Motes in the Serpent's Eye
The Missionary Evangelists of Nasuit
The Evangelists exist to spread the teachings of the Unification Church across the galaxy. Their leader is a male half-dragon called Davilis Gastari.
Along with the office of the emperor, the Unification Church is one of the single most important institutions in the Dragon Empire. That’s not obvious to many outsiders, who underestimate the Church’s role. To them, it is just a loose framework of beliefs with so much room for individual interpretation that it’s barely a coherent entity at all. This observation is true as far as it goes, but it fails to take into account the fact that that loose framework of beliefs has kept the lid on religious strife for millennia. By creating a structure that could accommodate a wide variety of beliefs, the prophet Nasuit laid one of the cornerstones of imperial rule. Without the Unification Church, there is little doubt that the Dragon Empire would never have lasted a hundred years, let alone five thousand.
Even more important is the fact that the Church enables Outlanders to place themselves and their beliefs within this galaxy-spanning structure. The Church is the great assimilator. When an Outlander first encounters the empire, he may find it hard to imagine a place for himself. While he might take the existence of other races like himself as one means of doing so, he might also look on the Church as that means. Knowing that his own god is actually a reflection of the widely worshipped Father, for example, is comforting. The Outlander understands that he is not an outcast within the empire—and neither are his beliefs.
To facilitate this understanding, the Unification Church sponsors dozens of missionary societies to spread the teachings of the faith to the far-flung worlds of the galaxy. Foremost among them are the Missionary Evangelists of Nasuit. Led by a half-dragon cleric of House Deserene, the Evangelists focus on the Outlands, which they believe to be most in need of their ministrations. They do this in two ways. The first—and most straightforward—is done when a new world is added to the empire’s territory. Evangelists visit that world, work with the local religious leaders, and instruct them in the Unification Church’s own doctrines so that they can make a smooth transition after being annexed. The Evangelists approach this as a solemn duty and undertake it with remarkable zeal, which may explain their equally remarkable success rate.
The second way in which the Evangelists spread the teachings of the Church is covertly. Undercover missionaries visit an Outlands world and work behind the scenes to make the world more pliable and ultimately accepting of the Church’s theology. This usually takes the form of public debates or discussions that subtly introduce Unification ideas to a world. It never involves undermining local authorities, however—at least not in the case of the Missionary Evangelists. While other missionary societies might do so, they do not. They believe that even ignorant Outlanders should be treated with respect. After all, Nasuit believed that all but the most misguided of religions contained a shard of the ultimate truth that the Unification Church teaches. To treat local faiths with contempt would be to deny this.
The Evangelists have recently found their position in the empire weakened. The advent of the Red Age has thrown them into disfavor. While there is no outright persecution of them or their open-minded approach to missionary work, it is not patronized by the imperial court as it once was. Instead, more rapacious societies receive the lion’s share of imperial sanction. This makes the Evangelists’ work harder, as they must contend with fewer resources and a dwindling number of new members. Nevertheless, they soldier on in memory of the Church’s founder, who launched one of the greatest religious revolutions in galactic history.