OUT OF CHARACTER INFORMATION
Intent: Expand on Eldorai lore and culture. The Emissaries of Illyria act as a foil to the State Church of Ashira. This submission will flesh out the Eldorai rebels Kaida Taldir has recently joined.
Image Credit: Here. Here.
Role: Religious cult.
Permissions: Can use Firemane stuff because I own the company.
Links: Eldorai, To Hell and Back, Yuuzhan Vong, Ashiranism, The Harrowed, Kaeshana, Harbingers of Twilight, Xioquo, Church of Ashira, Aspirants, Kar'zun.
Organization Name: Emissaries of Illyria.
Classification: Religious cult.
Affiliation: Shadow Knights, Court of the Shadows, Raekana, Tynan Vanoth, Eldorai, Harbingers of Twilight, Watchers of the Night, Asuran Star Combine, Sicarii.
Organization Symbol: A circle with four inward facing arrows diagonal from each other.
Description: The Emissaries of Illyria are a rival of the Church of Ashira, the primary religious institution in Eldorai society. They reject the traditional Eldorai pantheon and venerate the Death Goddess Illyria, whom Ashirans are forbidden to worship. They have a strong following among the Shadow Knights and other Eldorai exiles. One of their key characteristics is their positive opinion of the Force Dead.
Headquarters: Part of the Shadow Knights' migrant fleet and based on the Defiance. Individual cells, recruiters and preachers can be found in various independent Eldorai settlements and starships.
Domain: The Emissaries are a fringe cult and do not control any fixed planetary domains. They are part of the Shadow Knights' nomad fleet though, which means they have a strong presence on the Defiance. This worldship is essentially the Eldorai renegades' mobile 'capital'. One could liken it to a heavily militarised city on the move. The Emissaries are an active part of the community.
In Shadow Knight society, segments of society are organised into holistic bodies and integrated into the government. These bodies are called Courts.
The Illyrians can be found in every Court, but are particularly well-represented in the Court of the Reaver, the Court of Justicars and to a somewhat lesser degree the Court of War. The first is responsible for partisans, raiders and irregulars, the second for law enforcement and the third for soldiers, naval personnel, pilots and so on. Indeed, the Court of the Reaver is led by Tynan Vanoth, the leader of the Harbingers of Twilight. The Watchers of the Night are part of the Justicars and composed of Force Dead warriors charged with combating dangerous Force-Users, including Force-Sensitive Shadows who break the law.
However, Emissaries can also be found in civilian courts such as the Court of the Mind, which oversees scholars and researchers, or the Court of the Exchange, to which merchants belong to. For obvious reasons, they are underrepresented in the Court of the Four Elements, which supervises Force-Users. In short, they strive to be active members of the community. Service guarentees citizenship in Shadow Knight society, so the cult encourages its members to serve in a military capacity of some form. However, while not isolated, the group can be quite inward-looking. Members are expected to support each other and to proselytise among their fellow elves. Cells of Emissaries that exist outside of Shadow Knight society may operate in a semi-clandestine fashion, as openly practicing their beliefs might be problematic.
Notable Assets: The Emissaries are not a large or wealthy group. Moreover, they are part of a nomadic faction. Thus they do not have major industrial assets at their disposal. They have access to a few small starships such as corvettes and frigates. Tynan Vanoth, one of their leaders, has acquired a Frontier-Class Corvette for the use of his group. They have also brought some freighters, a few stolen Illyria frigates, Coralskippers, Airskiffs, Yorik Stronhas, I'Friil Ma-Nat and Firesprays into the Shadow Knight alliance. Beggars cannot be choosers, and the nomad fleet is not rich, so many ships used by the space nomads tend to be old. But the Shadows are masters of improvisation and salvage.
Hierarchy: The Emissaries have a somewhat shallow structure mixing civilian and religious functions together. Where possible, individual cells form larger units called Chapters. Clerics must pass tests, which focus a lot on theology and faith, but also on practical skills. Harbingers of Twilight who are unable to continue their duties due to age or injuries often join the clergy. Some of their clerics also serve as researchers. Trying to 'elevate' the worthy by turning them Force Dead is one of their concerns. The same applies to researching Yuuzhan Vong technology the Harbingers were able to salvage. The Emissaries are led by a high priestess who bears the title of Hierophant. Because the Emissaries are sceptical of direct democracy, she is indirectly elected by a conclave. The Hierophant will inevitably be a Non-Force-User or Force Dead.
Membership: In principle, all Eldorai who agree with the group's principles are eligible for membership, though there is a good deal of unofficial and official screening. In principle, the Emissaries are open to Tygaran natives, but they have only attracted a few. Most of those tend to be Xioquo who worshipped Myrou. These Xioquo tend to identify the temptation of the dark side with their dark goddess' whispers and believe the best way to resist her is to join a group that has renounced the spirits.
Neither the Qadiri nor the Vashyada have an Illyria equivalent in their pantheon, so the Emissaries' message appears strange to them. However, in an ironic inversion of the Church of Ashira's beliefs, the Emissaries are biased against Force-users. To quote an influential cleric, "Blessed are those whom the spirits do not haunt, for only in silence is the word of the Mistress heard. Favoured are those who do not hear the spirits, for in ignorance can the true word of the Mistress be taught. Cursed are those who are seduced by the spirits, for in such ways is the benediction of the Mistress forgotten, and personal vainglory predominates."
The Emissaries have a three tiered approach: Force Dead, Non-Force-Users, Force-User. Force-users are not turned away, but regarded with suspicion and distrust, for it is believed that they must strive to resist temptation, lest they succumb to the whispers of the spirits and abuse their powers. For this reason, the upper ranks of the church are closed to them. Unlike the Church of Ashira, the Emissaries allow male priests. There has yet to be a male Hierophant though. The Harbingers serve as their elite martial arm, but since their numbers are limited the Emissaries also maintain a larger militia force.
Climate: It is very close knit, so once you are in the 'club' everyone is very supportive and looks out for people against the 'other'. One could liken it to the wolf pack. The Emissaries are a young sect, but they are the product of persecution and cataclysm. For a long time, Illyrians could only practice their faith in secret or in exile. Now they are out in the open, but can rely on few allies outside of the group. This makes them very united, but also insular and can produce a conspiratorial mind set that makes it difficult to work with outsiders. The Force-Dead are called Spiritblind, as they cannot be haunted or manipulated by the 'spirits'.
Reputation: Definitely wary at best for anyone outside of it. Distrusted by many, and outright hostility from many elf groups outside the Shadows. Royalist, conservative Ashiran Eldorai would consider them both abominations and heretics. This also applies to Aspirants, a sect of Ashiran reformists, who realy detest them. Secular Royalists would dislike them since they oppose the Crown and have a bloody history with it. When it comes to non-elves, the perception varies. Many people will not have heard of them, as the Eldorai are few in number and the Emissaries are quite obscure.
However, the raiding activities of the Harbingers of Twilight have made them plenty of enemies. They would have a poor reputation among Imperial groups. Within the Shadows, the perception varies. Many are cautious, some like or respect them due to their bravery and zeal. There are Eldorai who respect them because the Emissaries helped those who had been left behind during the Exodus. However, many are wary of them. Their relationship with Rationalists and Arrynists is difficult. The former are atheists, the latter preach a modified Ashiran creed. Most Tygaran elves are rather perplexed or plain weirded out by the Emissaries' as they lack equivalents in their belief systems.
The Kar'zun have little truck with religion and are bemused by them, but have a more positive relationship. In the old days, some Illyrian groups cooperated with the Kar'zun, as the Matriarchy was a common enemy to them. Naturally there are still Illyrians who are racist towards the stone people, but many Emissaries are sympathetic to them.
Curios: The Gnostic Gospel of Illyria. This is the holy book of the cult. Each new member of the group is given one upon being inducted into the sect. Due to Vong cultural influence, some of the most zealous members undergo varying forms of escalation. For instance, they may be endowed with Fighting Claws, Mqaaq’it eye implants or similar. This is far from universal though. Many Emissaries just look like normal elves.
Rules: The Church of Ashira teaches that Illyria is the embodiment of evil. When Ashira fashioned the first Eldorai from clay, breathed life into them and granted them souls, her daughter Illyria, the Goddess of Death, grew envious. Using dark magic, she created demonic abominations, twisted parodies of life. When chastisted for her actions, she rebelled against the Great Goddess Ashira. And so there was War in Heaven, until Illyria was imprisoned in hell after managing to seriously wound Ashira in a duel. While Illyria was cast out, Ashira ascended to heaven. All good Eldorai who worship Ashira and follow her commandments will go to heaven, while the wicked will go to hell and suffer eternal torment.
That is what the Ashirans believe, at any rate. The Emissaries see things rather differently. They regard Illyria as a liberator, who rose up against an unjust order. She is the first rebel and it is their duty to spread her word. The paradise Ashira offers is a lie. All the Great Goddess does is feed on the worship of those who prostrate themselves before her. True judgement can only come from the Mistress of the Underworld.They also see Sciia as a curse, for Ashira uses it to manipulate those she has endowed with it. In this context Illyria is seen as a symbol of enlightenment, progression and freedom. It helps that Ashira is the patron of the Eldorai Monarchy, for the Star Queen is not just a secular ruler, but also her viceroy. In addition to rejecting Ashira, the Emissaries also refuse to worship the other members of the traditional pantheon, for only Illyria is deserving.
The Emissaries take their radical beliefs a step further than other Illyrians because they hold the Force Dead in high regard. This is because the Harbingers of Twilight, a militaristic sect of Illyrian exiles turned Force Dead by Vong slavers whom they later overthrew, are a driving force behind the Emissaries and act as their martial arm. From the point of view of the Emissaries, the Force Dead are free from Ashira's shackles. Thus being Force Dead is not a curse, but something that should be sought out to better commune with the Mistress of the Underworld. For a conservative Ashiran, on the other hand, the Force Dead are soulless, for Sciia is the Eldorai word for both soul and the Force. It should be noted that the Emissaries are not fond of Yuuzhan Vong. This is because the cultists who became the Harbingers of Twilight were enslaved and abused by Vong corsairs, who ironically are also responsible for their condition. The official line is that the Vong unknowingly performed the will of Illyria by giving their slaves the tools to break their chains. The Harbingers suffered greatly, but these tribulations made thems stronger. Opinions differ on whether a Vong who repented of his or her ways could be accepted into the cult. So far such a situation has not arisen.
The Emissaries' beliefs have also been influenced by the Netherworld Event. Initially many Illyrians, especially among the Harbingers, believed that Akala was Illyria herself or one her demons because she raptured countless beings and deprived Force-users of their preternatural powers. However, this viewpoint was challenged by the experiences of Illyrians who had been raptured, such as Siona Vaerum, who'd ended up in the Field of Blades. These days it is assumed that Akala was a malevolent Force entity. This has made the Emissaries more wary of Force-users. For these reasons, several of them were sympathetic when Death Watch implemented harsh measures against Force-Sensitives in Mandalorian space.
Siona Vaerum, a member of the cult, fought alongside Death Watch as a mercenary during the Mandalorian Civil War. Joining the Shadow Knights has compelled the Emissaries to moderate their views as it requires them to work with Force-Sensitives, but the bias remains. Their stance on Force-Users has caused a rift of sorts among followers of Illyria. There are Illyrians who believe the Force and more specifically the dark side can be used to commune with their goddess. They have split off from the Emissaries. Ironically, some now live in independent Eldorai communities protected by Firemane.
Unsurprisingly, the Emissaries reject the Monarchy. They also promote the idea of equal male rights and support a republican form of government. However, because they are Eldorai, they're very sceptical of direct democracy, favouring a form of oligarchic republic. Being pan-Eldorai nationalists, they are also opposed to the First Order due to its occupation of Kaeshana. The occupation has now come to an end and Kaeshana is no longer inhabited by any Eldorai, but they remain very hostile to First Order remnant groups and Imperials in general. The same applies to other groups they consider inimical to Eldorai interests, such as slavers, Sith and Jedi.
They have very unforgiving views on crime and punishment. For instance, 'whipping through the town', which can be fatal, is especially common for child abusers. However, in some ways the Emissaries are quite progressive by Eldorai standards. For one, their culture is more egalitarian and less sexist than is common for the matriarchal Eldorai. Indeed, the commander of the Harbingers of Twilight is an Eldorai male and he is respected as a warrior. This does not make every Emissary a bastion of gender equality. They can be just as hypocritical or patronising as everyone else. But it is a lot easier for a male to rise on merit here than in many other Eldorai groups.
The Emissaries dislike prison sentences because they view them as a drain on society. Instead they advocate exiling, caning or indenturing lesser felons. Spacing the most heinous criminals and traitors is also seen as valid. Finally, almsgiving is an important pillar of their faith. It is treated as a religious obligation for all Illyrians who meet the necessary criteria of wealth. Those who do must make a mandatory contribution, based on their income and the value of their possessions, to help those less fortunate, especially orphans and refugees. To make sure that the money reaches the needy, the church runs a number of charitable organisations. However, equally the Emissaries have a low opinion of people who make no attempt to improve their situation and prefer to live from others' donations.
Goals: To uphold and propagate the true faith, build a home for the Eldorai exiles, liberate oppressed sistren and brethren.
Tániel Aevaris: Hierophant of the Great Deliverer. Tániel is the religious leader of the Emissaries. The cult is more democratic than the Church of Ashira, but still sceptical of direct democracy. Thus the Hierophant is chosen by a conclave of electors, instead of by all the faithful. She was elected after the Battle of Kaeshana. Tániel is not a Harbinger or even Force Dead. Instead she is a non-Force-user who has gained a reputation as a radical Illyrian preacher who had been part of the underground on Kaeshana. There was some disconcent among the Harbingers about the Hierophant not being one of their own.
Some of Tynan's followers wanted the Fatebringer to take over, but he declined. He was more comfortable in the shadows, and might have reasoned that even the relatively egalitarian Illyrians would balk at being led by a man. Moreover, someone who was not Force-Dead would have an easier time negotiating with other Shadow Knight leaders. Whereas Tynan is secretive and stoic, Tániel has a very public presence. In terms of demeanour, she is fiery, passionate and has a flair for dramatics.
Raekana: Leader of the Sicarii, a cult of Illyrian assassins. Sheearned her place as a leader during the Long Night, when she achieved infamy as a guerrilla leader and assassin. Long before the cataclysm, she was part of a secret community of Illyrians who hid their faith by living as Ashirans. For a while she was able to pass as a religious artist, who produced Ashiran secret, but secretly inserted Illyrian symbols. However, a religious purge instigated by conservative elements in the Church unmasked.
Fearing that she would be martyred, she lapsed and renounced the Illyrian faith. This caused her tremendous guilt and made her an outcast among those who remained true. After restrictions eased under Tirathana VI's successors, she became an activisit. She reinvented herself as a religious crusader and holy assassin after the cataclysm, targeting warlords, Imperials and slavers. She no longer goes by her birth name, Sirave Miayra. Her new name is a reference to the dagger she wields with great skill. Raekana is considered a bit of an Illyrian hero for her deeds during the Long Night.
Tynan Vanoth: Tynan Valnoth is the Commander of the Harbingers of Twilight, a sect of Force Dead Eldorai raiders and warriors who worship Illyria, Goddess of the Underworld. He holds the title of Fatebringer and is both a military commander and a religious leader to his people. Skilled, cunning and secretive, he was one of the architecs of their rebellion against their Yuuzhan Vong captors. Tynan usually wears a mask and only rarely shows his face. He has made himself a name as a raider and is one of the more pragmatic members of the sect. This does not make him trusting toward Force-Users though. Tynan is also the head of the Court of the Reaver. However, his duties often take him elsewhere and his raiders have a smaller, mobile base. The city population benefits from the plunder and loot they acquire on their ventures.
Siona Vaerum: Siona was still a child when the Illyrian commune she had been born into was banished from Kaeshana and then abducted by Vong. She lost a sibling to the Embrace of Pain. did not escape the 'alterations' the Vong saw fit to bestow upon their slaves. She breathed in the corrupted air of the Vong ships. The cruel abuse she suffered at the hands of her captors, who were eager to pass on their 'insights' about pain to their victims, left its mark on her. Forced to be self-reliant, she learned how to be sneaky and tough. During the course of the rebellion, she and her father, a proven warrior, were stranded on Raevana, a planet teeming with dangers. They were eventually rescued by fellow Harbingers. She grew into a daring raider, explorer and reaver.
However, she was among those raptured during the Netherworld Event. At first she welcomed it, believing it was a blessing from Illyria. but she soon reconsidered her views. She found herself on the Field of Blades.Here was no grand plan, no purpose, no justice, only neverending slaughter. People fought, killed, died, rose again, fought, killed and died. The cycle seemed without end. As time lost its meaning, she clung to what remained of her identity. Being Force Dead helped her. But to escape the cycle, she had to make common cause with a Force-User, namely a former Angelii called Lavina Taldir. Having lost her memory during her imprisonment in the Nether, Lavina called herself Ashana. The two were able to escape. Despite her suspicion of Force-Users, Siona grew protective of her unlikely comrade, even though her peers disapproved. The Harbinger had to essentially teach the near-feral Ashana how to act like a normal person again.
Siona is an outwardly optimistic person and free of the sexism that is rampant in Eldorai society as her father was a big influence on her, but also cynical and direct. Her experiences with Force-Users have left her conflicted, as she is suspicious of space mages, but has also encountered some who did not fit the stereotype.She was also a participant in a Shadow Knight mission to investigate ruined Kaeshana and rescue the few remaining survivors. Siona's mother is still alive, but has taken a step back from a direct combat role to serve as more of a leader to her people.
Morwen: Leader of the Hellbreakers and a Host Leader in the Caerith Tyari. She is one of the few Force-Sensitive members, but rather distant from the mainstream Emissaries. She has trouble with authority. Morwen was born in poor circumstances and conscripted by the Angelii after being discovered to be Force-Sensitive. She resented the harsh discipline and unquestioning obedience the corps demanded. She perceived it as indoctrination. Moreover, she came to despise the monarchy, believing that she and her fellow soldiers were fighting wars to line the pockets of the aristos and the Matriarchy's human backers instead of serving the people.
Thus radicalised, she turned to terrorism and joined the Dark Eldorai insurgents. When Kaeshana was destroyed, she was one of the Forsaken. She fought warlords, foreign raiders and later the First Order. While she joined the Shadow Knights, she retained a very independent streak, often going off on missions of her own. She was on Kaeshana, fighting its occupiers, when the planet was dragged into the Netherworld. She lost her connection to the Force, but emerged as a leader of a band of Eldorai and Kar'zun survivalists called the Hellbreakers. Necessity demanded that they look past century-old grudges. They were one of the Forsaken groups that escaped Kaeshana with the help of the Shadows.
Morwen is an Illyrian, but does not care much for churches and large religious groups. Her faith takes a backseat to her political convictions. She staunchly opposed to both foreign imperialists and the Eldorai old guard. Indeed, she has anarchist beliefs, which has also caused her to clash with the Shadow Knight high command.
Although the Emissaries of Illyria are a fairly young group, the roots of the Illyrian Heresy are deep. To most Ashirans, its followers are evil demon-worshippers, who have damned themselves to hell by succumbing to the whispers of the Arch-Enemy. Obviously the Illyrians have a different view of things. Today most Eldorai are followers of Ashira, though their zeal obviously varies. After you, can believe in a deity, but only go through the motions, pray irregularly or be devout and still critical of your goddess' representatives on earth. Regardless, the Church of Ashira was not always supreme. Likewise its dogma has not remained unchanged from the start. To a significant degree it achieved its preeminent status by allying with the Monarchy and the nobility.
The clerics gave the Star Queen legitimacy, elevating her above the other nobles by proclaiming that she was the viceroy of Ashira. Thus rebellion did not just become an act of treason, but also heresy. At the same time they affirmed the quasi-feudal social order. In return the ancien régime gave the Church land, privileges and made sure the mass of believers paid their tithes. Unsurprisingly, those who were disgruntled with the régime for political or economic reasons were often drawn to heretical movements. In the early days of the Matriarchy, two heresies were particularly prominent. One was brought into being by a preacher called Arryn, who proclaimed that while Ashira had been created by the sun, moon and stars to birth the chosen race, the Eldorai, she was not wholly divine, but also possessed the spirit of a mortal woman. This made Ashira both woman and goddess. The other heresy was the Illyrian one.
A disgraced noblewoman called Aedema Cytani is widely regarded as the founder of the Illyrian heresy. She was a granddaughter of Queen Esterlae I. Her family was supplanted by Rinnea Kaldis, known by her regnal name Callidora I. Aedema was one of the eight Cytani claimants who was defeated by the 'usurper'. She was forced to renounce her royal title and confined to a monastery, where she was isolated from contact with the outside world. She experience a spiritual crisis and came to believe that Ashira did not work through the Star Queen and that the true power was in Illyria, goddess of death and the underworld. Over time her believers became the original Dashdae Eldorai.
The heresy became popular among the smallfolk. It is doubtful that Aedema was much of a revolutionary, but the heresy soon became associated with social radicalism. They spawned violent insurgencies against Church and State. Finally Aedema was captured. She was burnt at the stake, but her elemental powers allowed her to overcome the fires, so she had to be shot by firing squad. Illyrian rebellions would continue to be a threat to the established order. A heretic called Anethra perpetuated the faith. Orthodox Ashiran scriptures revile her as an evil witch, a maleficar who consorted with demons and was punished for her deeds by losing her connection to the Force. The Illyrians tell a different tale, depicting her as a liberating figure who stood up against injustice and abuse of power. Too much time has passed to determine the truth. Indeed it's possible that Anethra either never existed or is just a composite figure of various heresiarchs.
Whatever the case may be, both heresied were condemned at the First Celestial Council of Nicaea. In the days of yore, the Space Elves were just as fond of conclaves as the Jedi of today. However, they tended to order religious purges at their conclaves. Illyria worshippers were driven underground and had to conceal their faith from the authorities. During the reign of Anais I., known as the Zealous, the Investigators of Ashira's Truth led a fierce inquisition against them. Many of the heretics were immolated or imprisoned on the Island of Fallen Angels.
The erosion of central authority during the Time of Troubles gave the Illyrians some breathing space. While rival claimants fought over the throne of the Star Queen, Illyrian communities established a breakaway state. Eldorai records depict it as the puppet of the Kar'zun, the only other sentient race that lived on Kaeshana, who were a rival to the Eldorai. It is likely that the Illyrian separatists were vassals and fought alongside the Kar'zun in a number of battles, though the relationship was far from a harmonious one. The Illyrians exacted vengeance on their former persecutors, burning down Ashiran temples, slaughtering priestesses and nobles. Either way the Illyrian experiment did not last, as their theocratic state was eventually crushed. Ariane the Conqueror, famous among the Eldorai for all but destroying the Kar'zun after they'd come close to conquering all of Kaeshana, was famous for her hatred of Illyrians and persecuted them.
The Emissaries of Illyria came into being as a result of a sequence of events started by Queen Tirathana VI, the mother of the present Queen. Queen Tirathana VI, whose own legitimacy was somewhat questionable after deposing the Evora family, made a concerted effort to enforce religious orthodoxy and thus strengthen her claim to the throne, as the queen was not just a temporal ruler, but the Defender of the Faith. The dreaded Investigators of Ashira's Truth were endowed with sweeping powers to root out bastions of heresy and unbelief. Illyrians had managed to survive by hiding in plain sight. They pretended to be devout Ashirans, but practiced their faith in secret. For a while they were successful in more remote areas of Kaeshana, where royal authority was weaker. But now this changed. Illyrians were arrested and pressured to renounce their faith or face martyrdom. Some lapsed and recanted their beliefs. Others remained steadfast and paid the price.
A whole community of Illyria worshippers was rounded up. They were accused of blasphemous practices, consorting with demons and foreign raiders and ritually murdering innocent Eldorai. Some were probably guilty of crimes, many were not. They made convenient scapegoats for the slaver raids that plagued Kaeshana. In any case, Her Majesty's Government ordered their deportation. This was deemed appropriate since, as far as Ashiran hardliners were concerned, the rest of the Galaxy was populated by savages and demons. So it was only appropriate to banish the blasphemers. Confessions were often extracted via torture.
Therefore, they were sent to the 'foreign devils', being taken in ships to the nearest inhabited system and left to fend for themselves, with minimal supplies. Inevitably, they became prey for Yuuzhan Vong pirates. A good number, those deemed weak, died in captivity or were sold on the slave markets. However, the captors had something more horrific in mind for those they deemed 'deserving'. Using their hideous sciences, the Vong sought to turn them Force Dead. Eventually they succeeded. Those Eldorai who had survived their alterations were utilised as slave-soldiers. Eventually the Eldorai rebelled and escaped, taking advantage of internecine strife between rival Vong warlords. They called themselves the Harbingers of Twilight and vowed to never be slaves again.
Being Force Dead made the Harbingers of Twilight outcasts, for an Eldorai without Sciia is a soulless being. Even if they had wanted to, they could not have gone back. Ironically, these experiences strengthened their faith in Illyria. As they became more and more removed from their roots, they began to see becoming Force Dead as an act of communion with their goddess, breaking the shackles of Ashira, whose minions had dared to scorn them, and embracing the Mistress of Hell.
They became a force of cunning raiders, guerillas and mercenaries, living a nomadic existence. Their condition made them freaks even among the Eldorai exiles, though some came to swallow their disgust and appreciate their talents. Where possible, they struck against the hated Eldorai Matriarchy. Indeed, Firemane forces clashed with them in the corporation's early days when the Harbingers hit convoys or remote outposts. However, they also practised a form of 'shadow justice' by punishing slavers, as they had not forgotten their own enslavement. They preferred poetic punishments, such as hurling slavers out of airlocks into the vacuum of space - or giving them a taste of their own medicine by enslaving them.
The Emissaries of Illyria were born when the Harbingers returned to Kaeshana in the aftermath of its cataclysmic destruction. The Eldorai's old rulers had fled, alongside several billion Eldorai. However, many Eldorai had been left behind and were forced to eke out a primitive existence on a post-apocalyptic planet. The Harbingers sought to help the survivors. Conveniently several of those proved receptive to their message, for Ashira had failed them. As a result the Harbingers' ranks swelled. The Emissaries of Illyria were born, serving as the civilian and religious arm of the Harbingers, who in turn performed duties similar to those of templars or paladins.
Some Harbingers voiced misgivings, believing that this would led to an influx of opportunists. For this reason the Emissaries instituted a three tiered approach. First came the Force Dead, then the Force-Blind, then the Force-Users. In the early days the Emissaries were very harsh towards Force-Users, preferring to exclude or attempt to 'cure' them. This led to clashes as some devout Illyrians on the planet were Force-Users. When the Harbingers and the Emissaries allied with the Shadow Knights they were forced to moderate their policies, though the cult still regards Force-users with distrust. To this day Force-Sensitive cult members are monitored and excluded from the top jobs, though persecution is not permitted. 'Curing' Force-Sensitives who go rogue is regarded as an act of mercy.
The Emissaries aided the Shadows in trying to keep Kaeshana's survivors safe, build shelters and get infrastructure going. While lacking the Force healing skills of many Ashiran priestesses, the Emissaries did their best to provide aid. However, scarce resources, internecine strife between the Eldorai and pirate raids complicated this task immensely. They also clashed fiercely with the Ashiran members of the Shadows, especially the Aspirants. This contributed to the Aspirants going their own way. By the time the Galactic Alliance, Firemane and the Tygaran Eldorai Matriarchy sent a humanitarian mission to aid the survivors, both sects had come to close to violence. All these disputes became secondary when the clash between the First Order and the Galactic Alliance led to the Kaeshana Rebellion. Regarding the imperial power as a foreign invader, the Shadows and their allies sided with the Alliance. They were forced to evacuate from the planet after the Alliance withdrew at the battle's end.
The Emissaries became part of the Shadow Knights' migrant flotilla, seeking to find a new home for their people to settle on. However, they also dispatched agitators to Eldorai settlements, even those controlled by the Matriarchy. This could lead to some awkward situations, as for instance a number of agitators were arrested at the behest of Vaena Cadalthor for spreading sedition. It caused some arguments in the Shadow Knights' Council. The Emissaries get on quite well with the Shadows' Kar'zun members. Both have a history of shared grievances and the Illyrians regard Ariane the Conqueror as a cruel butcher. The stone people still reject the idea that Illyria might have had a hand in their creation.
After the leaders of the four races of Tygara - Eldorai, Qadiri, Vashyada and Xioquo - decided to move into space and seek a new future in the stars, the Emissaries sought to establish contact with like-minded believers among their cousins. Time will tell what the future holds for the cult. Compromises have turned away some of the most radical members, but they still have a lot of pull among the Shadows' rebel coalition, though the Archon Naesala Faethyra is a follower of Arryn. Their present policy is to avoid confrontation with the Old Church, but it remains to be seen how things will go, especially since contact between the migrant fleets is inevitable.
Being a radical Rationalist, which is the Eldorai word for atheist, Kaida dislikes their 'superstitious beliefs and delusions'. Ironically, unbeknownst to her, her sister Lavina Taldir, who now goes by the name Ashana, was saved from the Netherworld by a member of the cult called Siona Vaerum. The Harbinger and her unlikely friend were members of the task force the Shadows dispatched to Kaeshana after the planet emerged from the Netherworld. Siona fought bravely, helping the task force link up with survivors of the cataclysm after crash-landing. The group faced Ashiran religious zealots and beasts that had been driven mad confinement in hell. However, they were able to successfully evacuate scattered bands of survivors after overcoming a mystical barrier. On the way they were able to link up with the Sicarii, a sect of Illyrian assassins, along with the Hellbreakers and the Harrowed, two mixed Eldorai and Kar'zun survivalist groups. They were honoured for their deeds by the Shadow Courts.