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Friday, 28 July 2006
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 Tales of Roiglan 
Gisoreux de Ponthieu

Chapter One: A Fools Errant


y story starts in the year 1493 after the Twelfth Battle of Giles le Breton. I was born one cold and clear winter night, two weeks before I was expected. My parents, Baron Sandorin and Lady Evelinne, always told me how silent a youth I was. One of their favourite stories is that I once fell from my cradle and didn’t scare the entire household with crying as babies normally do. A different matter was when I cried for hours when I lost my little Fay Doll. My family was so shocked by my desperate cries that they made certain, it would never leave my side again by tying it to my right hand. Come to speak of it, I think the doll still lies in my old chamber.



My earliest recollection is of my sixth birthday when my father first presented me a shortsword of the finest and lightest steel  ever to be found in the whole of Lyonesse. I was so proud to be a Knight that I wore the sword all day – except at night –, exercising even while playing.  Not shortly afterwards my training as a noble of Bretonnia started with sword and horse practise. Of course these were adapted to the standards of a young lad: training with wooden swords and shields and exercising on ponies while closely being watched by my trainer, the squire Marcel.

Verily, when I reached the age of twelve, I had surpassed the other sons of the household nobles in the skills of noble swordplay and horseback riding. My father gifted me with my first destrier at my twelfth birthday, a young and easy warhorse of pureblood; I named it Sandorin after my revered father. Thinking about my youth brings back old and forgotten memories: I still had trouble using the shield at age fifteen, preferring fighting without it as I found it cumbersome. My mentor was so outraged, he complained to my father.  I remember my father striding down the stairs from the Great Hall with a firm expression in his face. He drew his sword and said: “Gissy, if you won’t learn the easy way then you’ll learn it my way. Now parry with your shield.” He delivered a blow which I nearly avoided by raising my shield. My father kept on coming, forcing me on the defensive and to use my shield at every possibility. At that time I was terrified since I believed him to be dead serious, yet now I know my father would never have wounded me for he controlled his blows masterly and diverted them if he passed my defence. The fight ended when I managed to hit him at the sword arm with my shield in pure desperateness. Although I had hurt him, he smiled that irritating half-smile of his and said: “Now, my son, you know the importance of the use of your shield. Never leave home without it.” I was mad at him for weeks, unable to forgive him for trying to get me killed and unable to understand why this was such an important lesson for me to learn. I realized shortly after that if I had left for my first battle without my trusty shield, I would have returned on top of one.

My training continued on past my sixteenth birthday until I was getting anxious to be given my first Errand, which never seemed to come. Finally my father decided to send me on an errand. I remember as if it was the day of yesterday. Nervously I walked up to the thrones on which my beloved mother and father sat, clad in my ceremonial armour, both of them were looking oddly pale for such a happy occasion. My mother looked as if she had tears in her eyes. I realized this later on when I reflected on the matter. As I spoke the traditional words to inquire why Roiglan needed my sword, my father didn’t answer me directly but addressed the court instead: “Friends and kin, my only son’s sixteenth birthday has long yet passed and still I haven’t sent him on an Errand to prove his courage and skill. Understand this: I do not doubt his virtues, yet the only errand worthy of the name is a quest even a Chosen one would doubt. In these unusually peaceful times, there was only one threat to the lands of Roiglan: the dreaded Basilisk of Flarodell! The peasants of the village have reported numerous times that the young beast has made our lands his hunting grounds. It must die.” At that time I knew not what a basilisk was, yet hearing the gasps of the court and seeing their warding gestures, I felt this was a perilous duty.

A few minutes passed as my father looked at me as if he still doubted whether he was sending me to glory and a certain death or keep me home to my own dishonour. At long last he continued, still addressing the household nobles: ” Even now my heart is doubtful: this is no Errant’s task, even a full Knight would encounter great difficulty. Yet my lord, the Duke of Lyonesse, has summoned me towards the court to deal with the threat of the Corsairs, threatening the north coast. This will be a long campaign and I need to leave the lands in capable hands. While I would not hesitate to perform this task myself for the glory and safety of Bretonnia, I have leave this to my son, for Roiglan!” Finally he addressed to me the ceremonial words: “Young noble of Bretonnia, the land needs your hand and sword. Take up the sword as a Knight Errant and fulfil your duty in honour’s name and in the name of the Lady, to the greater glory of Bretonnia and yours.” As my father ended with these ceremonial words I rose to my feet, made a quick half-turn and headed out of the Great Hall. From the corners of my eyes I could see the pale faces of the household nobles. Their eyes were filled with sorrow as they thought they saw a dead man walking.

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