The Disciples of St. Sollars the Twice-Martyred, also known as the Order of the Yellow Rose and the Monks of the Yellow Rose, was a monastic order devoted to St. Sollars and Ilmater, The One Who Endures. They were noted for the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, located high in the Earthspur Mountains near to the Glacier of the White Worm.
As followers of Ilmater, the Disciples of St. Sollars were ascetics and favored the simpler things, but were devoted to creating beauty in hardship.
The monks did not attempt to force their ways or beliefs on others. Instead, they went about their business confident in their faith.
Dwelling on the Glacier of the White Worm, the monks shared their home with a terrible beast: the remorhaz or white worm. This was a massive, insectoid creature, some 20 feet (6.1 meters) long, aggressive and predatory, that could tunnel through ice and earth and generated extreme heat from its body. However, the monks lived in harmony with the white worms, not in conflict, and believed it symbolized the courage and determination of their order. Thus they perfected the art of riding the remorhaz.
Although orphaned children were sometimes left at the gates of monasteries, the Monastery of the Yellow Rose was far too remote and difficult to reach. Instead, every few years, the monks went out into the neighboring lands of Damara and Vaasa and chose a young orphan to join them. They tried to teach the child how to be a good person in a harsh world. Some of these orphans might stay on with the order.
The monks had the following ranks:[note 1]
- Master of Dragons
- Master of the South Wind
- Master of Spring
- Grand Master of Flowers
As their penance, the Brothers, Disciples, and Immaculates had to endure long periods living in the wilds around the monastery, serving as Watchers. Doing so allowed them to progress to the rank of Master.
Around 1491 DR, outside novices and acolytes, the monks were divided into three lesser orders, each with a different focus to their work and religious practices, but equally important both in theory and in practice.
- Order of the Chisel
- The Order of the Chisel focused on working on sculptures, weaving tapestries, and making blueberry wine, crafts that made the monastery famous. The monks of this order were also involved in cooking, housekeeping, and a bit of trade. They were hard workers but few of the members were good martial artists.
- Order of the Rose
- The Order of the Rose were the most devoted to fighting evil. These monks trained as ascetics, priests, warriors, and adventurers. Their main duty was to protect the monastery, both in the physical world and in the spiritual world. They were usually brave, grim, and outspoken. These monks usually traveled Toril to gather lore and to perform good deeds and they were the best martial artists and spellcasters.
- Order of the Scroll
- The Order of the Scroll concentrated on managing the monastery's extensive libraries, also helping guests to search for books. These monks were the most socially awkward, preferring books to people. Few of them became martial artists or spellcasters.
The Watchers were a branch of the Order who patrolled the Earthspur Mountains south of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, dwelling in the wild and learning to survive and endure. Their goal was to understand the ways of the harsh land around them. They usually left the Monastery for three to six months at a time, in any season, from the brief few weeks of high summer to the height of winter, when the snows were at their deepest. They were always on the move, never spending more than one night in the one place, and could travel some 20 to 50 miles (32 to 80 kilometers) in a day, whatever the weather, day or night.
The Watchers were always alone, their only contact with animals. Some even shared a den with a bear or ran with a pack of wolves. Many of them acquired and were accompanied by friendly animals, and could employ a speak with animals power to converse with them and gain knowledge and insight. The purpose of this phase of their training was to develop a symbiotic relationship with the natural world.
Although alone, they closely watched all other travelers in the mountains, particularly strangers and adventuring bands. Everyone who spent a few days or more journeying in the Earthspurs had surely been discreetly monitored by the Watchers at some point. However, they almost never contacted anyone face-to-face.
An impressive 99% of Watchers returned to the Monastery without harm, which was proof of their discipline and training.
A monk who wished to challenge for the rank of Master of Dragons first had to undergo an initiation that involved an extraordinarily difficult test of skill and courage—to ride the remorhaz. This was on the one hand a test of their discipline but on the other a declaration of their devotion to St. Sollars the Twice-Martyred, a demonstration of their inner strength, courage, and determination needed to subdue the beast and ride mere inches away from death or terrible injury.
A monk who would attempt to ride a remorhaz was equipped with a simple lasso and a pair of magical leather-and-iron spurs of special design. They stood upon a certain rocky outcrop and waited for the white worm to slither past, at which point they tried to lasso it. If the monk missed with the lasso, then they could wait for another remorhaz to roll pass, but missing three times was marked as a failure. They could try again after one week, but those going for Master of Dragons had to wait and train until they felt up to the challenge again. No one could help them in this.
Once the lasso was in place, the monk then leapt onto its back and tried to firmly plant their spurs in its shell. Both spurs was ideal; one spur would do, but was dangerously unstable. A monk who missed planting their spurs or was unable to ride risked touching the bare superheated back of the angry remorhaz and suffering searing burns, even death. A monk who could do all this had to remain standing on the back of the white worm and ride it for a distance of no less than 100 yards (91 meters). Whether successful or not, after an attempt, other monks were free to help their fellow in escaping the remorhaz.
Despite the danger of terrible injury or death, no monk who qualified ever refused to try. In fact, even those who didn't qualify would give it a go, and most monks at the Monastery tried it at least once in their lives. Still, many monks came to their end of their lives while trying to become a Master of Dragons. The youngest ever to ride the remorhaz was Afrafa, aged only 15 and a low-ranking monk, around 1349 DR.
The Monks of the Yellow Rose dedicated themselves to venerating the Suffering God, Ilmater. This seemed to be primarily through the hard work necessary to survive in the harsh environment of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, and here they thrived. The monks toiled for at least sixteen hours a day, without fail.
Initiates and low-ranking monks were most responsible for the basic necessities of life in the high mountains. They worked in the small gardens, they cut and hauled blocks of ice that would be melted for water, and they foraged in the desolate mountains for supplies. The monks also brewed wine from blueberries they collected.
Their efforts gave their superiors the time and capacity to focus on less vital but more spiritual work. Those with the skill focused on crafting sculptures and tapestries. At the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, they preserved Ilmatari art, architecture, and handiworks in a grand museum that was a tribute to their faith and discipline.
Once a year, the mid-ranking monks led expeditions out of the mountains and into the cities of the Bloodstone Lands: Damara, Vaasa, Impiltur, and Narfell. There they gathered and recorded local news, familiarized themselves with travelers passing through and with newcomers settling in the area, and listed births and deaths. Back at the Monastery, they maintained vast archives about the Bloodstone Lands, the most complete anywhere in the Realms. These included genealogies, and some monks specialized in genealogical studies. As a result, they were used to dealing with delicate matters of heritage among the nobility. They sometimes served as emissaries within the Bloodstone Lands.
One other task the monks had was to construct and maintain the Watcher's Mounds that lay throughout the Earthspur Mountains south of the Monastery. Well over a hundred of these campsites were situated along the trails running down from the monastery. Not only mounds, they were defensible campsites with shelter where a traveler, a ranger, or a Watcher might spend a night in safety. Each site also contained a hidden cache of preserved food, water, and tools. The monks and local rangers restocked these caches, and took note of when they were wantonly looted and who was responsible, as well as who was considerate enough to leave spare supplies behind.
Their time spent in the cold mountain wilderness made some born survivors, hardy and knowing well how to get along in the wild. The monks could also be skilled climbers, leapers, and as surefooted as mountain goats on ice and on steep slopes, and could fight well in such conditions.
The Disciples typically carried a healer's kit and a climber's kit. Those who were not monks and relied on weapons and armor bore maces of masterwork make and wore chainmail. Some carried faith tokens of Ilmater.
Base of Operations
The most well-known facility of the order was the Monastery of the Yellow Rose. It stood in a remote and isolated location high in the Earthspur Mountains, built into the side of a peak beside the Glacier of the White Worm. This massive fortified structure housed some 750 monks of the Order.
The Disciples of St. Sollars were greatly respected wherever they journeyed, even by the Nars of Narfell. They maintained friendly and supportive relations with nearby communities in Damara and Vaasa, and they were especially respected here. Even those who opposed the Monastery of the Yellow Rose and its works would not dare move openly against them.
The Knights of Imphras II of Impiltur, who were backed by the church of Ilmater, had in the past fought alongside the Disciples of St. Sollars. The Lords of Imphras II, a ruling council of Impiltur in 1359 DR, had respected the Disciples for a long time.
The Disciples of St. Sollars the Twice-Martyred crossed over the Great Glacier, over the lands that would later be known as Damara and Vaasa, whilst both realms still lay beneath the ice. A fanatical order, they sought the most imposing, harsh, and dangerous place at which to build their temple, and found it in the highest peaks of the Earthspurs. In the Year of the Yellow Rose, 1242 DR, they founded the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, also known as the Citadel of the White Worm. [note 2]
Prior to 1358 DR, the Brotherhood of the Yellow Rose rescued the Harper Blind Lemon Murlyn after a disastrous mission to Thay cost him his sight. They took him in and taught him "finger-runes", enabling him to cast spells once more.
In the Year of the Serpent, 1359 DR, Grand Master Poke died suddenly. This necessitated that Kane, a Master of Spring and next-in-line for the position of Grand Master, hurry back to the monastery and manage affairs until a new Grand Master could be trained and selected. However, Kane declined to hold the position for any length of time. After Kane, the next in line was a man named Temmenische, who was 95 years old, so he was hardly a practical choice. Although Cantoule was not in line for the position of Grand Master of Flowers, was not an obvious choice, and aged about 40 was considered rather too young, Kane and Temmenische decided he would be the most suitable successor. Thus, Cantoule was pressed into the position of Grand Master of Flowers, and Kane and Temmenische put Cantoule through accelerated training in advanced techniques to prepare him for the post. As Grand Master, Cantoule continued his lessons while managing the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, a task for which he appeared quite capable. Since he took over in 1359 DR, the monastery enjoyed peaceful times and affairs proceeded smoothly with well-worn tradition.
However, Cantoule first had to decide which of the would-be kings of Damara the monastery should throw its support behind. Cantoule appeared to favor the heroic Gareth Dragonsbane, an adventuring companion of Kane. This would greatly strengthen Gareth's case. Thus Gareth invited Grand Master Cantoule to visit him in Bloodstone Village. The Monastery also sent a number of its monks to Gareth Dragonsbane, lord of Damara, so that they could serve as his emissaries to the Lords of Imphras II of Impiltur. This was thanks to the esteem the Lords had for the Yellow Rose, and Gareth's close relationship with the Monastery via his companion Kane.
Later in 1359 DR, Duke Helmont the 15th of Carmathan in Damara claimed royal lineage, but an old women purporting to be midwife to the House of Devlin had no recollection of his birth and doubted his claims. Thus, Gareth Dragonsbane invited the Monks of the Yellow Rose to investigate the matter. Although the monastery possessed complete genealogical records, they sent a contingent of monks to Carmathan to investigate directly and fairly. With the monks so highly respected, Helmont had no option but to cooperate. Preliminary reports suggested the monks had apparently found evidence supporting the midwife's version of events.
Gareth became king later in 1359 DR.
In the Year of Rogue Dragons, 1373 DR, on Mirtul 25, the monastery was besieged by a flight of maddened chromatic dragons sent by Sammaster to prevent anyone from finding lore pertaining to the Rage of Dragons sweeping across Faerûn at the time. The hunters Dorn Graybrook and Raryn Snowstealer, the copper dragon Chatulio, and the song dragon Kara aided the monks in defending the monastery. The siege lasted for several days, before metallic dragons departed their refuge in the Galena Mountains and routed the chromatic dragons on Flamerule 11. The monastery community was nearly destroyed in the battle.
- These ranks are actually the level titles of the Monk class in Players Handbook 1st edition, page 31.
- The history of the Disciples at this point is unclear. The Bloodstone Lands states that the monks "established the monastery more than a thousand years ago", which would be some time before 359 DR. However, several later sources (the campaign settings for 2nd and 3rd edition, and The Grand History of the Realms) specify the much later date of 1242 DR, only 117 years before. They also state that the Great Glacier retreated and Damara and Vaasa were freed of ice in 1038 DR, which leaves at least two centuries to a thousand years for the monks to be without a base. Thus, it is possible that they had constructed some other facility—perhaps a temple—that was later established as a monastery. This is supported by The Bloodstone Lands saying that the monks sought a "place to locate their temple", not a monastery. It is also possible that the Citadel of the White Worm (a distinctly un-Ilmatari-sounding name) was an earlier structure occupied by the monks and eventually refurbished and renamed the Monastery of the Yellow Rose. This is supported by it being described as a massive fortress with catacombs of great age.
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