Davard was the Captain of the Taladorian Guard for decades, and he had fallen in love with Cosima, the beautiful daughter of the nobleman Lord Thermon, who helped rule most of Talador for a time. After Baron Kuligar was assassinated at his coronation by the urnon golem Madelyne Cross and exposed to be a shapeshifter planted by Mayor Walkar, Davard was knighted and led an army to attack Wehnimer's Landing. The tones of religious fervor began to build shortly before Davard's invasion, and Prelate Chaston Griffin even anointed Davard's blade and armor, claiming he fought a holy war against the out of control darkness in Wehnimer's. Davard was promised the hand of Cosima in marriage by her father, if he was successful.
For over a month Sir Davard besieged Wehnimer's Landing, once even murdering healers and clerics in the middle of town, capturing the Gryphon Holding which belonged to the Silver Gryphons, and even going toe to toe with Mayor Walkar in combat, along with countless other heroes. In response to Davard's invasion, Drangell and the Brotherhood of Rooks worked with some adventurers, many unknowingly, to abduct Cosima from her home in Talador and hold her hostage until Davard retreated. He did not, and Drangell had Cosima displayed in a wedding gown, gutted and burned alive. Davard snapped, and forged a dark alliance with the witch Raznel to help battle Wehnimer's Landing with curses and other dark magic. This partnership was eventually exposed, and Davard surrendered outside of the orphanage in Wehnimer's Landing, finally coming to his senses and refusing to slaughter children. He was arrested and placed on trial. The Church of Koar condemned him and his alliance with the blood witch Raznel, and they publicly burned him alive outside of Moot Hall in Wehnimer's Landing.
Just before his trial began, Davard was asked by Lheren Hochstib if he wished to make a statement.
Sir Davard Priot you are hereby accused of association with forbidden magic, specifically for your involvement with the witch Raznel and her necromancy and blood rituals. These deplorable acts are seen as grave affronts to both the Church of Koar and the Turamzzyrian Empire. Such crimes can be punishable by death. You have bared witness to three evenings of your trial, as many were brought before the court to testify for, or against you. You have heard the allegations, and now you will be presented with your chance to refute those claims, or admit your guilt. Are you prepared to speak then to the charges? Bear in mind, that Koar above watches and will judge your words, should you speak anything but the truth.
Koar does not watch. Koar does not listen. He is as silent and afraid as a frail woman hiding behind the walls of House Phoenix. He has abandoned his followers, yet only you still blindly believe you bask in his glory, when it is just dust that you wallow in. Davard spits. Shadows no longer creep along this land, they race across it. They blacken the seas with bodies, of both krolvin and man. They descend from the mountains, driving civilization inward. They grow orchards of blood trees, then raise the dead and march to war. Yet you stand here in judgment of me, when it is YOU who should be on trial. The Church of Koar has failed, so occupied with praising themselves and building their halls of gold that the darkness they claim to oppose has rooted and spread. When I am gone then, who will sit in judgment of you? When will you answer for the thousands of lives lost because of your inaction and arrogance? You have accused me of associating with a witch? Of permitting dark magic? Why stop with me? This goes far beyond me. I did not want to bring that wretched woman with me, and her cursed wagon. Lord Thermon Chisholm of the ruling council of Talador demanded I drag that witch along. Him, not I. It is said her dark powers were used against Talador, and even aided Jantalar in taking the Barony in the first place. She was used by Thermon, and he by her. There should be no doubt. I did as commanded and hauled her wagon, unknown to many in my ranks. It was not until your precious Koar failed me and my love was torn from this world, so viciously and unfairly, that I fell to the corruption. The crimes I am accused of? There should be no question, for I am guilty. I gave the witch my blood. I gave her the bodies she so gleefully needed. I watched as she bred maggots from flesh, and spirits from bones. I could have raised a hand to stop her, but instead my inaction only spread the darkness. You see, I am as guilty as you are. I deserve to die, and so do you, right by my side. And who are you three, to preside over my fate? A local judge, who had no influence or power to stop an abomination from taking over. A mad wizard who betrays his empire by aiding Wehnimer's when his stance is demanded to be neutral. The bastard son of a Luukos worshiping Baron who was no stranger to the ends justify the means. Even now, you come to this town under the disguise of justice, when you are simply trying to crawl out of the dark shadow of a man who should have thrown you on the edge of a spear. My only regret is I should have taken Cosima far from Talador, far from your politics, far from your church. Again, my inaction cost her life. She is gone now, as dead to this world as I am. Her father traded her left and right for power. But in the end she is a corpse, and you will likely give him a crown. I do not care what punishment you bring to me. Life? Death? Without Cosima, neither matter to me. Burn me, flay me, or send me to a watery grave. It does not matter. The only consolation I can hope for is that the people of this town turn on you. Because neither of us deserve to walk away.
The Execution of Davard
Town guards move through the streets, eyes scanning the area as their hands nervously thumb the hilts of their weapons. Townspeople begin to come out of their homes or shops, slowly migrating towards the center of town, stopping at the wooden platform raised outside of Moot Hall. Many of the people gathered outside of Moot Hall begin to whisper amongst themselves. Occasionally a loud voice cries out, "On with it! Burn that imperial bastard!" Someone from the crowd jeers, "Burn the witch lover! Hell, burn the rest of the witches in this town!" More town guards arrive, taking position around the wooden platform and forming a perimeter, shoulder to shoulder. Their weapons are all drawn, eyes to the crowd and every alleyway, every rooftop. Some dwarven mercenaries arrive towards the back of the crowd, helping the town marshal, Khylon, to limp into view. The dwarf has a number of bandages wrapped around his arms and torso, and leans on a small wooden cane. Dark rings have formed around his eyes. A trio of white-robed priests, each wearing a polished symbol of Koar, slowly make their way through the throng of people, stepping up onto the wooden platform. They each begin to murmur quiet prayers, their voices barely audible among the sound of the crowd. Lord Lheren Hochstib arrives, moving up onto the wooden platform to stand in front of the priests of Koar already assembled there. He nods. Human and dwarven militiamen arrive from South Ring Road, slowly marching down the cobblestone roads while escorting Davard. Gone are Davard's rune-etched gauntlets and steel boots, replaced by thick alloy chains. The crowd of townspeople come to life, voices screaming and shouting curses and insults as Davard is slowly paraded down the street. A small girl yells, "Butcher! You killed my dad, you heartless butcher!" A stone flies out of the crowd, slamming into Davard's shoulder. If he felt it, he did not show it. Upon the wooden platform, Lord Lheren watches the crowd and sighs. A faint voice in the crowd says, "The Willows wish you eternal torment, oh cruel Davard." From a nearby doorway, a woman throws a small rock at Davard! It strikes him in the side of the face, drawing blood from his cheek. He turns his head to look at the woman, but only nods. As the militiamen continue to lead Davard towards Moot Hall, a man comes rushing down the street with a rusty spear and charges at the prisoner! A town guard leaps into action, quickly disarming the man as other guards apprehend him. The crowd continues to jeer and scream, many throwing old fruit or rocks, as Davard is finally escorted up onto the wooden platform. The guards lean his back up against the wooden pillar and unlatch his chains, only to reconnect them around the wooden pole, securing Davard in place. Some of the guards tend to the pile of wooden sticks around the pillar and Davard's feet, then step back as the priests of Koar move forward. The white-robed priests uncork some crystal vials, sprinkling their contents around the pile of wooden sticks. The priests bow before Lheren and step back. Lheren steps to the side of Davard, who merely hangs his head, staring at his feet. From nearby rooftops, the crouched forms of hooded figures appear. They remain unmoving, just watching, like shadowy gargoyles. Guards look up at the rooftop, but none make any movements. Some of the figures upon the rooftops merely nod. Lheren says, "Tonight there is nothing more to be said. Only justice to be done." Lheren steps slightly away from Davard, before withdrawing a gold-inlaid wand from his pack. He points the wand at Davard's feet and a spark of white light leaps from the wand and strikes the pile of wood, instantly igniting it! Davard lifts his head now, his hollow eyes staring out into the crowd of people. The flames quickly spread out in a fiery wreath beneath him, tendrils of fire licking across his feet and rising up his legs. Davard grimaces painfully, clenching his jaw and refusing to scream. The chains around his feet begin to melt as the flames climb higher. The overwhelming stench of burnt flesh and hair rises in a pungent cloud over Davard, and many of the townspeople cover their noses, but refuse to avert their eyes. The column of hot white, orange and yellow flames engulfs the lower half of Davard's body and at that point the man, or monster, can bear his silence no more. He screams in deep agony, his cries piercing your ears. His voice rattles in the air, an unnatural sound to hear. He squints in pain, veins pulsing in his neck and forehead as he glares at the crowd. From a window on the second floor of Moot Hall, Councilman Stephos's face appears. He looks down at the bonfire below, the flames reflecting in his cold eyes. His lips tighten, and he nods, turning to walk away. Davard's body spasms among the flames, as the fire billows up and out, encircling and fully encompassing him. The stench is nearly unbearable, as black smoke billows up from the platform, flecked with little grey flakes of ash. Davard thrashes violently, trying to break out of his chains. The intense heat of the bonfire only melts the metal into his skin, and just as he tries to break free, his left arm is reduced to useless burnt flesh. The black smoke curls up over Davard's burning and blackened body, rising like tattered clouds, stretching before the black branches of the blood trees behind Moot Hall. Davard's crisp and blackened hand thrusts out of the fire, trying to grab at Lheren's arm. Lheren suddenly leaps back, as many in the crowd express their shock. Flames then dance along Davard's hand, melting away the skin and bone of his fingers. The flames surrounding Davard churn and crackle, shifting from red, to orange, to yellow or white. Black smoke billows up from the fire like a pillar of shadows. The entire front side of Moot Hall is bathed in a flickering orange glow. The skin of Davard's face slowly melts away, his glare focused on the crowd of townspeople. A wave of heat ripples across his face and his eyeballs pop outward, visible for a splint second before his entire head is consumed in the finality of the flames. There are no more screams, no more glares, no more shouting as the fire rises and burns, its heat rippling across the crowd like the golden gaze of Phoen. Within the fire, Davard's form is gone, fully engulfed in the flames. The flames continue to burn, but more dimly now, and many within the crowd begin to disperse, returning to their homes. Marshal Khylon limps off, using his cane and the aid of a fellow militiaman to help him. As the fire slowly dies down to small flames, the priests of Koar leave the stage and wander off into the night, towards the Dragonsclaw Inn. Lord Lheren steps down from the platform, the embers of the fire rising behind him.