The Quest for Haven
Also referred to as The Brothers Grimm, this small monastic order of the Raven Queen is one of the stranger religious sects in the known world. Steeped in secrecy and mysticism, the outside world knows little of the order, beyond their distinctive mode of dress (all members dress in heavy, hooded robes of deepest black or purest white, hiding their faces from view) and the fact that all members seem to be called Brother Grimm. Common legend holds that the order’s membership is made up largely of people orphaned in traumatic circumstances. The story goes that wherever someone’s start in life is steeped in death, a member of the order will mysteriously appear to spirit them away. Whether these tales are true or not, members of the order are certainly indoctrinated into its core beliefs at an early age, with pale and haunted looking children being a fairly common sight among those working the fields that surround their monasteries. This exclusivity of membership would certainly explain why the order is so small, with even the larger monasteries rarely containing more than two dozen brothers.
The order is viewed with suspicion by the general public, and even by the more regular clergy of the Raven Queen, with the most superstitious even going so far as to claim that the brothers bring bad luck and death with them. In a way these people are right, as one of the order’s core beliefs is that the world in its current state is severely unbalanced towards evil. As such, hardier or especially blessed members of the order make it their business to restore the balance in a way that they believe the Raven Queen would most approve of – through killing evil things. This work is not something that the order advertises, with members generally preferring to do their bloody work in private, but there are folk tales of villages and townships in trouble being suddenly saved by a sinister army of cloaked scythe wielding figures. The order also particularly abhors the undead, seeing these creatures as the ultimate affront to the sanctity of death. As such, many monasteries are built in areas where such evil is a problem.
The order is named for its founder member, the original Brother Grimm, who is now referred to reverentially by members as Father Grimm. Believed to be a remarkably forward thinker for his time, Father Grimm supposedly saw sooner than most that the days of the human empire were drawing to a close, as petty squabbles between nations degenerated into suspicion, hatred and even war. The legend goes that, seeing darkness approach the land, Grimm felt the usual work of the clerics of the Raven Queen (tending to the dead and dying, performing funeral rites and so on) was no longer enough to satisfy his dedication to his god. In search of answers, the holy man ventured into a vast desert, communing with his deity the only way he could think of – by bringing himself to the very cusp of death. His experience supposedly lasted some days, and during this time he learned directly from the Raven Queen what would become the basis of the order’s beliefs: death is not just a part of life, but a part of balance, with it being vital that death come in equal measure to the followers of both good and evil. Vowing from that day to take a more proactive approach to his faith, the father was blessed by his deity with the gifts of the truly devoted.
The legend continues with various tales of Father Grimm travelling the known world, fighting evil, and particularly the minions of Orcus, wherever he could. Finally, he is said to have descended to the depths of the infernal plane, and faced the demon prince of undeath himself. The battle was close, but eventually Orcus struck Grimm down, supposedly gaining some unfair advantage through treachery, though the order’s religious texts include no details of what this treachery entailed. Evil had seemingly triumphed and Father Grimm was sent to his death before he could earn his place at the Raven Queen’s right hand. Despite this, the father’s actions inspired others of his order to take up scythe and sickle and fight to restore balance. So that his name would live forever, his followers forsook their own identities, taking Grimm’s name and hiding their features from the view of the world.