Tales of the order's origins are scarce at best. The sacred texts detailing its beginning were lost to fire, but what little can be pieced together from other sources tells a story of a group of monks which split off from their home temple in Viden roughly between 550 and 570. The popular theory is that they originally belonged to Ulyne's Menochoros school of martial arts, as their fighting style closely resembles the Viden born discipline. The circumstances of their departure from the school is a mystery, but no attempt was made by Viden to hunt them, nor any record of dishonor or banishment brought against the monks. The story within the order indicates that a senior ranked member of the Ulyne school reached a level of enlightenment which compelled him to go out into the world and use his healing gift with Graft to tend to the sick, protect the innocent, and teach virtues of balance and harmony. A handful of pupils followed him and together they set out on a mission of peace.
For a time the order enjoyed a period of prosperity and success, brokering peace among warring lands, offering aid to impoverished communities, and halting the spread of virulent diseases. However, all things eventually come to an end, and over time the stories of the order took on a darker tone. Tales of murder and horrors lurking in the shadows started to circulate, some too fantastical to be believed, others ringing with frightening truth. Then, shortly after arc 700, the order went completely silent.
Atreyu was too young to remember it, though sometimes he still dreams of a great fire taking the temple, and his master carrying him away into the wilderness. His earliest waking memories are, not surprisingly, of training. In contrast to the generosity and compassion that he was taught, his master was relentless in the teachings and fighting style of their order. Every day was a test of mind and body, all expectations were perfection. Hidden within these harsh lessons were greater fragments of wisdom and humility. In time Atreyu began to grow curious about his origins, the origins of their order, and why they seemed to never venture out into the world and carry on the mission he had been taught. The rebuke to these inquiries were usually harsh and painful, the message always the same. "You are not ready."
Still, persistence was an area in which Atreyu excelled, and eventually his master relented and unveiled a prized relic of their order, The Book of Names. This sacred tome was an index of all order members and their deeds. A detailed chronicle spanning the roughly 150 arcs of the order's history, the tome weighed 60 pounds and measured 3' wide, 4' tall, and 1/2 foot thick. Bound in leather with ornate patterns and clasps, the once beautiful book had endured all kinds of weather, but worst was the fire damage which had warped and blackened its covers. Flames had completely claimed the pages closest to the beginning and end of the tome, and scorched the edges of all the rest, yet in spite of all this the book endured. The master told his pupil that all the answers to his questions were within those pages. Atreyu didn't fully understand what that meant, but poured himself into the the text in hopes that he'd find what he was seeking. The Book of Names was sacred not just in terms of being a relic of the order, but because it was proof of each member's existence. Upon full initiation, the monk's vows included namelessness, a practice which allowed one to perform acts of altruism with no direct recognition for one's actions. Good was to be done for its own sake. The Book of Names was the private exception to this, where their works were documented and their names remembered. To this end, the master charged Atreyu with guarding the book at all costs to preserve the memories within.
As the arcs passed, Atreyu realized he was overdue for his full initiation, prepared to risk all to receive the Graft spark and lose his name for the sake of carrying on the order's mission. He argued with his master that if he was not ready now, then when? Three arcs had come and gone with the master denying him full rites. He had redoubled his efforts for excellence in combat, committed every lesson to heart, and was ready to travel the world and help those in need. He only lacked the spark. Worse, he had begun to recognize that this same fact weighed heavy on the master’s own soul. Atreyu couldn't understand his master’s hesitation, but privately wondered if he was somehow unfit to receive the gift from the old man. Not strong enough, not wise enough, lacking a purity of heart. As if sensing his pupil's troubled heart, the master confided that the choice to withhold the Graft from Atreyu was his own. He told his student that there was a darkness coming which he could feel in his bones, and that tomorrow Atreyu's next lesson would begin. The following morning, Atreyu awoke to find the camp empty save for some supplies and The Book of Names. Atreyu searched for trails for his master, but the old man seemed impossible to find.
It has been a little over an arc since Atreyu found Rharne and traded most of his belongings for a living space. An arc since he took on the role of assistant for a healer within the Dust quarter, attempting to learn everything he could about medicine and anatomy, resolved to do the work of his order even if he lacked the spark. In his time in the city he has used any coin he could spare to purchase books on medicine, herbalism, pressure points, and in his more selfish moments, fantastical stories of heroes from far away lands. The rest of his time is spent either in training or volunteering to help the poor. The Book of Names he guards closely, and returns to it now and again in an effort to gain some insight into his origins or what happened to his brothers and sisters. Undeterred by the challenges before him, he holds out hope that the truth will reveal itself to him in time.
The order's fighting style is a combination of philosophy and martial art, much in the same vein of Menochoros. This comparison is only further emphasised by the forms and methods used in combat, leaving little doubt as to its origin. The order's style uses the same palm, side hand strikes, and blocking, with focus on an opponent's face, throat, torso, wrists and elbow. Likewise, legs and feet are used in the same methods of kneeing, hooking, low kicks, and stamps targeting groin, shins, instep, and the back of the knees. Where the two styles diverge is in their aim, philosophy, and key components of form. In fact, many of these differences seem to mirror aspects of Da' Riya, such as the emphasis on doing no lasting harm, never striking first, and the use of throws and joint manipulation. Therefore, even if never explicitly stated, it is fair to say the order's style is a kind of hybrid of Menochoros and Da'Riya. Notable comparisons are as follows:
Menochoros teaches to always be in motion, allowing for greater evasion, but the order's style values stillness, reasoning that there is no need for the excess movement if you know who your opponent is aiming for anyway. "Let them come to you. See where they're going to strike. Only move as needed." The goal is to be as fast and efficient as possible, a necessity given that the art's primary focus is defense and so attrition is a valuable ally.
Menochoros has no compunction about killing or doing lasting damage when necessary, but for the order this is forbidden and grounds for banishment. Similar to certain variants of Da'Riya, the order's art prefers instead to inflict pain rather than outright injury, reasoning that pain is an excellent learning tool, and the bandit who feels a strong enough sting might reconsider their path in life, where as if the bandit dies then he would have learned nothing. Many point out the hypocrisy in using pain in an art which claims to do no harm, but the elders had always replied that pain was an essential part of life and growth, and that while they took no pleasure in inflicting pain on others, some bruises and a bloody nose were far preferable to the alternative. Even so, masters in the order consistently taught that there should always be balance, and that excessive pain should never be used when unwarranted. In very rare and extreme cases, it is allowed for one to use joint manipulation or locks to break arms or legs if an opponent is beyond reason and will not stop their assault on an innocent, the idea being to disable them and keep them from further harming themselves or others.
Yet another difference is in the art's aptitude for disarmament. A competent practitioner can counter and remove most kinds of weapons from an opponent in the blink of an eye, even going so far as to kick or toss the weapon to whichever location of the area would make the item most difficult to retrieve. This falls in line with the order typically not training with weapons, instead reasoning that by disarming their opponent, one is more likely to have an advantage in hand to hand. "If they place such faith in their blade, then one can remove that faith by removing the blade. Now they must learn to place their faith in their hands, and that is a lesson we are able to provide."
Yet another contrast to Menochoros is in regards to meditation. While the order uses meditation at times to clam and center oneself, it is by no means a primary focus of the discipline. Instead, training, sparring, or even simple rest and relaxation are used to help quiet one's mind, preferring the notion that true insight is not something to be found, but will come on its own. While respectful of the other arts, the order thinks that excessive meditation, particularly in pursuit of enlightenment, is a self defeating practice. "If one spends their whole life chasing enlightenment from the inside of a temple, the message they finally receive very well might be that they should get out more often." The elders reasoned that using that time to help others could grant far greater self discovery than meditation alone.