The Eshewtak

The Eshewtak are the secret faithful of Eshowdow, who have hidden themselves among the people of Chult for a millennia, secretly working to summon their shadowy patron once again and destroy the followers of Ubtao.

History

The Eshewtak were supposedly born when the Eshowe tribe of Chultans released a monstrous creature of shadow and death (that they called Eshowdow) from the Valley of Lost Honour, however, although they followed it into battle and death against Mezro, the Eshowe could not be said to truly worship such a being at that time.

The Eshowe were supposedly eradicated during the assault on Mezro and then during the purges of Bara Nsi, who pursued and slaughtered the last of this once great tribe back to the Valley of Lost Honour.

The truth is that isolated groups of Eshowe survived in southern Chult and they mingled with other smaller groups made refugee by the war with Kyuss and the horrors coming from the Chultengar ever since. The chaos of the centuries leading up to the climatic battles of the Eshowe – Tabaxi war in -122 DR allowed the few surviving Eshowe to merge with these refugee bands and hide their tribal origins.

Fewer elder Eshowe survived the purges of Bara Nsi, and they did so by retreating to the shadowy dimension from which they had released Eshowdow. Hidden from the world, the Abuya Deimshowa (the Speakers of Shadow) communed with the shadow spirits found there and underwent the slow transformation into beings of shade.

When the Abuya Deimshowa finally returned to Chult, the sought out the surviving Eshowe tribesmen and found these last scions in the city of Omu. The Speakers of Shadow educated these lost Eshowe about their true heritage and inducted the worthy into the worship of Eshowdow.

It wasn’t until the time of Ch’gakare, that the Eshewtak finally became a power in Chult once again. Ch’gakare was of Eshowe origin and was one of the favoured few to be inducted into the Eshewtak. Using their knowledge and support, Ch’gakare uncovered the Fane of Serpents beneath Omu and used the magic found therein to forge the growing settlement of Omu into a united city and nation, and then a powerful empire that claimed much of southern Chult.

The transformation of Queen Zalkore into a medusa signified the waning power of the Eshewtak. Zalkore became a cruel and paranoid ruler, and her tantrums resulted in the death of all her Abuyaka advisers before they could indoctrinate her children into the cult.

With the loss of their influence over the rulers of Omu, the power of the Eshewtak declined as did the Empire of Omu itself, but the cult persisted in the shadows of that city and it now contents itself with frustrating the plans of the Mazewalkers of Ubtao.

Organisation

Headquarters: Chult, Omu, 

Members: 18 Abuya Deimshowa, 45 Abuyaka, 300+ Kenswa Tokashow

Hierarchy: Strict

Leader: The Great Shadow

Religion: Eshowdow

Secrecy: High

Symbol: A shadow of a giant humanoid

The Eshewtak is a secret organisation hidden from the followers of Ubtao and the rest of Chult because its headquarters are hidden on another Plane, and because many of its members are completely unaware of their counterparts.

At the very top of the organisation are the Abuya Deimshowa, the Speakers of Shadow. These mysterious beings are chosen from among the favoured of the Eshowe to become creatures of shadow by surviving for an entire month on the shadowy plane that borders Chult.

The Abuya Deimshowa serve a being spoken of only in whispers and known as “the Great Shadow”. The Abuya Deimshowa claim that this being is Eshowdow himself, but none have ever met the Great Shadow to substantiate the claim.

Beneath the Abuya Deimshowa are prospective members of this elite group known as the Abuyaka, they are Spiritlords from among the descendants of the Eshowe that serve the will of the Abuya Deimshowa and await their chance to become one that that mysterious group.

Last come the Kenswa Tokashow, an elite group of warriors that at one time served the Empire of Omu and turned its armies into an unbeatable fighting force. With the collapse of that empire and the loss of the Eshewtaks influence over Omu and its armed forces, the Kenswa Tokashow have become smaller bands of bandits and warriors for hire that strike against the Mazewalkers of Ubtao whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Dogma / Motivation / Goals

The Eshewtak are taught that Eshowdow is the true creator of Chult, that he was imprisoned in the Shadow Layer of the jungle (the analogue of Chult that exists in the Plane of Shadow), and was released by his most faithful servants, the Eshowe.

The descendants of the Eshowe are dedicated to defeating Ubtao and his servants (the Tabaxi). The Abuyaka vehemently support the Spiritlords of Chult, and promote the worship of animal gods (without the usual statement that these are aspects of Ubtao). The Kenswa Tokashow are sent to ambush and assassinate the Mezsaxaaka (Mazewalkers) whenever the opportunity arises.

The subtly of the workings of the Eshewtak and the power they once held in lands of Omu has meant that the city of Omu no longer venerates Ubtao in any fashion, the people have openly rejected the word of the Mezsaxaaka and now offer prayers to the animal gods around them (the likes of Papazotl, etc).

Membership / Recruiting

The Eshewtak is a very carefully grown and controlled cult. The Abuya Deimshowa determine all who are welcomed into the organisation, and their orders come from the Great Shadow himself.

The Abuya Deimshowa approach prospective Abuyaka, testing their ancestry and their religious and political views, as well their magical potential. These tests are often performed in secret and without the complete knowledge of the prospect (chance conversations to test their ideology, close observation to determine their magical ability, research to determine their ancestry, etc).

A candidate that passes these tests is gradually inducted into the Eshewtak, given access to forbidden magics and knowledge, and encouraged to perform certain tasks (theft, espionage, sabotage, even murder).

Those who continue to impress the Speakers of Shadow are then escorted (forcibly if necessary) to the Valley of Lost Honour and from there to the Shadow Layer and the home of the Abuya Deimshowa. Here they are abandoned to survive alone in the Shadow Layer for a whole month, those that survive are given the greatest honour of Eshowdow, their very own Shadow Spirit.

Once all these trials are successful, the candidate returns as an Abuyaka, and is sent out into the world as a willing agent of the Abuya Deimshowa.

The Abuya Deimshowa use their magical abilities to communicate their plans to the Abuyaka in Chult, using nightmarish visions or the Shadow Walk spell (to travel to their location quickly).

Resources

The Eshewtak live in secret among the Chultans, most of them centred in the southern part of the Jungles of Chult, particularly in the city of Omu where they count the royal family among their number.

With secrecy of the utmost importance, and many Eshewtak often unknown to others of their faith, each follower of Eshowdow must be self sufficient, with access only to the resources they possess (usually those passed down to them by their ancestors).

Magic

The Abuya-Deimshowa are mysterious beings of magical abilities that hail from the shadow rifts accessible from the Valley of Lost Honour. These most honoured of the Eshewtak sometimes venture to the Material Plane and induct new members into their order and disseminate the secrets of Eshowdow among his faithful servants.

Bind Shadow Spirit: This spell is unique to the Eshewtak, but is widely used by the Abuya-Deimshowa to induct the followers of Eshowdow into the Eshewtak, and has shaped the society of the descendants of the Eshowe for generations.

This spell binds a Shadow (a creature of shadowstuff animated by Negative Energy) from the Plane of Shadow to the target. Thereafter the target may choose not to cast his own shadow, and gains Damage Resistance (Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing, Cold), and resistance to spells that inflict unconsciousness, paralysis, or charm based effects.

Over time, this spell turns the recipient towards evil thoughts and acts, and so has ensured that the Eshewtak remain a force for evil in service to the mysterious masters of the Abuya-Deimshowa.

Shadow and Continual Shadow: Most spells that cause darkness do so by decreasing the levels of light in an area, the Shadow spells (including Continual Shadow) cause darkness by calling forth shadows from the Plane of Shadow to envelope an area.

This set of spells is not unique to the Eshewtak; it is certainly used by cultists of Shar and those who tap the fabled Shadow Weave, but in Chult the Eshewtak are the only ones with access to this spell (outside of foreigners that venture to Chult with this knowledge).

Summon Shadow: The Abuya-Deimshowa have the ability to call forth creatures made of shadowstuff from the Plane of Shadow itself, they resemble any creature the caster is familiar with and possess all its abilities (albeit at a slightly lesser potency than the original). Again this spell is known outside of Chult, but within Chult only the Abuya-Deimshowa know this spell and they keep its secret for themselves.

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