The origin of paladins is unknown. Anecdotal evidence suggests that their existence as far back as the first chaotic period of the Mage Wars. Some orders have claimed to date back into Antiquity and even older, though it is more likely they are referring to traditions and not an actual organizational heredity.
while no two orders are alike, Paladins all share one thing in common: they are holy warriors, fighting on the side of good. Unlike Clerics, all Paladins belong to religious orders devote to the One King or one or all of the Four Kings. While Clerics are more ritualistic, paladins a very strong in faith.
Paladin magic is not dissimilar from more widely-practiced forms, and indeed the power comes from the same place. Most paladins are Endo-Mages, though many orders include some exo-magic techniques. The key difference is that, while traditional magic is based on need, the Paladin's magic comes from faith.
Because all magic is need-driven, Paladins use their belief to cast spells. This makes them in many cases much more powerful than the average mage, especially as a military unit. Though solitary paladins exist, most were parts of squadrons or small military forces. These proved exceptionally powerful in battle. With training emphasizing stamina and the ability to heal themselves and each other, Paladin forces could often defeat armies several orders of magnitude over their size.
Paladin training involves two parts: basic skills, and faith. Paladins are primarily heavy armor combatants, so their conventional training focuses around weapons, armor, and martial combat. Horsemanship is also taught alongside mounted combat. The Order of the Cardinal Star requires paladins to excel in three specific areas: the hammer, the heavy sword, and longbow. From a purely militaristic standpoint, this gives the paladin incredible versatility, allowing them to act as ranged(bow), defensive(sword and shield), and offensive(two-handed hammer), as the situation calls for it.
Additionally, even when dismounted, a paladin can run as fast as a horse(with the aid of magic) and most are exceptionally agile, making close-range bow attacks also possible. The addition of fully-armored, mounted combatants and light-armored, high speed mounted, makes an army of paladins undefeatable in conventional warfare.
The faith-portion of a paladin's training is considerably more difficult, and much more personal. Paladins do not carry traditional cruciform swords, but rather the Cordosa Sword, which transforms the power of their faith into a blade. An initiate becomes a paladin the day he can activate the Cordosa Sword; but for many this is a quest that may take a lifetime to achieve. Only a small number of initiates become Paladins, most become either clerics, or continue their training indefinitely.
Paladins in the Alliance
Eieber was quick to gather an army of Paladins, even bringing together those from many different orders. He used them as his personal guard whenever he went into battle on the front lines (which he often did), and eventually established several units.
By the end of the Mage Wars, five main denominations of paladins existed.
- The Order of the Western Wind
- The Order of the Eastern Sea
- The Order of the Northern Front
- The Order of the Southern Stone
- The Order of the Cardinal Star
The Four Cardinal Orders shared largely similar theology, though they differed on some key areas. It is understood that there was very little discourse between the factions, and that the schism was driven by economic considerations rather than ideological differences. Surviving accounts disagree; some indicate that there was bitter rivalry between the factions, while others tell that the each paladin was a brother to all other paladins.
Historian Herbet Patric Galactis holds that both opinions are true. As surviving accounts come from diaries and personal letters, not observations or contemporary accounts, Galactis reasoned that what we are seeing is merely what you would garner from any sample-set. Every group is nested fractal, there are some hard-liners with strong beliefs, and others of more mild disposition. It is generally considered that Paladins from any denomination would band together for the common good, and mostly accepted that disagreements were limited more to spirited debate.
The Order of the Western Wind
The Order of the Western Wind is the oldest-known sect of Paladins. They were perhaps the leading force in the formation of the Order of the Cardinal Star. Many of the Western order's records now reside in the Library of Arindell, however they are largely written in obscure dialects and difficult to decipher.
It is considered likely that the Western Wind was the original order, and that the other three split from them.