Talespinning Tuesday: The Weeping Knight cont'd

Across the land, his reputation preceded him. A lone man who bore a scarred visage, wavy blonde hair the color of autumn wheat and icy blue eyes. He had a lean but muscular frame, the result of the many seasons spent campaigning. He wore a simple chain shirt, eschewing heavier armor, and bore a targe of the type favored by the Nekish Highland mercenaries. He was the Weeping Knight, the Crying Man of Battle. That had initially been a name of derision amongst the mercenary companies he fought with but soon enough became the mark that men knew and feared him by. An aura of mystery had grown up around him, the flames of his legend banked by his taciturn nature. Many conjectured as to why he wept openly as he fought. Theories ranged from the woman he had left behind him to fear of the fate that would one day find him at the end of a blade. The truth, as was its wont, was much simpler. He had been told, by her, not to let the years of battle to make him any less human, to wear away at his humanity. Because, she told him, it mattered how he succeeded as much as if he succeeded. Thus, he mourned all those who would die by his blade that day and he cried for the families that would lose a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. And as the years passed, his skill and his legend grew apace. Those that had derided him in the beginning, now feared the sight of the tears that streaked his cheeks.
The book had taken him through many wars. He fought wars for the merchant masters of Palinando, then against. He was present at the Battle of Kadeneski Woods. He waged war against the Seven Immortal Barons of Nighthaven. He had lain siege to the Ebonfast Tower, its masters and their demonic minions huddled inside. During the battle of Belorand, he aided the Bastard King depose the rightful heir, Lucas D’Silva, known to his people as the King of the Headsman for his love of beheadings. He had broken the stranglehold of Darci of the Hood and her band of lawless brigands upon the highways of Sardonia and its environs. All of them leading up to this last war, the one that he was always meant to fight.
The road to this place, back to the beginning was long and arduous, thirty years in the making. He had left his homeland a boy with a sword, a book, and a quest. Now he returned a man, leading an army to retake that which was lost. The kingdom, the peaceful realm he had once called home so many years ago.
He had been five when his parents died of a plague. She had taken him in. She had a daughter, Clarice who was also five. They had instantly taken to one another, became nearly inseperable. Years passed, Clarice and he grew closer. Love was on the cusp of blooming between them. Then Clarice was gone and he found himself holding a book.
She had said to him then, “You will have to weather a great many things before the end. This is only the beginning of the tale. When I die, the kingdom will be lost, overrun by vile men. Do not despair, it will be reborn, the book shall show you how. I will have set preperations in place to see help you in this task. It is a grave responsibility but I know you are equal to it.”

Now, standing at the head of an army, he wondered if he was truly equal to the enormity of the task that had consumed his life as surely as a fire eats a building. He shook his head, knowing that this was no time for doubts. If he was going to doubt himself, he should have done it thirty years ago, not when he sat balanced on the edge of success. He replaced the book back in the travel chest, carefully rewrapping it, and pulled out the tabard that rested underneath it. As he looked at the green and red tabard with its device of an apple tree, one that had not been used in the past twenty years, he felt the weight of all the hopes and dreams that had been placed upon his shoulders. He bowed slightly at the weight of it but did not crumble. He slipped the tabard on over his head and belted his sword on over it.