As unlikely as this tale will seem to be, I ask for your indulgence, and your patience.
It concerns me as a young man, many years ago.
I am now very old, older than I care to tell anyone.
My memory recalls events of those years, long gone, just as fresh now, as though they had taken place yesterday. Believe me, a memory like that is not a blessing, it is a curse.
I forget nothing. I am haunted by many things from my past, most of which I will lay down here for you to judge me by.
I want to get this tale down before I die and before it is lost for all eternity, as the Church would like. I can, at last, see that end approaching for me now. I will welcome it when it comes.
I apologize for the violent and tragic beginning of it, but that is how the new segment of my life began.
My name is Guillaume Justin de Vaillancourt. I was born on the second day of June in that year of our Lord, 1202 at the time of the Fourth Crusade.
That crusade had been called by Pope Innocent III, to retake Jerusalem from its then, Muslim rulers. Nothing went as they'd intended, and instead, they took over Constantinople... a Christian city!
That name; Vaillancourt, does not now carry the stigma that it once did... being expunged from all church records of that time with my excommunication. That stigma was because I went on a killing spree that extended over many years, and I was a severe embarrassment for the Church, along with the devilish workings of the Holy Inquisition.
The Church, and the Chambertins at their behest, had murdered all of my family, including me. Or so they’d thought. However, I had not died that day.
They paid a terrible price for that mistake, but so did I.
I intended to rest, only when all of the males of that Chambertin line were dead. It was not hard to accomplish for a young man such as I, used to violence. That, was in the year 1222 when I was twenty years old.
They did not die slowly, or easily, as you may appreciate when you begin this tale.
There was only one of that line that meant anything to me. She... had to survive. She... was the love of my life, and she... was carrying our children, as I later learned. Her name was, Rossignol. In English, that word means, 'Nightingale'. It was that bird which brought us both together that one, wonderful day in 1215. It was a day that seems like yesterday to me. We had seven years together of unrivaled pleasure, and intimacy after that, before the ax fell.
At least my Rossignol was safe. Her grandfather had sent her away as he fell ill for the last time, so she had not been a witness to what her family did after that, or what I did to them, in response.
This story is my account of events leading up to that time, and others that followed it.
It may have begun with my birth in 1202, but it did not end until much later... more than a thousand years later when I met my Rossignol again.