(( The following is guild created RP. It does not refer to actual lore. ))
The Three ShadowsEdit
More commonly referred to as simply “The Shadows”, followers of this religion view the Shadows as a great source of power and wisdom. They believe the Shadows speak to them through visions and aim to please them. The Three Shadows also refer to philosophical principles.
Although it’s believed by the followers of this religion that the Shadows are everywhere present, and indeed a part of Azeroth itself, some of the more attuned followers also point at a specific source. These adepts often have received grand visions and came to conclude that the source of the Shadows must be a yet unknown Forgotten One, which they now serve. Whether this powerful creature is an Old God or just kin, remains unknown. It is assumed this Forgotten One uses the Shadows to spread his visions as a way of communication, and channels power to those loyal. It's interesting to note that, just like the Shadows share an intrinsic relation to the universe, so too are the Old Gods bound to Azeroth. It's been speculated that this similarity explains the relation between the unknown Forgotten One and the Shadows.
The original philosophy behind the Three Shadows was taught by Lady Lashela Alania to members of The Dark Embrace. Just like the Cult of the Forgotten Shadows, she preached three virtues, albeit different ones. These were: Balance, Destiny and Death. Balance refers to both the nature of the world – the brighter the light, the thicker the shadow – and an inner state one should achieve to become truly powerful. Destiny is what the past, present and future holds for someone. It refers to the “Path of Shadows” as well, which is the metaphorical road servants of the Three Shadows follow. However, this “path” is not fixed: people have to make their own decisions, although some are born with certain potential. (It is however possible to get a glimpse of what the may future, as artefacts such as the Black Book seem to suggest.) Death, is said to come to all things, because nothing is to last forever. It is also seen as the completion of a circle, and the start of a new one: because what once was, can be again. This philosophy has not changed much over the years, although other members have added their own insights to the philosophy, or at times the interaction between two or more of these Shadows (i.e. virtues) has been theorized about.
The followers of the Three Shadows have been mainly (although not exclusively) members of The Dark Embrace and later incarnations of that organisation.
The Dark EmbraceEdit
This secret organisation was lead by Lady Lashela Alania. During her rule the focus on the Shadows was rather a philosophical one and her gift as “The Faith” remained shrouded in secrets but to a few. Later she passed the leadership to Lady Annarima DeLavey, who is said to have gained a direct connection with the Shadows, earning herself the title of “The Oracle”. After her demise at Mathystra, The Dark Embrace set out to find her successor, Lord Baine Wolfmorth, and corrupted him until he took the leadership on his shoulders. This remained so until “Death had to end the circle” and he put an end to the organisation.
The Coalition originally had no ties to the Shadows. Dor Alshar Shanra, previously a member of The Dark Embrace, kept track of it, but ultimately the Coalition was a group of liberalist upper middle classes from the cities forming an alliance with criminal stone masons and isolated peasantry militia and various young priests. They aimed for land and democratic reform, an answer to the grievances of the guard as well as religious liberalisation. Once Lady Ashana Nightwind joined, however, slowly the organisation was corrupted and began to further disintigrate as Shanra became obsessed over the Shadows. In a sense, the Coalition simply became a host for the previous followers of the Shadows untill it collaposed under their weight.
The Fifth SectEdit
After the collapse of the Coalition, Dor Alshar sought to reform those still loyal to the Shadows into a more efficient force, naming it the Fifth Sect as they would be the fifth generation. However The Fifth Sect suffered from Nightwind and Moore waging a constant war and this took a considerable toll upon the Fifth Sect. Whether intentionally or a result of their desire to dominate eachother, it resulted in the downfall of the Fifth Sect as well, destroying the fragile balance Dor Alshar had worked so hard on. The former leader vanished for a while as his forces were drawn away and chose new sides. In the end too much had been known publicly about the sect and it is said that Shinodan of the Peace Keepers drove the sect from Stormwind.
This is the current form under which most of followers of the Three Shadows operate. It is lead by Matriarch Ashana Nightwind who maintains an iron fist. Currently, the link with the Shadows themselves is maintained by “The Voice” and Shadow Priestess Hecate. The organisation conducts secret and elaborate rituals to invoke what they percieve to be the will of the Shadows and act upon it. During these events grand ritual circles are drawn, runes are applied and a great amount of energy is being channeled. It's said this dark order doesn't shy away from sacrifice either. The motto "None shall stand in our path" still applies as well, making the organisation at least as dangerous as its predecessors.
There have been and still are individuals who maintain a certain link with the Three Shadows, although they are not member with any organisation that directly serves them. These could be spies in service of such organisation, recently corrupted persons or even former members. This is very tricky for enemies of the Three Shadows: Even if they managed to destroy a certain organisation, there could still be other followers around who work undercover.