Sir Stefan Draugrsbane

Middle-Aged Knight in battered plate, metallic silver hair

Description:

NAME: Sir Stefan
Concept: True Paladin of Light
RACE: Human
XP: 48

RANK: Veteran
AGILITY d8
SMARTS d6
SPIRIT d10
STRENGTH d8
VIGOR d8

PACE 6 CHARISMA +2
PARRY 10 (3) TOUGHNESS 10 (4)

WEAPON
Hexbreaker
ATTACK d10+1
DAMAGE Str+d8+1 NOTES: White Silver

WEAPON
Crossbow ATTACK d6
DAMAGE 2d6 NOTES: 15/30/60; AP 2; 1 Action reload

ARMOR
Plate & Chain Armor
BONUS +4 NOTES: -4 Coverage
SHIELD
Large Shield
BONUS +2 NOTES: +2 Armor vs Ranged Damage

EDGES
South Born (Spirit raise)
Paladin of Light (Champion; sense evil)
Training
Luck
First Strike
Undead Slayer (d12 Raise die vs Darkness)
Shield Expertise (+1 Parry w/ Shields)
Chosen of the Horn (see next page)
Celesia’s Blessing: Glory to the Guardian (see next page)

SKILLS
Fighting d10
Healing d6
Intimidation d6
Notice d6
Knowledge (Cosmology) d4
Knowledge (Dark) d6
Knowledge (Flame) d4
Persuasion d8
Riding d6
Shooting d6
Survival d4

Defining Interests (4):
Oratory
Church of Light
Legends
Military

Languages: Olaran

HINDRANCES
Obligations (Church, Minor); Code of Honor; Heroic; Loyal

GEAR

Ranger Kit: Ranger Clothing, a week of travel rations, a water skin, a backpack, a bedroll, flint & steel, a fishing line and hook, game trapping gear, other useful odds and ends (+2 on all Survival rolls, +1 to Healing rolls, +1 to Vigor checks to resist environmental conditions)

Chosen of the Horn
• Novice: +1 Benny per session
• Seasoned: +2 on any opposed Trait rolls to resist Flame or Darkness effects.
• Veteran: The Champion Edge. If the Hero is a Paladin or a Soulguard, the effects stack!
• Heroic: +2 on all Spirit and Vigor checks to recover from being Shaken, Soak wounds, resist poisons, disease, and Fatigue.
• Legendary: Call the Unicorn’s Power – the Hero can spend a benny to activate this ability. Doing so allows the Hero to ask for any power; non-arcane casters use their Spirit, while arcane casters use their Arcane Skill. In either case, there is no expenditure of Essence. If the power is granted (at the GM’s discretion), it is cast and used as normal. Any power with a Duration lasts only its base Duration and cannot be maintained.

Celesia’s Blessing: Glory to the Guardian
2 Charisma (4 vs any other Chosen of the Horn)
• Ignore one Wound Penalty (stacks with Nerves/Improved Nerves of Steel)
• Defender of the Gather (once per round, take damage for hit on ally within half your Pace; gain benny if wounded by doing so)

Bio:

It was a day of fire, a red eternity of smoke and flames. Sir Stefan Draugrsbane stared across the bridge at a sinister glow upon the horizon, sweat already beginning to bead beneath the heavy yet comforting weight of his armor. Strangers stood with him: a tall Olaran lad with a huge sword, an Orcish woman who growled and fingered a longbow eagerly, a hissing Dregordian, scales painted in complex arcane sigils. “I’ve seen worse odds,” quipped a lean girl, knives strapped to her legs and forearms. “Get the two swordsmen out in front, and we’ll be fine.” Stefan thought the girl’s smile seemed strained.

The knight opened his mouth to reply to her jape, but found his throat dry, his tongue stilled. There was little enough to say. Across the bridge awaited a small army: traitorous humans stood side by side with vile, scuttling ratzin. A towering figure in black plate seemed to command, and Stefan could sense darkness within him. No minor foe, to be sure.

When the Olaran turned to look in his direction, Stefan felt shame. They’re looking to me, now. He thought to himself. An old and forgotten knight. Can I lead them? Sir Stefan closed his eyes, remembering long ago when he first took his vows in service of the Light. If I am the only one who can shoulder this burden, then I shall do what I can.

“Forward, then. With me!” Stefan’s normally firm tones ended in a cough. A haze of smoke spiraled up out of the forest, somewhere towards the north. The rushing river below the bridge was one way to get closer, but the far more direct route lay beyond the horde. Hexbreaker made a pleased sound as Stefan drew his father’s blade, the familiar scrape of steel on leather helping to center himself. One step, then another towards the bridge, the weight of his plate making every step thunk hollowly against wood. For one wrenching second, Stefan wondered if any of the strangers meant to follow him. There had been no time for introductions or statements of intent, only a rushed, chaotic meeting by the bridge. Stefan breathed a silent thanks to the Light as the Olaran was the first to advance at his side, and then the others behind him.

“We have to move beyond this bridge,” insisted a girl bearing a druid’s staff, clad all in green. “The Raven spoke to me, the flame we seek is further on.”

“Don’t worry, lass.” The Olaran laughed, spinning his two-handed blade so that the sun glittered off a razor-keen edge. He nodded towards Sir Stefan. “The knight here seems to know what he’s about. We’ll clear you a path.” His voice bore a surfeit of both confidence and eagerness.

Stefan bit back a groan. Light save me from young fools. “Right.” He muttered gruffly. “Stay by my side, sword-brother. Let’s buy our comrades some time.” The Olaran’s answering grin made Stefan shake his head. Granting him the title seemed an empty gesture, but there was no other better equipped to help Stefan stand toe-to-toe on the bridge. A few words that could buy the lad an extra bite in his swing, an extra chance he wouldn’t break and run. As I did, at his age. Once. Stefan growled, clutched his kite shield tightly in his left hand, and strode forward. This is my chance. My time to prove…everything.

Twenty Years Earlier:
Scholar’s Crossing was a small town in the Wildlands. Perched on the border of Landra’Feya, it was a bustling frontier town that pulled a decent living both from the fish in the river and a renowned (and rare) bookbindery. Stefan loved every part of his home, from the robed scribes and lexographers who often visited to have their parchments bound into tomes to the river barges and fishermen calling friendly greetings to the ferryman. Stefan’s father was one of Baron Strongheart’s men, a Knight of the Golden Torch. Marq Draugrsbane commanded the Crossing’s Watch, a militia of men trained in arms every feast-day.

“Soon you’ll be one of MY men.” Marq chuckled as he ruffled his son’s hair. Stefan ducked, but an answering smile grew upon his face. His father was often busy with his duties, but he spent as much time with Stefan as he could. The things he remembered about his father the most were the feel of calloused fingers on his hair, the smell of sweat and leather and steel that seemed to cling to Sir Marq Draugrsbane wherever he went.
“I won’t let you down, father.” Stefan promised. The boy he had been could hardly wait to join the militia and serve the Baron under his father.
“I know you won’t.” Marq straightened, one hand adjusting the fit of his baldric. Hexbreaker’s hilt gleamed, a simple affair of steel and silver – yet Stefan knew his father’s blade was famous, a rune-carved brand enchanted to slay both foes and spells alike.

The Day of Flame, at Drakespire:
clink A dagger’s blade rang against the back of Stefan’s armor. It was the lean girl, her teeth flashing in a gamine grin, as if to say, Who, me? “Get a move on, old-timer. We’ve got places to go, gold and glory to earn.” The girl considered. “Well, you can keep the glory. I’ll settle for the coin.”

Stefan chuckled. “A knight moves in his own time.” He replied, but quickened his pace. The Olaran, following Stefan’s guidance, stayed in step to his right. He’s guarding my sword arm. This boy has fought a battle or two before. Stefan mentally upped his judgment of the Olaran’s experience. The Dregordian and the druidess both looked concerned. Stefan felt it too – something vast and dark was stirring, beyond the bridge. There was a feeling as if a vast heart was beating, thrumming across the land like the beat of the world itself.

A battle-cry sprung to Stefan’s lips as the knight broke into a run. “Hellspawn! Your end is nigh!” Brave words, bitter upon his tongue. It would do no better to shout his true feelings. “One last chance to be my father’s son!” is hardly inspiring. Stefan’s own heart hammered in his chest. He could feel the mass of his rattling plate pressing down upon his shoulders, teeth jarred by every heavy tread upon the bridge. The ratzin looked much more dangerous close up, their eyes hateful, their blades cruelly curved and barbed. The dark-armored warrior reeked of evil, and Hexbreaker’s runes flared to golden light. Please. Stefan prayed, every fiber of his being bent upon one last plea. Please, by all that’s good. Don’t let me fail again.

Suddenly, there was no more time for prayer, no time to breathe or even think – only the clash of steel and shrill screams of pain. Spells conjured clouds of buzzing locusts and coruscating blasts of lightning. The Olaran laughed and his greatsword spun, scything down ratzin and warriors alike. As for Stefan…it was as if his father guided every swing, whispered every lesson he had ever taught directly into Stefan’s sword arm. Hexbreaker was light as a feather in his grip, its keen edge slicing through flesh and armor like silk. Stefan grunted as ratzin blades clashed and clattered against his shield and greaves. His cloak was soon a tattered rag, but no drop of Draugrsbane blood had been spilled. One heavy push of his shield sent ratzin screaming into the river, sweeps of his blade spreading ichor across the boards beneath his feet.

“Not one step back, sword-brother!” Stefan croaked, glimpsing the Olaran holding strong. Light, but that boy’s quick. Stefan marveled, watching the warrior’s greatsword reap a great harvest amongst his diminutive foes. More bursts of lightning and locusts erupted, revealing more and more foes joining the fight. Demons! Tree things and Abyssal Brutes. No matter how Stefan cudgeled his memories, he could not recall all the names his father had drilled him on. To know the enemy is to have strength against them. The old knight’s counsel was sound, but it had been decades since those lessons, and the best Stefan could do was to sense the darkness and bless the white silver of Hexbreaker. The Olaran was no longer laughing, but the druidess was close behind him, and the lean girl’s knives were spinning a deadly dance around her.

It was just as Stefan was beginning to believe that they would prevail when a gust of foul smoke-tainted wind swept across the forest, and a bellowing beast of leathery wings and hate-filled eyes roared into view above the trees.

Dragon! Stefan’s mind gibbered, his fingers barely remembering to stay clenched around Hexbreaker’s hilt. Flame erupted from above, a hellish blast of heat and ashes washing across the battlefield. Move, damn you! Stefan snapped out of the trance, pushing past the awe and horror. The dragonbreath roasted ratzin and was about to engulf the entire end of the bridge. He glimpsed the druidess, the lean girl, and the Dregordian leaping to safety, but the Olaran seemed frozen as Stefan had been. There was no time for debate, no time to talk, only react. Stefan leapt, his shoulder crashing into the big man’s side and knocking him out of the way as the lance of fire lashed out. Smoke and heat blasted Stefan’s shield, and the knight clenched his teeth, eyes tightly shut against the pain and the smell of his own flesh beginning to smolder. Light, give me strength!

And then it was over, the flames flickering away as the dragon wheeled overhead, a harsh sound of thunderous rage booming from its maw. Wings slapped at the air, trailing smoke, and the beast flew away, leaving Stefan coughing and cursing upon the ground. I’m alive. He marveled, standing awkwardly. Still alive.

“Are you all right?” The Olaran asked, helping the old knight to his feet, a seemingly effortless feat for the boy’s thickly-muscled arm.

“I am a Paladin of the Light.” Stefan growled, his eyes focused upon where the Dragon had gone. “I’ve a job to do before I die.”

Eighteen years earlier, at Scholar’s Crossing:
“Bandits!” The miller’s son shouted as he ran, staggering and winded. “Bandits at the ford!”

“You know what to do, son.” Marq Draugrsbane said, belting Hexbreaker around his waist. “Ring the bell and assemble with the militia in the town square.”

Stefan nodded and ran to obey. At fourteen, he was a gangly youth, swift on his feet, if a bit clumsy. When the brass bell on top of the local Chapel of the Light tolled, men set down their burdens, their tools, the reins of the horses, and picked up their arms. The Crossing Watch was decently trained and equipped, and while not professional soldiers, the militiamen were quick to put on their gear and step into ranks beside Sir Marq.

The militiamen were mostly older folk; bakers, fishermen, chandlers, even the old butcher Tom Four-fingers. Stefan felt like a child next to them. Yet, wearing a leather jack and clutching an iron-pointed spear like the rest, he was a man grown. Sir Marq nodded as he passed in review, and Stefan straightened his shoulders.

It did not take the enemy long to approach – howling, clashing blades against their shields, the bandits came in an undisciplined mob. Humans, orcs, even a pair of ogres among them, they wore mismatched armor and bristled with a variety of arms from swords to axes to spiked morningstars. “Ready spears.” Sir Marq commanded. How does he sound so calm? Stefan wondered, as his own hands flexed, sweat-slick, upon the haft of his spear. In an instant, everything seemed clumsy. His half-helm slid back on his hair, the leather jack itched across his shoulders, and the spear felt awkward and crude. Stefan breathed, his feet shuffling, fear hammering at his heart while the bandits closed. Every one of them seemed to be shouting, cursing, brandishing their weapons and running like a tide of iron and hate. So many. Can we stop them?

Time seemed to slow as the two forces clashed. Cleavers flashed, sweeping down to crunch through leather and blood splashed upon the road. Stefan trembled, unable to move, jaw clenched. Spears thrust as the militia shouted, Sir Marq’s blade beheading an Orc. An Ogre loomed before Stefan, a huge iron-banded club smashing aside Tom Four-fingers like a toy. Stefan could only watch as Tom gasped, crimson spilling from his mouth and ears, and then lay still.

All around Stefan, the battle raged, as he stood in place. His bowels turned to water as one bandit turned and stared him in the eye. The man laughed, a sneer upon his face as he closed. The bandit’s sword slapped Stefan’s spear aside, and the boy stumbled back. “Stefan!” His father cried out, somewhere, but Stefan’s eyes were locked on the bandit, his weapon raised for the killing blow. Stefan closed his eyes, sobbed, and ran for the woods, leaving the battle behind.

The Day of Flame, at Drakespire:
More Childer burst from the woods, a seemingly unending wave upon wave of evil forms crashing against Sir Stefan and the Olaran warrior. Beyond them, two Minotaurs bellowed challenges and stomped forwards, though the bridge remained clear behind the two humans.

“I thank you, but I must go. The raven calls, and the heart burns.” The druidess spoke, darting through a momentary opening and leaping into the forest. The Olaran and Stefan whirled, blades flashing, and ratzin and childer died. “Glad to be of service my lady!” Stefan called, battle-drunk, his senses afire. “We’ll be along shortly.” One glance at the Olaran was all that was necessary. The young warrior nodded, a wordless pledge to the older knight. Neither of them would leave while there were enemies to be fought, friends to be protected. “The rest of you, go if you can! We will hold them.”

Stefan wondered what the druidess’ words meant – the raven was just a legend, wasn’t it? Perhaps he should have spent more time studying at the Crossing. The arrival of the Minotaurs drove all thoughts of study from his mind, focusing only on the crunch of axes upon his shield and the flow of Hexbreaker’s flickering strikes. One minotaur’s axe broke clean in half on a badly-aimed backswing, leaving the beast open. Now. It was as if Stefan could hear his father’s voice as Hexbreaker slid smoothly into the Bull-man’s heart. A perfect strike. Only once in a thousand blows is a stroke deemed flawless, and Stefan felt a flush of pride as the Minotaur fell with a stunned expression on its ugly visage.

Splashes from behind him told Sir Stefan that the Dregordian and the Orcish ranger must have leapt from the bridge to take their chances in the river, and he caught a glimpse of the lean girl out of the corner of his eyes leaping, agile as a cat, beyond the battle-line and sprint for the north. Stefan and the Olaran were surrounded now, and though another Minotaur fell to Stefan’s sword, Abyssal Brutes were more than sufficient to keep both warriors bottled up. Stefan cursed and the Olaran fought like a grim avatar of death, and Childer after Childer dropped to the blood- and soot- stained ground.

When the last Brute howled his death cry, Stefan looked around. He and the Olaran stood alone – a carpet of sulfur-reeking hellspawn spread around them in a circle of gore. Both men were unwounded, the Paladin’s armor and shield marked by dozens of swordstrokes and dents. “Well fought, sword-brother.” Stefan gasped, daring to rest a moment as another tremor of rage and darkness flowed from the ruins to the north. He stood and cleaned his sword on the remnants of his cloak, then waved northwards. “Now, we needs must teach other hellspawn a simple lesson: threaten this land, and die.”

The Olaran grinned, and both men began to run towards the sounds of battle, the flicker of flames rising into the sky.

Seventeen years ago, at Scholar’s Crossing:
Sir Marq Draugrsbane stared out the window as his son sat by the hearth, miserable, gazing only at the floor. “Men break.” Sir Marq spoke, his voice weary and resigned. “I have seen it many times. It could be their first battle or their hundredth. Courage fails, and they break.” Marq turned to Stefan, then reached down to lift his son’s chin. “What is more important than breaking is to not remain broken.”

Stefan bit his lip, tears of shame and rage staining his cheeks. “I…I’m sorry, father.”

Sir Marq shook his head. “Apologies mean little to the men you abandoned on the field, Stefan,” He explained patiently. “You must either make amends, or remain a craven.” The older knight tilted his head. “Which would you rather do?”

Stefan swallowed. The thought of facing the other men of the militia after he had fled was terrifying. He felt as if a hand of ice was wrapped around his heart. “I…I’ll make amends.”

Sir Marq nodded. “That takes a kind of courage, lad. Remember this, Stefan. To be brave is not the absence of fear. Rather, it is what you do in spite of the fear. I feel afraid in every battle.”

Stefan blinked. “Surely, not you, you’re a knight…”

His father laughed, the fire glinting on the silver-grey threads in his beard and hair. “Knights feel as other men do.” He leaned forward, spearing his son with his eyes. “Fear, pain, and doubt. We feel them just as much. Again, what we do despite those feelings is what matters.”

Stefan nodded, clenching his hands in his lap. I will not fail you again. Swearing the oath made him feel better, even though nightmares of the smirking bandit remained.

“One day, Stefan, you will face your fears again. And when that time comes, you will know without a doubt what kind of man you are.”

The Day of Flame, at Drakespire:
Sir Stefan gaped at the assembly in the north – a valley dipped between the trees, filled with stony-skinned gargoyles and dark warriors in oiled black armor. Wizards chanted spells from behind the battle lines, and more strangers struggled with steel and magic to push through. “This had better be worth it!” The lean girl was there, fingering her bloodied daggers. She flicked a grin at Stefan and the Olaran, then darted forward. Stefan looked around, but could see no sign of the others from the bridge, though there were plenty of men and women battling in the melee.

One gargoyle spotted the golden sheen of Hexbreaker and turned, snarling. More gargoyles leapt to the attack, and the Olaran grunted in sudden pain. Stone scraped against iron as the Paladin, the warrior, and the dagger-wielding rogue battled side-by-side. More spells crackled in the air, leaving electric afterimages lingering upon the eyes of all present. Cries of the wounded mingled with the screams of the dying.

Then a voice cried out, a voice suited to the battleground. “I am Lord General Olar! By my command…Advance!” The din of battle swallowed nearly every other word, but such was the General’s aura of command that Stefan could hear him as if he stood next to the man. Those words were like a wash in an icy pool – Stefan felt strength flow into every limb, his awareness of the battle sharpened. By the Light! This General is a man to follow into hell itself.

Stefan felt both ashamed and relieved. The relief came from the realization that the General was now in charge. Stefan had won his way across the bridge with his allies, and he need no longer bear that burden. But there was a bit of frustration there as well – for a while, he had been a knight as his father always wanted him to be, leading the way. Stefan shrugged, and let both emotions fade. The way of the Paladin is to serve, not for glory, but for the Light. “In the name of the Lord General! We shall strike hard and strike true!” He shouted.

Dragonfire burst over the battlefield once more as the scaled horror flew into sight. Stefan could only wince as he saw the General’s brave bodyguard blown to cinders, along with several of the dark-armored foes. The Dragon did not appear overly concerned with friendly casualties.

Below in the valley, others who fought for the General were shouting, and there was a kneeling man who looked vaguely familiar. Damn. If only I had studied those legends…is that Saiderin? No, it couldn’t be. There was another spellburst, and the ground seemed to lurch beneath Stefan’s feet. The Olaran looked startled, and then faded away along with the rest of the battlefield as Stefan and a handful of others were swept away by a tide of magic. As Stefan shook his head and looked around, he stood before a massive ruined castle. Howling hellspawn of massive power and size jeered and cursed them from the towers, but beyond the wall the Dragon herself rose, like an avatar of red, blazing death.

Three days ago, at Scholar’s Crossing:
“Sir Stefan, I must refuse you again.” Baron Strongheart, third of his line, sat at his seat in the town hall and steepled his fingers. “You are well suited to your current post.”

You still think of me as a craven boy, you mean. Stefan struggled to still his face and smother his anger. “My lord, I have served you since I gained my knighthood in service to the Light some ten years ago.” His voice was clipped, helm clutched at his side whilst the other gripped his belt rather than touch the hilt of Hexbreaker. “My father trained me well, and I have trained my squire Rodrick. He can look after the town whilst I am gone.”

The Baron frowned. “How many times must we go through this, Sir Stefan? You asked me several times to join Grayson’s Rangers, I believe. And my refusal still stands. My town deserves a knight to protect it. I agree that the bandits have stayed clear, but since your father died, I must rely upon you to lead our militia if anything were to go awry.”

Stefan clenched his teeth and turned to look away, studying a wall tapestry in order to master his frustration. “My lord.” He sighed and met the Baron’s gaze. “I sense something terrible growing to the north. If I do not go to face it now, while it still gathers its strength, whatever it is may come calling here and crush us without mercy or warning.”

Baron Strongheart nodded, but said nothing. Stefan knew that his liege was studying him, weighing the value of one older, untested knight against the safety of the town. It was true that Sir Stefan had been chosen by the Light – a midnight vigil at the Chapel had revealed a vision to him, and the town priests’ had anointed him as a chosen Paladin three years prior. It was also true that Stefan had inherited his father’s enchanted blade, and had served as commander of the Crossing Watch for over a decade. Yet, the Baron also knew that he had faced no real battles, no true challenges during that time – a rare span of peace and prosperity purchased by regular visits from Grayson’s Gray Rangers. But the Rangers were gone about other business, and were too far to arrive in time if Stefan was correct.

“Very well.” The Baron grudgingly reached for a piece of parchment and a quill to write the necessary orders.

“Thank you, My Lord. I will ensure that Rodrick knows his duties.” As shall I, Stefan thought to himself as he left the Baron’s keep and gazed towards the north. This is my test. Am I a knight, like my father? Or am I a coward? His hand clenched into a fist upon Hexbreaker’s hilt. I must know.

The Day of Flame, at Drakespire:
Stefan blinked at the sudden transition. It would take a truly mighty spell to bring this many so far. Perhaps that was Saiderin after all. He gazed around at the others who had been brought along to stand before the gates. There was a paladin of his own order, a younger lad shimmering with enchanted gear, a confidence and strength in his gaze that only comes from long experience of fighting the darkness…and winning. Stefan felt shabby by comparison, his armor bent and scratched, the plain kite shield on his arm battered nearly into wreckage. The great General was also present, even silent projecting an aura of inspiration and inevitable victory. There were others, sorcerers and druids, Dregordians and Brinchie. Many were wounded, and at least one lay upon the ground groaning in pain.

“Ware! The demons descend!” Stefan was not certain who had shouted the warning, but it came not too late – for it was true. The Dragon’s defenders leapt from the ramparts and tore into the companions with glee. More than one hero was cut down in moments, blades flashing and hellish voices raised in terrible laughter. One demon focused upon Stefan, snarling as its twin axes cleaved the air. Stefan ducked, rolled, spun, and wheeled. Hexbreaker struck like a snake, and his loyal kite shield rang like the Crossing’s bell. Again and again, the demon struck, but every time Stefan took the blow and sent one back in return. The demon snarled, unable to mark him, and Stefan felt alive like he never had before. This is courage. This is my father’s way – to use the fear, rather than surrender to it. “I know not whether I am here for Love or Duty.” He shouted to the demon, twin words he had heard uttered by the other heroes. “But I know evil – and I was born to fight it!”

Dragonfire blasted the group, demonblades slashed deep, and more heroes fell. Stefan glanced around and frowned grimly. He still stood, and so did the General, but many of the other heroes lay unmoving on the ground. The Dragon and her demons had reaped a bloody toll, and the price was high. A Dregordian hissed and fell next to Stefan, and the demons seemed ready to destroy them all when the General roared out a challenge – he would meet every demon, damn them, one at a time or all at once.

Stefan cheered as the demons took only a moment to answer the General’s singular courage with snarls of rage. Olar had given them a chance. One choice, now. Victory or death, those are the only options we have. Even as Stefan exulted, the castle gatehouse crashed to the ground in ruins, and the younger paladin dashed forward. Stefan grinned. “Now or never, old man.” He muttered to himself, and prepared to follow his fellow knight. Such a young man, but so powerful and experienced, Stefan felt as if he stood with the militia in the Crossing once more. I didn’t run, this time. I fought.

There was a strangled shout as someone cried out a denial, and Stefan had to cover his eyes as a burst of magma exploded from the center of the castle where the young paladin had charged. Did the Dragon kill him? What happened?

Once his eyes had recovered, Sir Stefan gaped at the destruction. The Dragon and the brave knight who fought against her had both been destroyed – the paladin must have born a powerful artifact indeed. Stefan hefted Hexbreaker in salute and dipped his sword point. “Rest well, sword-brother. I did not know you, but you showed great courage.” Few men have a better epitaph.

The Day of Flame had ended, and Landra’Feya was safe once more. Stefan groaned as he felt every year settle upon his bones as the battle-lust faded. He could hardly believe that a rank beginner like himself had made it this far, let alone face the likes of the Dragon and her demonic allies. Covered in hellspawn ichor and wearing armor suited more for the scrapheap than the parade ground, the paladin approached Lord General Olar. “My Lord General… I wonder if you have a place for a tired, old knight in your service…”

Sir Stefan Draugrsbane

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