Long ago, empowered by their leader, the mighty witch Morgana, the Disciples were able to channel demonic power in a number of ways. They wore special armor and weapons in battle. They controlled demons to sow chaos and destruction throughout the lands of Albion. However, after a great and devastating war, most Disciples laid dead on the battlefield, slain by magical energies.
Only a handful of knights and cultists survived, and they were the weakest of the group, saved by their own inexperience. For years, they hid in Albion’s darkest corners, scrabbling in the ruins of their castles for scraps of old knowledge. Very slowly, they began to piece together something of what was lost.
The Disciples that remained were an impoverished shadow of what had come before, but they persevered, practicing the arts they knew and experimenting in the areas they did not. Their efforts were not in vain, and eventually the Disciples‘ rituals became powerful again.
Finally, they dared to venture back into Albion, sending out spies. They found much to their liking. And new people had come from across the sea. A strange and desperate bunch, greedy, ripe for manipulation. In closed councils the Disciples smiled to themselves and began to plan… they are keen to conquer Albion and, ultimately, the rest of the Old World. They are divided into three groups:
A broad group that encompasses all members of the faction that are not empowered by demonic energy. This includes knights, soldiers, crossbowmen, servants, crafters, all the people required to meet the basic needs of the faction.
They are united by a belief in the Disciples‘ path and, in most cases, a desire to ascend into the ranks of the Cultists or Champions. Even the greatest of the knights of Morgana pales in comparison to an empowered Champion. Unfortunately, very few are chosen, leading to a very competitive attitude among the regular Disciples and a tendency for Cultists and Champions to demand outrageous favours in return for their patronage.
Only women are allowed to become cultists. The rule is adhered to without exception. The Cultists are the magical leaders of the Disciples. It is their power that allows contact with the demons, their skills that enchant the armour and weapons of the Champions and their rituals that imbue a select few with pure demonic power.
The Cultists enjoy many benefits from their association with demons. They are beautiful without exception, though this beauty borders on terrifying in the wrong light, and they would tell you that the years touch them but lightly. Certainly, there are no old looking cultists but whether this is due to immortality or the dangers of the profession is a matter for debate.
While the Cultists share similar goals there is lots of rivalry and competition among them. Such infighting is managed through a series of complicated laws. This means that conflicts can take years to resolve, stopping civil war within the faction but prolonging disputes. This is an important point if one is to understand the Disciples as it reflects their attitude to all things, namely that everything can be managed with the right discipline.
At their lowest level, the Champions are just that: the greatest of the Disciples’ warriors. The Champions wear armour enchanted with demonic magic and wield weapons with similar power behind them. What effect this has on their minds over the long term is unknown but is almost certainly detrimental.
Get far enough up the chain of command and something changes. Literally. At the highest levels, the Champions are living conduits for demonic power. This means they are bigger, stronger, harder to kill. They begin to take on the fiery aspects of a demon in addition to its features. In some cases, hands become claws or eyes start to flame or wings sprout from backs. But what happens is more than just a change in size or shape. The Champions that come out of the ritual are never quite the same people as the ones that go in. They become more arrogant, more violent, less human.
The Champions believe that just as they lead in battle, one of them should be named overall leader of the Disciples. The Cultists may work the rituals but they are the ones who walk the path. Who can understand the demons better than one who feels the fire in his blood?
The most powerful of the Champions form a union – they have become Demon Princes of Morgana. More demon than human, but this is a story for another day.