Legacy of the First Templars - Part 2
Markuz, April 22th, 2019
Translated by: Stefania

After a few days we can finally resume our article dedicated to the Cult of Kosmos and the Order of the Ancients!

In the first part we observed the official information concerning the Cult (and how it is not officially considered a proto-Templar organization), we had a look at the origins of the two organizations and we analyzed the evolution of the philosophy and objectives of the Cult in Ancient Greece. How will the latter compare with those of the Order of the Ancients in the same period?

Philosophies, objectives and actions in the 5th century BCE

The Order of the Ancients in Ancient Greece

In the 5th century BCE we see the Order of the Ancients, or one of its main branches, as mainly located in Persia – “a secret Persian organization” in Darius’ observations. Their symbol is not that of the snake as it was in Origins, but rather the stylized version of the Faravahar, Persia’s national insignia. Again, the snake could not be used because in Odyssey it’s the symbol of the Cult of Kosmos, in what looks to be a never-ending back and forth by the writers concerning whether the Order and the Cult have to be associated or separated.

The Cult of Kosmos logo (5th Century BCE); The Order of the Ancients logo (5th Century BCE, Persia);
The Order of the Ancients logo (1st century BCE, Egypt) [Source: ACWiki]

According to the Legacy of the First Blade DLC, the Order of the Ancients is organized in several sub-branches: in the DLC we see “The Order of the Hunters”, “The Order of the Storm“ and “The Order of the Dominion” but it’s likely there are more. Each sub-branch is lead by a so-called “Magi”(The Huntsman, The Tempest, The Herald), who has several other Ancients under his / her command. Each of the sub branches and Magis are controlled by a leader, Amorges, in a structure that is very similar to that of the Cult of Kosmos (quite obviously, as this had to reflect the mechanic of the clues / search of the Cultists in the main game).

The Order already has, at this point in time, people dedicated to recruiting new followers. Such recruitment practices involve attracting people to a meeting place through burning some bales of hay (*wink*) to attract the new followers and the use of goat blood and some specific initiation rituals as shown in the DLC and also described in a “poem” found by Kassandra:

Goats shall bleed, and moths will draw to flame.
The snake will be reborn.
New fangs, new skin, new life.

(I guess the Order did call themselves collectively as “The Snake” already then? I’m kind of confused…)

As mentioned in the DLC, the Order “controlled Persia across the reign of countless kings” of the Achaemenid empire, the most relevant to our story being Darius I, Xerxes I and, Artaxerxes I.

Xerxes' assassination scene
[Source: Youtube channel Zanar Aesthethics]
Xerxes is particularly important because he wasn’t just a puppet of the Order, but also, as we mentioned earlier, his success was very well “sponsored” by the Cult of Kosmos in this sort of collaboration between the two organizations that was only mentioned in episode 3 of the DLC. He is also important because it’s through him that the AC fans got to know about Darius since 2009. More specifically, as we saw from the DLC, it’s because of Xerxes’ assassination by Darius in 465 BCE that we got to know more about the Order and the group that opposed them in Persia. In fact, in the 5th century BCE Darius’ group - sometimes called “Protectors” within the community although this name has not been officially stated - actively tried to protect Persia from the Order’s influence and even had several members within its ranks (Darius / Artabanus, Amorges and Pactyas were the most notable ones but many other people were involved as shown in Xerxes’ assassination scene).

The group was actually able to achieve its goals for a time – until Artabanus / Darius decided to kill Xerxes’ son and new king, Artaxerxes, only based on his hypothesis that he may have been a puppet of the Order just because his father and grandfather had been too. At the same time, while believing that the new king hadn’t done anything to be accounted for, Amorges had also shifted his opinion about the Order (a bit too hastily, looking at the story flow), so naturally the Order, as the Templars that came after them, did what they did best and enrolled him and possibly the entirety of the “Protectors” within their ranks while obtaining information about their enemy, Artabanus.

The night that Darius decided to strike, he was stopped by Amorges before he could enter the room where the young king was located. That’s where Amorges revealed what he had done and where the Order started hunting Darius, his family and the Tainted Ones.

Artaxexes, from the Blind King quest
[Source: Youtube channel xLetalis]
Still, in another narrative inconsistency (that was mostly solved with episode 3 of the DLC) things don’t appear to necessarily have happened that way. According to the Blind King quest in the main game, Kassandra actually meets an old and blind Artaxerxes, who says he lost his sight because a man tried to poison him when he was young. That’s why he fled Persia and sought refuge in Greece. That man was obviously Darius and in Artaxerxes’ words, “was of a new creed of killers”, but he was hired to kill him. Instead of trying and failing to even reach the young king, as stated in the DLC, the main game states that Darius was hired by Artaxerxes’ brother in order to kill him and gain power in Persia. According to the game, after being poisoned and losing his sight, Artaxerxes faked his death and fled to Greece, which is where he is found by Kassandra.

This inconsistency, which surprisingly arose by content located in a pre-order mission, was mostly solved in episode 3 of the DLC in a document that looks to have been written exactly for that purpose. In fact, this document written by Gergis the Herald, the Magi of the Order of Dominion, mentions that Artaxerxes ruled Persia and brought decades of prosperity and peace, but after this period of time, “Persia needs more” and “the Order needed him dethroned”. Because of this, the Order tried to do it by promising him glory and then by trying to force him to do it. Thus, when nothing worked, they led him to believe that Artabanus tried to kill him, which prompted him to flee to Greece, more or less solving the potential lore issues. In Gergis’ words, “The King is ephemeral. The Order is eternal”.

Anyway, back to the Order, the Legacy of the First Blade DLC is an example of how ruthless the Templars of this time were; willing to do anything to reach their goals, from manipulating kings to killing the entire family of one of their greatest foes (28 years prior to the events of the DLC they started going after Darius and killed his wife and Natakas’ siblings – yes, Darius had more children than Natakas and Neema as stated in the DLC).

Pactyas' opinions about the Tainted Ones
[Source: Youtube channel TetraNinja]
The main goal of the Order in this time, and since Amorges has been in charge, is hunting the Tainted Ones. We are going to discuss this further in a bit, but paraphrasing Pactyas’ words from Episode 1 of the DLC, the Order is willing to kill hundreds of innocents in order to root out the Tainted Ones and prevent them from killing thousands of people because of their strength and their power to “alter the course of entire civilizations”, with the final objective of bringing peace to the world and “restore the balance”. Again, it can’t get any more Templar-y than that.

This approach towards the Tainted Ones is possibly what differentiates the Order and the Cult the most, and that brings us to the question that I mentioned at the end the first part of the article: did the two organizations influence or interact with each other? As many of you may have noticed by playing the DLC, the answer is positive, yet it brings some new potential inconsistencies.

Episode 1 of the DLC features the first interaction shown to the fans between the two organizations… or lack thereof. In it, the Ancient Echion “The Watcher” had received specific orders by the Huntsman (who signed as “P” – Pactyas) to make sure the Order wasn’t seen and its presence wasn’t perceived in Makedonia. In it, it was stated that “The Cult of Kosmos in particular cannot learn of our presence” and “I need you to keep particular watch for Cult movements”, which not only showed that the Order’s operations in Makedonia had to be covert and not public (way to go with those burned villages…) but also that episode 1 takes place before the Cultist ending of the main game – otherwise the Cult would have already been destroyed by Kassandra and the Order would have surely known that.

The Cult guards in the Teichos of Herakles fortress
enough, though, in Episode 2 of the DLC there are multiple indicators of the Cult and the Order actually working together instead of unbeknownst to each other. In fact, at the beginning of the episode, Kassandra is tasked with freeing a few people who have been stranded in Achaia and have been taken by some guards in the Teichos of Herakles Cultist fortress. The fortress is swarming with Cultist guards (not Order operatives) and in a conversation they say they are looking not only for the Eagle Bearer but also for a man with yellow eyes – a clear reference to Darius. This was the first potential indicator that the Cult was working with the Order (before episode 3) despite what was said in episode 1, but there’s more.

During a side quest of episode 2, Kassandra needs to once again go to the Teichos of Herakles fortress. This time she finds a document written by the Tempest (the leader of the Order of the Storm sub-branch) where she states:

Bones to ash and ash to dust. We’ve been watching across the Aegean, biding and waiting for our time. I trust that our forces were helpful in aiding your goals before and this time I believe that our goals align. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten our agreement. We just need the Eagle Bearer. We’ve done your cult favors, and we’ve come to claim ours. – The Tempest

This directly showed that the Order and the Cult had interacted with each other in the past and also during the events of the second episode of the DLC. And it brings both a potential solution to the issue at hand… and more issues. In fact, the Tempest confirms that there is an agreement between the two organizations, so that’s possibly why the Order didn’t want the Cult to know about the operations in Makedonia – because this agreement may have been about not interfering in the territories controlled by the two organizations.

This letter “““may””” solve the issue about what was the true relation between the Cult and the Order… but as I said it brings another issue. The Tempest is asking the Cult to let her (and the Order) hunt Kassandra and based on the entire story of the main game and what the Cult and Aspasia wanted to do with the Bloodline and especially Kassandra, I wouldn’t expect the Cult to accept The Tempest’s offer in any way. Still, we don’t see any answer by the Cult in Episode 2 and the Tempest gets to hunt Kassandra anyway so…

Phila - the Tempest - the main villain of Episode 2 of the DLC

The third episode, as mentioned earlier, brings a final confirmation on the matter, in a quest where Darius states that the Cult of Kosmos is reinforcing the Order in Messenia and an Order commander, Dimokrates, is in charge of overseeing it through. In the quest, a delegation of the Order meets with a Cult guard in the ruins of the Palace of Apharaeus in Messenia. The dialogues between the delegation led by Dimokrates and the Cult guard show that the Order had given the Cult money in exchange of weapons, Spartan forces “and the war”. The Order representatives, though, don’t want to give the Cult money anymore because at the moment the organization allowed itself to be “pinned and mounted by this misthios and her pet bird”.

It’s in this conversation that the Cult guard says that “As far back as Xerxes, we’ve been working together towards peace” to which the Order representatives answer “Peace? Don’t lecture me about peace. You’re the ones who’ve plunged the Greek world into endless conflict for your own benefit.

Thus the Cult’s arrangement with the Order apparently looks to be on the line if it doesn’t demonstrate its worth with the operations in Messenia, proving that the Cult is at a disadvantage in the relations with the Order and that’s confirmed by a letter written again by Gergis where he writes that “the Persian Order encountered the Cult of Kosmos many generations ago” because at the time it suited the Order to ally with them. Apparently the Order had also traded secrets and wealth in exchange for a foothold in Messenia, which is also what allowed them to manipulate the war in favor of the Spartans in order to aid them to win the war and to bring their orchestrated peace as the ending of episode 3 seems to imply.

Amorges implies Sparta's victory of the Peloponnesian War as part of its plan

Thus, the three episodes of the DLC bring this back and forth of interactions / non-interactions between the Cult and the Order which seem to be explained in the end, but are very confusing if they are experienced episode by episode (which is also why the DLC led to so many discussions within the community).

Nonetheless, this last plot point is very fascinating and it brings to our last big topic concerning the differences and similarities between the Cult and the Order: what are their beliefs concerning the Bloodline / Tainted Ones and what are they trying to do with them?

The attitude towards the Bloodline / Tainted Ones

This is possibly one of the major differences between the two organizations, at least in the 5th century BCE.

As mentioned earlier, the Order of the Ancients in this period of time is all about killing every single Tainted One, eradicating all the people that have a strong quantity of Isu DNA within their own. The reason is simple and is mostly explained in Episode 1 of the DLC. According to Pactyas / The Huntsman, the blood flowing through the Tainted Ones (and thus in Kassandra too) “has the power to raze kingdoms, to alter the course of entire civilizations”. That’s not a philosophical hypothesis, though, as in another occasion
Pactyas / The Huntsman
Pactyas tells Kassandra that she killed people, ruined lives and that she’ll never stop doing it – which is kind of what she does throughout the main game (intentionally or not based on the choices of the player). All of this possibly in an attempt by the writers to make the player meditate on what they did throughout their playthrough.

It’s this strength, these abilities, this determination and especially this attitude to “disrupt the natural order” that makes the Order believe the Tainted Ones to be unnatural beings, an insult to nature and nothing more than weapons, too dangerous to wield and too dangerous for humanity in general. This is why, in order to protect humanity, the Order has already killed many Tainted Ones prior to the beginning of the DLC (meaning that already back then there were several bloodlines going around) and keeps doing it, even at the cost of hurting innocent people. In Pactyas’ words, “The Order kills hundreds to stop your kind from killing thousands”.

This approach seems to have been introduced by Amorges, as Darius mentions that since the day they parted as enemies he led the Huntsman to hunt his family and the Tainted Ones. Apparently this hunt stops in front of nothing, to the point where Amorges and the Order enlisted (see: brainwashed) a Tainted One (Phila, the Tempest) to hunt other Tainted Ones like Kassandra, maybe in an attempt to have them kill each other.

The Order of the Ancients abducting Bayek and Khemu
to open the Siwan Vault [Source: AC Wiki]
While looking like a very Templar-y approach (going to extremes so as to protect peace, balance and order), this prospect actually changed radically throughout time within the Order of the Ancients, as mentioned in the first part of this article. In fact, at the beginning of AC Origins, the Order actually captures Bayek and Khemu and brings them in front of the Siwan Vault hoping that they can interact with the Apple and the door of the Vault so that they can access its inner rooms, “obtain the power of the gods” and usher “in the perpetual rule of the strong and virtuous”.

Quite a jump from slaughtering all the Isu bloodlines to using one of them to achieve their goals… And this is where the Order and the Cult of Kosmos are possibly in the starkest of contrasts.

In fact most of the Cultists are much more inclined towards using what they call The Bloodline, rather than killing its members. That’s possibly because since its foundation, as I mentioned earlier, the Cult knew about the First Civilization and the Pieces of Eden thanks to Pythagoras, so it’s very likely that through him (or through some research of their own) they were able to get to know about the Human-Isu hybrids and studied a way to harness their power.

Another main reason for the Cult’s intentions of using the Bloodline is the Pyramid, the Piece of Eden that was able to craft calculations of possible futures – much like the Apples or The Eye device located in the Grand Temple and shown in Assassin’s Creed III. In the very early stages of its foundation, the Cult stole it from the followers
Deimos uses the Pyramid to read a Cultist's memories
[Source: Youtube channel TetraNinja]
of Pythagoras in order to use it for its own plans (choosing the potential futures that best suited their goals from the calculations and imposing them to the Oracle of Delphi so that she could communicate them to her querents).
To be able to fully use the Pyramid and its potential (like the additional ability of reading people’s memories or the possibility to commune through it like Pythagoras did), the Cult needed a person with a strong concentration of Isu DNA, a member of the Bloodline, so that’s why they orchestrated all the plan that allowed them to lay their hands on Alexios – and having a war machine at their disposal. That too, yes.

The scene in the Sanctuary of Kosmos beneath the Oracle of Delphi at the beginning of Odyssey presents us with even more information about the plans the Cult had about the Bloodline.

As already mentioned, in that scene a few Cultists confirm they are trying to use Alexios / Deimos as their weapon – a very unstable one – but also as a way to see what to do next (possibly through the Pyramid) as one Cultist says “He’s shown us what we need to know”.

Deimos is not the only member of the Bloodline the Cult is willing to use in the second half of the of the 5th century BCE, though. According to other Cultists in the Sanctuary scene, they are trying to keep their sights on what the remnants of the Bloodline can do for them: “The Mother, The Father, The Sister, all of Deimos’ kin”. Thus, the Cult also had plans for Myrrine, Kassandra and The Father, whom the organization didn’t know was Pythagoras.

More specifically, from the Sanctuary scene it’s not clear what the Cult’s plan for Kassandra is, but we can try and extrapolate it from her interactions with Elpenor.

As we see in the game, Elpenor meets Kassandra on the shores of Kephallonia and enlists her to kill Nikolaos, her “father”, in order to prolong the Peloponnesian War and make money (or have the Cult make money) out of it. When Kassandra confronts him in Kirrha, not only he shows he (and by extension, the Cult) already knew Nikolaos wasn’t her real father, but also seems to be keen on killing all the members of the Bloodline apart from Deimos, based on the choices by the player:

The funniest expression Elpenor
can do [Source: AC Wiki]
Kassandra: He mentioned my birth father, he might still be alive.
Elpenor: Not for long, if all goes according to plan.


Kassandra: He mentioned my mother - she still lives.
Elpenor: Not for long, I'm afraid.

When Kassandra eventually tracks Elpenor in the cave in the Valley of the Snake to kill him, he states “The Cult wanted you dead.” and “We would have made you rich. Before we killed you. Don't take it personally, misthios. Your mother's the one we really want.”.

Thus, it looks like the plan for Kassandra (but also Myrrine and Pythagoras) was just to be exterminated, Order of the Ancients style, but those are only Elpenor’s words who are in contrast with what’s stated in the Sanctuary scene (which happens after Elpenor is killed).

3D render of young Myrrine
by Sabin Lalancette
“The Mother”, Myrrine, is actually the primary target for the Cult throughout most of the game and contrary to what Elpenor said, several Cultists are planning something else. One of them says “She will be put to good use. Unless she’s uncontrollable”.

That’s not all, though, as during another conversation in the Sanctuary of Kosmos two Cultists have a heated discussion about whether they have to hunt the Mother first or the Father with one of them saying they should go for Myrrine because “We aren’t strong enough without the Mother” and also that it is the most viable option because at that point they don’t know who the Father is.

So.. Myrrine is the Cult’s primary target for half of the game and the Cultists aim to capture her… but what for? I honestly never got it in 200+ hours poured in the game and it wasn’t until I happened by chance on a dialogue between Kassandra and Chrysis, the Cultist that grew and corrupted Alexios into Deimos. IF and only IF you pick a specific choice you get this dialogue:

Kassandra: Where did my mother go that night?
Chrysis: That weakling crawled to the hills of Korinth; the Monger was supposed to deliver her back to me, but she can't hide forever. She will give us more children.

Thus, what may seem like a minor detail, but actually is very important as it is the entire reason for which the Cult is hunting Myrrine, is stowed away on a specific choice that players might never come across. I cannot express how much I am disappointed by this, maybe more than I should…

As for “the Father”, as mentioned earlier, the Cult doesn’t seem to know about his identity and location but, in turn, in one of the dialogues between Kassandra and Pythagoras in front of the Gates of Atlantis, he is the one revealing what might be the Cult’s plan for Atlantis (and indirectly for him):

Kassandra: Why is the Cult hunting our family?
Pythagoras: It is our family’s destiny to control the power in this place. In our blood lies the key to unlocking the secrets of Atlantis.
Kassandra: So they want our blood?
Pythagoras: You have a destiny, my child, to destroy the Cult and their influence on the Greek world. You threaten everything they have striven for because you have the power to oppose them

Pythagoras and the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus

Thus, the Cult wanted Alexios as a war machine and to operate the Pyramid, Myrrine to create more children with Isu DNA and to use the other members of the Bloodline to be able to find Atlantis and unlock its secrets.

What’s more, the Cult also had an entire branch of its organization called “Worshippers of the Bloodline” who venerated the members of the Bloodline as gods or demi-gods. The Worshippers spent a lot of time researching the origins of the Bloodline, sometimes in connection to the First Civilization sites (like the temple hidden beneath the Palace of Knossos).

Again, quite a different approach from the slaughter house methods of the Order of the Ancients.

In Conclusion

There is still some confusion / inconsistency between what’s mentioned in the Essential Guide and what appeared in the game and the Legacy of the First Blade DLC as to whether the Cult was a proto-Templar organization or not and whether it had influences on the Order of the Ancients.
For sure, as we saw, there are several elements that make the Cult look and especially act very much like the Templars, especially in its earlier plans and motivations, before everything went awry and spinned out of control with Deimos.

The fact that the Cult actually had interactions with the Order of the Ancients and thus directly or indirectly had some influence on them *should* technically define the Cult as a proto-Templar organization, at least at its core.

Knowing that the Order of the Ancients established a foothold in Messenia “thanks” to the Cult, and that through that it was able to maneuver the Peloponnesian War to its conclusion by supporting the Spartans that ended up winning it, it’s also interesting to wonder what Aspasia did in between these events.

In fact, the DLC looks to be set before the Cultist ending, which still happens during the war, but it foreshadows the end of the war and the victory by the Spartans, so what did Aspasia do in her search for her Philosopher King? Did she stumble on the Order of the Ancients? And what might have happened after that?

These are questions that probably won’t get an answer any time soon… but one can hope.

3D Render of Aspasia by Stephanie Chafe

In the meantime, that’s it for this article! Let us know if you agree or disagree with the content of the article and share your opinions with us in the comments, we really want to know!

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