A preview of my project for this month.
November 5, 2013
I should have died the day I fell from the ramparts of that beast’s castle. Yet I did not, I was instead punished for my courage and comportment with a crippling which has ruined my ability to hunt and fight as I did when I was younger but kept my mind and fingers sharp. When I returned, the villagers ignored me. Acted as if I should be dead. As if I were dead. The only one who would see me with any compassion was old Maurice. He set my leg with a split, cut with his infernal contraption, and offered me help. Food, medicine, whatever I needed. Instead, I preformed the first cowardly act in my life – I left in the dead of night for Orleans, to start a new life where I would not be recognized as Gaston the Failure. Gaston the Villain. Gaston the Coward. Gaston the Lame.
I never did say goodbye to Belle.
I have been in Orleans for twenty years now, and I have done fine service as the King’s huntsman. I have trained his children in the Art of Defense as taught in the greatest schools in the Bohemia and Paris. I have given cause to hear the grievances of the people and I have treated them justly and kindly. I labor, however, under a great pain. I have lived in secret, taking the name Bernard and never discussing my past. Especially now that the Prince, that creature who had been but a beast, now threatens to unseat his father due to the debt we still carry from the war of my youth. However, I never fully left that small town in central France, tucked in the valleys south of Orleans by many miles. A town where I grew up, a town where I was the greatest of all men, a town where I had planned to grow old and die married to the most beautiful woman who had ever walked the earth.
Before I was Bernard the Huntsman and Fencer, I was Gaston of Berry. This is the story of the man who was slain by the Prince who was a beast, a man who thought he knew what it meant to be a man but, truly, never know what it meant to be anything at all.
For our story to make sense I must first start fifty years ago, in Champagne, where Pierre Lestraud met Alice Maustraud and fell in love. They moved to the county of Berry and built a small farm where they raised chickens and cattle for milk and eggs. They had two boys and three girls, all raised as goodly as they could be. The last child, the second boy, was named Gaston. Gaston would only know his father for four years before war came and called his father away to fight the British, who had invaded France once again.
He sat young Gaston on his knee and gave him three rules, “Always love your mother, always be brave, and never give in. You are a man and you must be strong, especially for those weaker than us who cannot care for themselves.”
Gaston would never see his father again.