Twilight of the Kai
For the Kai!
“I see in your young eyes so much hope and potential. I also see confusion and fear. You have been brought to this Monastery with a singular gift and myriad questions. As one of your Elders, it has fallen to me to shape the former and answer the latter… if indeed I can. Listen to me closely. I pray to Kai that you will heed and respect my words.
“Remember, new cubs. There are no foolish questions—just foolish times to ask them.”
—Kai Lord Silent Owl, Caretaker of the Hall of Novitiates
What Is A Kai Lord?
Kai Lords are brave and exceptional warriors engaged in a monastic tradition that has long been established in Sommerlund. Although the majority of Kai Lords are recruited from noble Sommlending families, there are some who originate from other places in the free lands of the north. And a few dozen of the specially gifted children who join the Monastery each year hail from ordinary or ‘commoner families’.
Kai Lords are trained to master the innate powers that lie dormant within them. Not every Sommlending or other humans in the world of Magnamund has the potential to become a Kai Lord. Only during the course of their arduous training at the Monastery is the full potential of their innate powers unlocked and brought to fruition.
Kai Lords who have trained hard and released their potential can often perform exceptional feats of body and mind. They are equally at home in the cities of Magnamund as they are in its untamed regions, exposed to the elements and surrounded by wild and hostile creatures. A Kai Lord can survive in many places where lesser mortals would surely perish.
The Worship of Kai
The Kai Order is built upon the inspirational teachings of God Kai. The Kai Lords themselves are devout follows of the Sun God, but they refrain from proselytising their beliefs. They have fealty to Kai and will pray for his blessing, especially in times of peril, but they do not seek to go out and convert others to their religious beliefs; they are not missionaries or preachers.
For those among them that strive to follow the path of light and, in so doing, achieve enlightenment and the blessing of their god, they tend to favour regular periods of quiet reflection and the recital of simple prayers at sunrise and sunset. Although there is a religious observance held at the Kai Monastery at noon each day, a time that is marked by the tolling of the chapel bell, Kai Lords in training are neither obliged nor expected to attend unless they so wish.
To be a Kai Lord is to accept a life of meditation, discipline and, above all, self-improvement as mind and body are brought together in total union. The ideals of Kai are the ideals of the perfected self in service to others. This ideal lies at the core of a Kai Lord and every effort they make is done so towards achieving this end.
The Four Vows
When a Kai Lord begins his training, he is called upon to make four sacred vows in order to truly purify his mind, body and spirit. These vows are essential to remaining in the Kai Order and only students who swear to and maintain these vows are permitted to continue their training. All Kai Lords take these oaths very seriously. The rare few that renounce them are called ‘vow breakers’ and they are treated with disdain. In exceptionally rare cases, vow breakers that abandon the Monastery and the ways of Kai, and that seek to use their powers to satisfy wholly selfish ends, are hunted down and summarily executed as a warning to any who may, unwisely, consider following a similar path.
The Vow of Fire
‘Fire is the gift of the sun; it is the light that burns away all but the spirit and leaves behind only Truth.’
During the years spent in training at the Monastery, Kai Lords discover that there is little need for material wealth and that personal development is of far greater importance. A Kai Lord is only permitted to own material possessions that are deemed worthy and acceptable to his masters.
These possessions usually pertain directly to sustaining his personal well being and maintaining the security of Sommerlund. The accumulation of other possessions is discouraged for they are perceived to be an unwarranted distraction from the ‘truth’ of a Kai Lord’s pursuit of wisdom and inner strength.
The Vow of Light
‘All choices bring the Kai Lord into conflict with the only foe he can never defeat – himself. Good choices shall ensure survival. Evil choices will demand a tragic end.’
As scions of law and justice in the land of Sommerlund, the Kai are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard than ordinary folk. A Kai Lord who knowingly and willingly commits a deliberately harmful act will be stripped of rank. Further, he may lose his ability to call upon his Kai disciplines until atonement is made for his transgression.
The Vow of Solaris
‘Darkness cannot be tolerated. Where it obscures true sight, it must be banished by the light.’
Kai lords are expected to fight evil whenever and wherever it manifests itself. This vow ensures that an Initiate is prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice his life in order to bring about the defeat the Darklords of Helgedad and their loathsome minions. By the swearing of the Vow of Solaris, a Kai Initiate obtains the moral authority he needs to become a true Kai Lord. This vow is the one most frequently tested in his future years, but every Kai Lord recognises and acknowledges its essential and fundamental truth. Some Kai Lords may be brought dangerously close to compromising this vow when engaged in difficult or sensitive missions abroad, and at some time during their quests, they will be challenged to uphold it in their own way.
The Vow of Spirit
‘Purity of body is purity of soul. For one to exist without the other would be like the glory of the sun existing without the beauty of the moon.’
Kai Lords live a monastic lifestyle, even when they leave the Monastery on assignment. Kai Lords are expected to refrain from the vice of gluttony, avoid over-indulgent pleasures, and eschew any immoral behaviour. Kai Lords who find themselves operating in clandestine or undercover operations will often be tested in this regard. The plain truth is that this vow is not entirely possible to uphold at all times, especially in circumstances where to do so would greatly compromise the success of a mission. But, wherever possible, a Kai Lord will always choose moderation over excess.
Kai Lords are inducted into the monastery at an early age, normally when they are seven years old. They are removed from their ties to home and kin and placed into the charge of the Kai Masters. In many ways, this is the first lesson they learn. While their birth and rank among the people of Sommerlund will eventually become important again, all Kai begin as lowly equals with no special status and with only one another for family. After their first year, they each receive a new name. It is given to them by their teachers and it reflects qualities in their growing personalities.
From the moment of their induction into the Order of the Kai, a Kai Lord works, studies, trains and meditates. By this way they learn about the Kai disciplines and develop their inner potential to master them. Physical exercise and training dominate a few hours of every day, and the rest are given over to studies and meditation that develop their intellectual and psychic capacities. The early years spent by an aspiring young cadet at the Monastery are also filled with other tasks, such as working the fields to help nurture the crops that keep the Order fed, patrolling the surrounding timberland, studying the history of Sommerlund and learning languages that are spoken in the other realms of Magnamund.
As each young Kai displays his or her aptitudes, so the Kai Masters tailor their tutoring to enhance their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. Not every young child inducted into the Order completes their years of training to become a Kai Lord. There are some that do not make the grade and fall out along the way. A few exceptionally gifted individuals are able to complete their basic Kai training and continue to make steady progress until they reach the coveted rank of Kai Master.
As you explore the world of Magnamund, you will encounter many great hazards and witness many wondrous events. The pages below catalogue these places and experiences for later reference.
Friends and Foes