The country of Waldeyn, which is the setting for ‘The Last Good Knight’ is a merry mish-mash of medieval Europe, if there really were dragons and demons roaming the countryside. The Eynier Valley could be Wales, in many ways. The country of Lanqueshire could be Spain, if you smushed it up with Ireland. Vyennes could be medieval Italy, and Lournes is a mix of medieval Denmark and Russia.
I took all the wonderful bardic histories of the diverse tribes that we have come to call Celts and made a soup out of them, and that became Waldeyn. Circling around in the back of my mind was every fantasy story I had ever read that detailed the possible adventures of King Arthur and his knights.
For a bit of seasoning, I threw in the American wild-west, and a Caribbean pirate or two.
Out of this strange concoction came ‘The Last Good Knight’, with Julian Lackland, good King Henri, and Billy Nine-fingers. The spark that started it all was the idle question, “What happens when a hero is too old to be continually going out and rescuing people? And what about his life up to that point?” At that point I had my story.
The story opens with the mercenary captain, Billy Nine-Fingers finding his rival, Bastard John attempting to burn down his house, with him in it. He manages to kill The Bastard despite his injured hand, and decides that the best way to hide the untidy remains would be to build an inn over his bones. Billy’s mercenary band of men and women is known as the Rowdies, and they soon become the core of the society of the town of Limpwater that grows up around the inn, now appropriately called Billy’s Revenge. Billy’s Rowdies attract a diverse group of ladies and gentlemen from all walks of life, including a Bard, Huw Owyn who chronicles their adventures. That is where we meet Sir Julian ‘Lackland’ De Portiers, the landless younger son of a minor baron.
Lackland is the quintessential Knight in Shining Armor. In some ways he is modeled after Sir Galahad. He is noble to a fault, and understands that as a Knight his primary responsibility is to protect the common citizens from the beasts and highwaymen that infest the surrounding countryside, and he enjoys his work.
Lackland also lives in a society that is shaped by the fact that travelers must be able to defend themselves, or be well-off enough to be able to hire mercenary guards. Few people travel the king’s highway that are not on business of some sort.
Throughout the story, Julian Lackland is well-known for his annoying habit of taking on the worst, dirtiest jobs that involve no recompense whatsoever; despite his companions’ earnest wishes to the contrary. Thus it happened that in his old-age when he should have been sitting by the fire with a grand-child on his knee, he was instead rousting his reluctant horse out and rescuing a poor man’s cow from a nest of fire-sprites or whatever terrible fate had befallen the poor beast.
Even though that technically was the end of Lackland’s story, it was the beginning, for me, and it was all that I needed to write the rest of the story.