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Questing knight 02 by meyeranek-d2yq4d1

"A true leader walks the path he asks others to travel."

"I rule my people, but I also teach them to rule themselves. The goal is not to build the greatest nation this world will have seen, but to build the one which will stand when all others crumble, a kingdom for eternity which protects not simply its borders and interests, but the happiness, freedom, and integrity of its people. I have seen that which comes from the pursuit of wealth, the pursuit of power, and the pursuit of influence. We choose to pursue personal excellence, and in doing so will have all of those things if we become masters first of ourselves." -The Truest King

To the chagrin of the Council of the Undying, the Truest King has from the very early days of antiquity presented himself among his people as a living god-king. A number of myths have grown to surround the Truest King in his Broken Kingdom. Most of these myths are reminiscent of the boasting done by Knights in the Broken Kingdom and are generally considered nonsensical by adult members of the Broken Kingdoms. Two stand out as being rumored as truths more so than legends. The first is that the Truest King has a supernatural ability to discern lies and deceit. The second is that he is immune to the lapses in sanity that sometimes plague others of the Undying.

The Truest King is depicted in the most ancient Broken Kingdom artwork as a knight wearing black plate armor gilded in silver with a black tabbard and cape. His face is always hidden by a mask of either blackened steel or stone. His crown, a simple yet ancient circlet of polished black marble, holds a chain coif to which the mask is attached. Royals of the Kingdom and public appearances confirm this depiction, though at times the Truest King has been observed to simply wear black clothing in place of armor.

Following the Great War, the Truest King has ceased to wear his mask save for when serving as judge and executioner in the Cathedral. Speculation abounds as to why this is. The Truest King is now known to be a hand taller than the average man of the Kingdom, though he shares their tendency towards a stout girth and impressive strength. The green-eyed King is typically seen to keep a full beard and long hair, both of which are black though peppered with gray.

The Time of the Stone Kingdom

The Truest King was once known as the Stone King and lead the Stone Kingdom personally. He oversaw the founding of the twelve great cities of the Stone Kingdom, personally planted the stone border markers of the Kingdom, and began the regimented martial training that still exists in the Broken Kingdom to this day.

History records that in the year 1005 by the Broken Kingdom's calendar construction began on what is today called the Cathedral. What is known is that construction was completed only in the year 1125. At this time the Stone King resigned from his role as King and ascended the Living Throne, beginning the era of the Stone Kingdom being known as the Broken Kingdom. Each of the twelve great cities was given to the rulership of a mortal king, the Council of Royals forming at this time.

Prior to this time the Truest King would actively participate in battles, fighting as the Armored Riders and Knights of the realm do today. Since then the only recorded instance of the Truest King formally leading the armies of the Kingdom was during the Great War, when he once again took the reigns of the Kingdom and stood as a thirteenth king among the twelve, leading many charges personally. Some historians of the Broken Kingdom attribute this as being how the Royal lines survived the bloodbath, giving the huge casualties suffered during the War.

True to form for a man of the Broken Kingdoms however, in the centuries since his withdraw the Truest King has made numerous appearances on the crusades of the Kingdom, joining volunteer forces with his personal guard to assist with efforts against recognized forces of evil and injustice. The Truest never joins before the crusading forces are too far away to be reinforced by the Kingdom, likely to avoid throngs who don't truly believe in the cause joining it to simply be able to claim they've ridden to battle at his side.

The Black Knight

The Truest King carved his kingdom out of the early peoples of the region by force of battle. Initially called the Black Knight for his garb, he fought in the style of the modern Armored Rider. The Truest King has many myths surrounding his combative prowess in the early days, ranging from tales of incredible swordsmanship to a pair of Immortal women called the Companions who rode and fought by his side. Wearing heavy armor and wielding a two-handed sword of a metal so dense that it is said no mortal man could bear the weight in battle, the King's rise to power was done in a bloody swath that cut through his foes. The restrictions placed on who can become Heirs, mirrors the Truest's own ascent to power.

The Truest's use of his personal invulnerability and strength to make such a direct impact on the world of mortals remains a bone of contention between himself and other Immortals, in addition to his choice to be worshiped as a living god.

Current Era

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The Truest King is never seen without his war-sword known as The Black Blade, constructed of what some claim to be otherworldly metal and too heavy for most men to comfortably lift, let alone wield in combat.

The Truest King after the year 2000 has had a remarkable level of activity in the world, overseeing the Kingdom, interacting with his people, leading Crusades, and funding a smattering of personal projects in addition to traveling about the world with his personal army of body guards. The Truest King has taken up calling himself Vahr Reitter, the same as the twelfth planet which was named for him. Current documents and decrees from the Cathedral are typically signed "Vahr Reitter, Truest King of the Stone Kingdom" indicating the manner in which he has been addressed and his ongoing view of the Broken Kingdom as a single whole.

Before the Great War

From the completion of the Cathedral in 1125, the Truest King had resided there. He seemed content to be worshiped as a living god-king and aside from the Council of Royals generally stayed removed from the daily lives of the Broken Kingdoms. Stories occasionally circulate of him being spotted in regalia and escorted by a troupe of clerical knights within the kingdoms and the surrounding lands, but oftentimes these stories are dismissed. The Royals of this time period enjoyed a large amount of independence and power. The Truest King kept his appearance masked in public, and held his travels in the kingdom to secret voyages while he monitored progressions.

After the Great War

Following the decimation of the Great War, the Truest King ceased to wear his mask in public. While he still encourages worship of himself as a living god, the Truest King seems to have mostly reverted to his behavior as the Black Knight in the days of the Stone Kingdom, actively engaging in Crusades, leading armies, visiting townships, gracing tournaments, and engaging even commoners among his people. The Truest has become one of the most actively engaged Immortals in the world. While the Royals each rule their Kingdoms as they have previously, the Truest King now acts as the High Commander of the Armored Riders in addition to the Trinity Order which answers to him directly. It is theorized that this is due to the great burden of guilt he bears about the loss of life to his Kingdom during the Great War when he'd lead away the bulk of the Armored Riders on a personal quest to rescue the Red and Silver Knights.

The Living Throne

The Living Throne refers to the actual throne of the Truest King in the grand hall of the Cathedral. Formed by the priesthood manipulating the growth of an actual tree for more than a thousand years, the throne is immense and conveys a sense of the Truest King's living power and permanency. The black marble mask once worn by the Truest King prior to the Great War has been mounted to sit above his head when he ascends the throne. The mask is now only worn by the Truest King while hearing trials or performing executions.

The Trinity Order

The Trinity Order refers to the three-branched organization which serves the Truest King directly. The Order of Truths are the priesthood of knights that act both as clerics of the Truest Faith and Magistrates of law. The Order of Prowess consists of the finest arms-men in the Kingdom and make up the personal guard of the Truest King. It is widely known that the Order of Prowess sports the highest concentration of Blademasters in the Kingdom, though those who wield other weapons than the sword are considered just as deadly. The Order of War forms the garrison of the Cathedral, with the upper ranks serving as strategic advisers to the nobility of the realm and the Truest King himself. Selected from among the Knighted Riders, members of the Trinity Order represent the most highly trained, best outfitted, and most dangerous warriors in the Broken Kingdom. No one is above selection, and once selected all political ties, all familial ties, all loyalties save to the Truest King are considered to be sundered.

Noble Retinue

Starting at the rank of Low Knight, each noble in the Kingdom receives a trio of aides from the Trinity Order. The Order of Truths' representative acts as Magistrate to the Noble's court and monitors the maintenance of the Truest's religion in the noble's lands. The Order of Prowess representative is responsible for overseeing the martial training of the noble, their offspring, and their bodyguards. The Order of War's representative educates the noble in tactics, strategy, and helps organize the garrison of the noble's fortification.

The Black Cathedral

The Cathedral itself is a structure of proud arches, flying buttresses, and high ceilings. The ring-wall around the structure and the Cathedral itself are both faced in white marble, the tile roof of the building done in glittering white ceramics inlaid with silver. How big the Cathedral is remains a mystery lost to history, but it is known that the bulk of the structure is actually underground. The barracks for the Trinity Order, the personal chambers of the Truest King, even the stables and the Council Chamber are all secured under the Cathedral's superstructure, leaving only a very white, very religious exterior for the common people to view. Pilgrimage to see the Living Throne and Cathedral are not uncommon, however it is rare that pilgrims manage to catch a glimpse of their masked god-king when he is not officiating a ceremony for the Royals of the realm. There are rumors that a series of underground tunnels lead out from the Cathedral into the surrounding land, allowing the Truest to come and go as he pleases, but no one has been able to discover them and its widely regarded as another of the myths surrounding the Immortal.

In the area immediately surrounding the Cathedral is something of a sprawling complex sporting camping grounds for visiting dignitaries, a grand marketplace, and a permanent Tournament ground. Every sixth day visitors are treated to the spectacle of the Trinity Order carrying out their obligatory martial training in the arena and lists of these grounds. While not a guaranteed sight, if the Truest King is present in the Cathedral it is almost certain he'll be found in the arena as well, practicing with those counted the best among the swordsmen of his Order of Prowess, keeping his own combative skill honed.

Judge, Jury, Executioner

Leadership under the guidance of the Truest King has a prime rule of never asking someone below your rank to do something you yourself are unwilling to do. While this practice does much to ensure quality of life for underlings in the ranks, it places a significant burden on those who lead. In the case of dealing with criminals, much of this burden falls directly to the Truest King and his Magistrates. While most disputes which would qualify in most lands as crimes are generally settled between the parties involved, or at worst settled by the local nobility, a number of charges can only be processed by the Order of Truth and the Truest King himself. These crimes are typically those which carry the penalties of branding, exile, or death.

Crimes of this nature tend to be severe and repetitive theft, crimes against children, violations of the Oaths of Stone and/or Iron, and the smuggling of breeding-capable livestock. Penalties of branding can be sentenced and carried out by Low Magistrates, exile can be sentenced and issued by High Magistrates, and death penalties are issued and carried out only by the Truest King or the Cathedral Magistrates. In each of these cases those found guilty can accept their punishment, or can ask for Redemption by Combat. Redemption by Combat is conducted against the issuer of the punishment and victory over them is taken as a sign that despite the past, the guilty is ready earnest in their regret and desire to redeem their previous actions.

It is extremely rare for a Redemption by Combat to be successful against the Truest King, most recorded instances being forfeiture by the Truest King when guilt was unquestionable but justified. Success against the Magistrates is likewise as rare given their extra training and selection process, but occasionally someone chooses the risk of death in combat over the dishonor of branding or exile.

High Tournaments

During the thirteenth month of each year, the monthly tournament of the Kingdom is held at the Cathedral's grounds. No journeyman contests are held during the High Tournament as this is considered a neutral ground where the masters of each craft or calling can contend with each other before the neutral judgement of the Order of Truths. While Royals are generally in attendance, the only guarantee of the Truest King's attendance is when the Tournament precedes a Council of Royals.

The Great War

The Truest King spent the early part of the war as a neutral, ensuring the Broken Kingdom likewise remained neutral in the official sense, the stated reason being that neither side of the conflict was clearly walking a path of moral or ethical higher ground. As always when problems and conflicts arise, volunteer forces were allowed to muster themselves and go on heroic crusades to aid worthy causes and those who truly needed protection from the great armies of the world; the recipients of this aid were universally small nations who risked being eliminated or decimated by the forces of the Great Nations.

This neutrality came to an abrupt and sudden end when when a moderate crusading force lead personally by the Red and Silver Knights was overwhelmed by Tallet forces and the two supposed Immortals were captured. The Truest King swiftly mustered the Myriad Legions of the Armored Riders and marched to war to rescue the captured females. The Royals were left to defend the Broken Kingdom with a skeletal force of Armored Riders, their personal battalions of men-at-arms, and the populous militia of the Kingdom.

The rescue was a strategic blunder as an unknown force of Tallet landed in the wilderness of the Broken Kingdom and was able to engage in guerrilla warfare against the populace. This incursion kept the Broken Kingdom and Truest King occupied for most of the War and the final casualty count for the Kingdom was two in three dead before the war ended. Even after the War's end, a deep and burning hostility resides in the Truest King for the Tallet, and while not all the people of the Kingdom share the fervor of their god's hatred few look fondly on the invaders who devastated their land.

Relations With Other Immortals

The Truest King has mostly mixed relations with the other Immortals of the world. He stands different from the others who accept worship of themselves as living god-kings through his lack of expansionist behavior. He at the same time does not align with the ethics of Immortals who for the greater part let mortals develop with only slight guidance from themselves. This is compounded by the Truest's general non-compliance with the will of other Immortals and his insistence that all others come to him, refusing to hold council outside of his Cathedral without escort by the entirety of his bodyguard.

That said, the Truest keeps a number of chambers at the ready for visiting Immortals, and much like his people prides himself in his hospitality to his peers. These guest chambers offer a place of rest and peace for visiting Immortals, be they leaders of the great nations or those who normally wander the world in anonymity. The only Immortal barred entry is the Faceless Emperor, who is only at best tolerated should he choose to attend a council meeting. The source of the hostility of the Truest King towards the Faceless Emperor is a matter of speculation among mortals, but it is known that it predates the so-called "Mud War".