Eldanesh Kurnous, posthumously beatified by Lordaeron's surviving smallfolk as Saint Eldanesh the Conqueror, was a noted Knight of the Silver Hand and prominent figure in both the Scarlet and Argent Crusades. His saintly appellation stems from title granted in the wake of Naxxramas' destruction, Conqueror of Naxxramas.
Lacking the expansive musculature of his Paladin contemporaries, Eldanesh was known as a lean and wiry youth whilst squiring. This change little as he aged and toiled; he grew to stand barely beneath two meters in height, and kept hold of his sinewy profile throughout his life. Training under Jothaem Albrecht was quick to exploit this gaunt form, and many fellow Knights of the Silver Hand were heard to describe Eldanesh as the "most lethal-looking" of the Order. Brown of hair and possessing verdant, green eyes, Eldanesh's most famous features were earned later in life: hair prematurely grayed by stress, and his right eye gouged out during fierce combat with an undead monstrosity.
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Personality and LegacyEdit
Eldanesh was unusual for himself as much as for his rise to fame. He developed a manner well known to his friends, which has been described as the Kurnousian manner. Commander Entari of the Argent Crusade, also an amateur historian, wrote a book called Reflections Upon the War in the Frozen North, in which he criticised Kurnous for his manner, personality and self-obsession. Entari wrote as one who disagreed strongly with Eldanesh's past decisions, but even his one-sided criticisms do not entirely conceal another facet of Eldanesh's personality, his aloofness and diffidence. The sections of the work dealing with Sir Kurnous' personality have been reproduced below:
This ersatz Conqueror's demeanor, as I understand it, has its roots in his attitude of mind—an attitude of convinced superiority which insists in the first place on complete detachment from the enthusiasms of the smallfolk, and in the second place on keeping the vulgar world at arm's length when perceived by the public.
It is an attitude of mind which a Gilnean or a cynic might be justified in assuming, for it is the attitude of one who desires rather to straddle the world than to shoulder any of its burdens; but it is a posture of exceeding danger to anyone who lacks tenderness or sympathy, whatever his purpose or station may be, for it tends to breed the most dangerous of all intellectual vices, that spirit of self-indulgence which Archbishop Faol himself declared to be the infallible mark of an unsatisfied soul.
To Sir Kurnous this studied attitude of aloofness has been fatal, both to his character and to his legacy. He has said nothing, written nothing, done nothing, which lives in the heart of his countrymen. To look back upon his record is to see a desert, and a desert with no altar and with no monument, without even one tomb at which a friend might weep. One does not say of him, "He nearly succeeded there", or "What a tragedy that he turned from this to take up that"; one does not feel for him at any point in his career as one feels for High General Turalyon or even for Lord Uther; from its outset until now that career stretches before our eyes in a flat and uneventful plain of successful but inglorious and ineffective self-seeking. Even the apex of his glory, the fall of the Dread Citadel, is overshadowed by his lamentable end and the subsequent and far more spectacular destruction of the Lich King.
There is one signal characteristic of this 'Kurnousian manner' which is worthy of remark. It is an assumption in general company of a most urbane, nay, even a most cordial spirit. I have heard many of the rank and file declare after making his acquaintance in the mess and barracks that he is the most gracious of men, and seen many more retire from shaking his hand with a flush of pride on their faces as though Royalty had stooped to inquire after the measles of their youngest child. Such is ever the effect upon base minds of geniality in superiors: they love to be stooped to from the heights.
But this heartiness of manner is of the moment only, and for everybody; it manifests itself more personally in the circle of his intimates and is irresistible in casual banter; but it disappears when Sir Kurnous retires into the shell of his ambitions and there deals with individuals, particularly with lovers. It has no more to do with his spirit than his cassock and caprison. Its remarkable impression comes from its unexpectedness; its effect is the shock of surprise. In public he is ready to shake the whole world by the hand, almost to pat it on the shoulder; but in private he is careful to see that the world does not enter even the remotest of his holdings.
"The truth about Eldanesh Kurnous," Gevin Hopesfire once said to me, when we were but squires, "Is that there's been one Orc invasion already, and he's convinced there's going to be another."
Little as the adoring smallfolk may suspect it, the charming, gracious, and cultured Sir Kurnous is the most egotistical of men, and a man who would make almost any sacrifice to remain in their hearts. It costs him nothing to serve under Tirion Fordring; it would have cost him almost his life to be out of action during a period so exciting as the assault on Northrend; had he remained in Lordaeron in service to the Crusade, the only glories to be found would have been unsung and of little spectacle. He loves combat more than anything this world can offer; neither in philosophy nor music, literature nor women, has he ever been able to find rest for his soul. It is profoundly instructive that a man with a real talent for the noblest of those pursuits which make solitude desirable and retirement an opportunity should be so restless and dissatisfied, even in noble service, to the point of not only inviting an early demise in reckless pursuit of vainglory, but actively charging to meet it.
Despite Commander Entari's scathing rebuke of his character, one cannot deny his popularity with Lordaeron's surviving expatriates. He was one of the first members of the Scarlet Crusade to forsake the crimson banner for the Argent star, and was personally involved in almost every major action during the campaign in Northrend, almost universally fighting on the front lines. A highly visible and distinctive figure, Eldanesh was easy to identify amidst the timult of battle by his prematurely grayed hair, wiry build, and tattered crimson eye-patch. So widespread and lauded were the stories of his prowess and deeds, that his part in leading the assault of the Highlord's Own against Naxxramas was eventually exaggerated to the point that an adoring commoner would speak of how Lord Kurnous ripped the Dread Citadel from the sky with but the power of the Holy Light to aid him.
A close reading of Eldanesh's personal meditations, a volume released after his death entitled The Libram of the Valiant, reveals a man haunted by the nebulous moralities of the Third War and affected by a deep-seated self-loathing. Kurnous speaks at length of his tenture in the Scarlet Crusade, highlighting in exquisite detail almost every single occasion on which he believed to have broken the Three Virtues of the Silver Hand. As a boy he was deeply taken by stories of old chivalry and the triumph of good against evil. One may suspect, but not completely confirm, that the shocking reality of the Silver Hand's fall to the undead was an incredible blow to his perception of the Order, and indeed, even of the Holy Light itself. Upon leaving the Scarlet Crusade for the Argent, he sought greater and greater victories against the Scourge as a way to atone for his past misdeeds, seeking penance in the only venue with which he was completely comfortable: the field of battle.
Though his virtue and worth as a person is oft debated, there can be little said to deny the scope of his accomplishments. Eldanesh Kurnous successfully led the forces of the Argent Crusade against the Archlich Kel'Thuzad and oversaw the destruction of the Necropolis Naxxramas. He fought in every major battle throughout the war in the north that he was alive to partake in, from the landfall at Valiance Keep and the storming of En'kilah, to the Battle of the Wrathgate, to the ill-advised taking of Mord'rethar, the assault which saw his end. These conquests are contrasted against a chequered character, possessed by a man who was determined to conceal the whole of his soul from the prying eyes of Azeroth. His legacy therefore defies easy categorization. Some months after the fall of Icecrown, Highlord Tirion Fordring was asked to evaluate his most celebrated champion. He replied, in the noncommital manner that we have come to expect of him: "Eldanesh Kurnous is one of the mysteries of the war."