Cabal

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A Cabal symbol as shown in Blood II: The Chosen

"Members are aggressively recruited, and once you are in you stay in under the fear of torture or death. The few people who have revealed the Cult’s existence over time have been swiftly and painfully executed along with those that received the information. Its members have always tended to lean towards darker paths, and this is directly colored by Tchernobog’s incarnation at the time. In Blood the Cabal is an evil-obsessed cult following a God bent on world domination. In Blood 2 the Cabal has morphed into a world economic power in the form of a mega-corporation. Their goal is no more than to stop Caleb and bring about the 17th incarnation of Tchernobog by providing the leader of the Cabal as the physical incarnation, and then using the power received as an instrument for world domination. The trick has been finding a way to bring Tchernobog into this reality at the same time that they provide the 17th incarnation."
--Blood II: The Chosen Website

The Cabal is the cult of Tchernobog whose primary function is to provide the next incarnations for the dreaming god. However, its capacity has expanded, waned and been contorted several times throughout its history to suit the current incarnation of the god or, where none yet exists, its human leadership.

History[edit]

The 16th incarnation of Tchernbog addressing the Chosen from inside The Hall of the Epiphany, the highest temple of the Cabal

"The Cabal is an ancient organization dedicated to furthering the wishes of Tchernobog, The One That Binds, The Sleeping God. Its beginnings date back beyond recorded history, yet it has managed to stay relatively hidden in time. The Cabal has gone through radical changes throughout its history, these changes dependent on the state of Tchernobog. During the 5th incarnation of Tchernobog the Cabal receded to a state where only the pure were allowed to remain as its members, holed up in temples where they would practice docile rituals of patience and control. During the 16th and most recent incarnation the Cabal bent itself towards evil, and swelled in size to the point that it was to act as Tchernobog’s army on Earth. The Cabal has always been about power. Political and social power mainly. It is not necessarily an evil organization so much as it is an amoral one, although most people would define its member’s actions as evil."
--Blood II: The Chosen Website

After entering his second incarnation, Tchernobog realized that He was going to need a constant source of bodies to inhabit. The Cabal was founded purely to supply the next person to become Tchernobog. The fifth incarnation of Tchernobog took on the form of a Buddhist high priest, who led the Cabal into becoming a religious organization. The Cabal began engaging in rituals to test and promote self discipline, penance, and attentiveness among its devotees. It is presumed that this set up was retained through the succeeding incarnations of the god. The 16th incarnation of Tchernobog however proved to be an evil and hate filled man. The benign religious organization it once was became an evil cult, with its rituals taking on a darker character. Creatures like the gargoyles, spiders, and hell hounds became servants of the cult, as well as an army of the undead and monsters such as the Gill Beast. Ultimately the 16th's lust for power would be His undoing; after casting down the Chosen, His elite generals, with the desire to claim the power of the victims of their leader's ensuing post mortem rampage, Caleb destroyed the god and unwittingly absorbed His abilities in the year 1928.

What followed was a period of disarray for the cult, though efforts such as an attempted new batch of Chosen were undertaken. Ultimately, the Cabal was put back on track by Gideon, who by 2028 transformed the organization from a backwards cult to a global mega corporation. This proved so successful as to give the organization effective world domination through economic and political means, all without overt bloodshed or widespread public knowledge. However, like the prior incarnation of Tchernobog that Gideon hoped to eventually succeed, he would eventually fall over his own hubris. Obsessively tracking Caleb down in order to reclaim the essence of Tchernobog, he was ultimately defeated by Caleb, and the cult was once again severely set back. This period also marked the Cabal's greatest heresy in how its core objective of maintaining the bindings of the realities was not only ignored (seeing as the Cabal lacked Tchernobog's powers), but outright violated through the development of the Singularity Generator and other technologies that enabled the penetration of our realm by The Ancient One and its legions. The fate of the Cabal after this point is unknown, although the promotional material for Blood II as well as the cancelled expansion Blood II: Revelations strongly hint at a desire by Caleb and the other Chosen to claim the Cabal for themselves.

Structure[edit]

Krest symbol from the cancelled Blood II: Revelations expansion

See Also: Ranks of the Cabal

The exact structure the cult is not described in much detail, but can be presumed to be fairly (and appropriately) monolithic. Cultists are shown wearing very similar robes, all speak a common language when conducting cult business, and seem to be very much stripped of any sort of individuality. While some are openly recruited, most seem to have been merely brainwashed, with active recruits more likely to be destined for higher things, while the others become mere grunts or cannon fodder. They are all ultimately lead by either, when declared, the Chosen, or by the human leader known as "The Word". The cancelled expansion pack for Blood II entitled Revelations however refers to a faction within the Cabal called Krest, founded during the eleventh incarnation of Tchernobog (and seemingly more oligarchic and less straightly hierarchical than the main Cabal, having its own high council). The expansion's plot would follow Caleb, now leader of the remnant Cabal, battling with Krest and its leader Cain, which split away from CabalCo after becoming wary of Gideon's obsession with Caleb. The above therefore leaves open the possibility of further other sects making up the overall structure of the Cabal, similar to groups such as the religious institutes and orders of the broader Catholic Church. As described in the next section, there seems to be a variable amount of outreach by the cult into broader society even before CabalCo, either outright running or taking over many civilian enterprises or perhaps merely exerting their influence over them in a manner similar to organized criminal organizations.

Due to the seeming requirement that Tchernobog, at least initially, take on a human body it seems likely that at first the Cabal was just a collection of select human followers. However, by the time of Blood it is seen that the Cabal has had a long standing alliance with many sentient creatures, chiefest among them being the Gargoyles, Spiders and Hell Hounds. Rather than being fully integrated into the broader cult, these creatures seem to have their own autonomy, save for fealty to Tchernobog, as is shown by the Stone Gargoyle king Cheogh, the spider queen Shial and, if the pattern holds, Cerberus for the hell hounds. Gargoyles in statue-like stone forms, which can then come alive, are seen often outside of Cabal institutions, though whether or not this is some sort of guard duty or just a natural state of hibernation for them can only be speculated. All such creatures have seemingly vanished by the time of Blood II: The Chosen, for reasons that are not stated, leaving open several possibilities: that they went extinct, either due to Caleb or possibly even the Cabal themselves, or that they have simply gone into hiding, presumably breaking off any alliance with the Cabal after the fall of Tchernobog. It does have to be noted that they remain present in both the Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage, implying they remained with the cult at least briefly after the events of the first game, up to the defeat of the new Chosen.

Institutions[edit]

See Also: CabalCo

A Cabal controlled sailing ship flying the flag of Tchernobog

The Cabal as expressed in Blood are an omnipresent force perpetually existing in the shadows. As such, Caleb finds himself facing the cult's legions in any number of civilian institutions and public areas. It is not clear whether or not the Cabal's ubiquity represents a proper infiltration of interests as diverse as hotels, hydroelectric plants, shopping malls and even fun fairs, or whether the varieties of Cultists and such encountered were simply positioned in the path of Caleb's onslaught as sacrifices. Certainly the events of Blood seem rather cataclysmic, with the cult's efforts being shown to leave many Innocents stranded and destitute in their wake. Given Tchernobog's ultimate ambition is to "throw open the doors between the worlds and inherit the earth", it seems that the Cabal's conquests were made to facilitate that end at least as far as our realm was concerned. The limited back-story given seems to imply that this process was originally began under the watch of the Chosen, in preparation for their god's ascension.

Hallowed Grounds

There are several levels however that seem to represent longer standing Cabal establishments. These can be divided into two tiers: the religious and the scientific. Given the cult's history, it is the former that are the most prominent in Blood. This is first shown in "E1M5: Hallowed Grounds", which leads into the "E1M6: The Great Temple" and ultimately "E1M7: Altar of Stone" where Cheogh waits. These places are filled with ritualistic elements and artwork, and often reverberate with the sounds of ambient chanting. These elements are also at play with "E4M5: Fire and Brimstone" later in the game, and then in "E4M6: The Ganglion Depths". The Plasma Pak continues this with "E6M5: The Ruined Temple" followed by "E6M6: Forbidden Rituals", before ultimately "E6M8: Beauty and the Beast" where the new Chosen train. Some of these however seem to have similarities to Christian churches or places of worship established by other religions (most notably "E5M4: Lost Monastery" from Cryptic Passage where it is directly stated as formerly the property of the Holy Order of Carpathia), seeming to imply a certain amount of reconstitution or outright seizure has occurred. It does seem safe to assume that the Hall of the Epiphany is, as the cult's epicentre, a specifically created structure by the Cabal itself however.

Breeding Grounds

The scientific prowess of the Cabal appears most prominently in Episode 4: Dead Reckoning, with "E4M1: Butchery Loves Company" resembling a mountainside laboratory and "E4M2: Breeding Grounds" showing what appears to be the selective breeding of the Gill Beasts (or at least animal testing, ala "C3L7: Research and Development"). The Cabal's array of modern weaponry, such as Tommy Guns all the way up to the futuristic Tesla Cannon (and possibly, depending on interpretation of "E3M2: The Siege", its own air force), also show a keen technological awareness. Ultimately by Blood II: The Chosen the proportions are now flipped, with the majority of CabalCo areas encountered being either technological or scientific in nature, with only the temple used by Gideon and perhaps also the cathedral (as well as the Zealots that frequent it) retaining a classically occult feel (tied with the two scientific levels seen in Blood). The contrast between ancient dark magic and modern industrial technology can thus be seen as a theme at the heart of the series, wherein both entries contrast and compliment the other. Both retain the Cabal's influence over wider society however, and feature many civilian areas as expressed above - though by the time of Blood II it is directly known that CabalCo owns most of the installations encountered.

Rail transport loaded with corpses

The Cabal also seem to be prominent anywhere where corpses can be found, presumably due to their interest in the undead. This can be seen by their presence in "E1M1: Cradle to Grave", "E2M7: Bowels of the Earth", "E3M8: Catacombs", "E4M3: Charnel House" and "E6M9: Forgotten Catacombs" (as well as, less blatantly, "E2M2: The Lumber Mill" and "E3M4: The Sick Ward"). It should also be noted that many actual cults and criminal organizations have also used places such as catacombs as hideaways, including early Christians. Notably, the only similar level in Blood II, "C2L9: The Underground", features no CabalCo enemies - tying in with their abandonment of the practice of raising zombies, and also their new public corporate face making them no longer require such subterfuge.

The exact manner by which the Cabal raises zombies is not clearly specified. The description for the Hell Hand states that the Cabal uses body parts to "make" zombies surgically ala Victor Frankenstien, and indeed barrels with corpses inside can be seen often on Cabal transports, such as on rail cars in "E1M2: Wrong Side of the Tracks". However, Axe Zombies are often seen rising from the earth seemingly of their own accord, suggesting some broader form of supernatural influence is at work as well. The revival of the Chosen via the Singularity Generator in Blood II might suggest that the secret of resurrection lies with dimensional manipulation, with souls dispersed beyond our reality (presuambly to the native realm of the Phantasms) after death prior to recollection. Only the Chosen seem to have any sort of restored personality or cognition afterwards though, which may discredit this for humbler zombies - even if it would explain the lack of undead, save for stray Hell Hands, within Blood II.

Leaders[edit]

Gideon portrait

"Throughout the history of the Cabal its leadership has been hereditary, unless there is no heir alive, at which time the new leader is chosen from the top ranks of the Cabal. Leadership of the Cabal has no gender requirement, and the leader is referred to by Cabal followers as 'The Word', representing the power they hold, able to order any Cabal member to any action without question. The purpose of the Cabal leader depends on the Dark God the Cabal worships, Tchernobog. Often the Cabal leader is the conduit with which Tchernobog speaks to the Cabal. A few of the leaders have been called upon to become the physical incarnation of Tchernobog, and whenever Tchernobog has no body, the Cabal leader prepares him/herself for this sacred duty."
--Blood II: The Chosen Website

Leadership of the Cabal is hereditary. Failing an heir, a leader is chosen from the highest ranks of the Cabal. There is no gender requirement to be the leader of the Cabal. Primarily, the Cabal Leader acts as the conduit through which Tchernobog speaks (some speculate that the cultist briefly seen in the first cutscene of Blood therefore was leader, although Caleb as head of the Chosen is also often regarded as same). Cabal members refer to their leader as "The Word", representing the power he/she has to order his members to any action without question. The leader's purpose depends on the inclinations of Tchernobog at the time. Some leaders have been called upon to become the incarnation of Tchernobog, and when Tchernobog has no body, the leader prepares himself/herself for this sacred duty.

The most notable individual Cabal leader in the Blood series is Gideon, who was responsible for the establishment of CabalCo and serves as the primary antagonist in Blood II, with his quest to retake the essence of Tchernobog and ascend as the next incarnation per his position. After the disavowal of the Chosen at the start of Blood, the non-human leadership of entities such as Cheogh, Shial and Cerberus seemed to take on greater prominence, until their destruction alongside Tchernobog's sixteenth incarnation. Cheogh in particular was said to be jealous of Caleb, and presumably any other human, attaining such power in the cult.

Development[edit]

An early draft of a Cabal temple from a pre-alpha build of Blood

"For centuries the Cabal have labored to create an interdimensional portal to bring their god Tchernobog to our dimension. With his strongholds established and the portal complete, the Dark God steps through and begins the work of creating his undead army. Tchernobog's agenda soon becomes apparent; He wants nothing less than the total enslavery of the human race. Tchernobog's most dedicated servants become his High Guard, creatures capable of transforming into beasts of incredible strength and stamina, with an appetite for bloodlust and suffering. Rather than being granted the promised places of wealth and power, those who have served Tchernobog with their lives have now become his dogs, given the task of destroying those that oppose him. You are one of the High Guard, angered because his enslavement has taken away any possibility of rulership. His one chance at vengeance is now at hand. You must seek out and destroy Tchernobog's sources of power in this dimension, and figure out the key to accessing your powers of Bloodlust."
--Development draft

The original story idea seems far more Lovecraftian than the final product, making the Cabal seem much more similar to a Cthulhu cult in their desire to bring Tchernobog into our dimension and face his ensuing devastation (as the followers of Cthulhu seek to open the entrance to R'lyeh in The Call of Cthulhu). Ultimately such a scenario is more present with The Ancient One and its attempted intrusion of our reality as seen in Blood II: The Chosen, though the Cabal's involvement in that case is an unwitting one. The final plot of Blood is actually arguably this situation in reverse, with Tchernobog seeking the power to break down the doors to the other dimensions.

See Also[edit]

  • Tchernobog: the god of the cult.
  • Ranks of the Cabal: for a list of the various known ranks within the Cabal.
  • Chosen: the highest rank of the Cabal during various times of their history.
  • Gargoyles: some of the Cabal's beast followers.
  • Cheogh: loyal Cabal member and stone king of the Gargoyles.
  • Spiders: another of the Cabal's beast followers.
  • Shial: another loyal servant of Tchernobog and queen of the Spiders.
  • Hell Hounds: another of the Cabal's beast followers.
  • Cerberus: lord of the hell hounds and the second in command of the Cabal in 1928.
  • Phantasms: magical beings that are servants of the Cabal.
  • Undead: the undead beings created by the Cabal.
  • Water Creatures: contains Gill Beasts and Bone Eels, sea bound Cabal monsters.