Hi there guys! I know @enjar must probably hate me for leaving this post for the last minute but hey man, that's how I work and it turns out rather well most of the time (?) These last couple of weeks were a disaster but here I am. And i'm glad to say that better late than never! But let's get onto the story I've developed for this contest.
This is the tale of how an oath was broken. How a supposed divine means of Justice became corrupted, demonstrating that even the strongests of wills can be shattered.
As a child, Raven didn't think too hard about God, justice or even about his future. What he really was interested in was whatever thing was unlucky enough to end up on his dinner plate at the end of that day and the weapons his father forged everyday.
Being the son of a highly requested Blacksmith on the capital meant Raven saw more molten steel than most other kids would in their whole lifetime, but he absolutely loved it. He enjoyed how the reddened liquid metal poured and filled the empty vials, forming the shape of a sword emblazed in warm and fuzzy gloriousness.
Father Norse Blacksmith
Raven really liked swords, axes, maces and everything that could be used to fight others. His father was not dumb enough to ignore this fact, which is why he decided to train him in the way of the sword. This meant that he would know the responsibilities attached to wielding a blade, or at least that was what he wanted for his son, but apparently he didn't factor in that lending him the knowledge of the blade, would get him in more trouble than he expected.
Street brawl after street brawl were enough for Raven's father to consider the need of a helping hand into this matter. He knew his son had the fighting spirit a lot of people didn't have, but where was this fighting spirit needed the most? A good old friend's name came to mind instantly. He would need to send a letter to the Paladin order.
Once Gawain the Archpaladin had taken Raven into it's care, he noticed the sheer strong interest in fighting the kid had, after all, it wasn't the norm to see a twelve year old boy with the might to bring a complete goblin den on his own. But Raven was lacking something, something Gawain knew the boy would only find once true fear was introduced into his mind. He knew that taking Raven to the outskirts of the Dead Lands was a risky move, but for such a great prospect it was needed.
The Paladin Father
He didn't hesitate one second to set camp as soon as it was getting dark. Getting this near to the undead was unnerving, but he would be able to handle whatever mongrel the undead could throw at him. Gawain made sure to hunt the first boar he could find for the boy, for he wanted Raven to face this challenge with at least a full belly and plenty of sleep.
Raven woke up in the middle of the night. He didn't know why, but he felt an entity was whispering at him, which made his skin crawl. He got up and decided to take another piece of the boar to forget this feeling, since there was no better comfort than a big slab of meat going down his throat, but as he got near the corpse of the boar, he noticed that it wasn't laying down as Gawain had left it. The boar was standing on it's own four legs, back to life with almost no signs of it showing it was ever dead (Except the missing meat on one of it's sides) The boar's eyes were now as reddened as the molten steel his father worked with, it's guts were all sprayed on the floor while some still hanged from the insides of the no longer living creature. Raven's hands began to sweat, his skin was goosebumping and his legs were starting to cramp. Raven knew he was in a bad spot as he fell down to the floor, not even managing to reach for his axe, he stared, paralyzed at the amalgamation of haunted spirits playing within the creature's body. The air was damp, cold and unnerving at the same time, but suddenly it was going to get a lot worse.
The Boar's eyes turned from red to black. A black so deep that it was darker than the night. This change didn't come alone on it's own though, since from the deep and now rotting insides of the beast came a voice, a voice so cold, deep and frightening that it seemed like it was grasping directly for your soul. The voice uttered a few short gutural sounds as it got in full control of the boar, once it did, it started to suck the soul of the boy as it stared into his heart. Bit by bit, it lured the boy into a hypnotized state, promising what he desired the most, weapons, death and battles. This entity knew what Raven really craved, and it was willing to exchange his wishes for his soul, but as it was finished extracting Raven's essence, a steel axe came cleaving down into the boar's body.
Art of GodMachine
Raven snapped out of the hypnosis in a dizzy state, his lungs filled with deep rotten air and he instantly wanted to puke his heart out, but this was interrupted from another gutural take of the creature. It was now enraged, the boar's small legs grew on size and his hooves became white and cracked. As it was standing up, it said 'You should have gone for the hea-' but before it could finish, Gawain's holy mace came crashing down into it's face. 'Weapons are used for this, Raven. To protect others.' said Gawain as he noticed the divine spark now inside Raven's body. And Raven understood as he threw up the boar meat he had just eaten earlier.
The boy eventually became an adult, and as an adult he became a full fledged paladin of the Order. His mentor Gawain couldn't have been more proud of him when Raven made his oath were he promised to use his strength to protect others, to defend what's right and holy and to eradicate the undead in the name of the gods. He was given the title with one of his own father's weapons made for the Arch Paladins.
But we all know Raven wasn't the brightest, and maybe the encounter that triggered the divine spark into his soul is also what foreshadowed his demise. Here's were things go dark for Raven.
A small team of 2 elven priestess, a warrior and a scholar were led by Raven as the leader and tank of a party headed for a temple on the outskirts of the Light Country. He guided them gracefully and safely through the entrance of the settlement; The temple was taken hostage by some high level undeads when the splintering of the lands ocurred, the chaos which had emerged of this event led the temple to be abandoned in favor of the priests' lives. But Raven wasn't taking any of that, he formed a local party in the city where he resided and headed down to the outskirts were the temple resided.
The undead had turned the settlement in a sort of torture dungeon, playing with anything that got near it, but these games stopped as they felt a rather strong holy presence reaching the entrance of the temple. Raven was almost there and it knew, the entity who had bitten off a small piece of Raven's soul, wanted it in it's entirety, and it would be even more satisfying to pluck out of his body now that he had grown big in heart and spirit.
Raven knew the evil spirits were gathering in the sanctum of the temple, but before heading there guns blazing, he knew he had to prioritize his party's well being first, sure he could slay all of the undead pressences there, but without the priests' help, the cleansing would be innefective. Once most of the building was desposed of the non living, the Paladin knew it was time to head for the sanctum; he advised his party to stay back and only support him from afar, sensing how powerful the undead presence was in that room, he knew strict measures were to be taken. They all agreed to the plan and moved on to storm the sanctum of the temple, but here's where things went awry for the living.
Defenders of DnD, 5th Edition
They entered the sanctum... It was empty to the human eye but the divine spark dwindling inside Raven's body knew something bad was going to happen, and just before he could grip his sword and his shield tighter, the deep, cold and gutural voice from his childhood appeared again. His hands were sweaty again, his voice trembled, but he was trained not to fear in these moments, for they would feed.
'You've finally come back to me. Oh Paladin Raven how have I longed for you.' uttered from a dark and deep corner of the room. The shape of a dark bulky humanoid boar came to sight of the little moonlight beams that slipped through the crevaces of the old temple. Raven swallowed his own saliva and stood firm against his fears for he was prepared, but the others were not. The warrior lost his mind and body in a manner of seconds, his face melted and in his own hellish despair, he struck against one of the priestesses while his skin turned into goop. Raven acted out in pure surprise and brought the almost dead warrior with single and forcefull divine strike. He couldn't afford to lose even one of the priestesses or he would never forgive himself, but at the same time as he swung down his blade, one of the elven priestesses screamed.
Raven took a deep breath and gazed at one of the priestess, her eyes went white as she drove into liquified madness while the other priestess held her. They both looked at him with terror in their eyes, trembling and sweating profusely. He didn't know what was going on, but he was already starting to get desperate and paranoid.
The recurring frightening voice now said 'You never cease to amaze me, Raven, such determination is not worthy of anyone else.' And before he could respond, one of the priestesses grew wings out of her back and sprung at him with claws in hand, Raven again reacted out of impulse and stabbed her in the chest with small dagger he had. He got the now deceased body off of his and he got up again, sword in both hands, trembling with rage.
The voice grew deeper, more excited as each second passed. 'Well that didn't take you long.' And some fingers snapping were heard. The room was very bright now. Raven looked around to the mess he had made. The warrior's skin wasn't melting, it was intact. The priestess had not grown any wings, she had just jumped to Raven out of pure anger after what he had done to the warrior. Raven's legs turned cold and feeble, he fell to his knees. The only thing he could hear were the ancient elven words uttered by the only priestess left, he knew what these words meant, she was cursing him and there was absolutely no going back after that.
Curse of the DragonSlayer
The undead who were acompanying the entity drove both of their spears into each of Raven's sides, sticking him into the ground. He heard the priestess' neck snap as the entity lunged towards him. He knew his soul was not his anymore, and that he would be cursed untill the end of his own existence.
His armor turned black, the gold linings fitted into it were tinted blood red and the holy sword which was given to him in his graduation, turned into a devilish design.
The voice, now inside of his own body, resonated saying 'I told you I would grant you limitless power. You'll be able to kill and battle as long as you like now that you're no longer living.' Raven took a last deep breath he didn't really need since he was dying, and he then smiled as most of his humanity faded away.
That's how Raven the Death Knight came to be.
You liked it? I went and took a very dark and serious approach to a story I had thought for an original Steem Monsters Card concept. TL;DR: Basically means that this Death Knight is a former Silver shield Paladin, or at least that's what I would like the concept of this specific monster to be. A divine means of justice who ends up failing his oath.
So yeah, I hope this suffices as my entry to the My Steem Monsters Adventure contest held by @archdruid !