Order of Paladins
Soldiers within the Army of Titan's cavalry division are given the option of joining the Order of Paladins, where they are trained by priests to eventually become paladins, mounted warriors possessing holy and healing magic in addition to their warrior training. The Order of Paladins were initially the guardians of the priests for the Goddess Hallith, a minor deity who holds dominion over Light and Healing magics in Dragon Court. Hallith's sect has always been friendly to Titan and gladly took the opportunity to mesh with Titan's military in exchange for protected status and full citizenship within the great nation.
Both enlisted knights and officers may issue to petition to join. Should the Knight Templar deem a petitioner worthy, he will initiate him into the Order. Once inducted, paladins hold themselves to the Order's code, following a set of strict rules and beliefs. Paladins fight in the name of good, to defend Titan against evil, and to help their allies whenever they can.
The primary training these men undergo is not militaristic in nature, but rather, spiritual. Thus, the warriors who seek to become paladins are often of good nature, inclined to do good in the world, whenever they can, so long as that the means they achieve this is also of ethical value. Though they are not required to devote themselves to any religious beliefs, many do -- seeing their advancement to become a paladin as a calling of their faith.
In battle, these knights become an icon of moral value, fighting with a sort of righteous fury, tending to their fallen allies with care, while smiting their foe with extreme might. Serving as one of the army's strongest offensive units, paladins also serve as the primary contra-undead force within the army, in addition to being field medics. Their years of training in holy magic allow them to turn the undead, so long as the Paladin is strong enough physically and spiritually. The Order of Paladins also often act as escorts and bodyguards for the priests when traveling. When appearing in a ceremonial function, the Archbishops and Cardinal of the priests are always accompanied by an honor guard of paladins.
Standard issue equipment for the paladins is a blessed longsword and warhammer -- acting as a secondary weapon, or primary for paladins whose religion forbids cutting weapons -- a cavalry shield, full plate armor, a lance bearing the colors and pennant of the Order, warhorse and steel barding.
Enlisted cavalry joining the Order are given a rank equivalent to their prior rank in the Army. Officers join as Crusaders, the first rank considered equivalent to an officer rank. The Knight Templar leads the Order, oversees inductions, as well as promotions. He may act solely at his discretion, but more likely with the aid of a committee of high ranking and long standing Paladins. The majority of the forces sent into battle will be Cavaliers and Knights, led by Crusaders, with the higher-ranking officers serving with the command officers as cavalry advisers.
The following is the list of ranks used by the Order, and their abbreviations:
PA-5: Knight Templar (KtT)
The Knight Templar serves as Grand Master of the Order of Paladins. Overseeing their deployment, he represents the division in the Emergency War Council, controls admittance and inductions into the Order, and declares promotions in rank. The Knight Templar may chose to be Grand Master of the Order for a life sentence, whereby a new Knight Templar is chosen upon his death, or may relinquish and pass on his command of the Order, while still holding the rank and title.
The Knight Templar himself must be a master of healing and holy magic, having been fully trained by Titan's priests, tempered by his years on the battlefield. The Knight Templar is the only one of the paladins given access and instruction to the most powerful healing and anti-undead spells.
Only through great spiritual strength and utmost devotion can a paladin rise to this rank, proving to the Order that his spiritual connection is the greatest amongst them all. Through long years of dedicated service, the Knight Templar proves his fortitude in combat and tactical cunning by obeying the Order's code and mastering the highest levels of holy magic. Only by devoting himself to his spirituality does the paladin gain grace enough to ascend.
PA-4: Paladin (Pal)
To hold the rank of Paladin is to hold an esteemed position within the Order. Often they serve the Knight Templar directly as a voice in councils and deliberations, their word and thought carrying weight.
What separates a Paladin from a Crusader is the individual's spirituality and faith. This is shown by a higher level of mastery in the magical forces called upon by the paladins to aid them on the field. It is believed that through a strong enough devotion, the soul of a man transcends to a greater level of good, infusing his very essence with spiritual power.
As combat veterans, Paladins are usually the oldest standing members of the Order, who have adequately demonstrated their faith to the Knight Templar.
PA-3: Crusader (Cru)
The rank of Crusader is the first rank considered to be an officer's class. Cavalry officers who are accepted into the Order begin with the rank of Crusader once they have completed the requisite study and training in the spiritual and holy arts. It is for this reason that very rarely will a senior cavalry officer petition to join the Order.
Enlisted men who rise to this rank have demonstrated their aptitude and ability to lead on the field, but are also worthy spiritually of the greater burden of responsibilities and tasks, the undertaking of which will soon be required. Both initiate officers who are freshly inducted and the enlisted paladins who rise through the Order undergo rigorous training in the paladins' magical and holy capacities, guided by the Priests. Much time is allotted for this training so that they may learn and understand the devotion required to the studies. It is believed that spiritual enlightenment can be reached through extensive prayer, faith, and manipulation of their magic.
It is at this rank that these knights become more than knights of the Order, but truly paladins: defenders of justice and light.
PA-2: Cavalier (Cav)
Cavaliers constitute the elite of the enlisted portion of men. Having shown themselves worthy in terms of leadership, demonstrating adequate expertise of their healing talents, and spiritual development, the Knight rises to Cavalier.
The missions given to Cavaliers are often more dangerous, and also include the first intentional encounters with undead (naturally with battle clerics or higher ranking paladins at their side). Expected to have mastered the virtues and codes of both the Order, and knighthood, emphasis is placed on training these men spiritually.
Prayer and meditation become incorporated into the Cavalier's routine, in addition to his study under Titan's priests. The Cavalier's own faith, and advancement in chivalry, leadership, and mastery of magic, allow him to rise to Crusader, and become an officer.
PA-1: Knight (Kn)
When a Squire has shown competence and evolution to his Sire, and successfully challenges him, he is bestowed his knighthood. Though already a member of the Order, the transition from Squire to Knight is seen as a rite of passage, whereby the Knight becomes a full member of the Order.
From here, Knights must demonstrate themselves to be worthy warriors of not only the battlefield, but also their own spirituality. To do this, they must master basic magical concepts and talents. Though no longer Squires, Knights are still treated with more patience than those ranked above them, and given a guiding hand.
Swearing to loyalty, piety, and fraternity, Knights are expected to hold these virtues in all their actions.
PA-0: Squire (Sq)
Squires form the bottom rung of the Paladin's hierarchy. They are newly recruited to both the Army and the Order. Though their numbers are small, squires in the past have proved to be promising pupils and later worthy knights.
Usually, the youngest of the Order, Squires must be taught both of the ways of the Paladins and of chivalry. Squires are apprenticed to a higher ranking Paladin, who takes the squire in as a mentor The Sire teaches his ward of the Paladins' code.
Rarely do they participate in battle, often instead they help their sire prepare, and watch from a distance on the field. As a result, much of their training is from observation, rather than formal teaching. Towards the end of their time as an apprentice, Squires are introduced to their studies in healing and holy magic, in addition to their studies of chivalry. When a Squire proves that he is capable of fighting on his own, and also understood the virtues required to be a Paladin, he challenges his Sire in a ritual battle. The outcome of the battle determines whether the Squire will rise to the rank of Knight.