Beyond Duty

A knight is a proud, skilled melee combatant who fights in the name of honor and chivalry. - D&D Player's Handbook II

We've examined Cyan from a historical perspective (in East Meets West) but what about his lineage in fantasy fiction and role-playing games? Just as he stands out as a samurai placed in a European medieval castle, he escapes being cast as a stereotypical RRG "knight" through thoughtful storytelling. It's helpful that knight-like qualities are distributed throughout the characters: Terra's heroism, Locke's chivalry, Celes's devotion. Turns out that Cyan himself avoids typecasting at every turn.

Unlike the humourless, literal-minded RPG knight, Cyan's not too serious. While can seem uptight compared to jokers like Locke and Edgar, most knights can't seem to crack a smile let alone a joke. But Cyan's hilarious, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Who can forget his encounter with Gau on the Velt? Granted, some of this is fish-out-of-water stuff, but it works, and his mounting frustration just adds to the humour. He entertains us because we can see he's something unexpected: fun.

Complimenting the knight's usual seriousness is his macho attitude. Now, Cyan can hold his own, but also takes time to sit back and smell - or make! - the flowers. While being a sensitive soul has historical precedent in warriors, its not the norm among single-minded RPG knights, who can do their duty... and pretty much nothing else.

One can't say that Cyan doesn't perform his appointed duty, but that appointment disappears as Kefka's poison takes effect. His destiny is now his own to choose, and he aligns with the Returners to seek revenge. This motivation is common among thief characters and villains, but seldom knights, who choose mercy over vengeance.

But then, Cyan is also more emotional than most. He is loving to his family, quick to anger and bark out orders, and sentimental, all while maintaining a cool facade. RPG knights are honest with their feelings, though they seldom have any. Not only is Cyan an emotional case, his emotions change.

Change is the major difference between Cyan and his stereotype. The knight is the preserver of tradition, the point of order in a chaotic world. But Cyan adapts to technology, works through volatile emotions, and helps end a brutal regime, restoring balance to the world. While the knightly thing to do would be dying in the line of duty, Cyan finds courage to go on, making him compelling, and human.