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The Ruby Knight

The Ruby Knight

Titel: The Ruby Knight
Autoren: David Eddings
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A history of the House of Sparhawk
From the Chronicles of the Pandion Brotherhood

    It was in the twenty-fifth century when the hordes of Otha of Zemoch invaded the Elene kingdoms of western Eosia and swept all before them with fire and sword in their march to the west. Otha appeared invincible until his forces were met on the great, smoke-shrouded battlefield at Lake Randera by the combined armies of the western kingdoms and the concerted might of the Knights of the Church. The battle there in central Lamorkand is said to have raged for weeks before the invading Zemochs were finally pushed back and turned to flee for their own borders.
    The victory of the Elenes was thus complete, but fully half of the Church Knights lay slain upon the battlefield, and the armies of the Elene kings numbered their dead by the scores of thousands. When the victorious but exhausted survivors returned to their homes, they faced an even grimmer foe – the famine which is one of the common results of war.
    The famine in Eosia endured for generations, threatening at times to depopulate the continent. Inevitably, social organization began to break down, and political chaos reigned in the Elene kingdoms. Rogue barons paid only lip service to their oaths of fealty to their kings. Private disputes often resulted in ugly little wars, and open banditry was common. These conditions generally prevailed until well into the early years of the twenty-seventh century.
    It was in this time of turmoil that an acolyte appeared at the gates of our Mother-house at Demos expressing an earnest desire to become a member of our order. As his training began, our Preceptor soon realized that this young postulant, Sparhawk by name, was no ordinary man. He quickly outstripped his fellow novices and even mastered seasoned Pandions on the practice field. It was not merely his physical prowess, however, which so distinguished him, since his intellectual gifts were also towering. His aptitude for the secrets of Styricum was the delight of his tutor in those arts, and the aged Styric instructor guided his pupil into areas of magic far beyond those customarily taught the Pandion Knights. The Patriarch of Demos was no less enthusiastic about the intellect of this novice, and by the time Sir Sparhawk had won his spurs, he was also skilled in the intricacies of philosophy and theological disputation.
    It was at about the time that Sir Sparhawk was knighted that the youthful King Antor ascended the Elenian throne in Cimmura, and the lives of the two young men soon became intricately intertwined. King Antor was a rash, even foolhardy youth, and an outbreak of banditry along his northern border enraged him to the point where he threw caution to the winds and mounted a punitive expedition into that portion of his kingdom with a woefully inadequate force. When word of this reached Demos, the Preceptor of the Pandion Knights dispatched a relief column to rush north to the King’s aid, and among the knights in that column was Sir Sparhawk.
    King Antor was soon far out of his depth. Although no one can dispute his personal bravery, his lack of experience often led him into serious tactical and strategic blunders. Since he was oblivious to the alliances between the various bandit barons of the northern marches, he oft-times led his men against one of them without giving thought to the fact that another was very likely to come to the aid of his ally. Thus, King Antor’s already seriously outnumbered force was steadily whittled down by surprise attacks directed at the rear of his army. The barons of the north gleefully outflanked him again and again as he charged blindly forward, and they steadily decimated his reserves.
    And so it stood when Sparhawk and the other Pandion Knights arrived in the war-zone. The armies which had been so sorely pressing the young king were largely untrained, a rabble recruited from local robber-bands. The barons who led them fell back to take stock of the situation. Although their numbers were still overwhelming, the reputed skill of the Pandions on the battlefield was something to be taken into account. A few of their number, made rash by their previous successes, urged their allies to press the attack, but older and wiser men advised caution. It is certain that a fair number of the barons, young and old alike, saw the way to the throne of Elenia opening before them. Should King Antor fall in battle, his crown might easily become the property of any
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