Shine Cycle character profile: Duncan

This is the latest of an intermittent series of character profiles; the others are linked from their own Page.

Duncan – Sky Knight (Knight of the Order of the Shooting Star). The last Sky Knight, he was poised to resurrect the order and make substantial innovations in other areas, but somehow he sabotaged his progress and contributed to the order’s destruction; it was revived without his help after the First Battle of High Powers.

A somewhat tall young man with dark brown hair, his armor, the last masterpiece of the armorers that served the old order of Sky Knights, is engraved all over with scenes from the order’s history and from mythology, and his shield bears his coat of arms, a thunderhead under a crossed sword and lightning bolt.

In the heat of battle, Duncan can be a more than competent, or even gifted, tactician, and generally heartily brave; away from battle, he often has apt insight into what must be done, but too often lacks the determination and will to see it carried out. He spends much of his time in the pursuits that interest him, resulting in a frequent need to hasten to finish other tasks just before they come due—though he is rarely actually late, for meetings or in meeting formal deadlines.

Duncan began training to become a knight at the Academy soon after he arrived. Over the next several years, he made his way through the program without making a name for himself, but without ever coming too close to flunking out or even having to repeat more than a course or two.

After completing that first phase at the Academy, he was taken as a squire by a competent but usually unimaginative knight, a veteran of wars before the formation of the Empire. In his years as a squire, Duncan heard his knight-master speak often and admiringly of the Sky Knights, an order (the Order of the Shooting Star) of mage-knights based in Snowmane (see the map) who had a nearly-legendary role in keeping that country from being overrun in the past, but which had been in decline for years.

After finishing his time as a squire and being knighted, Duncan learned that he had some metaphysical potential, and so began studying in the College of Mages. As he had at the Academy, he completed his studies as a novice and apprentice without distinguishing himself as either a particularly good or bad student. A few years into his studies as a journeyman, weary of the College and sensing he was nearing the limit of his abilities, he withdrew and set out on a journey across the Empire in search of the Sky Knights.

At length he found the stronghold that was the headquarters of the Sky Knights. The order was severely depleted, having had far fewer recruits than usual since the unification of the Shine and Wild Empire, so when he asked to join they accepted him even though he wasn’t quite up to the order’s usual standards yet in strength or skill.

Over the next several years, Duncan trained with the Order’s knights, but one by one most of the older knights, already battered from the wars of their youth, began to lose strength and die. The remaining knights participated in the Sixth War of the Dragon, which began about a decade after Duncan’s admission to the order, as a unit, and took heavy enough casualties that every remaining knight more senior than Duncan was either killed or wounded so significantly he had to retire completely.

On their return from the war, Duncan reluctantly took command of the Order. He began a recruiting drive, the most significant in more than a generation, but this had but limited success.

About a decade after he became the order’s commander, “bandits,” more organized than the tribes that lived across Snowmane’s southern border ever were, began raiding the area. The knights managed to drive them off several times, but eventually one attack on the knights’ fortress itself left Duncan with no choice but to in desperation activate the ‘doomsday’ working placed in its stones by the order’s founders. This working sealed the Hall of Records and training ground against anyone and everyone indefinitely, until a worthy successor came to open them. When the battle was over, Duncan could not open the seals.

With this failure, Duncan retired into obscurity.

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