In Denland, the King’s authority is represented by the Hollow Knights and the Law Lords. The former ensure that any troublesome mages meet a swift end and the latter collect taxes (and bribes) and enforce royal law.
However, the Felarian King relies solely upon the Dames de l’Acier. These soulless harridans are one of the few things that unite the diverse city of Highford. Everybody loathes them.
The merchants must pay royal taxes to the Dames, who are utterly impossible to tempt with corruption due to their desire for earthly pleasures being destroyed the moment their souls are ripped from their bodies. The mages despise the over-bearing and vicious steel maidens, and the Comte dislikes the presence of an armed force answerable to the King rather than himself.
For reasons that are hotly contested, it is easier to remove a woman’s soul and have her survive than it is to do likewise to a man. In Denland, they simply kill more men to produce the required number of Hollow Knights, whereas the Felarians opt for female warriors. The process is dangerous and the slightest error is inevitably fatal. Should it prove successful, the person becomes a husk, a hollowed out shell bereft of passion, lust, greed and all other vices and virtues that make a man, or woman, truly human.
It is an empty way of life, but for their sacrifice the Hollow Knight or Dame de l’Acier secures substantial wealth for their families.
As all know, sorcery is the gift of the Divine. The talents which are bred rather than taught do not affect another person directly, it is only when spells or glyphs are used that magic affects a mortal. Thankfully, mages tend to be reclusive sorts who rarely leave their towers. Those who do and inflict harm on their fellows can be a powerful menace, which is why the Dames were created.
By parting the body from the soul, they become immune to arcane assault.
“Trying to kill a Dame de l’Acier with magic is like trying to drown a fish,” as a certain miscreant named Thaddeus rather aptly put it one day.
And so, the Dames are much like barber surgeons. Unpleasant, but necessary.
Frère Jacques, scribe of Highford