Young Crusaders gather round! We'll beat Sin into the ground!
- —Gatta leading Crusader troops
The Crusaders (討伐隊, Tōbatsu tai?, lit. Punitive Expedition Squad) are an organization of volunteer warriors in Final Fantasy X. Commanded by Wen Kinoc, a Maester of Yevon, the Crusaders pledge to defend the people of Spira against the terror of Sin, even at the cost of their own lives.
The Crusaders were first formed as the Crimson Blades 800 years ago by Lord Mi'ihen. As the first volunteer-based organization dedicated to defending the people of Spira from Sin, the Crimson Blades grew quickly in number.
The Maesters of Yevon began to fear their numbers and accused the Crimson Blades of rebellion. Lord Mi'ihen traveled to Bevelle to fight the claims, and won the Maesters' trust. He renamed the Crimson Blades the Crusaders, and the organization began to operate as members of the clergy of Yevon. The road Lord Mi'ihen traveled to Bevelle was renamed the Mi'ihen Highroad, in reflection of his actions.
Before Operation Mi'ihenEdit
The present-day Crusaders have numerous chapters across Spira. They fight to keep Sin away from villages and fight fiends and Sinspawn. Many Crusaders are stationed at Luca to protect the blitzball stadium. As blitzball is the main means of entertainment for the people of Spira, it is important for the Crusaders to protect the stadium to keep people's spirits up.
Tidus first encounters two Crusaders on the island of Besaid. Luzzu and Gatta warn Tidus of the fiends on the path ahead to the village. Wakka's younger brother, Chappu, was part of the Besaid faction after being persuaded by Luzzu to join. He, along with many others, died in a Crusader operation on Djose shore, using forbidden Al Bhed machina for a weapon.
On Besaid, the Crusaders' Lodge serves as an inn for both Crusaders and guests to the island. Tidus is offered to rest there, where he first learns of the Crusaders' plight to defeat Sin.
- Main article: Operation Mi'ihen
Operation Mi'ihen is a joint operation by the Crusaders and the Al Bhed that attempts to destroy Sin through the use of forbidden machina. The church of Yevon does not approve of Operation Mi'ihen, and as a result, the Crusaders are excommunicated. The operation is still led by two Maesters of the church of Yevon, Seymour Guado and Wen Kinoc.
Gatta and Luzzu are present during Operation Mi'ihen. Either one will die during the battle depending on Tidus's actions. During the battle, both the Crusaders and the Al Bhed are overpowered by Sin. Because of the large number of casualties, the Crusaders are forced to disband.
After Operation Mi'ihen Edit
Following the events of Operation Mi'ihen, the remaining Crusaders are allowed to seek refuge in Djose Temple despite having been excommunicated. They cease operating for a time and their stations are taken over by the Warrior Monks.
After a time, the Crusaders slowly begin to regroup. Following the murder of Maester Kinoc, Yevon and the Warrior Monks are thrown into chaos, and the Crusaders once again step in as defenders of the people of Spira.
Upon visiting Besaid, either Gatta or Luzzu can be seen training a new set of Crusaders, depending on which one survived.
In the original plot draft for Final Fantasy X, the Crimson Blades were still called that in the present day, and Auron was their commander. The Blades' job was to protect Zanarkand from monsters. Moreover, the Masamune was the generic name of their swords rather than a unique weapon.
The word "crimson", still connected to the Crusaders, applies within name of another group, the Crimson Squad.
The terms "Crusader" and "Jihad" are both associated with the historic "holy wars" fought between the Christian Europeans and Islamic Middle-Easterners for control of the holy land, the supposed birthplace of Jesus Christ. "Crusader" was a term used to describe the soldiers of the Crusades, the European term for the holy wars, while "Jihad" was the equivalent Islamic term for the same conflicts. Given the religious nature of Final Fantasy X, these original Crusaders were likely an influence on this choice of naming.