>>724451>Is the cult still a factor in the story?
Oh yes, but not as much as Julian himself thinks it is.
You see, the cult is pretty small and hidden awayin the woods somewhere, and the large majority of them have also not been exposed to modern society. The cultists themselves have also been put into a period of mourning as Julian killed their main pastor in order to escape in the first place. In reality, the cultists are pretty much aimless and defenseless, armed mainly by numbers and knives.
Julian, however, both with survivor's guilt and paranoid schizophrenia, is constantly looking behind him and wary of them coming after him to take him back. It haunts him for pretty much all of those 4 years that he's in 'the Outside' until one of his jobs as a hitman makes him return to finish the job.
That's when he makes his first flesh construct and loses his sense of identity completely before going MIA for months (and going to post-chaos where i draw him with short hair instead)>How does fleshbending and a messiah figure fit into their goals of eternal happiness? (if that is really even their true goal)
It isn't exactly. The cult, Children of Fas, are all about your fate and destiny. A lot of the ideology centers around accepting your interests, impulses, and whatever happens in your life as it's all a part of a big plan Fate (personified as some kind of deity) has written out for you. Eternal happiness is just an endgame thing for them, since following your destiny or purpose in Fate's plans is believed to be a joy in and of itself.
The fleshbending comes in when they found that Julian can both heal (he healed his own defects this way except for his ankles) and damage with it - cause pain or take it away, or turn someone into something else. They saw that as him being able to change the fates of himself or others since he could do these via unnatural means nobody else is capable of.