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The Twilight Monastery

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About two hours north of Diamond Lake, a towering crag called the Griffon’s Roost casts a dark shadow over the muddy road to Elmshire. From a perch hundreds of feet above looms the cat-infested Twilight Monastery, a three-towered monument to an obscure philosophy of the Distant West. Two score monks dwell within the monastery, dedicating themselves to a litany of exercises meant to perfect the body and spirit. The secretive monks hold dusk as the holiest of hours, and sonorous chants emit from the Twilight Monastery’s central courtyard when the night sky appears in the heavens.

Foremost among the monks is Izenfen the Occluded (LN female human monk 7), a peerless masked combatant thought to be one of the wisest figures in the hills. Travelers frequently seek her council, but most leave Diamond Lake without ever having gained access to the Twilight Monastery, for Izenfen deigns to speak with only a handful of pilgrims foretold to her via the agency of the night sky and an immense mirrored lens called the Censer of Symmetry. The Censer, which dominates the monastery’s central courtyard, grants any who gaze upon it a +10 bonus on Profession (astrologer) checks made during a clear night. Junior monks polish its smooth surface throughout the day, and the whole of the order is prepared to defend it with their lives.

When word of the Censer’s predictive prowess spread to the miners of Diamond Lake 20 years ago, a desperate contingent petitioned Izenfen to predict the location of the richest unclaimed local ore deposits, appealing to her compassion with tales of starving children and dangerously unpaid debts. The masked mistress of the Twilight Monastery rebuffed their pleas, triggering the miners’ contingency plan—an ill-fated invasion of the monks’ compound that left seven miners dead. Only a single member of the order perished—Imonoth, Izenfen’s beloved daughter. Immediately thereafter, Izenfen gathered a cadre of stealth assassins from the ranks of her best warriors, and silently set them upon the surviving invaders who still milked wounds in the petty shacks along Diamond Lake’s waterfront. At an annual celebration called Darkstar’s Kiss, the monks of the Twilight Monastery recite from memory the names of all fifteen miners murdered on that night, reminding themselves to always remain vigilant to the encroachment of outsiders.

Rumors suggest that Izenfen’s masked silent killers remain active to this day, citing the disappearance or mysterious deaths of nearly a dozen political enemies within the town. Although the monks of the Twilight Monastery keep mostly to themselves and desire only to lead lives of undisturbed contemplation, they frequently appear on the streets of Diamond Lake to reprovision or to engage in the trade of kalamanthis, a rare psychotropic plant grown regionally only on the slopes of the Griffon’s Roost. Proceeds from this trade account for all of the monastery’s activities, but initiates of the order are forbidden from taking it in all but the most controlled ritual circumstances.

Kalamanthis is popular among all classes of Diamond Lake, but the real business is centered in the nearby Free City. Potential buyers frequently meet with elder monks in a secluded corner of Lazare’s House along the Vein’s central square to arrange payment and distribution to the neighboring metropolis. Both the wagons loaded with kalamanthis and the returning coaches loaded with city coin go unmolested in Diamond Lake, for all fear Izenfen’s relentless invisible killers.

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