Category: Tertia Worldbuilding

The Factions of Tertia – The Qing Mai Monastery

Chwalu is a Crobayoran country known for its particularly peaceful populous and its peculiarly passive partakers. It’s common knowledge that the Chwalans take in and live alongside dragons that have been excommunicated from Kanotia but less know about the other creatures that find haven there. Mooks and monstrous creatures naturally gather in Chwalu, a land where they will not usually be hunted. These creatures establish their territories in caves and forests, making the wilderness of Chwalu surprisingly dangerous. One expansive forest in particular is notorious in how dangerous it is; the Vinetrymm.

One of the largest forests in all the continent, the Vinetrymm’s position has historically made traveling between Chwalu and Esnaquizar extremely difficult. Within are not just regular monsters, it is one of the few places on Tertia that Verasal can be found. Particularly canine-types, who have evolved to the level of forming tribes and creating language. Surprisingly, they aren’t the biggest point of intrigue in the Vinetrymm, though. That title goes to the monastery that was founded in a clearing within the forest eight years before the current day. A monastery that has since expanded out into an entire city. Qing Mai.

When the monastery was first conceived all those years ago, word quickly spread about it. People struggled to believe that any group of monks would settle within the Vinetrymm, yet it was undeniable to any who saw it with their own eyes. Construction of the monastery was founded by researchers who were interested in having a hub from which to research the Verasal of the forest. Further support was gained from the Esnaquan government when the possibility of a safe path through the forest became viable. With all the aid it received, the Qing Mai monastery grew at an unbelievable rate. Those who heard the whispers gathered to the monastery and found that they intended to expand out and create an entire city.

The city of Qing Mai had a clear goal, to enforce laws to uphold ‘absolute equality’. It would be a city run by monks where all races, monstrous or human, could be treated as equals so long as they followed the law. It would be a haven for Aljani and Virtue and any other race that might face rejection elsewhere. It was to be the pinnacle of Chwalan values and, all things considered, it was a resounding success. While initially a difficult process, the city was realized as a peaceful place where anyone could find a comfortable life. Once the city was built, the Qing Mai circle expanded out even further and smaller settlements were built to make transitioning into Qing Mai easier for visitors. They even began to hold parades which celebrated the uniqueness of every race and culture that gathered.

The history of Qing Mai hasn’t all been peaceful, however. Just recently, less than a year before the current day, an incident occurred in Qing Mai which people around the world have heard of. It began with a Natyr witch slaughtering commuters going to and from the city and ended with the appearance of a hermetic Dragon and an invasion by the deepest fear. An unbelievable series of events that shook a city that was built for the sake of peace. The rapid expansion of the city was brought to a destructive halt as the entire monastery collapsed and everything around it went up in flames. Qing Mai is still recovering from all that happened, though the rebuilding effort has been hastened by people drawn in by the tales.

THE FIST THAT FIGHTS FOR ALL DREAMS – HALROTH

Halroth is an Argil who is massive even among his kind. An absolute titan, though his strength and stature are not things he gained naturally. What’s special about Halroth is his status as a ‘dreamer’, someone who hosts the consciousness of a Dream Folk in his mind. In his particular case, the connection between he and his Dream Folk has reached a point wherein their minds and souls have fused to an extent. While they initially began as separate beings who could communicate through their shared conscious, they are no longer indistinct from one another. The enhanced size and strength of Halroth’s body is a side-effect of this merging.

Halroth is the head monk and founder of the Qing Mai monastery, though this was a life he did not initially expect. He was originally born in Sendus into one of the few families who hadn’t transferred their souls into constructs. The Senduans from the age before the war on alignment had essentially made themselves immortal through their soul transfer magic, yet the cost of this immortality was great. Construct bodies decay just as bodies of flesh do and they cannot naturally heal from sounds. Continuing to survive meant constantly transferring their souls into new bodies, a task which became progressively more difficult with time.

The potency of magic within their construct bodies became weaker with each transfer and it was hard to build new forms in the first place. Because of this, all who hadn’t adopted construct bodies were moved to the capital of Duzsa to create a special order tasked with the continued creation of improving construct forms. Upon the coming and passing of the war on alignment, though, the goals of this order shifted. Those in the construct forms were rendered worthless against the misaligned kin and a majority of them were killed in the battle. Seeing the failures and limitations of the construct forms, the order turned their focus to improving their own bodies rather than those of the constructs.

The Senduan order became a tribe of monks who were set on fully honing their minds, bodies and souls. Halroth was a part of this order, a younger member who spent a majority of his life being guided by their new teachings. They took to meditation to steel their minds in a time when they had lost so many of their brethren. Through this, they were contacted by the mysterious Dream Folk of Sleeper’s Parley. The Dream Folk informed the Senduan order about how the nightmares had taken over and that they would undoubtedly seek ways into the other realms. The order agreed to host the Dream Folk in their minds so as to protect them from being consumed by the nightmares. Unfortunately, this would not be a permanent solution.

The nightmares later found out about the method used by the Dream Folk to attach themselves to beings in the mortal realm. However, they had no interest in making any deals with their hosts. They instead forced themselves in, erasing everything about who their hosts originally were. With this violent method, paired with the control the nightmares had over Sleeper’s Parley, they came to the world in much greater number than the Dream Folk. They gathered and took Redigat and the world’s dreamers, the Senduan order included, could do nothing to stop them. The dreamers still had one advantage though. With Dream Folk in their minds, they could effectively resist the curses cast by the deepest fear. Although few in number, they had the potential to fight back.

The order continued their training, intending to have all of their number become dreamers before making their next move. Circadia, the nation of nightmares, rapidly grew but the order knew they weren’t ready yet. The order believed that, with proper training, even their lesser number could overcome the vast nightmare force. Every one of them had to equal a thousand enemies, so they wasted not even a second of their time. The deepest fear wasn’t unwise to the presence of the Dream Folk in the world, though. They were intelligent to realize that the Dream Folk would be trying to guide the mortals they had aligned with to fight against the takeover.

The deepest fear found out the nature of the Senduan order after spying on them with a magical item called the lonely eye. The nightmares realized that their regular method of warring would be ineffective, so they did something far worse to Sendus. They deployed Sungelt. Even despite all of their training, the entire Senduan order was wiped out by a single nightmare. Where Duzsa once stood there remained only a plane of burnt stone. Halroth watched as the others of his clan were absorbed by the horrendous entity that had come upon them. As far as he knows, he was the only one to escape the devastation.

His home destroyed, Halroth did not know what to do with himself. Feelings like vengeance clouded his mind but such things clashed with the philosophies he had been taught his whole life. He confided with the Dream Folk within him and they came to the conclusion that blindly walking the path of revenge would lead to no better end than what they saw in Duzsa. Thus, Halroth changed his focus towards building a new community, one which he would not fail to protect from the deepest fear. The only problem was, he had no one and nothing to start with. He wandered for a while and, eventually, came across an Akora named Tethys.

Of the Akora, Tethys had a peculiar level of intelligence and wisdom but lacked direction. Something which was offered to him by Halroth, leading to the founding of Qing Mai soon after. A place where Halroth could revive the philosophies taught to him by his people. That strength and divinity were not found in concepts such as deities but within one’s own body. That, in striving for the perfection of self, one could reach divinity even as a mortal. Even after the incident with Sungelt, Halroth still wanted to believe that such honing of self could awaken a power that not even the deepest fear could overcome.

Nonetheless, there was still a nagging in his mind that it would not be enough. The overwhelming terror he saw that day echoed in his mind, carrying with it doubt as to Halroth’s capacity to protect his new order. So, in betrayal of his own teachings, he sought to build a construct. Not dissimilar to those abandoned by his previous order. The difference was that this construct would be much grander in scale and employ modern technology. An ultimate body, though not attained through training or perseverance. To aid in the construction of this super-construct, he sought the aid of scientists from Skarva and attained backing from one Serafina Nythca.

This super-construct would serve two purposes. The first is that would be a weapon, one capable of annihilating even the executives of the deepest fear. The second would see it used as a host body for Elma, the creator of Sleeper’s Parley who had been captured by the nightmares. Halroth intended for the machine to draw out her soul from the depths of Sleeper’s Parley and take it into itself. It would be a means for her to physically manifest in the world again, in a form capable of containing the great power of Sleeper’s Parley’s creator. This machine was code-named S.O.L.E.M. – Surrogate Object for Light Emergence: Metatron.

Halroth secretly worked on the construction of Metatron while maintaining an image of his main focus being on the expansion of Qing Mai. He was a beloved figure by his followers and the residents of Qing Mai for the moral values he displayed. He had no sense of stereotyping or generalization, seeing all beings as individuals and always attempting to determine the good in even the worst of them. While this attracted people to him, his personality equally made people intimidated by him. He gave off a sense of moral invulnerability and, paired with his intense personality, this made it hard for most to feel as if they were conversing with him on equal terms.

Regardless, the people of Qing Mai were happy with Halroth as their effective leader. Things were good under his guidance, up until the aforementioned incident. The monster-warding seals placed at the Vinetrymm’s border were being purposely tampered with, thus drawing Halroth’s attention towards them. While he prevented the forest’s residents from getting into the Qing Mai circle, a group of adventurers were concurrently drawn into the Dull by a mysterious portal. Their expedition resulted in a purple hermetic dragon being drawn to the surface, destroying the Qing Mai monastery and causing heavy damage to Metatron.

Given the adventurers managed to defeat the hermetic, this wouldn’t have been too bad. If it weren’t for an unbelievable moment of bad luck which led the deepest fear to the city at the very same time. They had come in search of a thief but their priorities changed when they found out about the presence of Dream Folk carriers. With a deepest fear executive, Marzena, among their number they mounted an attack on Qing Mai and caused massive damage in the process. Halroth, the monks and the adventurers were all nearly killed in the incident, they only survived due to Marzena taking a particular interest in one of said adventurers. The deepest fear retreated and the city was left in shambles.

The incident acted as something of an awakening for Halroth. He had spent so much time worrying and working on Metatron when in fact that wasted time put the entire city in danger. Holed up in the deepest level of the monastery, he was not vigilant enough to handle such a string of events. His focus and leadership was weak and he had come no closer to a perfect self. He reconsidered his values and chose to discontinue the construction of Metatron. He handed Serafina the notes and schematics that he had come up with and told her that she would likely do a better job building it anyways. As for himself, he turned to focus on the reconstruction of Qing Mai.

Alongside the monks who had aligned themselves with him and the people who had found happiness in his city, he happily rebuilds what is lost. Though the incident was a tragedy, he looks forward and anticipates just how much better he could make not only himself but all of Qing Mai. It is a city of absolute equality, that is what he and Tethys set out to make when they met. Therefore, it would be no good to just improve himself. If he is to reach perfection then all of those around him shall as well. It will manifest in many forms and when it does, Qing Mai will be reborn as an indomitable settlement.

‘MARBLE MONK’ TETHYS

An Akora with a form which looks as if it’s made of marble. When he came to the world in the singing starfall, he fell into the Vinetrymm where he lay inactive for years. Certainly an odd case, given that most Akora moved just shortly after impact. Perhaps he simply didn’t receive the same spark of magic required to fully bring him to life, even though he certainly had consciousness. It was very much there, just stuck in a dream-like state for the first decade of his existence. Within this meditative state, Tethys’ mind developed though he had nothing from which to learn. All he had were vague memories of stars and thoughts.

Until he was found and awoken by a man who had lost everything. Halroth, a person who was traveling the continent in search of a place to begin a refreshed life of teaching. Exactly what Tethys needed, someone with a will to guide the aimless thoughts he had been stuck in. Tethys saw forever and could understand none of it, first he had to see little to begin understanding. Tethys became Halroth’s first student in his teachings of the perfect self. Tethys asked what such a thing meant for a body which could not physically improve, to which Halroth clarified that the ‘self’ encompassed more than just body.

The self was comprised of mind, body and soul. The aspect of body was merely the one that could be physically seen, an arbitrary attribute that made it no more important than mind and soul. True, strength of body allows one to physically protect their values but it cannot be achieved at all without also having strength of mind. The mind is one’s resolve, the will to choose a path and to never give up on it. It takes a strong mind to achieve one’s goals no matter the difficulty or pain that stands in its way. It is the drive that pushes an individual ever forward, allowing them to always improve upon themselves.

The soul was the most abstract concept of the three. Halroth told Tethys of Sendus and how the people of that country valued soul over mind and body. Such a mentality led to them abandoning their original bodies for substitutes that would never fit them. Though they were victorious in their immediate battles, they were cursed with bodies that could never progress past where they were. They were cursed with minds that feared death and always scrambled to escape it, though it inevitably came for them. In their actions they had stricken their potential as beings and gave a bad reputation to the concept of soul.

The soul represents the entirety of what you are. It’s a snapshot of your existence that tracks your every change, all the way down to every minor improvement and little victory you make. If your soul is removed from your mind and body, that mind and body is no longer you. Your soul is the very concept of your existence, thus to strengthen the soul is to strengthen your place in reality. Yet, it is not something that can be trained directly. Your soul is you, thus to improve it you must improve things about yourself. This can mean training mind and soul but it can also just be small things like breaking a bad habit or doing a task you were putting off.

Every tiny experience you have adds to your soul, adds to you. It means that nothing you do is ever worthless because it’s a part of what you are. It’s a memory you have, it’s an experience you gained. Even if it’s something you’re not proud of or something you’ll forget, it’s still you. In essence, the soul in itself can be even greater than the body and mind combined and it is the cornerstone in achieving a perfect self. Halroth taught Tethys that it didn’t matter whether or not he had a body that could be trained. If he could tap into the full value of his soul, he would go beyond any beefed up body.

Some time later, after the initial construction of the monastery, Tethys asked Halroth about the dream-like state that he had been in before the two met. As an Akora, Tethys did not need to sleep, thus was unable to return to that inactive state again. He had hoped that, perhaps with time, he could return to that inactive state and understand the things he could not before. This is when Halroth taught Tethys about dreams. Halroth and his original order had contemplated the significance of dreams a lot after taking the Dream Folk into their minds so Halroth was excited to share philosophies with someone that wasn’t his own bound Dream Folk.

It is impossible to define the meaning and logic of dreams as a collective whole. Every individual dream can mean something different, though Halroth has attempted to find a consistent way of describing them. He believes that dreams represent the things that the waking mind does not wholly realize. Goals you don’t realize you’re aiming for, fears you don’t realize you’re scared of; dreams will always carry some kind of subtle message. They can be memories thought forgotten or futures you aspire to see. Tethys was enamored with this idea, turning it into a form of motivation. He interpreted dreams as a hope for the future, a drive to relive happy memories or to seek out new stimulation. He also chose to believe that following the guidance of dreams would always lead one down a path of good.

From then on, Halroth taught Tethys meditation techniques to try and help him return to the dream state he was once in. All methods thus far have failed but Tethys refuses to give up, hoping that in attaining a dream he could determine the reason as to why the Akora came to the world. Since the monastery’s founding, several Akora have come seeking guidance and Tethys can give them no absolute answer. He has even met an Akora so twisted in their belief that they sought to slay all others of their kind. Tethys easily defeated this Akora and turned them away but it proved that a disturbing mentality had found footing within the race.

During the Qing Mai incident, Tethys was the one who guided the vital adventuring group towards the various tasks leading to the hermetic dragon’s appearance. The group had defeated the Natyr witch, so Tethys sent them to handle an inexplicable epidemic in which the city’s Aljani all wandered off and disappeared. Tethys and the other monks were not present upon the monastery’s destruction as the deepest fear’s invasion had already begun. Tethys fought hard but the power of the deepest fear executive was overwhelming, even for the two head monks. It was this encounter that made Tethys truly realize just how awful the deepest fear are for the world.

They are not redeemable beings. The nightmares came into existence from the worst places in people’s minds, the terrors that freeze them and stop them from moving forward. Tethys had wanted to believe up until that point that nightmares held as much value as dreams but he simply couldn’t justify it after the battle. They were an antithesis to dreams that preyed on the smallest vulnerabilities in one’s mind. Thoughts of the battle disturb Tethys even to the current day but he does his best to not to fester on it. He helps the people who have come to Qing Mai to rebuild, not just for his own dream but for all of theirs as well.

PANDRA OSIRA

Known as the gatekeeper of Qing Mai, Pandra is the monk tasked with maintaining the Vinetrymm route between the circle and Esnaquizar. She was originally from Forpassa, once a country whose people boasted the closest bonds but one which tragically fell through times of conflict. Though magic, the country’s people had a tradition of linking their minds and feelings together to achieve absolute trust and closeness. However, years of adversity and conflict tainted the minds of the citizens. Invariably, all who participated in the mind pools would end up falling to the collective weakness of the mind. If one were tainted then all would share, that was the domino effect suffered by the Forpassans.

Yet, the country’s government refused to alter the tradition that the country was founded on. The mind-pooling continued even though the country was falling into anarchy, especially during and after the war on alignment. In response, those who still held on to their sanity would send their children down pathways into the Dull to be taken care of by the Nepheline. There were no talks or agreements about this but the sane Forpassans had heard of the welcoming nature of the underground race. It was better than keeping the children on the surface and consigning them to Forpassa’s futureless fate, though.

Pandra was among the children who were sent underground. The journey wasn’t easy for a group of children, since there were no adults with well enough mind to be trusted to guide them. They had to find their way to the Nepheline settlement on their own. Of Pandra’s group of around fifty kids, only seven made it to the underground settlement. The rest collapsed under the physical and emotional stress to die out slowly and be eaten by the wildlife. The Nepheline were empathetic enough to receive the children but this wasn’t an issue that could just be handled by taking them in. Pandra’s was just one group, in all there were still hundreds of kids walking the path.

After the Nepheline found out about what was happening in Forpassa they made an effort to guide the rest of the groups that were on their way. Some of the collapsed were rescued but it was a sad sight to see the rows of those who weren’t. A pathway of dead that in itself prevented others from completing the journey. It was horrendous and traumatic for the kids. The Nepheline rounded them up and made a shelter for them to stay in temporarily but there just weren’t enough homes and families to take these kids in. It’s not like they could just force kids onto everyone in the city. Furthermore, these children’s bodies were not conditioned to living underground. Even though a majority were Magia, there was a chance they just wouldn’t be able to adapt quickly enough to the sudden chance in environment.

Considering all the factors, the Nepheline determined that it would be best to find a new surface home for these orphans. A place with an open-armed mentality and a good distance away from the blooming threat of Circadia. From these criteria it was determined that Chwalu would be the best place, though it would be a long journey to get the kids there. Still, it was the best hope for these kids to have a flourishing future, so they transfer ensued. Some of the other children, Pandra included, were given the choice whether or not they would stay or go since it was likely their bodies were developed enough to handle the underground. Pandra chose to go so she could act as a big sister to the rest of the orphans.

In Chwalu, it became quickly clear that the kids wouldn’t be able to stick together. They would have to spread out and find their own lives, just as they would have back in their home country. This scared the kids since the family they’d attached to at that point were each other, so Pandra sought out a place that could take at least the majority. That’s when she found out about Qing Mai, a new and still expanding settlement with more than enough room for new residents. Pandra led the Forpassan orphans there and sure enough they caused a significant bump in the permanent population of the young city.

Pandra wasn’t satisfied with just that, though. She had already gotten used to taking charge and wasn’t about to just sit back and let the monks do all the protecting. She was the captain of the Forpassan orphans, a silly kid’s title that gave her very real motivation. She joined the monastery and trained until she was among the strongest. Her mind was already fortified and her body was prepared, she was a model student for Halroth’s teachings. Once absorbing the way of the monks, she was placed in Qing Mai’s southern transition settlement close to the path between the Vinetrymm and the Esnaquan border.

From this position, she could personally meet the people coming into Qing Mai in search of new lives. People in similar situations to that of the orphans. She was the perfect figure to empathize with and aid these people who may not be confident in fitting in with the new setting. At the same time, she had completely taken the teachings of the monastery to heart. She was extremely rule-oriented and did not appreciate any amount of rule-bending or outright lawlessness. Both an ideal guide and enforcer, Pandra’s position was certainly earned. Her only problem was a tendency to overwork herself.

Pandra took heavy damage from an Iaxiot creature that was summoned to Qing Mai by the Vinetrymm witch. It attacked the southern settlement and she put her life at risk to keep the people safe. Thankfully, the prior mentioned adventuring group came and aided in the defeat of the monstrous enemy. When the deepest fear later launched their attack, Pandra still had not fully healed from her wounds. The claws of an Iaxiot creature run deep, it was a miracle she even survived in the first place. She wasn’t able to contribute much to the battle, something she berated herself for after the fact.

Having fully returned to health since then, she has returned to overworking herself as a part of the rebuilding effort. She can’t promise a place for the lost when the place is in shambles. She intends to begin her training anew once the rebuilding is done, this time focusing more astutely on Halroth’s teachings of the perfect self. She believes there is still much about herself that can improve and that a better version of herself would have made a greater impact during the incident. She never wants to see the city that gave the Forpassan orphans a second chance at life demolished again, thus she will make herself mighty enough to ensure it won’t be.

‘AVENGER’ VARYA

The age of the new gods is still relatively young and the ways in which people choose to hail them are still developing. Some may pray to the vashta of water by meditating under waterfalls and others might respect the vashta of earth by growing gardens. One particular group within the Chwalan military chose to dedicate themselves to the vashta of fire. They chose to show their dedication through burning the vashta of fire’s body markings on to their own forms, becoming a unique group of paladins in the process. Varya, a daughter of one of these paladins, took an interest at an early age and joined the military young.

Penjaga Ryuka represents things like strength and rivalry, aspects appealing to a boisterous child like Varya. She was always getting into fights and because of that she was kind of directed towards the military path by her mother. It would be an outlet for her to use her combative nature for a cause, at least. Varya also thought that, since people were still finding their footing with how to hail the new gods, the rules and restrictions would be loose within the paladin group. Throughout some years of training she found that wasn’t the case as preachy religious sorts had already taken over. Stuffy and stalwart personalities all around trying to enforce some ‘proper’ way of acting. Varya never understood how such people could even get into groups metal enough to purposely burn symbols on themselves.

She got sick of it rather quickly but didn’t really know where she could go. Knuse sounded like a fun place but it was more performers than punching and she would rather die than live in Pamisah. Then, she heard about Qing Mai and the city’s mentality of absolute equality. An acceptance of all kinds of people, which Varya creatively reinterpreted as an invitation for its residents to live how they want. She drifted into the city, still small at the time, and started to indiscriminately pick fights to sate her boredom. She was quickly apprehended by the monks and detained for a short time before deciding to join them.

The monks of Qing Mai were strict in their rules but on an individual level they were more open minded than the order. Varya quickly made good friends with Halroth and a Skaal named Selendra, though she would never admit that it was friendship in the latter’s case. The relationship between she and Selendra was the burning rivalry she sought in hailing Ryuka and the two would spar ceaselessly. Always even, or close to it, enough that each time only one of them would be left barely standing. They were never morally at odds or mad at each other, it was a friendship shown through teasing and punching.

With respect to Halroth and his teachings, Varya made an effort to mellow herself out in time. While she never fully latched on to it, she does find the philosophy of a perfect self to be very interesting and gets the idea that while her body is strong her mentality may limit her. Still, this would only go so far as Varya would frequently spend time in the city’s roughhouse where all the more aggressive sorts had an outlet to let loose. Varya was the undisputed champion of this institute, known as ‘avenger’ by her fans. She maintained an undefeated record in this place where even a Head once participated.

When the incident came, she fought hard alongside everyone else and relished in the opportunity to use her strength the right way. She protected the city’s residents with her tough body and made sure they were gathered in safe places away from the fires and collapsing buildings. She regrets being unable to help Halroth and Tethys with their fight with Marzena but that is not her greatest regret from that day. That would go to the disappearance of Selendra. Varya looked everywhere in the Qing Mai circle for where her rival could have gone. Someone told her that Selendra fell into the waters around the monastery when the hermetic appeared but she could find no body in multiple dives.

Although she knew the city needed rebuilding and its people needed the monks for direction, Varya couldn’t overlook this. She was always selfish to an extent and she had to know where Selendra had gone. In the middle of the rebuilding effort, she left Qing Mai in search of her lost friend. She has no idea where to start but she will look anywhere, she will even go to Kanotia and question the other Skaal if she has to. She’s a dreadnought who won’t be stopped until she has closure. Besides, she can’t let their rivalry end while Selendra still has one more win than her.

IRONSTICK

One of the more shocking members of the monastery, Ironstick is a lizard-like Mook from Knuse. While most consider Mooks to be too unpredictable to be safely interacted with, some less-than-well-intentioned groups have found that those found in Crobayoris are passive enough to be manipulable. Such was the case with a Keratitis group in northern Knuse. This band of cultists was set on casting a great ritual that would supposedly signal the emissary of the realm star, the hungering creature that had come to the world once long ago. They used the blood of a captured Virtue in hopes that it would make their spell more potent, though in the end they were defeated by an adventuring group.

Ironstick’s story took a turn a bit before that point, though. The cultists had taken measures to assure that an adventuring party wouldn’t easily be able to find their hideout, instead leaving a trail towards one of their stronger members. Ironstick fought alongside this Keratitis warrior and was there when the adventurers won the battle. He was questioned but ultimately allowed to run from the battle. The rest of his kin did not share this merciful fate and instinct alone was enough to tell him that the cult probably wouldn’t keep him alive. The experience has awoken something in the little Mook, a bump in intelligence that others of his kind lacked.

It’s hard to tell whether this was spurred by his particular affinity for magic or a result of his near-death experience. Either way, he was intelligent enough to run far away from where the cult was. It came as a double-edged sword, though, as he also realized that other adventurers would likely kill him on sight. Even regular people would no doubt reject him and throw hard objects at him, he thought. He had nothing; no tribe, no friends, no home, no hope. He did not know how far he ran but he did not look back in fear that someone, anyone, would be following him. After days without even stopping to eat or drink or even the means to attain such things, he collapsed. He was going to die, alone and lost.

It turned out that he had crossed the border between Knuse and Chwalu and fell near the Vinetrymm forest. Not a place many would casually stroll but it seemed the world wanted to reward Ironstick’s unique growth. He was found not by death but by head monk of the Qing Mai monastery, Halroth. Halroth had been performing maintenance on the warding seals around the Vinetrymm and spotted the dying, out-of-place Mook. Halroth only saw a living being that needed help and so he carried Ironstick back to the monastery and helped him return to health. Once Ironstick was up and ready to go, he begged to join the monastery as a monk.

He had no where else to go, no other life to live; this was his chance to start something completely new. Not as just a being on the edge of being a wild creature but as… Ironstick. Though he was weak at the start, he trained diligently to reach the level of everyone bigger than him. He found safety and comfort in the monastery but could never fully cast away the feelings of discomfort when a mercenary or adventurer came visiting. Determining good from bad people had become difficult for Ironstick, what he knows in his mind are the kind of people who hurt him and the kind of people who saved him.

Though more intelligent than the average Mook, Ironstick still struggled with the meaning Halroth’s teachings. He tried his best to understand but abstract things like the idea of souls are really hard for him to grasp. Still, he knows enough to help him quell the nightmares that plagued him shortly after his escape from Knuse. The nights of fearing the faces of those who enslaved his tribe and also the ones who killed them. He would never fully forget, in fact it seemed fate wouldn’t allow him to. One of the key adventurers in the Qing Mai incident was from the very same group that fought the Keratitis cultists.

Only months had passed since he had joined the monastery. Ironstick was not ready to see one of the faces he yet feared most, even if it was a semi-featureless Akoran face. If it were the old Ironstick he would have ran but he didn’t. He had grown, he was stronger, so he stood firm and faced the one he feared. He couldn’t forgive but he could prove that he had changed. Their interactions were short but in a way freeing for the young Mook. The chance meeting gave him confidence which he carried even into the fight with the deepest fear. He fought with such drive for his new home that he even inspired the other monks around him to keep on fighting.

After the battle, Ironstick’s reason for staying has stayed just about the same. It isn’t just because he feels safe in Qing Mai or because the monks give him something to do. It’s also because it’s one of the few places in the world that offers a chance for Mook species to grow. Beings that would otherwise face fates like dying in the wild or being enslaved by crazies. Beings who would never even have names or individuality. Ironstick sees the potential of Qing Mai and wants to make it into a place where Mooks can pass their evolutionary barrier. No longer wild animals or expendable bodies but realized Verasal who have the chance to choose their own fates.