by Brother Nusad, Clan Historian
Of all the honored members of the Whistling Fists Clan, few tales are more heartbreaking than that of Brother Balatin. This great monk was beset by tragedy and treachery, and worst of all he blamed himself for the events that transpired.
Brother Balatin journeyed to the lands of Kunark during the Age of Turmoil, where he was observing the progress of the Swifttail Caste. He carried with him an artifact that was priceless to the Whistling Fists Clan: the ancient flute that the order’s founder, Zan Fi, had played as he mastered the ways of the bard. To be entrusted with carrying the flute of Zan Fi was a great honor that Brother Balatin took very seriously.
Two initiates of the Court of Pain, the Vistrei twins, showed a particular interest in the flute. They spoke to Brother Balatin at length, and the monk was impressed by the knowledge they showed regarding the history of his order. The twins told him that they had been exploring the abandoned Combine outpost in the Lost Valley and discovered some relics of Zan Fi. Brother Balatin was elated at the prospect of recovering more of the great master’s history, and asked that the Vistrei show him what they had found.
But the twins had deceived the honored monk. Upon arriving at the outpost, the Vistrei sprung a trap and ambushed Brother Balatin. Rendering their target unconscious, the iksar stole the flute of Zan Fi and fled the outpost.
Upon regaining consciousness, Brother Balatin was heartbroken. He blamed himself for being so foolish as to be lured into such deception. He swore an oath to all the gods that he would not rest until he had recovered the sacred flute.
The other monks of the Whistling Fists Clan did not blame Brother Balatin for what occurred. They bid him return to the monastery at Mara while they continued the search. The burden, he said, must be his alone. Though his fellow monks pleaded with him, he would not abandon his oath.
Brother Balatin stayed in Kunark for the rest of his days, but he never found the Vistrei again. Every lead he followed ended in disappointment. At long last the aged monk died, atop a monument where it was said that Zan Fi had practiced the Whistling Fists style he created. His last words were a plea to his master’s spirit to forgive him for his failure.
But even in death, Brother Balatin was true to his vow. His bones remained, though his tormented soul was trapped in madness. Other members of the Whistling Fists Clan carried on the search in hopes of finding the flute and finally bringing peace to Balatin’s soul.
Decades later, an aspiring initiate, whose name was lost in the mists of time, found that the sacred flute had been broken into two pieces which were held in the depths of Kunark. This honorable monk recovered the fragments and returned them to the remains of Brother Balatin, finding some way to soothe his maddened spirit and make it lucid again. Overjoyed at this discovery, Balatin blessed the monk with his own robe, hidden away and carefully preserved during his lifetime.
Before his spirit departed the mortal realm, Brother Balatin’s ghost spirited the fragments back to the monastery where the sacred flute could be restored. Balatin proved to be one of the most dedicated monks the Whistling Fists Clan had ever seen, for even in death he fulfilled his sacred promise.
(Author’s note: If any who read this know the name of the young monk who recovered the pieces of Zan Fi’s flute, please send word to me. It would be a great honor to write the story of this monk’s life and heroic deeds.)