Winter Knight of the Fae (ammoral nobility)
William was born the 3rd son of a noble shortly before the Witches entered the kingdoms. He knew his was not going to be lord of the castle but he hoped that maybe a fiefdom could be his by marriage. To do this, he needed to make a name for himself. Battle glory seemed an honorable way of this.
He entered numerous tournaments and volunteered for many campaigns though never reached the level of a legend as he had hoped, but he was honorable, loyal, just and fearless. Few took real notice of him, but one did…one that altered his career, life, his being: Queen Mab of the Winter-fae.
It was a Thursday he recalls. He had signed with the Silver Knives mercenary group and was in a battle (skirmish if he were honest with himself). It was 50 Silver Knives against a small squad of Bane raiders. The Witch onslaught had not yet occurred and at this time there were only scouts and marauders. This one was 2 flesh golems, 5 mongrels and a dozen or so men.
The battle was heated but the Silver Knives had the upper hand and outmanuevered the marauders at every step…at least this time. William personally took two men prisoner (they had begged for mercy, saying it was witchcraft that made them do it all…). William was cynical of this type of magic but gave the benefit of the doubt and took them prisoner. He had been separated from the rest of the troops but had the prisoners kowtowed and seemed to know where he was or how to get to where he needed to be though he had no idea where he was….he just knew where he was going, without knowing where or why. He just assumed he had remembered the way to camp.
It seems like mere chance, if William believed in it, that as he was returning his prisoners to camp he stumbled upon a scene mortal men were not meant to see. A ceremony, wake, rite, orgy, celebration, execution…it really was hard to tell as William and his prisoners stumbled into the clearing. There stood at least 30 creatures of unearthly beauty. Some were formally dressed and othres were in stages of undress. A single man was amongst them though William did not know him, he knew he was just a man. All three were dumbfounded, to enthralled, to terrified to move or speak. At the speed of thought the creatures moved against William and his prisoners. Like water were there movements, like fire was the speed. All were on their knees now, it was only now that William heard one of his prisoners weeping….no sound at all had occurred until that moment. William only hoped that he would not be executed before he could think to speak and so he tried but could not. His voice seemed to small, to weak to break the beautiful silence.
It was then that She spoke. “Who are you travellers and how have you come to befoul this Sidhe ceremony.” It had the calm of authority and power that demanded respect.
“I am William, a knight of the Silver Knives. I have meant no offense your ladyship. I meant….” His voice sounded like the grinding of arms in combat, a horrible sound compared to her that spoke. His voice was like a man drowning in water. The beauty and presence was oppressive in its perfection.
“I know not how we ended here, but the fault, the blame is mine, not these men” he said as if speaking to the gallows themselves.
“You are to take the full blame then?” again she spoke and it hit like a gentle wave tearing the flesh from his ears with its melody.
“My ladyship, I am. These men are my prisoners and are under my protection. It falls to me as their captor, in the code of knighthood, to deliver them with full mercy where they can be tried at court.”
“Court you say? Well then you need travel no further. You are amongst a Fae Court and we shall do the judgement!”
None moved but all the Fae were like a coiled spring, quiet, unmoving and ready to strike with the blinding speed he had all ready ..felt.
“My lady, I again take full responsibility. The wrong of trespass falls to me and not on these men?”
“You would be judged whilst these men, your enemies are freed? You must explain this, are you trying to set a trap for the fae? I warn you, many have tried, a few succeeded, most died in ways you’re mortal tongue does not even have words for….” She left the last statement hanging like a snowflake falling mercilessly slowly.
After an eternity he could feel their eyes on him, awaiting a response. “These men surrendered to me and begged mercy. I offered this to them by knightcode. I am honor bound to deliver them unharmed and they are honor bound not to attempt escape, so it was established by the early kings of men.” He stared at the ground and focused there in hopes of keeping his voice and to not be dumbfounded again by them.
“So,” she took Williams chin in her hand, it was graceful but cold as a winter morning, “You are my prisoner now, do you surrender to me?”
“If…. if….” it was nearly impossible to speak looking directly at her. It was the beauty of a sunrise over pure driven snow. It was like being smothered in calm. “If…it…please…you my ladyship” Did he just surrender to his death using courtly language??
“Then it is settled, you are now my prisoner” The loaded springs around the court relaxed for a moment. “And since a captive does not have rights to captives…”
William’s prisoners were dead. He heard no sound, saw no movement, but the men that knelt behind him dropped to the ground, without even a gasp.
“I suppose now that I have a prisoner I should make some rules regarding you. You said you were taking them to court for their crimes…” the languidness of her voice was seductive and unearthly. The reflective sheen of a knife blade. “You shall be sentenced to hard labor, you shall be squire to the Winter Knight, who’s coronation you interrupted. You shall serve the Mantle until death.”
There was some tension amongst the Sidhe when she said this, William felt it even though he was but a mortal.
“I am Queen Mab of the Winter Court, you were my prisoner until found guilty of trespass. You shall serve the Mantle that serves me for your insolence”. The voice was changed, somehow more authoritative, like a snow covered mountain, unmovable and beyond repoach.
The first thing to note is that the Sidhe (Fae) do not have a good-evil dichotomy within their culture. It is more a cause and effect based morality. It is a duplicitious society that is both lawful and “ends-justify-the-means” in top down societal norms.
William was taken to the NeverNever. The land in which the fae lived. He is not sure how long he was here for as time seems to work differently there. What he does know is that from his capture the fae were secretly moving against the Witches.
Fae Court is like walking on thin ice while carrying a number of favors, obiligations, enemies and false pleasantries balancing on one arm. You were always off balance, trying to stay ahead of the schemes, even the one you did not know about and always with politeness and decorum as you told your enemy that you wanted to carve their heart out with a rusty blade.
It was during the “betrayal” that the Winter Knight was killed in defending the withdraw of the Fae after the initial debilitating strikes were done. It was only then that he understood his sentence…he was no serving the Winter Knight, but the Winter Mantle. The mantle was the power of the Winter queen and it was embodied in a mortal, the Winter Knight…..who Willam now was…
He continued in Fae court and now also in training, in how to use the Winter Mantle. It provided power that took him beyond what he had been capable of. He was stronger, healther, quicker than he had been before. He healed faster and felt pain less…but inside was a monster trying to get out. A blizzard of passion that could blind William to all but the goal – death of the Queen’s enemies.
He knew he was being set to return to the mortal realm. His directives were to increase the position of the fae, decrease the position of the witches and remove what unnatural bane there were.
As far as William knows, each Court of Faerie-Winter and Summer-have only one knight each, a mortal granted some measure of the power of his or her patron Court and charged with making certain the Court’s interests are well-represented in the world of mortals and beyond. For the Winter Court at least, the position is not generally known to be a long-term one, and employment is terminated on case of death alone, though falling out of favor or a refusal of an edict could shudder off the mantle and therefore the responsibility.
The Winter Knight and Summer Knight are no lightweights, often catching the attention of the Queens of the Courts for their already developed characteristics (characteristics that are a whim or long game strategy tooltip). They are bound, body and soul, by deep compulsions to adhere to the word of the Mother, Queen, and Lady of their Court.
Still, the reason these knights exist at all is that they alone possess something unique among the members of the faerie Courts. They have mortal free will, and in this they are able to take action that is flatly impossible for the faeriekind, for the fae cannot act in any way other than accordance with their natures. As such, they are regarded with much more importance than might seem apropos to their supernatural capacity.
The Laws, rules, edicts, compulsions of the Sidhe are as foreign to a human as a rainbow is to a bane. All rules and contracts are followed to the letter….unless they aren’t. The rules and laws are so numerous, and immutable that new laws overlap leading to incongruity and degrees of interpetation. This means the ethically agile survive court, the staid or casual do not. This has lead William to be very cautious in his dealings.