Stranglers, also known as Deceivers, were a religious cult who worshiped Kina, the goddess of death. The cult was forbidden by the authorities and the penalty for belonging to them was death. Stranglers, as their name implied, would pick their victims at random and strangle them to death with a weapon called a rumel. Murder is their primary method of worshiping Kina. Their primary mission is to murder enough people to bring on the Year of the Skulls and set Kina free from her prison.
The color of the rumel indicates the owner’s ranking in the cult, and often indicates the number of murders they had committed in Kina's name. Yellow color stood for a low-level peon, red was an intermediate level member, while black was the color of their elite members. A black rumel typically indicates that the Strangler had strangled one hundred people. Not all Stranglers were granted rumels, or never exceeded the yellow rumel. Most Stranglers were used as arm holders when murder was committed, to hold the victim in place. One of the most famous Strangler saints was known as Mahtnahan dan Jakel, and he famously used a silver rumel to murder Rhadreynak, an emperor who persecuted the Stranglers. A Strangler must strangle a thousand people to wield a silver rumel. They also had a secret language called the Deceiver's Cant.
The worshippers of Kina created documents called the Books of the Dead, of which their were three. They contained knowledge granted to them by Kina to be used to free her. They were hidden in the time of Rhadreynak and lost to the Stranglers.
Stranglers did not have a defined command structure. They operated in small groups and gathered in their holy forest several times per year, in order to torture and sacrifice prisoners to their goddess. Narayan Singh and Ram the first stranglers that Lady met. At first they helped her eliminate several of her political enemies in Taglios. Narayan Singh even believed she was a reincarnation of their goddess. Lady was tested by Kina and survived.
Eventually the stranglers revealed their true objective. Their plan all along was to kidnap Lady's child. Murgen led an assault on their temple during one of their gatherings and massacred a large portion of their cult, but its ultimate destruction proved difficult to attain. During this raid, Narayan Singh escaped with the child, aided the Howler. The Deceivers carried out the murders of many members of the Black Company, and inspired constant fear and vigilance.
The Stranglers are based on the real-world Thuggee cult / gang which originated in India, and who's members loosely worshipped Kali, the Goddess of Destruction. They formed during the early 14th Century, and continued to operate until they were eradicated at the beginning of the 20th Century by the British Empire. It has been speculated they killed anywhere between 50,000 and 1,000,000 people during their existence making them the most destructive 'terrorist group' in human history.