Harlin al Kleve
Who am I?
You are Harlin of Clan Kleve. You are twenty-one years old and hold guild papers as a journeyman ostler. You have lived with horses all of your life.
Who are my family?
Your father is Farrath al Kleve, a master ostler from the village of Skaist. He breeds and breaks horses, as well as stabling, grooming, and shoeing them. Your mother is Sallas and you are the fifth of six children. Your eldest brother, Skort, is ten years your senior. He is married with two young children. Skort is the senior journeyman to your father and there is little doubt that he will eventually inherit the guild franchise. Your eldest sister is Jahna; she ran off with a group of traveling players when she was eighteen. Skort, then twenty, tracked her down but she refused to return. You’ve heard that Jahna is a fine singer and that her troupe is well-respected. They have even played before the king. Gordyn is your next brother; aged twenty-six, he is now a master ostler bonded to the Bailiff of the Hundred of Asolade. Twenty-three year old Vergyl is married and pregnant; she married the village metalsmith, a widower seven years her senior, only last year. Your youngest sister is Alayna; she is five years your junior.
Where am I from?
You were born and raised in Skaist, a village of twenty-two households in Asolade Hundred, part of Oselshire in the Kingdom of Kaldor. Skaist and another village of fourteen households about a quarter-league away called Deshines are ruled by a bailiff, Sir Garith al Kaphin – one of his cousins is the king’s Lord Privy Seal and, rumor has it, mistress. Your family is one of eight free families in the two villages. There are four guildsmen – your own, the miller, the metalsmith, and the charcoaler, plus four yeomen. The remaining residents are peasant farmers, good folk in the main, but tied to the land. You grew up in Skaist and lived there until you were fourteen.
In your fourteenth year, your father arranged an apprenticeship for you. You were taken to Novelim three leagues to the west, where you were introduced to the master ostler, Yerick al Ubel. Master Yerick breeds ponies, mules, and donkeys rather than fine palfreys like you father. Novelim is about the same size as Skaist, twenty-four households, and the lord is Sir Terris al Doulzarn, one of the wealthiest nobles in the hundred.
Who are my friends?
You have been in Novelim for seven years; during this time you have become familiar with the village and its inhabitants. You have made a few friends, among them the fostered nephew of one of the yeoman, Kalas al Delsin. Kalas is about the same age as you and he was trained in arms by his uncle. Over the years, you’ve taught him to read and write. He is fascinated by this skill. In return, he’s helped you with your spear and shield drills. The only time you two argued was three years ago when you fell out over Belysa al Marish, the pretty daughter of one of the villeins. You stopped speaking to each other and both of you spent everything you had buying her gifts. Then she got work as a servant in the manorhouse and married the chamberlain who was twice her age.
What can I do?
You have few skills, but the ones that you have you’re good at. You can make leather goods, repair saddles and bridles, and are an expert in horses and horse care. You’re also a good rider.
Since arriving in Novelim, you’ve taken to swimming in the River Kald. While hardly an expert, you can safely splash your way from one side of the river to the other.
Your father taught you your letters and your master continued the lessons. You can read and write; most of what you write are bloodlines for horses. All of the local ostlers keep careful written records of breeding.
You’ve been in the village militia for seven years. This involves practicing weapon drills with the local yeoman four times each month. You know which end of a spear is which, but you also know that you’re no warrior and you’ve never seen combat.
What do I own?
You own the clothes that you’re wearing: a good wool tunic, leather breeches and calf boots, and a quilt cowl and aketon. You own a dagger plus your militia weapons, a spear and a roundshield. You also own a few tools, including a horse brush and a horse comb, a shoeing hammer, shoeing prybar, hoof file, and hoof scraper.You have twelve silver pennies along with your journeyman’s papers in a pouch tied to your belt and your spare clothes, a wool tunic and breeches, in a sack with your tools and a blanket.
Where am I going?
As a journeyman ostler, you can look for employment with any master ostler. Unfortunately, so far as you know, none of the masters within the hundred are currently looking for staff. Jedes is not a very big town, but it’s the biggest place within a day’s walk. Tomorrow is market day and there may be work to be had there.
(Sketch and additional information: Harlin al Kleve)
© Neil Thompson, lightly edited by JS.