Order of Affliction
More commonly known as the Cult of Pain
This is a relatively new belief system, having arisen to any prominence since the fall of the Draconic Sovereignty. The cult has roots extending far into the past, and is based on a reinterpretation of the Lady’s theology of growth through struggle. In prior centuries, those of this order believed that by seeking out pain and suffering, they could hasten their journey to perfection. Whereas Church dogma preaches a balance of pain and peace, the Order accentuated suffering as the vehicle for growth. Thus they would seek out war, disease, famines, and natural disasters. They would not (usually) cause such suffering directly, but they would seek it out and would sometimes seek to prolong it. In more recent years, however, they have become more strident in their dogma and seek to inflict suffering more directly. In Northander, for example, they have setup “purification centers” where those deemed in need of perfecting would be sent to be given the “gift” of suffering through torture. And roving bands of zealots parade through the streets, pouncing on random people and “perfecting” them in the street. Public torture sessions on wooden platforms throughout the city are now commonplace.
In years past, their small numbers made them at most a minor nuisance for the Church, usually ignored. However, since the dragon’s retreat, the cult has flourished throughout the lands. In Aborl, the key city of Northander has fallen under the sway of the Seer, a charismatic woman and adherent to teachings of the Order who has brought thousands under her sway. Although the official government of Northander remains, few doubt that the Seer is ultimately in control.
Pope Benefice IX has condemned the Order and officially branded it a heresy, and he has even called for a crusade to wipe it out. On the mainland violence has errupted and in some areas the Order has successfully been suppressed. The tenuous political situation in Aborl, however, has made such a crusade impractical, and so the Seer and her believers remain. There have been rumors of a crusading army gathering on the mainland prepping to invade Aborl, but so far no evidence of such an army.
For the moment, the Seer and her zealots seem limited to Northander and the surrounding villages, but missionaries of the cult have been seen in every corner of the kingdom. They are usually easily recognized by the dark robes they wear and their bodily mutilations such as piercings, burns, and wounds. They are also notorious for their zealotry, preferring to die in the most horrible manner rather than denounce their Seer. And the rest of the kingdom seems happy to give them their wish, as Order missionaries are often killed or at least violently ejected from towns and villages. Still, no one can deny that they have made significant progress in converting the masses, and rumors swirl that hordes of Affliction zealots wait to sack towns and grant their “gift” of suffering.