Many scholars know of the monkish orders of the West, and of those concerning the Baklunkish, however little is known of the cloistered fighters of the Flanaess, perhaps, other than the Scarlet Brotherhood, who also follow a path of martial adherence with a spiritual bent. These devout martial seekers of inner enlightenment follow several paths, many of which are devoted to a specific creed or Gods. Herein lies a short treatise on the nature and practices of three rather diverse orders, their habits and particular paths.
Treatise on the Monkish Orders of the Flanaess: Pt. 1 of 3
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The Iron Order
While the clerics of the harsh deity known as Hextor may have many adherents and are well known in the East, few know of a number of devout warrior-priests that rigidly practice self-perfection and discipline that dwell in the barren hills of Medegia. These grim monks take to heart the rules and strictures of the Iron Lord most seriously, adhering to the letter of Hextor’s “rule of the strong” absolutely. While some may confuse them with the Scarlet Brotherhood, this group of monks prefers direct confrontation and devotion to Hextor, rather than the subterfuge and racial purity beliefs practiced by their red robed Suelish counterparts. They espouse purity of mind and body, as well as adherence to a strict code set by Hextors clergy, with many of the elders being both monks and clerics. Training is harsh and at times brutal, almost needlessly so, but the adherents to the Iron Order maintain that such is necessary to maintain the correct environment that embodies the spirit of Hextor’s doctrine. Selection comes at an early age, with novitiates presenting themselves for trials of endurance and discipline. Those that survive are accepted and then begin a regimen of training designed to encourage both ruthlessness and discipline. Within a few short years those that endure and grow under the harsh tests and grueling practices can expect to become fully accepted in the ranks of the Order, seeking to become a living weapon, embodying Hextor’s will throughout the lands.
Unlike many monkish orders, these faithful of Hextor practice with many martial weapons uncharacteristic of monks, such as spears, maces, flails and to a lesser degree bows. They teach a fighting style called the Cruel Strike, matching their particular maneuvers with Hextor’s many weapons and legendary attributes, making the style hard to defend against without a deep knowledge of Hextor. In addition to combat training the monks of the Iron Order delve into traditional mental disciplines and meditations, not for mere worshipful contemplation, but to forge their minds to the will of Hextor so that they may reach a oneness with the Iron Lord himself in both thought and deed. These strict adherents also follow a code of behavior that is both brutal and efficient, rarely allowing indulgences and forswearing physical vices to maintain themselves in a fit manner, with even minor infractions receiving harsh punishments designed not only to punish but to strengthen the transgressor.
Although few in number, monks of the Iron Order maintain their small cloister and ruthlessly suppress several villages nearby to supporting themselves by keeping the local populace living in absolute fear of the dark robed monks. They also offer refuge and sanctuary to those that adhere to Hextor’s creed, such as the Fists of Hextor or the Champion (blackguard) of Hextor, as well as the occasional cleric or warrior dedicated to the Scourge of Battle, taking in tithes and tribute from their bloody toils. The Iron Order also hires out its disciples as bodyguards, enforcers and overseers, with the proceeds going to the Church of the Herald of Hell, whom the Order maintains excellent relations with. Indeed several high ranking clerics of Hextor are often seen with the iron robed members of the Order, and before the demise of the See of Medegia the Order kept a pair of its best disciples at the Censors disposal at all times.
Located near the base of the Glorioles, the Order of Iron remains distant and removed from many of the troubles that have plagued the southlands of late. Only 30 monks and novices reside in the Iron Sanctum along with a handful of specialists and hirelings, with several disciples on errands or hired out on some task to Hextor. The Elder Adherents are comprised of Grethan, LE female human monk 11/cleric of Hextor 7, who at the age of 50, runs the Iron Order with ruthless discipline and absolute conviction. Grethan has spent nearly her entire life at the monastery, being raised under the iron rule of Hextor’s followers, steadily rising to the top of the hierarchy and killing the former Primus in a duel. Tirrus, LE male human monk 15, oversees the relations with outsiders and has spent much of his time among the outer world, having participated in many bloody campaigns. Galig, LE male half elf monk10, was taken as a slave and abused terribly, but managed to overcome his tormentors and after taking his revenge upon one of the disciples, was welcomed into the ranks of the novices. Galig has proven his worth over the years training many novices with a stern hand. 16 monks from levels 3-8 reside within, with several novices levels 1-2 filling the rest. Falar the Smith, LE male human expert5/fighter1, does make and sell a few masterwork weapons as well as the occasional armor repair, but as a whole the Iron Sanctum offers little in the way of other services aside from shelter and food to those that worship Hextor openly, but for those lacking strength or faith, the monks are always ready to hone their skills on the weak and unworthy. The monks of the Iron Order also teach the use of martial weapons, as well as Combat Reflexes and Iron Will to those that choose to stay on and learn of the disciplines that Hextor demands of those that would claim his name.