Summoned before the court, May, both a Paladin of Ellonia (Goddess of Goodness, Light, etc) and the Baroness Dov's personal knight, appeared when expected. In her armor she strode down to the foot of the slightly raised dais on which the Baroness Dov stood. The two briefly exchanged smiles, before May knelt as becoming of her station to her liege. Through her long service to Dov, the two had become more than master and servant, they were friends. Good friends. Yet May aspired for more.
All but the blind or newest to Dov's Barony could see from their interactions out in public that May had stronger feelings for Dov than was expected, or even appropriate. Dov didn't encourage those feelings, but she didn't deny them either. She always maintained their relationship as friendly companionship at best.
But before the court, they both acted as expected. So on this day, May did not expect anything out of the ordinary. A new task perhaps. Obviously something official for it to be brought up in court proceedings.
"You wished to see me, Your Ladyship?" May offered properly when her knee hit the floor.
"Yes," Dov replied formulaically. She swept her gaze over the assembled people, then announced: "I have received a proclamation from the King." She gave a momentary pause for all those who felt the need to acknowledge to get out their murmurings before continuing. "His Majesty is forming an elite team, whose purpose is to be the defense of the Kingdom in any unique ways that may present themselves as unfillable by the offerings of the standing army and scholarly core." Less murmurings this time, but many interested looks, both approving and worried.
May looked up at Dov, wondering what this meant for the two of them, and the Barony as a whole.
"He further communicated," Dov went on, "that while his preference would be for me to join this team, he understands that as we are still a new Barony my leaving for the capital would undermine this area's stability." Many nods, and a few sighs of relief, went around at this. "So His Majesty has entrusted me with the decision of whom to send in my place," and with that she looked down at May.
In the same moment, fear seizing in her chest, May sought out Dov's eyes. No..., she silently prayed. Not me....
"Dame May," Dov formally announced, "Of all I know, I believe you are the best suited for this assignment. I know you will represent both myself and our Barony with distinction. But more so, you are exactly what the King needs for such a team."
May stopped listening to the official declaration, for with each word she felt herself becoming more lost. She tried to will Dov's attention to her, perhaps in some way convince the Baroness Mage to magically or officially undo and change the last five minutes. Of course May had no actual power to do so. But when Dov finally did look directly at May, May's attention snapped back from silent desperate whim to the present.
"In my stead, Serve him as you would me," Dov instructed her.
May closed her eyes. It was her turn to respond, to accept. As applause erupted around them with expectation of the cursory 'As you wish', May looked up with sadness and pleading in her eyes. "But..." she struggled with her words, "I... I love you," she confessed, barely loud enough for Dov to hear over the noise.
Dov's expression softened, though she tried to keep the pity she felt from showing. She reached out with one hand and cupped the side of May's face. With a tone of 'That's exactly what I meant,' she replied, "I know."
May's face fell, both her countenance and her eyes to the floor. It was all she could do to keep tears from forming, and in this moment she barely had the will for that.
Dov quieted her voice for only May to hear. "I can't be the partner you want," she said gently. "You need a new Lord, new Liege," she corrected herself on the title she used, then continued. "And that is the King. Serving him, you will be to able find the person you love, who will love you back," then she added for clarification, "in the same way." Dov tipped May's head up, to try and get May to look at her. Even though it didn't succeed, she went on. "May, I want you to become the best you can. But that's not possible with me." She then leaned forward and kissed May on the forehead. Then stood and took a step backwards. Returning her voice to a courtly level, she proclaimed quite clearly for all to hear: "I release you from your oath to me-"
May's head dropped. Already on one knee, she appeared to be bowing in acceptance. But in truth, her heart was shattered and dashed to the ground at those words.
"- and an oath of fealty sworn to the King shall replace it," Dov declared with finality.
An order then, her last to May. And though the first part prevented the second from being binding, both Dov and May knew May would follow through on it.
---(Writer's note: I wanted to bullet out the rest, not write whole scenes, in the interest of time. What's below is the compromise. Will clean up as able, especially since it moves back and forth through time instead of being linear!)
On her way to the Capital, May finally decided to seek out a bonded mount. She hadn't done so at her earliest ability given her profession, but now heard her Deity's call for it. In very little time a pure white Unicorn called Sunset appeared while she sat in a forest and took her up. In doing so her broken heart began to mend.
May was the first to arrive in answer to the King's call. While waiting on the others, she petitioned to become a Knight of the Realm, and passing the trials became Lady May. Every day she worked in service to the King, one way or another, just as she had for Dov. But as much as she worked out of love for Dov, she also worked so as not to have to think on her own hurt, turning herself over to her religion and her duties. It's during this time the rotating P around her head grows in strength and shininess.
Nearly a year later, after knowing who all the members of the elite team are, it is named The King's Fist, for they are all fighter types. Lady May - a Paladin with a Unicorn, Melani - a Ranger with a Pegasus, Shyelle - a Druid with a Blink Dog, Reisin - an Archer Mage, Nikki - a Fighter Cleric, and Gim - a Barbarian. Once assembled, training begins so they all can learn each other and get used to working as a team. The team is formally activated over two years from when the King initially called for it. A seventh member joins shortly thereafter, Cedric - a Fighter Rouge.
After the team is sent out as a group for the first time, they soon discover since they were not the nobles or leaders that had originally been called for by the King, they are little more than a specialized force, and though they answer only to the King – typically by way of his personal aid Bob - they have no more power or authority, or even support, in the Kingdom than any Captain/Major in the army.
Then the team shrank in size when Cedric bowed out suddenly. But as he was a late addition it didn't change dynamics much. However, when Nikki finally left due to not fitting in well with the rest of the team and frustrations over philosophy differences with the only person she truly trusted on the team, Lady May, the group was affected by the loss of manpower. She isn't replaced either, though the team's support numbers grow as Reisin gains an Archon follower and Shyelle another animal companion. The the team undergoes a change in membership when Gim resurrects for the third time and decides to return to his order. Another is sent in his place, whom the King's Fist accepts without hesitation out of necessity. He proves to be an adequate fit.
Eventually the mortality rate in the King's Fist causes membership to semi-routinely change, some willing to accept the repeated deaths as part of their service more than others. As a consequence re-training with new members no longer takes place, as there isn't the luxury of time for it (as you will see). The King's Fist takes to keeping a ranking cleric able to cast resurrection and True resurrection on notice and at least two diamonds of needed worth in treasury for the spells to minimize interruption in their quests, despite the considerable drain on their collective resources and down time to maintain these. But it's finally the arrival of Otto - a specialized Healer - that allows the King's Fist to survive long terms away from the Kingdom's available Clerics, and allows them faster pace in their ultimate purpose.
However, for her dedication outside of the demands of the King's Fist, the King gave May a small piece of land of her choice within half a day's travel of the castle to make a new life on. May had a small stronghold-like chapel with sleeping quarters and a practice grounds built on her parcel of land. Within a few months, six followers have arrived. Two wished to learn the ways of Ellonia that May followed, two who wished to serve Lady May. And one, Delantim, a full-fledged Wizard she had met by chance during one of the King's Fist's training runs, and then a second time while both had been working independently for the same ends, is most resolute about helping May even though he shares very little with her other than a general philosophy on life. Yet he and May seemed to mesh so well it was as if they had known each other forever. May made room for them all, even adding one actual room for Delantim's research even though she didn't understand it.
At some point within her first four years of service to the King, May's personal pain was laid to rest and she developed a more personal respect for her King, and thus came to serve him out of genuine loyalty to him and not just her past. It also allowed her to think more on living life and what she truly is able to do, as opposed to simply moving through each day in the way and manners expected of her. Later the King (or perhaps it was Bob) was savvy enough to figure out, long before May realized it, that with her following growing May was in actuality training a future small army of Paladins and their aids. These two developments combined earned her personal notice by the King, to the point of infrequent invitations for a private audience with him.
Shortly thereafter, the Druid asked May if he may claim the unused land next to her stronghold to plant a grove. With a shrug, May agreeed. Unknowing that the two of them had just laid the groundwork for a future association of yet to be established Druid and Paladin orders. In addition, the fledgling grove quickly becaome the home forest for Sunset, and so also ends up the future residence of a prolific family of unicorns. Over time a very magical and goodly set of land grows hand-in-hand, the fortress Eastward towards the Capital and the grove Westward with only a little creep into and around the fortress' land.
By the time the King's Fist is beginning to be known and recognized on their own Kingdom wide, the King comes down with a mysterious magical illness. The team is sent after the only divided cure, an artifact amulet with the power to bolster the wearer's constitution. The idea being it would provide the ability to fight off the illness that the magical part is sapping away. As time slipped away from them in their quest for the amulet, May began to truly fear for the King's life. Eventually successful, the ordeal brought the King to seek May's counsel for the first time. And after the abrupt disappearance of Bob, May found herself more at the King's ear. Both honored by and respectful of the trust, she tried to not abuse the relationship, instead approaching it with a healthy sense of fear. But she knew she also needed to learn what she could, and keep the King's health and the Kingdom's interest in mind. The amulet only allowed the King to recover, it didn't actually remove the illness from him. Which meant he would have to wear it for the rest of his life if a true cure wasn't found.
During their efforts to retrieve the amulet the King's Fist began to learn about ancient history of the land, and a threat that would destroy the Kingdom if it managed to free itself, and had apparently been attempting to do so for decades. "It" was Lantier, now a being of Taint, formerly the last King of the long fallen Kingdom that had spanned all the lands from the ocean to the mountains. Lantier had grown so powerful and corrupt before his overthrow that none existing today could stand against him. (Indeed, in the years to come the entire army sent to stand against the Taint's advancement out of the tower - half the Kingdom's forces - would be lost while the King's Fist attempted to solve the Lantier issue the needed way.)
There were 13 artifact amulets, 12 of which time had scattered throughout the land, that originally had been used together to seal the being away in a tower, and which could again be used to relock the weakened and now fracturing seal. Followers of Lantier attempting to break free of his tower prison had already begun gathering the amulets years before, and Taint was slowly spreading outward from his tower over the land nearby. However, other beings or groups also after the powers of the amulets had begun collecting them recently, complicating efforts of both Lantier and the King's Fist. The last complication for the King's Fist was that not only had the 13th amulet not been seen or heard of since the time of the creation of the seal, there was also no record to be found of what it looked like or what its power was. Even the Watchers' Tower and records kept by that Order – the group that trapped the being and created the seal and then maintained existence to watch and make sure it was never broken - had no answers on the 13th amulet. Any page with that information was missing from their books, and the original Masters of the Order hadn't woken from their stasis sleep in centuries. Nor did they conveniently wake now. Instead, the King's Fist had to join the Watchers' Order to gain their powers against Taint and access to whatever knowledge was in the Tower still. But that meant they also gained their curse.
Labels: Character History, Lady May, RP