For those who don’t know just who Jack of Blades is, allow me to explain: Jack of Blades is the main antagonist of the video game Fable, and one of my personal favorite video game villains ever. So who is this person and why do I like him so much?
From the Void in the distant, distant past came three beings of nigh impossible levels of power. The Knight, the Queen, and the Jack of Blades. In the beginning, they sought total domination. They turned the earth black, the sky gray with smoke, rose the seas to flood the wastes, and warped the minds of the people until brother killed brother and children turned against parents. Only after did the people surrender. The world would live on like this until the first Hero, William Black, stood against them. William was the first in the world of Albion to use magic, which people would nickname “Acts of Will” after William. This talent for magic would be known as Will for centuries in Albion afterwards. The Jack of Blades saw William as a threat, and sought to deal with him before he gained more power. One night while William was studying a tome, Jack summoned William to the Void with the intent of killing him. However, William caught Jack off guard with his magic, banishing Jack back to Albion, leaving behind the sword he was wielding. This sword, The Sword of Aeons, was an immensely powerful weapon, and the one that would prove to be the downfall of the Court. William would go on to vanquish the Court, killing the Knight in a single blow, and fighting the Jack until he was destroyed. His battle with the Queen lasted weeks, creating mountains and valleys with every sword strike, shaping the land of Albion around them. The battle ultimately ended with William victorious. Though defeated, the Jack of Blades’ spirit resided in the mask he wore, persisting through death.
At some point, he returned in the form of the Mask, being worn by depraved people of the world who carried on his will. In this way, he’s caused destruction for generation after generation. The Oracle, a source of unbiased knowledge in the Fable world, had this to say about him: “He is no Hero. He is not even a man. When the world was a blur of fire and demons, when its soil had felt not the tread of humans and was filled with creatures only your worst nightmares could begin to suggest, even then was Jack old.”
And so begins the story of the Jack of Blades as we know it from the game. On the path of revenge against the descendants of William Black (you, the player) and to take back the Sword of Aeons that was taken from him.
Jack actually doesn’t appear in the story until well over half way through the main story of Fable. Until this point, the point of the game was to be a Hero or Villain because of your choices in Albion, with no real driving force of good or evil besides your own ambitions. This is when Jack appears, the “Hero of Heroes” returning to the land after hundreds of years away. This new Albion the game takes place in has long forgotten the plight of the Court, only seeing the Jack as a hero because of actions taken in more recent times. Jack serves as the perfect foil for the morally ambiguous Hero of the game. If you are walking the path of good, you see him as an adversary, the one true enemy of the game. However, if you walk the path of evil, you see him as a goal; an ambition. You want to replace Jack as the most powerful person in the land.
By the end of the game, you ultimately fail to stop Jack. He activates the Focus Sites scattered around Albion and kills your mother to imbue the power of the Sword of Aeons with the blood of William Black’s blood. Thus begins the final battle, in which afterwards, you are presented with a choice. The choice. Take the Sword of Aeons, kill your sister with it, and become as powerful as Jack of Blades wished to be; or cast the sword into the void from which it came. A final test of what I spoke on earlier of Jack being a rival or an adversary for the hero to overtake or destroy.
Jack of Blades might not be the most plot rich or well written villain of a game, but what makes him great is what he stands for. Depending on the path you walk, he can mean vastly different things in the context of the story. He is powerful, and mysterious. The world of Albion really only knows the very surface of just who he is, but his history is deep. There is so much more that I would love to talk about with this character, but for now I will leave you with this: your villain does not have to be the most evil being in the world to be great, they just have to be the foil to the hero of your story.