Long ago, when the World was young and weak, the Gods created giant structures to support the World and all of its creatures. They were carved from the dirt and stone and magma and forged to be the strongest structures that anyone, or anything, had ever created and were meant to stand for all eternity. Four of them stood at each end of the World, while the largest was placed right at the center. For hundreds upon thousands of years these structures, eventually named the Pillars, held up the World and provided a safe place for the Gods and their creations. Though with the creation of mortals came the threat to destruction of the structures. Therefore, the gods came up with a plan on how to protect the World from harm.
The gods held a contest between their more powerful and faithful warriors, giving each of them a chance to provide a protector to the Pillars. Boccob, Ehlonna, Gruumsh, Heironeous, Tiamat, Kord, Pelor, Wee Jas, and Corellon all put forth their selected champions to vie for the chance to stand as a Defender. Eventually four warriors were chosen to be placed by the side of the Pillars: Corrin, the champion of Pelor and Defender to the Northern Pillar, Lythia, the champion of Wee Jas and Defender to the Southern Pillar, Tendren, the champion of Corellon and Defender to the Western Pillar, and Muura, the champion of Tiamat and Defender to the Eastern Pillar. As mediator to the four corners and Defender to the Key Pillar, Tharmin, the champion of Moradin was placed. Each champion was placed at their given structure to forever stand guard, a task which they each took with great pride. In exchange for their sacrifice each champion was given the tools they needed, which included eternal life and the weapons that would be used to strike down any attacks or trespassers to the Pillars.
Each Defender was also given a companion who would escort any trespasser, once slain, to Styx so that their spirit could not wander and spread the location of the Pillars. These companions would also wander the areas on the look out for any potential threats, then warning the Defenders when they approached. A lion was given to Corrin, an eagle to Lythia, a wolf to Tendren, a cheetah to Muura, and a bear to Tharmin.
Legend has created demigods out of the Defenders, and indeed they may just well be. The Hand of Pelor watches diligently, morningstar in hand, with the sun gleaming off his plates. The Blood of Wee Jas stands at the ready, dagger waving and her red robes flowing. The Grace of Corellon paces quietly in the shadow of the Pillar, quiver at the ready. The Talon of Tiamat waits at patiently, resting his eyes cloaked in his own wings. Lastly, the Son of Moradin stands patiently leaning on his hammer, his cold eyes peering through his helm. Centuries past have seen these Defenders without threat or trial, and their complacent lives have caused them to slowly fade into the world surrounding. Some, upon hearing of the vast powers bestowed upon these legends, have sought to strip them of their gifts. However, many generations have come and gone yet not a person has even set eyes on a Pillar or its sanctified Defender.