The Phoenicians Edit
The Phoenicians are traders and opportunists. Since the dawn of mankind, they have sought financial wealth and occult knowledge. They search for the rare and unusual, and many long lost magical items are in their care.
Nicknamed "The Purple People" because of the bright purple dye they manufactured and sold in antiquity, their emblem can be seen in any major port and important city in the world. Other factions within the secret world consider them independent, and often underestimate their power.
One of the oldest secret societies in the world, the Phoenicians emerged in the city states of Mesopotamia. Here, in the cradle of civilisation, two brothers ran the world from the Tower of Babel. They were together in everything until, one day, jealousy and rivalry tore them apart.
Into their lives walked a woman who would later inspire myths about divine beauty. She promised them all the pleasures they could imagine - and some they could not - as well as power and answers to every question ever asked.
At night, she visited them separately and catered to their tastes and egos. She told each that only one could win all her secrets, and whispered to each that he was her favourite. Blinded by her promises, and madly coveting all that she had yet to reveal, the brothers were unable to bridge the gap she cut between them. They were driven to raging jealousy, distrust and deceit.
Eventually, the brothers went separate ways. They formed two new organisations that would wage war on each other until modern times. Neither of them ever saw the mysterious woman again.
One brother took to the valleys and plains and founded a secret society that spread to Babylon, Persia and Rome. It would later become the Templars. The other established his organisation in the cities of Tyre, Byblos, Arwad and Sidon. From here, he and his cohorts set sail across the seas, traded exotic goods, amassed immense wealth and established colonies in faraway places. This assembly of trade ports marked the birth of the Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors.
They would soon become very influential as they allied with the monarchs of the region - alliances that would bind and unbind over time. Some have even lasted into our days. Deals were made for power and treasures, and favoured whatever liaison gave the most of either. This fleeting state of treaties would prove to become the modus operandi of secret societies.
One such alliance was forged with a great king of his time, who was sworn to the Illuminati and had a common enemy in the Templars. They helped build his great temple and protect the treasures within. The Phoenicians were keepers of many of his greatest secrets, and still are today. Much of their wealth originates from their ties to him.
Wealth draws attention and envy. The Templar-affiliated kings of Babylon and Mesopotamia waged war on the Phoenicians for centuries - the ancient feud evolved into a twisted kind of tradition.
Hostilities continued until the Persians all but decimated the Phoenicians as the armies of Cyrus the Great swept over their established lands and their allies abandoned them. The leaders of the Brotherhood fled to their colonies in North Africa and established themselves in Carthage, where they attempted to rebuild their trade empire.
The Illuminati were the traditional overlords on the African continent and were by no means pleased by the growing influence of the Phoenicians in what they considered their territory. Old alliances broke and hostilities ensued.
At the same time, great shifts of power were underway in the world. The Egyptian kingdom was picked apart by its enemies, Babylon was rased and the emerging power centres of the Roman Republic and Greece began sabre-rattling. The might of Carthage was in their way and by the end of the third Punic war the Phoenicians were driven out, their capital left in ruins.
Tired of rebuilding their empire only to see it destroyed time and again, the surviving Phoenicians fled to the seas and searched for new regions to establish themselves. They landed in the Far East, far removed from their ancient enemies and the ongoing wars.
Their intention was no longer to grow into a visible power - the Purple People turned into the most secret of organisations. While the Illuminati and the Templars were left squabbling over power in the old world, the Phoenicians simply grew.
A millennium and a half later, the Europeans finally took to the seas and started exploring the Indian Sea and the Pacific Ocean, regions in which the Phoenicians had ruled trade among the native cultures. The world was getting smaller, and the old enemies were still too strong to risk warring with in open.
The Brotherhood solved the problem by permanently taking their fleet of merchant- and battleships to the seas. Since then, they have sailed the seven seas as mercenaries and treasure hunters, shrouded in mist and mystery.
Over time, their fleet has expanded, becoming a floating city with the capacity to hide and appear wherever needed. This mobile headquarters, called New Carthage, is concealed by magic, and only their own agents know its size and whereabouts. The modern Phoenicians have kept their independent role and seem impermeable to the other secret societies.
They appreciate that knowledge is power, and use their discovered secrets for their own ends or sell them to the highest bidder. Every now and again, an artifact turns up that could grant the possessor too much power - the Phoenicians take special care to keep these concealed from other factions.
Wherever the occult energies are most powerful, wherever an ancient secret is ripe for the plucking, or wherever other secret societies show a vested interest, an agent of the Phoenicians will be there - usually before anyone else - picking out the most favourable angle. Their mercurial tactics perfected, the Brotherhood sees itself being the last faction floating after the inevitable final flood, prize in hand.
In a modern world where the major secret societies have spat and made up, standing together against a common enemy, the Phoenicians stand on the outside, peering in, waiting for a paycheck. They may have the means to stop the evil that tears the world apart, but their intentions are as fleeting as their headquarters and they keep their cards pressed hard to their chest.