THE IDEA THAT MARKUS KRUBER (ALL-WEATHER MERCENARY, POACHER AND OCCASIONAL KNIGHT) HAS LINKS TO BRETONNIA HAS TAKEN PLENTY OF FOLK BY SURPRISE. NOT LEAST KRUBER HIMSELF, WHO KEEPS MUTTERING INTO HIS TANKARD SOMETHING FIERCE. FORTUNATELY, LOHNER’S DONE A BIT OF DIGGING, AND RECKONS HE’S GOT A HANDLE ON THE MATTER.
"So Kruber’s a Grail Knight, is he now? Can’t say I’m surprised. Well, a little bit surprised, but you don’t last long in my trade if you go around raising eyebrows at the slightest thing. Don’t worry. Let Uncle Franz set you straight.
Truth is, there’s a lot more trading of bloodlines back and forth across the border than you might think. Sure, those frog-courtin’ fancypants might hold pretty strange notions about warfare and religion, but when it comes down to it we’re all human. When your back’s against the wall, it’s a lot easier to go looking for help from your own kind – even if they do talk funny – than the likes of elves. No offence, Kerillian.
…well, maybe a little offence. You’ve earned it…
Anyway, same’s true of what you might call ‘local trouble’. Plenty of our scoundrels slip through Axe Bite Pass and make a new live for ‘emselves in Bretonnia when the law comes a-knockin’. And there’s plenty come the other way, too. There was a village up by Eilhart where every other family had a Bretonnian name – better than average bone structure too, come to think of it – descendants of some outcast baron’s servants, or so I heard.
Not that our Kruber’s descended from peasantry, or even disgraced nobility. I’ve been asking around. I’ve got one or two mates across the border – never you mind who – and they reckon he’s the only living heir of one Foricarl de Mandelot."
"Big old hero in his day, was old Foricarl. Saved Parravon from a dragon in righteous style. There were tapestries, and everything. Something of a hit with the damsels, so I hear. When he rode to tourney, you could barely see his lance for the weight of the ribbons of favour. Problem was, some of Foricarl’s knightly brethren didn’t hold quite the same esteem. Jealousy, you know.
Worst afflicted by the green-eyed daemon was the Duke of Parravon’s son, Willibald. He wasn’t exactly a coward… but who wants to cheer on a killer of beastmen when there’s a genuine dragon-slayer holding court in Parravon’s best tavern? There was even talk of the king insisting the duchy of Parravon pass not to Willibald, but to Foricarl. That king hated dragons something fierce, on account of having lost a daughter, an arm and a good mess of pride to one some years before.
And then the old duke ups and dies in mysterious circumstances, and all evidence points to Foricarl, doesn’t it? Poor sod’s forced to flee the city or lose ‘is head. Willibald was found out in the end – that Fay Enchantress of theirs got herself involved. Turned ‘im into a frog. She likes doing that.
…what do you mean, who’s the Fay Enchantress? I thought you’d travelled. I suppose you could say she’s the Lady of the Lake’s herald. Does all her dirty work. Bretonnians revere her, at least to her face. Don’t want to end up as frogs, I suppose…
Anyway… When the truth comes out, everyone’s looking for Forical, only he’s nowhere to be found. And now we know why, don’t we? Despairing of ever proving his innocence, he came tripping across the border and continued the monster slaying business as a hermit in the Ubersreik Hills… though I guess he must have come out of hiding occasionally, seeing as he’s got a descendent shacked up in the keep with the rest of us.
Time passes. Name dies out, and along comes our Markus.
See? Simple. But that’s only half the story."
"‘Grail Knight’ ain’t just a rank. It’s a holy station, earned in battle with some ghastly monstrosity, or a whole mess of ‘em. Supposedly the Lady of the Lake – assuming she’s real, I ain’t exactly a believer – sends visions to worthy candidates, guiding them on a righteous path of carnage. If they survive, she lets ‘em sup from the grail and blesses them with holy strength.
That’s what happened to Kruber. He’s got the bloodline. He’s thrown down with plenty of ghastly monstrosities, sure as pumpkins is pumpkins. So more power to his elbow, says I. Especially if it gives us a bit more oomph when it comes to dealing with the Pactsworn. Like I said, when backs are against the wall, and all that.
So yeah, I reckon we keep an eye on Kruber and see what develops. That means no accusations of heresy and witchcraft, Victor. He’s still our Markus, even if he does keep attempting that dreadful accent. The Lady of the Lake might not be our goddess, but a goddess she remains… and she hates Chaos something rotten, so the stories go. We’d be mad to put her pretty nose out of joint, don’t you think?
Then again, if she’s putting the ‘fluence on old Kruber, then I’ll be looking to the rest of you to make sure it doesn’t lead him into harm’s way. Risking your lives is my job, and I won’t have any sodden spirit muscling in on my territory, d’you hear?
Good. Glad we had this chat. Best you keep it from Kruber. No sense ‘im getting upset, is there?"