In the old times, before large scale industry and agriculture came to Vallermoore, most people lived upon the land, worshiped the Holy Goddess Inanna, and grew enough crops to eat, pay taxes to their lords and get a few luxuries such as nice food at Sunreturn. There were a few notoriously cruel nobles, but these tended to have their peasants desert to the territory of a kinder lord, or got into trouble with the Queen for de facto planting the seeds of possible treason and rebellion. Most nobles, most of the time, were kind or at the most indifferent to those underneath them as long as taxes were paid and people knew their place. They were careful not to create a large number of people with nothing to lose from attacking them, people whose lives were so bad that even the death penalty would not be a proper deterrent.
This changed when large scale mechanized industry and mechanized agriculture came in and the nobles enclosed the fields and needed far fewer workers to bring in the harvest. Before, expelling most of their peasants would be pointless as the crops would rot in the fields and the nobles would lose a large amount of their money, not to mention cutting off most of their own food supply. But when three people and a tractor and a few other machines could do the work of hundreds far more cheaply, it made sense to evict them and all but the kindest did. A few of the jobless peasants became robbers or starved, but most went to the growing towns to find work in the new factories. There most of them found life was not much better. Fourteen hour days and boring yet dangerous work was common.
They were paid in either company script or post-dated checks. In the first case, if they were sacked, made redundant or just left their job to find another, what little savings they had were now worthless. In the second case, if any of the above happened they now owed money to the company and had to pay it back (impossible for most of them) or were imprisoned. Because of this it was impossible to form trade unions and go on strike for better pay and conditions.
It was then that an honest and deeply believing priest of Inanna, Father Parmen, acquired the heretical notion that Inanna thought of all her worshipers as equal, and got together with a small number of the very poorest people, people with little to use, that formed the cult of Inanna's Avenging Hands.
Soon afterwards one of the richest and meanest men in the city was walking home when a masked man came out of an alley and stabbed him to death. A note was left upon the body. We are Inanna's Avenging Hands. Those who maltreat their workers without fair cause will die in the same way.
The city police were soon on the scene, but there was a wall of silence about the killing. If anyone knew the face behind the mask, none would speak of who it was, either out of fear, or because they were happy that the factory owner had been murdered. Not long after that, a second rich plutocrat went in the same way. The note this time said We demand five concessions. First, workers will be paid a living wage in proper money. Not company script or post dated checks. Second, trade unions are to be allowed to form as long as they don't use our tactics and keep their actions non-violent. Third, an eight hour day. Fourth, workers are not to be physically or sexually abused. Fifth, we must have at least a minimum level of safety at work. If we cannot have decent lives, the rich will have their lives taken away. Inanna's Avenging Hands.
After three more such murders in quick succession, the rich realized they had three clear choices. They could move out of the city and hope the murderers would not follow them but that would mean selling their investments at a loss. They could hire bodyguards, but proper bodyguards in the long term were expensive and would eat up lots of their profits. Some of the more scared or unpleasant rich, or just those who were determined not to be intimidated, hired bodyguards. After the wife of one of these men was murdered as well, they found they had to pay bodyguards for their wives too, although babies and children were not targeted by the cult as it would lose them a lot of support. Or they could give in to the demands, within reason, and some did as it was cheaper then paying a four man bodyguard team 24/7, and none of the demands were totally ridiculous.
As a result the more mean rich had their workers desert them in droves for slightly better employers. Work was still hard and dull, but the worst conditions had been eased. And the cult grew and began sending branches to other towns and the countryside.
Meanwhile the police were still trying to defeat the cult's many five-person cells and thought they were in luck when by chance a police patrol caught a cult member standing over the body of a victim. Captured and offered his life if he confessed the names of other members, he refused. When they got a torture warrant, he told the man in charge of his torture that no matter what they did, he would accuse him and him only of being in the cult. The result was, the torture warrant was canceled as the torturer feared that he would end up being mistaken for a cult member and imprisoned or worse. The cultist was hanged in public and went to his grave without naming anyone.
It was then that the police got help from another of the cults of Inanna, Inanna's Silver Tongues, a cult dedicated to informing on others including other cults. They were able to infiltrate three of the cult cells and Father Parmen and fourteen cult members were captured alive. The fourteen were hanged, but for Father Parmen there was a more dreadful fate, one not meted out for a more then a century. He was defrocked and burned alive at the stake for gross heresy, and his bishop lit the wood piled up around him. The cult of Inanna's Avenging Hands however, has become too large to be destroyed by a few informers and the death of it's leader. It's cell system limits the damage from informants and it's new leader's true name is unknown even to most cult members. Cult members have no tattoos or obvious identification marks.
The PCs are cult members and are trying to target a well-protected noble. If they can kill him despite his guards, the rich will fear the cult a lot more.
The PCs are bodyguards and must foil the cult's attacks on the one they are protecting.