Valen Steelwood. It is a fine name. I was of course not born Valen Steelwood. But my real name is no longer of any real importance or signifigance. You see, my family are all dead. Please don't feel bad, it was really no big loss. Wait, I have gotten too far ahead and only just begun. I must begin at the beginning.
I was born in England in 1388 to a minor noble. My father was a good man. Well, I did not know him all that well yet. He did provide me with a good wet nurse who kept me fed and changed. And when I was old enough, six I believe, he made sure I began my education in matters of diplomacy and courtly manners and hand kissing and fancy schmancy dancing. All things I loathed. But he also made sure I began lessons in swordfighting. And for this, though I curse his name for other reasons, I thank him.
When I was eight, a nasty turn of events led to the demise of our beloved king. Being somewhat educated after two short years, I knew this meant a whole lot of nothing to me. While I was of noble birth, my family was very far removed from the race for the throne. If relation was to decide who would take the crown (and it was not) I was somewhere around 68th in line for the throne. But whenever some poor sap gets deposed a hubub begins and people start acting crazy. This was to be no exception.
Finding some time away from my educational lessons, I was minding my own business on the south end of my fathers keep, practicing my swordfighting. For an eight year old I was not half bad. I knew I was better then both my older brothers and my younger brother as well. But at that moment it did not matter because it was not them I was to face that day. Instead, it was a man dressed as a servant who came around the corner of the keep and called me by name. I stopped my antics and turned to face him. When he was within three paces of me he brandished a rather nasty looking knife.
It took a minute, what mixing the sinister look on his face and the way he pointed the knife directly at me, but I figured he was really going to kebab me. So I brought forth my dulled wooden practice sword, planted my feet, and dropped gracefully into a perfect fencing stance. I must admit, the look changed from sinister to confused and the point of the knife drooped just a bit. It was just the opening I was looking for. With his guard down I turned tail and ran around the corner of the keep, screaming for help and mercy and divine intervention. The knife he threw grazed my right shoulder as I was turning the corner. It hurt and I screamed even louder. I guess someone number 69 or lower down the line was trying to get a little higher in the running.
The next few months were a bloodbath. All three of my brothers met rather gruesome ends, but aside from the clean scar on my shoulder I escaped unscathed. My father fell into a deep depression over the loss of all but one of his sons, and as a result began to fouces all his attention on my well being. Soon after the throne was claimed and the race for succession was over. And for the most part my life went back to normal.
Skip forward nine years.
My father's depression had gradually turned to insanity. Behind closed doors, I had taken over all my father's responsibilities for running the estate. No one but my father and I knew this. Which was fine by me. I didn't mind the responsibility. And since I had been able to cut spending while increasing the profit from our farmland, I could set aside some cash for myself. This will prove important later.
In fact, it proves important now. I found out that the reason my father became so depressed after my brothers' deaths was due to guilt. I suppose he began to go insane sooner that I had initially concluded. Fearing that we wanted to up our chances for the crown, my father planned to have all his children murdered to keep us from offing him. When the race for succession ended, he and I were the only ones left. Oops on his part. How did I find this out? Well, in a rather nasty fit of insanity he must have decided that I was going to try and take over the estate for keeps. Enter the second attempt on my life.