Cult of Shadows
Ela is known as the Mistress of Shadows. While not a cruel mistress, she is deceitful, selfish and manipulative oftentimes interposing her will on others in the Reaches. Legends say that one cannot whisper a secret without her ears catching every word. Rogues across the Realm seek the favor of Ela, who prefers trickery over violence. Ela's priests and priestesses are drawn from clerics with unusual talents in her domains. Her church is known simply as the Cult of Shadows with headquarters somewhere in the tangled alleys of the Merchant’s Quarter of Teufeldorf.
Ela's power and that of her Order is drawn from Brandobaris, Master of Stealth. Some believe that Brandobaris' ability to disappear completely was tied to his innate power to walk the Shadows. Rumors hold that Brandobaris hid his treasure, knowledge and secrets in a Shadow vault - protected like a complex puzzle to be solved by a worthy student. It is believed that Ela is that student, and the Cult of Shadows is a result of her completing the final task in Brandobaris' test.
The Cult of Shadow's clients are among the most successful merchants in the city, willing to stray from the straight and narrow to turn a profit. Ela's devout enjoy enviable political clout while many others pay small tributes “just in case” hoping to insure their good fortune. Failing to placate Ela could mean bankruptcy for a negligent merchant – a fate worse than death for many.
Temple of Shadows building is the only visible sign of Ela’s presence. Devotees openly ask for access to her domain of shadows and offer her obeisance to stave off misfortunes in their own lives and business dealings. Ela’s priests learn a darker doctrine. Ela’s teachings instruct them in lying as an art form. Violence has its place in helping achieve one’s goals, but one should learn to savor the pleasures of finding more subtle solutions to dilemmas, such as thievery and deceit. At the highest levels, her priests and priestesses learn to walk the shadows, allowing them unprecedented access to strongholds across the Realm.
The Cult of Shadows is closely tied to The Family (the thieves’ guild) and the Dark Path (the assassin’s guild), although the details of their arrangements are unknown to any except the high priests and guildmasters. Sometimes, Ela is called the Great Aunt by members of The Family.
Orders of the Temple of Shadows
There are three known orders of Priests of the Cult of Shadows: Shadow Guides, Shadow Spies, and Shadow Agents.
Shadow Guides. Most priests of the Cult of Shadows undertake the ordeals to become a walker of Shadows, learning the secrets to movement within Ela’s mysterious domain. With this skill, they can move throughout the Realm – jumping from shadow to shadow. They can also explore the world that lies beyond, using its secrets for their own gain. Those who fail the ordeal typically stay within the Ela’s ranks taking on more mundane missions. Adepts at this discipline must be at least 7th level. Shadow Guides – those skilled enough to take others on the journey – must be at least 13th level in experience.
Shadow Spies. While Ela allows The Family and the Dark Path to undertake the acts of theft, burglary, and assassination, she is often beseeched by her followers to gather or spread information. Within her ranks are priests, specially trained in the arts of infiltration and espionage – shadow spies. While maintaining a public persona apart from their true calling, these priest’s work is done quietly and in private, keeping well away from public scrutiny. Clerics of 5th level are eligible to become a Shadow Spy, while those of 13th level can become a Master Shadow Spy.
Shadow Agents. Only a few of Ela’s followers have the innate ability to control the thoughts and dreams of others. Sometimes these abilities are evident prior to joining the order - impressive skills at bluffing, intimidating, and otherwise dealing with people to their own advantage. Other times, they become evident once they enter the temple. In either case, great sacrifices must be made to become a Shadow Agent, although the reward is unprecedented control over others. Shadow Agents are sent by Ela on the most dangerous missions. Clerics of the 5th level are eligible to become a Shadow Agent.