- "When the Ghosts first found us, those who were chosen were blessed with power, but not wisdom."
- —Lord Saladin
Warlords were various Risen who used their Traveler-gifted mastery of the Light to establish a patchwork of petty kingdoms on Earth during the Dark Age and early City Age, before the establishment of the Vanguard. These were Guardians in only the loosest sense of the term; the people and villages whom they protected with their powers were forced to pay tribute to them, and failing to submit resulted in harsh punishments. The Warlords were never united under a single banner and frequently fought among themselves over territory.
The era of the Warlords came to an end with the advent of the Iron Lords, an alliance of Guardians dedicated to ending their reign of tyranny and bloodshed. Some Warlords, such as Felwinter, eventually joined the Iron Lords, but most met a grimmer fate: defeat and execution made permanent by the destruction of their Ghosts. The ascendancy of the Last City and the Vanguard ensured that future generations of Guardians were directed to serve humanity and the Light, rather than only themselves.