The first chapter of a fantasy story I'm trying out
| It was in an age of heroes that Christophe DuLac was born and he outshone them all. He was the youngest son of a minor lord, whose small estate just north of the capital was remarkable only for its grape harvests. Christophe’s three older brothers, Roland, Gustav, and Philippe, nearly assured that at no point would he inherit stewardship of Grand Lac. For many other such youngest sons, this lack of discernible future drove them to the arms of the priory or to gambling and blackmailing. But there was a spark in Christophe that drove him to greater things. |
In the time that he did not spend hunting on the grounds of the estate, the young man intently watched the practice bouts of swordplay among the guardsmen of the estate or the jousting tournaments that were held often at the capital. Years of training honed young Christophe’s brilliant natural talent for swordsmanship to deadly sharpness. His teachers were astonished by his strength and innovation in battle, and yet his equal calm and modesty. Eventually, word began to spread of the young lordlet’s prowess, word which finally reached the ears of the king. King Caleb, newly come to the throne after the death of his father King Paxton, was trying to weed out the members of his father’s court grown fat with money and power. This included the King’s bodyguard and many of the court’s guardsmen. One afternoon, after DuLac’s seventh triumphant jousting tournament, the King himself approached the young noble with an extraordinary offer, to assume the position of royal bodyguard. Untried and untested, Caleb’s decision was met with shock and dismay by the numbers of noble’s, each jockeying their own pet swordsman for the prestigious position.
However, DuLac was soon able to prove himself. The dukedom of Costoa urged several of its small neighbors to align themselves with the nearby kingdom of Ankore rather than this new juvenile king. The subsequent battles which broke out along the borders of these dukedoms were surprisingly fierce and violent, sapping the strength of the new king and his lands. The Costoan duke had enlisted the aid of the Ankoren King Varias, and in response Varias sent the rebellious dukedoms hordes of mercenary creatures. Thousands of griffins, dragons, centaurs and serpents came to the side of the Costoans and their allies, turning the battle that was expected to be fought against peasants with pitchforks was fought against powerful creatures bound to their cause by blood oaths and money. It was here that DuLac saved King Caleb, and truly set forth on his path to eternal glory.
In these days, kings fought along their soldiers, albeit better guarded than they. Thus Caleb too was confidently fending off the attack of a heavily muscled roan centaur in the spring of a muddy Costoan field. The centaur’s thick sword, emblazoned with the eagle crest of Ankore, flew towards the minute gap between the King’s helm and the chain mail at his collar. The centaur was fierce, but untrained and its blow was easily deflected. But the action above forced the King to forget dangers at ground level as well. A lone, knee-high bugbear, green eyes glowing, lunged for the King’s horse’s hind legs. The bugbear hamstringed the horse viciously, causing the horse to scream and crumble to the ground, dragging the King with it. His leg pinned under the horse’s dead weight, the centaur which before presented a more minor threat now loomed above the King, blocking out the sun as his sword rose for a killing blow. King Varias would surely reward him handsomely above his stipend when he told him he was the one who had killed the Trilythian king. But as luck or the Fates would have it, Christophe saw the King’s danger through a gap in the fighting mob. Some tellers of the tale say that DuLac seemed to fly to the side of his ward, though most agree that he just ran. Such beautiful swordsmanship the kingdom had never seen was accomplished that day, and in a flash of silver and sunlight the centaur was dead, and collapsed to the ground. Somehow, DuLac heaved the immense and crippled body of the King’s destrier off the King’s leg. It is said by some that were it not for DuLac and his presence in the King’s army that day, and his heroic defeat of the centaur, the battle would not have been won, and the King may not have held his throne, if the new royalty could not be shown to hold even minor provinces such as Costoa within the realm.
From that day forward, Christophe DuLac rose meteorically in the realm’s peerage. For his invaluable service to the king during the Costoan war, he was granted a small rural fiefdom called Rever, complete with a small stone mansion covered with ivy and rolling tree-studded farmland. Not only did he cut a dashing figure in royal balls as he elegantly waltzed with the young eligible females of the court, but he was also a constant presence by the young King’s side during sessions of the King’s Council, conferring and offering advice. Intelligent, handsome, talented, athletic and brave, DuLac was the hero of his age, the man whose battles and conquests were imitated by hundreds of little boys in the dirt roads of their townships. After all, the great DuLac came from fairly low social standing and no true combat training, and just look at all of his triumphs. And for decades his reputation only grew.