The al'ukhuwwat al'ida' is one of the oldest and most secretive organizations on Terranis. Formed in the late first century, it began with a self-styled “Prophet of God” speaking to the people across numerous cities on Occidus, leading a pilgrimage eastwards. Once they arrived in Jorandek, the pilgrims, now numbering in the thousands, sold most of their possessions in exchange for a handful of ships and all the supplies they could load, and set sail to the north.
They arrived at the northern island of Korandus, a frozen and uninhabited land. Building a mighty citadel amid the mountains near the heart of the island, the pilgrims, under the Prophet’s direction, began to train and form a martial order.
Twenty years later, envoys of this new Order of Light, bearing expertly crafted arms and armor and an unquenchable faith in Ilu and themselves, appeared before most of the rulers of Terranis to spread the word of their mission to protect Terranis and humanity from its most dangerous threats.
Although the various nations were of course highly suspicious at first, they began to tolerate and eventually even welcome the paladins after decades of non-intervention in everyday politics, as well as appearing during many of the worst outbreaks of Great Enemy activity to defeat the monsters. The skill displayed by the paladins was unrivaled in the militaries of Terranis, a single paladin able to fight as effectively as a dozen or more soldiers, and a full unit of paladins being essentially unbeatable in battle. Their war-cry of "Aradah Ilu!" has come to signal salvation on countless occasions.
Over the centuries, the Order of Light has fought a constant war in the shadows, protecting Terranis from threats most of humanity is never even aware of. Demon lords emerge onto the physical plane, seeking to wreak havoc on a major city, only to find a team of paladins already waiting for them.
Sometimes the Order is not able to stop an attack before it strikes against mankind. One example of this is the Dragon War, when the demon lord Dagorleth broke into our reality at the head of a vast horde of monsters and nearly destroyed Saernis City. Although the militaries of Terranis were able to eventually repel the major hordes, it was the paladins leading precise strikes that drove the dragon god back to its lair, before over three hundred paladins descended beneath the earth to kill Dagorleth once and for all.
Part of why the Order is recognized and welcomed by the governments of Terranis is their general non-intervention in state-level politics. Once in a great while, though, the Order is forced to intervene to keep the flames of war from becoming too strong. A prime example of this is the War of the Thrones. As the king and queen of Doramor tore their country apart in a battle for supremacy over each other, the Order stepped in. A hundred paladins suddenly appeared outside the gates of the palace, and stormed inside. Unsurprisingly, no one was able to stop them. Bringing the king and queen both before the High Paladin, a treaty was ratified that same day, and the thrones abdicated to the eldest child, ending the war and reuniting Doramor under a single banner once more.
To maintain its numbers, the Order dispatches numerous agents across the world, traveling from city to city, town to town, searching for those who have the innate gifts and potential to become paladins. Young children are chosen, generally no more than nine or ten years of age. The exact criteria these agents look for has never been publicly revealed, but aptitude at magic is an obvious one. Genetic disposition towards exceptional physical and mental strength are widely believed to be other traits, although the selectors seem to discern this more on an instinctual level. Another rumored criterion is the would-be aspirant is fully asexual, as in they have absolutely no innate sexual desires at all, rendering them utterly immune to seduction, a trait that no doubt has tremendous value when dealing with the lower elements of society or certain kinds of demons.
Whatever the actual criteria are, when the selectors request to take the child (if they have parents), though it is a voluntary choice, no one has ever refused.