The Nine (often represented as the IX, the Dark, the Ennead and Xaositects) are a mysterious and powerful entity or group of entities of transplanar origins, with hidden affiliations across the Land of Loorou.
They often collectively manifest as a non-euclidean geometric shape and communicate primarily through seemingly telepathic messages in a complex language that can be partially understood by the receiver. Individually they are known to take humanoid forms - often as well dressed gentlemen and ladies - although it is a flimsy disguise at best.
Despite their apparent omnipresence over the influence of the dark matter in the universe, the scope of their power over the world of "normal" matter is limited, and so they primarily act through a handful of agents, emissaries, and associates. They appear to be capable of freely manipulating the dark matter that composes themselves. They are also able to manipulate and even synthesize regular matter under certain circumstances.
Little is known about their motivations, but macabre legends tell of cult suicides, dark rituals and arcana to drive a mortal insane.
The IX is/are fundamentally driven to reduce complexity and diversity within the universe, and to eliminate any entity which cannot survive in the face of adversity. It/They claim to have once ruled the universe, and It/their followers believe that all life and light must be extinguished and consumed for the Dark to reclaim its domination. Its ultimate goal is to bring about an end-state of the universe in which the only entities that exist are those that have overcome all possible obstacles to their survival, and which have the strength to continue existing forever. It refers to this goal as the "final shape" of the universe.
- I - The Eyeless
A young, dainty woman dressed in a black gown and bonnet. Her face is perfectly sculpted with pale skin and high-cheekbones. From a distance, she is visage of tragic beauty and grace, until one notices the pale smooth skin that covers the area where her eyes should be. Soft whispers issue from black lips.
- II - The Faceless
A tall, barrel-chested man, clad in a heavy winter coat. It communicates in the form of visions, feelings, and sensations. Sometimes, it prefers to talk with it's fists.
- III - The Beggar-Prophet
A hunched greasy haired wretch clad in tatters and rags. The back side of it's head has another face. Both faces speak simultaneously but just out of sync. They speak in nonsense rhymes and mad cackles.
- IV - The Lad
A small boy with dark brown skin and pitch black eyes. It's hair is styled in a mushroom cut; it wears a child's riding leathers and breaches. It's voice is the susurration of the wind in the trees.
- V - The Kindly Old Man
An old bearded man in a three-piece suit and top-hat. He wears white gloves and carries a cane. It is difficult to focus on him. Shadows become erratic in his presence. Most prone to acts of violence. His voice sounds like the hissing of a thousand snakes.
- VI - The Woman in Black
Tall, imposing woman garbed in all black. Her face is obscured by a black veil and her hands are gloved in black. She appears to blend with nearby shadows. She does not speak, but communicates with gestures.
- VII - The Tailcoated Gentlemen
The most humanoid of the Dark's forms, the gentlemen appears as a healthy, robust man in his prime. He has a nutty brown complexion and curly hair. His face is fully visible and wholly human, save for the occasional blackening of the eyes. It has a genteel human voice. It's pleasant and affable demeanor masks a cold, calculating temperament.
- VIII - The Masque
A spindly figure of indeterminate gender, clad in diaphanous, loose-flowing robes. When seen from the corner of the eye, it has a distinctly arachnid appearance. It speaks telepathically, but it's word is the echoing moan of those lost in lonely places.
- IX - The Pale One
The least humanoid of all individuals forms of the Dark, it appears as a shifting fractal mass of white light and wispy shadow. It communicates telepathically; it's touch on the mind causes insanity.
- X - The Outsider
It often contradicts what the others say and is seemingly at cross purposes with them. It has a voice and is profoundly capable of nuance and humor. None of the other forms acknowledge it or appear to know of it's existence.
They are known to grant favours in exchange for tributes, although it may be a double-edged sword if the wisher is not careful with the wording of the wish.
A variety of secret cults claim the patronage of entities that bear resemblance to the Ennead. They come in a myriad, and none of like the other.
Of their purpose, none can be certain, for these bodies are often short-lived. Many of the cults undertake mysterious tasks, which always end with mass ritual suicide. The manner of death is always bloodless.
Legend has it that cults like the Illuminated, the Harlequinade and the House of Dusk have influenced the geo-politics and socio-economics of Loorou's nation states for centuries.
Collectively, the cults and organisations sworn to the Nine would represent a militarily powerful, wealthy shadow state, were it not for the fact that many of these bodies often appear to work at cross-purposes. As with all things related to the Nine, nothing can be confirmed.
The few suspected cult members who have been captured were observed to share the traits of fatalism, mathematical precision, and a manic obsession with words and numbers, incantations and arcane numerology.
- The Illuminated: Purportedly the largest, oldest, wealthiest and most influential cult. They are incredibly well-organised and impossible to track. They exist as fable, myth and rumor. They are very very real.
- The House of Dusk: Said to be deeply embedded in the military hierarchies of standing armies and all major mercenary forces, as well have thousands of sleeper agents seeding doubts and thoughts of rebellion in the minds of the commonfolk across Loorou.
- The House of Twilight: Highly influential, hidden cult with ties to all major banking houses, merchant companies and trade guilds.
- The House of Rising Dawn: A deeply influential secret society that operates along the eastern edge Loorou.
- The Temple of the Transient Form: Many of this cult seek ascension through sacrifice to their gods. They believe they will rise in death and beings of shadow and darkness.
- They of the Isle: Members are adorned with charcoal-scrawl markings.
- Church of Blessed Transition: They whisper in the ears of the ambitious and frustrated within the aristocracies of Loorou
- The Cognita: It is said their Inner Circle know the truth of the disappearance of King Gorgoleon the IVth.
- Cult Esoteric: Founded by the Magister Tri'chlan.
- The Fraternis Oracles: They claim to have disrupted the alignment of the very stars themselves.
- Cult of the Fractal Demise: Once bombarded the ancient city of Celestrum with giant mutating mirrors.
- Pyrofanes of the Majestic Blue Flame: Terrorist group that claimed responsible for the fiery destruction of the ancient kingdom of Prospero.
- The Thousand Young: Favouring secrecy, they have a multi-realm spy network.
- Cult of Twisted Fate: Twisted ironies are the delight of this cult.
- Guild of Summoners: It is their aim to bind the "nine Lords of Change" to their service
- Lazulites: Splinter cult of the Guild of Summoners.
- Ninety-Nine Feathers: They are skin-changers and sorcerers, a war-cabal of the"Sideways City" who serve an entity called the King of All Ravens.