Order of Crusaders
|Deity||Paulus, Goddess of Justice|
|Place of Worship||Temples|
|High Priest||Donbless, the Justice Maker|
|Major Temple||Crusaders Temple (Teufeldorf)|
The Order of Crusaders was founded in the mid second century TA. While many orders of crusaders and paladins have existed over the Ages, the paladins and cavaliers of the Order of Crusaders - the knights of Paulus - is the oldest and largest organization of its type in the Realm. Following the strict edict of purity, honesty and truth, the Order of Crusaders work relentlessly to destroy evil in all its forms. While the rules of the Order are harsh, its followers are held in the highest regard by society. They are also the most feared by their detractors and the forces of evil in the land.
Its sister organization, the Order of the Silver Throne, is open to clerics wishing to follow the path of Paulus.
Those wishing to be tested and trained to join the Order of Crusaders should seek Donbless, called the Justice Maker, at the Crusaders Temple in Teufeldorf. In the Eastern Reaches, interested individuals should contact Commandant Bracken in Middlefield.
The Battle of the Silver Throne
As the Reaches emerged from the darkness that ended the Second Age, it was a land filled with danger, treachery and despair. Small bands of thieves and highwaymen fell upon any who strayed onto the roads at night. Towns and cities were terrorized by madmen and tyrants preying on the poor, weak and unfortunate. It was a dark time in the early Third Age.
From this darkness came a most remarkable young woman - Paulus. Short and stout with a shock of curly brown hair, Paulus did not look the part of a heroine. While few details of her background exist, rumors hold that Paulus grew up as an orphan - cared for by sisters of a local monastery. By all accounts, she was brutally honest, just, and gave no mercy to the evil elements of Teufeldorf. Paulus gained a reputation by the sword - which she wielded in absolute judgment. Dozens and perhaps hundreds of evil-doers fell to her crusade.
Each duel and battle started and ended the same way. Paulus carried with her a large yellow crystal about the size of a clenched fist. Before battle, she would offer her opponent a chance to redeem themselves to law and good. If they refused - which most did - Paulus would slay them with her sword and then as they lay dying, she would touch the crystal to their body. According to legend, the crystal would grow a bit brighter after this ceremony - and the body of the evil-doer would become a desiccated husk. The crystal became known as the Crystal of Conversion.
For those who surrendered to Paulus and repented their evil ways, Paulus would touch the crystal to their forehead - causing the gem to dim slightly. It is said that the men and women so touched would become paragons of law, good, and virtue - most taking up the sword as Paulus' paladins. If the story is to be believed, these paladins lived out their lives in perfect abeyance to the Order.
As Paulus' reputation grew, so did the challenge to her precepts of law and order. A gathering of evil and chaos began coalescing in the dark parts of the city. One bright sunny day in November 169 TA, Paulus challenged all comers to a fight. She would single-handedly take on any wishing to oppose her - and the prize would be a throne made of solid silver. True to her word, a silver throne was erected in the center of the largest plaza in Teufeldorf. Paulus stood next to throne - her sword in one hand, the crystal in the other. As the bells rang the noontide, the attack began. How many Paulus slew that day is a matter of wild speculation - dozens, hundreds, a thousand - no one knows. With each death, Paulus would offer redemption - with each refusal the crystal grew brighter.
As her strength finally ebbed and the forces of evil overran the paladin and her silver throne, Paulus threw the crystal to the ground - shattering it. A wave of white light flooded over the plaza - reaching most of those who sought to do her harm. Some touched were turned to husks. But others, hundreds, now stood - shining in the white light, the taint of evil erased from their minds and hearts. These were the purified - paladins who would carry on the work Paulus had begun.
And so the Order of Crusaders was born. For the next eight hundred years, the Order has sought those who are pure of heart and dedicated to eradicating evil in all its forms. Their bond is to absolute truth, law and good. The silver throne still sits in the Crusaders Temple - a few shards of the crystal now bereft of magic - are in a small reliquary built into the throne. The magic of the Order is now gained from daily prayers to Paulus. She rewards those that follower her example, and she punishes those who stray.
The Cult of the Dagda-Mor
It is said that the Cult of the Dagda-Mor was born the same day as the Order of Crusaders - for those not destroyed by the orb or turned by Paulus fled the plaza with the silver throne. There, in the dark shadows of the city, they plotted their revenge. While the newly-created paladins were pure of heart and incorruptible, those that followed were not. Time has many names for the cult's followers - anti-paladins, ex-paladins, and the Fallen. It is said even today that the temptations of the Dagda-Mor have led many stalwart men and women to stray from the path of Paulus.