“With Blassilo, Pero learned to soldier. Pinna Fidelis, Penafiel Castle, was the whole world to the knights of this region. It was a mammoth landlocked, stone-framed, ship-like edifice built on a rocky outcrop high above the Duero River… As a child, Pero de Alava had the run of Penafiel Castle. He knew every nook and cranny, every gate and watchtower. He had explored the honeycombing caves beneath the rocky outpost, skinny dipped in the Duero River… Pero was fully inundated into this rustic world where respect for other, oaths sworn before Almighty God and passion for the current day’s affairs were more than virtues to be written and talked about. They were deeds that must be done. This was honor.” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
In ‘The Crystal Crux’ epic book series, Pero de Alava’s father, Blassilo Velez, is a wealthy, landed knight who serves at the pleasure of Penafiel Castle.
Spain in the 12th century was still a wilderness, a dangerous, ungoverned outback where bands of cutthroats and thieves operate with impunity, sheltering in the forests, hills and mountains. Travelers braving the insecure roads between the cultured cities were susceptible to attack.
Penafiel Castle was an important stronghold providing stability to the area.
It was long rumored that one of the keep’s founders, Sancho Garcia, declared Penafiel Castle to be Castile’s Faithful Rock.
In ‘The Crystal Crux’, Pero is reared on this legend, his father nearly insisting he become the embodiment of this steadfast rock.
“Never let your friends down. Do not turn your back on their cries for help. You must be strong, for them. You must be the rock. You must be Penafiel. Everywhere you go, you must be Penafiel.” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
This struggle becomes a common theme throughout the series as Pero feels he must live up to this virtue, this virtue of his father as well as the moral principles of his religious-minded mother.
Pero’s parents never wed. They love each other but they are polar opposites.
Maria Alava is a cultured and sophisticated woman. Even after becoming pregnant with Pero, she expresses no desire to wed Blassilo and change him. Blassilo was wild, an unkempt, illiterate rogue who’s sworn duty tied him down to Penafiel Castle. Maria didn’t want to steal Blassilo from his ranches and adventures. She loved him too much to do that.
Blassilo knew his weaknesses. He was no fool. He couldn’t stop being who he was. He loved Maria but continued to attend to other women on his many travels and at home.
“I am a goddamn barbarian, an unsettled hombre with wild, sinful passions. And I have wounded the love of my life because I refused to harness my libido and waywardness. Lord, shutter my dead mother’s ears, but I am no better than an animal.” Blassilo pulled Pero even closer to him. “Don’t be like me, hijo, in this regard. Don’t be alone.”
Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
Twice a year, Maria Alava visited Blassilo’s chief ranch, Cielo Diamantes. She was treated like a queen.
“During her short stays at Cielo Diamantes, they would share the same bed and behave like husband and wife. She was satisfied with that. It was enough for her, she told herself.” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
Maria Alava continued to live in Valladolid off a healthy stipend Blassilo provided for her. They kept up a correspondence, most of their words reflecting the pride they had in Pero and his mounting achievements.
Pero split his youth between his parents.
During the long winter months, Pero was in Valladolid with Maria receiving a proper education, attending University and Mass, learning to be a proper gentleman.
From the University in Valladolid
In summer, Pero returned to Cielo Diamantes to learn from his father.
“He was tired of being cooped up, bored with reading, writing and praying. He was eager to stand beneath the sun again, anxious to mount his father’s hot-blooded jennet ponies and ride from sunrise to sunset. Summer brought with it the promise of long hunts in the Madera de la sombra and swimming in the aguas de plata. There would be dances, jousts, tournaments and bullfights in the Plaza del Coso… Pero was wholly convinced that taking up the cross like his father and becoming a caballero in the service of Penafiel Castle was the only life for him.” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
A Spanish Jennet Horse
When Pero was seventeen, he was returning from a winter with his mother when the carriage rode up on the remains of a skirmish. Pero and Maria was shocked when the guards found Blassilo in a ditch on the roadside.
“The carriage lunged forward suddenly and Pero was thrown back in the seat beside his mother. It came to an abrupt halt and two anxious knights swung the door open. They insisted Maria and Pero sit way back in the coach and make room. Once they did, the soldiers shoved Blassilo’s swelling, filthy body inside. The hirsute knight was badly wounded, choking and gagging, blood all over his armor…” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
The carriage and retinue made haste to Penafiel Castle where Blassilo was rushed to the infirmary.
Despite the doctors best efforts, Blassilo was dying.
Pero was impatient and unsettled.
“Pero wanted answers. He wanted vengeance. He wanted his father. Finally they called for him. Blassilo had been moved to the chapel. He was resting beneath the glow of three hundred votive candles…” – Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
Pero wasn’t going to be knighted at Penafiel Castle. In order for the Church to accept him, a bastard, as the rightful heir of Blassilo’s holdings, he had to be knighted by someone with authority equal or above the Church.
“Take this writ, hijo,” Blassilo said.
Pero took hold of the paper but did not try to read it. His eyes never left his father.
“These are my words,” Blassilo stated with conviction and pride. “I am sending you to the Emperor.”
Pero’s eyes got wide. “Barbarossa?”
“Si, Barbarossa. You will leave tomorrow. I am sending you to the Imperial palace with Zor and a considerable donation. By my charge, Emperor Barbarossa will knight you and seal your identity as my eternal namesake.”
Excerpt from The Crystal Crux: Betrayal
Blassilo Velez dies at Penafiel Castle.
Join the quest today. The Crystal Crux is a 10 day adventure, an epic fantasy set in medieval Europe. There are three books in the series so far, Betrayal, Blue Grotto and Cold Knight, with more to come. There is also a prequel in the works right now, due to be released in 2019.
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