Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quit While Ahead: The Scarlet Knight Retires

In nearly four thousand years of Scarlet Knights, the one constant besides them all being male was that every Scarlet Knight had died in the line of duty.  Some lasted only a few hours, just long enough to kill the evil Black Dragoon.  Some carried on for decades afterwards, until age or a careless mistake finally caught up with them.

Young Percival
Percival Graves was bound for the latter category.  Having taken over as the Scarlet Knight shortly after World War II, Percival survived his first encounter with the Black Dragoon.  He continued to serve Rampart City as the Scarlet Knight, working to clean up the streets for the next 25 years.  Through that time Percival suffered some scratches and broken bones, but nothing serious.

Then the Black Dragoon returned.  This Dragoon was even worse than the last one, bent on nothing more than random destruction.  Having already destroyed a construction site, burned down an apartment building, and blown up a hospital, this new Dragoon had put the city into a panic.  Try as he might, Percival couldn't quite catch up to the fiend.

Finally Percival got a lucky break when he heard of a subway train going out of control.  After putting on the armor, Percival boarded the train to find the Black Dragoon wiring the train to become a very large explosive device once it went off the tracks.

Wasting little time, Percival confronted the Dragoon on the roof of the train.  The only problem was the tight confines of the subway tunnel made it impossible for Percival to dodge the claws of the Black Dragoon.  Percival suffered a terrible wound to his left leg, but in the process he was able to get close enough to chop the Dragoon's head off with the Sword of Justice.  Then, on virtually one leg, Percival stopped the train before it could run off the tracks and explode.

Thanks to the protection and healing powers of the magic armor, Percival didn't lose the leg.  That didn't mean he went unscathed.  He would never be able to walk without a limp again, especially without the armor.  As he lay in the hospital, recovering and being ministered to by an attractive young nurse, Percival thought maybe the time had come to retire from his secret vocation and start a family.  Not quite fifty years old, he figured he still had a few offspring left in him.

Eventually Percival and his nurse got married and bought a house in the suburb of Parkdale.  While Marlin, the Keeper of the Lore for the Order of the Scarlet Knight, was furious about Percival's decision to retire, Percival stood by his decision.  Holding his newborn son in his arms, it definitely seemed like the right call.

Old Percival
But things didn't stay that idyllic for long.  His wife divorced him after ten years of marriage, kicking Percival out of the house and refusing to let him see their son.  The pain in Percival's leg had only continued to grow, so that he had become reliant on painkillers to stay mobile.

Alone and miserable in a tiny flat in the Trenches, it was tempting to don the armor again and go down in a blaze of glory.  But then while sweeping the floors of the Plaine Museum, Percival met a curious little redheaded girl named Emma with an infectious enthusiasm for science.  Percival took an instant shine to the girl and began serving as her tour guide of the museum, using his key to allow her closer access to the artifacts and displays.  Seeing the joy this brought her, Percival decided that life could still be worth living.

Even after his estranged son confined him to a nursing home in Parkdale, Percival resigned himself to go on living for as long as the good Lord would allow.

(BTW, a fun fact is that the name of Percival Graves comes from the villain played by John Hurt in "King Ralph," a movie I inexplicably enjoy.)

R is for Robinson:  The First Family of Rampart City


  1. Interesting. I think Harry Dresden has taken up the moniker of the winter knight in his novels - a similar chain of previous knights that always end in the line of duty going back thousands of years.

    Totally different I'm sure. I don't think he has a backstory as extensive as yours.

    1. Actually that part of "The Order" originates from the Azrael character in the Batman comics from the early 90s, although in that case the duty passed from father to son. In this case the Scarlet Knight is chosen by "the Call" because the Black Dragoon tends to get around, sort of like the ring of power in "The Lord of the Rings" it wants to be found by someone.

  2. I like how strong your villain seems to be. A good villain is 1) hard to create and 2) basically makes the story. If the black dragoon wasn't such a badass, your whole story would probably suck.

  3. When will this story be available? You keep giving us samples but I'm getting ready for the entire meal.

    1. At this point your guess is as good as mine. I was supposed to hear from the "editor" by Monday, but I haven't, so at some point I'll probably have to find out what's going on. If we were following my self-publishing schedule I'd be just about releasing the fourth one by now.

  4. PT these short little stories are always interesting. I like the redemption of Percival in later years through the museum. Touching. Keep it up and I hope you hear from your editor soon!
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972



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