It began only as a vague awareness, fluttering between a primitive thought and the drowsy slumber of eternal darkness. The world was but a voice, or the distant echo of one coming and going for no discernible reason. Then it became the blurry sensations of touch and feeling, each too indistinct, too ran together to make any sense. At last, the world took the form of light, and then: shapes, colors… a wall. A surface strolling by at a leisurely pace. Only it was not a wall, but a ceiling. And the shadows that stood at either side were priests in black robes.
There was another voice: his own. “What… this…”, it said, fragmented and disoriented. The ceiling stopped moving, and the priests began to do their work. Then, there was pain. Blinding, horrifying, unending pain. Searing hot pain as metal plates were fused with the skin. This tortuous agony persisted, accompanied by the constant clamor of blacksmith hammers clanging against metal and the fumes of the forges tormenting tongue and nose and strange flashes of light blinding him. Every sense was under assault for hours seemingly without end, until at last silence ensued and only the echos of pain remained. When consciousness returned, and time began to have meaning again, his eyes opened once more and he stepped off the platform to which he had before been bound. When he looked to his left, a solitary man stood watching him.
The man shook his head, and removed his hood. He was not Mondain. “No, my lord. I am but a servant. Our master is preoccupied with other matters. Prithee, accompany me.”
“I thought I was dead.”
“Thou hadst nearly died,” said the Priest of Mondain, “But our lord knows all, sees all. He would not let thee perish so easily.”
“Who am I?”
“Thou wast once a knight in the service of the traitor, Lord British. Thy name was Alastair. Now, thou art without name.”
“Who is that?” The two men came before another suit of armor, similar to the one the man formerly known as Alastair was wearing.
The Priest of Mondain regarded the unconscious, armored person. “He was once a notorious murderer. He terrorized the roads of near Britain challenging all. He gained such notoriety among the locals as a dreaded lord. He was born in the fires of our wars, verily, and he died by his code which was a code of chaos. Now, he will serve our master.”
They continued walking, coming upon another person resting in a suit of armor. “And who is this?” said the man formerly known as Alastair.
“Ah.” The Priest of Mondain inspected the armor closely for a moment, before speaking further. “A vagabond, little more. He was a wanderer, traveling alone across Sosaria somehow surviving against the incredible odds that stack against those without companions or armies. As such, he became particularly dangerous to all he came across, and gained the reputation of a monstrous man. Indeed, it was Lord British who burned down an entire forest just to find him. Now, it is Lord Mondain that summons him from those very flames to fight another day.”
As he finished they walked further, coming across yet another person in a suit of armor, but behind the visor was a blackened skull. Before the armored man could even ask, the Priest of Mondain began, “Thou art wondering about this one, yes? A baron. Former baron, I should say. He was given his title by the old king Wolfgang, and resented the traitorous British for presuming to rule over him. He plotted to assassinate the false king but when his plans were exposed, he and his entire family were burned at the stake for their righteous loyalties to Lord Mondain. We recovered his bones after the instability he left behind left his fiefdom exposed to invasion. He will serve again.”
Now they came across a smaller suit of armor. The man formerly known as Alastair was surprised to see such a smaller form, and even more surprised when he realized it took the form of a woman. “Many noble ladies of the realm have striven for the affection of our master. But Lord Mondain has spurned them all. This one, however…” said the Priest, tapping the armor softly, “..this one would not accept the rejection. So enamored was she with our master that she betrayed her own noble father by opening the gates of his castle in secret, that our master may conquer it. He allowed her to remain in his presence for her service, but before long he became irritated by her pleas for attention and eventually…. relieved her of her madness. Yet, recognizing the value of desperate love, he saved her bones for a greater cause.”
Finally, they encountered the final suit of armor. There seemed to be no one within it, and the man formerly known as Alastair was more inclined to ask what this was, rather than who it was, until the Priest preempted him.
“The answer is simply that I do not know. Verily, nobody knows, for Lord Mondain has never said who inhabits this armor. It is an old spirit, and someone we suspect to had been very close to our lord; someone for whom our master had a deep affection. But know this: whatever arises in this suit – it too shall serve.”
Having seen them all, the man formerly known as Alastair said, “Six suits of armor. Six knights of Mondain. What shall–“
“Seven,” the Priest interrupted him. “There are seven.”
“Where is the last suit of armor?”
“It is still unfinished. And our master has yet to find a suitable soul to wield it. Not just anyone can bear the plates. It must be one containing strong convictions. A warrior of great spiritual fortitude. It is the only way the powers of the armor can be withstood, and harnessed.”
The man formerly known as Alastair listened quietly, and then considered the Priest’s words for a moment before speaking.
“I know just the man.”