Lore: The Protectors of Kryta (Part One of Two)
Devona bowed her head. "Confessor Schessler, it is an honor to meet you."
The old man returned the courtesy. "The honor is all mine," he said, smiling. "Justiciar Hablion tells me we owe you much thanks."
"That's right," came Cynn's voice from behind Devona. "It's about time someone recognized our contribution."
Devona spun, glaring at her friend and hissing from between clenched teeth, "Cynn!"
Confessor Schessler chuckled. "That's quite all right, Devona. We are aware of how helpful you have been since arriving in Kryta. That is why I have asked you all here today." He turned and headed down the well-manicured path that lead through the temple. "Walk with me," he said, motioning for Devona, Aidan, Mhenlo and Cynn to follow. "I wish to tell you a story."
Devona looked to her companions, shrugged, then followed the elderly man down the path. The others fell into step behind her.
Before they had caught up with Confessor Schessler, he began speaking over his shoulder. "Your heroics have earned you a special honor among the White Mantle. We consider all of you friends, and as such I want to relate to you the tale of our humble beginnings."
"Great," whispered Cynn, "just what I wanted, a history lesson."
Devona saw Mhenlo place his hand on the Elementalist's shoulder in an attempt to quiet her. Apparently the confessor hadn't heard the remark because he didn't pause.
"As you may or may not know, the White Mantle was founded by a man named Saul Botolf. A gambler and a drunk, Saul reached the lowest point in his life when he lost a bet he could not repay.
"At the time, the local betting house was run by the Lucky Horseshoe, a gambling guild with influence in all three human nations on the continent." The confessor lifted his hand, shaking his finger to accentuate his point. "This, of course, was before the Charr invaded, when Ascalon was still flourishing and Orr was…well before the untimely demise of Orr." He tucked his hand into his robes as he rounded a corner and continued down the path.
"To avoid defaulting on his payment, Saul took to robbing merchants traveling on the road from Beetletun to Shaemoor—"
"So, let me get this straight," interrupted Cynn. "The White Mantle was founded by a thief with a gambling problem?"
Confessor Schessler stopped abruptly. Devona's entire body stiffened, and she instinctively scanned the grounds, looking to see how many Mantle justiciars she was going to have to fight to get them out of here because of Cynn's big mouth.
Schessler nodded without turning around. "That is correct."
Devona unstiffened. On second thought, simply killing Cynn would be much easier.
"Though he successfully paid his debt to the Lucky Horseshoe, he was eventually fingered by one of his victims and tried as a thief," continued Schessler. "His punishment was to be banished from Kryta." The confessor headed back down the path.
"The local authorities blindfolded him and rode him out two full weeks before leaving him to fend for himself. Alone, penniless, and lost, Saul wandered through a dense forest for three full days. On the fourth day, Saul emerged from among the trees to see what he thought was a hallucination—a city of massive towers reaching into the heavens. It was a sight to behold, alabaster and golden filigree. This was a place of purity, a place where a man such as Saul could begin anew. Hungry and exhausted, his clothes ragged and dirty, Saul dropped to his knees and touched his forehead to the ground. He had found his divinity."
"When Saul Botolf finally returned to Kryta, he came back as a changed man. His rags had been replaced. Now he wore a sleeveless, pure-white robe embroidered with golden thread." The confessor held out his arms, showing off the robe he now wore. It too was stark white and embroidered in gold. "His once sunken, hungry features were again full and healthy. He no longer craved the bottle, no longer wished to strike it rich gambling. His life had purpose. He had returned to spread the word, to deliver the divine graces of the Unseen Ones upon the humans of Kryta."
The path they had been following ran out at a courtyard atop the temple's eastern wall. The overlook was breathtaking. The wall gave way to a long sloping field of wildflowers and green grass, which in turn gave way to sand and eventually the light blue sea.
Confessor Schessler turned to face them, leaning his back against the stone. "Saul's new faith was so powerful that soon he had accumulated quite a following. As a group, he and his followers traveled the land, recruiting more disciples and offering salvation during trying times." He smiled at each one of them, nodding his head. "Saul is a shepherd, and we are but his humble followers. You would do well to follow his example."
"Saul is still alive?" asked Mhenlo, a devout follower of Dwayna.
Devona thought she detected a bit of skepticism in her friend's voice.
"Oh no," said the confessor, "he has passed from this world." He placed his hands together as if to begin a prayer. "But that is a story for another time. Right now, I have a favor to ask."