<p> The Stepsons are a mercenary cavalry unit of elite shock troops in the Sacred Band of Stepsons universe and the Thieves World shared fictional universe.  Based on the Sacred Band of Thebes, the Stepsons are paired fighters, lovers and beloveds and friends, who serve at the pleasure of their commander Tempus, an immortalized and legendary figure who is said to be the son of the storm god of the armies.  The military organization of the Stepsons is that of a Sacred Band, especially the Sacred Band of Thebes.  However, unlike the Sacred Band if Thebes, the Stepsons are not primarily heavy infantry nor are they sworn to the service of a state.  Like the Sacred Band of Thebes, the Stepsons swear to fight shoulder to shoulder, to the death, with honor.  The Stepsons are formed upon the death of their first leader, Abarsis, called Stepson, and take his war-name as their unit name. Also diverging from the Theban models, the Stepsons begin as a Sacred Band orgnaization, with a core group of ten Sacred Band pairs of lovers and beloveds but immediately add thirty single mercenaries from a score of nations.  As the unit grows, it absorbs other units, and becomes first the Sacred Band of Stepsons and later the Unified Sacred Band, but the leadership cadre are always Stepsons, even after their commander assumes control of the island of Lemuria and Tempus's mercenaries become the armed forces of the Lemurian city-state. </p>