Once the epitome of a handsome knight, Ser Myartan is tall and athletic of build, yet emaciated due to age.
His facial features are sharp and pronounced, though much less lively nowadays - his complexion resembles polished ivory. Snow-white hair falls, completely straight, to his shoulders.
Yet the most remarkable of Ser Myartan’s features are his eyes, misty pools that seem unfocused and distant yet piercing and smothering when his gaze falls upon someone.
His posture is that of a man used to command, and likewise his voice is that of a sovereign, deep and clearly audible from afar, its tone extinguishing opposition like a gust of wind blows out candles.
Most often, his features are hidden benneath a suit of ornate armour, dark polished blue with silver embossment, topped with a helm with a face-concealing visor shaped like a griffon’s head, with a silver circlet resembling a crown.
The iron-shod boot stepped on the rebel leader’s neck, and applied more pressure until a satisfying *crack* signalled the end of the struggle. The courtyard was strewn with bodies, and the knight’s troops were busy battering down the gate to the living quarters. While the strong arm of the rebellion lay there broken, the mind behind it was hiding somewhere within. He clenched his fist, as if the traitors neck was already within his grasp.
While young Serran was interested in diplomacy and matters of state, be it intrigue, administration, or pondering laws, the older Myartan cared more for a good book, some privacy, or, to the contrary, the thrill of the battle. For him, it was best when the matters were resolved with the flip of the last page, or the death throe of the last foe. While he understood them on a cognitive level, politics turned Myartan’s stomach.
So, there was little surprise when he chose to leave the throne to his younger sibling, and to become his champion instead.
They were called the Sword and the Scepter, the Fist and the Crown. While different as two brothers canbe, there was unquestioning loyalty between them.
“Heave-ho, men! Give it one more blow!” he bellowed, and the wood finally broke into splinters. Bursting through the debris, he swung the blade left and right, and was rewarded by the wet sound of it cutting deep into flesh. The third foe before him had his face filled with terror, until Myartan smashed his shield into it. Leaping over the shaking warrior, he charged into the halls beyond.
Running up flights of stairs, taking three steps with one stride, he knew where his target was. The tower. Wizards were attracted to towers like moths to the flame.
Finally, the spiral stairway came to an end, and he battered down the door at its end.
A scholar’s study, with books filling long shelves, lying on the floor and almost any other horizontal surface, opened before him. At is back, the wiry robed figure performed hasty gestures, while two utterly silent armored figures blocked his way, a pale blue glow emanating from benneath their visors.
Not hesitating, Myartan ducked under their blows,disarmed one and battered the other with his shield embossed with sacred runes of the sun. Hissing, it recoiled. ‘Dead, as I thought’ crossed Myartan’s mind.
The sorcerer yelled the last word of his incantation, and thrust his arms towards the nearest wall. A circle of bluish light began to form where bricks were.
Agitated, the wizard jumped up and down, waiting for his maic to form.
A swift lunge across the floor later, Myartan thrust his armored fist forward, to make it acquaitaned with the sorcerer’s face.
The little man collapsed to the floor like a sack of potatoes, and so did his puppets.
A very painful world began to emerge out of the darkness before Candor’s eyes. After that armored brute had burst into his study, and smashed his face, everything was just black.
The twirling spots and wavering rainbows finally coalesced into the strict face of his assailant.
“What an error to leave your stronghold underdefended, mage” he spoke, lifting the small Candor up high by the front of his robe. “Forbbiden magic, treason. Prepare to meet justice.”
Images of torture and finally execution flickered in Candor’s mind, and tears ran down his cheeks. “I… I know a lot! Let me tell you! I can be useful!” he whimpered, his chin shaking.
“I will hear you” the kinght sternly replied.
“...and that is how it is done” Candor finished, watching with hope the knight who had listened all the time without blinking.
“Fine. Your library will be confiscated and you execued. Guards, lead him away!”
“But… but you promised!” Candor uttered in surprise. “I said all.”
“And” the knight replied “I promised I would hear you. Nothing was said about you escaping what you deserve.”
Myartan dipped the quill into the inkpot, and, with elegant strokes, wrote ‘The End’ on the last page of the wizard’s diary he was holding on his knees, and slammed it shut.
Another last page, another story comes to an end.
Does it indeed?
Myartan stood by his brother’s casket, casting a bundle of white lilies into it. The wound on his chest where the assassin’s arrow had struck was covered by a new set of robes, and he looked so peaceful, even child-like, very unusual for a sovereign who held the throne for twenty-five years.
Myartan threw a glance at Serran’s son, Cedric. A naive youth, burdened with a crown too heavy for him.
Myartan strode forward, kneeled before the new king, and spoke: “My lord, like I served your father before, I grant you my blade, my life. May I be your champion?”
Surprised, the youth stuttered: “Yes, un… sir, it is an honor.”
Does it indeed end?
Hair white like the snow that covered the hills, Myartan held a parchment with the royal sigil in his hand, slowly crumpling it. The words spoke clearly. “Teresa, Cedric’s third-wife thrust a dagger into his chest in a fit of jealousy. Our king joined the ancestors soon after.”
He gazed at the other parchements. The Orcen were massing on the northern border, the troops of Lyra were seen building ships, to no other end than to cross the narrow channel that separated the two kingdoms. Cedric’s son, Sigmund, was too unexperienced to bear this weight alone.
And yet, despite rigorous exercise, the blade grew heavier in Myartan’s hands from day to day.
The knight looked out from the window. The winter was here.
Is this the end?
Myartan was lost in reflection when Sir Kharan, his second in command, entered his study. “Come closer, old friend” Myartan spoke. “We must talk.”
As the hors grew long and the candles short, Myartan finished: “Deem me a fool, friend, but this is the course I see. Will you join me?”
Solemnly, Kharan nodded.
Ten they were, knights adorned with crests of valor, and burdened with past glory and long decades of experience.
They stood at the intersections and points of the pentagram drawn around their leader, each holding a candle, trickles of blood running from the cut palms. Myartan stood firm, despite his slit wrists, and recited from the tome before him, each word more difficult as his life seeped away. The last phrase uttered, his head slumped, and so did those of his companions. The candles flickered and went out.
Slowly, frost crept into their limbs. Lips went blue and eyes hazy. Their breath went cold, and hearts went still.
With unearthy slowness, they collapsed to the ground.
A new sun rose, unveiling the still bodies of eleven aged knights, snow slowly setting on them. They stirred.
“Thank you brothers” Myartan spoke, watched by the serene visages of his friends. “We are damned now one and all, and the eternity beyond is forever closed to us. What we can and will is to serve in the here and now, as long as our husks hold. Honor eternal, bothers!”
Myartan lifted his blade, and caught the sun’s virgin rays on its blade. It was as light as a feather.
*Champion’s Blade: a sword handed down from champion to champion for generations, this is a sleek bastard sword of damascene steel, carved with the words: “Servant of the king, keeper of His honor”. Its hilt resembles griffon wings, and an opal is set in the hilt, resembling an eye more than anything else.
Over the years, it has bathed in the blood of both champions and villans, and has gained a reddish sheen from this.
*The Emperor’s Battle Standard: carmine, with a golden griffon woven into it, and spanning five times nine feet, it cannot go unnoticed.
Blessed by generations of priests and carried into dozens of battles, no soldier will abandon it as long as it flies. Many a noble soul has died defending it, and their goodwill wards its guardians against sorcery dark and vile.
Usually, it is carried by Imrich, Myartans standard bearer. Somehow, Myartan starts to call any standard bearer Imrich anyway sooner or later, and he will do well to respond to that name.
Myartan is loyal to the king, the royal line and the land. The priorities is what matters.
Certainly, he will not allow any sort of backstabbing amongst the royal offspring, and no civil war will be waged as long as he weilds any power.
He has become a kingmaker of sorts - he will pull all levers and exercise the might of his knightly order to ensure the most able successor takes the throne.
The post of the champion which he occupies has become independent of the king’s choice soon after Myartan’s ‘death’, and he conceals his face under his helm whenever he can. The armor, as well as his voice, is so distinctive, that there can be no mistake. When one of the rare reasons to take off the helm arises, it is so rare that most who see him simply think that the last champion looked really similar to this one. Why, many times have they seen the champion die, or believed him dead. And every time, the Order has supplied a successor, a worthy and distinguished man, wise and just.
Myartan has become very refined over the years, having read all the classics and many obscure works. With the pleasures of flesh, or wine, having little appeal, he took to the arts, though he can, and does, enjoy having a pleasant girl dance for him.
The sleepless nights he spends either ‘working’ - guarding the realm, or reading. He has also written several books on military strategy and law.
His cadre, the ten knights who joined him, support him staunchly, seeing as how the kingdom has profited under his immortal guidance.
Certain flaws are as essential to him as his virtues.
He does not take kindly to being disobeyed, and is overbearing, patronizing and smothering from time to time, but has always taken care that the king is self-confident and independent, and no puppet of his.
He tends to take little notice of people of no direct importance - it is tiresome to rememeber the 327th maid’s name, really, and they start to look the same. He will be polite, but most people get the impression that he does not really notice them.
His self-confidence can also be annoying, of course.
What he genuinely loves are books and horses (when he finds one that is not scared of him).
-Kingmaker, kingtaker: the Champion has decided that the current king is unfit to rule. The king has of course a different opinion. Lots of fun for the PCs and all others involved.
-Away with the champion: the enemies have wel understood - to mount a successful assault on the kingdom, they must remove the Champion first.
-Mortal? After confronting a nature elemental, Myartan is bathed in its vital energies and becomes alive again, and all those long-forgotten feelings surface again. Ah, those girls, so pretty. And the king is left without an advisor. The PCs have to save the day.
-I am worthy! : an aging PC knight learns of the secret, and wishes to continue serving the realm. First, he must prove himself to Myartan. And Hercules thought those tasks were hard!