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 Character Bio: Konrad Knox

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KonradKnox
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Posts : 272
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Join date : 2009-12-14
Location : Anchorage, Alaska

PostSubject: Character Bio: Konrad Knox   May 12th 2016, 2:43 pm

http://forum.blackdesertonline.com/index.php?/topic/71248-character-bio-konrad-knox/



CHARACTER OVERVIEW



Preface
This will not be a pretty story about a brave warrior upholding the principles of good. 
Neither will this be an edgy drama of an anti-hero doing good for all the bad reasons, or doing bad in the name of some excusable cause.
My story, first and foremost, is a recount. A life's tally of a man who was neither a saint nor a villain, who simply tried to guide his life by his own choice, to be decent and honest with himself, while looking out for own self interest. If you seek a life lesson or a wild twist at the end, best look elsewhere.

* * * 

Name
Konrad Darian Knox

Place of Birth
Blackrock Village, Corsica Province, Valencia.


Age: 36

Guild: Ravens Of War


Current Place of Residence
Where ever jobs and opportunities take him.


Ethnic / Social Background
Valencian, low nobility class.


Physical appearance
Stands of 6.7 feet tall (205 cm), weighs 250 pounds (113 kg), muscular, bulky as a bull, built like a killer, although he starts to show traces of age and of love for food and beer. For late thirties he is in great shape. A face that carries several scars, a nose several times broken, deeply inset eyes, cheekbones and lips hardened by salt and wind, skin rough and dry. Almost always covered in weapon grease, soot, and dust, and smells of smoke. He keeps his armor in best repair he can, but it's clearly well worn and shows signs of makeshift mending. Hay colored blond hair, sickeningly pale blue eyes. His voice is a deep rasp bass suited for command, speaking softly it feels out of place. His posture is looming, his walk - a confident stride. A bath is a welcome occurrence, his fingernails are most commonly black, palms gray with dirt or bits of black leather, his shoulders carry traces of deep welts from frequent armor use.


Birth Constellation


Strongest Character Traits

Methodical, pragmatic, dependable, patient, charismatic, knows what he wants.

Weakest Character Traits
Proud, wrathful, brooding, risk taker, guilty conscience, can be a real whoreson.


Interests/Talents
Proficiency with knightly weapons and armor, metalworking, salesmanship, reverse psychology.

Health/disabilities/handicaps  
Excellent health, high strength and stamina. No known disabilities.


Personality Type
An assertive optimist, direct, forward, shrewd. Can be rough around the edges. Possesses a soldier's sense of humor. Well capable of communicating with both commoners and nobility, but seems more at ease and more himself in commoner crowd. Finds joy among people, be it in a tavern or in a fight, gains his more acute sense of self identity in combat, broods when alone, feels lost when at rest. Prone to doubt and feels the burden of responsibility. Struggles with the "noblesse oblige" mentality and outlook. Master of provocation. 

Political views/leanings 
His interests begin and end with profit opportunities. Politically and patriotically neutral in conviction.


Possessions  
Konrad started his journey across the desert with a high quality set of Valencian knightly armor in bad need to reforging. A small war chest, an armory of swords and shields, four pull-horses, carriage trained, two wagons, a set of furniture, two war tents, a warhorse named Sardakaar, and a hawk Dermott. 
Several personal items that rarely leave his person, one of them a signet of his former lord. 

Education
Received proper education fitting a lesser noble after being knighted. Unlike his male ancestors, he never went through the stages of education as a page or a squire, being promoted from a common footman on a lord's whim of notice. His knowledge of court manners is thus limited, though sufficient to pass. He could learn more if he did not despise etiquette as a useless social mechanic and complete waste of time.
Expert in knightly forms of martial combat and a scholar of tactics. Possesses limited intelligence and enough wisdom to recognize that fact, thus keeps in his employ advisors who are more intelligent than him.


Greatest success
Yet to come.


What does he care about most in the world 
Freedom and the people who follow him.


Hobbies 
Fishing, gambling, drinking, physical games and competitions. 


Parents

Sir Oliver Knox, son of Adrian Knox, was a proper knight the way a knight should be. Honorable, distinguished, fearless, and pious. He took his duty with a sense of loyalty. Sir Oliver entered service to the Duke of Corsica when he was young, himself the eldest son of a promoted knight. The family line came from the commonborn, raising and training sons to become Knights as the fathers retired. They were unlanded and were not Lords, thus their titles were not hereditary. Each Knox, upon fathering a son, did not bestow upon his child any nobility. Each father a Knight, each son a commoner. 

Just like his father before him, Oliver had to train and start out as a page and then squire to his father, travelling with him and doing his part. However, young Oliver had exceptional talent and virtue, succeeding his father and serving prominently in every campaign, war after war, taking every call to arms, and regularly attending to the temples. All to further the name and climb out of the commoner social class pit, up the ladder. His efforts finally gave fruit, when he became the first landed Knight in the Knox family.

Oliver was bestowed the village of Blackrock, a prominent settlement of two hundred families, along with 500 acres of fertile land, quarries, and forest, enough to support the knight, his family, squires and servants, and provide his retinue with horses and armor.

Oliver proved a good master to Blackrock, fair and just, stern and unyielding. A dragon at heart, forgiving of error, unforgiving of negligence. He was mostly adored, and the peasants did right by him. To the peasants, he was distinguished, elevated above the cursed peasantry, above the black of their feet, pure and exalted. 
The temptation was great to pluck the prettiest girl from the village to take as his wife. Several women were petite and attractive, and several more had the wealthiest households. Oliver, however, kept very straight life priorities, and stuck by them, choosing the tallest, strongest, most endurant peasant girl in Blackrock. She had the widest hips and the thickest bone. 

Oliver watched Diana work in the fields; she started first and finished last, sun up to sun down. She drank like a horse and ate for two, health always red on her cheeks, skin pink, of milk and blood. Diana was fit, energetic, and while not the most beautiful, by far the candidate Oliver sought for his purpose - to produce a mighty son who could surpass him.

Diana was more than up to the task. She came from an average family, long time residents of Blackrock, whose surname, if they had one, they didn't even know. Her father Bertram was known as Bertram Ox-Hand, because he knew oxen like no other in the village. That hardly passed as a surname. His wife Peppy was simply known as "Peppy, Bertram's wife". Diana had more brothers and sisters than she could count, some of them not even full blooded, and others adopted; in short - a lot of mouths to feed. To wed the Knight, master of the land, was a great prospect.

Diana was well cared for and loved during her pregnancy. She spent time outdoors, lowered her workload, but still exercised plenty. Anything she wanted, she recieved. Fresh fruit, bread, and meat.
Oliver's plan was on the dot. The child was a son, and he was born large and strong. Diana bore the birth well. It tore her up something fierce, for the baby was enormous, but she was able to endure, a hardy and resilient woman, and her body healed well. Best healers and pellars of the village tended to her. Oliver stayed at her side during recovery and embraced the boy, dubbing him Konrad, a heroic name to prove a worthy successor.

Childhood

A year after Konrad's birth, his father Oliver became heavily involved in the next campaign tour. He answered a call to arms and left Corsica. He would write once every several months, whenever the courier arrived, and would visit every year for a few weeks, the scarce time he could spend with his family.
Konrad showed physical talents early on. He held a weapon before he knew he had hands. Starting with sticks and household tools, the boy had an affinity towards violence and combat. He was a handful for his mother to handle, and was often punished, despite being dearly loved. 

At about age of 4 he started showing signs of comprehension of right and wrong, and his violent tendency started channeling in a much more focused and disciplined manner. He would not hit animals because he knew it wrong, but practice with dummies, because fighting was still fun. He would defend the smaller children from bullies, because it was the right thing to do, and he grew taller than most 5 year-olds, which frequently got him confused for being older than he was, thus people assumed he was simple minded, when in reality he was just young and big.

At age 8 he was full time helping out in the house hold, and acted a leader in all boy games, easily a head taller than everyone else. Konrad was the only child in his home, and they lived in abundance, so he would often help other families, in the field and in the yard, while constantly leaving the local boys with bruises.
Fathers loved him, mothers shook heads at him. He'd send his peers home with buckets full of berries or sunflowers, but also with bumps on the head due to getting into trouble. Helpful, but authoritative, even as a child. He was forgiven for all misdeeds and was untouchable, the little lord, son of the master. Authority entitlement was trained into him early.

It can be said that Konrad suffered from the lack of father's attention and direction. As the time passed and he grew older, Sir Oliver's visits became less and less frequent, and he could stay for less and less time. Oliver himself took it hard as well, but he was in absolute devotion to duty, and did the best he could to imprint upon his son the values of chivalry and its importance for family prestige and prominence. 
While his methods were righteous, the fact of rarity of such methods being applied, and seldom fatherly attention - simply alienated Konrad. He understood the word of his father's lesson, but did not feel its spirit. His father to him was someone distant. A figure who would come and go, and bring a new piece of wealth, but never stayed.
Every time Oliver visited, he would leave a hard earned piece of high quality equipment for Konrad to inherit and practice with, as well as a sum of money. It was stated to the boy early on, that one day the military career will await him, and he will begin training to become a knight, which needed financial backing.

By the time Konrad struck 10, he had a set of training gear assembled for him, as well as a well bred horse to ride. This was the first time his father paused his tour of service and took a long break from the campaign. Oliver came back home with new gruesome scars on his body, and a broken arm. He came to heal and to train his replacement. Oliver stayed in Blackrock for 3 years, during which he devoted his time to schooling Konrad in the art of combat, reading, and writing. Konrad's hands took to the sword more naturally than to the quills.
These were the years of bonding, for the first time in their lives. Father and son got to know each other.
Oliver, however, feared that it might have been too late to change the boy's own strong outlooks. The lad nodded and agreed with things his father taught, but his heart was not in it.

Nevertheless, Konrad grew to be gentle, considerate of others, and lighthearted. What his father could do, did help, even if little.

By age 13 Konrad was muscular and resembled a 17 year old. He hit puberty early, but his issues with misinterpreted age were no longer present, because by then the entire Blackrock knew of the gentle giant. Oliver's teachings culled the boy's thirst for wild action a bit and poured it over into discipline and further productivity.

It was then, when Oliver's service was required in the northern regions by the Temple of Elion. The score was large to risk not taking. Answering this call could mean promotion into the ranks of Templars. This would mean an elevation in status for the entire family. A fool's chance to miss.

Oliver rode out with his retinue to the Temple. Konrad ran out early that morning to see his father off. They rode together for a while, with a horse in tow for Konrad to ride back on. 

The last thing Oliver said to Konrad as they rode together past the county gates was this: 

"Remember, son. The holy spirit will always guide your heart. Remember the gods, be like the gods. Stay chivalrous, no matter what, no matter how dire the path. Stay chivalrous. So many people are weak, so many give up on chivalry, because it is not easy. Choose the difficult path. You are strong enough for it. If you choose chivalry, you will rise above the blackness, above the damned and hopeless. Chivalry will elevate your fate. To be revered is to be blessed."

Chivalry. Oliver's dogma. Chivalry will elevate.
Tears rolled from inside of Konrad's nose into his throat. He did not want to part with his father, whom he suddenly felt so attached to at that moment.

"How will I know the blessed from the damned? The righteous from the wicked?" - asked the lad.

"You will know them when they die. Evil men die asking "Why". Good men know exactly what they go to die for."

"How will I know to strike the evil before I see it slain?"

"Follow the call of chivalry. You must listen and you must judge, and in the death of those you condemn, you will learn your lessons, whether you were right or wrong. Do not be fearful to change your thoughts. Learn by changing, and remain chivalrous. Only chivalry must stay solid and true, the rest of you will change and learn."

Within a year news were spread that Oliver has taken the oath and joined the Templar ranks, embraced faith, and took a permanent post. Konrad would never see his father again.


Youth

Silver, gold, and provisions were pouring in every month now. Blackrock grew tripple in size and became a prosperous township. But there were no more letters from father.
By age 16 Konrad was well versed in combat using multiple weapons, could passably read, and write simple words, physically on par with grown men, and as tall as the tallest of them. He was well over ready to be sent for to become a page, but the requests never came. The campaign in the north grew heated. It was starting to look like Konrad would have to search for his apprenticeship himself.

That's when the first Median invasion plunged the outskirts of Valencia into chaos. 
A massive force was moving into Corsica, and the population of Blackrock fled, in part due to good scouting and organization. The towers, patrols, and organized watch that Oliver has built and developed - worked to save the people of the village. Nobody died to the enemy army, nobody got caught to be tormented in the night, the villagers of Blackrock left the village empty, taking with them all they could. No children taken, no women forcefully ravaged, no cattle slain. Blackrock was cleared out.

Not all villages and towns in Corsica were so lucky. 
Half way to the capital, Konrad parted with his mother and bid her to move on towards the safety of the city. No mother wants to see the last of her son, but Diana was well prepared, she was no frail woman and knew what her child's destiny was to be. Steel her heart she did, and with her blessing, Konrad donned what equipment father had prepared for him and enlisted in the army, joining the local dispatch. That was the last Konrad had seen his mother. With a kiss on the lips and a good luck charm for the journey, mother's heart tearing up with eternal love and pain, but also strength to overcome it. Her little warrior, now enormous, had all grown up, he would go on to kill or be killed. 

No heart knows suffering equal to a mother's parting with her child. But Diana's heart was no frail one. The tears in her eyes showed much later, but Konrad never saw them. The young man left knowing that he was doing the right thing with full parental approval.

Konrad took to soldier's life like fish to water.
By then Corsica was no more. All that was left - a barren wasteland and scorched earth. Blackrock, along with Konrad's childhood, were no more, empty and quiet now, these things stayed behind in his memories.

Adulthood

From the southern mountains to the northern coast, Konrad's life as an infantryman swept his heart in and he took it in stride. Hands took to killing like a fish's fins to swimming, and his durability allowed him to take a decent amount of punishment and recover from wounds.

By age 19 Konrad grew to a full two meters in height and a third of that in width. Lack of formal education was supplemented with soldier folklore, camp songs, weight lifting using stacks of wood, and copious amount of liquor.
Sometimes his thoughts went back to the lost roots, but what could he do? He did not inherit by law his father's land, more over that land had burnt to the ground. Caught in between the prospect of noble ascension and the reality of a commoner's present, the young man did not bother to think ahead of what he could not control.
He served his due time until the end of Mediah's first tour, then went on leave with plans of continued service, should the war renew again. 

One day when stationed in a Valencian town in between campaigns, Konrad and his buddies got awful drunk, and ended up walking around the streets, peeking into this and that, brothels, gambling houses, the sort.
Konrad stumbled across a boudoir of a fortune teller. Amused by her advertisements, the lad argued with her against holding faith in predictable fate. 

"My father planned for me to be a noble knight, such was his intent to earn by his own merit, and such I were told was to be my fate, just as my grandfathers of old. And here I stand, plans broken, fate diffused. What use could predictions be against the randomness of chance?"

"A fool," the mistress said, staring at her crystal ball, "Give me your hands!"
Reluctantly, urged by his peers, Konrad rolled up the sleeves and laid his palms open for the crone, and sat in the satin drepped chair, a dragon's design on its back..

The violet shine of the ball and the dim hue of the velvet curtains formed a menacing gleam in her crossed eyes.
Her skin went pale, or maybe just a trick of the candles? 
Liquored out of his mind, Konrad could not tell.

The crone thus spoke:

"By Fate to knighthood bound, indeed! 
The lines are clear, they speak - take heed.
The rise, the fall, you'll have it all,
You'll live and die by knightly creed.
When iron soldiers form a wall
Ten paces thick and half as tall,
With honor draw your every breath.
In chivalry you'll find your death."

"Enough!" - frustrated, Konrad glared.
No coin for her had Konrad spared.
She harked, as Konrad left her chair:
"Rejoice, despair - Fate does not care."

* * *

And blind as we are lead, 
But we shall know the time to cut a thread.



* * *

The second tour of Mediah's campaign against Valencia found Konrad Knox, son of Oliver Knox, in the lowest of his low. Spiteful of all prophecies and soothsayers, he abandoned his father's bidding, stayed away from chivalrous behavior and shied the noble circles. He fought hard and partied hard, associating with his own: the common infantry - the damned. Forming around himself a gang of rowdy friends, Konrad found himself fast promoted to sergeant, for no merit other than his extreme brutality and effectiveness in a sword fight. Several times he was offered further promotion, but purposely refused it...
...until the day that simply he could not. 

At the time their platoon were bannermen to House Storm, in service of Count Marlenus Storm, who was at its head. One of the many platoons of slaughter meat and arrow fodder, they were a step above peasant conscripts. They at least wore pieces of armor on their elbows and steel caps. And, of course, they had actual weapons rather than mere cudgels, well, those of them who didn't drink or gamble their weapons away. Those who did had cudgels as backup. For you see, they were professional career soldiers, and a soldier always has a backup wooden club in case an inspiration strikes to whore around and drink oneself to stupor and waste all worldly possessions, and in the end place a decisive bet by wagering one's own spear against a set of dice. But I digress.

Romero, Pascal, Berholt, Bruce, and Plucky-Two-Eyes - were the best, the quickest, the most geared bunch of friends in this platoon of damned souls. Led by their giant fearless legendary piker sergeant - Konrad. All of them in full chain, pikes at ready, daggers and clubs on their belts, they were prepared to take the hill and crawl the swamp, to do their duty and not give a damn about anything else. 

Plucky kissed his lucky necklace - two dried goblin eyes with a rope through them.
Into the fray! Pikes through flesh! Blood and dirt and sweat and vomit, work as usual, but what is this? Horns from behind! A cavalry charge?
Has the Lord himself decided to lead his knights in this battle to claim the hill in person?

A truly fateful turn of battle placed Konrad, a front charging infantryman sergeant in the way of a javelin, aimed to strike Lord Marlenus Storm dead in the head. It was a fatal shot for sure in coming. Konrad threw himself at the Count's horse and pushed him off it with a forceful tackle. The javelin flew by a mere second, striking Konrad in the ribs, before he pulled it out and slain the gifted thrower.

By whim or by luck of the stars or by simple spur of emotion and gratitude, Count Marlenus Storm refused to leave the giant man undistinguished. He noted Konrad till the battle's end. When the hill was taken and enemy driven out, Lord Storm had Konrad ordered summoned to the tent.

"You've saved my life, good man, you've done my family a service. So I shall do you a disservice back. What is your name, soldier?"

"Konrad Knox, your excellency, son of Oliver, grandson of Adrian."

The Count reached for his sword.

"Kneel, Konrad, son of Oliver."

Thus at the age of 22, Konrad was knighted as Sir Konrad Knox of House Storm.
Assigned a retinue, a squire named Jordan, five horses, and two pages, Pak and Rusty, Konrad had finally laid down the spear and gripped in his hand a knightly sword. The noble weapon.

* * *

Life got really good then. Pascal, Romero, Berholt, Bruce, and Plucky - were all richer now. All were treated as squires and lesser nobles, while Konrad's whole platoon gained access to well made equipment, forged by the Count's fourteen blacksmiths. No longer damned, they were now no mere bannermen infantry. They were a knight's dispatch. An elite platoon.

The second tour drew near a close, victory after victory, it almost seemed war was a game. Another break in activity finally brought Konrad back to the capital, as Lord Storm went to report his successes to the Crown.
A parade greeted them at the city gates, but Konrad's mother was not there to see her son in armor on a horse. Her location remained unknown.

At this time Konrad finally felt his first real chance to attempt to track down and contact his father. Now a lesser noble, he was free to walk and act, and could access a wide variety of information. He learned of the Temple, where his father took oath, and traveled there, only to find heroic tales and good memories, but ultimately learning that crusades against surfacing dragons took Oliver further west.
Konrad also attempted to find his mother, but to no avail. Diana was nowhere to be found. She did not respond to summons, nor was her name in city's obituaries. Not confirmed dead by any accounts. Just missing.

* * *

Drinking, substance abuse, entertainment, women, money - more and harder than ever.  
The good life. And along with it, a proper knightly education: reading, writing, speaking, and manners.
Konrad barely passed on all of the above. 
But hark! Did he excel at the knightly combative disciplines - the noble dagger, sword, shield, and spear. 
These were the lessons that sprung Konrad's attention to life. In combat only had he ever felt truly focused, truly vibrant, full of purpose.

Access to middle class women, food, clothing, and housing - got Konrad spoiled rather quickly. Being Lord Storm's favorite only added to the feeling of entitlement. 

When Konrad was not in the capital and returned to the Storm Keep upon Count's bidding, he pretty much ran the place. Many of House Storm's hereditary knights gave him sideways glances, ranging from hatred and envy to simple rejection of the scum. To those born noble, Konrad was still white trash. Unlanded, ignoble, promoted in first generation from the dirt. To them his hair was still hay, not gold, his breath still worms, not wine, his fingernails forever black with farm soil. It soiled their elevation and significance.

A disservice indeed.

But Konrad didn't see it that way. Ignorant and oblivious, he was taller and saw further - towards greater success. Serve well, do good, outperform - and grow favor. A formula that worked. He was rich. His friends were rich. Life was a swell ride all in all. And the haters? The haters will hate, naught of new.
All in all, Konrad served a good example of the Peter Principle, a person promoted beyond his merit with no regard to earned virtue. He was an outstanding piker, a good infantry sergeant, and a passable captain, but there is more than fighting which is required to make a knight; as a knight - he lacked the polish, never truly deserving of the title by values. While others of his rank at least pretended to mask the debauchery and depravity behind moralistic rationalization, argumentation, and dogma, Konrad simply couldn't be bothered. He'd gamble with his wage, tavern brawl with commoners, and make cuckolds of married men. When being called on it, he'd simply confirm, and none dare touch him. He lived with no excuses. 

A blissful 7 years.

Nothing he saw on the horizon made him have to remember the fortune teller's words.
Nothing could prepare him for what was coming.


The Fall

Magic. Mediah learned their previous two lessons. 
Magic, raw, powerful, unleashed, relentless, unexplainable, dark. Magic.
Oh, they were not ready for this. 
The third tour of the Median invasion brought wizards, witches, and sorcerers into play. 
Everyone was called to arms, everyone brought in, from every border. Chaos. Complete and utter madness, by far the most violent part of the war. Guilds, orders, knighthoods, lords - all came to heed the Crown's command.

A new age was beginning.
Steel was no longer enough.

* * *

Pascal, Romero, Berholt, Bruce.... all names on the graves now.
Plucky's two eyes did not save him. Couldn't even find his body to bury him.
One last battle. The decisive conflict for the western territory. 

"What are we doing here? This is the mages' job." - He thought to himself, standing a top the fortification, now a man of 30 summers old. 

"We're slaughter meat, once again. Just like back when we were conscripts."

But now he couldn't voice it. He was no longer surrounded by the damned who could hear his words.
To his right and left stood noble knights, tight and arched in their stirrups, faces steeled with faith. 
Lances forward, shields up. 
Lord Storm rode out into the rain of blackness.
Past the grey horizon the endless lines of enemy armies spread across the mountains. Spears, spears, spears.
And then the skies had lit. Fire, rains of fire from both sides, more their than ours. Blue, pink, and violet patches in the sky, like holes covered with matter of nether. Magic!
Horses, people, fear. Armies collided.
He was magnificent in the rain, his jaw outlined. Their liege, his sword facing the storm, just as his name has bid. He was perfect, Count Marlenus Storm.

"Formation!"

When iron soldiers form a wall
Ten paces thick and half as tall


"Charge!!!"

"You heard our lord! Charge, men! Chaaaaarge!!!"

And after that, only steeled focus.
Parry, counterattack, parry, stumble, fall, get up, strike, parry, dodge, strike. 
Screaming. Bolsterous, then miserable.
Kill, kill, kill. Pain, light, fire, dodge, parry, attack.
Pain, counter, no time to think, a doubling counter, grapple, fall, get up, attack.
A fall, pain, strike, cover, more pain. Continuous, continuous screaming. Everywhere.
The skies alit with blues, yellows, and reds. Lightnings, like when the gods are dancing.

How beautiful. So very beautiful. Patches in the sky.
Pain, blackness, the scent of blood.

This is how I die...

* * *


Ravens Of War

* * *

What is it like, rising from the dead? 


As I wake among the empty battlefield, the first thing I notice is the black, moving, circling sky. 
I see them in that sky. 


The earth, reddened with blood and dead meat; a few hours ago this valley boomed with shouts of camaraderie, it was filled to the brim with voices full of vigor, love, fury, and hatred. Clashes of steel in the name of the lord, prayers and curses. Now all that's left is dead meat. A lucky survivor, I wake, and push away from myself the body of a man. He lay on top of me, bloodied and maimed. My work? Did I kill him? Can't remember. Broken bones, but I can walk, I can crawl. With dread I look up at the clouds once more, I have to get moving, get out before they come, away from here, before they start to feast. 

Black, unforgiving, uncaring, the birds cover the havens above. They were here when the battle begun - scouting, waiting. We, the humans took our turn. Now they take theirs. The quiet is what these birds understand, the stillness which clouds every field after people have killed each other.

The cries of the wounded - a meal call. The sounds of coughing, punctured lungs, the scent of vomited blood - a welcome invitation. 

The ravens heed their nature's call. Grim harbingers of death. They descend... by the end of the week there will be naught but bones here. The ravens will eat what the jackals don't.

Have to get out.

I crawl. I rise. Left shin - broken, probably shattered. Oh, the pain. Thank you, mother, for birthing me able to ignore such pain. I rise on my broken leg, a broken spear - my crutch.

I look at the hollow, bloodied banners. We lost. We badly lost. A lot more of us laying here than there are of them. 

The Knightly protocol mandated to seek out the nearest command post and report for duty and examination. 
Blood and charred bodies for miles. Where in the hell's abyss would I find a command post in this purgatory? 
I think nobody's left alive. At all. Anywhere around. 
And look at my sorry state. This will bode a three weeks time in a recovery tent before they send me, limping, back on a horse, to fight again, in weakened condition, only to die over some error I'm bound to make due to the half-arse patch job they would do on my wounds.


I wander the desert of redness and stench. I scavenge for food from the packs of fallen comrades and enemies. Median food or Valencian, the taste does not matter now, all I can sense is the rancid smell of death. I marauder, I eat, I drink. Keep moving. Look around. I see what I was looking for. The Lord's banner.

An big circle of corpses, knights, dead on their knees, facing outward, charred and punctured by spears. Their shields lowered, warped, dented, bloodied. The vanguard. All dressed like myself. How did I split from them? Don't remember. They kneel in a ring. Magic. They were hit by magic, which weakened their knees. I climb over their steel shoulders to get to the center of the ring. I already know what I will find there.

In the middle of the ring are more piled bodies. Infantry. The ground is charred and damp. Grass will grow well here soon. In the middle he sits in the saddle, his horse chopped in half, a grotesque sight indeed. Count Marlenus Storm died a death as glorious as the life he lived. Sitting upright in a saddle, attached to only the front half of a horse, the rear half laying on the ground, connected to the rest by a trail of spilled intestines.
Lord Storm is in tact, his body pale, lips frozen, icing on his eyelids, frost on his hair. Dead and cold, struck by a lethal spell which stopped his heart. Magic. A frozen man in the midst of a charred circle. The ice does not thaw on its own.


I do the only thing that comes into my head and lay my hands on the Lord's face, attempting to assess him. With my touch, the ice thaws. I grasp his shoulders to pull him from the saddle... but then I stop. I look around.

Where could I place him in this giant hellish dining tray, that would result in a more dignified rest? I lay off my hands. Rest as you are, my lord, proud and upright. On your fallen horse, in a circle of your fallen men.
I take a frostbitten signet off his digit and place it in my pocket, without particularly knowing why.


My head is spinning. Gloom is upon me. I fear. As I realize I may come out of this alive, I feel more afraid. Where is the enemy, where could I go? Is this Valencia still or Mediah now?

Thoughts of imminent flight cloud my mind, and then... I hear a groan.

"Sir Konrad..." - a pair of bloodied lips speaks from beneath the pile of bodies. I detect movement and walk over to the wounded knight, who is wedged in a pile of infantry, unable to pull himself free, for he is missing a left arm. I recognize him only by his voice, because his face is painted red, every inch.

"Help me..."

I lean on my spear crutch and attempt to move an armor clad soldier's corpse off the knight, but I'm too weak. What a feeling. Not used to it.

"Hold on, be still. I will pry you out," I say, forgetting all the jeering and hatred he gave me through the years.
 

"What happened?"

"The border north is taken... we must ride along the riverside, to the western camp, give a warning and rally the banners of Lord Raticus."

I look, dumbfounded, into the eyes of Sir Mern Valentine. Madness and devotion in them. Is he still fighting? Is he still in this war? He doesn't understand.

"No horse to ride, no place to ride to. Look around. We must flee. Now, try to push with your feet."

"Sir Konrad, what talk is this? We are sworn, in the name of the Lord! We must..."

"The Lord is here!", I point at the frozen mounted cadaver. "Here lies Lord Storm, dead, before us. Our oath we fulfill. It's over, Sir Mern, we flee, and we make safe."

Sir Valentine's face cringes with anger, the red blood paint brings a truly demonic feature to his visage. Brave and ready, he is here now as he was always.
"We must! It is our duty! It is my duty!"
"We gave it all."
"We make to western camp!"
"No."
"By Elion, and by all the gods, I do outrank you, Sir!"
"No, Sir Mern. No, no."
His anger shapes into despise.

"Coward!" - he spits. He now sees that I've ceased my attempt to try and free him. 
"Coward! Coward! Sir Konrad Knox! Coward!"

I stand there to look at him and absorb his hate, take his rage onto myself. I turn to move away.

"Do not dare flee and forsaken your duty!"

I shake my head. I have no will to make this choice. No will to continue this fight.

"Your country, our country! Will you choose to perish into dust, like a flea, a damned flea you deserved to be born as? Will you not forge yourself a better man, above damnation and filth you entered in?!"

I look back once more and stare, for there is threat in his voice. I have nothing to say to him. I should leave. But what he says next makes me stay a while longer.

"Treason! Dishonor! Mark my words, Sir Knox, do pray you slay me now, for if I come from this alive, by miracle or fate, I swear to you, here, on the grave of our Lord, I will report your cowardice, I will report it to His Majesty myself, and I will come for you, Sir Knox, and you shall answer!"

The spear I lean on is broken, it has no blade. I look at Sir Valentine's chest, and I lean down to pick up a sword from a knight's body nearby. One thing about a dead battlefield - there is no shortage of blades.

"Slay me, Sir Knox, and be Sir no more, but a knave! A knave I always knew you to be from the day you rose from the damned! Complete your treason! Prove where you belong. Slay me, or I swear I will bring this treason to your door step!"

"I swear by all I have, if you turn your back now, Sir Knox, when the hunt comes and the bugles sound, my dogs will lead the run to hunt you down! It is service or the gallows for those who fall, Sir Knox!"

I stagger over to Sir Mern Valentine, a sword in my hand, raised for a thrust.
I choose my own fate.


I bring the blade forward to complete the strike, but stay the edge an inch away from his face.
I drop the sword, flat, upon his lap, and by my hand I tear the colours of House Storm off my chest plate.


"Sir no more."

I walk.

"Knave!" he screams, further and further away. "Traitor! Knave! Knox! Knave!! Knave!!!"
Farewell. Until the bugles sound.

* * *

I flee Valencia. There is but one place for me to go now. A debt to call on, from a man known as Freemont.
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Character Bio: Konrad Knox
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