Recognition came slowly but the girl was lastly beginning to detect Pero’s wantonness. Until now, she had thought the stranger to be nothing more than a pompous ass… Noblemen were always trying to make little girls cower. But now she marked the titillating curiosity sparkling in Pero’s heavenly blue eyes… Rising up as high as she could on her toes, she leaned in closer to his ear, her face brushing gently through a few strands of his dark curly hair… “For a few gold coins… anything is possible.”
Betrayal – Chapter 28

We first meet Gisele halfway through the first book, Betrayal. Pero is on his way to Eagles Pass when he comes across two peasants he thinks might be assassins sent to kill him.

The Sartores, however, children of a shoemaker, were just stealing oranges. Gisele, being bolder than her older brother, Cambio, initiated contact with Pero, attempting to sell him some of the stolen oranges.

I’ve never been with a man before. Never thought to sell myself either.’ Gisele eyed Pero up and down and up again. “He is handsome, rugged. I could do worse. And three gold coins is nothing to sneeze at. I’ve not seen that much wealth since Ma and Pa died.
Betrayal – Chapter 28

Gisele is poor, orphaned and fifteen. She has never been kissed and this bothers her. Without her mother’s guidance, she is curious and eager to explore maturing feelings in her body but she is a tomboy and intimidates the boys in her village. None are brave enough to approach her in such a manner. She has heard stories of rich noblemen sometimes taking lovers of the lowly – and she considers herself lowly.

Pero is thirty-four. Gisele doesn’t comprehend the battle waging inside him. One minute he acts like he may do something and the next he does nothing. He wars against his conscience and against his God and it confuses her.

Pero is on a suicidal quest and has determined to do grave evil, do horrible wrongs and anger his God. But still, despite his desires to corrupt himself, he finds he cannot. He must do what is right and does the girl no harm. In fact, he gifts Gisele a gold clasp he carries with him and promises to defend her if ever she should require defending.

When you touch that clasp,” Pero continued, “I want you to remember this day and pray for your husband to come… Consider it a dowry… I consider you a princess from this day forth, a daughter. Do not forget this, Gisele.
Gisele nodded in agreement…
Betrayal – Chapter 29

Gisele seems to be a minor character and disappears from the story, not appearing in the second book. But in the third book, Gisele and Cambio reemerge.

The poor youngsters, who were blessed with several gold coins from Pero, returned to their small nameless village and purchased supplies to help them all survive through the coming winter. And they also planned to hold a feast, a celebration, and remember Pero and what he had done for them.

But that evening, before the revelry could begin, a band of mercenaries entered their village. The thugs are on their way to Eagles Pass. They want to find and kill Pero.

Mors Cohortem,’ Cambio thought with trepidation. The death band’s infamous reputation proceeded them…
Rugerius slapped Poldi on the back… “Now, old man…. What’s going on here?… Who amongst you has enough coin to pay for such a feast?“…
Shameful and scared, sorry he had to do it, Poldi raised his red eyes and pointed an accusatory finger into the crowd… Cambio’s heart raced to his throat… Cambio began praying to God his death be not painful.
Cold Knight – Chapter 30

Poldi, of course, pointed to Cambio. After a bit of interrogation, Cambio told Rugerius Fabbro all about his chance encounter with Pero de Alava out by the orange groves and how he led him to Eagles Pass. He did not mention his sister. Gisele wasn’t there. She had gone out in the woods to pee just before the mercenaries rode in. She was out in the forest in the darkness.

Gisele, like her mother before her, had a rare gift, a special connection with nature. She often saw spirits in the woods and could sense danger before it got near to her.

Now, is the time,” her mother would say, as the impulse grabbed her and she grasped Gisele’s small hands, prompting a dance…
Feel it,” her mother would instruct and encourage. “Nature has a song, a resonance we’ve been blessed to hear. Listen to it. Not with your ears. Listen with your soul. Everything in life has a voice. The trees. The grass. The stones. The stars. We are never alone. Listen to them sing. They will tell you the way. Listen.”
Cold Knight – Chapter 36

Gisele wasn’t concerned with wolves or other creatures in the dark woods. She worried for her brother and the people of her village. From a distance, she watched in horror as they interrogated Cambio and began taking women, eating and drinking their stores, ruining the celebration. She knew she couldn’t go home but she had to do something.

And then she touched the gold clasp and remembered Pero – and his promise. She was scared of Eagles Pass. Anyone who was sane was scared of Eagles Pass. But that is where Pero went. She was fifteen and confused, seeking direction and listening. She chose to follow her heart.

Through the darkness of that night she relaxed and danced her way through the fields to Eagles Pass, talking to the distant stars and her deceased parents.

And then a sudden chill crawled over her skin, and a fog of infernal darkness ruptured the peaceful utopian landscape and ended the dance. Gisele was back in reality and Eagles Pass stood before her…
Go away yet come. Go away yet come.” … The fifteen year old girl in a burlap sack, with bare feet and brave heart, clutched miserly at the clasp holding her neckline. She started to shake because of the frost and fright…. She heard her mother saying, “We are never alone“… The wood smelled rotten. The stones muffled by moss. ‘I can’t hear anything, not anything good.’ …
Cold Knight – Chapter 36

The third book ends with Gisele entering Eagles Pass hoping to find Pero.

Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux

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