The First File had its roots during Eieber's Long March, but was not officially established as a military unit until the end of the Mage Wars. The First File was the primary combat unit during the Battle of Sanguine Gulch.
Initially, the First File numbered 100,000 paladins (both men and women), with 10,000 bearing the standard of each Slayer Dragon. However, as the Ages passed and magical combat became less common, the First File shrank according to need.
By the Sixth Age they numbered only 1,000, serving primarily as the personal guards and personal envoys of the Slayer Dragons. As of A.Y. 5513, members of the First File no longer wore the standard of a specific Slayer Dragon.
The First File carry enchanted weapons and armor like the Slayer Dragons, also made by the Craftsmen. Unlike the Slayer Dragons (who have equipment custom-made for them), paladins of the First File recycle their gear. Some paladins carry weapons that date back to the Mage Wars, with a few items even believed to pre-date the Sword Echbalder by thousands of years.
Because of the relative abundance of potent materials during the Mage Wars and early Golden Age, in modern times it was often commented that the "First File is better equipped than the Slayer Dragons!", because weapons and armor using Magical Materials were unavailable to Slayer Dragons of the Sixth Age, while many of the First File carried Adamantium and Orichalcum.
It has never explicitly confirmed, but sources indicate the First File may be in possession of a pure Mithrill warhammer weighing some seventy pounds. If a buyer could be found, the value of this hammer would be equal to the annual budget of the Alliance Space Navy.
Order of the Cardinal Star
Though the First File was created out of paladins and clerics from many different organizations and religious orders, the original group to join Eieber and to eventually assimilate the entire File was the Order of the Cardinal Star, a non-denominational federation with traditions and edicts dating back to the early Dynastic Period.
When Eieber first brought together his file and established them as a military unit, he had no official training outlined, citing that anyone wishing to join "must already be a paladin". With so many groups throughout the newly established Alliance, it would have been easy for nearly anyone to claim the name of paladin or cleric. Elders of the Cardinal Star, backed by high-ranking Cardinal Clerics, established a set of rules and guidelines, created a series of tests (from which the Slayer Dragons derived the Trials), and eventually created a training facility. As Paladin orders slowly disappeared throughout the known worlds, the Order of the Cardinal Star absorbed their records and relics, and preserved some of their customs, until, by the early Fourth Age the Cardinal Star became the last-known functioning order.
By then, the original name of the Order was all but lost, and they were known only as the 'First File', or sometimes 'Paladins of the First File'. The Order of the Cardinal Star was a relic of distant past. In many ways, the Order had become what it set out to be: an all-encompassing, world-wide brotherhood of paladins. It merely took the slow decay and eventual disappearance of the rest of the orders for this to occur.
Each order has its own training and customs, but when the Order of the Cardinal Star was formed around 500 B.G.A., they gathered elements from many different orders.
The Cardinal Star's training was largely socratic in nature: paladins were trained by apprenticing under paladins, and carrying out the tasks and rituals even if they could not fully understand the purpose. The training also emphasized individual discovery; one of their most important rites was "the walkabout".
Before he could complete his training, a young Paladin was given a stick and a robe (though usually other traveling supplies would be included), and sent into the world to walk 1,000 miles, and keep a daily journal for the entire duration. Other forms of travel could be used during the walkabout, but the novice had to travel at least 1,000 miles on foot, all the while expected to carry out good and virtuous deeds, and live a selfless life. Upon his return, the young paladin would give his journal to the elders.
Tens of thousands of these journals are preserved in the Library of Arindell, and offer a great deal of information on the Greater Continent, the Marcon Alliance, and other events and locations of the late Dynastic and second chaotic periods of the Mage Wars.
"We Live for the Sword. We die for the Sword.": This is both the oath and the battle cry of the First File. The sword in question is the sword of the Pendragon, who has ultimate authority over the File. The oath was added in A.Y. 2439 in response to the first political appointments of Slayer Dragons, and was important as it signified that the File belonged to the Pendragon, and no-where else.