Many a Questing Knight rides into Mousillon in search of challenges that will eventually make him worthy of the Grail. Whether any of them have succeeded and ridden back out of the cursed duchy, none but the inscrutable Grail Knights themselves can say. But certainly many quests have ended in death by disease or villainy, and some quests are ongoing. Gefreid the Pure is a knight whose Grail Quest began long ago and will soon end in Mousillon, whether by the blessing of the Lady or the rigours of old age.[1a]
Gefreid was born to a Knight of the Realm in the fair duchy of Couronne and earned his spurs in the service of the Duke of Couronne. He might not have had the strongest arm or the finest horsemanship, but his determination and bravery won him the admiration of Couronne’s knights. It was little surprise when, instead of settling to take over his father’s keep, Gefreid rode out in search of the Grail.[1a]
That was almost forty years ago. Gefreid has seen many of the lands of Bretonnia, each time guided by fleeting, vague visions of the Lady that pointed him towards another verdant valley or lush forest. But the last vision, one he received more than ten years ago, indicated he should ride into the place where only faith in the Lady could keep him from despair. That place was Mousillon. Gefreid is still there.[1a]
Gefreid knows the time will soon come when he will find it difficult to heft a sword or ride a Horse, when he can no longer quest and fight in the name of the Lady. When that time arrives he will ride into the Forest of Arden and hope the end comes quickly. He knows he will either find the Grail or die in Mousillon. Gefreid’s quests in Mousillon have only nicked the surface of the land’s despair, just enough for him to know there is something dismally wrong with Mousillon that is not limited to the outbreaks of pox or the misdeeds of a few nobles. He hopes he will come to understand enough about the curse to pass it on to some younger, more able knight before he dies. He also knows Mousillon has a habit of taking those brave Questing Knights and twisting them into brutal, self-serving, violent men, and it is this fate he fears more than any other. If Mousillon kills him, then so be it, but Gefreid has sworn the Land of Despair will not take his soul.[1a]
Gefreid has become aware recently of a new threat arising in Mousillon. The peasants tell ghoulish stories about a black-armoured knight who never raises his visor and who claims to be the rightful ruler of Mousillon. Is he Landuin reborn, a lost son of the King, or a madman returned from the grave? Whoever he is, he is evidently dangerous and real. Gefreid has seen black banners bearing a yellow serpent flying from distant keeps and witnessed bands of mercenaries and outlaws rallying to some secret cause. Gefreid knows there are precious few in Mousillon with the will to stop this Black Knight, and though he does not believe he can really stop Mallobaude, Gefreid dedicated himself to finding, challenging, and slaying this villain. Deep down, Gefreid believes he has failed his Grail Quest, and all he can do now is die in the name of the Lady. The Black Knight, Gefreid correctly believes, would be happy to give him a quick and violent death.[1a][1b]
Gefreid was once a bright-eyed, inquisitive youth, more personable and intelligent than most hot-headed knights. The years and the rigours of the Land of Despair have turned him into a hollow-eyed, fatalistic old man. It is a pleasant surprise to Gefreid to find anyone in Mousillon who is not a superstitious inbred peasant or a crude club-wielding brute, and he opens up about his fears about the Black Knight to someone who talks to him with comradeship and respect. Gefreid rides the best horse he could find in Mousillon—a tough but unfriendly beast that carries its barding and rider grudgingly—and still maintains his armour and colours. His arms are those of a black unicorn on a halved blue and white field, and he wears them with pride as they are derived from those of his father.[1b]
Because he knows he will never find the Grail, Gefreid has effectively dedicated himself to the battling of evils and protecting the innocent. There are few men as laudable as Gefreid in the whole of Bretonnia, let alone in Mousillon.
Gefreid is currently in the Charnel Hills outside the walls, hunting down marauding Zombies and Skeletons that have been preying on peasants living on the outskirts of the South Gate area. He spends much of his time within Slaughter Down, a large and very old barrow covering a particularly noisome mass grave. Slaughter Down is marked out by the old gibbets that stand on its peak, where many decades ago criminals were tied up or locked in cages for the Zombies to devour. It became too dangerous even for executions many years ago, and now Gefreid is likely to be the only person around Slaughter Down.
Though he may be old, and often fights against great odds, Gefreid is as tough as cured frog leather and learned his swordsmanship from among the best. Those who engage him in straight combat soon learn of the danger he presents.