In this third article on the Sani Sabik belief and its adherents, we take a little turn away from the practitioners themselves and speak to someone who walked the path beside one of the faith’s most famous adherents and who lives with the aftermath to this day.
It’s a sad tale, and a cautionary one. But one that deserves to be heard.
Midna Lyre, the Gallente singing starlet, perhaps said it best on her latest album when she sang:
My heart demands my broken tongue
Must speak to give you what you’re needing
Did you not care, or just desire
To ever see
My heart is bleeding.
Allow me to introduce Reisha Nafina, known to far more as Verjigorm. Loyalist. Heretic. Pirate. And lover.
Who among us can ever truly say our hearts are so safely sealed away and buffered from the rigours of the world that, one day, some siren song won’t steal us away, turning our whole world on its head and sending us stumbling along new paths into the unknown. Even into the dark.
Ms Nafina’s life has moved in a great circle that has now, at last, brought her back to where she feels she has always belonged.
“I began my career when space was still fresh and new. Dark Seraph was formed in the earlier days of private space flight. We were one of the first Amarrian loyalist corporations. Things were different then, of course. Battle was simple and pure before the clutter of the IGS ruined modern loyalist warfare. I started there, on the front lines… From the bridge of an omen, when that ship still carried respect.
“Dark Seraph was conceived as an Order that would live only to serve Our Lady Sarum, to fight and die for her. I have always carried that in my heart. We do not fight for the Empire, only our house. We leave House Sarum to determine the will of the Empire. This is our way.”
Verjigorm evidently has great passion for House Sarum; her eyes light up when she speaks of the Late Lady Jamyl, head of House and once heir to the Imperial Throne.
“In the case of Dark Seraph, [the service of Lady Sarum] has been our call from the outset. The glory of the Holy Golden Empire can be seen through House Sarum and calls upon the Chosen to fight for her banner and thusly that of the Empire itself.”
Verjigorm was then First Governor of Dark Seraph, and now is again after brief periods in Bloodveil and Knights of Chaos.
I first approached Ms Nafina under a misconception it seems many share – that her corporation housed members of the Sani Sabik belief, and that she herself is now, or has ever been, a practitioner. She was quick to disabuse me of it, and explained how such rumours began:
“My involvement started when we began to see members of Dark Seraph fall to the sway of the Sani Sabik cult and others began practicing in the shadows. There were never to my knowledge rituals held within the walls of the Order, but there have been members who had walked that line, members that have fallen sway completely. One of them being my lover… The one who was my lover, at least.”
I inquired as to the identity of this loved one, but the subject was evidently painful for Ms Nafina, as she explained:
“I would certainly rather not speak further of her. It was a dark time and one that may well have broken my place in the Promised Lands, but it was never about reward… this fight, this Order.”
“When it became clear that Dark Seraph could no longer hold the blasphemy of those within, Lord Jeserat Verisum exposed himself as a follower of an order not unlike Sani Sabik called Bloodveil and formed a corporation.”
And yet, Ms Nafina herself served within Bloodveil for a time. But she did not go until Dark Seraph itself was restored to the loyal Sarumite unit it was meant to be.
“When things were set right within Dark Seraph and all that was unholy was cast out, I followed my heart to be with my love. Though not without consequence… I have never followed their faith, only bore their name.”
Like dancing with a lover to a song not to your taste - you may not like the music, but it's the price of the dance.
The scent of blood is not easily washed away, however and Verjigorm’s efforts to return to her home in Amarr have been met with skepticism and hostility by her fellow loyalists.
“They have labelled me heretic, a title not cast off easily. I cannot apologize for what I have done; too much harm was caused. I can only resume the fight to my last breath.
“And yes, other loyalists believe that I am still that woman that struck out under a banner not my own. I cannot fault them that, but we do not work to their approval.”
What, then, was the fateful allure of the Bloodveil sect that pulled so many of Dark Seraph into its folds? Ms Nafina mused on the matter:
“The allure, I think, is obvious in its hedonistic call. Those weak of will find the call from the rigidity of the Empire tempting. The desires of the flesh made manifest, blasphemy made legal, even holy at times…”
“Everyone wants to sell himself to the promise of power, and Sani Sabik claim to offer that. Luckily, they are largely unsuccessful. They fight with all they have to grasp at something that doesn't exist for us. Power.
“But they fight to wrest it from the hands of an Empire that will not release it. The promise of becoming something more than human is lost. Battles for such power are not waged in space.
“The ultimate goal of the Sani Sabik is to prove they are born for greatness and thus more than those around them. More than human, Gods amongst men, born only to feed on those beneath him. They are the most horrendous thoughts of mankind made manifest.
“Many things that do not occur in battleships and dreadnaughts. Many much more sweeping battles are fought and won through treaties and ink. We capsuleers are insulated from that.”
However, with the passing of time, Reisha Nafina was able to walk away from the heady delights of the Sani Sabik, seeking her own path, once again.
“I have often thought the greatest sin any loyalist can commit, is to fight for their cause yet not die for it. Living, in a way becomes sin. I fought for House Sarum but it was lost and our Lady Lost…
“I lurked in a dark corner of zero space for some time, listless, without cause until I returned to empire to lead the Endless Corporation, something short lived. The lure of my calling was too strong. When I lost Dark Seraph to these cults, my heart broke; I was rent asunder by a cause that lost so severely. But these thoughts are selfish, without merit. The cause exists with or without me and the fight must be fought.
“I didn't return to Dark Seraph, I was called home.”
But this time, Verjigorm took what she had learned in her time away, creating the Order of the Black Cross, an alliance around Dark Seraph.
“The alliance was formed as an extension of Dark Seraph, so yes. Ebon Seraph is where those who wish to strive for entry into Dark Seraph begin their careers, and where the Minmatar remain. Marangrio Space Services is lead by Lufio II, of my most trusted friends. And the Airborne Assassins have become some of the most aggressive supporters of the cause.”
“We do not allow the Minmatar into our ranks. Further, we would be decidedly hesitant to allow a Gallente in as well. All that enter these halls must first swear fealty to the Order, the House, and the Empire. This cause demands that all live for, and all stand ready to die for it.”
It seems a hard path for Verjigorm, and all of the Order of the Black Cross to follow. Distrusted and spurned by their fellows, they fight for an Empire without an Emperor, a House without an Heir. But every step along it takes them further away from their past.
We can only wait and see what the future may hold.<p