The first knight of the Blachefort family was a lucky man. This luck, however strong, was not always good. His family’s farm was set ablaze; he revenge he wrought on the leader of the bandits that started it saw him Knighted by the King, as it was the same band which stole from the treasury not long ago. He was granted his own land as a minor lord, only to see it suffer an unexplainable drought that year unlike any seen before. In a strange twist, the drought helped his people avoid the plague that took the kingdom the year after. A few years after, he caught the attention of a fair young maiden, and the two fell madly in love; too late he discovered his patron’s interest in the woman, and he was stripped of his titles, his lands given to another, his love leaving for a future with the King.
For a time, the forsworn knight wandered the kingdom; with no family of his own, he had nowhere to stay, so he aided others through strength of arms and labor, in exchange for food and bedding. He never stayed anywhere long; stories would spread too quickly of his station and ill luck, and he would move on before questions were asked or motives questioned. Still, he took pride in helping others, despite the narrowly-escaped persecution.
When he was approached by the strange young man on the road who claimed to know who he was, he was frightened, afraid that he was being hunted. When the young man offered to sponsor him, he was leary. But when the young man offered to return his title once more, he became hopeful.
“But you must work hard!” the young man told him. “A Silver Knight must keep his word through all things, and must strive to keep his promises until the very end!”
The disgraced knight Blanchefort agreed, and his new patron blessed him. He found himself bestowed with quests on behalf of his patron, and blessed with abilities beyond what he had before to fulfill them. When he was needed to move stones that had fallen on a village, he found himself stronger. When asked to find the murderer who killed a town crier, he found he could speak to the spirit of the deceased. And once, when tasked with finding a lost child within the woods, he found himself in the shape of a hunting dog, running through the forest and finding her with his nose, carrying her back carefully on his back, her hand gripping tightly to his fur.
Some years later, long after he had found a new love and a new family under his new patron, the now Silver Knight Blanchefort was tasked with bringing a medicine made by his patron to a beplagued town within his lord’s realm. Soon after he arrived, he found the sickness had overwhelmed the people. Before he could bring it to the healers in the village, fear gripped his heart. The sight of the dead and the dying made his legs falter. He fled from the town, returning in disgrace to his lord’s castle, medicine still in hand and undelivered.
The lord demanded he returned the village, but he shook his head, still twitching in fright. When asked why he refused, the Knight Blanchefort found himself unable to answer. His patron was furious. “Do you not believe in my cure?” he asked of his knight. “Do you think yourself above such a task?” Still the Knight Blanchefort did not answer. “Then this will be your curse to bare, set unto you and your children. Servants of others will you always be, unable to turn away from those that ask dearly of you, else you be struck dumb for the remainder of your existence.”
At least, this is the story the members of the Blanchefort family tell their children as they try to explain the strange situations they may find themselves. There’s no real evidence to prove the story of the Knight Blanchefort, but the gifts of the Questing Knights are undeniable. Every generation has at least one “Uncle” who didn’t believe their parents; the children are brought to visit, as an example of what could happen should they forsake their blessings and refuse their burden.
The Silver Ladder learned quickly of the Proximi within the Blanchefort family. It’s rumored that the patron himself was a prominent Thyrsus Archmage of the Silver Ladder at the time, but there is no record of his name or deeds, outside of the Knight himself. Regardless of who he really was, it’s generally assumed that first knight’s lord informed others of the Ladder about the existence of the Questing Knights, in hopes of making sure they were guided in future generations. Many members of the Ladder, however, realized that they had been handed an easily controlled family of servants to last for generations.
The role of the Questing Knights took new forms as it passed from generation to generation, although the forms it took are only speculated, as by the time some of the family figured out what it might be and wrote it down, it was already adapting to the changes of the people around it. It’s said that it changed in the Colonial age to protect those that wish to escape and settle in new places. During the western movement, the family took up the role of cowboys, unable to turn down a request to protect a town from bandits and highwaymen. The roles they took were often dangerous; as such, the Blanchefort Family proximi have never been prominent, and in fact their numbers dwindled more and more throughout the ages; many Ladder simply abandoned the family as a result, as without the numbers, they served little use.
Recent times have drastically affected the Blanchefort family. Although the gifts of the Proximi only used to pass to the male heirs, the prevalent role of feminism in the Western nations means that the women born into the family suddenly carry the burden of a Questing Knight. Stranger is the fact that some distant members who never had the gifts in their line, such as now deceased relatives who married out of the family long ago, suddenly find generations later a descendant struck mute in the middle of school, with no explanation available until they find those members of the family able to pass on the stories. Still, this has resulted in a sudden surge in the number of Proximi born since the Great War, with more and more appearing in each passing generation.
The Curse itself has gotten stronger as well in recent times, in that it stops the victim from speaking, writing or even using sign language. They can still use High Speech (should they somehow know it) for spells and use Spirit Tongue to speak with spirits, but they cannot communicate with a human being except through grunts and body language; a nod or shake of the head is about as much as they can manage before the message gets jumbled. Even efforts to have a Spirit speak for them or communicating telepathically are blocked; although Telepathy is still possible and memories are still accessible, any attempt to directly communicate is met with incomprehensible babble instead of translatable speech. As such, there are a few members, moreso in this age than any other thanks to the innumerable threats faced by Awakened society, that do not communicate directly at all. They either talk through actions or retreat from society altogether, living a solitary existence away from the rest of humanity.
In the past century, the family history is still passed down, but much of the Silver Ladder has forgotten about the Blanchefort family, the members themselves having gone through a time where very few awakened. With the recent changes with the Curse and the Proximi being more prevalent (and by extension, more and more Awakened members of the family have appeared), the Ladder has been looking back into the annuls lately, making contact once more with the family and using the knowledge of the burden of the Questing Knights to bring them back into servant roles of the Ladder as they once were.
Heritage Path: Thyrsus