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The Holy Knights of Westmarch

The History of Zakarum

In ages past, the Archangel Yaerius visited a young ascetic named Akarat and revealed to him the tenets of what was to become the religion of Zakarum. These teachings stressed the necessity of resisting all things evil, and embracing, with total devotion, the Light. The angel appointed Akarat to be the prophet of these new teachings, and bade him take the word to the people of all lands. This new religion spoke directly to the common man, and the people of Kurast embraced it. They sent disciples throughout Kehjistan to spread the word. Popular religious leaders soon sprung up, endorsed by the new church, and within half a century Zakarum was the dominant order of faith and binding political force in the East.

During the mid-twelfth century, after the Church of Zakarum had gained prominence in the East, the Church decreed that the visions of Akarat would be spread throughout the known world in order to redeem the masses. Thus, the Church selected a group of its most charismatic and devoted priests and sent them on a mission to proselytize the people of the West.

Unfortunately, the Church had not prepared these men for the rigors of travel nor the hazards of the world. The priests who survived their missions recounted tales of harsh weather, inadequate supplies, attacks from bandits and even encounters with horrible monsters. To ensure the success of future missions, the Church set about training holy warriors, Paladins, to accompany and safeguard their missionaries. In practice, these "Protectors of the Word" proved to be more successful at converting the native peoples than the Priests that they were assigned to defend. Impressing the locals with daring deeds, powerful weapons, and martial prowess was far more convincing than the condemnations of a soft-spoken monk. However, once the Word had been spread to every major city of the West, the "Protectors of the Word" faded from public view.

Some decades later, Paladins were again called into service. During the height of the Time of Troubles, the Church commenced a second campaign of conversion. This time, however, the inconvincible were deemed evil. The Zakarum Inquisition spread through the lands like a tempest, laying waste to all suspected of demonic possession or corruption. Leading this crusade was a new generation of Paladins, known as the "Hand of Zakarum." These cavaliers of righteousness swept through the lands, expunging the taint of demonic contamination wherever they found it.

In the midst of this bloody crusade, a rebellion arose within the ranks of the Paladins of Zakarum. The rebels condemned the methods of the Inquisition, proclaiming that the new Order of Paladins should protect the innocent, and that the evil corruption was rooted in their forebear's failure. They resolved to fight the true source of corruption, the Three Prime Evils - Diablo, Baal and Mephisto. And so, these rebellious Paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured west.

It was in the west that these rebellious knights traveled and spread the Zakarum relegion as it was meant to be done by Akarat. Several libraries and abbeys were built in Khanduras and Westmarch, the two predominant kingdoms in the West.

The History of the Holy Knights of Westmarch

As Leoric's madness grew he ordered Lachdanan and the Knights into battle against our brothers and cousins who had remained behind in Westmarch when Leoric had assumed control over Khanduras. Lachdanan took us into battle for what it was worth, as it was a heartless and uninspired war. Nonetheless Lachdanan's loyalty to the mad king remained true and he, we, fought with valor if not bravely to most of our deaths.

As time past on Leoric's son was reported missing and Leoric had been executing many of the towns people for treason. Lachdanan ordered our battered and beaten army to retreat back to Khanduras, and to make ammends with those who had suffered in Westmarch. I had grown up quickly in those few years, and was placed in charge of a small group of Knights who were to remain behind to organize and return the dead knights of both armies to their final resting places in the Westmarch cemeteries. We were told to remain in Westmarch till we received further orders, and in keeping with those orders five other knights and I took up residence in a small cathedral; no one would accept us in the local inns because they were still rightfully angry over our unprovoked attack.

It was then that my fellow knights and I began our intense study of Zakarum in the stoned walls of the cathedral where we lived. Reading old books of magic we learned skills now invaluable to us, and choose to lead our lives in the highest of standards. Priests fed us knowledge of Zakarum and of the Light and of the ways of the Seraphim, the Arch-Angels. Practicing and forging our skills on one another we became closer to the light and it consumed us.

Increasingly we did however, begin to worry about Lachdanan and the rest of our weakened army who had gone back to Tristram in Khanduras. Rumors began to spread thoughout the village that Tristram had fallen to the lord of terror, Diablo. We had read of the battle of good vs evil and understood its implications, but wrongly believed at the time that Diablo was still in imprisoned in the Soulstone. It was not until an unknown warrior who returned Diablo to the Soulstone did we learn the truth. Diablo had consumed the town and its' people including Leoric, Lachdanan, and Lazarus, who was responsible for the war with Westmarch. Details were vague at best, and memories and people passed on, so the story and its truths were lost to time. Had we known of the threat we would have returned to Tristram, but alas it was not our destiny.

As things settled down in the two kingdoms the other knights and myself started an Academy that focused on the teachings of the Zakarum. That faith is a shield in battle. That the holiness of the Light and Zakarum above all else is sacred and must be upheld. Spiritual cleanliness of mind and body is the cornerstone of our lives. Strength of body is there only when there is no peaceful resolve. We fight to preserve and spread the word of the light and let nothing stand in our way or oppress our people or beliefs, or it shall face a wrath the likes it has never seen nor will survive to tell about:

The Holy Knights of Westmarch