Auric Scale Knights undergo a series of trials as they become the valiant heroes that they are today; what they experience is more than likely to break their spirit or kill them before they can wield the holy power of the Order.
Every group of recruits, beginning at about 40 to 100, are tasked with completing a physical task unique to that group that appears impossible, during which they cannot talk or eat; at any time they may leave, and if they do, they can never come back. This task can be anything from an a test of endurance such as scaling a mountain bare-handed, to completing a task requiring monumental physical strength or correcting what appears to be a physical paradox. These tasks may or may not be solvable by brute force; for some, they may be completed through dexterity and wit; and for some, they are completed only through what seems to be a divine miracle. This task lasts at least three days, even with gargantuan strength or all the talent in the world, and oftentimes the earliest to complete them take at least 9 or 10, and the last do so in about 30. This is known as the Task of Famine. Those who fail and refuse to leave are rewarded for their tenacity with the opportunity to try again at a later date.
After completing this trial, passing recruits begin martial and spiritual training; they learn of the deities of old, the role they had in shaping the world, and learn to fight. The difference between clerics and paladins starts to become clear.
During their preliminary training, recruits undergo their second task: the Task of Pestilence. One by one, recruits are stricken one-by-one by an unspoken deathly illness that will rapidly bring them to the brink of death, and must face their own mortality. Recruits who manage to cure themselves, whether through incredible constitution or by evoking a miracle through a bond with a God, move on. Those who fail are saved from death and are secretly removed from the program, phased out of spiritual training, and are able to become soldiers for the Order without holy abilities.
At the peak of the illness, the inflicted enter a three-day hyperconscious sleep-like state, and feel in excruciating pain as they slowly die. In this state, one becomes intimately familiar with the realities of their inevitable death; they have limited time in this world, and can squander it uselessly, or use it to become a part of something much larger. For many, this is an opportunity to meet with their deity, within their own heart, though skeptics would insist this is only a desperate hallucination. Some others make it through this slumber still unaligned, but may experience a vague sense of connection to the world, without any godly figure, yet still wholly transcendent. All who succeed this task know this transcendent state of unity, whether first experienced with a God or not, as the center from which they pull their holy abilities and enact miracles. Typically from this stage a Warlock begins to emerge, chosen by Gods or immensely magical beings and observed until they form a pact.
At this point the training of Paladins and Clerics continues, becoming far more specialized, both by the class of the recruit and the deity they may choose to follow. Their training culminates in the Task of Death.
The Task of Death is the most clearly known task to recruits; unlike the others, which are sprung as a surprise, the Task of Death is the one Task that if failed, there is no saving or turning back. Recruits prepare by finally choosing their deity, and then studying the deity in a detail not covered by their general education, including a list of every devotee of that God in the Order, and those that failed the Task of Death in that God’s name.
The Task of Death requires the heart of the devotee to be stopped. For one hour, they are observed by the Order and every other recruit in a temple particular to the deity.
Every group has at least one failure. Those who succeed always awaken before the 30 minute mark, but the observance period is nonetheless set to an hour. Those who fail never wake again. Recruits are allowed to opt out and avoid death, and may opt to become regular soldiers instead, but if they do opt out, their divine talents will never mature and manifest fully, and their training will have essentially been for nothing.
After the Task of Death, passing recruits are Knighted and take an oath to the Order, are assigned to their first groups, where they begin their fourth and final task, the Task of War, which will last until the Knight dies. The Knight is expected to uphold order in the name of their deity, and assist, when called upon, in fighting forces of magic that threaten to bring calamity.