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So long as we live, our battle will never be over.
~ Ashram to Parn.

Ashram (アシュラム), nown as the "Black Knight", is the secondary antagonist in The Record of Lodoss War. He is a highly skilled warrior and the former retainer and right-hand aide of Emperor Beld. He served Beld during the War of Heroes, and was sent in the front to deal with any possible resistance.

After the death of Emperor Beld, Ashram assumed ultimate leadership of the forces of Marmo.  The dark elf Pirotess has deep affections for him.

Ashram is cold, ruthless, and extremely efficient in battle, often easily slaying his opponents, and has been shown to have a very wide skill gap with Parn. He is a strong-willed man who does not give up easily, as shown by his pursuit of Shooting Star and continuing to stand and fight while Wagnard was trying to kill him. Ashram is also very professional and serious about his job as Captain, as when a dark elf and a human were having a brawl in his army, he quickly intervened and scolded both of them.

Despite his ice cold exterior, Ashram is not heartless. He has a hidden soft spot for Pirotess, which became clear when he saved her and was clearly distressed by her death, hugging her close. This left an impression on Parn, who did not expect Ashram to have such emotions or feelings for anyone. Ashram is arguably one of the more complex villains in the series.

Background and Story

Ashram was born into a noble household in Alania. He was the heir of a noble family that extended from the royal Kadamos family five generations back. His father was a captain of the Alanian knights with a bright future ahead of him. In time, he could could have been promoted to deputy commander, and one day to commander-in-chief of the entire knighthood. Ashram himself may have become ensquired to his father one day, and eventually become a knight as well.

However, in Ashram’s eighth year, his life was torn apart. His father learned of colleague’s dishonesty and injustice, he reported it. However, the other man was a favored vassal of the royal family. The royal family destroyed the prosecution’s evidence, threatened the witnesses, and produced unfavorable testimony against Ashram’s father. When the trial was over his father had been made out to be the guilty party, and in disgrace, he was convicted. He was sentenced to exile and transported to the dark island of Marmo. The burden of guilt, and the punishment, was extended to Ashram and his mother.

Ashram and his parents were shipped off to Marmo, and en route, Ashram met a boy about his age named Owen. A thief, Owen had been apprenticed to a master thief. In helping his master escape, Owen allowed himself to be caught by a knight. Unfortunately, it turned out that his master had been the one that reported Owen as a thief. As punishment, Owen was sent to Marmo as well, while his master got off. This boy became Ashram’s closest friend.

Ashram’s family feel apart after their arrival on Marmo. Within a year of their arrival, his father was assassinated by the Thieves’ Guild. After his father’s death, his mother, accustomed to a luxurious lifestyle, attached herself to a rich and powerful man and left Ashram to his own devices. If such a skilled swordsman and noble soul fell to the dark island, what hope would there be for any form of righteousness? Ashram made a vow in order to survive; he would become wicked enough to swallow the whole island. With the death of his father, Ashram and Owen—whose own parents had succumbed to the darkness of Marmo—joined together to destroy the Thieves’ Guild in vengeance. This was the beginning of a long-running feud between Ashram and the guild.

Other lost children of Marmo were drawn to Ashram and Owen, and a gang of miscreants was formed. These children had no rules, and no one to control them. They spread chaos throughout the city, slaughtering beggars, mutilating prostitutes so they could no longer work, and murdering anyone they saw fit. Ashram’s conflict with the Thieves’ Guild was carried over to his followers. When Ashram was sixteen, he found his mother and her new lover, and he murdered them both. They made enemies with not only the Guild, but the Marmo council as well. However, they had the full support of the Falaris church. Ashram was making good on his promise.

He had greater ambitions though. As he grew older, he began to think of a better future for his people. For now, he would let the children have their fun, but in time, they would tire of the senseless violence and crave something more. When this time came, he would create his own kingdom on the dark island and bring the council under his control. Then, he would assemble an armada to attack his homeland of Alania.

When he was nineteen, he was approached by a member of the Thieves’ Guild, Amber Eyes, with a message from the council. In the forests, the red-haired mercenary, one of the Six Heroes, Beld, was calling himself the Emperor of Marmo. He had united the barbarian tribes and the dark elves under him, and they soon would threaten the city of Persei. The council feared losing their power, and so they commissioned Ashram and his gang to put an end to Beld. In return, Ashram would become a member of the council. Though he had no desire to be their pawn, he saw this as an opportunity to move forward with his plans. He would take his place on the council, then destroy that ruling body from the inside out. In a few years, he would be king of Marmo.

To lure Beld to Persei, Ashram’s gang kidnapped his lover. The girl had been provided to Beld in a form of political marriage, as she was the sister of the barbarian chief. Whether or not he loved her didn’t matter; if harm befell her, then the barbarian tribe could break its ties with Beld. Either the love of the woman, his pride, or the risk of losing allies, Beld would be compelled to rescue her. The following day, notices were put up around Dark Town beckoning Beld to come at the appointed time to rescue his woman and discuss an alliance.

So, Ashram, his gang, and mercenaries hired by the council to support him, waited for Beld. Ashram doubted he would come alone, as was demanded by the notices. He expected Beld to lead an army behind him and take the city at this opportunity. He was surprised, however, when Beld did indeed come alone. This meant that Ashram would have duel Beld on his own, even though Beld wielded the terrifying demon sword.

Ashram met Beld, and offered an alliance, but as he suspected, Beld wanted nothing to do with an alliance with the council. He would be nothing short of emperor. With his denial to make peace with the council, Ashram’s only option was to slay him. And thus, the two dueled. Ashram found himself far outmatched—though he did manage to land one scratch on Beld. Finally, Beld struck him with the flat of his blade, knocking Ashram unconscious for a moment. When he came to, Ashram was shocked to find that he was still alive. Beld walked on to retrieve his woman, leaving Ashram. However, Owen stopped Beld. The council’s mercenaries were assembled around Owen, ready to fire on Beld, and Ashram.

Owen had betrayed Ashram. He wanted no part in Ashram’s dreams, and he had been working with the Thieves’ Guild for many years. All the thieves that the gang had murdered were the rivals of Amber Eyes, who, using Owen, had been climbing his way to the top of the guild. Now, all his rivals were dead and Amber Eyes could take his place as the head of the Thieves’ Guild, with Owen having a senior position in the guild.

Owen ordered the archers to fire on Beld and Ashram, giving Ashram no time to escape. He expected death, but instead no arrows fell upon them, even though the archers were firing in almost a frenzy. Something was protecting him. It had to be magic. When Ashram realized it, a dark elf revealed himself. He was Astar, an ally of Beld’s. Beld ordered Ashram to take up his sword and fight, but this time, against the men he thought were on his side.

They continued on to rescue the girl, but Owen saw Astar, and used that excuse to cut the girl’s throat. Ashram would have killed Owen were he stood, but Beld stopped him, and only warned Owen of the wrath he had invoked from the barbarian tribes. He had, after all, failed to meet the terms of the meeting; he didn’t come alone. Owen escaped, never to be seen by Ashram again. Beld collected his dead lover, and returned to the forest. Ashram’s plans of becoming king were ruined, and now he made a new vow; that one day, he would surpass Beld. He truly believed that Beld could rule the wretched island of Marmo, and he followed the emperor.

Over the course of the next ten years, Ashram remained loyal at Beld’s side, though they both knew he had the ambitions to succeed him. He could not surpass Beld yet, however. Together, with their army behind them, they took over Marmo. Ashram served Beld as a general, and a knight in the newly established knighthood of Marmo. At Beld’s left hand was the wizard Wagnard. Once a student at the Academy of Sages, Wagnard was expelled for studying black magic—necromancy. For his transgression, he also had a geas placed on him by the headmaster Larkas that disallowed him to practice magic without undergoing severe pain. Wagnard’s will, however, was stronger than the geas and he still managed to use his magic while suffering intense pain. He was also a devout worshipper of Kardis.

Beld had ambitions to unite Lodoss under him as well, once Marmo was stable. He needed no encouragement, but Karla, the Grey Witch, came to him to offer her support. Without warning, the Marmo invaded Kanon and took Shinning Hill. The king of Kanon was deposed, and assassins were sent to Alania to kill King Kadamos VI. Next in Beld’s path was his old friend, King Fahn of Valis. After Kanon fell, Ashram was sent into Alania to advance Marmo’s claims, which included the fall of the fortress Myce. Unbeknownst to Ashram at that time, he had made a life long nemesis in the future Free Knight, Parn. Parn and his companions had been staying at the fortress the night Ashram’s legion attacked. Though Ashram would never remember, his image had been burned into Parn’s mind.

Soon, the forces of Valis and Marmo clashed. Ashram soon met Parn in battle, and out classed Parn—though Parn showed the potential to become a greater swordsman. However, their duel was interrupted as Beld and Fahn found each other. The two kings, and former allies, crossed swords in a duel to the death. Though Fahn put up a valiant effort, he was old and weak. The demon sword Beld wielded had provided him youth, keep his skills sharp. Beld struck down Fahn, and it seemed, for a moment, that the Marmo would be able to take Valis, and perhaps, all of Lodoss.

However, another king stepped forward. Kashue, the young king of Flaim, and a former mercenary, challenged Beld. From out of nowhere, despite the fact that the battle seemed to have stalled around them, an arrow struck Beld in the arm. Taking advantage of this distraction, Kashue slew Beld in an act of cowardice. This would breed hatred in Ashram for years to come.

After Beld’s death, Ashram took his place, though only in the eyes of his people. The council gained political power again. Ashram took the demon sword Soul Crusher as his own and began to arduous task of taming it. His goal to succeed Beld was still within him, and in one aspect, he did succeed Beld. Whereas Beld was swayed by the will of Soul Crusher, Ashram bent the sword to his will.

The war, however, remained stagnant. There were disputes on the borders of the land Marmo had claimed, but the territory neither expanded, or retracted. For five years, this was how life continued. Underground, the Kanon Free Army was forming. The Marmo were making ties with the current regent of Alania, but there was little progress. However, the Marmo commoners were coming to Kanon to make new lives for themselves. Temples to Falaris were established in Kanon, and dark elves had cleared Kanon’s forest of common elves and taken up residence there.

Ashram learned of the Scepter of Domination. The ancient relic of Kastuul promised its wielder absolute control over all people and all living things. If Ashram could acquire this relic, he could unite Lodoss under his rule and succeed where Beld had failed. The scepter was guarded by an ancient dragon, but Ashram couldn’t find out which one. Narse was ruled out, as it was known that he guarded the Ferroniere of Knowledge. Ashram began to prepare.

Five years after the end of the War of Heroes, Ashram set out on his search for the Scepter with several companions. Astar, the dark elf who had served Beld; Garbela, a Falaris priest; Groder, a wizard and student of Wagnard; and mercenaries Smetty and Gilram. First, they went to the White Dragon Mountains to find Bramd, the ice dragon. While he hibernated, Ashram slew him only to find that his curse to protect a relic of Kastuul had been lifted. The high priestess of Marfa, Neese, had sold his treasure, the Mirror of Truth, to fund the upkeep of the Marfa temple.

Ashram’s journey continued to the west coast of Lodoss where he would next hunt Abram and Shooting Star. He stopped on his way through Flaim where he found the Myrii priest, Hobb. He convinced Hobb to follow him, and continued on to Raiden. There, he enlisted the aid of a pirate crew to take him to Blue Dragon Island.

Ashram then traveled to Raiden. In the islands to the north, the water dragon, Abram, resided. They slew him, and found his treasure to be the Soul-Crystal Ball, which had the power to bring back the dead. Groder took the ball and kept it for his master, Wagnard (the ball was stolen before it reached Marmo and later stored in Flaim). The only dragon left was the most powerful, Shooting Star. Kashue had also come to slay Shooting Star, but for other reasons. Due to the influx of refugees from the fallen monarchy of Alania, Flaim was suffering from over population. People had tried to settle on Shooting Star’s hunting ground and found themselves his prey. The rich land was needed for farming and the only way to get it, was to slay the dragon. At Fire Dragon Mountain, Ashram met Kashue. Because their ambitions to slay Shooting Star were the same, they made a brief pact. They would kill the dragon together, and then duel for the scepter. Meanwhile, nearly all of Ashram’s party was killed (excluding Groder). As agreed, Ashram and Kashue fought Shooting Star and succeeded in killing him. They dueled, and both were wounded. Ashram was more seriously wounded and while they paused from their battle, Ashram noticed how easily he could reach the scepter and he lunged for it. However, the knight, Parn, swooped in to knock it out of his hands. The scepter fell into the lava pit that had just claimed Shooting Star, lost forever. Ashram stumbled to the edge of the precipice and thought he had lost it all. He threw himself into the pit, but before he hit the lava, and unknown to everyone else, Groder teleported him out of danger.

The next ten years, Ashram lived in secret on Marmo. He was widely believed to be dead, but he spent the time coming to terms with his shame. Groder, who had become enthralled with the black knight, remained loyally at his side, urging him to return to his place of power. In this time, a dark elven woman came to join him; Pirotess, the younger sister of Astar, first came to find Ashram to kill him to avenge her brother who was lost under his command. When she found him, Groder explained what happened to her brother. Intially, Astar and Groder were sent to spy on Ashram, but in time, the grew to admire him and support him. With Groder’s assurances that Astar did not die in vain, Pirotess changed her mind about Ashram, and in time, became his most trusted comrade, among other things...

At the beginning of the War of the Destroyer’s Resurrection, Ashram resurfaced with Pirotess and Groder by his side. Kanon had been under Marmo’s control for the last fifteen years, since the War of Heroes, and in this time, Prince Reona of Kanon had formed the Free Army. The ruling council of Marmo decided to remove the man they appointed to rule over Kanon Rabido, due to his excess greed and personal ambition. They decided to replace the mad dictator and sent Ashram and Pirotess to deal with them.

Ashram ordered Rabido to step down, but despite that, Rabido sent his forces to crush the Free Army. Rabido also ordered for all the villagers of Shinning Hill killed and the city burned if the Free Army won. Aware of this, Ashram personally freed the villagers and sends them out of harm’s way. Rabido was killed in battle. In the now deserted city of Shinning hill, Ashram and Pirotess meet Parn and Deedlit again. He and Parn fight shortly, and Ashram spares him out of respect. He and Pirotess then returned to Marmo with their mission completed.

With the threat of Kardis’ Resurrection and the invasion of Marmo, Ashram and his people set sail to find a new world they could settle without prejudice.

Appearances in the Series

Ashram is one of the iconic characters of the Lodoss series, and has appeared in all Lodoss anime. As for the manga, he has appeared in The Grey Witch and Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. He also has his own novel, The Black Knight, which chronicles his early life and eventual departure for a new world. Ashram is also a focal character for the Legend of Crystania anime and manga, though he is barely conscious and possessed by Barbas for the entirety of the series.

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