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May she guide me through the storm. May she keep me calm.
―The Seraphites' prayer before engaging combat.[1]

The Seraphites,[2] colloquially called Scars, are a primitivist cult and antagonistic faction in The Last of Us Part II. They are currently at war with the Washington Liberation Front (WLF) for control of Seattle.[3]

History

Creation

The Seraphites began in the Lower Queen Anne suburb in the Seattle QZ between Septemer, 2013 and March, 2014. It was here a woman supposedly had a vision, from which she became inspired to live an egalitarian life and strive for humanity to live on the land again, detached from mortal pleasures and reliance on technology. She was also a fierce fighter, able to defeat numerous infected that attacked the community. Her charismatic sermons preaching that the Cordyceps brain infection was a punishment for and brought on by humanity's own sin and was a second chance for humanity to redeem itself inspired members in the community to do likewise, with the residents soon living independently. They fought off infected and looters and grew food on the land they lived on.[4] In time, the woman became their leader and was dubbed "the Prophet".[5]

The Prophet created a prayer for all her followers to pray:

The world is not in balance

But I have done my part to right it
You have led me through the storm
Now I must rest
May the current be calm

May you guide me home

―The Prophet's prayer[6]

Many also commonly said "We are imperfect beings and we make ourselves imperfect in her eyes".[7][8]

The Seraphites, per the Prophet's teachings, did not use any technology that was created before the pandemic occurred, deeming it part of the 'old world' and 'nested with sin'.[9] Lev noted that the soldiers did use 'old world' items though, with them granted special permission so they could better combat hostile foes.[5]

Disputes with FEDRA

By March, 2014, the United States military eventually found the community some time after all other suburbs outside their protection had all fallen to the infection. The residents all praised the prophet for their survival despite the soldiers assessing the community was low on food and dying from starvation. The military attempted to convince the group to come within the quarantine zone's walls for protection but the group refused. The incident was deemed a miracle by residents in the zone and was one of the final stories to be officially published in the state newspaper.[4]

As tensions between the WLF and FEDRA escalated, Lieutenant Carmelo Torres wrote to his superior Paul Douglas about how fanatic the Seraphites were and the problems they caused the military, albeit less burdensome compared to the WLF.[10]

Expanding on the island

Once the WLF defeated the military, the Seraphites pushed into the city's suburbs that were formerly under the military's protection and began to terrorize the people residing there.[11][12][13] The residents, in fear, moved from the suburbs and took up the WLF's offer to join them and fight back against the Scars.[14]

As the tensions with the WLF rose, members of the Seraphites faced persecution in the suburbs. In the Hillcrest community, a WLF patrol raided a house, having suspected teenage resident Jimmy was a Seraphite. They killed him, leading some in the area to leave the suburbs and seek protection either by joining the WLF or abandoning the zone entirely.[15][16]

To escape the WLF's tyranny, the Seraphites remained fixed within the Lower Queen Anne suburb. Flooding over the years split it from the rest of the city, meaning the Seraphites had a geographical barrier separating them from the WLF, the area only reachable by boat. The suburb was subsequently called an island by many in Seattle by 2038.[17]

The Seraphites predominantly lived the southern area of the island, that which faced the marina in Seattle. As such, their city, Haven, was found here. The Seraphites living on the northern sector of the island tended to be farmers, with the area containing crop fields and logging camps. Small villages were also scattered throughout the island. However, the east side lacked a significant Seraphite presence, making it possible for individuals to sneak onto the island from this area. Despite this, Seraphite soldiers did patrol the embankments and beaches in the island's perimeter, meaning trespassers were typically discovered within a day.[18] Around one thousand Seraphites lived on the island by 2038.[17]

There was a hierarchy among the Seraphites that decided who received food. Typically, the Elders always received first choice at food, followed by farm workers who they deemed to have produced the most crops for the day. After them, the families of soldiers who had excelled in patrols or combat then got their food, followed by the teachers of the Prophet's philosophy. Those who earned food thereafter were determined by the Seraphite personally distributing the food.[19]

Conflict with the WLF

Despite trying to live in peace, conflict with the WLF became inevitable. To better combat the WLF, the Seraphites formed their own army containing around five hundred soldiers, according to Yara.[17] However, another account claims the Seraphites had an entire brigade.[7] Their army was comprised entirely of the eldest child from each family, both men and women. While Seraphites were taught how to fight for protection while growing up, soldiers had to be at least sixteen years old.[17] To join the army, each soldier had to be initiated in a special ceremony. This ceremony compiled of prayers, a sermon and the scarring of the newly-initiated soldier's cheeks into the shape of a glasgow smile. The cuts were then dabbed with eucalyptus leaves soaked in rain water.[8] The cuts left scars that could ache for over two weeks.[7] It was also customary for the soldier's parents, especially their father, to witness the initiation.[8]

The WLF setup outposts to combat Seraphite patrols. The WLF hid their weapons in safes, feeling secure in believing the Seraphites wouldn't access them for fear of breaking the Prophet's words.[9] WLF soldiers Jensen, Mischa and Beck rotated between the outposts. When on duty, Beck avoided drawing attention to himself, preferring to let Seraphites wander into infected-occupied areas, who would catch them off guard. He enjoyed watching the Scars struggle to fight the infected and advised Mischa do likewise when on sniping duty. Beck did face trouble from the Seraphites' own snipers, who occupied the higher floors in buildings and would attack his position on occasion.[20]

While dying, many Seraphites would pray to their prophet. One Seraphite notably prayed for the Prophet to cleanse and absolve the WLF soldiers of their corruption. He also requested, as his dying wish, for his people to burn his corpse while saying the Prophet's prayer.[21]

Losing soldiers in the war against the WLF proved traumatizing for the families living on the island. Several found themselves suffering bouts of depression or panic attacks. To find solace, many increased their prayers to their prophet and Elders held sermons regularly, including during dinner.[22] Elder Duncan in particular stressed how the losses in the war were part of a greater plan the Prophet was uniquely impartial to and their conflict against both the WLF and the infected was an eternal one.[7]

Losing their Prophet

At some point, the WLF successfully captured the Prophet. They held her at one of their outposts. While held there, the Prophet befriended the WLF soldiers who guarded her in her imprisonment. Her words soon persuaded those guards that the war was meaningless and the WLF's lifestyle was not as idyllic as it could be in the post-pandemic world.

One notable account came from Sally, writing to Cam, who remarked that she did not think the Prophet was mentally unstable as WLF propaganda claimed and believed her ideas about living an egalitarian life and one where war with the WLF was non-existent an enticing idea. She also found her rather calm, especially in the face of Lewis' harassment and abusive shouting.

The Prophet's actions led to the WLF's leader, Isaac Dixon, deeming her too dangerous to keep alive. As such, he arranged her execution.[23]

Tensions escalate

After the Prophet's death, the Elders assumed control over the Seraphites carried on the war in her absence.[5] Her death only increased the Seraphites fighting spirit, leading to the group launching a lethal assault on the outpost where the prophet was killed. The Seraphites successfully captured the outpost and forced the WLF to concede the area to the Scar's control.[23] With the WLF now pushed back, the Seraphites converted the area into "Martyr's gate", a shrine to memorialize the Prophet.[1] The Seraphites also setup numerous shrines on their own island to pray to her.[17] According to Lev, they used the prophet's teachings to justify the disembowelment of captured WLF soldiers even though these acts were not found in her sacred texts.[5]

They took more areas and transformed them into shrines for the Prophet as well. Martyr's Gate became the area where the Seraphites most frequently prayed.[1] Seraphites would pray to the prophet for numerous desires and wishes, notably for the Prophet's salvation,[24] personal improvement,[25] success in the war,[26] better lives for their children,[27] for love,[28] and peace with the WLF.[29] They also made it tradition to carve wood into hand-held statues of the Prophets to hold while praying too.[30] The Seraphites also painted murals of the Prophet around the city, notably on walls, trucks, and at Martyr's gate.[31][32]

In time, the Seraphites and WLF came to a truce, briefly ending their conflict. They agreed to no longer fight so long as the Seraphites did not disrupt WLF supply routes and patrols while the WLF assured the Scars they would not invade Seraphite territory. This led to an uneasy peace between the two factions.[33] However, the peace broke down. There are conflicting accounts over which faction broke the treaty, but it appears to have come about from a WLF and Seraphite patrol engaging in a skirmish.[34][35]

War with the WLF

The Seraphite elders called for their soldiers to mass a counter-assault on the WLF's attack. They sent many soldiers to the stadium to launch an indiscriminate attack on the residents, killing soldiers, children and elderly civilians. The WLF retaliated, pushing them back from the stadium, restarting the war.[36]

The Seraphites secured an outpost at the marina. However, WLF patrols eventually pushed soldiers living there out, and took control themselves. The Seraphites still monitored the area though, occasionally shooting at the WLF soldiers stationed there. However, control over the area did not last, as the marina was abandoned from both Scar and WLF patrol by 2038.[37] At some point, a WLF patrol captured Seraphite soldiers living on the coast. They eventually talked and revealed information about ways to attack the Seraphites' island.[38]

Around 2036, the WLF invaded the Seraphite's island. However, the Seraphites swiftly pushed the WLF back, ensuring their attempted landing on their beaches did not succeed. The attack marked the beginning of a lengthy stalemate and ensured the conflict between the two factions remained fixed in WLF territory.[1]

Because of the defeats, several WLF members began to turn on Isaac, deciding to try and join the Seraphites instead. The Elders accepted them so long as they practiced their beliefs.[39] Soldiers also became exempt from certain Seraphite religious followings, notably the decree that forbade them from using "old world" creations (guns and electricity) to make combating the WLF easier. They also at some point made bases high up in skyscrapers, building bridges between the buildings to make traveling around WLF controlled terrain easier.[5]

Events of The Last of Us Part II

In April, 2038, the Seraphites began a series of counteroffensives against the WLF. Notably, they launched an effective assault on the radio station outpost that Leah's company were holding. They killed all the soldiers present, strung them up for disembowelment and left threatening messages on the walls.[31] Near the WLF's forward operating base (FOB), they killed eighty WLF soldiers in a wide scaled skirmish. A patrol also attacked Manny, Abby, Alice and Mel, destroying their truck, though they failed to capture any of them.[1]

Later that day, Isaac had members of the WLF increased their torture on Scars for information. Two gave in and revealed information concerning their patrol routes and defenses. With that information, the WLF realized they could potentially attack the Seraphite island from the east side, as it lacked high surveillance.[40]

On the island, Lev wished to join his sister Yara in the new war but the elders arranged for him to marry another Seraphite. He refused and shaved his head, an act that was deemed blasphemous and treasonous. These incidents were rare but substantial enough that elders branded them as apostates and permitted their killings if found.[5] The event led to Lev and Yara fleeing their home. The Seraphites pursued and captured Yara, taking her for persecution before their patrol leader, Emily. However, Lev intervened with his bow and (with Abby Anderson's help) they managed to escape.[1]

On the Sunday, a WLF scouting crew entered the island, intent on validating the information learned from the tortured Seraphites. They confirmed they were telling the truth, documenting the information.[18] However, before they could leave, a Seraphite patrol had scuttled their boat then found and hanged the scouting crew.

The next day, Isaac launched a large scale attack on the Seraphites' island. The Seraphites in the farmlands evacuated their children as best they could to their lifeboats, though many were destroyed by the WLF. Haven was set ablaze and close-quarters fighting broke out between the residents at Haven and the WLF soldiers.

Despite the surprise attack, the Seraphites' resilience proved too much for the WLF, with them counter-attacking and defeating three of the WLF's units (Alpha, Bravo and Echo) during the night, including Isaac's company, at Haven. Yara remarked that the Seraphites had been expecting an attack for months, hence their ability to launch a counterattack in mere hours.

The fighting ended with the Seraphites forcing what was left of the WLF's invasion force to retreat, albeit leaving much of their island and homes in ruins.[17]

Strength

Contrasting the gun-reliant WLF, the Seraphites primarily use melee weapons and silenced weapons like bows and arrows, although some can be seen using rifles, shotguns, and handguns.[1] Given their lack of equipment, they are more stealth-reliant than the WLF, preferring to blend in with the environment in forests and open areas.[32] As such, they currently control less of Seattle, primarily the woods and outskirts and skyscrapers where they have constructed bridges to travel across and over WLF controlled territory.[5]

As they lack suitable equipment, the Seraphites prefer to surprise enemies like the WLF in ambushes, much like the Hunters do against trespassers in Pittsburgh. To make such tactics effective, they ride horses and focus on damaging the WLF's trucks in order to prevent them escaping their attacks.[1] Furthermore, in order to prevent enemies from understanding their tactics, given most of their enemies understand English, they use whistling to coordinate their searches and communicate information.[5] Such makes it difficult for the likes of Abby and Ellie to understand them, making attacks on the pair well strategized.[31][1]

Despite their unorthodox methods, the Seraphites are losing the war against the WLF with many encounters against the group ending in the Scars' defeat. What helps little is that their fighting force is only a little over five hundred compared to how the WLF possess thousands of residents and several battalions worth of soldiers.[17] However, they still win enough skirmishes that the WLF's leader Isaac Dixon believed the Seraphites had the potential to win the war in Seattle in the long-term, especially as more WLF members by 2038 had defected to support the Seraphites or attempted to escape the city.[1]

During the island invasion in 2038, the Seraphites put up a vicious resistance. Despite countless casualties and their homes being burned, the Seraphites managed to push the WLF's attack back from their villages and centered the assault around Haven, eventually launching a counterattack that forced the WLF to retreat, leaving hundreds dead on their shore. Isaac's fears that the Seraphites could defeat them were realized, as the WLF's main fighting forces were butchered, making another invasion unfeasible.[17]

Character

Beliefs and practices

The Seraphite's religion, stemming from the prophet's teachings, is central to their society and lifestyle. The prophet is treated as a messiah, with many paintings and wooden carvings made in her image.[5] A book of her teachings functions as a religious text. Members regularly quote her teachings, sometimes as comfort during adversity. Prayer and church gatherings are compulsory within the community.[17] In line with their spiritual worldview, defectors are referred to as "apostates", the Cordyceps brain infection as the "corruption", and the infected are referred to as "demons".[1]

According to Lev, the prophet's texts promoted the Seraphites living a life in line with nature and detached from the civilized world, believing mankind's advancements were responsible for their demise.[5] As such, the Seraphites live largely ascetic lifestyles: they generally travel on horseback, are largely agrarian, and consider gathering resources from the "Old World" is a taboo. Although, soldiers are exempt from this condition. Their homes are devoid of any adornments beyond religious icons, and all members wear identical attire. However, they do seem to employ at least some metalworking, as evidenced by their equipment, which includes sickles. The Seraphites also seem to shun material indulgences. The culture is strongly communal and collectivist.[17]

The Seraphites' rules and traditions are strict. Elders lead the group and assign the members their roles in the community, with some decreed as soldiers and others into prearranged marriages. The betrothed must receive permission from the Elders before having children. Elders also hold special privileges, including top priority in gathered food.[17] Consequences for breaking tradition are harsh and potentially punishable by death. Parents are sometimes held responsible for their children's sins, although the parent's faith is a determining factor in such punishment.[17]

The Seraphites are notorious for their brutality, often practicing ritualistic sacrifices on enemies. They hang their sacrifices by the neck and disembowel them, believing that they are "nested with sin". After doing so, they chant as a unit "now they are free", a prayer in an effort to atone for the murdered victim's "sins".[31] The phrase "clip their wings" also has particular significance to members of the cult, which means to break their arms, as it is used when in the presence of non-members whom they wish to harm.[1]

Conversely, Lev claims all of the prophet's teachings promoted peace and that violence was not mentioned anywhere in her scripture. Lev mentioned the ritual killings and obsessive war with the WLF came after their prophet's death, when the elders in the groups took control and began changing their beliefs.[5]

Design and appearance

All members of the Seraphites share certain characteristics, the most notable being their Glasgow smiles. These scars have religious significance, stated by the prophet as an acknowledgement of mankind's innate imperfection.[1]

Men and women wear identical attire: dark pants, black shoes, white undershirts and hooded leather trench coats. The only difference between men and women in appearance is their hairstyle: all men have shaved heads with no facial, while all women wear their hair in a braided crown style.[1][5][17]

Gallery

Models

E3 Gameplay Demo

Official stills

References

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