Griften stepped onto the familiar stone floor of the Temple of the Yellow Rose. The portal shimmered and faded behind him; the hazy image of Blazebane’s teleport room disappearing. The air was cold; high atop the Rakers, but fresh and crisp, and Griften inhaled deeply.
Stepping through the massive doors to the teleport room, Griften was greeted by the monks guarding the room on the other side of the hallway.
“Master, welcome.” both of them bowed politely. Griften recognized one of them as a young initiate of the order, but the other was unfamliar to him.
“Thank you brothers. I trust all is well this day?”
“They are, Master. The wind whistles and the temple is at peace today.”
“Good, ” Griften replied. “Are any of the High Masters here?”
“I believe they are, Master. High Master Armand arrived just yesterday and is in study now.”
“Thank you. Work well.” Griften bowed respectfully and the guards returned the gesture. Griften strode purposefully down the hall and ran down the stairs with haste; anxious to reach the High Masters’ Residences. The temple was busy as usual, brothers racing around with their daily work. The sounds of training drifted up from the courtyard and Griften saw a glimpse through a tower window of a merchant tent setting up in courtyard. Griften had been away from the Temple for a month now, but he could swear his brothers’ eyes were on him as he hurried through the temple hallways.
Has word spread, I wonder? Griften thought to himself. Why do they look at me so?
Arriving at the High Masters’ residence wing of the temple complex, Griften saw Brother Grayne at his usual spot of study in the reception area. Brother Grayne was younger than Griften, and had also been with the Brotherhood from a young age, like many of the order. He was a student of lore and knowledge as Griften was quickly becoming, but his mind was sharp and no detail was lost or forgotten to him; he was a walking library. Griften noticed three more huge volumes on his desk, waiting to be devoured by the young student.
“Greetings, brother.” Griften stopped at the desk. Grayne stood up, roused from his study.
“Welcome, Master Griften. You’re back; I am glad. What brings you to me this day?”
“I would speak with High Master Armand.”
“He is in study at the moment; please allow me to see if he is available.”
Griften added quickly as Grayne stood to leave. “Please advise him that it is a matter of great urgency.”
“Of course, Master.” Grayne quickly turned and strode down one of the four hallways towards the High Master’s quarters. He returned moments later saying, “High Master Armand will see you, master.” He pivoted on his heel slightly and extended his open palm back down the hall. Griften walked quickly, stopping short of the huge doors to the High Master’s chambers and knocked against the massive oak door.
“Come!” the voice could be heard from inside. Griften pushed the door open and let it swing wide into the large room. The light from the bay windows burst into the hallway, illuminating the dark, torch-lit hallway. Griften had to let his eyes adjust to the brightness, and stepped into the room.
“Welcome, brother…” Griften recognized Armand’s deep, resonant voice immediately. For a man thrice Griften‘s age; he had the look and sound of a man much younger. Griften had only ever spoken to Armand once before; the High Masters were not at the Temple often. From what Griften knew, Armand’s duties as one of the High Masters often kept him away from the Temple, and there was persistent rumour that Armand’s conflicts with other High Masters made him prefer his time away.
“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, High Master.” Griften began, “I bring news and an urgent request.” Armand gestured for Griften to sit in some of the chairs by the empty fireplace. “The Scarlet Brotherhood has made the first move, Master. My companions and I were in Greyhawk to procure items and information, and we were set upon by half a dozen monks, led by and old adversary; Clannair Blackshadow. Clannair’s goal was clearly revenge for his fallen band of evil-doers, but the monks made clear their goal was abducting me…”
Griften paused for a moment and continued, “… they know.”
Armand’s face was grave. “I see,” he began. “This is dire indeed, Griften. We have long suspected the role you may yet play would provoke them, but I am surprised they are moving so quickly.”
“Yes, Master. I too was caught very much off guard. It is reasonable that their step will be to move against my family. I humbly ask that they be protected by the Brotherhood here at the Temple. They have long resisted my attempts to shelter them at my Citadel, but this time I feel there is little choice.”
“Agreed.” Armand nodded, his eyes drifted down, deep in thought. “I will have someone make ready appropriate accommodations for your parents.”
“Thank you, Master. I will bring them here immediately; I am grateful for your support in this.”
“Griften, you already know this, but you have long had the support of your Brothers and Masters. I speak for the High Masters; we will protect your family. You should also send word to our Brothers at your Citadel; if those of the Scarlet robes have chosen to take an offensive position, they will surely be watching for you there as well.”
Griften bowed his head respectfully, “That is my next step, Master. I will return there when my family is secure. There is more, however.”
“Oh?” Armand looked interested now.
“During our visit to the Free City of Greyhawk, we were confronted by the City Watch of Greyhawk. The bodies of the Scarlet assailants warranted by law the need for us to be taken into custody; The Scarlet Brotherhood has great influence in the city. Some of my more hot-blooded companions struck unconscious one of the guards, and I was forced to facilitate a quick retreat. The echoes likely still ripple there; and I was not disguised; my yellow sash has implicated our Brotherhood.”
Armand’s face darkened visibly at the news. “I know you have been going through difficult times, Brother. You carry a heavy weight and none of us can help unburden you, but you will soon challenge Brother Ilian for the title of the South Wind and choices such as this will not be available to you.” Griften nodded, silently acknowledging the Master’s words. “I will take care of this,” Armand continued. “thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
Griften‘s regret was almost palpable, “Thank you, Master; I will be more mindful in future. The Scarlet monks fought vigorously; I was lost without my companions. I could not leave them.”
“Let us speak no more of this.” Armand stood up and lifted Griften‘s arm for him to do the same. “Go, bring your parents here and warn our brothers at the Citadel. They must keep their guards up.”
Griften thanked the High Master of Autumn and quickly retraced his steps back to the teleport room. Bowing to him again as he approached, Griften rushed past the guards into the teleport room. Another few minutes later, Griften was gone again.