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There are always religious deviants in the world, and there are always those willing to die for their beliefs. Rarely, however, have the two sects merged in Creation as violently as with the Celestines. Dedicated to overthrowing the Shogunate and replacing it with a new Celestial Hierarchy, the Celestines are like rabid dogs, tearing down the order wherever they find it and dying gladly to take a few Terrestrials with them.
The Celestines, also known as the Celestial Order, are radicals in the truest sense of the word. Formed on half-understood ideas of the First Age, they are led by a mad young solar known only as Lyta Sunbringer. According to their goddess, the Celestial Exalted were overthrown by the evil Dragon-Blooded millenia ago, and when this occured, the natural balance of the world was overthrown. In order to restore that balance, no means are too extreme.
The Celestines teach that there are three prime virtues: obediance, loyalty, and faith. Obediance means following the orders of those above you, especially Exalts, without question. Loyalty means that you do not abandon, steal from, cheat, lie to, or kill your fellow Celestines. And faith means that, no matter what occurs, you keep your trust in the Divine Order. Only by holding fast to these three virtues can mortals hope for a better life in future incarnations; the Unconquered Sun smiles down upon His followers and ensures that they are reborn into lives where they can better find themselves.
Unfortunately, the evil Dragon-Blooded have overthrown this natural order. Corrupt and cruel, their blood taints the natural order, causing them to rise to the top of society and undermining the lives of people who should be rich, but are instead consigned to lives of drudgery and pain. Only by the complete destruction of the Shogunate and the Dragon-Blooded can the world be saved.
Virtues such as humility and compassion are noticeably lacking in the Celestines, and the net result is a savage group of killers that die willingly when discovered. Martyrdom is a sure way to gain a better life in the next world, and killing the Dragon-Blooded earns the same.
The Celestines first appeared six years ago in Pangu, where they were ruthlessly exterminated in the former town of Shangar, near the Imperial Mountain. The operation required a full legion, and resulted in hundreds of deaths, including that of at least three Dragon-Blooded. Lyta Sunbringer escaped the destruction and fled west, leaving cells of Celestines in her wake. In six years, there have been three known Celestine cells uprooted and destroyed, and over a dozen attacks in Pangu.
The Celestines are now rooted in the Western League, where even that government considers them suspicious and dangerous. Two Celestine cells have been wiped out for blatantly disobeying local laws, and although the League has not extended this order to the Celestines in general, many have spoken of it in council. There are also pockets of Celestines in Chiaroscuro and the Balmori Republic; small ones for now, but they seem to be spreading. The Celestines remain almost unheard of in the East, where Deheleshen has managed to surpress that level of discontent within its populace, and of course they do not exist in Rathess, nor do they have any real reason to exist in New Estasia. Rumours abound that some Deathlords have shown support to the Celestines, but no one can confirm whether or not they are true, and most believe that Lyta would never accept their help anyway.
The call to arms of the Celestines is sneaky. It appeals to those who believe that they deserve better, those who think that it isn't their fault that their situation is what it is, and those who bear a grudge against the Terrestrial Exalted. With so many situations in which such is true, not to mention situations where scum and wretches believe that it is true, is it any wonder that the Celestines are easily swayed?
Once recruited, whatever magic-workers are nearest train and indoctrinate the Celestines, honing them to perfect terrorist cells. Not all Celestines receive this instruction, but those that do are the most powerful and dangerous among them.
In addition to their mortal followers, of course, there are the Solars. To date, Lyta has managed to bring two Solars onboard her pet project, a Night Caste and an Eclipse, and she has trained both in the skills that she believes to be necessary in order to properly train her followers. In addition, violent sections of the Silver Pact see much to admire in the Celestines, and at least three Lunars have joined Lyta's forces. One was a former pupil of Ma-Ha-Suichi, and he continues to serve his master, trying to manipulate the Celestines to break down society entirely. Of course, trying to direct the Celestines is like leashing a tiger, and they may find that they have bitten off more than they can chew. Finally, Lyta has at least one Sidereal advisor, a neutral Sidereal named Crane. Crane is an old adherent of the Gold Faction, but is not a member of the current Gold; instead, he hopes to use Lyta and the Celestines to overthrow the Shogunate entirely and set up a new Deliberative. His methods are madness, however, and he is blind to their flaws.
The Celestines teach that Solars, Lunars, and Sidereals are perfectly equal in the eyes of the Sun, and that all must work together in order to be Exalted. To that end, they try to find the perfect roles for each Exalt that they receive to them, in order to better fulfill the Divine Order.
By comparison, the Dragon-Blooded are worms and scum, a taint upon the world that must be cleansed. A very few can be saved, but even that is suspicious and dangerous. When the Celestines rule the world again, new Terrestrials will be born of the Sun and placed among the greatest followers of Lyta.
Abyssals and Alchemicals are not of the proper order, according to the Celestines. Abyssals are meant to remain in the lands of the dead, and their interference in the lands of the living can bring only sorrow, and Alchemicals are poor copies of the true Celestials. The Celestines have no particular grudge against the Alchemicals, however, as long as they understand that they are below other true Exalts.