Corentin was a mighty warrior and hero of Brionne. He had fought in many battles, so many in fact, that they had simply began to blur together for him. The Duke feared no enemy, whether man, beast, or abomination, for he had faced all in battle and cut them down with equal contempt. Rather he knew dread, the notion that soon he would be forced by his advanced age to put up his lance once and for all and surrender to infirmity or senility. He was a powerfully built man, but with each coming day Corentin knew that age was fading his old strength. The ageing Duke knelt at the base of his personal Grail Shrine, and begged The Lady to give him one last glorious charge. To die in battle rather than live the rest of his days as an old man. He was answered by a mystical Damsel, who decided to answer his prayer and give him the end that he wished...
That night Duke Corentin dreamed of every battle he had ever fought in during a lifetime of war, re-living the moments as if they were yesterday. He dreamed of the Deliverance of Quenelles, where he fought as a young Knight Errant, following his master into his first ever charge against rampaging Orcs. Then he was bearing the standard at the Siege of Trantio, cutting down traitors as they fled from his wrath. Then it was Castle Darkheart, where he fought against the undead hordes assailing the King's forces over thirty years earlier. Deep in the Irrana Mountains, Duke Corentin had saved Carcassonne from the largest Skaven invasion in living memory. Battles against every foe known to man, and some of which man had no knowledge, came to him. Barbarous Greenskins, cruel Dark Elves, the savage Warriors of Chaos, the pernicious mercenaries of Tilea and the petty Border Princes. All of these foes and more had he faced in battle, and whatever foul magics or cunning stratagems they had employed, Corentin knew they could bleed and therefore die.
The Last Charge
When the Duke awoke, Brionne was assailed by the armies of the Dark Elves, a Black Ark looming in the distant ocean awaiting fresh slaves. Corentin rallied his men and prepared to defend his city, monstrous Hydras and other such war beasts appeared among the Elven forces, and the Duke sent his knights to prepare for the coming charge. As the mists parted, an immense Black Dragon appeared above the Elves, sending many of Corentin's men-at-arms into a panic. The Dragon was ridden by the enemies leader, a warrior clad from head to toe in jet black armour, worked into the most cruelly delicate forms. The Elf Lord's eyes shone from within his tall helmet like coals in the night, and he wielded a long barbed whip, which snaked and coiled as if possessed. He was known as Beastlord Rakarth, a being who had laid waste to entire towns in the past, in both Bretonnia and Norsca.
Corentin was not afraid, he stood tall meeting the Dark Elf's gaze, an example to every man who looked on in fear. Rakarth demanded that Corentin give up some of his men and women to slavery, then the forces of Naggaroth would leave his lands, the Duke was enraged at such an insult, but calmly replied that the elves leave whilst they still could. The enraged Elf Lord cracked his whip, sending his army into a fury in response, Corentin had one last foe to defeat. He drew his mighty sword and thought of the coming battle.
That night both armies prepared for battle, and when morning struck Corentin rose to meet his destiny, it would be halted however. The Duke's Knights, knowing of their lords deteriorating health, did not want Corentin to lead the charge, refusing to allow him a part in the battle out of fearing his demise. Duke Corentin begrudgingly accepted to remain within the castle, saddened as he was.
Corentin's loyal Knights charged forth without him, riding into battle in a feat of epic glory. The knights rode through the Hydra's fog of noxious fumes, spearing many with their lances and covering the earth in black blood. Sadly more of these monsters kept coming and eventually the Knights of Brionne were fighting desperately to stay alive. From the castle above Duke Corentin raged at the sight of his knights being killed by such vile beasts. As the last of his knights were cast down, he looked on as the Dark Elf army charged towards the city. Brionne was lost...
Corentin ordered his attendants to arm him, and none could argue for there was clearly nothing to be gained from doing so. With silent reverence the Duke's attendants presented him with his blessed lance, set his shield upon his arm and placed his helmet on his head. The Duke descended the stairs of his castle into the rubble laden courtyard below, monsters rampaged throughout his city and cowards fled from battle on all sides but the enemies. He cast his mind from this tragedy as the gates of his keep opened. Blinding light spilled through, so white and so pure that the duke knew it was natural. Time slowed to a leaden crawl as his steed passed through the gate, its speed building as it bore him onwards. There beyond the gates was the enemy, he remembered his past battles as his heart sang. One last battle. One last glorious charge before death finally claimed him.
- 1. Warhammer: The Last Charge (Short Story)