Spit flew from his mouth. “That bitch was my mother! And I know about Meliore’s kidnapping because I am the one who proposed it!“
– Betrayal (Chapter 42)
Turstin Fabbro is the third and youngest son of Tancred and Meliore Fabbro.
Never brave or a fighter, Turstin read books and learned numbers. He used his education to serve at his father’s side as Provost of Parthenope. And it is no secret he enjoys the drink.
In 1160, Turstin weds a comely young woman, Druda. Druda, however, suffers several still births and miscarriages and the couple are concerned they’ll never have a child.
In 1170, Turstin’s older brothers, Avenel and Gherardus, due to increased moonstruck behaviors, plot to assassinate their father. Gherardus, the Castellan of Parthenope, intimidating and often violent, compels Turstin to cooperate, participate – or else…
Turstin uses his high office to arrange a trip for their mother, Meliore, to Melfi, where she has family. They do not want her in the Capital when the assassination takes place.
The night of the attempt, Turstin sits behind his brothers in the tower on a bench. They are in the window lining up the shot. They do not know that their mother has secretly returned to the city and she is the one they see moving around in Tancred’s dark study. The bolt from the crossbow kills Meliore. Tancred enters the room after the fact and dies of a heart attack at her feet.
Turstin, comprehending how complicated Meliore’s death makes the situation, fears repercussions. His concerns grow even more earnest when the eldest brother, the level-headed brother, Avenel, decides he wants no part of this. He snatches up Meliore’s body and leaves Parthenope forever.
Gherardus, in command of the city, decides they need scapegoats.
“I will lead the guards to the tower and toss the place,” Gherardus said. “Turstin, you start going through Pa’s records and come up with names we can use. Find names with prior military service; that would be best. They always seem disenchanted.”
– Betrayal (Chapter 2)
At a great royal funeral, they bury Turstin beside two unknown corpses snatched from the morgue. But this is not the end of their problems. Many in the city don’t believe the scapegoats are guilty. Several members of clergy preach against them, issuing sermons accusing them of patricide, matricide and fratricide.
Gherardus, out of options, turns to a powerful bishop and childhood friend in Rome. This friend, who would one day become pope, agrees to remove the troublesome clergy for a pledge of fidelity. The troublesome clergy are replaced by loyalists.
Depressed, Turstin sinks into the drink while staying on as Provost for his brother.
In 1182, Turstin and Druda’s prayers are answered and they have a son, Tomas.
In 1189, Sinibaldus, a giant albino magician wielding a Bellerophon Crystal, arrives in Parthenope. He quietly wins Gherardus’ confidence, using the Crystal to torture and interrogate people. His poisonous tongue also whispers suspicions and soon Gherardus fears Turstin and his knowledge.
Turstin is arrested on trumped up charges.
Not wanting to shed anymore Fabbro family blood, Gherardus arranges for Sinibaldus to create a unique forest prison far removed from civilization, out near Eagles Pass.
Turstin, Druda and Tomas are shipped off to this sanctuary to live beneath the magic glow of tall magical torches at night, and white, blue-eyed semaphores by day, the wild animals their wardens.
In 1191, Druda gives birth to another son, Dato.
Turstin’s little family lives alone for nine years in this place nicknamed Ithaca, receiving supplies every few months from the magician. And then comes the night, Pero de Alava stumbles out of the forest, chased by an enormous bear.
Threatened by Pero’s sword, Turstin, over drinks, discloses a great deal of information to Pero, all about his family and the prison.
Pero is on a quest at the behest of Gherardus, an errand to negotiate the release of a kidnapped princess in Melfi, a woman named Meliore.
Turstin reveals the truth about this.
“The quest you have undertaken is a ruse, a fictitious tale crafted by men at Court to rid themselves of brave young knights who were quickly maturing into political adversaries… Their deaths had to appear accidental, plausible and beyond our reach and control… You knights are a rash breed of man. You are, for lack of a better word, fools. You cannot refuse a quest, and the more reckless the better… I concocted the whole kidnapping scheme… There were many brave men sent to die in that soil before you.“
– Betrayal (Chapter 43)
Pero, attracted by the singing of sirens, wanders off into the forest without his armor and his sword, never to return.
Turstin knows his brother. He knows Gherardus is not going to let Pero stray away. Turstin fears the worse. Sooner or later, soldiers will arrive at the sanctuary looking for Pero.
What will he tell them?
“Sirens. Angels. I do not know what to call it. A woman’s foolishness baiting him into the woods. But who can be sure what madmen hear in their heads?“
– Shimmer (Chapter 21)
Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux