The Illuminated Ones

Prologue - Part One

You kneel within the Holy Chapel of Morrow within the Grand Illuminated Library. Embraced within Morrow’s holy Sancteum in Caspia, the Grand Illuminated Library is the heart and headquarters of the Order of Illumination. Mere yards from Morrow’s Seminary College, the Grand Illuminated Library rises as one of the tallest structures in the Sancteum. It bears the seal of the order’s emblem, the Radiance of Morrow, and the symbol of Ascendant Corbin. Aside from the decorative iconography, the library is a relatively plain structure. Its slate and marble walls are broken only on one front by its main entrance and a towering stained glass window depicting Ascendant Corbin rising several stories above it.

The light of the sun fractures through this window to bathe High Vigilant Peer Venessari Marpethorne in its golden radiance. Her bearing is almost regal as she stands before you, showing nothing of the weight of her 60 years nor that of her long‐held position as head of the Order. Behind her, in the shadows, stand several robed and cowled figures that you know to be the Vigilant Peers; a mysterious court of eight that assess rumours of heresy and foul magic, dispatch Illuminated peers on specific missions, and manage the internal policing of the order. This court judges evidence of infernalism and other dark arcana and decides how best to act. To defend both their lives and their virtue, these individuals are protected by layers of magical guards and illusions to conceal their identity.

The cold stone of the floor is only a mild discomfort; your year of rigorous training within these halls has subjected you to far worse. Indeed, of the score or so would‐be Illuminated that began the training with you, only you and the few others beside you remain. You recall your trials with a barely‐repressed shudder. They were designed to break the weak, the unworthy ‐ and break them they did.

The High Vigilant addresses your group. “You have emerged from the crucible of your trials to have the honour of serving Morrow in this, his most demanding calling. In successfully completing the demands of the exacting training to which you have been subjected, you have demonstrated the resilience of your bodies, the strength of your minds, and your unshakable faith in the Lord of Light. You have been reforged anew as Morrow’s weapon against the evils that beset Immoren. Necromancy, infernalism, heresy, depraved cults, such foul enticements seek out the weak of spirit, tempting the unwitting with the promises of evils both inscrutable and ancient. You will be the instrument of their undoing.

“In Morrow’s name.”

“In Morrow’s name,” both you and your fellow Illuminated respond. The High Vigilant moves to a table nearby, and takes from it a weapon and a holy symbol fashioned in the sun‐and‐sword icon of the Order. Both of these are presented to each of you in turn, the weapon being that favoured by its recipient.

“These instruments of holy reckoning have been crafted, blessed and sanctified in The Prophet’s name. Wield them righteously.” The High Vigilant steps back and gestures for you to rise. “You are now an Illuminated of the Order. On behalf of Primarch Arius and the Exordeum, I congratulate you. A Vigilant Peer will with you shortly to assign you your first task.” With a respectful bow of her head, the High Vigilant and seven of the Vigilant Peers depart the chapel.

The last Peer approaches your group, and addresses you all in a voice that is muffled and indistinct so as to conceal their identity – just as much as the voluminous robes that swirl about them do. “Illuminated. You have trained together, and in these trials have forged a personal bond of shared experience. This will strengthen against the enemies of the Church that are to be found beyond these walls, and for so long as these bonds remain strong, you will prevail against the darkness. Until notified otherwise, you are to act together in your assignments. Nonetheless, you will undoubtedly encounter disagreement and discord in matters to come. In such situations, look to the teachings of the Prophet. They will guide you.”

The Vigilant Peer pauses for a few moments. Within the darkness of the cowl you can discern nothing of their thoughts or expression. They continue: “Your first task concerns a Father Decklan, recently dispatched by the Exordeum to Barrington. It is a small town situated on the banks of the Black River, not far from Corvis. Father Decklan’s predecessor was killed in an attack by the Skorne several weeks ago, one of many launched against Cygnar’s borders in recent times by the heathens from the east. In the ensuing period we have received no word from him, and are concerned that he may have met a similar end. You are tasked to journey to Barrington and ascertain his fate. If he yet lives, it is the wish of the Church that you render unto him whatever aid he requires ‐ within reason. The spiritual well‐being of the faithful of Barrington is also of the highest priority.

“You are to leave at first light tomorrow morning. Within your quarters, you will find sufficient provisions for your journey. When you duties are acquitted you are to return here, unless matters of the Church or the Order require your further intervention. In such an event, you are advised to use your discretion. Ensure that you send word of any such developments through the appropriate channels.”

The Vigilant Peer raises a hand in a gesture of holy benediction. “May Morrow protect you and guide you.” With that, the mysterious figure bows respectfully, and you know that you have been dismissed from their presence.

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Arasaka

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