The Bark of Ash is a cult that was formed by Jonah Quayle in 2134AD when he was 26 years old.
They are stationed in the ruins of Ashwater, Washington.
Over their 19 years of activity, the Bark of Ash rose in numbers, with a population of over 1,200 living in the Valhalla settlement consisting of refugees and spiritual worshipers.
There are several camps all over the country that are established to integrate members into the Valhalla settlement. Many of them are homeless camps, but some practiced in major cities, disguised as volunteer clinic helping the homeless and needy. Instead, the Bark of Ash prey on the needy.
There are some followers that practice within Kambuja, with the intent of sending some parties from Chicago to Ashwater to join the cult.
Jonah established the Bark of Ash under the belief that the end of the world is coming, and all who come to Ashwater will not only find sanction, but a way of life that will better them as humans.
- Allfather Jonah (or "Father Jonah"), who acts as the supreme leader of the order. He is also referred to as "the Prophet". In truth, he is no prophet, but a man who is capable of influencing the minds and wills of his followers after they have partaken in the ritual known as the Cleansing.
- Mother Hilda, essentially the right hand of the Prophet (and the only one who hasn't been brainwashed by the Cleansing, which means she acts willingly as the first wife of Jonah).
- Sister Montgomery, a senior position given to the one who is in charge of educating the youth.
- The Valkyries: Misty, Blanche, Jefferson, Ivanov, Flannery, Fulton, King - all of the women who act as substitutes when all of the higher ups need to take a leave of absence.
Nine of these women were chosen by Jonah on their 16th birthday to become his wife, with Hilda being his first and the oldest. Becoming a wife ensures the women a higher rank among the Bark of Ash's hierarchy.
- Cleansing, the ritual of baptizing the body from spring water that resides under the Storm Pale Church. What they don't know is that the water is infested with parasites known as namatobia. During the Cleansing, the namatobia parasites enter the body, which has allows the host to become easily influenced by a controlled party (Jonah, "the Prophet"). All adults are required to experience the Cleansing before they are welcome into Valhalla, so that they will never experience the desire to leave.
- The Cleansing twice can be fatal, as introducing the parasites into the system another time will cause them to rebel, ultimately killing the host. The death will result in bleeding out of every orifice, seizure, and finally death within hours after the second cleansing.
- the Seasons, the ritual of Rooters turning into Harvesters. As instructed by the Prophet, they eat a pill-like substance called "sap". Several minutes afterwards, they start to mutate, the namatobia that once lay dormant within their bodies now awakening.
- A person who takes the "sap" without being cleansed will experience no effect.
- Zero Hour, sermons that are carried out in the dead of the night at the Storm Pale Church. There is no schedule or anything, and they are called upon by the prophet (Jonah) whenever he sees fit. They are summoned by a siren over the church, which is loud enough to be heard all throughout the Valhalla settlement.
- the Telling, confessionals (or interrogations) in which Jonah and Hilda conduct together to gather intel from members, as they are incapable of lying.
- the Choosing, a day in which the Prophet picks a girl at sixteen to become a Sister, and also his wife. In truth, he does this to use the women of the Bark. At sixteen, the is more likely to become resistant to the Bark's influence. If they are, Jonah keeps them close and breaks them down (physically and sexually) until they are willingly compliant. Because of their natural resistance to the parasites, Sisters will never become Harvesters.
- the Tree, a life force that the Bark of Ash worship. They believe that God is like a tree, and when people die and are returned to the earth, they are reunited with the Tree and thus God. Allfather Jonah speaks for this life force as possessing a Heavenly presence.
- the Hermit, a figure that the Prophet "predicted" would eventually come to their midst and attempt to undo what they have done. However, he mustn't be killed at any cost. It's said that the Hermit is a blind man with "eyes made of light".
- the Burning Woman, the interloper. She is seen as a kind of boogeyman that are told to the children, and thus cannot be killed but banished, and the Prophet is the only one who can do so.
- Leafer, a true follow of the Bark of Ash, who has undergone Lustrum. The parasites are dormant inside the host. When they are ready to undergo the next stage of their progression, they become Rooters.
- Rooter, a seasoned member who is considered an elder. They prepare for the Seasons, in which they are invited to drink the "Sap" of "the Tree". In truth, this Sap is a liquid drug that, when ingested, awakens the parasites within the Rooters that turn them into Harvesters.
- Seeder, children who are being educated. Seeders do not become Leafers until they are 12 years of age (before they can develop any kind of rebellious behavior), and they have partaken in Lustrum. Until then, the Seeders are indoctrinated by the cult members.
- Brancher, a missionary who recruits members into the cult.
- Branch, an area of interest where the Bark of Ash is recruiting possible members.
- Twig, a possible member.
- Root Fellowships, meetings among cult members.
- Harvester, considered to be "protectors" of the Bark of Ash. In truth, they are monsters, grotesque and deadly. Harvesters are sent out of Valhalla, where they invade other cities or linger in Ashwater.
- Weed, gentiles considered to be outsiders and unbelievers.
- Burrowers, the soldiers currently staying in the AUC.
- Exile, a member who goes against the Bark of Ash's doctrines. While everyone is told that they are exiled, they are, in fact, given to the Harvesters to be devoured.