Lord Sir Aeston Stromgate
Once upon a time I had a considerably comprehensive tale of my youth to expound upon. I would tell you of my happy days as the son of a fisherman, learning the craft by my fatherís side. Or my dutiful studies with my mother through which I learned of the histories and legends that inspired me to a life of adventure. But as you get older the specifics of your childhood seem less and less important. They certainly seem less and less worthy of recounting in full. Of my distant past, all that seems worth saying is this: It was remarkable only in that it was unremarkable, and that its ultimate conclusion was that it led me here, to the Realms.
My time in these lands stretches the length of two decades, and certainly there is time enough for a wealth of experiences in those twenty years. I will try my best to recount the ones that have made an indelible impact on who I am as a person. The temptation in enumerating the worthy moments of your life is to regard each of them as accomplishments. And while Iím certainly proud of the places Iíve been and the things Iíve done, I am also aware that the choices Iíve made were always half chance, and that they certainly donít connect to one another in straight, unmarred lines. Regardless, if I think back to the moments that define the man that Iíve become, certainly it is these.
I joined Chimeron under the rule of the eminent Queen Marguerite de Valehaven.
I began a yearly feast in tribute to Leviathan, the patron of my people.
I was named a Master of the Spoon by my guildmistress, Lady Cassia.
I became a Kathrani-Ma of the Kal en Dral.
I was presented with the sword Glamdring by Lady Gladriel after resisting the lure of Sauron.
I left Chimeron after my Queen went her separate way.
I took a knee to King Jarrod when the Free Kingdoms Began.
I became the first Blademaster at the first Tournaments of the Blue Rose.
I was named champion of the Dwarves of Middle Earth.
I gathered my closest friends to me and began the Nation of Vinehaeven, becoming a Lord of the Free Kingdoms.
I led an army against the forces of Sauron and helped to strike him down.
I was the Southern general at North/South War and broke the cycle of the North's yearly inevitable victory.
I began the Oaken Guard and brought a warrior tradition back to the far South along with a lot of new blood.
I was given the honor of being named a Knight of the Eternal Flame.
My humble yearly feast to Leviathan reached its tenth year.
I became the Warmark of Rhiassa with the goal of rebuilding a nation that had been a very close friend for many years.
I was knighted a Knight of Rhiassa by Sir Duncan Conrad, the man who taught me more than any other.
I wrote the tenants of the Free Nations and worked hard to make that dream a reality.
I was honored with the title Knight of the Free Nations.
I was given the great honor of taking a knee before Sir Callin and standing as a Knight of the Realms. The 21st in the history of these lands.
I knighted my first squire, Sir Symir, a Knight of Rhiassa.
I received the Lordship of Rhiassa when Sir Da'oud decided to step back and become an elder, and have had the great privilege of presiding over such an accomplished nation as it entered its Third Age.
I built the Grand Parthenon of The Just God in Southland Rhiassa and took a stand there against the Black Tide of Bedlam with Justari's aid.
I was joined in marriage with the love of my life, the beautiful and fierce Lady Areni, at the fifteenth Feast of the Leviathan.
I was honored with the distinction of becoming a Knight of the Blue Rose and joining those knights in brotherhood.
Under my direction, the storied Realms tradition of Queen of Hearts entered it's twentieth year, then it's twenty-fifth year.
I knighted my second squire, Sir Kyntela a Knight of Rhiassa and then only a few months later had the privilege of knighting her a Knight of the Eternal Flame.
I knighted my third squire, Sir Gwen, a Knight of Rhiassa and then only a few moments later had the privilege of knighting her a Knight of the Eternal Flame.
I presented my newborn son before the Realms, giving him the name Aeryk Stromgate, and naming him the lord of the nearby lands of Periden.
I knighted my wife, Lady Dame Areni, a Knight of the Eternal Flame.
I knighted my fourth squire, Dame Taliea, a Knight of Rhiassa in a small private ceremony at the third Gilded Lion Summer Festival.
The Feast of the Leviathan which I began so long ago in these lands reached it's twentieth year.
I asked Sir Gwen to become lord of Rhiassa alongside myself and Lady Areni, beginning the Fourth Age of Rhiassa with the three of us sharing leadership, as well as her taking the last name Stromgate and becoming our sister.
I presented by newborn daughter before the Realms, giving her the name Aelise Stromgate, and naming her the lady of Lionsmark, a parcel of land gifted to her by our allies in the neighboring country of Ashenmark.
I knighted my former squire, fellow lord, and forever sister Sir Gwen a Knight of the Realms, having completed the ultimate journey together.
I think it is probably the chief duty of those of us who are old to spend time reminiscing about our youths, counting the ways that got us to where we are. Like anyone of venerable age there are innumerable stories and exploits and incidents that comprise my history, much more than a list of deeds can reflect, and like others who have built up many years of experience, I could easily get lost in contemplation, remembering days gone by, friends with whom I have parted company, and adventures that have slowly transformed into legend over time.
But if I was to be honest, I would have to say that Iíve never had the heart for such tasks. Dwelling in the past, even a past full of happy accomplishment, is a welcome distraction from time to time but it's certainly not a place I choose to tarry. Itís okay to dream of the past, as long as you donít make those dreams your master. Rather, I try to live a life that is focused on the future, one where I believe that my greatest days are still ahead, and I have surrounded myself with a nation and a family that only further reinforce that attitude every single day.
Rhiassa is a mission. It is a unique enterprise that is built around the principles of service, of excellence, of individuals becoming their best selves. The third and now fourth ages of the nation have been my greatest experiences in a lifetime of great experiences. I watched my first generation of members put together a foundation of hard work and love that would inspire everyone that followed them. I watched the later generations embrace every opportunity to shoulder more burdens and rise to even greater expectations, spirited forward by the growth that they saw in themselves. Drawn to our sense of purpose and our faith in one another, new recruits have consistently found their way to our family, each knowing that the duties that awaited them were as joyful as they were necessary.
My days gone by are happy ones, and I sincerely thank each individual who I have learned from, who I have bled beside, who I have laughed with along the way. Their influence on who I am today is not something I will ever cast aside. Rather, it is because of that influence, because of the gifts that I have received from each of them, that I can, with love and purpose, close those chapters of the past and focus on writing the chapters that will come.
As for those chapters yet to be written? I harbor no doubt that they will be the greatest yet.