The land of Thrul is an average kingdom. It has its average farmland, average resources, average economy, average everything. Simply your typical kingdom. But what it does have is its Knights. The Knights of Thrul they are called, and they are the finest body of men in all the world. Or, at least, that is what Thrul boasts.
For these men, honor and justice is everything. For these men, selflessness is a way of life. For these men, duty and self-sacrifice all but gain human avatars. The Knights of Thrul toe the line of paladin-hood without crossing. Their equipment would be the standard weaponry of any group of knights- lance, sword, shield, horse, and plate armor, but their weaponry has crossed over the line of mere steel and mere horse-flesh into something other. Some say that the reason for their powerful weaponry lies in their horses, that their horses are descended from the immortal horse Sleipner. Others claim that their power instead lies in their virtue, that their selflessness and honor imbues the weapons with great power. And others say that the spirit of the kingdom- a female goddess bedecked in chain mail the Thrulians know as Thrula- has blessed them and given them her gift.
Wilhelm was one of these knights. He had grown up in awe of them- at least, further in awe than the average boy. He was a runaway urchin, because his father would get drunk and abuse both him and his mother repeatedly. Wilhelm had grown up in a gang, and gained a new family with them. He had been a somewhat successful thief- that is, he could generally get into a shop and get out with the money. Wilhelm had also managed to learn some pick pocketing skills.
It had been an early morning, the sun fresh from its rest beneath the horizon, and young Wilhelm had been wandering the streets, wondering about food, when a knight had spotted him, and had asked after his name. When the knight had learn of the fact that he was a runaway (and heard the boy's stomach growl like a fearsome monster), the knight had smiled, swung young Wilhelm onto the saddle in front of him, and took him back the the Knights of Thrul's barracks. He asked the cook to feed the boy, and the growling monster in Wilhelm's stomach was sated.
From then on, Wilhelm would practically live at the Knight's barracks. He would do chores for all the support staff for the knights. If the maids needed another broom, Wilhelm was sent. If the cook wanted more wheat from the Royal Pantry, Wilhelm rushed off. It was a fine life for him, since he would get food from the whole thing, and he would near the knights.
It was to no one's surprise when Wilhelm became a page of the Knights when he became old enough. There, as they practiced the skills of knight-hood, Wilhelm discovered that he had a prodigious talent with the sword. He could use a little work at the tilt with his lance, but no one could beat him in a sword fight.
He quickly scaled through the ranks- with some help from his years of growing up with the Knights- and soon reached the point where he had to simply pass the final test. He had to claim himself a horse. But no normal horse would do for a Knight of Thrul. The horses that they needed grew up wild on the plains near a mountain range. They were of excellent stock, and were a thing of beauty to behold. As was customary for the knights, he was taken to the place where the frequented- a place where fallen horses of the Knights were ceremonially cremated and scattered to the winds. Wilhelm was then abandoned by the Knights, and left with just the things he would need for his ordeal- a week's worth of provisions, horse feed, horse-riding materials, and a common blade in case he ran into trouble- but bandits no longer came to the area, when the Knights learnt of them and taught them a lesson.
Wilhelm set off for a nearby river, thinking that it was likely that the horses would be nearby. And they were. The whole herd of them. Wilhelm saw the one he wanted. It was a stallion, with a midnight black coat, and a fierce intelligence burning in its eye. And so he approached, quietly, silently, slowly, and the horse stared down at him with those black eyes. And when he got close, the horse turned and ran. Wilhelm ran after it, sprinting through the grasses of the plains, cleaving a path after the horse. Wilhelm was in top physical condition, but he was still no match for the horse. But he ran on doggedly, and tracked it down, and after two days and two nights of running and tracking, he wore it down and caught he. He swung himself on to it, and felt immortal. The next day, he rode his new horse through the plains, breaking it further into a tamed steed. He saddled the horse, and rode it home.
Once home, he swore the sacred oaths and took up the Knight's weapons. Wilhelm had become a knight. His symbol was a pair of crossed swords, with a setting sun between them.
The next decade was the high point of Wilhelm's life. He did his duty as a knight. For the first two years, he gained experience fighting bandits and thieves on the plains and in the city, respectively. But then came the war with the Delians. The kingdom of Del had gained religious fervor, and seethed with the need of converting the lands around them. Thrul was not receptive to this new religion, and so Del picked up sword and shield and decided to replace the enemies' blood with devotion to Assiliyane. And so Wilhelm got his first taste of full on war.
His first battle was at Wershat's River. The Delians had pushed the Thrulians into a retreat into the river, and were slaughtering them. The Knights of Thrul had charged the Delians back and split the army in half. The Thrulian soldiers in the river had taken new heart and joined the Knights in the middle of the Delians. The Delian commanders regained control of their men and had sent them back into combat. And so the Thrulian forces managed to pull out of the fighting- trapping the Delians between the Thruls and the river, and pushed them into it, effectively reversing the situations of the battle. The Thruls ended the day with a victory.
In both that battle and in many others, Wilhelm proved himself to be the epitome of courage. He would charge straight into the heart of battle, andd slaughter many of his foes. He became a highly respected figure among the Knights, and became to be called in tales of the battle as Wilhelm the Courageous. He gained several ranks among the knighthood, and eventually gained the title of Lieuteneant- which was right above Sergeant, and right below captain, which was below major- who was the leader of the Knights.
After six years of war, the Delians finally sued for peace, after losing Yoran, a Delian city on the border between the two countries. The Delians paid much to the Thrulians in their surrender- but did in fact recieve Yoran back, because Thrul wanted this bad will to end, and needed to more land- and settled down to nurse their wounds. Thrul was victorious. Wilhelm was victorious.
In the following two years, Wilhelm was happy to return to defending the laws and killing bandits.
But such good things have to end. Wilhelm had gone out of the capitol of Thrul on reports of bandits in the south. He took his contingent of men to arrest them. The bandits proved to be difficult to catch, and managed to retreat into a forest where the Knights could not pursue them on horseback. They started using guerrilla warfare on the knights, and would periodically stop, find an ambush point, and launch a volley of arrows and stones at the knights. But after two weeks of tracking down the bandits, Wilhelm decided to use some slightly unconventional tactics- at least, unconventional for the Knights. He had them split into three groups, and each group would move in a straight line through the forest. The middle group would be the one on the bandit's trail. Soon enough, the middle group- which was being led by Wilhelm- had been ambushed. Wilhelm had blown the bugle, and the two side groups charged into the sides of the bandits. The bandits had tried to run, but they could not. The Knights were victorious. Afterward, they had managed to catch the bandit leader. They had bound him, and dragged him to Wilhelm. Wilhelm, in a fit of grief and revenge for his fallen comrades, killed him.
Afterward, they had searched the bodies for anything of note. And Wilhelm had found something interesting- and abundance of gold coins in the pockets of the bandits. They should not have any gold coins- after all, most merchants and traders passing near here were not the richest, or if they were, protected themselves better than these bandits could take- even if they had delivered heavy losses to the Knights. Even if the occasional merchant had gold coins, they still wouldn't- shouldn't- have this many. Wilhelm scented conspiracy. A scent that grew only stronger when he discovered in the bandit leader's tent a letter, written and sealed with the Knights of Thrul's seal, signed with a flamboyant and calligraphic 'X.' Someone in the Knights of Thrul had been paying these bandits to block trade into the province of Thrul of which they were in. The question was why.
Wilhelm rode home with the rest of the Knights. When he rode down the street, the people momentarily stopped talking, and stared at him as if he were some common beast, a monster. Wilhelm did not take much note of that. Too many questions were buzzing through his mind about these bandits. He came to the barracks, got his men settled in, and went to report to Major Evans, current leader of the Knights of Thrul. Evans was an old man, scarred from many battles, and was too old to ride out into battle. He now fought a different type of battle- the political battle. He was not the best at it. He had been an honorable Knight for much too long. But he had learned somethings.
Wilhelm reported in and told his story, and gave Evans the letter. Evans was thankful for the letter, and understood its implications well. Evans dismissed Wilhelm, and started an investigation into the Knights. Who had betrayed them?
For the next month, the Knights were torn to pieces. Knight blamed Knight. Trust and friendships disappeared. The investigation, led by Major Evans, examined each and every Knight. And at the end of the month, more and more Knights started blaming Wilhelm.
The Knights blamed Wilhelm for several reasons. The first had been his tactics- purely unconventional and un-Knightly. The second had been his killing of the bandit leader- against Knight code- perhaps a cover-up? And the third had been the prevalance of gold- Wilhelm, at this point in his life, had plenty of funds to pay off the bandits, out of the riches he had earned himself during the Delian war. This movement of blaming Wilhelm was headed by Sir Leanard.
Eventually, both public and the Knight's opinions turned against him. Major Evans was forced to blame Wilhelm, and he was captured and put on trial. The trial was a sham. Everyone knew, no matter what he said, that Wilhelm would be found guilty and executed for treason. Wilhelm managed too escape, and ran away to the wilderness. He managed to take his horse with him. Wilhelm blamed Leanard after that for the incident with the bandits. He thought that Leanard had paid the bandits and planted the incriminating evidence on them simply to get at Wilhelm. And so Wilhelm swore that he would get his revenge on Leanard, on the Knights who had let him down, and on the Kingdom that let it all happen.
Wilhelm is a large and physically imposing man, standing at around 5' 10". He is very strong. He, because of his time as a lieutenant, has gained a reputation as being good at leading men. He has a certain air, a certain charisma, about him. He is also highly honorable. He will never commit a unhonorable act.
For resources to pull about his plan, Wilhelm has a group of bandits under his control (which he took control over while he was an outcast), and his personal armaments- horse, lance, sword, plate armor, and shield.
Wilhelm lets the bandits have a certain amount of autonomy. Since he himself refuses to steal, he simply reaps a percentage of the bandits cut, and ignores where the money comes from. Whenever he needs something done, he uses the bandits or goes himself.
His horse is a stallion named Nightmare, so named for its black coat and what Wilhelm's foes have when the see the pair. He is of the Knights of Thrul's stock, so Nightmare is a better than average horse. Nightmare can run faster, run longer, and is lacks fear of things that normally scare horses.
His equipment is, since he lacked time to grab is own as he escaped, standard equipment. He has had his symbol painted on it, but (to reflect his new status) now it is a moon between the crossed swords, instead of the sun. Wilhelm maintains his equipment religiously, and practices with them every day.
Wilhelm will always prefer using his sword to his lance, and will only use melee weapons (bows are for cowards) if he loses his own weapons. He is excellent with the sword, and average with the lance.
I had originally planned to do this whole thing in one go. But Wilhelm grew to be so completely awesome (and abit long) that I separated the Plot and the Person into different subs. For the actual plan, check out The Fall of the Knights.
Additional Ideas (2)
After the encounter he could protect them some more, show them some safe paths and generally get them on their way. Then one night he may just disappear without a word leaving the players confused. If they travel the woods around this area he could reappear or they could learn who he really is.