|Guiscard of Poitain
Guiscard was born into a life of wealth and privilege. However, many years of living the life of an outlaw have pared away at the flesh of the indolent young nobleman that he was becoming. What remains has the consistency of steel and whalebone. In height he is above average, though not as tall as some. His build is naturally slender though well muscled, constructed with the savage economy of the wolf. Long hours of practice with both blade and bow have left him broad-shouldered and long-armed. His skin is tanned from many days and nights spent in the open, but his blonde hair and blue eyes still retain a deceptive appearance of youthful innocence that belies his deeds.
There are essentially two different Guiscards. The first, the original as it were, is the young nobleman that he once was. A young man born into a life of wealth and privilege, well educated in both war and the arts, but with an inner core of true nobility, which was awakened by his love for the lady Naenia.
The second is the Guiscard who went through the pain and trauma of losing both the woman he loved and everything that he was when his brother’s treason brought about the downfall of their house. This Guiscard was consumed by pain and rage, which drove him in his private war against the forces of the king. The spark of nobility in him was slowly snuffed out by each crime he committed, as he descended from being a revolutionary to a simple bandit, becoming in the end a hardened killer with little more mercy than a savage wolf.
However, despite this fall he still clung to two threads of morality. Firstly, he has never made another a slave or dealt in slaves. Secondly, he has never mistreated a woman, the memory of the lady Naenia haunting him still. This suggests that while the spark was snuffed out, it might still be reignited and with care and attention become a strong flame. Guiscard’s near-miraculous survival after his betrayal by his men has opened the door to this possibility, that the two Guiscards might merge and become a third, whole, person.
Guiscard would liken himself to a man walking on a path who finds a stone in his shoe. Bending to remove it, he notices another path, leading away from the path he was on but tangled with undergrowth. He pauses there a moment, wondering which path to take…
The man who now calls himself Guiscard of Poitain was born into a life of wealth and privilege, with a name other than Guiscard and in a land other than Poitain. His family was a noble one, able to trace its lineage back for dozens of generations. He grew up learning the noble arts of hunting and war, but as the second son with no expectation of inheriting the title he was also allowed to indulge other interests and his life was one of indolent ease and languid pleasure until he met the Lady Naenia.
Falling in love with his brother’s betrothed changed him for the better, but it also led to his father sending him into semi-exile lest he threaten the arranged marriage. It was while he was in Shem that news reached him, first of his father’s death and then rumours that his brother conspired with a faction that was planning to move against the king. Guiscard returned to his ancestral home to find it burned to the ground, his brother crucified in the courtyard as a traitor, and the woman he loved left raped and murdered by the roadside.
In the months that followed there were more rumours, this time of a bandit who it seemed had an especial grudge against the forces of the king. The noble man that the lady Naenia had brought into being was submerged, drowned by the need for vengeance. Guiscard committed crime after crime. When the forces of the king made the kingdom too hot for him, he simply took his banditry elsewhere, casting off even the appearance of being something other than a bloodthirsty brigand and cutthroat. Yet still the memory of Naenia lying by the roadside bade him place a limit on his crimes. Women were safe from him and his band, any who disobeyed were punished. Neither would he take slaves.
Among thieves and cutthroats such scruples were considered a weakness, and a dispute over the virtue of a particularly attractive prisoner erupted into violence and rebellion. The aftermath found Guiscard staked out and left to die in the wilderness. For two days he lay there, raging impotently at his bonds before falling into a delirium of hunger and thirst. In his fevered dreams he seemed to see Naenia looking sadly at him. He shrank from her, knowing what he had become. It was on the third day that the miracle happened (if miracle it was). The heavens opened in a deluge, the rains first quenching his thirst then softening the sun-baked earth enough that he could work his way free. Weak and hungry, he stumbled into the rainy night, still haunted by the vision of the Lady Naenia...
[For the full tale of Guiscard, see below. Please note that this is an ongoing story that I will be revising and expanding as inspiration takes me. Please also note that while there is nothing that I would call explicit, there are references to things such as breasts, buttocks, and adults having consensual sex.]
Chapter 3 (incomplete)