Alsara: Requiem and Revolution
Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon
The largest and most respected of the Paladin orders, the Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon (Order of the Falcon for short, or Falconers to be slightly derisive) is also the oldest, tracing its founding back to 614 AT, during the early stages of the Unification. This Order was created based on the principles of Aenor, and it initiated the spread of the Imperial Sept from the primary faith in Hauptstadt to the primary faith of the Empire, when a group of powerful clerics convinced the Emperor that one of the pillars of Unification is faith.
It then spread with the front lines of the Imperial army, when the Paladins would remain behind after someone signed the Pact of Unification in order to oversee the transition to the Imperial Sept. While they were at first unwelcome, Paladins eventually gained significant respect in conquered territories for both their holiness and their military acumen; because early recruits were pulled from the Imperial armed forces, they were nearly all capable and competent soldiers and commanders. By the start of 797 AT, the Order had solidified into what it is today: an organization of holy warriors, charged with upholding the laws of Aenor and the Imperial Sept.
Paladins of the Falcon are expected to both hunt down and sentence holy crimes, usually heresy or misuse of Spetan property (theft or defacement). They cannot absolve individuals of secular crimes through holy penance, though if a Cleric of Aenor should declare such penance necessary then a Paladin of the Radiant Falcon can aid or facilitate such a request. Lastly, they are sometimes called upon to serve as mediators between individuals, or as legal council in secular matters.
When push comes to shove, pursuit of holy justice is considered above pursuit of secular justice, and if a Paladin of the Falcon should be forced to break the Empire’s laws in order to uphold the Sept’s laws, then it is considered foul but legal. Traditionally, the Paladin is punished internally, sometimes with suspension or expulsion from the Order in the most severe of circumstances.
Paladins of the Falcon are charged to protect holy property and membership, including all functionaries in the Imperial Sept. They are not required to protect Imperial citizenry or private property not owned by the Sept or the Order, but may voluntarily do so if it does not significantly impede their other duties, or could be considered supporting them.
However, any Imperial citizen declared a criminal by the Emperor or his lawmen is considered an enemy to the faith, and sometimes Paladins are called upon to take action against rebels, bandits, or other such troublemakers.
Vows and Restrictions
- Paladins are not permitted to own land or property beyond personal possessions.
- Paladins are not permitted to marry.
- Paladins are not permitted to swear fealty to a specific lord or master beyond the Order or the Emperor.
- Paladins are expected to act according to the code of conduct befitting their station.
- Paladins are expected to attend holy service at least once a month.
- Paladins are expected to make any necessary personal sacrifice in the execution of their duties, including death.
These vows are not all held equally. For example, if someone should discover that a Paladin of the Radiant Falcon accepted bribes or has secretly married, they will be immediately expelled from their Order. However, if they miss service for several months or perform a favor for a noble which slightly interfered with their duties, then they are admonished and perhaps lightly punished, with suggestions not to do it again.
Lifestyle and Reputation
All Paladins of the Falcon are trained for battle, though some have had little direct experience with war. Even so, training is extremely important, and Paladins will spend a great deal of their time consumed by study and practice in order to keep their skills sharp; both on the battlefield and off of it. This, and their code of conduct, has gifted Paladins with a reputation of being relatively monastic and frighteningly competent warriors.
While all Paladins of the Falcon are responsible for defense and judgement, many will specialize in one or the other. Paladins focused on law will usually remain in a single township or city, serving as judge and holy investigator to ensure that the population remains pure. Some are known to travel a circuit not unlike their secular counterparts, providing justice where it is needed.
Paladins that concentrate on battle usually are either dispatched from major chapterhouses to solve problems as they arise, or they seek out adventure and evil so they might uphold the glory of Aenor’s teachings.
It is this last type of Paladin that has secured their image in the minds of the Imperial population. Paladins of the Radiant Falcon are widely known as kind and fair warriors, who protect the weak and show great generosity to the poor. They are the pinnacle of masculine strength, both polite and honorable while also righteous and powerful.
The truth is not far from the mark, though as always the organization is more fluid than it appears. The Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon has made a supreme effort to maintain the dignity of its reputation, which is constantly undermined by the facts that A: the Order has a function as lawkeepers in society, which requires both political finesse and investigative acumen, and B: the Order is comprised of human beings. It’s hard to determine which part holds them back more, but in the end the ideal does not match the reality. The Sept does much to suppress rumors of Paladin infidelity, and the Order does its best to punish unrighteous actions on the part of its membership, but in the end if such actions served the greater good of the Order and its purpose, they are grudgingly accepted as necessary.
Members of the Order of the Radiant Falcon are primarily Fighters with the Paladin archetype, though infrequently they are Aristocrats or Clerics.
The Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon has chapterhouses all across the Empire, though only a few in the Stepplelands, where the Order of the North Watch has mostly replaced them.