The Master of Arms: Kente
Well met, my fellow Shadow Councilors.
There is another member of Ivan’s Council I should tell you about: Ivan’s Master of Arms, the Orc Kente.
To understand Kente’s presence among Ivan’s council, we have to go back in time, to the 544th Year of the Seventh Dragon. When the young Duke of Griffin of that era, Slava, accepted to welcome the vagrant Orcs of the Whitespear tribe on his lands, a custom was established. The Whitespear Orcs would send one of their best warriors to Eastalon, to become the Duke’s Master of Arms. Of course, no Orc would ever serve a Human if not of his own free will. The new Master of Arms would always be a volunteer – the first of which was none other than Kraal, the Whitespears’ own chieftain.
Throughout the centuries, the relationship between Orcs and Humans within the Griffin Duchy has been… uneven, to say the least. Nowadays, most Orcs are content to stay in their mountainous steppes and not interact with the “babyteeth”, as they call Humans, unless the need is dire. When Ivan became Duke, there had been no volunteer in decades, and the old custom was little more than a legend of days past.
Such was the state of things when Kente rode to Eastalon and, unexpectedly, offered his sword to the Duke of Griffin.
A direct descendant of the great chieftain Kraal, it is my understanding that Kente often communes with his Ancestors through dreams and meditations. It seems that these guardian spirits have warned him of a dark time to come, when “a Demon in the shape of a woman would paint the Empire in red, and the Orcs would be made slaves again”. When Empress Maeve was assassinated, Kente started to suspect this was the event he had foreseen. He immediately saddled his robust steppe horse, said goodbye to his mate and children, and went to Eastalon to fulfil his destiny.
Kente is certain that Ivan has to become Emperor to prevent his vision from ever coming completely true. He also has hopes of rekindling the friendship that once united his people to the Griffin dynasty. That way, he believes, the spectre of slavery would never return to threaten his people. Sadly, not many Orcs share his views on these matters.
In many ways, Kente is the opposite of the Orc stereotype of the bloodthirsty, mindless brute. His intelligence and military acumen are not to be underestimated, yet he is a strong advocate of peaceful solutions… which won’t prevent him from cutting his enemies in two if they’re asking for it. While not sparring or hunting with the Duke, Kente spends most of his time in Eastalon’s menagerie, tending to the dogs, horses and Griffins. Despite his intimidating appearance, he is also surprisingly popular with children. The little ones love to hear him recount tales of great heroes of the past, in the lively manner of his people. I believe all children in Eastalon now know the stories of characters such as Malathua, Kunyak, Batu or even Goink the handsomest Goblin.
Kente is content to play the dumb Orc in the Humans’ presence, if that can help put them at ease. Only a few people – among them Ivan, Anastasya and of course myself – realize this is all an act. It’s something Kraal also used to do, which greatly amuses Anastasya.