Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Long and warm were the summers at the Verdi Villa. The main house was a mere five minute walk from the village Giuseppe called home. The village itself was nestled in the warm southern hills, an area perfect for growing grapes, which his family had taken advantage of years ago by laying down a latticework of posts and netting perfect for vines. The Verdis never had aspirations of great winemaking but merely collected a small lease off of each of the plots of land they owned and built. This fee was begun and enforced by Giuseppe’s great-grandfather Formio who eventually was able to run for, and be elected as, mayor of the town. He placed in his family a love of the land and of the villagers who worked it but himself had no place for the kings and earls of the land in his own heart. Training up the villagers and teaching his family leadership he instilled a sense of pride in their own village which soon outstripped their love of their country. After his death the townspeople continued their work, but with the head gone the family lost its organization and its drive, sitting back and letting the money collect from the fields they owned. The family is still well loved and still protects the lands around from danger, but small-time feuding and their general dissidence for the state governance has had them come to the brink of chaos. Into this Giuseppe was born. Being the second born into such a large family would normally mean work in the fields tending to the structures Formio built but that was not the path for Giuseppe. An early injury while out playing with some of the other children left him bedridden, first with a broken arm, then with an ensuing infection which was eventually overcome but leaving Giuseppe not much more than a gangly bag of skin and bones. This allowed Giuseppe to study up on the plans which Formio had left of the villa as well as learn of where his impressive patriarch hailed. Formio was born in the capital but was orphaned at an early age during the war. Striking out east he became a cabin boy then deckhand until he found himself in the dwarven lands. Due to his smaller stature and olive skin he blended well with the younger dwarves who taught them their secrets for stone shaping, skills which he eventually passed down through his impressive free standing structures in the fields. Formio’s accomplishments were not only seen above ground though. Because of his dwarven training he built a maze of passageways beneath the Villa, snaking back and forth up and down from the village to the villa. In these passageways you could keep track of the roots of the vines, water and treat from below to make sure no fungus or mold tasted the wine. Drinking in the stories of his great-grandfather Giuseppe decided to shape himself into Formio’s mold, a process which began with the help of a young woman. Noemi worked with her mother in the villa where she carried water and helped with the baking. These jobs were dropped when Giuseppe decided he was to succeed Formio. The next nine years went fast for the two with Giuseppe travelling to the village’s forge, to the fields and throughout Formio’s tunnels, with Noemi on his heels. The two were the best of friends and it was only time till a romance budded between the two. During the days Giuseppe would go to classes and learn the arts his great-grandfather brought back while the nights were spent eluding the watch in the tunnels and finding secret nooks for each other. Upon one such endeavor the two stumbled into a well hidden cave under what seemed to be the fountain in the entranceway to the villa. Here they found a trove of scrolls written in the language of the dwarves along with a single charm on a necklace. There Giuseppe confessed his love for Noemi, slipping the necklace over her head with a kiss. The next day however was the day of Giuseppe’s birth, his sixteenth year in the family. His uncles, fearing that he will take power away from his elders had conspired to have him taken into service by the country’s knights. Knowing that his path would lead to pain if he stayed, Giuseppe said his goodbyes, with Noemi taking her new necklace off and handing it to him. His father, late to the ceremony, came rushing up at the last moment from the village, a present in hand. This present was a hammer, the headstone being made of stone from the base of the Villa deep underground. It had been carved with runes Giuseppe recognized from the scrolls in the cave, those of the dwarven language he had encountered. The shaft was made of firm and supple yew, bound with calfskin. Giuseppe, with tears in his eyes accepted both gifts and left with the knights whom which his family had most despised. The next two years turned Giuseppe from short and skinny into tall and strong. His practice with his hammer pushing him everyday to regain and improve upon the muscle he had lost. Instead of joining the paladins whom with he was closest connected he chose to forego his vows and focus upon proving the power of his body. When free he studied the finer arts of wordplay, knowing he would not be able to physically conquer his relatives who had shunned him. This was tempered with training under the master at arms until he was able to best most of the vowed paladins who were to leave for their quests. From here Giuseppe made his own across the land, taking in experience and saving it for when it will be needed to reclaim his place among his family and with the one he loves.