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Red Mantis

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For another meaning of "Red Mantis", please see Red Mantis assassin.
Red Mantis
Red Mantis
(Organization)
Type Military (criminal)
Leader Blood Mistress Jakalyn
Alignment Lawful evil
Headquarters Ilizmagorti
Goals Professional assassination
Scope Global
Structure Military hierarchy
Members Assassins
Images of Red Mantis

Source: Escape from Old Korvosa, pg(s). 66-71

The Red Mantis are one of the most feared organizations in all of Golarion. This order of professional assassins can be distinguished by their trademark bright red and black, light armor, serrated blades (such as the sawtooth sabre), and frightful mantis masks which grant them both an enhanced sense of sight and a terrifying visage. The red dye is a reference to the colour of their god's carapace.[1][2]

Appearance & public perception

In public, Red Mantis assassins are never seen without their distinct red and black leather armor and insectoid masks. They prefer a distinctive fighting style in which they hold two sawtooth sabres with the tips pointed down in order to resemble the arms and claws of a praying mantis. They do not seem to mind that their distinctive weapons have made their way into the general public, as it can only serve to enhance their renown. They do seem to hold low opinions of anyone who wields the sawtooth sabre incorrectly or poorly, as numerous such individuals have mysteriously ended up with the throats slit.[3]

Nearly all Red Mantis assassins, except for the most powerful and egotistical members of the group, wear their insectoid helmets while in public. The most basic of these magical masks grant the wearer the ability to see in the dark, and see the health status of those around them. High-ranking members also carry elixirs of shadewalking in order to allow them to gain access to otherwise impenetrable locations.[3]

Operations & tactics

A Red Mantis assassin.

The Red Mantis are known as the most effective and tenacious killers that can be bought. No wall is thick enough, no bodyguards tough enough, or safehouse hidden well enough to keep the Red Mantis from their prey.[1][4] They take little notice of social or political status, seeing all marks as equal if their client pays the price.[5] That said, the assassins refuse to take contracts on rightful monarchs, out of respect for their patron deity, Achaekek, viewing monarchs as the mortal parallel of gods.[6] Those who come to power by deception or might alone do not fall under this protection and are seen as viable targets.[1]

Contacting the Mantis can be a tricky proposition, as there are no direct channels. Those in search of their skills must spread rumors among the lowest, most criminal members of a given society and wait to be contacted by a representative. At other times, those who have a strong grudge against someone, or who wish to revenge themselves, are contacted by a member of the organization out of the blue. It is unclear whether this near-prescient knowledge is merely the result of an extensive spy or informant network, or whether the Red Mantis use magical or supernatural means to spy on potential clients.[1]

They do not always take their payments in treasure, often accepting favors or the promise of future collaboration with the organization in lieu of gold. This makes some prospective clients nervous, as they never know what price the Red Mantis will ask. Even those who think they are receiving a bargain, later find out that they are paying a very high price indeed. Whatever the final payment turns out to be, it is never negotiable.[3]

Once the Red Mantis have accepted a contract, they will stop at nothing until their target is dead. As they have contacts in nearly every government, guild, religious group, or criminal enterprise in the Inner Sea region, there is nearly no piece of information about a target that they cannot discover. Once their victim's location is discovered, no magical disguise, simulacrum, or decoy can stop them for long. The Red Mantis also make sure that once a target has been killed, he remains dead. Through magical and mundane means, they keep track of the status of all targets, and if a person is resurrected, they pursue him until he is once again deceased.[3]

They pride themselves on being assassins, and nothing else. Prospective clients seeking assassination plus "extras" such as espionage will have the entire contract refused. Existing clients who try and vary the contract to include additional services soon find out that the Red Mantis are concerned only with the sacred rite of assassination.[1]

Organization

Achaekek is worshipped by Red Mantis assassins.

Beneath the Mantis God himself, Red Mantis assassins report to a cabal of assassin lords called the Vernai, the High Killers.[7] It is very unusual for a male to be admitted to the ranks of the Vernai.[3] This group of several dozen of the world's greatest hired killers rule the organization from their secret island headquarters, the Crimson Citadel, located outside the city of Ilizmagorti on Mediogalti Island. Most of the Vernai are women, and the deadly mistresses each have influence over a specific nation or region, dispatching agents to the lands they know.[7] The Vernai address each other by name, but outside of their elite circle they are only known by their titles. Below them, the Red Mantis break down into cells and hierarchies that vary according to the needs of the order and individual missions.[3] The pinnacle of power within the Red Mantis is the role of Blood Mistress (currently held by Blood Mistress Jakalyn), a position that can only be held by a woman, and arguably grants more individual power than any other position in Golarion.[7] She is also the only member of the Vernai whose name is known to the public and who has access to the Sarzari Library.[3]

Not all members of the Red Mantis are focused solely on killing. Many are also potent diviners, divine spellcasters, or unarmed combat experts. Whatever their specialty, however, all Red Mantis must worship Achaekek.[3]

History

The Red Mantis began as a cult of assassins based in the temple of Achaekek in the city of Azir in Rahadoum.

It is rumoured that the Red Mantis' first ever victim was the Nexian halfling, Merivesta Olinchi. Her death is very late in the time line of the organization so, more likely, Olinchi is the first person whose death was publicly attributable to the organization.[8]

They remained neutral during the Rahadoumi religious conflict known as the Oath Wars, hiring out their services to all sides. When the Oath Wars ended and all religions were banned in Rahadoum, the Red Mantis were exiled along with the other religious groups. They relocated in 2560 AR to the uninhabited Mediogalti Island, situated off the western coast of Rahadoum[9]—apparently in response to a vision from Achaekek received by Ximena, the Blood Mistress of the Vernai at the time. They built their new headquarters, the Crimson Citadel, hidden within the jungle interior. They also founded the city of Ilizmagorti on the coast, to serve as a place where potential clients could seek to hire the Red Mantis.[10]