The Ashmadai, or the Messengers of the Raging Fiend, were a secretive devil-worshiping cult dedicated to Asmodeus based in Neverwinter in the late 15th century DR. The cult was well connected in Neverwinter prior to the Ruining of 1451 DR, and was even better connected as of 1479 DR, having infiltrated the ranks of the New Neverwinter organization. The Ashmadai previously worked as agents of Thay, although later broke free of their indentured alliance with Szass Tam.
In the mid–15th century DR, the cultists of Asmodeus allied themselves with Thay. The exact nature of the bargain between the cult and Szass Tam was unclear, but it was known that Thay's regent possessed a staff that the Ashmadai considered precious, the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. The Ashmadai served Thay loyally, though all they simply desired was the staff. When control was given to Sylora Salm, the Ashmadai continued to serve loyally. After destroying Neverwinter to create a Dread Ring, the Ashmadai agained attempt to wreak havoc with Salm by trying to use the primordial of Gauntlgrym to destroy New Neverwinter. But efforts by Drizzt Do'Urden and his companions resulted in the death of Salm and the transferring of leadership to Valindra Shadowmantle once again. Their loyalty to the group wavered until Valindra showed she had possession of the staff, and though they did not see it since then, they assumed her to still have it. In reality, Szass Tam had reclaimed the staff.
A huge part of the Shadovar–Thay War was the conflict between the Ashmadai and the Abolethic Sovereignty. Mordai was determined to make sure that the aboleths made no advances in Neverwinter. To do this, Mordai wanted to undermine the Chasm in southeast Neverwinter, a place of interest to the Sovereignty. The cultists constantly hampered the aboleths' attempts to make people mindless slaves, under the belief that all belonged to the Ashmadai, and took special efforts to kill or drive out abolethic agents. However, the Ashmadai were relatively unsuccessful, and the aboleths did not take the Ashmadai as a threat or tried to eliminate them from Neverwinter.
The Ashmadai's other dealings in the war were relatively minor. It mainly consisted of planning to dispose of Thay and sporadically working with the Netherese against their former masters.
In the years before 1479 DR, the Ashmadai were divided into two groups. One was slavishly loyal to Asmodeus, led by the dwarf Favria. Her faction consisted of older and less-studied cultists who still served Thay in the belief Valindra was the staff's holder. This sect was little more than thugs and brutes loyal only to Asmodeus and Favria.
The other sect, led by Mordai Vell, was populated by cunning and manipulative individuals who cared more about the acquisition of power rather than paying homage to their god. Vell was credited with bringing the Ashmadai into New Neverwinter's shady and secretive powerhouse. Although Vell's sect still paid lip service to Thay, their true goal was to advance their own agenda.
However, as Vell lacked the numbers and individual power to control Dagult Neverember and his most trusted allies and officers, he used a pod system to shroud the Ashmadai from the eyes of others. The highest-ranking members of the sect were unaware of each other and each reported only to Vell. Each of those members had their own pod, whose members were unaware of each other and reported only to their superior, and so on down through the ranks. Mordai readily encouraged his followers to mark buildings and corpses with the symbol of Asmodeus. This was to intimidate others into joining the ranks of the Ashmadai. The symbol was effective as it managed to scare the townsfolk into co-operating with their demands. Although Favria disagreed with the plan, she did not deny it's effectiveness.
In 1479 DR, plans of the Abolethic Sovereignty to claim fabled Gauntlgrym drew the attention of the Ashmadai, and soon both factions began to fight over control of Gauntlgrym.
Following Valindra's Siege of Neverwinter in 1479 DR, disguised Ashmadai agents were active in Neverwinter's Blacklake District. Their pod system made it nearly impossible for the Neverwinter Guard to get information from the few captured cultists. Thus, Investigator Rannigan recruited tiefling adventurers to get proof of affiliation from disguised cultists and put up warning posters to turn the Nashers against the Ashmadai, believing they were the bigger threat.
The Ashmadai had the ability to summon devils from the Nine Hells. However, whenever they summoned a fiend, they bound its essence to the body of a mortal. Because of this, circa 1479 DR, the Asmadai kidnapped residents of Neverwinter in order to make them vessels for summoned devils.
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