o/~ Pretty Fly For A Stylite o/~
Centuries ago, inspired by the mystical writings of Saint Talasa of Naval, a man named Malin went out into the desert, erected a pillar, and resolved to live on top of it until he got a sign from the Serpent telling him to stop.
He prayed and fasted and practiced exercises and the Logrus for decades, recording his visions in the Red Book of Malin. He also attracted a body of followers, people impressed by his piety, who built their own pillars. The movement gradually spread over the decades which followed.
It also started to have problems with charlatans who coopted the good reputation of the Stylites to run scams. As a result, Malin eventually left his pillar and went to the Courts, to gain permission to form a formal order. This being granted, he then set out to create ways to maintain a sense of discipline in the order and root out fakes.
"Study me for a decade, and you will never break my resolution!" he shouted. "I cannot be tempted by the Unicorn's servants! Even cute ones!" Damn me, he thought. That will just encourage her.
Her eyes twinkled in the light of the now rising moon as she drew closer. "You know, you're pretty cute yourself for someone who just sits on a pillar all day."
"I don't just sit here," he replied. "I have sacred prayer for an hour three times a day, morning meditation, afternoon exercises, and I practice my unarmed combat at night."
She paused. "How do you practice unarmed combat by yourself on top of a pillar with only ten feet of space in all directions?"
"Through a series of very precisely directed katas designed to be performed on top of pillars."
She nodded. "I see."
"And I fall off the pillar about once a week." He felt embarrassed to admit that.
The Stylite Order is unusual in Chaos for the high amount of discipline it demands. Its members live rigorous ascetic lives in pursuit of enlightenment, hoping that by rejecting material temptation, they will grow in holiness and be blessed by the Serpent.
"I take it the recruiting pamphlets say you'll be assailed by endless visions of delectable foods and lines of dancing maidens of the Unicorn from the moment you climb up your shaft?" she asked curiously.
"Well, you do read a lot of memoirs of the more successful stylites that make it seem like that. But most of the time, you meditate, and read holy texts and pray and practice the way of the falling hammer and hope for an earthquake or a tidal wave to change the landscape." He paused. "Pretend I didn't say that last bit."
Many stylites give up after a few years as the monotony gets to them, or when they realize there aren't actually that many temptations to resist when living alone in the middle of a desert. Those who persist become very strong of mind and body, adept in the Way of the Hammer (a martial art) and in the use of Logrus. Some do have visions of the future or mystical raptures. Others just keep waiting and hoping.
Monks are visited several times a year by the High Priest of the Order, who checks in on how you're doing, hears confessions, offers guidance, helps you select new books to study, and punishes you if you've been breaking the rules.
Stylites take four oaths:
It is to be noted that intellectual pleasures are not forsworn, that book accumulation (within the limits of one's pillarspace) is fairly common, and that many stylites enjoy a good intellectual debate if they can find anyone to debate with. They tend to be most fluent in philosophy and theology.
Stylites are allowed to leave their pillars if need be, especially in connection to their third oath.
Stylites take on new names and faces when they join, rejecting old family ties and staying out of Chaos politics as much as they can.
The Stylite order does not follow any specific face of the Serpent, though they tend to favor the more intellectual faces, such as Milithi or Rinbu.