King Rhidgaer Drakensen (a.k.a. the austere)
Certain stars don't realize how beautiful they are seen from a distance. They seem only to see that other stars shine more and they consume themselves in a self-damaging contest to shine harder. What they ignore is that they shine in the darkness of someone and that's precious! Everyone is unique, everyone is special!
Rhidgaer, the austere, has been the third king of his name to ascend the Dragon Kingdom, only son of Rhidgaer II and Arabella Hopp. For a long time historian have paid little interest toward his reign, that only lasted ten years, without significant military events to dictate the tempo. When Herbert of Alkar took inspiration from his aspect and sad story to depict Boann, to whom Rhidgaer was especially devoted, his popularity was revamped.
Right from the prelude it was clear that Rhidgaer's life would have been tough, born premature, his mother died during the delivery due to a bleeding. He received the best care available and pulled through this difficult time growing into a graceful child. The prince was a smart and wise youngster, but since an early age has shown to be hypercritic toward himself and irritable when wrong. His father, considered by most a living legend, wasn't very present during his childhood, being constantly engaged in expanding the kingdom; nevertheless, his presence would result oppressive for the prince that would grow up in his shadow, setting an unhealthy level of self-expectations. For example, he would try to emulate his fighting mastery but, being too agile and slender, couldn't fight in the same way, furthermore he lacked the mind predisposition to hurt other people.
Having noticed the troubles the prince was going through trying to master the use of longsword, King Rhidgaer called him at his side and paternally told him "Don't worry, my son, if fight doesn't come natural to you, I've spent most of my life fighting so that you may not have to!" instead of reassuring the prince those words sent him into a rage, his knucles white close in fists "Don't you patronize me!" bellowed in the end, turning toward the stable. The king shook his head and sighed, in the quiet courtyard.
Because of the toxic relationship with the idealization of his father, prince Rhidgaer grew into a reserved adult disconnecting from the rest of the court and keeping his feelings to himself. His father was an excellent tactician but a poor communicator, especially when it came to his emotions, probably failed to make him feel his care and that was constantly rejected as over-protection or indulgence.
The only events in which he seemed to be in control were masquerades, in which he could impersonate other people, both women and men, and be finally free from the role of the perfect prince that destiny toppled on his shoulders. At the age of sixty-five, bent by arthritis, his father abdicated in his favour being too weak to continue in charge; even in this circumstance the retiring king tried to reassure him of his trust but the new king kept his frown, as if receiving an undeserved compliment. To celebrate his crowning, he organized the most flamboyant mask party in a long time inviting at Virkenhall dignitaries from every allied settlement in the continent, even a circus was invited in the city and the citizens rejoiced. Rhidgaer appeared in the ballroom wearing a celestial costume with wings made of real swan feather that would move as he walked, a white tunic and a mask of solid gold, the vision of the new king was majestic, his grace on the dance-floor matched only by a foreign dignitary: the Saythian sea-elf Lyrathir. The king was hypnotized by the movements of elf, irresistibly attracted he spent most of the evening in his charming company and fell in love, for the first time in his life.
The time passed very fast that night, both clearly enjoying each other's company, when most people had gone the elf tentatively started "I believe I'd better go, it has been a fantastic feast, my sire!" to which the king replied "But you cannot go just yet, I think if you go I will regret it forever. I still have so much to say..." and then taking courage, added in a whisper "I believe I love you!" The elf was taken aback by his words "I'm sorry... I can't..." The king seemed to falter where he stood "I know, I shouldn't have..." breathed with a lip trembling. The elf tried to clarify "It is not you, but I was in a relationship with a human being before, against the better advices of my people. I will see you, as I already did once, wither in front of me, as the time passes without affecting me... I am sorry, I cannot do it again."
After that night, Rhidgaer took his place in his small council, but gave gradually more way to a feeling of failing, blaming himself for what happened. Although he was never a military commander, as a king he achieved a lot in only ten years, improving infrastructures to speed up travel toward the north, completing his father's project to reinstate the chain of post stations to speed communications across the kingdom and several improvements of the commercial rules to grant seamless transfer of products. For how much he did, no success seemed to matter and he found impossible to match the immense shadow projected by his father and with his beloved one far away, all the sweetness in his life was gone. He was admired and respected by his people, that he managed to keep safe granting good manutention and new equipment to the garrisons of the border forts, but nothing could help him from feeling inadequate. During the truce granted by his kingdom alas, the enemies of the country didn't remain idle and they worked assiduously infiltrating spies into the kingdom to find a way to crack the formidable defenses of the kingdom.
One sad day a letter arrived at the The King's Hall reporting the false news of the death of Lyrathir, poisoned by enemies of the Dragon Kingdom to hurt him. Unable to know the truth and sad to the death, Rhidgaer left a letter for his small council and left for his final travel, to a ravine on the Oghannon river that he loved for the scenery and jumped to embrace his death.
When you will read this letter I will be no longer, my life became an unbearable burden and without the hope to see again my beloved Lyrathir I could find no reason to go on.
I wanted to flow into you
I wanted to flow into you
as a river flows into the sea
singing its joyful song for his rocks
and for whom would listen to it or not.
I wanted our souls to be just one
entwined as two blossom of the same plant
fraternally joined as the time flows around us
but evil men have uprooted you from my heart
Now I fall like a leaf in autumn, flowing in the wind
I may come back as a new gem next spring
a gentle breeze to kiss my hair
your lips to caress me softly.
I design as my successor my cousin Malcolm Armstrong
I desire to be buried close to the ravine of the fallen flowers where I wish you to erect a temple to the divine Boann, may them receive my troubled soul. You will retrieve my dead body in that same ravine that I loved dearly.
King Rhidgaer III was a slender man not very muscular, but graceful as a cat in his movements. He used to have very short hair platinum blonde and eyes sapphire blue, very similar to his father ones. Differently from his predecessors he wasn't used to wear martial garments but preferred elegant apparel made of the most precious fabrics matched by exquisite and expensive jewel, mostly imported from Hörburg. He loved partaking to masked dance parties and he would never show up with trivial dresses, then briefly abandoned his role of sovereign of the kingdom he would feel free and be himself.
The monarch was a man of raffinate intellect in a time when brutal strength was more appreciated, standing out between his bloodline as a rare thing. Conflicted between his desire for freedom and his steeled sense of duty, accepted his role as heir to throne as an inescapable calamity he was to suffer without showing his torment. Other members of his lineage deserted the overwhelming position they were destined to cover, although Rhidgaer III felt he couldn't betray his blood and accepted his fate until the bitter end. Professionally committed to his duty, he would let no one connect with the deep troubles of his soul, standing alone in the mid of a storm and gaining the nickname Austere.
Despite his self-imposed isolation, people of his time used to love King Rhidgaer III because he never forgot to get them involved, either with street artists or public banquets, in the palace celebrations. Therefore, no one was surprised when a massive crowd turn up at his commemoration service, a river of people filled the roads on Virkenhall touched by the premature loss of their monarch. He is remembered for the important impact he has had on commerce and viability on the kingdom, the most important sign was the inauguration of the works on the waterfront that, although completed by his heirs and altered through the centuries, still stands today.
In the art
After more than twenty centuries very limited original artwork depicting Rhidgaer remain intact. Some ancient coins have make it to the modern times but the likeness of the profile figure on them is harshly disputed. A couple of bronze sculptures, presently in the atrium of the The King's Hall, are commonly considered to represent the king but are severely damaged. He's the main character of the historical fiction book The prince of Sorrow byin which the author reports that, on the 16th Thodhar the date of his death, every year for more than a thousand years someone has brought on his tomb a Rosa Marina flower.