developed a number of spells between them which they alone share, particularly spells designed to hamper, hinder, slow, or translocate potential foes away from the king.
The Twelve Iscoine are:
- Alomendyl the Flower of Battle
It was said that when Alomendyl first bowed before Anundarien, the Towerborn king set Gandirion of the Ruby Staff against him. The two magi were so evenly matched that their spells sizzled to a draw; it was only when Alomendyl drew his sword that his epithet rang true...
- Sarosinithia the Fire-witch
...but in the 4th century, Sarosinithia was dispatched northwards to reclaim the lost holdings near the isle of Nysa. Though she did not return for seven years, each morning she would send word to the king by potent magic...
- Calordilindar of Iiriem
He was a favorite of the Black Prince before his exile, and a court wizard of no small skill, but Calordilindar was only brought to Silversong when he met its king while Anundarien was traveling in disguise. The two elves became close friends, with Calordilindar never knowing who it was he jested to each night over wine...
- Tholosriel Brightsword
The blade crackled and blazed and spit fire! Tholosriel was an avenging god, Anunia reborn, and he fell upon the goblins and their kin. Brilliant spears of light held them in place while he did his killing work.
- Calandaryn Silverskin
...but on the third day the haughty Dorl challenged Calandaryn who is called Silverskin. Little did he understand the power of the Oronnoi. It said that even now he spends the last of his years in the Tower of Mourning, mind shattered by the confrontation.
- Orolindaala Lorewise
...her tutor, thinking her soft, demanded that she repeat the drill. She narrowed her eyes and spoke the ancient words she had learned in secret. It was two full weeks before he could sit upright.
- Landania the Shadow
For sixteen days Landania hunted the Ashblade. The assassin was skilled in evasion, but each hour brought her closer. When at last the two met, he never knew she was there.
- Anarlastyn the Setting Star
Rumor claims he got his name from the glittering bejeweled sword he swung, which left a glittering arc like one of the estari falling from the heavens...
- Naraandinar the Wanderer
...he struck again, the hammer cracking his foe's armor. The Murathan was a fool to think he could best the Wanderer, for while his magic was contained in his rings and axe, the Wanderer could spin new spells out of nothing...
- Gandirion of the Ruby Staff
The first of the Iscoine, Gandirion never lowered himself to the use of a blade. And yet, it is said that his flickering ruby staff is the match of any swordsman in the forest. None have challenged it and come away to tell the tale.
- Finduista Swiftblade
A mistress of great magics, Finduista the Swiftblade is kin to Gandirion. Her blade is known in Tyrma as "Hummingbird" for when she wields it no eye can track its arc...
- Istuindarian Spellfire
...though he was youngest of the Iscoine, he had proved himself time and time again against his foes. The young dragon Azereg, son of Kezmereg, was slain within the boundaries of the Wood thanks in great part to his doing...