The Order of Light is an ancient sect, one of the earliest organized religious institutions on Earth. Monks of the Order represent diverse nationalities from all corners of the world. It is home to both warriors trained in the traditional martial arts of the Shaolin temple, and those who seek spiritual perfection, taking a vow of non-violence. Both groups strive to uphold principles of goodness, purity and honor, and to lead as examples of those principles for the people of Earthrealm.
The Order's property sprawls across a large section of Earthrealm. It contains the Shaolin Temple proper, where all monks convene for meditation and spiritual pursuits, and its own elite fighting school, the Wu Shi Academy. The Order has its own martial arts instructors and welcomes friendly teachers from other realms to pass their native skills on to the monks. Master Bo' Rai Cho of Outworld is one such mentor. High in the mountains to the east are the secret training grounds of the White Lotus Society.
The Order of Light co-founded the White Lotus Society with Raiden after the death of their champion, the Great Kung Lao, at the hands of Goro. It was decided that the Order would hand-pick individuals with exceptional skills in martial arts to defend the independence of Earthrealm from the threats of other worlds. While the Order is well known and welcomes religious seekers from throughout Earthrealm, its connection to the White Lotus is kept secret and only revealed to candidates deemed worthy for initiation. Consequently, many spend their lives in the Order using their fighting skills to protect only the Temple and the realm from native conflicts, knowing other realms only as distant names from tales. Also as a result, both the Order of Light and the White Lotus Society may nominate the same champion to represent them in Mortal Kombat, if he is affiliated with both.
In video games
The Order of Light's first mention is its nomination of Liu Kang, a Shaolin warrior monk, to represent Earthrealm in the first Mortal Kombat tournament in place of their favoured candidate, Kung Lao, who refused. Kang's defeat of the Outworld sorcerer Shang Tsung places the tournament in the hands of the monks and saves Earthrealm from dominion by the Outworld emperor Shao Kahn. However, before another tournament can be held, Shao Kahn orders Baraka and the Tarkatan hordes to invade Earthrealm in retaliation for the loss. The mutants decimate the Order of Light, slaying dozens of monks and significantly reducing its numbers. The massacre also depletes the ranks of the White Lotus Society save for Kai, who left to wander the world. Liu Kang and Kung Lao depart for Outworld to avenge their fallen brothers, and Shao Kahn is defeated.
The devastated Order survives, quiet and inconspicuous, during Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm, which centers on urbanized, industrial communities. After Liu Kang and the other Earthrealm warriors succeed in repelling the forces of Outworld, Kang rejoins his brother monks and searches the world for fighters, looking to rebuild the ranks of the Shaolin. The Order mourned the apparent loss of Kung Lao at the hands of Shao Kahn, inducting him into the ranks of his ancestors.
Though Liu Kang successfully expands the Order, including persuading the warrior Kai to return to them, the recruitment campaign is cut short when Shinnok and the forces of Darkness conquer Edenia and invade Earthrealm. Kang and Kai pursue the fallen Elder God and are joined by Kung Lao, who had hidden away from the Order to pursue nonviolence, but abandoned the vow in the wake of the invasion.
The Order recovers its numbers following the defeat of Shinnok and once again becomes a prosperous community. But it suffers perhaps its most devastating blow when Liu Kang is murdered by the Deadly Alliance on the grounds of the Wu Shi Academy. The forlorn Order built the fallen monk a splendid tomb on the grounds, showcasing four large gold medals in recognition of his four successive Mortal Kombat victories. The Order is unable to prevent Kung Lao from once again abandoning non-violence, this time for good, and is left behind when he travels to Outworld to confront the Deadly Alliance and avenge Liu Kang.
In film and televisionThe Order of Light is featured in the opening segment of the first Mortal Kombat movie, where Liu Kang (portrayed by Robin Shou) visits his former masters at the Temple (filmed at the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but erroneously labelled China). The monks urge Kang to not feel responsible for the death of his brother Chan at the hands of Shang Tsung in his absence. Raiden further attempts to convince Kang to set aside his desire for revenge, but fails. Kang departs the Order to represent it in the tournament as a descendant of the Great Kung Lao.
The Order is also featured in the television series Mortal Kombat: Conquest as the original home and sanctuary of the Great Kung Lao. While living in the city of Zhu Zin with Siro and Taja, Kung Lao often returns to the Order to consult the monks for advice, research the arrival of new enemies, or to train younger monks in martial arts. The Order is sometimes the target of attacks by humans or Outworld warriors, but Kung Lao fiercely defends his former home from conflict.