"I am a paladin of the Hand of Zakarum. I root out corruption and heresy wherever I find it."— Amphi(src)
The Hand of Zakarum (a.k.a. "Paladins of Zakarum") was the name given to the second paladin order of Zakarum. Consecrated by the Church, and once able to wield the powers of the Light, It has since fallen into corruption and collapsed.
"Would you be happy to have someone tell you your faith is flawed at its core? Doomed to rot and cause untold suffering and pain?"— Anajinn(src)
The Hand's M.O. could be summized as such—meddle in a town’s affairs, settle disputes, convert new followers, burn some witches, and then move on. Only a few of their members (mostly high ranked) knew of the existence of the Crusaders.
The Hand of Zakarum was called into service a few decades after the original march west of the Protectors of the Word. During the height of this Time of Troubles, the Zakarum 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. The Hand of Zakarum were at the forefront of this crusade, expunging demonic taint wherever they found it. The forces of Chaos actively resisted this holy scourge, often by claiming that the Paladins themselves were corrupt agents of evil. There were times when Hell managed to trick these holy warriors into killing an innocent, in the hope that it would spread doubt within the church. Occasionally, the zeal of one of these paladins would cross the line into fanaticism, thus opening him up to evil influences. The demonic host took every chance to plant the seeds of chaos, and the forces of Light fought endlessly to weed out every hint of corruption. The Hand judged nonbelievers as corrupt, and subjected the 'heretics' to horrific interrogations and "purification" techniques.
In the midst of this crusade, the Hand splintered. 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, namely the Prime Evils. And so, these rebellious paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured west. However, the rebels were outnumbered by the loyalists, who continued to propagate the horrors of the Inquisition until the movement finally faded away.
"You're fighting a losing battle, Paladin! Don't you know? Haven't you heard? You're fighting for Mephisto as well! As long as you count yourself among the Zakarum, you serve the Lord of Hatred! The entire faith serves our master...Lord Mephisto!"— A curate to Hale(src)
As Zakarum as a whole succumbed to Mephisto's corruption, so too did the Hand of Zakarum Shortly after the defeat of Mephisto by a group of heroes, the Hand collapsed. The Templar Order was born from its ashes, viewing itself as the new, pure continuation of the faith.
"Tell me, paladin. Did your elders have to drag you into the clutches of evil, or did you go willingly?"— Anajinn(src)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Zakarum Zealot, The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-25
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2013-09-25, Crusader and the Templar. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2013-09-25
- ↑ The End of Her Journey
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Paladin History, The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-25
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Book of Tyrael
- ↑ 2014-03-10, THE HISTORY BEHIND THE CRUSADE. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2014-03-07