"The Dawn Burns Away The Darkness"
Once the mailed fist of the Light, and the true nemesis of the Shadow, the Church of True Light are a religious faction within Fastheld that operate without the consent of the Imperial Watch or the Emperor himself, entrenched as they are within their bastions of Sun's Keep and the Stanchion.
For centuries, the Church of True Light was the absolute religious power within Fastheld, dictating the spirituality of the people and often those who ran the Empire himself, command respect and fear in equal measure across the land.
While their Priests preached the greatness of the Light, the military wing of the Church - the Scourges - were seen as the Light's will made manifest, crossing the Empire in their golden armor forged from pure brass inscribed with scripture and prayer.
The Scourges swept away the Shadow even within the depths of the night, while the Priests sang their praises and beheld them to all as the shining example of the glory of faith and and devotion to the light.
When Fastheld was founded as an Empire, the Church of True Light stood beside Talus Kahar the First as equals, promising the keep the Realm purged of darkness in exchange for the new Emperor's vow to permit them work independently while doing so. Guests of the Empire, as it were, performing a service in trade for a home to live in, and a people to enlighten all the while.
Their doctrine became "The Light of Truth Shall Shine", and for many centuries it did just that. The Emperor's Blades and the Scourges of the Church of True Light worked in tandem, driving out hostile elements of Shadow Touched Mages and Wildlings in equal measure, standing side-by-side in battle and policy.
For many, the Church was a beacon of hope and inspiration, and their words and teachings touched many, securing a foundation deep within the hearts and minds of the people of the Empire and those who were to rule them.
Early in the fifth century, that all began to change.
It is not known what caused the downward spiral of the Church of True Light, nor what events prompted it, but what is known is that sometime around the year 527 ATA, the Church of True Light experienced a major change in policy.
While it had always been a predominantly female establishment, the Church suddenly began to saturate the number of female Scourges that it held. Males were forced either to become Eunuchs or to leave the service of the Church entirely. The focus became less upon the teaching of scripture to enforce faith and more upon the use of militant means in order to instil a hatred of the Shadow within the people of Fastheld.
Though subtle at first, these changes in policy were to build into a crescendo that would ultimately reach it's peak in 602 ATA, when the Church of True Light officially stopped being a religious order, and overtly transformed into an inquisition.
With a hated of the Shadow that not only crossed into zealotry but embraced it, the Church of True Light quickly took over all Shadow-Hunting operations within Fastheld. Where once Blades were permitted to deal with those suspected of being Shadow-Touched, the Scourges manifestly placed themselves in a position of absolute control over such duties, going so far as to oversee much of the "Blades Day" events that took place.
Suspecting anyone and everyone of the potential to be Shadow Touched rather than only those who had been proven as such, the Church of True Light began to undermine the relationship it held with the Empire and the people that inhabited it. Where once people looked upon the Church as a source of hope, they now only looked upon them with fear and suspicion.
The alliances they held with the Emperor's Blades degraded into open conflict and contempt, with operations that once held mutual benefits descending into conflicts of interest instead. However, the true depths of the instability present within the Church of True Light was unknown until 625 ATA when reports of a bloody coup within Sun's Keep reached the Imperial Court.
Already weak in numbers - and equally so in popularity and relations with the Crown and the Military that served it - it remains unknown what caused Scourges to turn against themselves, but the coup was an internal blow that not only served to highlight the depths of the militant attitude within the Church, but also one that shook the very foundation of the Church's waning strength within Fastheld.
Reeling from internal strife, the revelation that the Citadel of Halo harboured the Avatar of a Dragoness beneath its foundation was alone enough to break the back of the Church in and of itself.
That the same Avatar destroyed the Citadel in the process of freeing herself from that foundation struck the death knell for the Church, for much of the senior authority of the Church of True Light died within that event, including a number of the secretive Shadowbanes that operated as the "Secret Police" of the Church.
In the year that followed, under the new leadership of Bandus Flint, the Church attempted a restructure. Still militant, and still acting more as an inquisition than the speakers of a faith, the resurge did little to repair the damage done to the Church other than secure it within the storm for a while.
Finally, in 626 ATA, the Church utterly fragmented itself when Bandus Flint - against the advice of Emperor Zolor Zahir - lead a large contingent of some of the Church's remaining Scourges into battle against the being known as Marrokamir.
Bandus Flint was the only survivor of the encounter, and the Church was not heard from again for many months in following until the Imperial Crown learned that relations between Sun's Keep and the Stanchion had broken down, at which point the Emperor declared the Church of True Light unfit to represent the Light and dictate the faith of the people of Fastheld.
No longer an officially sanctioned group, the militant and dangerous remnants of the Church of True Light still continue to operate within Fastheld without the permission or knowledge of the Imperial Watch, blinded as they are by the Light, and an insatiable hatred towards the Shadow...