Abbas al-Sabba prided himself on being the descendent of the infamous Hassan I Sabbah, the first Grandmaster of the Assassins cult whose mountain fortress in the Alborz mountains of Persia is the stuff of legend.
In fact, Abbas’ obsession with his assumed birthright was so thorough, that he had long ago vowed to dedicate his life to carrying on his great ancestor’s work.
In actuality he was not in any way related. Despite having converted from Sunni to Twelver Shi’ism to better fit the profile, it was nothing but a fancy Abbas had conjured for himself in his adolescence; one which he came to believe fervently. Slightly sociopathic, this delusion allowed him to explore his lifelong fascination with human psychology and belief systems under the guise of trying to become the greatest political mastermind in the world.
It was his men who captured The Dwarf’s ship and deposited the entire crew aboard a strange island of experimental madness. The island was designed to be an evolution of the famous ‘Secret Gardens of Paradise’ his famous “ancestor” used to indoctrinate zealous followers to go and carry out dangerous and complicated assassinations. Abbas was obsessed with building a far greater and more potent version of the Gardens which could be used to indoctrinate not only low order killers, but men of all levels of society, including eventually heads of state.
This vision proved more complicated than some of his backers anticipated, although Abbas himself had expected that the legend of the Garden was not nearly as realistic as practicality would dictate. For one thing, even high grade hashish was nowhere near powerful enough to convince someone in this day and age they weren’t just simply high as a kite. A true and powerful hallucinogen was necessary; one that would remove the subject’s ability to think logically and reason out that what they were experiencing wasn’t indeed some hyper reality.
Psilocybin was tried, but it had too pleasant an effect on many, and in some cases actually promoted an enlightened view of their skewed reality. Ayahuasca type substances were simply too powerful and the subjects lost all connection with their physical reality whatsoever.
Eventually a hallucinogen secreted by a toad found in the highlands of Scotland was found, and a crate of them was brought to the island where Abbas and his investors were carefully designing and building their Grounds. The toads were bred and their secretions scraped from them and made into a potent serum. It was put into the water supply of the Staging Areas which encompassed the majority of the vast island.
Additional problems included theology. An experience and promise of Heaven was not enough. Also, in an increasingly 19th century secular world, convincing intellectuals, skeptics and most problematically atheists that they were in the exact type of theological story Abbas wanted and which could be best used to insure their life long obedience, required far more than a day or two of getting laid in a beautiful garden while hallucinating.
Thus an entire theological paradigm was built; not only a Heaven, but 7 Purgatories and a Hell. While a few, simple subjects required only one of the Theaters to brainwash them, more complicated targets needed to make the entire journey from Heaven, through the Purgatories, across Hell, and out again into Heaven. This would take one month at the end of which they would be utterly brainwashed. Since all the water was laced with the drug, they were constantly replenishing their hallucinatory state during their trek.
Only one problem remained. No one could actually make the journey without going utterly and incurably insane.