Together with Roujeark and Curillian, Lancoir is one of the three main characters of Oron Amular. Curillian and Lancoir have known each other for decades, in which time Lancoir has risen in the royal service from a lowly soldier to a knight of the realm and Captain of the Royal Guard. Therefore, few people could tell us about him better than the King of Maristonia…

I have resolved to accept Kulothiel’s invitation and go to Oron Amular. A journey like no other for a king of Maristonia, for none of my predecessors have ever been to elven Kalimar, let alone penetrated the dark recesses of the Black Mountains, where Oron Amular lies. Carmen doesn’t want me to go, but now is not the time to write of that. No, best to focus on the preparations.

It will be a long and perilous journey, and I do not wish anyone to know that I am gone for as long as possible, just in case it gives the barbarians an excuse to raid more than normal. I cannot exit the city unobserved, of course, but let everyone think that I am paying one of my surprise visits to the merchant cities of the East-fold.

Sir Lancoir, son of Lorumon, shall accompany me. It is customary for at least three of the twelve Knights of Thainen to accompany me on serious business, but ten of them are scattered far and wide, serving on troubled frontiers or representing our affairs in foreign capitals. The only other member of that order currently in Mariston is Sir Tillurand, and though longer-serving than Lancoir I want him to remain in the city and keep the peace.

So only Lancoir, of all my knights, shall accompany me, but who else would I need? If I only had one armist to fight by my side, it would be Lancoir, veteran of so many of my campaigns. There might be more skilled swordsmen in the realm, or wiser councillors, but a better all-round warrior and a more loyal subject you will not find.

He is at the height of his powers now, and no longer a young armist in the eyes of his comrades, but to me he is still a child, my junior by hundreds of years. Great warriors have come and gone in my long reign, names that shine in the annals of the Knights of Thainen, but Lancoir outmatches them all. I still remember him as a child, the snotty and taciturn only son of Sir Lorumon, and I would not have predicted back then that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. Quite apart from the fact that the Order of Thainen is not recruited through heredity but through outstanding ability, but also he did not seem like a naturally gifted warrior.

In that I was wrong. Unconventional, late-developing, yes, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that he did indeed have the heart and soul of a warrior. He came up through the legions, earning rapid promotion on the southern march where his superiors regularly mentioned him in dispatches. He was in command of an infantry chapter* when his father met his untimely demise, and that tragedy forever altered the course of his life. He might have gone on to become one of our finest legion commanders, but instead he pursued a private blood-feud against his father’s murderers and that brought him into my immediate sphere.

He might not have agreed with how I dispensed justice in that matter, but when it was done he abided by my judgement and I insisted on having him stay in the capital, for I had seen greatness in him. Sir Lorumon was relatively undistinguished for a Knight of Thainen, an armist of simple loyalty and no imagination, but his son would surpass him in just about every way.

I seconded Lancoir into the Royal Guards, where I had him command one of its cohorts. These armists form my bodyguard on campaign, a task that leaves the legions free to concentrate on their own duties. Thus Lancoir fought with me against the Alanai in the south and against the hill-men who had invaded the north. On both occasions he proved his mettle, impressing me far more than others of greater lineage. It was in Aranar, fighting an unholy alliance between the rebel Hawk lord and the savage harracks of Stonad, that he came of age.

He was caught in an ambush with a small patrol which included a Knight of Thainen, Sir Carthan. Carthan was slain by the harracks, fiendish dwarf-like creatures who fight like demons and are very hard to kill. Lancoir not only survived, but fought them off and saved the lives of several others. Had anyone else been in his shoes, there would have been none left alive by the time I arrived with a larger contingent. The decision to raise Lancoir to knighthood in the Order of Thainen was very simple, for he had met all the criteria and then some. He had proven personal loyalty to the king, demonstrated exceptional hardihood and martial valour, and also avenged the death of another knight.

So he came home a hero, and I followed up the battlefield dubbing with all due ceremony. I gave him new armour and a new sword, far finer than what he had borne before. Shortly after I also entrusted him with the command of all my Royal Guards: who better to oversee and train the armists who garrison my palace and defend my family? As in every other role given him, he has served with distinction, and could safely be called one of the most celebrated names in all Maristonia by now.

Yet he has few friends. He is a quiet armist, who keeps himself to himself. On duty he is professionalism personified, but in his own time he is very unprepossessing. Even I, who know him better than any, would admit that he is not the warmest of characters, nor the person to go to in search of stimulating conversation. I know others in the palace sneer at his lack of taste for the more refined pursuits expected of high-ranking armists, but I couldn’t care less for how cultured a solider is so long as I can trust him in the face of death.

He is dark-eyed and dark-haired, and so fierce of countenance that even seasoned warriors are terrified of him, but his past haunts him and has sculpted him into the armist he is today: strong as iron, unforgiving as the executioner’s axe, a perfectionist in every aspect of his duty. He no longer has his wife by his side to round off his sharp corners, nor does his son, Lancaro, soften him. He is an ardent follower of Prélan, for I expect that of all my captains, but no one could ever call him zealous in the faith.

Well that’s enough about Lancoir. There are other things to think about now. Suffice to say that I have every confidence in his ability to watch my flank and help me triumph. And who knows what he, or any of us for that matter, will find if we ever reach Oron Amular…

*a chapter was a unit of the Maristonian army 3,000 strong, roughly equivalent to a brigade in the British army.

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