The most incorruptible of knights are entrusted the highest social status – and the greatest challenge. These paladins are charged with hunting down the most dangerous threats to the world and smiting them in combat until they are incapacitated. For their most dangerous foes are not fellow knights.
Creatures of living shadow lurk throughout the world, bleeding over from some coterminous Hell. Cycloptic, always grinning mad, and immortal, the shadows have the power to assimilate a host and take them over in acts of possession that ultimately drive their victims mad and have them waste away.
While shadows cannot be killed they can instead be sealed: every paladin is partnered with both a conjurer-priest who seals away subdued shadows, and the now-sentient shadow-bound weapons the paladins use in battle. In this fashion the shadows are kept under guard and their strength is of use in the defense of mankind, but even in this way paladins can only bear so much corruption.
If enough shadows were able to cross over unchecked they would likely take over all of mankind. Periodically whole cells of paladins thought to be stalwart against corruption spontaneously fly into slaughter and self-destruction. The shadows’ plans, when interrogated, include eclipsing the sun, spreading influence over the planet, and coming to possess every free-willed being that they can. Paladins and their allies work tirelessly to prevent this Armageddon.
(I do not own the images in the above collage, and all copyrights belong to their respective owners.)
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