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The Ahrien Kitai are a dark sinister group devoted to the teachings of Lord Krapheon. One part shadowy conspiracy, and the other part cult, the Ahrien Kitai have existed in the shadows within Tamriel for ages. More than anything the members of the Ahrien Kitai seek personal power for themselves.
The Ahrien Kitai began their existence as the personal followers of the great Lord Krapheon. Drawn from individuals of all races, the Ahrien Kitai were drawn to Krapheon's cause by promises of power under him, or by their reverence for the powerful warlord.
The Ahrien Kitai back then were in charge of commanding Lord Krapheon's army, and were also the ones responsible for keeping order amongst his domain. The Ahrien Kitai ruthlessly oppressed those they ruled, ruling through fear and absolute force.
They were just as proficient in their duties against Krapheon's enemies. They proved themselves to be merciless and driven military commanders, and equally adept in the fields of espionage and assassination. At the height of Krapheon's power it was said that the Ahrien Kitai had at least one agent among each of Krapheon's rivals.
Despite this the Ahrien Kitai would soon find their influence waning. Corruption and the personal ambitions of the members of the Ahrien Kitai soon threatened the solidarity of the group. In addition to this they faced a revolution against their tyranny by the slaves and citizens of their domains, who had become tired of the oppression they suffered. This revolution was led by a charismatic and skilled former slave named Akalen who was recieving support from Krapheon's enemies abroad. Finally to make matters worse it seemed as though Krapheon himself was losing his power as time went on.
Eventually Akalen's revolution would prove successful. He lead his people to freedom by overthrowing the Ahrien Kitai, and when Fort Palathos was stormed Akalen personally dueled and killed Lord Krapheon. After this the Ahrien Kitai scattered, but did not cease to exist. Krapheon's former chief lieutenant, Horimas Gladrael rallied many of them under his banner. Horimas claimed that their master had not truly fallen. Rather everything leading up to his death had actually been a part of Krapheon's plan to attain godhood. A plan that had succeeded.
Under Horimas the Ahrien Kitai became a cult that worshiped Lord Krapheon as a god, and devoted themselves to his philosophies. There were many among the Ahrien Kitai that opposed this shift, but Horimas and those that supported him swiftly purged the Ahrien Kitai of these non-believers. The Ahrien Kitai then went deep into hiding in order to rebuild. To the eyes of the world Lord Krapheon and his followers had ceased to exist, but the Ahrien Kitai remained in secret. Horimas Gladrael would become the first Zeruum Kitai of the order.
Na'sharim is a unique language spoken by members of the Ahrien Kitai. The history of Na'sharim goes back to the reign of Krapheon himself. Krapheon had many enemies during his rise to power, and their eyes were always on his activities. In order to safely pass information along through his agents Krapheon created his own language. This is Na'sharim.
While Na'sharim is no longer a language used to pass secret information, it is still used by the Ahrien Kitai. Members of the Ahrien Kitai learn Na'sharim as a second language, and eventually become fluent in the tongue. The use of Na'sharim allows the modern Ahrien Kitai to communicate without fear, as the language is practically unheard of outside the order. Furthermore Na'sharim is the official language of the Ahrien Kitai's religion, and all the scriptures, rites and rituals of the order use the language.
Despite being united by a shared doctrine the Ahrien Kitai are very decentralized in their internal structure. Since a large part of Krapheon's doctrine revolves around the personal pursuit of power, infighting is common and constant. As a result there is a great deal of factionalism within the Ahrien Kitai.
The Ahrien Kitai is split between groups called Circles. Each circle has its own chain of command and support. As a result Circles tend to act independently, and work towards their own ends rather than that of the order as a whole. Circles are formed when a group of Ahrien Kitai band together for a common cause, or simply for mutual benefit. The size and power of these circles can vary wildly. During one period of time the Gilsarib Circle was so large and powerful that it had more resources and personnel than every other Circle at the time combined.
An interesting aspect of the Ahrien Kitai is that the actual members of the Ahrien Kitai will only make up a minority of the personnel within a given Circle. The majority of people with the Circle will be those that serve the actual member of the Ahrien Kitai. This usually takes the form of people called Thralls. Many Thralls are born and raised in service the Ahrien Kitai, while others join later on for whatever reason. Thralls take a number of roles including slave labor, acting as the personal servants of one of their masters, day to day maintenance, and in the case of Thrall Warriors acting as the order's basic foot soldiers. Thralls are usually indoctrinated into the religion of the Ahrien Kitai, though they are rarely given more than the basic education in its practices, and are never taught any of the order's coveted secrets. A thrall may become part of the order if they show themselves to be capable enough, or if they take the initiative and claim power for themselves.
Those members of the order proper possess authority and privileges that surpass even the highest ranking Thralls by a wide margin. This is why the Thralls and even those that are simply associates of the Ahrien Kitai refer to even thew lowest ranked member of the order as Lord in most cases.
Within the order proper there are generally five ranks of ascending power. The first is called Artu. Artu are the lowest ranking of the Ahrien Kitai's ranks, though they still have complete authority over Thralls. This rank is made up of those who have only just begun their journey through the mysteries of the order, and those that have not yet shown the necessary skills, or ambition to advance.
The next rank is Kaanu. These members of the order have the experience and ambition to rise above others within their order. They act as officers among the ranks of a circle. Kaanu are well versed in the secret arts practiced by the Ahrien Kitai. In many cases a Kaanu will be a leader of one of the specialist groups of the Circle. In this case the Kaanu will likely have mastered the arts of that specialization. Each Kaanu is a dangerous foe to be feared, as to attain their rank they will have had to show both strength and cunning to advance amongst their ruthless kin.
The next rank up is the Shaharik. A Shaharik acts as a high ranking officer within his circle, and will usually be one of the lieutenants of the Circle's leader. Each Shaharik has been initiated into the highest secrets of his order, and Circle. True followers of Krapheon's ideology to become a Shaharik one most be both strong in body, and sharp in mind. A Shaharik will have mastered many of the more powerful arts and secrets of the Ahrien Kitai, and are thus dangerous foes even to the mighty.
At the top of a Circle's hierarchy is its leader, the No'rii Kitai. Whether they were the founders of their Circle, or rose up threw the ranks with their strength and guile, a No'rii Kitai stands supreme amongst their brethren. As a true lord amongst the Ahrien Kitai the No'rii Kitai will have mastered the most powerful arts taught to the disciples of Krapheon. However No'rii Kitai do not go unopposed. They must be wary of their underlings, for inevitably their ambition will make them seek to take the title of No'rii Kitai. Furthermore they must worry about others who hold their position, as the various Circles are always competing for supremacy over one another.
The final and highest rank is that of the Zeruum Kitai, the leader of the Ahrien Kitai as a whole. In order to attain this rank a No'rii Kitai must convince, or force all the other Circles to acknowledge them as master. Naturally this is no easy feat given the innate pride and ambitious nature that comes with being a No'rii Kitai. As such Zeruum Kitai are considered extraordinary individuals that have the strength of will to unite the Ahrien Kitai. It is not uncommon for there to be nobody of this rank for long periods time. After the Zeruum Kitai was assassinated during the Oblivion Crisis there was not a new Zeruum Kitai for two hundred years.
Among the members of the Ahrien Kitai there is a number of specializations. These specialists choose to follow the path of the God in Act in the way that best suits them. Most of the specialist types are a part of the hierarchy of their Circle. Others exist outside the chain of command, performing duties that require special consideration. Most of the specialist branches have Thralls that service them exclusively, and require certain skill sets.
The Blood-Sworn are those members of the order that seek power through corporeal might. Dedicated warriors the Blood-Sworn hone their skills to a razor's edge so that they may better crush their rivals, and cut down the enemies of the Ahrien Kitai. They do this with the fighting styles passed down within the order, Klor'ventu, which supposedly is derived from the combat style that Krapheon taught his warriors. In addition to this Bood-Sworn are given acquire supernatural fighting abilities through the secrets of the Ahrien Kitai.
Krapheon created his set of martial arts called Klor'ventu. Through his studies in the arts of war Krapheon created these combat arts to crush his enemies with martial prowess. He would later teach Klor'ventu to his disciples. Over the eons Klor'ventu has evolved. It has techniques going back to the fighting style of Krapheon himself, and incorperating new techniques developed by the Ahrien Kitai's combat masters. Thus Klor'ventu has come to encompass styles for everything from unarmed combat to techniques for various weapons. However all the styles are built upon the martial philosophies and fundamentals of Krapheons original teachings. Klor'ventu is an aggressive fighting style emphasizing overwhelming force, relentless offense and the ability to identify and exploit the weaknesses and mistakes of the opponent.
The Blood-Sworn train and command the Ahrien Kitai's Thrall Warriors. These are dedicated, obedient and ruthless warriors who are more often than not born into servitude of the order, and trained for their purpose from a young age. They make up the majority of the guards for the Ahrien Kitai's forts, and in the rare cases that the order goes into battle they usually are the ones doing the fighting.
For some within the Ahrien Kitai it is not through pure force, or dark arcane secrets that they would attain power. The Eldritch Blades are those within the order that embrace the ways of guile, and secrets to ascend to supremacy. The Eldritch Blades are an enigmatic group of specialists even within an order as esoteric as the Ahrien Kitai. They focus on Krapheons teaching about the power of secrets, and the methods by which to manipulate the weak hearts and minds of others. The techniques that they inherit are ones of stealth, manipulation and espionage. While they rely on stealth and guile for the most part there is a supernatural component to many of their techniques. A good example of this was Shade Walk, a technique that allowed the user to temporarily move through shadows in order to move quickly and undetected.
The Eldritch Blades are unique in that while they are the most secretive of those specialists within the Ahrien Kitai, they are also the ones that interact most with those outside the order. They act as the spy masters, and assassins of the order. When the Ahrien Kitai wants someone killed an Eldritch Blade is usually the one that slips a blade between the offender's ribs. The byzantine web of informants, assets and associates that support each individual Circle, and the order at large are mostly cultivated and maintained by Eldritch Blades.
Eldritch Blades trained and were served by a special group of Thralls known as Thrall Agents. These Thralls were taught techniques that would allow them to function as field agents under the supervision of an Eldritch Blade. Often it was the Thrall Agents performing the covert actions of the Ahrien Kitai, with an Eldritch Blade lurking in the background, supervising the agent's activities, and only getting involved when it became necessary. Often Thrall Agents were only trained in a portion of their craft so that they could not operate fully independently of others. Some agents might be trained in language and decrypting. Others might learn the art of interaction, going into the social circles of Tamriel under cover in order to provide their masters with knowledge. Still others were trained in how to kill in some specific way, acting as assassins tailor made for certain kinds of targets. What training the agents received was dependent on what their masters required.
The Delvers are made up of those members of the Ahrien Kitai that devote themselves to the study of the Arcane. Krapheon when he was mortal had a mastery of the magical arts that could be matched by few throughout history. The Delvers devote themselves to studying the dark arts that Krapheon refined and developed. The Delvers hold a place of particular respect within the Order. It was through his studies in the arts of magecraft that Krapheon had built his empire, and eventually through it he supposedly achieved divinity.
The Delvers practice much of the more contemporary spells of Tamriel, as well as more frowned upon arts such as necromancy, and making pacts with Daedra. After all in the doctrine of the order any path towards greater power is noble so long as the one that chooses it has the will to walk it. In addition to this the Delvers have access to the spells and arcane techniques that Krapheon passed on to his disciples, as well as those created by the order throughout it's history. As a result members of the Ahrien Kitai have access to arcane arts that almost no one else does, and the Delvers are those that seek mastery over these secrets almost the exclusion of all else.
Among all the various sub-groups within the Ahrien Kitai there are none that are more unique, or hold more sway than the Palsidar. A Palsidar is the closest thing that the order has to a priest. The Purpose of the Palsidar is to ensure that ideology, arts and lessons that Krapheon left to his followers would continue to be passed down to those worthy to inherit them. Thus the Palsidar are well instructed in the countless secret and forbidden arts that the Ahrien Kitai possess. They also possess powers given directly via the divine providence of the God in Act, and they preside over the rituals dedicated to Krapheon.
In an organization in which one's superiors and teachers inevitably have ulterior, and possibly malicious motives towards their apprentices the Palsidar provide an invaluable service. The Palsidar by tradition hold no official rank or authority within the organization. They do not scramble for power, or stab their fellow Ahrien Kitai in the back as others of the order are expected to do, and their sole purpose is to make sure the teachings of the Ahrien Kitai and their god are passed on. Thus for many seeking the tutelage of a Palsidar is the best possible course as they have no reason to withhold knowledge from their students as those that are seeking power might, and there is no chance of the Palsidar betraying their charges. Given their role, and the fact that they can not grab power for themselves they are exempt from the constant scheming of the order. No matter how brutal the plotting, scheming and civil conflicts within the Ahrien Kitai become, no member may bring harm to a Palsidar through any act, directly or indirectly. This is one of the few absolute rules that all members of the Ahrien Kitai must respect, and to break this taboo is to face punishment of the harshest sort.
However while the Palsidar do not directly take part in rat race of Ahrien Kitai politics, they do compete and jockey for power in their own special way. Often times leaders within the Ahrien Kitai will look to their former instructors to advice them, and thus a Palsidar can gain respect and influence within the order through the achievements of their former students. Indeed the Palsidar measure their success and prestige based on the success of those that they have taught.