Dante Ordell Kato or "Brother Kato"
Disciple of Serrana
After the secession of Riverford, the wandering monk Kato followed Serrana’s hand to the burgeoning new territory. Promoting good works and active civil assistance, Brother Kato helped found the church of Serrana in Riverford, which now is home to a beautiful chapel promoting her worship. Kato has since taken to traveling the Dhugdzur Pass and desert road, and his evangelism has attacted other monks to follow suit. Even an order of Paladins of Serrana has been founded, and these Knights Errant are a growing force of defenders of the disparate in Cisterra.
Brother Kato is a monk who has left the Church of the Divines
Dante Ordell Kato began his service to the goddess Serrana in the Church of the Divines when he was 16. For Dante, his only desire in life was to bring honor to his goddess, his people and himself by bringing peace and prosperity to the world around him. It was in his first 3 years in the Serrana monastery that he learned through his fellow monks and Elder priests that true peace and prosperity comes only through strict worship of the divines and an unwavering discipline and obedience to the regular practices of the Church of the Divines.
Dante loved the Church of the Divines. He loved his life in service to the Church and Serrana, his goddess, and he loved being near the people of his city even more. Although he followed all of his monastic duties, he often found himself wandering into town to be amongst the people, helping them and speaking to them of the greatness of following Serrana and the Church of the Divines.
The Elders of the Serrana monastery saw this as a strength. They were in need of a devout servant of the church to travel abroad to spread the good news of Serrana and the truth of the Church of the Divines. The Elders saw their world as a dark place; barbaric and evil. In their minds the only hope for Cisterra was for all of her inhabitants to be converted and obediently join the Church of the Divines in worship.
Dante or “Brother Kato“ was one of many monks sent to bring the will and hope of the Church to fruition. He gladly accepted the command to travel to Arkhos to: “Convert the nation into obedient followers of the Divines and the Church of the Divines, then return with news and names of those converts.” Although the verbiage of this command bothered the young monk, Brother Kato knew it meant ultimate happiness and peace for the peoples of Arkhos. “After all,” he thought, “the Church of the Divines existed to bring hope and prosperity to all of Cisterra. Its commands therefore would only further that outcome.”
Arkhos was not the simple lands that Brother Kato knew outside of Castle Lansdowne in Lindel. His arrival in this free land was met often by hostility. His appearance and position as an arm of the Church made him an easy target for personal vendettas against Lindel or the Church by the inhabitants of the country. It was through numerous beatings and near death experiences that Brother Kato quickly learned his Church was not as loved as he thought it was. But this wasn’t the only thing he learned.
Although Arkhos was often a rough land, ridden with outcasts, criminals and the forgotten, Brother Kato began to see the good in many of the people. Even though they never prayed to the Divines or gave to the Church, there was a rich goodness found in the hearts of men there- even in some of the more infamous criminals of the land. It was here, in the foreign aisle of Arkhos, far from the monasteries and temples of the Divines, that Brother Kato began to see things differently.
One morning Brother Kato awoke from his slumber under an oak tree to a commotion in the village below. As he discreetly watched from the hill above, the town became abuzz with shouts of joy. There, in the middle of the square, was a cart loaded to the top with fresh bread. Four ragged figures stood around it throwing loaves left and right to the poor villagers who frantically pressed in towards them. It had been a dry harvest season and most of the crops had been ruined. The town was dying of hunger and no one could help them.
But this morning there was celebration in the town. Children shouted for joy as they raced home with loaves to share with their starving families. The town’s hope was restored as was their health.
Brother Kato laughed as his eyes teared up with joy. He raced down the hill to meet these four saviors and thank them in the name of Serrana for their good work. But as he reached the cart, his steps slowed. These weren’t local men. These men were obviously pirates. Their clothes, the smell of the sea and the insignia they wore on their sleeves hailed from the nefarious Helmstrong Pirate clan. Brother Kato knew this clan well. They often hijacked boats with goods meant for the Church of the Divines.
Brother Kato paused for a moment. He thought to turn around quickly but realized he was already too close to the cart to leave without being noticed by the four pirates who would easily recognize his religious attire.
Just then, a figure appeared from around the cart. It was Captain Cade Helmstrong, leader of the Helmstrong Pirate Clan. Cade’s eyes fell apon Brother Kato instantly and he gritted his teeth in disgust.
“You Snake from the pit of Hell, how dare you disease these poor people with your self-righteous hypocrisy!!” Cade unsheathed his cutlass from his waist as he rushed toward the stunned monk. Brother Kato stumbled backwards and fell to the ground and Captain Cade was over top of him in an instant with the cutlass in his face.
“WHY ARE YOU HERE, FIEND!?” Cade yelled as Kato put his hands up in defense.
“I-I-I only c-c-come to share the good news of the ch-ch-church,” Kato fumbled aloud.
“GOOD NEWS?! Your lying tongue will be cut from your mouth, you thief! Your church offers nothing to these poor people, but slavery and death! I should do Cisterra a favor and end your life here in the dirt where you belong!”
“I’ve only come to help these p-p-people! Please! Y-y-you must understand, I m-m-m-mean no harm!” Kato squinted as he shook underneath the blade of Cade’s cutlass.
“Help? The Church of the Divines only knows how to help itself!”
Cade pointed violently at the village. “You guilt these people into submission, take away their only livelihood and then have the gall to call it ‘help?’” Captain Cade hit Brother Kato across the jaw with the butt of his cutlass. “YOUR CHURCH HELPS NO ONE! Damn you for destroying life and claiming righteousness in the same breathe! I will END your wretched life RIGHT HERE!”
The sound of a child whimpering echoed across the courtyard. Captain Cade looked over to see two children peering at him from around one of the huts.
“Captain…” said the pirate nearest to Cade who had also spotted the children and was pointing.
“Damn it!” spat the Captain as he raised up from his striking position over Brother Kato. “I will not allow these little ones to see death as I was forced to… GET UP! We will ‘escort’ you out of this place… ‘Brother.’”
Cade’s loathing was almost tangible as he addressed Brother Kato’s monk hood. Kato had experienced the rough nature of a pirate’s personality before, but never had he seen such disgust and hatred expressed like Captain Cade.
A sick feeling hit the pit of his stomach. “I’m not going to survive this one. He truly believe’s I don’t deserve to live.” Kato gulped as three pairs of hands pulled him to a standing position. The three pirates forced him into the cart, saddled their horses and took Kato out of the village.
Brother Kato had begun praying to Serrana, sure that his life would soon end when they reached the Port-city of Norg. Knowing that his soul was at peace, he ventured a question to the Captain as they threw him out of the cart.
“Captain, I know you owe me nothing, but please before you end my life, tell me what happened to you? What has the church done to you?”
Captain Cade drew his cutlass and then bowed his head. His hand quivered as his voice broke with emotion. “Your church, took everything from me.”
Cade was upset, but his anger melted into incredible sadness as he paced back and forth.
He pointed his cutlass toward Kato “Your CHURCH, destroyed my village!” His voice grew in volume and anger. “YOUR CHURCH, KILLED MY FAMILY!”
Kato raised his hands again, “I-I…I don’t understand…”
Cade dropped his cutlass, rushed towards Kato and threw him on the ground.
“NEITHER DO I!” Shouted Cade, “I don’t understand how a church TAXES THE POOR!! WHY?! Tell me why they would take the last bit of food and coin we had! Tell me why they would allow their own people to starve to death!”
Captain Cade was breathing heavily now, fists balled ready to hit Brother Kato with whatever answer he gave.
Brother Kato gave no answer. He had none. He couldn’t believe his church would do such a thing, but Captain Cade’s story and emotions were so undeniable that Kato believed him.
Tears overtook the exasperated Captain. He stepped away from Kato, turned around and lowered his fists. Kato slowly got up.
Cade looked off in the distance. “Just leave.” He said. “I don’t want to deal with you anymore and your church is not worth staining my blade.” He pointed to a small boat. “Return here again in the name of the Church and I will kill you. But go back and tell those demons at Lindel that this Aisle will not be crushed by their hypocrisy and control.”
Kato looked down. Feeling the pain of Cade but not daring to say a word, he entered the small boat and grabbed the oars.
“You’ve been given a second chance at life, monk.” Said Cade as he turned to face Brother Kato. “Don’t waste it in service to the servants of Hell.”
Cade’s eyes burned through Brother Kato as the monk rowed away from the shore.
Brother Kato rowed for days crossing the sea between Arkhos and Lindel. Each minute his mind was in chaos.
The truth of Captain Cade’s words and story was unshakable from his mind. He felt in his spirit the deep pain and truth of this hurt pirate. Could it be that the very church Brother Kato served and loved would be guilty of such an atrocity? Could the purest establishment in all of Cisterra be stained with such horrible sin? Could the leadership of the monastery be responsible for the deaths of an entire village?
Brother Kato had to find out the truth. He couldn’t live or complete his crusade for the church without finding peace about this encounter from the Priests and Elders of the church. But with each stroke closer to the shore, the sickness of fear grew stronger in the pit of his stomach.
It was two days later that he arrived at the front gates of the Serrana monastery. The white pillars which once felt pure and compassionate now seemed haunting and possessed. Brother Kato entered the monastery and the hairs on his neck bristled as a cold shiver went down his spine.
There was something dark here.
The Patriarch Elder greeted Brother Kato with a hug and kiss as he entered the main sanctuary.
“Blessings be apon you Brother Kato! Please sit and tell of the good news of your Crusade! Surely our great goddess has gone before your righteous steps!”
The Elder’s words were shallow and pointed. He seemed to be thinking one thing and saying another.
Brother Kato paused and then spoke. “Do you know of the Captain Cade Helmstrong, Holy Patriarch Elder?”
The Elder paused and looked down. “Yes. Unfortunately I do know of this heathen. He has caused the goddess and this church great loss over the years. His actions will bring only death.”
Brother Kato looked confused. “Please pardon my questions, your Holiness, but do you know where he comes from?”
The Elder’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. I do. His village is no more though.”
Kato searched the Elder’s eyes for any sign of sadness at the thought of losing a village. He found none.
Brother Kato breathed in deep. “Your Holiness, if I may be so bold as to ask a question, your answer will give me great peace in my conflicted mind. I cannot continue with my crusade until Seranna restores this peace through your lips.”
The Patriarch Elder shifted. “You want to know how his village ended, don’t you?”
Brother Kato looked to the floor, clasping his hands together. “Yes please, your holiness, I must know the truth.”
“They starved to death.”
The cold response caused Brother Kato to quickly turn towards the Elder.
“What? How could this happen? Why did we not send them supplies?” exclaimed the shocked monk.
The Patriarch Elder raised up and began to walk towards the terrace that overlooked the surrounding city. “Brother Kato, Seranna has given us stewardship over this land and we must see that her church prospers it.” The Patriarch calmly waved his hand across the horizon and continued. “We cannot save every village- especially those that cannot support themselves. Is it right for a village to take from the church in such a way? No. Allowing them to perish only removes those who feed off of the Church of the Divines like leeches.”
The Elder raised his arms, fists closed tightly in a symbol of power and spoke out over the terrace. “The Kingdom of Seranna and the Church of the Divine is a strong reign; those unfit to stand in strength with us are not a part of it. It is our duty to preserve this without guilt.”
Brother Kato’s heart broke in two. Where was the compassion in the Elder’s words? Why was there no thought to the loss of life?
“But…what of those children? Those mothers? Those fathers? Does Seranna not love them too?”
The Patriarch Elder lowered his arms and slowly turned to face the young monk. “If those people were worthy of the love of Seranna, they would not have been in need. To question the actions of the Church is to question the will of Seranna herself.”
Kato was stunned.
This was not the love of his goddess he had grown up learning about and experiencing in the villages. Kato’s heart became indignant and angry at the thought of innocent children being neglected.
“But your Holiness, those are Seranna’s children!”
Faces of poor children and families rushed through his mind as he stepped toward the Patriarch.
“Watch your step, Brother.” The Patriarch’s eyes narrowed. “Your rising anger is a danger to your future here. I fear you may have been away from the church for too long- your mind appears warped.”
Kato gripped his fist furiously. “My mind appears warped?” Kato was incredulous. “I ask about the love of Seranna towards innocent children and you claim that my mind has been warped?”
“I will not play games with you, monk. Your role is clear: bring us new converts from Arkhos.” The Patriarch pointed at Kato. “It is not your place to judge the actions of the church. If you speak out again you will be exiled from this place and dead to our order without hesitation.”
The Patriarch began to walk past Dante without expression.
Dante was speechless.
Just like that. All of his years of love and service to the church would be thrown out if he questioned them any more. He couldn’t believe that this place would claim such great love and yet show none of it. Not only was this place no longer giving life, it was taking it.
His shock gave way to anger once again and he turned to the passing Patriarch.
The Patriarch stopped and coldly looked at the monk.
Dante locked eyes with the Patriarch. His gaze challenged the Elder and for a moment he felt bigger than Patriarch.
The monk’s voice split the silence with great fury and control. “I cannot be dead to an order when it is already dead.”
A moment later Dante dropped to his knee outside the monastery and began to pray.
“Forgive me, Seranna, for raising my voice in your sanctuary.”
Dante looked up to the sky. “Where do I go now?” He wiped the tears from his eyes and breathed in. “You must have something better than this, for this world.”
Dante paused and shook his head. For the first time in his life, he had no answers, no direction. He didn’t even have a home.
He placed his head in his hands and looked at the ground. “Even if you say nothing, I will follow what I know you would say.”
Dante grabbed some dirt from the ground, rubbed it between his hands, stood up and began walking towards the east.
The Crusade of Dante Ordell Kato had truly begun.