Iron Soul Monastery

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The Iron Soul monks were a few of the peoples who remained on their original land as the world wasted around them. They had been uniquely suited to survival in the wastelands due to their ascetic and simple lifestyle.

Their monastery happened to lay far enough from the influence of any stone to lessen some of the impact. Though left to itself the land would soon be drained by the influence of the stones.

Tradition

The use of simple weapons is the cornerstone of the Iron Soul tradition, founded long ago by oppressed peasants denied access to military weapons by the tyrants who ruled them. Adherents of the Iron Soul master common tools, transforming them into potent implements of war. Over time, monastic warriors have refined these primitive techniques and incorporated them into a range of powerful psionics disciplines.

The monks spend most of their training in self-discipline, simplification and focus through a variety of martial disciplines and meditation.

Not much is known of their ethos and philosophy. When asked most simply reply:

“An existence unburdened by limitation demands harmony among body, spirit, and mind.”

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Background

Devotees of the Iron Soul often come from common stock, taught to defend themselves with whatever weapons they have on hand.

Society

Their base of operations is the remains of their original monastery from before the War of the Stones, which is still scraping out a survival existence in the wastelands.

The monks don’t need much so they are able to get by with the bare necessities. A few scraggly vegetables and a dirty, thin spring is all that remain. In fact the spring is only able to continue due to the Circle of Water. A collection of the oldest and most powerful monks who through their psionic tradition and deep meditation are able to keep the spring flowing… barely. Any lapse in their meditations interrupts the flow of the spring.

While relatively remote and not a common way point for travelers, the monastery is a center of news and trade for what few creatures scrape out an existence in the surrounding wasteland.

Ranks

Canonical Tradition of Ranks according to the Ayaniv, the scroll containing the fundamental teachings of the Way of the Iron Soul:

  • Nerasa — a novice monk who has yet to receive higher ordination. They focus on learning basic techniques of meditation and empty-handed martial skills. At this point they are not able to combine the two.
  • Vakana — a newly ordained monk. A Vakana has demonstrated the ability to consistently utilize psionic power to enhance his or her martial techniques.
  • Ayanissa — a monk who has begun practicing the advanced martial skills of the order. Advanced meditation is combined with channeling psionic power through a mundane weapon, commonly a staff.
  • Himajj — a monk who has mastered both the basic and advanced techniques of the Order (middle rank). Instruction of lower ranked monks begins at this stage.
  • Areth — a monk who has continued to progress in developing their psionic focus through meditation and has become eligible for the Circle of Water
  • Hama-Areth — The highest rank in the Order. An “elder” in the community, skilled in the most advanced and secret meditation skills of the Iron Soul.

These days most adherents spend the first portion of their life as a monk simply training, supporting the home monastery and hardening their bodies. These are the Nerasa and Vakana.

The second portion is spent protecting merchant caravans traveling the wastelands. They travel from city to city following the flow of trade and are assigned jobs by their city brokers. These are the Ayanissa and Himajj.

The final portion, if they survive that long, is spent training new recruits and meditating to maintain what little existence can still be scraped out for their monastery. These are the Areth and Hama-Areth.

The monastery is currently blessed with only one Hama-Areth, Konyakugisu. An elderly but strong half-Orc.

Foreign Relations

The monastery maintains at least one contact in each city to establish contracts and schedule groups of monks to travel with and protect merchants or perform bodyguard duties. In cities that can support it, outreach schools teaching the basic fundamentals of the Iron Soul way are established. Students who wish to master the way of the Iron Soul must eventually train at the Monastery itself.

The brokers to the cities are as follows:

  • Ambrose: None
  • Boroda: Tel’kar the dwarf, an Areth. He runs a small training school with approximately 15 students.
  • Fortoss: Ubada formerly a Himajj Orc. She maintained a school of primarily Orc students numbering somewhere around 20-30 adherents. Killed by a curse cast upon her entire school.
  • Girsu: Vimak the Goliath. There is no need for a school as combat skills are handled by the Ubaid educational system.
  • Herron: A Genasi named Yuriel.
  • Jantar: Houndaer a Drow with the rank of Himajj.
  • Lux: Codrus a minotaur in the final days of his Himajj. Recently deceased in what has been deemed by the authorities a freak cooking fire accident. Codrus’ four students continue training while awaiting a new broker and teacher.
  • Kulltich: Theo the halfling.
  • Daitar: Liam a human Himajj.

Due to the Hama-Areth’s heritage, Orc sailors have been known to occasionally fly routes that bring them to the monastery to trade and rest. For this purpose the monastery maintains a flight-dock near the very top of the monastery’s central and highest hall.

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Sections of the Monastery

The monastery sits hidden in a sharp valley hidden near the top of a mountain. A long circuitous path must be followed to reach it. High cliff walls rise on either side and the monastery rests high enough that should the rare precipitation occur it is often in the form of snow.

At the base of the mountain is a small village called Ormdraest, still scraping out an existence. They are allowed to draw on the well maintained in the monastery and primarily exist hunting local game and growing a few vegetables for their own personal sustenance.

The walls are earth and stone raised in a steep slope, edged with locally made glass and shards of pottery. The mortar is made of mud and silt, compacted down to a very tight lattice by forcing all of the water out of the mixture using the psionic abilities of the Iron Soul martial skills. This causes the mortar to become like concrete affixing anything in it almost immediately.

Entrance
The entrance to the monastery consists of two large wooden iron-reinforced doors that only open outward. The courtyard just within the entrance consists of the primary training grounds. A large sandpit stands at the center where partners can spar. Racks of both wooden, blunted and real weapons stand along the edges of the walls. Two large trees, weathered with age and wracked by the struggles of the land stand at the far end of the courtyard before the entrance to the Great Hall.

Physical training starts early and lasts for several hours. Other training occurs during the afternoon and at other times as needed individually by the students.

Great Hall
A communal covered eating area just past the courtyard. The great hall is also where philosophical and spiritual instruction occurs in the late morning and late evening.

The Dock
A set of stairs follows the edge of the inner wall of the Great Hall leading up to a small dock where airships can moor. Given the small size of the mountain valley where the monastery resides only the smallest of airships, typically of Frigate size, can dock here.

Living Quarters
If one turns left while standing in the center of the Great Hall a small set of double doors leads into the living quarters. Small rooms, most consisting of a simple bed or padded mat, with a chest or box to hold clothing a small desk with simple writing supplies exists in each rooms. Some have been customized by their dwellers to accommodate a small training mat in the center of the room or a sacred area for meditation.

The Spring
Behind the Great Hall in it’s own quiet courtyard open to the sky sits a pool of water and a small building for the Circle of Water. From the raw rock face that the building is built into a small spring of water bursts forth filling the pool. The building’s sole purpose is to house the monks currently meditating to maintain the spring.

The School
Turning right from the Great Hall one finds the School. A set of simple rooms with a short small circular unadorned dais in the center. The students gather and either stand or sit on the floor while a teacher instructs in the center.

Vault of Scrolls
Attached to but adjacent to the School, is a set of stairs that descends underground and underneath the monastery. Below in the dark, cool and dry labyrinth of chambers is stored the books and scrolls of the monastery. One section consists of esoteric treatises on theoretical philosophies, moral quandaries or ethical riddles. Another contains all the records of their bodyguard and brokerage ledgers for the past centuries. These are always slightly out of date since the records from their home cities are only sent back to the home monastery once a year. The most frequented section contains the scrolls of other styles and techniques as developed by monks who have come before. Records of their psionic and martial experiments and stylistic nuances inform and inspire future generations of monks to develop their own styles or imitate those from the past.

Armory
In the very back of the Vault of Scrolls stands the armory. While numerous mundane weapons for both real usage and training can be found scattered through the school. The Armory contains the most powerful relics and weapons of magical ability as acquired and used by monks from former ages. Kept locked except in special cases the vault is guarded by two Vakana monks at all times. Legend has it that the farmer’s staff as described in the Ayaniv can be found contained within the Armory. Though none but the Areth and Hama-Areth are allowed inside.

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Iron Soul Monastery

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