Deathknight Origin Story
At one time, the spectral warrior known now only as Deathknight was a fierce and honorable champion for all that was good and righteous. A respected leader within the ranks of the chivalrous and holy Order of the Knights Templar, he courageously lead his brother knights into many a campaign against the armies of evil. Known in life as Godfrey de Aravia, countless undead and demonspawn fell by his sword, which was said to have been blessed by God Himself. The blade, an enchanted broadsword, though used in battles beyond number, never broke, never dulled, never rusted. In fact, legend has it that when he drew it from its scabbard, the blade would burn with holy flame. It was rumored that the sword drew power from his righteous spirit, and that the more he burned with holy anger, the brighter the sword would flare.
The Order thrived, and for decades, he and his brother Knights fiercely and faithfully served their God. But, as time were on, there was some among the royalty of Aravia who grew jealous of the Order's power and great wealth it had accrued. By treacherous deceit, the greedy king of Aravia leveled false charges against the Knights of the Temple and ordered them arrested. In the early morning hours, when many of them lay sleeping, soldiers of the king broke down their doors and arrested them. Many were tortured into false confessions, while others who would not confess to such horrendous charges were burned at the stake, including the Master of the Order.
Fortunately for Sir Godfrey, or unfortunately, he had been away on his latest military campaign and had not been in Aravia when the arrests were ordered. Following the fall of his holy Order, he found himself without a sense of purpose or belonging, homeless among the warrior class. Sojourning across the land of Teleria, in search of his scattered brethren, those who had escaped the king's grasp, he wandered into a village besieged by the undead. Though his order was no more, Sir Godfrey was still a Holy paladin and as such, it remained his sacred mission to banish evil from the Earth wherever he encountered it.
As he entered the battle, his holy blade flared to life, reflecting his righteous hatred of the foul undead creatures. He joined the battle alongside a division of knights, bound by oath to another of Teleria's chivalrous brotherhoods, the Sacred Order. His skill with the sword and his fearlessness in battle, at once renowned within the ranks of his former order, caught the attention of the brothers and sisters of the Sacred Order.
When the undead were destroyed and the fires extinguished, Sir Godfrey was approached by elders of the Order and invited to join them. He agreed, but only under condition that his service to them would not hinder the search for his lost brothers. The leaders agreed and even offered membership to any of his fellow warriors of his former Order, should he locate any.
Sealing the compact by spoken oath, they battled the minions of Siroth side by side for many years, occasionally finding one of his lost brothers in arms. Out of loyalty and respect, and even love for their brother knight, each of them joined the Sacred Order, fighting alongside their former Commander.
During one such campaign, Sir Godfrey was given the mission to lead a company of knights back into the city of Aravia where his former Order had been betrayed. Rumors had reached them that a large contingent of undead had sacked the city and were now occupying it. Despite his quarrel with the king, Sir Godfrey saw to the mission with obedience and determination. Following the orders of his commanders, he led the assault against the undead. When the knights entered the city, however, they quickly realized that they had charged into a trap. Although undead did, in fact, occupy the city, the real power behind them was a sect of cultists, a mockery of the accolade of knighthood, the Knights Revenant. These fallen warriors were once knights of chivalry and honor, in service to God. But power and greed corrupted their hearts and now they serve only darkness. Those who had betrayed his former Order and murdered his brethren had turned their blackened hearts against God and had joined the cultists.
The ambush they had laid for the Sacred Order was a success and many of Sir Godfrey's company were slain that night. Their blood flowed through the streets of Aravia.
The king, watching from his blasphemous tower, recognized the flaming sword in the battle far below. He ordered Sir Godfrey captured and brought to him. He had unfinished business with the former knight of the Temple.
Standing before the King and his conspirators, Sir Godfrey was defiant. He would not kneel to the fallen King. In an effort to make him do so, the King struck Sir Godfrey in the stomach. Rather than double over, though, Sir Godfrey countered, punching the King hard in the face with his gauntleted hand and leveling him. Despite the pain in his stomach, Sir Godfrey smiled at the payback he'd given the King.
In return, the knight was beaten mercilessly by the King's guards. He was stripped of his clothes, the uniform of his former Order, which had become instantly recognizable throughout the vast lands of Teleria. His armor and weapons were also taken, but when the King tried to take hold of Sir Godfrey's sword, its hilt seared his hand. The fallen King, nor any of the servants, could wield the holy blade.
Sir Godfrey was bound and taken to the city square, where, like many of his former brethren, he was tied to a wooden pole to be burned at the stake. It seemed that after all these years, he would share their tragic and terrible fate. It was only fitting, he thought. The King had ordered his sword to be burned and destroyed and so it was thrown into the fire with him.
Before the flames consumed him, Sir Godfrey screamed at the King and his cohorts, cursing them. He would return, he oathed, and avenge his brothers. He would pay back the King and his men tenfold for their treachery, haunting their dreams and pursuing them every waking hour. They would never have peace, whether awake or asleep. The King laughed at the absurdity and watched with satisfaction as the flames devoured the defiant knight.
For days, his skeletal remains were left, bound to the stake, as a monument to the King's victory over the two holy Orders. The soldiers had even draped his broken armor and tattered uniform over his charred remains as a mockery to both the knight and the Order of the Temple. Sir Godfrey's sword, once an object of beauty and grace, now lay at his feet scorched and rusted, desecrated as had he been. It was as if when his spirit had departed, so too, did that of the sword.
But, the spirit of the man who was once so mighty and righteous in life, would not rest idly for long. As the sun set on the third day, the dead knight, once known as Sir Godfrey de Aravia, rose from the ashes to a living death. The oath he swore to the King had been fulfilled, but not as he had intended. Looking down at his skeletal remains, he was filled with both panic and hatred. His eyes flared with a blue, otherworldly flame as if reflecting his abhorrence for what he had become. He was a mockery of his former self, a knight in death that the knight he was in life would have given no quarter, shown no mercy to. How many foul creatures like himself had felt the sting of his holy blade?
Remembering his sword, he looked around worriedly and spotted it in the ashes on the ground. With great sadness, he picked up the rusty blade. All splendour gone, it was as lifeless as he was. He was almost more grieved about that than he was about himself. Gripping its hilt tightly in his bony fingers, he fixed his fiery gaze upon the tower of the King. There would be time to grieve later. He had work to do.
Written by John A. Horay Jr.