Meet the Cast: Theonar

Theonar is that rarest of things: a knight of Aranar without a story. When he first burst onto the Tourney Circuit, no one knew who he was or whence he had come. Not only was his story known to none, but he also had no clan. In the early fifth century of the Fourth Chapter, it was unheard of for a knight to be clan-less. Such a situation was dishonourable and despised, for the only knights without clans were outcasts or oathbreakers, disgraced and condemned to wander the wilds, shunned from civilised society.

Yet here was a knight without a clan who also had no tarnished reputation or track record of villainy. He was like a throwback to the old way of life in Aranar, when knights errant had been common and even idolised. That was back in the semi-mythic days of the Second Chapter, or even in the Tournament Era of the Third Chapter before the coming of the Silver Empire disrupted all aspects of Aranese society. He did not claim to be a knight, nor style himself Sir, yet he rode with such finesse and conducted himself with such valour and nobility that the crowds regarded him as a knight. Sir Nycrusan they called him, the Grey Storm, for his armour was dull and his raiment drab, but he rode with passion, and few could withstand his lance. In this manner Theonar won the hearts and minds of many poor folk, and simultaneously the contempt and jealousy of the established knightly elite.

It was in the year 420 that Theonar first appeared in Aranar, when Lord Centaaravir of the Phoenix Clan was Jeantar. Or at least, that is when official tournament records first noted the name Nycrusan as a competitor. None knew his real name or where he had come from, though a few vague rumours claimed that he had come from the semi-barbarous lands of Dorzand, where the Wolf Clan maintained a tenuous outpost of Aranese civilisation. Theonar did not speak of his origins or past life, though questions persisted, for he began entering tournaments as a man full-grown; rather he gave the crowds enough to speak of with his current deeds.

At first, he restricted himself only to the provincial tourneys of eastern Aranar, events like Centarras, Oniphar, Hetison and Medburg that made up the third tier of the Tournament Circuit in the lands of the Falcon and Hawk Clans. He also spent time in even smaller, unofficial tourneys and fairs, all up the length and breadth of Normanar, Aranar’s eastern region. His air of mystery only grew when after each whirlwind victory he vanished, leaving some to wonder if he were a man at all, and not some phantom out of the mountains. He formed no lasting connections and stayed away from the major towns.

Yet in the year 422 his fame went up a notch, for it was in that year that he first ventured into the major tournaments, the 13 great events that dominated the Aranese calendar. The Hamid Tournament in midsummer is by far the most important, for it is here that the Jeantar and rulership of the country is decided each year, but below that in the second tier are 12 major tournaments, six each in the Western and Eastern Circuits. Nycrusan was already of Cavalier rank, having won many third tier tournaments, but in the late summer of 422, in the year that Lord Rioman of the Tower Clan was Jeantar, he won the first major tournament that he entered, at Stable in the White Lands. It was unheard of for a clan-less man to win such a prestigious event, though many tried, as their surest way to fame and fortune. The Stable Tournament was presided over by Coronaar, Lord of the Unicorn Clan. For propriety’s sake, as well as his own curiosity, Lord Coronaar knighted the victor and thus at a stroke both made him an official knight and gave him the coveted rank of Paladin.

Unicorn knights prided themselves on dominating their home tournament of Stable, so it was a great shock when an outsider won for the first time in years, and Lord Coronaar was eager to have this new talent in his own ranks. He won over his new comrades and greatly increased Unicorn standing with two more major victories the following year, at Norton and Raulin in the Eastern Circuit. Yet he had only just become the Unicorn champion, and revered throughout the White Lands, when he caused a furore by transferring to the Pegasus Clan.

For a knight to transfer between clans was a major step and frowned on by many. It required the agreement of both clan lords and ratification by the Council of Stewards in Hamid. It happened after Theonar’s latest victory at Rikemord, and the Aranese elite were astonished to discover that this new Paladin was to join the Pegasus Clan. For millennia the Pegasus had dominated western Aranar as one of the nation’s oldest and most powerful clans, but of late their fortunes had reached a low ebb, far below their ancestral standards. They had held the Jeantar’s sceptre for four years in the last half-century, which was an unprecedented dry spell for such a mighty and proud clan. Lord Celkenoré was no nearer to regaining power in Hamid, and in his desperation, he began recruiting knights to bolster his cause. No one knew how he persuaded the noble Theonar, but sure enough, talk of this decision was soon buzzing around the country. In a ceremony solemnised at a shrine on the border between Pegasus and Unicorn lands, Sir Theonar officially became a knight of the Pegasus Clan.

There he joined a clan with many illustrious names, such as Sir Dasteant, Sir Rephald and Sir Tarane. His career entered a quiet phase, for although he notched up a string of tournament victories throughout the rest of the 420s, he did not dominate the circuit as he had, almost as if he were riding within himself. The fickle popularity of Aranar drifted elsewhere, though folk continued to talk of him, noting his long and frequent absences from the Pegasus court.

In one of his last acts as lord, Celkenoré elevated him to Clan Knight status in 432, the highest rung of Aranese society beneath the lords. But then the lordship passed to Sir Rephald and Sir Tarane in quick succession, men who were jealous and wary of Theonar. It was at this time that Theonar befriended the young knight Sir Southilar, who was a rising star and a young man of tremendous strength and vigour. He became a Clan Knight at the scandalously young age of 20 in 436, and soon he and Theonar became a fearsome duo aligned against the established but unsuccessful older generation.

After a string of defeats in the Hamid Tournament, Lord Tarane’s fortunes were at a low ebb, and Southilar challenged him for the lordship. In doing so he exercised the right of any Clan Knight, but the other Clan Knights voted to retain Tarane, Theonar being one of the few exceptions, along with old Sir Dasteant, Southilar’s mentor. Rather than accept the disgrace of demotion to the rank of an ordinary knight, Southilar responded to this setback by challenging Lord Tarane to a duel, which again was a customary right, though seldom exercised in those times. The powerful Southilar easily bested Tarane, badly wounding him in the process. Thus, with blood on the edge of his sword, Southilar became Lord of the Pegasus Clan and at a stroke one of the greatest men in Aranar.

The dynamic new lord began to change Pegasus fortunes almost immediately, winning a string of high-profile victories and asserting himself against the other clan lords. His friendship with Theonar cooled even as his juggernaut of success gathered momentum, and by the time he won the Hamid Tournament and became Jeantar in 442 they were no longer as close as they had been.

By the time Southilar took the daring step of missing the Hamid Tournament to quest for Oron Amular, Theonar was considered not so much an ally as a rival. Along with Sir Hardos and senior knights from other clans, Theonar accompanied his master to Oron Amular, having spoken energetically in favour of the expedition. It was to be a turning point in his career, for when Southilar returned from the fabled Mountain of High Magic, Theonar was no longer with him.


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Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

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