Pirates of the Broken Coast
ORDER OF ILLUMINATION
For the past 350 years, the Order of Illumination has been the weapon of the Morrowan faith wielded against the darkest forces of the occult. Born out of a scandal of infernalism among the arcanists of the Fraternal Order of Wizardry, the order has weathered centuries of war, oppression, and revolution, all while fighting a covert and thankless battle against the forces of necromancy and the infernal. Famously described by Primarch Kielor Malistave as “a sword that once drawn is not easily sheathed,” the order is filled with ruthless, relentless, pitiless witch hunters. The Morrowan religion emphasizes charity and good works, but members of the Order of Illumination understand that hard decisions and actions are required to safeguard the faith from enemies within and without.
The members of the order, known as Illuminated Ones, are sworn soldiers, investigators, arcanists, and witch hunters in the service of the Sancteum. They have vowed to uphold the tenets of the Church of Morrow and to confront and destroy practitioners of the dark arts of necromancy, infernalism, and mesmerism wherever they are found. The Illuminated Ones are the uncompromising judges and executioners of the church.
At the head of the order sits High Vigilant Peer Venessari Marpethorne. A respected and once-fearsome witch hunter, Marpethorne has led the order through the reigns of both Vinter IV and Leto. Though advancing age keeps her from active service, her mind remains sharp as she guides the order through its mission and the intricacies of international politics.
The high vigilant peer is assisted by the eight vigilant peers of the order’s court. These ranking Illuminated Ones are selected through a secret process subordinate to the will of the Exordeum. The Vigilant Court weighs evidence of infernalism and other dark arcane arts and assigns Illuminated Ones to investigate further or to dispatch the order’s justice.
Illuminated Ones are punctilious in the performance of their duties. Once tasked with an investigation, agents of the order stop at nothing to determine the guilt of an individual or the nature of his transgressions. Most Illuminated Ones are adroit political manipulators, but they care nothing for the social status or influence of the object of their investigations. Members of the order have in the past uncovered sweeping political scandals in the course of their duties. Perhaps their greatest work involves policing the Church of Morrow itself, and Illuminated Ones have been instrumental in uncovering corruption among the clergy.
Agents of the order have significant leeway when conducting investigations and are legally empowered by the Cygnaran crown to execute any individual found guilty of practicing any of the three dark arts. Most agents display some discretion in acting upon this mandate, though overzealous members have been known to run afoul of sensitive situations by acting with overwhelming force against a politically influential individual.
Death is the default penalty for any person found guilty by the order, but in practice well-connected malefactors guilty of minor infractions might have their sentences commuted to life in the order’s dungeons.
The Order of Illumination has also shown a willingness to employ those of questionable background. A handful of exiled Iosans, former Cygnaran Inquisitors, and even less reputable characters enjoy its protection in return for their expertise in specialized areas of occult knowledge. Though the most despicable individuals are effectively prisoners of the order, kept from summary justice for as long as they provide valuable information, others are completely absolved of past transgressions and act as full agents of the order.
The enemies of the order include vicious and powerful occultists and more alien threats of tremendous, otherworldly power. In response, the order pioneered arcane and mechanikal means for combating these threats. Of particular note is its success in the crafting of mechanika capable of combating infernal and discarnate abominations. Still, even with these advances bolstering the peerless fighting skills of the order’s devotees, each year several Illuminated Ones vanish or are killed in the pursuit of their duties.
The order possesses an extensive network of spies and informants mostly made up of the compromised or zealous members of other intelligence services. This network also includes watchful members of the Morrowan clergy who support the efforts of the order from the safety of their churches. Though a great deal of information is passed onto the order, the Illuminated Ones possess more direct means of extracting information from those individuals who fall into their hands. The order’s dungeons contain numerous implements useful in the extraction of truth.
The Order of Illumination is never more than a few hundred strong. The order’s internal affairs and external interests are managed from the Grand Illuminated Library within the Sancteum. From this headquarters, the order investigates the taint of the profane and forbidden across the Iron Kingdoms. In Cygnar, the order’s hunters have the luxury of support from secular law, though they are largely unwelcome in the nations of Khador and the Protectorate of Menoth. Regardless, the agents of the order care little for borders and politics in their pursuit of the damned.
The Illuminated Ones have recently begun acting with greater haste. Some members of the order believe the debt owed by humanity for the Gift of Magic will soon come due, and they speak of an apocalypse of dire proportions.