Saturday, August 18, 2012

Death Walks the Streets of London 1888: Conclusion of Their Tale

So, you might ask, if the Knights Reliquar were successful in their quest in 1573 in Istanbul and secured the Holy Grail, how would this bring an end to their order and how is it related to the dead knights who hunt our streets?  And well too you might ask who was the woman guarding the grail and what did her curse mean?  Who she was I will leave to your own pondering, for I have my own but I will not voice it.  The other matters are more clear...

Upon returning to the West, Sir William had no intention of returning to Charles IX, nor even revealing their success. He did not trust the French King, any more than he had trusted the Turks, with the most important relic in the world.  Who could he trust?  Certainly not the Pope... Queen Elizabeth?  Though he owed much to his sovereign, as Knight Commander of his order, his loyalty must remain free from any one monarch, for were not members of the Knights Reliquar also from the Grand Dutchy, Norway, Spain, Florence.. which to give such strength?  Just look what the Medici had done to Protestants the previous year... with beliefs divided even within his order he could not favor one over the other.

It was decided they would take the precious relic to William's estate in Devon, and try to determine how it might be used. The Knights discussed, meditated, and kept their secret. Charles IX railed at their failure and what little respect their order still commanded dwindled further. Over the years, Tavas, effectively the second in command of the order took a wife, Josephine of Crecy, a cousin of William.  She added much to their understanding of the relic, once admitted into the trusted circle of those who know.  It was her belief that it could bind a group by spirit and will, those who in ritual shared the cup. And so the thirteen of them, the 12 knights and lady, became bound.

Their first true test of their power came over ten years later. On hearing the warnings of the Armada, sent by Spain to invade England, they traveled with the Grail to Portland and from there watched some of the first battles.  Under Josephine's direction, the knights concentrated upon the enemy fleet, willing their destruction, with vivid images of the red-crossed ships sinking.  From then, when they gazed at the ships they saw them in dark haze, as a storm appears on the horizon.  The fact that bad luck flagged these ships as they sailed around their islands, with nearly all sinking in tossed storms did not surprise them, but it did weigh heavy on William.

Had they misused the power? Tavas argued that it was theirs to use, "For if the power is God's," he stressed, "then we could not use it thus unless it was God's will that we do." His logic was hard to refute.

Ten years more passed by, when one night as William was in the library, hearing a woman's step behind him, as he turned expecting to find Josephine, he was instead looking at another, younger, darker woman.  She looked familiar, though who she was and how she got into his home he could not guess.  Before he could ask, she slid along the back of his chair, tracing the fine fabric with a delicate finger.

"How do you find the spoils of your war, Knight?" She asked, with a wry smile he recognized.

But, how?  She had not aged a day since that moment in the vault below Hagia Sophia.

"And of my other gift?  How grows the gift of your wisdom?" She looked at him, deeply.  He felt  genuine unease.   "Still a seed I see. Well, it has not had much time, but it will.  Of that at least there is no doubt: time you have in abundance."

He began to speak, but she held him with a look.

"I have come for my possession, you have held it from me long enough.  Do not bother to call for your knights, it will avail you not.  In a small way I do pity you, do you know?  No. Probably you do not, can not, understand yet.  But I do.  Make the most of the few years ahead Knight, they are precious to you in a way that none after ever will be.  These memories will sustain you, even as they pain you.  Goodbye."

He drew breath to round on her, but she was gone. The room was colder, the fire significantly smaller than it had been a moment before.  He ran to the room where they kept the Grail, but it was gone.  He knew it would be fruitless to ask the others, but he called for them anyway.

Years passed and the Knights and Lady grew older.  Any miraculous power they once had was gone, but the ties and connection they felt never diminished regardless of distance.  Tavas and Josphine bore no children in all these years.  The first sign that there was a deep price they all were paying was when Hue of Gaston died in the battles of Brittany in 1598. Months after word of his death arrived, Hue himself arrived in Devon.

That he was dead there was no doubt.  Cold to the touch, with no breath or beat of heart, grey, drying skin.
He could talk after a fashion, though more than this, the others simply felt what he wished to say.  A deep sadness, a restlessness devoid of energy. And strongest of all, a regret when he thought of them.  They debated what to do. They could not bury him, for it was too cruel, with his spirit and mind still alive.  To call for a priest they could trust?  Who?  Word would surely get out, and even under Elizabeth's permissive rule, such an abomination would surely bring about a reaction one might expect by the Inquisition.  No, they would keep the secret, keep him safe, wait for his trapped spirit to find it's own way free to the maker.

But it did not, and not long after others of their number followed.  What would they do when all of their order was this way?  Could they keep on the estate, when none yet remained warm and alive?  They did for a time, but as the flesh fell away from their bones, as decades wore on, there came a day when the Devon estate was empty.

Down the centuries, there have been tales of sightings of death himself, of a white skull , with eyeless sockets penetrating one's soul and chilling the blood.  Fancies most would say, but three hundred years later, here in London, we know it to be true.  These Bone-swords are one in the same.  Sir William, Tavas and his bride, the Knights Reliquar who have themselves become relics: walking bones, with all the deadly art that wielding a blade for over three hundred years will bring.

What's that?  And so why are they so bold now in London?  Aye, it's true that some have seen a fancy Lord and Lady some nights, though on closer look, perhaps a young cut-purse gets more of a shock than a sudden flash of a cane sword, for it's held in a bony hand and death's grin itself resides under a top-hat... but it is queer times, with men who change into wolves, and the Vampyr hunting the knight.  It is a new age we live in, and perhaps the glimpse of skeletal men are not now so strange as to bring an entire city to bear against them.

Do they walk brazenly now to join the hunt, or to protect us?  Only time will tell, but take my advice, either way, you are safer to stay well clear of them, if you catch sight of them.

                       William                                           Tavas                                             Josephine


Anne said...

Just fantastic Ferret. I've enjoyed reading this and appreciate the talent behind it.

Those figures are really badass too!

Michael Awdry said...

Outstanding Sir! What a great story and characters.

e-p said...

You continually raise the bar. Hats off to you.

Chris said...

I just love it, the whole thing has been very entertaining, and the minis look great even if they do seem a bit monotone. (cause dey is in teh blak n'white.)

abdul666 said...

Great. Absolutely GREAT.

M R Lee said...

Congrats.. great story, and great models to base it off of. Fantastic!

Brummie said...

Great background for your faction. Good choice of miniatures as well.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks everyone, very glad you enjoyed it and found it entertaining :) Color photos of the faction will be the next update.

Anne: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and compliment much appreciated :)

e-p: wish I could meet this bar for every faction and army... this is the kind of thing I think of as I paint, I'll get a seed of an idea that makes me want to build a team or army, then when painting, even if listening to an audiobook, part of my mind starts building the story of the minis I'm painting- sometimes it get's pretty elaborate it seems ;)

Paul of the Man Cave said...

That is so COOL!. At first I thought you had painted them in B&W/sepia tones to give them that authentic feel. Great figs beautifully painted once again.

Background and storylines like this really take games a big step up from just figures of lead and really add to the feel and flavour of a game. Bravo!

Scott said...

Excellent work, and great back story.
I may have missed this in an earlier post but what are you basing this Faction on, in terms of rules and stats...

abdul666 said...

I guess the Lady Guardian of the Grail is Mary Magdalene? Nice touch.
Maybe not coincidental, then, that the Knights Reliquar are 13: the Leader, his Lady and 11 faithful male companions?

Btw, for those wishing to play 'Gothic Horror' games in other periods than the 'traditional' Victorian era (18th C. for instance, as already done for Strange Aeons), an exciting implication of your background history is that the Knights Reliquar, being undead for centuries at the end of the 19th C., were already 'there' long before... Would they take side -and then what- if in 1745 the descent of Prince Charlie was only the tip of the iceberg, echo of an 'Underworld' war between Jacobite werewolves and vampires brought from the Continent by the 'German' king?

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks Paul :) Glad you enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun to write- I wasn't sure if anyone would read it, without a lot of pictures, internet being the short attention span theater that it is ;)

Scott: didn't miss it, I'll go into game mechanics in the next post when I put up all the color photos.

Abdul: yep, that's the parallel I was going for (though in this case the couple is with the 2nd in command rather than the leader, but there can be some differences, after all, the guardian determined their claim upon the relic was tainted, so it would not work out, and not need an exact parallel), as well as the guardian being Mary Magdalene. I enjoyed giving her a jaded outlook, but some complications in her motivation,actually this character would be very interesting to follow.

Could be many adventures for this group in pre-victorian times.. Jacobite rebellion would be a good one, also the French Revolution..if French Nobility were vampires, and so the adoption of the guillotine, to make sure vampires were dead.. English Civil war is also good background, puritanism against non-humans.. Russian reforms of the early 1700's by Peter the Great: enlightenment & science being brought in,but this time to combat werewolves- where imposed 'cutting off the long beards' is a metaphor for purging werewolves from the society... so much potential to rewrite history!

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