Desire and Derision
Banic Lemaine "The Bronze Tail"
A disinherited noble who has given up trying to salvage his reputation.
Banic Lemaine was born after the age of kings, into the easy peace of the Lemaine lands. His early life was spent in schooling, both in scholarly topics and in the martial exercises expected of noblemen. He distinguished himself at the age of ten by actually breeding a true golden squirrel, a project one of his ancestors had started ages ago. From then on, he was called the Gold Tail.
This fame was only in his family, though. In the outside world no one knew Banic’s name. This all changed after his fifteenth birthday, more specifically on Analisse Kael’s seventeenth birthday. The party that her father threw on the occasion was considered another attempt at marrying her off, to form an alliance with yet another house. Her beauty would have made it an attractive prospect if not for her family name. It had been considered proper to send a young Lemaine, and Banic filled that requirement, even if no marriage was to come of it.
At the party, Analisse drew the attention of a middle-aged Norvallian who was completely unable to keep his hands to himself. In defense of the girl, the boy Banic fought with the much larger man and was soundly beaten to the laughter of the attending guests. Afterward, the Bear threw him into the stables to “sleep with the rest of the rodents.” He wavered in and out of consciousness, eventually becoming aware of soft footfalls drawing near and a cool cloth cleaning his bloodied face, Analisse’s deft hands soothing his hurt.
In the flush of youth, wine, gallantry, and tenderness, it did not stop there.
When the Lord Kael’s daughter was noticed missing from her own party, it did not take long for her father to find her and Banic. In a rare display of restraint, Reginald Kael spared the young Lemaine’s life but swore that there would be war. Stricken, Banic and his retainers were coarsely escorted to the borders of Kael for the long journey home.
Upon returning to Lemaine, he found that news had preceded him. His father, Torvo, came out to the courtyard to speak with him. Banic apologized as fiercely as he ever did in the whole of his life. His father drew him into an embrace and then held him at arm’s length as he told him that he had been forced to disinherit the boy to prevent the war that Kael had sworn. Banic stood stunned as he was told that his things had been moved to a small manor house in the countryside and that he could no longer enter his family’s keep. By now his brothers and sisters had gathered in the courtyard, several weeping openly. They embraced him and wished him well, and then he was escorted to his new home.
Seasons came and went, two months at a time. Full of the brashness of youth, he threw himself into every tournament to try and regain some semblance of honor, although soon gossip and the eyes that watched his every move grew too much for him. Some even turned his pride against him, changing his tail from Gold to Bronze. He began to practice more solitary hobbies, becoming an avid woodsman and hunter, befriending many of the commoners around his home. He raised dogs for hunting and for battle. He drank heavily, nearly a cask of ale a week, and wrote his father often, although the two only spoke in person twice before Torvo’s death.
Seven years after his exile, Banic heard a rumor that Analisse—now called “the Wilted Flower” just as he was called “the Bronze Tail”—had given birth to a child by him. Disguising himself, he crept into the heart of Kael to see if there was any truth behind it. His efforts and ease with common people brought him into the castle of Fort Ironkeep, where he met a young girl named Merissa working in the kitchens, who looked almost exactly like his late sister Beryl.
With kind words and a proud smile disguised by a new mustache, he told her that he was a huntsman for Banic Lemaine, her father, and that he had sent him to see that she was well. She lit up at the Bronze Tail’s name and said that her mother had told her stories about him. Banic smiled and said he would return eventually, giving her a few silver coins and extracting a promise from her to keep them hidden.
At the age of thirty, Banic has given up on reclaiming his good name. He lives to make himself happy, often at the expense of other nobles. He is coarse and oddly respectful (for a noble) of common folk. He drinks, whores, and hunts with little regard for his own safety, although he is always careful never to sire another child. Despite his keen and piercing intellect, he is frequently led by his emotions. Perhaps the events in Keth will still make a hero of him, though.
Journal of the Bronze Tail
10 DG, 49 NK
Parties are truly dull. I have never been much of one for gossip, even back before my name was “tarnished,” although that particular incident may have jaded me forevermore to the verbal amusements of the other nobles. I also have no need of forging alliances or playing at dalliances. Who would marry the Bronze Tail, anyway? This party only proved to be slightly less dull, though, with the introduction of a murder to it. I suppose that is a poor way to put it, but it is accurate, regardless.
Tonight Torrell Ambrisse, the Lord Sandomar Ambrisse’s fifth child, was stabbed in the hedgemaze at Swan’s Retreat, where he died. I have investigated it with a surprisingly moral Swan and arrived at a conclusion that will surprise no one familiar with the history of Keth. Kael, an uninvited guest at the party, brought about the boy’s demise. I am uneasy with this answer, though. It seems too easy, too stupid. Perhaps that is only my heart, but since when have Squirrels listened only to their heads?
Tonight, also, the Lord Ambrisse fell in battle. His heart full of grief and rage, he attacked the Lord Reginald Kael once the Swan, Merthelandrias, delivered the news. After the fact, the guards of Ambrisse brought the Lord Kael down, although not without a struggle worthy of a fighter of his repute. Afterward, the Ambrissians began to round up the Kaelians. I have taken Analisse Kael and Merissa Hawk, my daughter, into my care, and we have fled into the secret room in the hedgemaze with Merthelandrias and two commoners, a Belingardi named Olaf and an Korisemte of Ambrisse, apparently a spy in the late Lord’s employ. Analisse swears that this is too stupid a move for her father to make, and I agree with her. the Lord Kael is an extremely cunning man. Therefore, we will search for clues in the morning, although I hope to leave Analisse and Merissa here, where they will be safe for a few days.