For many long centuries, a group of arcane and powerful sorcerers watched their fellow Humans kill each other in blood feud after blood feud, war after war, and were heartily sickened of it all. Slowly, they began distancing themselves from their fellow Humans, retreating into an isolation so intense that when the chieftains of the Humans finally realized they were gone, none could find them. None but a sole monk of the Flame Lord, Father of the Gods and Creator of All, that is.
This monk, hale and strapping with the shaved head and long beard of his Order, followed the traces these powerful beings, left upon the earth for him by his Master. As he went farther and farther from the great battle between the two largest tribes of Humans and passed through the torn and devastated landscape, the monk wept and prayed to his Master for his race's salvation. The Land was barren, stripped of all edibles by the warring factions and burned in the fury of those who came after them. No animal, no insect, no plant remained in the devastated hills through which he traveled on his way to the mountains and beyond.
At night, he slept in caves shown to him by the Flame Lord. By day he ate of fishes and water plants lain in his path by his Master. And on his journey continued. He meditated while he passed beyond the reaches of his fellow Humans and began to marvel at the beautiful flowers that bloomed in the first valley he crossed in the shadow of the mountains. He sighed at the grace of the small herd of deer that bounded into the trees as he startled them from their drink in a cheerful mountain brook. And he simply luxuriated in the peace that began to settle on his shoulders, easing the unknown pain of watching his race rush headlong into its own oblivion.
As he realized this last, tears once more trailed down into his auburn beard as he came to the realization that his was a race already sanctioned for extinction by his Master.
"Yes, my son. You have finally seen the truth of your fellows' existence, and what that existence has done to this world," his Master said gently. Seated upon a fallen tree that traversed the brook was a being radiating light and warmth and, most of all, power. It had no real features and appeared as nothing more than a man-shaped flame, with dark whorls of smoke that forever circled where his eyes and mouth should be. As he spoke, the smoky whorl of his mouth undulated with the words. "Though the sorrow of your enlightenment is great, you can have no conception of how much it pains me to see one of my creations sprinting toward its own doom. Humans were the first of the races I placed upon this world and for that reason alone I have loved them with the boundless adoration of which I am capable. But their vast ability to create and explore their creations endeared your race to me even more. It is with a parent's sorrow that I watch my children kill themselves."
"But can you not save them from themselves, Master?" the monk begged even as he fell to his knees and bowed his head to his Creator. "Show them the course they have put themselves on so that they may correct it?"
A great sigh issued from the Flame Lord and his fiery head shook sadly. "Alas, all of those prepared to listen to such admonition have already absented themselves from their fellow Humans. Which is why you were chosen to come to this sacred place," the God told his disciple affectionately. "Of all your brethren, only you saw, even subconsciously, where Humanity was going. Only you were prepared to listen to any warning I could have given. For this reason, you were chosen to go beyond the reach of those who kill their fellow Humans indiscriminately. Your wisdom, compassion, and just heart have always been traits that set you apart from even your fellow monks. And it is these qualities which gave you the desire to hone your mind, body, and spirit into the powerful being you are becoming. This is why you must find and join the Exiled."
"Master, this is a term I have never understood when describing those who left us," the monk confessed, his confusion plain on his chiseled face, auburn brows drawing together over cobalt eyes and mouth turning down in a frown. "These sorcerers and witches, seers and conjurors, craftsmen and scholars all left voluntarily. Why have they always been called the Exiled?"
"That which those in positions of power do not understand they tend to either destroy or disregard. In this case, the chieftains could neither find their former subjects, and could not understand why they could not, nor why they left," the God replied irritably. Another shake of the fiery head, the heat surrounding the Flame Lord increasing in his anger. "Since they did not understand, they had to show they were still in control of all they surveyed. Hence, they began calling those who fled 'The Exiled' as a way of suggesting that it was they, the lords and masters, who forced them to go. The working of the petty minded will probably always be the same. But you need not worry about this, for your place among them has already been secured. You were foretold by the greatest among them and they await your coming. In the next valley over the ridge ahead of you, you will find them anticipating your arrival. Go to them. When you arrive, and have had a chance to rest, I will come among you to explain what is to come."
With that, the Flame Lord flared and disappeared.
The young monk wept as a heartbroken child as he stumbled up the ridge before him, wailing his grief for the fallen race from whence he came to the wind and the mountains and the wild creatures who took flight at the stricken sound that resounded throughout the wilderness which had heretofore been left in peace by the doomed Humans. As his grief took him and his power and energy were poured into his grief, the forces at play within him changed him. The cobalt of his eyes blazed forth, taking fire and burning hotter until the blue was barely perceptible. The vagrant mountain breeze was whipped up into a tempest with the monk at its heart, his long auburn beard being tugged and ripped at by the force of the wind and as fingers of air were pulled through the hair, the auburn faded and was washed out until only a white so bright and pure that it shone with a light of its own was left. Skin that was tanned by the summer sun was also washed out, leaving skin whiter than any marble statue could claim with veins of blue visible just under the surface.
As this mixture of the monk's own grief-stoked power and the wild magic of the mourning world around him rose to a mighty crescendo, the shockwaves of such a demonstration of strength rippled beyond the ridge he was climbing to the valley beyond and those awaiting him. Feeling such uncontained magic and tinges of woeful emotion, the gathered sorcerers worried both for their own survival and for the mental health of the one they awaited. For they could conceive of no one else who could mix such powerful magic and such deep anguish into the tempest they felt brewing beyond the ridge of their valley.
The next morning, as the gathered Exiles awoke to their morning ablutions, a figure dressed in a flowing white robe crested the rim of the dell they had taken as their temporary home. He carried only a small pack and was completely bald, with a blazing white beard and eyes so light that the blue was barely perceptible as they peered from within their deep caverns. Many of those watching the hunched old man approach were shocked. They were told to await the last of them, an idealistic young monk who had followed their trail away from the things of Man. And the flare of power and emotion they felt the day before had the feeling of a youth as well. So who was this stranger, come upon their secret gathering?
.... There is more of this story ...