Call to Arms
The monks of Silvalin are a branch of the church of Caetar, established thousands of years ago in Menios before they were cut off by the breaking of the world. Their order took Caetari dedication to martial excellence and looked inward. They strove to make their minds and bodies into the perfect weapon, and after centuries of practice and self-reflection developed what they call the Way of the Open Hand. They made a name for themselves in Menios battling back evil, especially in the mountains where it was rife.
The Silvalin welcomed disciples of all races, men and women alike. Many Olivetti, Arukites and even Dunsarro found refuge with them from the intense discrimination they faced in Menios. Men and women lived and trained separately until they reached the highest levels of enlightenment. A prioress handled the female monks while the Abbot of Silvalin managed the men and led the order generally. He was effectively a bishop of Caetar, answering only to the Archbishop in Felleg’Avin.
Fifty years ago a group of female refugees arrived at the Silvalin monastery. The monks welcomed them, gave them food, shelter, religious instruction and martial training. The refugees claimed to be Yan slaves escaped from Gallis but were in fact a group of deadly assassins called the Jade Mantis. Recently the assassins killed someone they shouldn’t have, creating a wealthy and powerful adversary and turning the people of Menios against them, putting the Jade Mantis on the run.
Originally the Jade Mantis intended to hide out at the monastery until things calmed down, but years later most of them found they actually liked the teachings of the Caetari. The Jade Mantis got religion. And so they stayed on for decades, learning all they could about the Way of the Open Hand and synthesizing it with their already powerful skill as assassins. In time they discovered what they named the Way of Shadow.
These disciples trained in secret under Mumyo, the leader of the Jade Mantis. Mumyo kept the new Way a secret from the Abbot and the other Silvalin, while she carefully initiated some of the female Silvalin into the Jade Mantis and trained them as assassins. Anyone who might betray Mumyo was quietly killed. Some had ‘accidents’, some were simply killed on dangerous missions fighting evil in the mountains.
This could not last. When Mumyo dared to poison the Prioress of Silvalin and take over as the new prioress, a woman named Weeping Crane (one of the new recruits) finally turned on Mumyo and confessed everything to the Abbot. Weeping Crane accused Mumyo of murder, openly demonstrated the Way to Shadow to the Silvalin and named all the members of the Jade Mantis.
The Abbot judged Mumyo according to the traditions of the Caetari. Mumyo submitted to his authority and denied nothing. She would accept death if her disciples could be allowed to remain and practice the Way of Shadow. (She was now, after all a true follower of Caetar.) But the Abbot declared the Way of Shadow a damnable heresy and commanded that anyone who did not renounce it and return to the proper Way should be put to death. This was too much for Mumyo, who lead her disciples into open war against the Abbot and the other Silvalin.
This holy war within the Caetari has lasted 25 years and killed 3 out of every 4 monks on both sides. Many of the faithful now fighting were not even born when the conflict began. Evil has returned to the mountains in strength and the monastery itself has been lost and is slowly falling into ruin.
Having lost all contact with this remote sect, the Archbishop has sent 6 emissaries over the years to find out what happened. None have returned.