Pronounced ‘Her-ar-dus’ (silent G), Gherardus Fabbro is the sixty-eight year old Lord Commander of Parthenope (Naples), the capital city of Campania, a region in southwestern Italy.
“Time is the key to life, is it not? Why can’t men be patient and wait upon the gods for opportunity and grace? They have no faith. They cannot wait for that singular instant when the stars align and their talent shines.” – Gherardus to his son, Talento. (Betrayal – Chapter 3)
Gherardus, as well as his son, know he’s speaking foolishly because Gherardus has never been a man to wait on anything. Only now, as an elderly man, does he begin to even question time, opportunity and grace.
“Experience guides me. I am no longer a man duped by the whims of youth… There is nothing immortal about me or any other man.” – Gherardus (Betrayal – Chapter 3)
Gherardus is the second son of Tancred and Meliore Fabbro.
Gherardus ascends to the throne after he and his brothers, Avenel and Turstin, attempt to assassinate their father leads to the death of both their parents. Avenel, the eldest, so distraught by so much loss in his life (his wife and daughters dead from disease a few years earlier), abandons his claim to the crown. He leaves Parthenope, carrying away his mother’s body.
“I’m out, brother,” said Avenel. “This is the last time I will ever see you. I’m leaving the city. With me gone, you are the next in line. Parthenope is yours to rule.“
Turstin was shocked.
Gherardus was unmoved. He was Castellan of the city and the chief knight of the royal guard. He intended to challenge Avenel for the throne eventually. This made the transition easier, simpler. – (Betrayal – Chapter 2)
The transition was anything but easy. Many questioned the deaths of the family’s heads including the Church. Gherardus and Turstin had to promote the lie that Avenel was killed as well. There were protests. There were sermons. Division.
Gherardus turned to a childhood friend who was a Bishop later to become Pope. Confessing his sins, swearing his allegiance, Gherardus was secretly absolved and the troublesome church officials in Parthenope causing problems were immediately removed and replaced by loyalists. There would be no more outcry against their crimes.
Gherardus was presented with a gold ring to wear, a marker to remind him of his pledge.
“Do not lecture me, Senor! I know the oath I took and I know to whom I took it! Celestine was a fine man and my fealty towards him was well deserved. I pledged my allegiance to a good friend who in turn bound me to a fool’s notion.” Gherardus made sure everyone saw the gold ring on his finger. “It is only out of respect for the wishes of the dead that I entertain your pretentious pope now… Giacinto was my friend. In my haste to establish my rule over Campania, I indentured myself to your perverse community of beggarly nobles.” – Betrayal (Chapter 3)
Gherardus had always been a warrior. As a young man, he trained with the sword and competed in tournaments. He went to war, opposing Barbarossa’s ambitions in Italy, and crusading in Egypt.
Gherardus wed Bertina (Lady Bee), at the age of 27. They were deeply in love. When he was injured in the wars, she sat at his side day and night, helping nurse him back to health.
But when it was time for him to do the same for her, he could not, and he did not.
Bee suffered a debilitating stroke giving birth to Talento. Everyone was sure she would die or be handicapped for life. Gherardus surrendered quickly, incapable of bearing the sight of her in this fallen state.
Skilled nurses were assigned to care for her at first but as time passed, children without skill and patience were sent instead. Paralyzed, incapable of speech, Bee lay trapped in bed, fed and bathed by their small hands.
Six children in particular were cruel and Bee didn’t forget. As Gherardus went on with his life, taking to his bed another woman, Michela Pinto, Bee rose like a phoenix. It was a miracle resurrection and it shocked the city.
Speaking to disembodied spirits, enamored by sparkling objects and rare stones, repulsed by her own reflection, Lady Bee was mad and demanded the heads of the six young girls.
Gherardus was not yet Lord Commander. His father, Tancred, superstitious and fearful of the secrets Bee was privy to from her connections with the other world, relented and commanded it. The Foolish Six were executed.
As Tancred’s superstitions continued to intensify, his attentions turning away from the beloved city and its business to strange crusades, strange meetings with supernatural advisors including a visit to the Sybil of Cumae, Gherardus felt compelled to act. Tancred had to be removed.
Whatever magic motivated Gherardus to lead his brothers into the attempted assassination, proved to be the same magic that would haunt him and his lordship for his remaining years. Lady Bee, possessed and wild, took Gherardus in her dark chambers and cursed the gold ring he received from Giacinto. Gherardus was incapable of even lusting after another women. He would truly burn if and when he did.
Gherardus was trapped between the lies, the curse on the ring and his allegiance to the Church.
And then came the giant albino magician, Sinibaldus, wielding a Bellerophon Crystal. The magician became an ally of Gherardus and soon the two of them had secrets, dozens of sins to bind him beneath more chains.
With grief, Gherardus looks upon his lineage, his sons, Rugerius and Talento, and sees no hope, no redeeming qualities. Neither will rule well and he knows it. He is old and has failed as a leader, a husband and a father. He is only going through the motions now, doing mostly what others bid.
They had rounded a corner and all Gherardus could see ahead of him was a stone wall. He had come as far as he could go. His railing had ended. Held firmly at bay by the restrictive chains of his former sins, Gherardus Fabbro became mute. – Betrayal (Chapter 4)
Following the wishes of his sons and the Church, Gherardus forsakes a goodly knight in Pero de Alava, going so far as to send his trustworthy Provost, Guidus Salvatore to Capua to deliver the fateful letter. Talento desires the Provost position, therefore Guidus must be sacrificed.
“Behold that awful fig which has withered on the vine, the swine undulating back and forth in the sludge. I have no strength or conviction to offer anyone.” Gherardus stared Sinibaldus straight in the eye and did not blink. “You are correct, my friend, I would betray you… Awful surely does not do me justice.“
Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series, The Crystal Crux