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Los Illuminados ("The Enlightened Ones" in English) are a cult that operated in a rural part of Spain and the main antagonists of Resident Evil 4. They are responsible for the kidnapping of Ashley Graham, the daughter of the president of the United States of America, and planned to use her to take control of the US government and eventually the rest of the world.
The cult first came into being sometime in the 18th century and worshipped Las Plagas, a breed of parasitic organisms that could control their hosts. However, the first castellan of the Salazar family eventually outlawed the religion of the Los Illuminados, sealing the Las Plagas in a series of caves beneath his castle.
Many years later, Los Illuminados returned under the leadership of Osmund Saddler and Ramon Salazar, the 8th Castellan of his family, who wanted to make up for what he viewed as "sins at the hands of his ancestor". Salazar had workers from the nearby village begin mining in the caves and his castle became a base for Los Illuminados. Eventually, the Las Plagas were re-released, but it seemed as if they couldn't be brought back, since all that was found were fossilized Plagas remains. However, the parasites were actually alive, surviving all those years by lying dormant at a cellular level and taking a spore-like form. These infected the workers, eventually becoming full-grown Las Plagas and Saddler began using them to produce more parasites, which allowed him to secure complete control over Los Illuminados and grant the members the mutagenic powers of the parasites. Saddler himself took in a Master Plaga to have complete control over every other and injected his higher ranking servants with similar, though lesser, Plagas to let them direct the Ganados. The villagers returned to their normal lives, working on farms and in the mine, attending cult services and protecting against outsiders while the main Los Illuminados members performed dark rituals in the name of Lord Saddler and their religion.
However, Jack Krauser came to the village, seeking Las Plagas, and kidnapped Ashley Graham, daughter of the U.S. president. Los Illuminados planned to use her in a plan to take over the world, infect her with the parasite and then give her back to her father (in exchange for a ransom), so that she would infect him and other major American political leaders. As a backup plan, Los Illuminados planned to use Saddler's paramillitary force to infiltrate the U.S. and generate discord from within, gaining new cult members at the same time. However, when Leon S. Kennedy arrived, he did major damage to the Los Illuminados in his mission to save Ashley, taking down its key members before finally killing Osmund Saddler, destroying the Master Plaga and presumably bringing an end to the cult.
It's later revealed that despite being reduced into shadows of their former selves, Los Illuminados is later revealed to still active, as they assisted Glenn Arias to plan a massive terror attack in New York. Their success was short-lived however, as Chris, Leon, and Rebecca managed to kill their ally and cured all surviving victims.
The Zealots or Cultists are Ganados and primary members of the Los Illuminados cult based in Ramon Salazar's castle. They are dressed in clerical robes and habits bearing the cult's insignia. Black is worn by the regular cultists, purple by elites, with red worn by the cult leaders. The Zealots are better equipped than the villagers, carrying a variety of medieval armaments, such as scythes, flails, crossbows, RPG-7s and even dynamite-throwing zealots appearing occasionally as well. Some zealots also carry heavy wooden shields or wear iron masks to protect themselves from gunfire.
The colors of a Zealot's robe appear to indicate rank or status within the cult:
- Black robes are worn by the lowest ranking Zealots, who can appear wielding any weapon. Black zealots are less likely than the others to reveal a Plaga upon injury.
- Purple robes may indicate higher ranking Zealots or simply a more elite cadre as they only start appearing when the player has progressed deep into the castle, usually in whole groups of their own. Leader variants of this zealot with goatskull masks are not uncommon. These zealots tend to carry the 'worm' type Plaga.
- Red is worn by the leader Zealots, who may also wear a Goatskull mask or amulets. Note that these zealots will at first only appear leading groups of lower ranking cultists, but in later areas may attack in whole groups of their own. Although often unarmed when leading groups, red robed Zealots are usually much tougher to kill than their subordinates. These Zealots usually carry the 'spider' type Plaga.
Although better-armed and equipped than the villagers, Zealots tend to be somewhat more zombie-like in their behavior, often shuffling around aimlessly when not accompanied by higher ranking cultists, mumbling or chanting sinister mantras to themselves. Once aroused, however, Zealots will attack with surprising haste and viciousness. With the exception of the shield carriers and bowmen, these Ganados attack in much the same way as villagers. Here follows a list of equipment and their common uses:
- Flail- The most common Zealot armament, a medieval spiked mace on a chain. The Zealots carrying this weapon will attempt the swing the mace in a circle before smashing it down on the player's head. They are more dangerous in close combat than Villager Ganados because they can change their attack direction in mid-swing, allowing them to spin around and hit the player if they try to run around their sides. Fortunately, the mace cannot be thrown so if kept at a distance these Zealots are not too dangerous.
- Wooden Shield- Often carried in conjunction with the flail, this full body shield allows the Zealot to advance under gunfire. The shield can be destroyed utterly with heavy firepower or explosives, or blown away in pieces. Another tactic to use is to try and throw Hand Grenades behind the Zealots or shoot at their feet or exposed body parts. You could also use a weapon that can pierce through multiple targets (such as the Punisher) to hit them.
- Crossbow- Bowmen will attempt to keep at range and harass the player with their bolts, usually fired in pairs and sometimes set alight for added damage. Bowmen are usually the weakest Zealots to kill and rarely reveal a Plaga.
- Scythe- A large reaping scythe, this is likely the most dangerous weapon in a Zealot's arsenal, capable of slashing in a wide arc, it can also be thrown at close range, damaging the player. If thrown at a moderate distance, it could cut Leon's head off when his health is low enough. Even if not thrown, one swing at close range could result in an instant decapitation if his health is low enough.
- Full Face Helmet- A heavy iron mask which protects the wearer from headshots. All ranks may wear a helmet but it seems most common on Zealots wielding melee weaponry, also, those wearing Full Face Helmets do not ever have a plaga erupt from their head like other Ganados.
- Others- Zealots will on rare occasions make use of other weapons, most often dynamite and RPGs. Dynamite carrying zealots should be treated much the same as villagers, while when facing RPG carrying zealots, the player should seek cover immediately and wait until they have fired before attacking.
- One of their most used chant is "morir es vivir" which means "To Die is To Live" in Spanish.
Likely having not left the castle for years, the Zealots' skin is much paler than that of the villagers, and all of them appear to be bald, although their baldness is likely a result of having deliberately shaved their head as a religious statement rather than as a symptom of their infection. Others are ritually tattooed or scarred. Overall, the Zealots are likely the most sinister and frightening to the Ganados.
After defeating Bitores Mendez, you can still return to the village. When entering the church, you will see two black-robed zealots from the scene where Ashley and Leon jump through the window. In Salazar's castle, whilst the zealots are 'sacrificing' around what appears to be a heart, you can sneak up to the edge, and if equipped with a missile launcher, you can take them all out with one shot if done properly.
Residents from the Ganado-controlled El Pueblo Village are also loyal members of the cult, they were given specific orders from Saddler himself to kill any intruders to the Village who's infiltrated it as well as keep Ashley imprisoned within the Church. They were partly responsible for the release of the parasites; hired Miners from the Village dug out Las Plagas under the leadership of both Saddler and one of his most trusted lieutenants: Ramon Salazar. They were eventually infected with the Plaga and led by Chief Bitores Mendez, another one of Saddler's lieutenants.
They use household items and farming tools as weapons. They are possibly the most ruthless and savage of the three Ganado groups, having more dangerous weapons but are not as powerful as the Zealots or Combatants:
- Hand Axe-One of the two most common weapon for the Villagers. They basically swing them at their victims but are capable of throwing them.
- Scythe-Scythes are a common weapon for the Villagers and have the same role as the Hand Axe.
- Pitchfork-Pitchfork Users are slower but they step back to give them more reach.
- Knife-Only female Villagers use Knives. They give basic swings like Hand Axes and Scythes but are not throwable.
- Torch-Villagers wield torches during night time at the Village and in the Mines. They give basic swings with the Torches but are capable of blowing the fire on it to burn the enemy. However, while blowing the fire and shot while doing this, they will die instantly as the fire their trying to blow will burn them to death instead.
- Dynamite-Villagers with Dynamites must first light their sticks before throwing it, giving their enemy more time. Once thrown, it will blow up which will cause extreme damage. If the Dynamite is shot or if the Dynamite user dies, their lighted Dynamite will go off, taking anyone's lives nearby. They can even grab enemies with the Dynamite, and if their Dynamite goes off while grabbing them, both the enemy and Villager will die and no body will be left.
Combatants are Saddler's personal soldiers and guards of the Los Illuminados-controlled Island Base. They are also Saddler's Private Paramilitary Army who were infected with the Plaga. Befitting their combat training as well as their appearance late in the game, they are the most dangerous Ganados encountered by Leon. Although they are military soldiers, they rarely use firearms or guns; the only firearms they use are Rocket Launchers, Mini Guns and Crossbows. They can also man powerful Turrets and even had a secret Shipyard which contained a dreadnought with several large cannons, machine guns, gatling guns and what appeared to be Cruise Missiles. Prison Guards are also a variant of the Combatants who are mostly armored.
They borrow weapons from both the Villagers and Zealots but have newer weapons of their own:
- Hand Axe
- Rocket Launcher
- Wooden Shield
- Stun Rod
- Mini Gun (J.J. Only)
- Osmund Saddler : Leader.
- Ramon Salazar : Ruler of the Salazar Family Castle.
- Bitores Mendez : Chief of El Pueblo.
- Villagers : Residents at El Pueblo.
- Zealots: Most devoted members.
- Combatants : Saddler's private paramilitary and guards of Saddler's Island.
- Luis Sera: A Researcher of the B.O.W's who betrayed Saddler.
- Jack Krauser : Double Agent.
- Verdugo: Bodyguards of Ramon Salazar.
- Don Estaban : One of the many Villagers who first attacked Leon.
- Leader Zealots: Commanders and religious leaders for Zealots.
With Las Plagas, Saddler as well as Luis Sera and possibly other researchers managed to create a number of creatures.
- Del Lago: An infected Salamander with the Plaga in a tentacle form in his mouth. It greatly increases in size and only one was fought and was located in El Pueblo's Lake.
- El Gigante : An infected Human with a large Plaga which can come out of his back and greatly increases in size, taking a similiar appearence to a Troll or Giant. Four was fought: One in the Village's Quarry, another in Road below in the Cliff within El Pueblo and finally two in the Castle's Furnace.
- Garrador : An infected Human who were experimental Super Soldiers who wore tough warrior-like armor and long blades from their armored hands which they used as weapons to cut down and slash their victims. Although blind, the have extremly good smelling and hearing skills as they can find nearby targets. Four were fought: One in the Castle Prison, another near the Cafetaria and finally two in one of the Towers.
- Verdugo : An infected mix of Human and Insect who were created for the purpose of serving as Ramon Salazar's personal bodyguards. Only two were created and they were capable of wielding spears and wearing cloaks. One was sent by Salazar to assassinate Leon but was killed, and the other was fused with Salazar but was eliminated by Leon.
- Regenerator : Experimental Humans who had leech-like Plaga and the ability to regenerate destroyed body parts. The only way to kill them is to destroy the leeches and seven were fought throughout the Island: Autopsy Room, First Corridoor, Freezer Room, Second Corridoor and the Island's Prison.
- Iron Maiden : Better and more improved Regenerators who had spikes which they can grow and use to impale victims. Three were fought throughout the Island: One in the Lab Room and two Garbage Disposal Area.
- Novistador: Experimental Humans who were transformed into insect-like creatures. They were fought in three areas: Underground Waterway, Dance Hall and Pit throughout the Castle and were capable of using wings to fly and turning invisible.
- U-3: A giant Plaga-monster with Human, Insect and Reptile body parts imperfectly fused together. It was only fought once in the Cave Area of the Island with the Rigs and had a giant Plaga which was capable of attacking by slicing victims in half.
- Los Illuminados means 'The Enlightened Ones'. This may be a reference to the Illuminati, a real world secret society existing in the 18th century.
- The insignia of Los Illuminados is based on the larval form of Las Plagas.