Many years ago, King Thenor was a young man. He ruled the kingdom of Snow’s Hand, so named for the five glaciers that slowly moved down its beautiful mountainsides. His father had fought hard to defend the land against invaders from the north, and argued stridently and passionately to keep it independent from the Realm. Thenor carried on this legacy with both pride and humility.
As he grew older and wiser, Thenor realized that the gentle care he gave to his realm might one day fail. Yes, his children and his wife were wonderful and kind… but what of their children? Their grandchildren? What if his realm was assaulted by warriors from beyond the mountains? What if his kingdom fell to internal corruption? Such worries eventually consumed him, and he sought for someone who might ease his mind.
He found this salvation in his waning years. Nearly sixty years old, he met Sunset-On-Snow, a noble of the Fair Folk. Sunset and its kind lived secreted away in the wild places, in the peaks and crags of his mountains. He made a bargain: his kingdom would be protected, and his wisdom passed on to his descendants, for all the days of their lives. In return, Sunset’s folk would be safe within his lands for as long as Thenor lived.
When he returned home, he fell asleep. That was over one hundred years ago.
The laws of his land make him its king still.
King Thenor the Ancient appears to be a seventy-year-old man, with pale, slightly ruddy skin and whiskers that still faintly cling to the color they once had. Wrinkles cover his face – crows-feet and smile lines when he has just gone to sleep, worry marks and a furrowed brow when he is about to awake. His eyes are blue with cataracts.
Thenor wakes every month or so. He is conscious for no more than an hour – often only a few minutes – during which time he makes proclamations and commands actions. He is kindly but firm, and shows a strong need to know that his dictates will be followed. Once he knows that everything is as it should be, he slowly drifts back to slumber. He needs no water or food; he does not suffer from bedsores. His body, and perhaps even his mind, are as sharp as they have ever been – though Princess Athela and other elders know that he has slowly become more confused over time.
Intimacies: “My kingdom’s future above all” (Defining), “My family” (Major, positive), “Music and musicians” (Positive), “Outsiders should stay outside” (Negative), “The old have wisdom; the young are foolish.”
King Thenor will not die. He ages ever more slowly as time passes. His wisdom – every bit as keen and benevolent as legend says it was – is unharmed by the passage of time. He seems to have a supernatural understanding of events within his kingdom, but not of places outside it, and it is this discrepancy that slowly grows and reduces his ability to rule in this strange fashion.
When he is awake, Thenor cannot leave his bed. He has been injured once or twice by clumsy servants, so it is suspected that he can die through injury. It is this fact that Prince Jasper is counting on in his rebellion.
- Versa, the maid who has tended to him all her adult life. Emotional, caring, resentful.
- Tukko, the scribe who takes down his words when he wakes. Fastidious, nervous, in debt.
- Ralwa, the previous scribe, by whose name he calls Tukko. Deceased.
- Can Thenor decide or attempt to remain awake for longer if events demand it?
- Does Thenor realize what has happened to him, and how his kingdom is beginning to suffer for it? Would he renounce his bargain if he could?