Flame o'the Forest
Real Name: Hal
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Freedom fighter, former wandering entertainer
Enemies: Baron Corbeau; Sir Piers Reynald; the Knights of the Raven, Quigg the Dwarf
Known Relatives: Sarl (uncle, deceased)
Aliases: None known
Base of Operations: Norman England
First Appearance: Lion (IPC, 7th February 1970)
Powers/Abilities: Used a combination of stage magic and alchemical powders to scare and confuse his foes. He was an exceptional archer and woodsman. He was also exceptionally strong, able to break iron manacles with his bare hands.
History: Hal was an orphan being raised by his uncle, Sarl, leader of a band of wandering Saxon entertainers. Shortly after the Normans invaded England, the troup entered the land now under the rule of the tyrannical Baron Corbeau, a.k.a. the Raven, the cruelest and most evil of all the Norman overlords. They ran foul of Corbeau's soldiers, and though they gave a good account of themselves, most of the troup were slain, and Sarl taken prisoner. Only Hal, hidden by his uncle, remained free. Taken to Corbeau's castle, Sarl was brutally tortured, but defiantly managed to break free. Before he leapt from a window, he cursed his sneering captors, warning the Knights of the Raven that one day each would pay for what they had done with their lives, "for one day the phantom flame of vengeance will ride from the forest, and you shall die!"
Corbeau dismissed this, convinced Sarl's broken body would be claimed by the nearby marsh into which he fled, but Sarl clung to life virtually by will alone. He crawled back to where he had hidden Hal, and informed him "They have made me into a ghost of a man! A ghost that will live long enough to train you to return to haunt them!" Sarl clung on to his ebbing life for two years as he trained the teenager, teaching him everything he knew of the old troup's skills: the acrobat secrets of Will the Tumbler, the secret of magic fire and the healing potions of Morll the Magician, the feats of strength of Carnac the Strong, and how to communicate with the animals of the forest. Eventually Sarl passed away. By his grave, Hal recalled his uncle's promise that the phantom flame of vengeance would ride from the forest, and swore to be that flame. That night he began the campaign. As Corbeau and his black knights dined, a fire arrow shot through the window, splashing flame on the wall to form eerie burning words: "It was the curse of Sarl that the phantom spirit of vengeance would bring justice to each of you. The first day of vengeance is here. Flame O'The Forest." Looking out the window, Corbeau and his knights saw a terrifying sight: on a rocky outcrop across from the castle, backlit by the full moon, was a cloaked figure sitting atop a rearing horse and holding aloft a sword sheathed in fire!
From that point the Flame began his campaign, eliminating the eleven Knights of the Raven one at a time, and usually thereafter posting their armour on Corbeau's battlements, setting off his fire powder inside as a sign one more foe had bitten the dust. Finally, when only Corbeau remained, Flame trapped the Norman in his castle, and terrified the Baron into falling from his own battlements to his death. Many of the Saxon locals had witnessed the final confrontation, and the Flame announced to them that his vengeance was complete, then vanished in a cloud of smoke. However, some of the locals predicted he would return to strike again when the cause was just, unable to rest while there was tyrant Norman left in England.
Comments: Thanks to Paul Muir for providing images of this character.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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