When Ustalav was choking in Tar-Baphon’s grasp an unseen union of desperate resistance was eventually born and formed what is now known as the Shining Crusade. Lead by the undead-vanquising Knights of Ozem the crusade pushed back the Whispering Tyrant’s armies bit by bit in countless bloody battles.
While unable to fully destroy the archlich, the Shining Crusade, aided by various deities and faiths, managed to seal Tar-Baphon within Gallowspire, bringing relative peace and a time of healing to Ustalav. Now, the crusade has greatly shrunk in size, with the majority of the back-then bulk having established the nation of Lastwall from where new campaigns of righteousness are orchestrated.
Still, the Shining Crusade remains in Ustalav, and while its influence as dimmed, it is still quite active in the face of darkness and several of its orders have a place within Ustalav, as listed below.
Knights of Ozem
The Knights of Ozem were once the leaders of the Shining Crusade, made up of elite knights united by their desire to destroy the Whispering Tyrant. After their hard-earned victory this order established the nation of Lastwall from where they joined the Fifth Mendevian Crusade, marching against the Worldwound in the North.
In Ustalav their presence has thinned much since then with their biggest and most established base being Renchurch, which oversees the exclusion zone around Gallowspire, Tar-Baphon’s prison.
Tamrivena: Wallguard / Foreguard
Tamrivena, Ustalav’s breadbasket, hosts the majority of the Shining Crusade’s recruitment efforts. In this city, would-be crusaders are either assigned to the Wallguard, in charge of inner-city security, or the Foreguard, who in turn patrols the borders with the Belkzen orc lands. Eventually, aside from promotion and career opportunities within Tamrivena, crusaders then move to one of the various crusader orders or head on towards the Worldwound.
Recently, command of the Wallguard was assigned to the captain on the Foreguard until further notice.
The various aristocratic knight orders within the Shining Crusade are colloquially referred to as Radoch’s Pikes. Each is technically a small order on its own, established by perhaps a noble family, an influential count or any other similar authority figure.
The pikes focus on glorious cavalry charges and supplement their ranks with conscripts and mercenaries from within their respective areas of influence while also closely coordinating with the Golden Bulwark.
The Golden Bulwark is an order of stalwart defenders blessed to the empyreal lord Arqueros. Its members are known for their massive tower shields and armors as well as their heroic last stands, defending helpless cities against corruption until the rest of the Shining Crusade can be mobilized for a decisive strike of victory.
Due to this the Golden Bulwark tends to cooperate tightly with Radoch’s Pikes, who usually serve as the liberation of the Bulwark’s positions.
Just as necromantic corruption can be burned out, the more human kind of corruption can be cleansed and reforged. Thus established were the Red Rams, named after their celestial patron Neshen. Within this order former criminals and evildoers are given a second but harsh chance to redeem themselves with harsh years of obedience and physical duress.
The Red Rams are largely supervised and organized by Radoch’s Pikes, who oversee the redemption of the Rams and bolster their ranks with them.
During Tar-Baphon’s rule, the Ebon Vanguard was an order of spies, infiltrators, and scouts devoted to Kelinahat, She of Ebon Wings. With their subterfuge and celestial shadow magic the order members broke into strategic key locations and prepared the crusader’s assault as best as possible.
With the fall of the Whispering Tyrant and the relocation of the Knights of Ozem the Ebon Vanguard now has taken on another role: that of the Shining Crusade’s inquisition and military police, frequently endorsed and supported by the Grey Pentinence.