Our gentle Chronicler has asked me to put pen to parchment and recount those years before I took the mantle of Seneschal in our fair Shire. I hope that the reader will not find these words too dry an account of a life somewhat lacking in adventure.
I was born in the year of Our Lord 1167 in Bar-sur-Aube, a market town inChampage, some 30 miles east of Troyes. My father Fulbert, a merchant of wines,travelled much in the company of my uncle Mercadier d’Amiens, plying their waresin distant cities, and was a figure remote to me. My mother, Isabel, raised meas best she could, no small task, for by accounts I was a wilful child. In myeighth year she died while bringing into the world my sister Inez. With myfather absent for much of the year, I was given into the care of the great abbeyat Clairvaux for schooling, and possibly to temper my wayward spirit. Inez wassent to Amiens to live with my aunt.
The abbey itself was a wonder, and I soon found the Cistercian rule to myliking. By the age of fourteen I had resolved to take my vows, and embrace thecloistered life. My father was not wholly taken with my notion, having intendedme to pursue a more mercantile life, but could scare argue with the Almighty.He need not have fretted; since the days of St. Bernard, founder of the abbey,Clairvaux had become the destination of many a pilgrimage, and the relentlessstream of the faithful to the abbey became a constant reminder of a largerworld. In my sixteenth year I put aside my novice’s habit and joined my fatherin Rheims.
For the space of four years I learned the trade, travelling the length ofFrance and Italy, and even once as far as England. I had discovered a love fortravel, and looked forward to following in my father’s footsteps.
In 1187 Jerusalem fell to Saladin, and, inflamed by the idea of that holiest of cities in the grip of the heathen Saracen, I took the cross. The journey to the Holy Land was one of the worst undertakings of my life. Although we marched under the banner of Philip Augustus, Christians and countrymen all, among those not of gentle birth I encountered many who saw this Crusade as an escape from villainies remembered, and a chance to pillage. Indeed, I seemed to attract the attentions of such, and was hard pressed to keep both life and dignity. When at last we reached Outremer, I looked forward to fighting with the enemy, for a change.
I will not bore the reader with tales of battles and hardship; suffice to saythat I did what was required of me, both by God and my King. War is a terribletrade, and there is little to be proud of. When Philip turned back, leaving thearmy to Richard of England, I said my farewells, and was not sorry to leave.
Upon my return, I again took up the trade of my father, and have ranged farand wide in its pursuit, from Denmark to the shores of Afrique. And it is here,at the southern-most reaches of that continent, that I agreed to represent theCrown and His Majesty’s interests in these foreign climes.
Gentle reader, the tale of my days is at an end, and I thank you for yourindulgence.
Chronicler’s note: Blaise de Clairvaux was the founding Seneschal ofAdamestor; he has since departed for the Kingdom of the Middle, together withhis wife and daughter.