The Serpent Lancers are a Thessean religious knightly order in service of the chivalrous god Payton, the Flame-bearer. The Lancers are renown for their devotion to the ideals of fairness, independence and rational judgment; they reject blind zealous faith (not only in the religious sense of the word but generally), unnecessary violence and tyranny in all its forms. The main purpose of the Order is to seek and forge a great champion from within its ranks, that, in times of dire need, when the fate of Thessea and the Realm at large hangs by a thread, will repeat the epic quest of Payton and descend to the darkest abyss beneath the Realm in search of an audience with the wise Serpent King, who holds primordial wisdom granted by Payton himself.
Together with the Brotherhood of Talisman, Knights of the Boundary and the Everguard they form the so-called Four Pillars of Borealis, whose grand masters are permitted an at-will audience with the Monarch and work closely with the Borean high military command. However, the vast majority of Borean knights do not belong to an order and instead serve the Crown directly.
The Serpent Lancers trace their origins to the first years of recorded history, when a champion emerged from within the newborn Cult of Payton to seek Serpent King's guidance during the savage Beast-scourge. The legend tells that the primal Serpent warned the champion of an impending assassination attempt of thane Rex Verstandt; working together with followers of Deirdre (who granted the champion a brief power of flight), they reached Val Andras just in time to avert it.
Following the success of the first champion, the Cult of Payton started training potential replacements, in case a new crisis emerges that may require the Serpent's guidance (and by Galador's grace, there's been many of them). When a champion was needed, the aspirant warriors served as a militant arm of the (already very militant) Cult.
In early years of Borealis, fearful of the waxing influence of the Talgur cults and churches, the (technically) second king of Borealis, Thormond Pontifex, prohibited them from having armed men in their service. This decree proved to be wildly unpopular, to the extent that in a decade or so Thormond was forced to abolish it. Knight-commander Vitovt of Srebrograd, in charge of the aspirant warriors during their separation, saw this as an opportunity to declare the Order to be a separate organisation, as he and the high clergy of Payton did not see eye to eye on question of doctrine.
Since then, the Serpent Lancers have taken part in most major human conflicts in Thessea, turning the tides of many battles through their heroic deeds. Their sheer heroism and dedication, however, ensured that most of those completely decimated the order's numbers.
Famously, during the Battle of Lysica, warmaster Elden Voriler Elden Voriler managed to protect entire platoons of human soldiers from the elven sorcery before covering the survivor’s retreat. In a typical fashion, only a single squire was ordered to escape the battlefield to carry the Serpent Lancers standard to safety. The order has proven its worth against orcs, the Un-dead and all manner of incursions from the steppes, but they rarely intervene in human conflicts. Their involvement in the Feuerbrand Uprising was a notable exception.