"Once I was as you. Then I met a blessed man who teaches of a hidden kingdom where physical needs are set aside for spiritual contemplation - he healed me and bade me spread his message, that we can all find that kingdom through discipline and service to others. It is a worthy quest my friends - I do not regret it. "The Cenobite of the Crags is a relatively new arrival in the area; his red robes and golden mask hiding bandages and dark red wrappings around hands missing the odd finger. Once a leper, tormented in body and spirit, he keeps a leper sanctuary and offers shelter to the poor and the desperate in the name of a hidden kingdom where suffering will end.
-- The Cenobite of the Crags
Once there was a man called Japher. He was a soldier cursed with leprosy by a vengeful priest; he could not return home so he wandered the roads and became a lone bandit filled with hatred for priests and hunted by the law. By chance he noticed Brother Ptolemy and three Red Monks travelling back to their dwelling after their work in the city. Japher saw a target and threatened them. Brother Ptolemy began to speak to him - offering him the hidden kingdom. In return, Japher stabbed him with a sword and saw him fail to bleed. The Red Monks fell on him and he was swiftly subdued and taken to the dwelling where Ptolemy worked and Japher left his life to join the Red Monks of the Hidden Kingdom.
Japher was sent out with orders to create another dwelling - Ptolemy could not afford his hatred of priests to prejudice his work in the city. Knowing that other lepers would desire this new state; Japher built a leper sanctuary at the border of three baronies, knowing full well that none of the barons would accept a sanctuary solely on their land. The sanctuary rests among some lonely, craggy hills. A lone bard seeking shelter from a hostile goblin audience found him and a handful of lepers and so Japher was named The Cenobite of the Crags. Half-frozen and blinded by the smell, the bard warmed his bones there then to visit each baron in turn, telling of the compassion of the red monk and his leper charges.
The barons were suspicious of talk of a hidden kingdom (it seemed treason) but the odd figure kept the lepers safe, fed and off their lands. They saw wisdom in charity and sent surplus food and small amounts of coin to the cenobite as lepers travelled the crags to find sanctuary; despite the occasional desperate goblin raid, the sanctuary remains secure and undisturbed. Yet should priests seek to cure the lepers, they will find a rude refusal. Japher and the lepers believe that their leprosy was sent by the gods to test them, who are these priests to tempt them away?
The lepers are devoted to Japher who believes that Ptolemy will come to redeem them as he has been redeemed. Japher faithfully changes his bandages and notices that his disease has not gone any further yet he doesn't know the ceremony to cure the lepers himself, being a warrior he has no knowledge of such. Brother Ptolemy sometimes sends a Red Monk with messages of support and a little extra coin. Japher maintains an effective out of town bolthole if the Red Monks ever need one - and one known to the neighbouring barons as a place of mercy.
This post refers to Brother Ptolemy and The Hidden Kingdom by Nevermet Press.