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On The Esoteric Traditions: An Excerpt

as commanded in Summer 691M by her Serene Glory Ariamahaze, Herald of the Prophet Menora in Anve

as compiled in Spring 692M by Sister Emalinda fal Tarchirne, Mirazame Rectory

The Menoran Inquisition

The mystic order most familiar to any of the faithful - tho perhaps the one least seen as mystic - the Inquisition is tasked and empowered by the Prophet to pursue and eradicate those sects branded heretical by the office of the Herald, as well as more esoteric threats to the faithful. Thru means secret to all but the innermost ranks of the Inquisitions, Inquisitors are endowed with the ability to probe the emotional states of others, a power colloquially known as “truthsight,” as trained Inquisitors are nearly infallible in the detection of falsehoods and misdirection.

Affiliation: Allied

The Sages of Vau Shan

Perhaps not an order in the strictest definition of the term, the Sages are a loose coalition of esoteric practitioners spread across Vau Shan. They are masters of psychological manipulation, and are surpassed in herblore perhaps only by the elves. Most are trained to fight using staves and are formidable opponents in open combat. Extant treaties with the High Church exempt those who remain in Vau Shan from Inquisitorial persecution. Additionally, the extremely fractious nature of the order prevents any organized effort against Menoran interests.

It should be noted that individual sages may vary from being open monodominant heretics to passionate supporters of the High Church, and efforts to quietly fortify the political position of the latter, both within Sage circles and Shan society overall are ongoing.

Affiliation: Varying

Assessment: Minimal threat

The Black Hand

An order of assassins known for killing without weapons (by means now known to be an offensive application of emacy) and using the blood of their victims to transfigure their own bodies to resemble those whom they killed. Their use of blood magic drew Inquisitorial attention in 390M, and led to a frantic war of subterfuge and treachery that was practically invisible to the ordinary folk of Anve. After a failed attempt to assassinate and replace the Herald herself, the last known Black Hand assassins were captured executed in 411M. The order’s texts on the weaponization of emacy were seized by Inquisitorial agents and placed in the archives of the Mirazame rectory, study of which led to many new techniques now taught to the paladins and covert operatives of the Church.

Notably, the malefic techniques employed by the Black Hand were extremely traumatic to the bodies of their practitioners, leading to a greatly decreased lifespan, and dependence on maleficy to prevent organ failure. These were major factors leading to the order’s downfall.

Affiliation: Heretical

Assessment: Presumed neutralized

The Shadow Sisters

An esoteric organization based in eastern Vau Shan, the Shadow Sisters practice an unusual variant of lightweaving. While most lightweavers use their abilities to create spectacles, the Shadow Sisters cloak their vicinity in darkness, giving them free reign to act while others stumble about in fear. They are presumed to rely extensively on divination, a form of emacy practiced mostly in Belad, to be able to move unhindered in darkness. The ultimate aims of the Shadow Sisters are unknown, but the organization mostly seems to operate as a mercenary force with a penchant for mischief.

The Shadow Sisters pose no threat to the High Church, and indeed their membership seems to be as reliably Menoran as any lower-class Shan.

Affiliation: Civilian

Assessment: A matter for lay authorities

The Witches of Belad

A pre-Menoran esoteric tradition, witchcraft in Belad has been mostly stamped out by the efforts of the Inquisition, tho individual witches survive in rural areas, sheltered by those who benefit from their services. Witches are similar in their use of maleficy to the shamans of the North, surrounding themselves with malefic constructs as familiars. Socially, witches use their esoteric abilities to protect their communities from outside threats, to healing wounds, and occasionally to alter their own bodies or the bodies of others.

On discovery of active practitioners of witchcraft, High Church policy permits Inquisitors at their own discretion to recruit the practitioner to the Church’s own organzation of malefic surgeons in place of summary execution. Detection of witches has grown increasingly difficult over the past centuries, as witches take more care to secret themselves among the general population, and secure the protection of wealthy patrons for whom they perform cosmetic alterations.

Affiliation: Heretical

Assessment: Minor political threat, significant threat to civilian safety

The Shamans of the North

As a region where our blessed Prophet never chose to spread her word, the North remains largely uninfluenced by the High Church, and pre-Menoran traditions continue to be practiced openly. Shamans practice divination and maleficy to treat wounds and illness, and are always accompanied by malefic constructs known as familiars. Shamans often create malefic constructs to serve their tribe, whether they be hounds to track prey for hunters or birds thru whom the blind can see.

It is the doctrine of the Church and the received word of our Prophet that blood magic is by nature evil and corrupting. Nonetheless, the shamans seem to police each other very effectively, and few ever turn their arts to destructive aims. Those that do, however, are fearsome foes, and stain history with the blood of the innocent, as recorded in oral tradition and the epic poems of the northeners - they are one of many detailed in the Tashinako Senzi as a foe of the swordswoman and folk hero Tashinako.

Affiliation: Heretical

Assessment: No threat to Church interests, potential severe threat to civilian safety