Of the Templar Orders of the Pentatra
There are four Templar Orders within the Pentatra. After the death of so many clerics during the last Rising, the Paladins of the Templar Orders have been forced to work with increased fervor to aid folk across the Shards. Though the common goal of the four Orders would seem to insure that they work together, nothing could be farther from the truth. Though the Orders are dedicated to Law and Good, their perceptions and agendas are filtered through the teachings of their patron god, who accept the Paladins as holy warriors who can serve some of the god's needs and agendas even though they may not be identically aligned. Devotion and duty are the core of a paladin's life, and some gods are willing to grant them their favor through one of their many aspects.
The oldest of the Pentatra’s Templar Orders is by far the Golden Templar Knights, paladins of Avashek, and less frequently Avasha. They are most concerned with the safety and security of the inhabited shards.
Avashek is a proponent of strict discipline and unwavering vigilance. His paladins are highly regarded in Fioré, where they are sometimes called upon to aid the Warders of the Shield Wall in keeping the minions of the Beneath at bay. In Fioré, a Templar Knight swears oaths to both the Overking and the Golden Church. It should be noted that though Fioré worships Avashek and Avasha, the Golden Church is Fioré's only religion, and is an offshoot from the Golden Temple that predates the destruction of the first Pentatra. Thus, the paladins of the Golden Church and the Golden Temple worship the same gods, and even accept one another as brothers- in-arms, but they are in truth two different orders of paladins with differences in religious beliefs and styles of worship.
Due to Avashek’s strict hierarchy, the Golden Templar Knights are somewhat slow to mobilize. When the Templar Knights do arrive for battle, they are a terror to behold. Their lack of speed is made up for by flawless precision, a deep knowledge of battlefield strategy, and an almost mechanical relentlessness in fending off the forces of evil.
The most common symbol of the Golden Templar Knights is the Blade Mandala, a circle of swords decorated with the Eye of Vigilance upon each sword’s crosspiece. The Blade Mandala is the holy symbol of Avashek, the principal divine force that guides the Golden Templar Knights. Another symbol of Avashek is the faithful mastiff.
The unlikely hero Saint Talrecky rode a mastiff named Volengaard as his sacred steed. Saint Talrecky was a manx thief and sorceror who repented his mischievous ways and became a paladin of Avashek during the Beneath’s Second Rising. Talrecky and Volengaard died from the poisonous blood of the Great Ebon Beast that they drove back into the depths on the field of Nom Al Shari, outside of Ozaan. The Al Shari monks hold the body of Talrecky as a holy relic.
Talrecky is also called the ‘Burnished Sword’. He lived and fought during a time when the Golden Templar Knights had no champion. The Shining Sword, as the Champion of Avashek is known, is a master of blades, a saint of swords, and is gifted with various Divine Gifts that allow him to fight evil and defeat the enemies of the Grim God. For the entire span of Talrecky’s life, the post of Shining Sword was vacant. Some say this was a sign that Talrecky was meant to be the Shining Sword, despite the disdain for manx that the Golden Temple held at the time.
The eagle is also sacred to Avashek. It is a bird of good omen, and represents the Ever-Watching god’s keenness of vision. Some paladins of renown ride giant eagles as bonded mounts.
Paladins of Avashek are most common in Ozaan and Fioré. They are welcome in Velsephay and on most drakken shards. Dwarves have a special reverence for paladins of the Golden Temple, for the Templar Knights and the dwarves have a similar philosophy: defend the home until your dying breath, and avenge the deaths of the innocent.
Avashek’s colors are gold and white.
Another major Templar Order is that of Chaltis, the Fiery Goddess of War. The paladins of the Bloody-Handed Goddess espouse action and aggressive combat against the forces of the Beneath.
Unfortunately, this particular ethic has led to the Crimson Templars being devastated on more than one occasion as they crusaded against the Beneath. Paladins of the Fiery Goddess tend to live fast and die young in glorious battle against the Beneath.
Paladins of Chaltis know no fear, and are willing to give their lives to save others or destroy great evil. Though bound to serve law and good, paladins of Chaltis prefer to keep mobile so that they might quickly respond to evil.
Though the Golden Templar Knights inspire fear out of their precision and discipline, the Flails of Chaltis cause foes to think twice before engaging them for the exact opposite reason.
They are hotheaded zealots to whom no price or gamble is too extreme if good will triumph. No matter what the odds, paladins of Chaltis will plunge into combat, trusting the war goddess to protect their lives. The fearsome charge of the frenzied Flails of Chaltis can break a line of trolls or hill giants; where the paladins of Chaltis lack precision and military discipline, they make up for it in fanaticism and a lust for the death of evil.
The most elite of all of Chaltis’ paladins are her battlemaidens. These women are brought up far from civilization, so that they know nothing of worldly evil or sin. Trained in the wilds, they learn to survive on their own by the age of eight. They constantly travel, fighting evil and learning Chaltis’ teachings. Only when they reach the age of fourteen are they given the flail of Chaltis and allowed to dye their hair red and braid it as a warrior; up to this point, they must slay evil with their bare hands and weapons made from simple materials. These fiery haired maids know only service to Chaltis. Only sixty battlemaidens exist at any one time. The exact location of their training grounds is unknown.
Paladins of Chaltis are slightly pessimistic when off the field of battle. They often assume danger lurks in the near future, and stockade supplies and weapons near their temples in secret caches. More than one siege was ended due to reinforcements arriving after a paladin of Chaltis escaped the siege via a preplanned secret escape route. Paladins of Chaltis are likewise always ready to arm the common people when evil rears its head. During the Summer of Darkness, farmers and peasants learned to immediately go to the nearest Red Temple to receive arms when the Beneath’s aerial forces were spotted. Paladins of Chaltis almost always managed these Temple armories.
Chaltis’ symbol is the ring of fire surrounding a red spiked gauntlet. When worked into weapons, armor, or holy symbols, the ring of fire is made of layers of shining copper, gold, and bronze. The gauntlet is fashioned from red enamel.
Chaltis’ sacred animal is the phoenix, which destroys itself only to be reborn. Her paladins often ride hippogriffs or small dragon-like flying reptiles simply called the ‘Steeds of Chaltis’.
Her paladins and clerics clothe themselves in robes of scarlet with gold or silver trim. They often wear skullcaps decorated with a fire pattern wrought in copper, gold and bronze.
Thyrang's paladins are preoccupied with enforcing the natural order and combating the Beneath, particularly the legions of undead it spawns. They view greater good arising from these threats, and sometimes fail to see the good they could do on a more local, individual level. The sanctity of burial sites is important to these paladins, and often they focus their attention on the guardianship of the dead rather than the happiness of the living. This has earned them the nickname of the Grave Order, and their paladins the name Sepulcher Knights.
Paladins of Thyrang are often seen as harsh and are seldom given to free use of the healing gifts of their god. Natural healing is preferred, and is seen as spiritually enriching, as well as somewhat educational.
Paladins of Thyrang dislike what they see as the mollycoddling the masses. They would rather train a village to defend themselves against attack from hostile forces and then leave to track down an undead threat than stay to protect the village. The Thyrangian paladin values strength, self-sufficiency and courage, and encourages those virtues in others.
Paladins of Thyrang are not given to the more militant structure of Avashek and Chaltis' orders. They tend to operate alone, or in small groups, reporting regularly to their temple to determine if there is work that demands their attention. Rarely are large troops or the entire order called upon to do battle. Though well disciplined and mighty in battle, they are not well-versed in unit tactics