The King's Bones
The Ambassador's bodyguard quaked at the sight of the uniformed skeletons guarding the main gates of the royal palace. "Don't be afraid," the Ambassador said. "They are King's Bones, the monarch's personal bodyguards, and are no threat to us unless we were to do something stupid like trying to attack His Majesty."
Mighty were the wars of old, in the days when there were no conventions to regulate what was allowed in battle and what was forbidden. The battles and the diseases and infected wounds that broke out afterwards proved such a meat grinder that some armies raised the dead to fight for them, including their own. The raising of freshly dead bodies proved problematic, however. The bodies soon rotted and it caused the disease problem to get even worse. Also many soldiers did not want to serve alongside the dead, and here and there outrage flared up when soldiers saw the husks of their former comrades sent to fight alongside them. So the commanders and the state necromancers took to using skeletons or bodies stripped down to the bare bones. When these proved brittle they took to plating them with iron and so the Ironbones were created. At the same time the opposing wizards were creating spells to destroy them or to turn them against their creators, and there was no time to test these spells first as would be the case in peacetime.
One of these spells worked well but not in the way it was planned. Cast on an advancing Ironbone unit it was supposed to turn them against the opposing army, but instead it ripped their souls from their various destinations in the afterlife and placed them back in their original bodies. As they in life had belonged to an elite unit and were close friends, they recognized each other, and horrified at what had happened to them, fled the battlefield by running in between the two armies.
Despite various arrows and spears hurled at them by both sides, over a hundred of them made it out alive led by what in life had been their captain, Andre Reznichenko. The magics cast on them had enabled them to speak, in case it was needed on the battlefield. Knowing that as Undead they would be hated and feared and that there was no hope of rejoining their families, they decided to flee the country in the hope of finding a faraway place to live in peace far from the horrors of war.
So they headed into one of the few great forests that still stood and headed west, and it was on the way that they came across a king and his entourage being attacked by a large gang of heavily armed bandits. Captain Andre at once came to the kings aid, just as the last of the royal bodyguards died. At the sight of over a hundred Ironbones, the bandits turned and ran screaming for their lives convinced that a demonic army had arisen to drag them down to Hell for their crimes. The king fainted in fright. When he woke he begged for his life, protesting that he had always been a good ruler. Captain Andre replied that he had no intention of harming him, and told him of the strange situation that he and his friends were in.
The grateful king suggested something that would help both them and himself. He would give them citizenship in his country, passports, the legal right to defend themselves against attack, and well-paid jobs as his new royal bodyguards, and they in return would protect him with their unlives. His kingdom was prone in the past to coups where the royal bodyguards had killed the monarch and sized power for themselves, but nobody would accept an Undead skeleton as the new ruler. And if he was overthrown then the new ruler might well decide to exterminate them, fearing them because they were undead.
When they reached the royal capital the courtiers and the people were at first very against the idea but the king told them that he owed his life to these undead and managed to persuade them to accept his idea. Ever since then the Kings Bones, which is what the unit is called, and the royal line that they protect have both kept their side of the bargain. The royal family no longer need to fear assassination from those that guard them, and the Kings Bones, now grudgingly accepted by the vast majority of the population, can live their unlives without being hunted down by vigilantes.
The King's Bones wear ornate chainmail and plate armour with the royal seal upon their sheilds and breastplates, and carry swords and spears as their weapons when on duty. In peacetime they guard the royal palace and the doors of the royal bedchamber, whilst in war they serve as the personal bodyguards of the king. The kingdom stays out of most wars, seeing them as an expensive waste of time, which suits the King's Bones fine. They cannot be bribed and if anyone is foolish enough to try they find themselves arrested at once and dragged in front of the king to explain their actions.
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? Responses (6)-6
A nice, solid submission. I do have a question though. Seeing as how they're nothing less than human souls trapped in the twisted shells that once served as their bodies, how do they prevent themselves from going insane? This being a horrific fate for most sentient beings, I'd worry for their emotional and mental stability.
I think this is a pretty good idea - though I would think that if the King was the least bit good, he would be seeking ways to return these souls to the afterlife. Surely these warriors would like to get back. (Unless, of course, they were not enjoying the afterlife..)
The bit about conventions at war sounds a bit silly, as war is exactly the best moment to break conventions. Captain Andre sounds also a little funny, but their accidental creation (maybe the spell was miscast?) and saving of the king smacks of authentic history, points for that. Now, the king of old does look like a coward... perhaps the dear Captain prepared the event, and so put the king into debt. This way he would gain for his men a stable foothold, and a honorable position. It might that their drive to serve is only thing that keeps them sane. On the other hand, who knows who really rules that kingdom now?
Oh, and I would fire any bodyguard that would quake in fear of a few skeletons. ;)
Nice history and way to build on older submissions. Kudos.
You should of linked Iron Bones to this submission (square brackets around the name to create a link).
I have to agree that the king comes across as a total pissant. Why are they loyal to such a pissy ruler?
Of course, the common people like Necromancers enough to let them run freely around their country? Or allows their 'good' government to employe these foul magic users? If soldiers are disgusted and fear them, is anyone going to let a government use them?
Then we have the whole undead question.
Other than that, solid post and good example.
I can't link stuff properly.
The government who raised the Undead must have been strong enough just to supress dissent violently.
They are loyal to the king because serving him gives them well paid jobs and acceptance as part of the royal retinue.And yes, he is a pissant, which explains his fear of a coup against him.