Many ages ago, before Thera became as civilized as it now is, the land was seething of chaos and death. Every individual had to look out for themselves and their loved ones, and people used any means they could find to gain power. Magic was strong in the world, and without it no one could survive for long. Into this world was born a young dwarf without the ability to manipulate these magical forces. From his first memories he had to fight for his life against those using magic to oppress and destroy his family and loved ones. So he fought, studied, and learned the ways of a warrior, taking his battle prowess to a level previously unheard of in all the land. Soon his might grew to be so great that he realized magic was weakening those who opposed him rather than strengthening them. To prove his point, he laid siege to the Tower of Magic, a tyrannical group who ruled through fear of their mighty enchantments. For many hours he fought without tire, slaying mage upon mage, and a wall of bodies grew about him, sheltering him from others who would swarm upon him. However, the goddess of magic, Xyza, seeing this rampant destruction of her devoted followers laid a plan to see this valiant warrior struck from the face of Thera forever. She channeled a bolt of raw energy through the hands of a follower, striking the warrior down, and draining his life from him.
This act of courage was witnessed by the Lord Aegnor, and he knew that he had found his champion. So he gathered the young dwarf's soul and wove it into a great War Banner, which was then given a name of power. Aegnor took this War Banner and founded a group of warriors who followed the beliefs of this warrior. They forsook the taint of magic and studied the arts of war. These warriors became known as the Crusaders of Valor.
Essentially, the Crusader is a powerful knight that seeks the path of purity and valor. His/her body and spirit are pure, and he/she is in the best physical and mental condition possible. Crusaders may serve any god, and are known to vary in alignment and ethos accordingly. Although a Crusader can be of any class, most are warriors, thieves, rangers, or monks. The other professions usually result in "inferior" Crusaders after they have given up any magical talent they possess.
Crusaders learn several useful battle skills. They are also granted the ability to recall from their immortal leader. But their two strongest powers come from their two core traits. A Crusader's dedication to the combat arts, combined with the blessing of the gods, and the purity of his/her body, give him/her the ability to reflect spells back upon their caster. And the dedication that the Crusader shows allows him/her to fight on when the damage sustained would slay the normal foe. A Crusader that shows a constant lack of one of these traits will lose their ability of the corresponding power.
Over the Eons the leadership of the Crusaders have passed through many hands. When Lord Aegnor became unable to lead the cause, Lord Ceran took up the banner and led them. After Lord Ceran, Lord Julive took up the banner to lead the Crusaders. During this time there was much treachery rampant within the House, and it was disbanded by the pantheon, and Julive imprisoned. But through a pact with Lord Awrathre, Julive escaped his banishment, and rebuilt the Crusader's Keep in a new location. At this time, Lord Julive also drained the essence of the War Banner and imbued it into a mighty gauntlet. However, Julive proved to be a traitor, and when he abandoned the Crusaders, his place was taken by Maelstrom, the god of storms, who leads the House to this day. Under the immortal leadership of Maelstrom, Nycholas was granted mortal leadership for quite some time. Through undying devotion to the Crusades he eventually was chosen to ascend to the heavens and now aids Maelstrom to this very day.
Through the ages the direction of the Crusades has also changed many times. In the beginning there were many bent on utter destruction of all who would weave the words of magic, which led to the senseless slaughter of many innocent denizens of Thera. Now through the wise immortal leadership of Maelstrom the powers of the Crusade are kept in balance by the requirement that all those who wish to join the ranks fight with honor. Through unending vigilance, Maelstrom had discovered that mortals with clumsy fingers and slow minds were draining the source which all that use magical power call upon faster than Xyza, the One True Spell, could replenish. Unaffected herself, Xyza continues to this day to share the magical source which the remainder of the Pantheon's lives depend. Now those serving the Crusades are commanded to turn their blades on those who squander that which they have no right to and gain the support of all Thera.
An applicant should send a note to 'Crusader' so that the current members may evaluate the applicants worth. The application should include the applicant's name, race, profession, rank, ethos, alignment, reasons for applying, and why he/she is worthy to join the elite.