After the Fall
The Endless Path
|Population||167 persons (97% halfling, 3% other) within the monastery, 6,300 (63% human, 25% elf, 12% elfish, 10% other) oustide|
|Symbol of Allegiance||None.|
|Claimed area||The Temple of Stairs|
“Walk the path for fifty years, and you are wise.
Live the path for five seconds, and you are enlightened.”
- Tenet of The Path
History of The Path
The Endless Path, or the Path, or the Path of None, or even the Path to Nowhere is one of the only still-functioning monasteries in the world. Nestled deep in the Needle Mountains, high atop a frozen peak, the squat wooden structure miraculously survived the Fall. Whether due to luck or divine intervention, the fact is unknown.
Founded exactly one thousand, seven hundred and eleven (1711) years ago, The Path is one of the few organizations that keeps a written record of life before the Fall. Although they are not magical scholars or scribes, the monks of The Path spend hours each day writing information on scrolls, sketching, or otherwise tending to an expansive scroll library that exists below the monastery.
The Path was founded by an ancient halfling by the name of Marros. He was a curious halfling by nature and it is said that he walked for twenty years before settling in the mountains. Not much is known about Marros’s past before founding the Path, or where he trained, all that remains of him are the legends.
A common one involves Marros travelling down a woodland path (although sometimes the location varies) where he was beset upon by a dozen armed men. They demanded a toll to pass through the woods, to which Marros explained that he had no coin — he was on a quest to experience the world. Not satisfied with this, the men decided they would beat the money out of Marros.
From the far end of the path rode into sight a noble cavalier. Upon seeing the men surround Marros and begin swinging down with clubs the cavalier began to ride forward, hoping to aid the halfling. Before he could make it there, however, four more bandits appeared and squared off against the rider. After a brief scuffle the cavalier was victorious, and turned back to the surely beaten halfling.
Instead what he saw was twelve beaten bodies surrounding the small frame of Marros, who brushed a bit of dirt from his tunic and retrieved his walking stick before continuing down the path. Astonished, the cavalier called over to Marros as he passed. “That was incredible, can you teach me to fight like that?”
Marros looked him up and down, before smiling. “No friend. You’re much too tall.”
Current State of Things
The Path is two-fold.
The first is a state of being which can be attained by anyone, according to the teachings of Marros: “To find the Path you must walk the Path. Once you have walked the Path, you must run the Path. Once you have ran the Path, you must live the Path. Once you have lived the Path, you will see that there is no Path.”
The second is the martial training that both enables a practitioner to both attain the Path and to perfect it. This martial training has up until the Fall been only taught to halflings. When the Fall occurred, the current Master of the Temple began accepting prospective students from across the land. Many of the stances and styles require the user to be only a few feet above the ground, however, so much the intensive low-style training tends to wash out the “would be” monks.
Monks of the Path all follow two Vows at one time. A prospective Monk is given his two Vows upon entering the monastery of the Path by the current Master. From time to time, the two Vows change (when the Master feels it is time they change) or in some cases, are even removed entirely. These two Vows represent the two folds of the Path. A Monk of the Path that breaks either of his given Vows is barred from entering the Temple of the Stairs again and can no longer continue his training along the Path.
In addition, all Monks of the Path begin as Monks of the Four Winds (variant) unless otherwise noted. Monks of the Path are encouraged to leave the monestary at any time, even without warning, as according to Marros: “Training only teaches you how to train, only living can teach you how to live.”