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|“||Audemus Patria Nostra Defendere.||„|
|~ The order's motto, translated as "We Dare Defend Our Country."|
The Fraternal Order of the Raven are a villainous faction in the video-game BioShock Infinite. A xenophobic secret society clearly inspired by the Ku Klux Klan, the Order are devoted to enforcing Columbia's jingoist agenda and racial purity by any means necessary, including kidnapping and torturing Chinese citizens. Much like the rest of the Founders, they revere Zachary Hale Comstock as a prophet and religious leader; however, they also worship Lady Comstock as a saint, and continuously seek atonement for failing to prevent her murder - atonement that can only be achieved by slaughtering the Prophet's enemies.
Secretive even by the standards of Founder-affiliated organizations, the Order nonetheless abides by the same racist doctrine and religious extremism as the rest of Columbia, but with their own unique spin. In contrast to Columbia's holy symbols of the sword, the key, and the scroll, members of the Order of the Raven revere the sword, the raven, and the coffin: the sword, so that they might avenge Lady Comstock; the raven, so that they might cover the city with eyes; the coffin, symbolizing the weight of their failure to save their patron saint. To this end, the Zealots of the Lady wear a heavy coffin on their backs, wielding a sword and the Murder of Crows vigor in combat. Their emblem is that of a stylized eye with five swords crossing behind it and a banner which reads "Audemus Patria Nostra Defendere."
In keeping with the inspiration drawn from the KKK, the Order also lionizes John Wilkes Booth as a hero for assassinating Abraham Lincoln; in turn, Lincoln is demonized for abolishing slavery, often labelled "the Emancipator" or "the Great Apostate," even depicted as a monstrous demon who brought war to the peaceful United States. Members of the Order also wear robes and hoods similar to those of the KKK, though not in white: lesser members dress in dark blue, while the high-ranking Zealots wear black. However, in Comstock House, Zealots can be seen dressed in white robes, perhaps indicating the dramatic escalation of the city's extremism under the reign of the Lamb.
The key motivation of the Order is to ensure the purity of the races and maintain the supremacy of the white Founders, championing Comstock's ideology through statues of the Prophet wresting with "The Serpent of Nations" and murals displaying America's role as a beacon of enlightenment in a sea of racist caricatures; for good measure, they seem to have refined racism to an exact science through systems of measurement akin to phrenology, as slideshows in the lodge display. Though the Founders are generally racist and xenophobic by nature, the Order are extreme even by their standards, kidnapping innocent civilians and torturing them to death for the slightest infractions of their laws - crimes most Founders would only punish through public humiliation and imprisonment. As such, though the Order are respected by the majority of the populace, they are looked upon with a considerable degree of fear and suspicion for their secretive ways; some citizens even attempted to steal from them, believing that the "feathered brothers" were hording treasures within their lodge.
The only thing that they value more than the purity of the races is the legacy of Lady Comstock: having styled themselves as the defenders of Columbia's ruling couple, they viewed the death of the First Lady as an unforgivable failure on their part, and vowed never to rest until her killer was brought to justice. To that end, their elite Zealots wear heavy coffins carved with Lady Comstock's image, flagellating themselves through the weight of the caskets; often, they claim to hear her voice and beg her forgiveness for their failure, promising vengeance upon those who defile her name. Throughout the game, they join the police and the military in hunting down the Vox Populi, believing Daisy Fitzroy to be the murderer; in reality, Comstock killed his wife in order to prevent her from revealing the truth about Elizabeth to the rest of Columbia - a fact that might explain why Zealots can be found among the ranks of the Vox Populi late in the game.
Revering the raven as a sacred symbol, they have adopted the Vigor known as Murder of Crows as their weapon of choice, the Zealots using it for combat, transportation and torture. However, it's possible that this Vigor has had some kind of degenerative effect on the minds of its membership, as they have allowed the blackbirds that they worship to overrun the lodge: vast tables of food have been left out to rot while the crows feed on them, bird excrement layers almost every single surface, tapestries and curtains have been torn as if by talons, and the lights have begun to fail due to poor maintenance. In the demo, a member of the group can be seen literally covered in nesting crows, allowing them to perch on him while he obsessively scatters birdseed in front of them. Perhaps in emulation of their favored animal, members respond to Booker's presence with loud, squawking battlecries, and Zealots often speak with weird, echoing voices punctuated with the shrieking of birds - possibly a physical side-effect of the Vigor.
Structure And Membership
The Order of the Raven is fairly basic in structure: commanding the group is the First Zealot, who presumably controls the bulk of the organization and recieves orders directly from Comstock; below him are the Zealots of the Lady (sometimes known as the Crows), the elite of the group, easily distinguished by their black robes, long swords and the heavy coffins chained to their backs; below them are the lesser Zealots, who wear blue robes but no coffins, and only wield pistols and truncheons; below them are the base ranks, who only wear common Columbian street clothes and are armed only with pistols.
Though their membership is comparatively limited compared to the police and the Columbian military, the Zealots of the Lady possesses sufficient power in combat to serve as elite warriors alongside the likes of the Firemen, the Motorized Patriots and the Handymen; as such, even after the majority of the organization has been killed during Booker's journey through their lodge, enough Zealots remain to pose a threat to Booker - and, ironically, the Founders.
Powers And Abilities
As a whole, the Zealots of the Lady are armed with the Murder of Crows vigor, allowing them to wield flocks of angry crows in battle. Like Booker, they commonly use this for bombarding their foes with swarms of pecking, clawing birds. However, like many Vigor-powered elites in the game, they can make use of their Vigors in ways inaccessible to Booker: in their first scene, they use it to literally commit murder, bombarding a Chinese prisoner with a stream of crows violent and numerous enough to peck him to death. Also, Zealots possess the capacity to fly or teleport by means of their powers, dissolving into flocks of crows to avoid attack and recombining in a human form to slash at Booker with their swords. Though not confirmed, the First Zealot's Voxophone suggests that they also use the crows in an attempt to spy on their enemies throughout the city.
The forerunners to the Order make an appearance in some of the earliest trailers for Bioshock Infinite, emerging alongside both the Handymen and the Songbird as opponents of Booker. In this case, Booker is venturing through an otherwise deserted region of Columbia when he happens upon Charles, the manservant to a Columbian politician known only as Saltonstall; though it's not known if Charles is meant to be Zealot, a member of the Order or just a civilian with access to Murder of Crows, it's clear that he's been somewhat unhinged by his use of the Vigor: slumped on a park bench, he can only mindlessly scatter birdseed for the hundreds of crows that have gathered on and around him - not even looking up as Booker approaches.
Nearby, Saltonstall is giving a speech, apparently under the impression that he's addressing a large crowd from his gazebo, though the surrounding area is empty except for Charles and Booker - though he doesn't notice the latter until he picks up a rifle. When he does so, Saltonstall immediately perceives Booker as an assassin and orders Charles to attack; suddenly at attention, the manservant bombards the intruder with a swarm of angry crows, before taking to his heels and fleeing alongside his master. However, though Booker's aim suffers considerably as a result of the crows, he is able to make his way through the flock and knock Charles over the park railing, sending him plummeting to his death on the roof a parked cargo transport several hundred feet below. While Saltonstall escapes via a nearby skyrail, Booker telekinetically steals the Murder of Crows vigor from Charles' corpse.
The exact date of the group's creation remains a mystery, though it can be assumed that they have been in existence at least since Lady Comstock's death; likewise, as a secretive organization, their activities are largely unknown and largely irrelevant given that they only diverge from the beliefs of the Founders by a matter of degree. They only become prominent in the game as a result of their encounters with Booker DeWitt.
Booker first encounters the Order of the Raven while en route to Monument Island, comparatively early in the game: having been journeying across Columbia by skyhook, he soon finds his way blocked by the massive Lodge, and ultimately has no choice but to venture inside. Having already been recognized by most of the city's populace as "The False Shepard," Booker is attacked on sight by the lower members of the orders, turning the gloomy lounge and dining hall into a battleground; venturing upstairs, he locates a congregation of higher-ranking members of the Order gathering to hear one of the Zealots give a speech on the history of Columbia. However, though Booker is able to wipe out these lesser cultists without much effort, the Zealot dissolves into a flock of crows and escapes through a side door.
Pursuing the Zealot through the building, Booker uncovers evidence to suggest that the Order are keeping prisoners in the depths of the building, and moves to investigate the sound of cries for help. However, after following the screams to a chained door, he only manages to break the chain in time to see an innocent Chinese prisoner being tortured to death via Murder of Crows. In an overgrown garden decorated with cages filled with previous victims, Booker does battle with the Zealot responsible, eventually killing him and obtaining the Murder of Crows Vigor from his corpse.
The Zealots of the Lady continue the appear throughout the game: most of them are allied with the Founders, but as rebellion against Comstock begins to emerge throughout the city, Vox Populi-aligned Crows appear on the battlefield - first working for Cornelius Slate (recognized by their military uniforms) then for the mainstream Vox revolutionaries (recognized by their red robes).
Towards the end of the game, Booker finds himself accidentally catapulted into the distant future of Columbia, where it's revealed that the Order is still in existence by the 1980s, their jingoistic ideology serving them well under the reign of the Lamb. However, the Crows that attack Booker in this possible future are dressed in white, matching their KKK inspiration.