Bearded Priests of Norvos
The Bearded Priests are a militant order from the city Free City of Norvos and the true rulers of the city, for it is them who choose the members of its council of magisters. They were originally a sect that abandoned Valyria, finding the religious tolerance of the Freehold intolerable.
They are a sect so secretive that even the name of their god is revealed only to initiates. They wear hair shirts and untanned hides and practice ritual flagellation. Once initiated they are forbidden to shave or cut their hair. In Norvos only they are permitted beards.
Like in the rest of the Free Cities, unwanted boys can be sold by Norvoshi families to the bearded priests.. This holy guard of slave soldiers enforce obedience and keep the peace of Norvos, and are trained in the use of longaxes. By sixteen, those trained by the bearded priests, "wed their axes", swearing vows which are said to be simple for the simple men who swear them: "Serve. Obey. Protect." They are branded across their chest with a brand shaped like an axe to remind them to keep their longaxes sharp.
Men trained by the bearded priests might wear heavy horsehair capes and studded leather tunics, along with iron halfhelms crested by iron spikes.
Archmaester Perestan considers that the importance the Norvoshi give to the axe as a symbol of power and might is proof that the Andals were the first to settle Norvos, and suggests the bearded priests took the emblem from ruins they found as they established the city.