The Grand Duelist
Merrick Grayhorn is the current Grand Duelist of the Human Empire, having served as such for the last five years since his appointment to the position by the previous Emperor's advisor. Formally trained in military tactics in the Dwarven academies, he played a crucial role in the coup that installed Catherine Nightbreeze as the Empress of the Human Empire and has served at her side since.
The invocation of the role of Grand Duelist was surprising, but fulfilled a role in the tulmultous politic climate of the time. A man unknown to the elites of the Human Empire, that held love for the empire but did not harbor the ill will toward the previous Emperor, was the perfect selection, albeit a difficult one.
Grayhorn has been synonymous with the title of Grand Duelist from the moment that the title was granted upon him. Serving as councilor, confident, and friend, especially for a young Empress trapped in failing political system, is no easy task for the best of men, less so when ancestry and heritage join into the political fray.
The greatest companions of the Empress brought forth peace and prosperity where once the system had failed the Empire. Grayhorn was an integral part to that, sharing wisdom and strategy that even the sorcery of the grand Vampire Wizard could not bring to their planning. Without the man of Elven blood and Dwarven heritage, the coup of Catherine could easily have ended before it even began.
A man's character is often made by their experiences. It is hardship and how they deal with it that defines that character and can either make them a good man or break them as a poor one.Born the youngest son of a Human mother and an Elven father, Merrick was far younger than his siblings and born to parents who were well-established in their lives. While his older siblings had reached adulthood and had moved on to lives in the Elven Kingdom with their father, he would find a place traveling the world with his merchant mother, often bringing goods to the deep tunnels of the Dwarven Kingdom. While his mother was Human, he found little in common with others, and much preferred the open road and dark tunnels that they so often traveled. As a young child, Merrick often spent more time with the Dwarves than around Humans or Elves. This time and his mother's place within the merchant guilds brought with it the title of Dwarf and place within the society that he had come to love. As he reached his teenage years, less time was spent traveling with his mother as he used his title to further his somewhat tumultuous education through the various academies that the capital of the Dwarven Kingdom had to offer.
Coup of Catherine NightbreezeAfter spending the majority of his life amongst the Dwarves, Merrick chose to return to the Human Empire upon his graduation, settling in the small lakefront village of Merrick. Here, he became somewhat of a small-town hero, fending off bands of Goblins, Orcs, and even some Dinosaurs. While the trade village was small, word traveled, throughout the Empire, reaching those that would lay the path of Merrick's future. Years had passed in Merrick with little issue, but a mysterious letter arrived, changing the course of the simple life that Merrick had created for himself. It detailed the travel of the soon-to-be Empress of the Human Empire and the need for him to accompany her and aid with anything she saw fit. The title of Grand Duelist would be bandied about, but until he met the girl, this meant little. Merrick was skeptical at first, but meeting the fiery girl had him quickly changing his mind. Catherine Nightbreeze was a young woman when Merrick first met her, traveling alone from the Fairy King's Wood. She asked for him by name when she arrived in the small village, quickly befriending him with her quick wit and pride. She asked if he would lend her his aid to take back her throne and after the week they spent getting to know each other, the answer was simple. The coup of Catherine Nightbreeze is spoken about in hushed tones as people describe the Witch Queen, her pet Vampire, the Grand Duelist, and a man with a love of Dragon fire. While the true details are lost to the dark pages of history, it is noted
The Grand DuelistUpon her ascension to the throne, Catherine invoked a title that had almost been lost to time. The men who had held the throne before her were military men, choosing to lead their armies instead of passing the duty to someone else. With her power as a Witch, she chose to entrust the duty to her most loyal knight, instead of leading herself when few trusted her magic. A supporter of her father had long since invoked this title when he first called upon Merrick, but little respect came from it in the days when Catherine was still nothing more than a figurehead that some had forgotten. The title only held its true weight when Catherine called the name once more upon the throne, a decree that no one could deny any longer. Merrick assumed control of the Military of the Human Empire and began working to retrain and restructure a military that had dwindled beneath the interim rule between Catherine and her father. His place as a Half-Elf and his training from the Dwarves garnered him little respect, as few trusted someone who was from their land but essentially an outsider. Those earliest days after the coup allowed him little time to fully integrate with his men, learning what drove them and helping them grow. His days were spent at Catherine's side, repelling questions and thinly veiled attacks at what some called their "child" leader. As Catherine became more comfortable in her power and replaced those who had removed her father, Merrick could turn to the issues at hand while still remaining a close advisor to the young Empress. The two were an inseparable duo, one that led fairly but the respect was slow to come. As the years passed and the people of the Human Empire came to know those who were leading their homeland, those who had once mistrusted the Witch Queen and her loyal knight would come to support a thriving empire.
Father & KnightThe relationship between Merrick and Catherine was a near-instantaneous one, her quick wit and his eye for strategy drawing them together. Catherine had been known to keep odd companions in her life, but those who joined her in the coup to regain her throne often left many with a lot of questions. An age difference of over four decades often created a relationship of camaraderie and advice. Having lost her father at a young age, Merrick quickly came to fill a more fatherly role in Catherine's life, although with the caveat of also being in her servitude. His decades of experience and levelheadedness often stood to reign in Catherine's more impulsive decisions.
I never expected to find such a kindred spirit in a child, one that enjoyed the pursuit, whether it be of knowledge or a conclusion, but she surprised me. If there is some purpose I am meant to fulfill, it is to serve her as a knight but also as a trusted companion and comrade.Alexander Cross and Darius Nizz were paramount to the success of the coup to regain the throne of the Human Empire, and a relationship of trust grew between the four, but Catherine counts Merrick as her most trusted companion and confidant. It is rare to see the Empress appear in public without her knight, nor for her to make a decision without first hearing his thoughts.