When an army is doomed to fail, they are sometimes joined by a mysterious figure, a skeleton who plays the drum and wears a jaunty hat, who might march with them to the bitter end. But he also appears alongside armies with the gumption to overcome great odds. Occasionally he can be found marching though the streets of cities oppressed by tyrants, even when he marched along with that very tyrant’s army before! Wherever Jack Bones Never-Rests plays his drum, those who hear him are overcome with fear and courage in equal parts.
There are many stories about Jack Bones Never-Rests, told by many people, and all who follow the martial past have at least heard of him. He never talks, but it’s always clear what he wants. Through his actions, his body language, and the tunes he chooses to play, those to whom he appears know what he means.
When he does choose to appear, anyone can see him, just as if he were a living person playing a normal drum, but he appears on behalf of one group or another. If Jack Bones Never-Rests appears at a battle, each side knows who he’s rooting for, even if he doesn’t march alongside them.
In life, it is rumored, Jack was a drummer who marched to war with a doomed army, but he never stopped playing, not even as he was killed. Other stories say that he was cursed when he abandoned the army that he was drumming for, some even claim that he went over to the other side. Of course, nobody knows for sure, since Jack never talks, and there have been any number of drummers who have died in the past, whoever he was in life.
Jack appears to have been young when he died, little more than a child. He wears a rotting jacket of dark blue and a black tricorn hat. He carries a large drum, slung from his shoulder by a bright red sash. While he doesn’t speak, he is aware of what’s going on around him, unlike many spectres, although those who have tried to harm him have found him to be ethereal. Attacking Jack rarely works out well for those who choose to do so, and he turns his ire against them, sometimes swaying the tide of the battle. Legend says that he has appeared to aide one faction, only to turn the battle against them after a knight tries to attack him,
Placating Jack, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to do anything. No force has ever managed to sway him to their side with any offerings, but neither has such action earned his ire. He is reported to nod and even wave to those he favors, and there are grizzled veterans who swear that he smiled or even winked at them, despite his complete lack of a face. Whether these veterans have lost their minds, or if Jack Bones Never-Rests is possessed of an especially expressive skull, remains a mystery.
Artwork: “Enough Room” by Adolph von Menzel, from Die Werke Friedrichs des Großen, vol. 3 by Gustav Berthold Volz, 1913.