|His Lordship Paul Adler|
Companion of the Falcon's Heart
Order of the Irenfyrd
Order of the Silver Hammer
Companion of the Falcon's Heart
Order of the Torse
Order of the Leather Mallet
Award of Arms
Born in the Odenwald of Germany around Anno Domini 1360
A child of refugees, my prospects in the guild-dominated towns of the Neckar valley were limited and it was clear early on that I would have a choice between working at the most menial and unskilled tasks or I could make my way as a mercenary soldier. Work as an armsman was never hard to get in the western marches of Bavaria, and it did offer some chance for a better life than mucking pigsties.
And so it came to pass that I elected soldiering, and survived, albeit as much by the grace of God as through any great skill on my own part. I survived long enough to gain a certain degree of wisdom as a solider, that wisdom being that a soldier's living is more easily made in less glorious ways than standing foremost in the line of battle. I survived my first harsh lessons in this school, rising to become a full man-at-arms in the Honorable Company of soldiers known as Moonwulf's Rangers in the Middle Kingdom, acquiring some skill with the glaive, hand-and-a-half sword, longbow, and arbalest (what the Englaender call "crossbow").
I came to realize there were easier ways to live longer, if not without risks of their own, and undertook more solitary work, for which the military adventures of my youth stood me well as foundation. This consisted of guarding valuables, courier work, teaching martial skills to others (and always alert to learn new ones myself, martial and otherwise), and similar work whose specifics are probably best left unrecorded (spying indeed, how dare those Mantuan dogs raise such accusations...).
These commissions took me the length and breadth of Europe, from the British Isles to far Jerusalem, from the warm Greek seas to the land of the Ice-bear. Gifted -- or cursed -- with great curiosity and a mechanical turn of mind, I associated with many skilled artisans and educated patrons over the years, and, ironically, I gained a knowledge of arts and skills I would never have even been allowed to consider through the guilds in my native land.
I acquired some knowledge of letters from fellow travelers and patrons on my journeys, particularly from one churchman I was hired to escort and safeguard on pilgrimage, a trip that lasted far longer than...well, never mind, that is a story for another day. I'm no master of these arts or crafts, but I own a competent journeyman's skill in many, which, in two of the kingdoms where I have dwelt, has won me some small honor for illustration and bright-metal work.
I look back on my roving and adventurous life without regret. I married in the middle of my life to the comely and charming Burgundian styling herself as Dulcibella de Chateaurien (of background and prospects as murky as my own, I must say). No prouder ship has ever filled its sails than she proceeding to me and the altar at our wedding, a sight I still recall these twenty years and more gone by.
My children are better placed to make their way in the world than I ever was. I have the (hard-won) means to place my sons in trade and to enable my daughter to marry adequately. I am both gratified and bemused that these children know so little of the hardship and savor of life on the knife's edge as I lived it, though in all honesty, I am glad to be off the sharp part of it at my age!
Copyright 2009 Paul Adler/ Vince Zahnle