Saher de Wahull
Saher de Wahull at Highland War 2008
Or, 3 crescents Gules
Lord Saher de Wahull
My name and device are actually those of Saher de Wahull. Saher is a distant direct ancestor of mine who lived about 1200, in Bedfordshire England. Saher is descendant of Walter Flandrisis, Brother of Matilda, Wife of William the Bastard (later Conquerer).
Though I proudly use the name and device of a very specific person, my actions and interests are very different from what a landed nobleman would have. This story introduces who I am at heart:
By Bruce Edward O'Dell
I stare across the gray waters. Morning fog like lazy fingers of smoke; lift and becon to me towards this haunted river. Cold mists tease my bearded face, awakening my senses, preparing me for what I am about to do. For thirty years this desolate portage beckoned my return. On the banks yonder I once hid as a weeping orphan.
In the distance I hear dull sounds of oars on the ferry, much as they were then, carry me back to that dreary time and place. Back into that dark night, overly black, punctuated with flames and shouts in the distance. The moon's crescent, scarlet through the golden glow of fire against smoke. My Uncle's arms straining as he runs carrying me to the bank. Dropping me as if I were another bundle among what little we possessed. Out of breath, what was left of our band hid from those who would kill us for being different.
My mother died that night; my mother's sister and her husband took me as their charge. Another mouth to feed, another child to clothe to those who already had an heir. Their son and I had been born upon the same day I just scant moments ahead. We looked as brothers of the same womb. We fought and loved as brothers from the same sire. We were also bitterest of rivals. I had never known a father. Only faint recollections of my mother. I had ever been with my adopted family. Though I was never wholly included. If no one else, my cousin would remind me that I was apart. From that night 'till this fateful morn, I was ever and always alone, no matter who drew nigh.
On that night we endured the dampness of the ground and air, gathering close to keep warm. The sounds, smells and sights of that terrible night were the first memories I have. With the gray morning, the light had thrown away the child that had been. As the ferry took us away, on that bank remained a ghost of what I was, ever calling me back.
Now the ferryboat draws close again. When I arrive upon the shore yonder, what shall I tell them? Who am I?
I am Saher de Wahull, bastard and orphan, tink, smyth, wandering scribe and unapprenticed alchemer. But, what good am I to decent folk? The thought brings a chill. I feel as cold as the water of this old river. My heart has been forged from constant travail in distant lands and never allowed its true form. I never knew who I was; instead I learned to blend in, to be as one sheep among the flock. Always I heard: "seep into the lives of the people." "Touch the folk we travel among and blend as a tear within the river."
Well, I have left my adopted flock. I have shed my own tears. I dry them now as I count silver to the oarsman. My hand trembles as I think of how little I know of whom I am and what I have to offer those I seek. I think back on those with whom I traveled for so long and who taught me so much, I found I never really knew them.
My uncle Seth, the Jew and alchemer kept us from harm through wit and cunning. Though a son of Levi and holder of the Wisdom of Solomon, Seth lived a mean life. Outwardly we embraced the gods of any land in which we found ourselves. We labored with might in the fields so to tarry through winter and were kept well by the talents of my uncle. Seth could always increase the wealth of the wealthy. Many small lords would suffer a Jew and his offal if it increased their larder. It was when they saw the true talents of Seth that we had to move on. My uncle could turn their greed into short-lived good fortune for us, yet jealous they would always grow. For us, Seth would only take the bounty of those for which he served. Never would he turn his talents to self-agrand. He always sought a higher purpose, no matter the cost.
My mother's sister was a daughter of the earth, she had often told me of my mother and their travels in search of truth. "The great mother is our friend; she has called her fair daughter, your mother to her breast." With words of beauty and songs of love I would learn from my mother's sister the way that life is. The touch of her hand would calm my spirit in the most trying times. Often her healing touch would open a door to allow our band to tarry. Often too, the cry of witch would echo in the night and we would again lay huddled in the brush. Rare was it that she was spoken of by a name; yet she was always endeared by any whom she had truly touched.
Aaron was the son of my uncle, the seed of his loins. As such he was also a son of Levi and was ever being taught by Seth. I was reminded of my bastardly state by being kept from the scrolls and books that Seth would thrust upon Aaron. Aaron wanted to run about and do anything but study…. I wanted nothing more than to glean the harvest of those words denied me. Seth would show pity at times and allow me to work near and perhaps to put the scrolls away. In those small times I would surround and soak my soul with the words there. I could read as well as Aaron, my skill with cipher was far better. My tasks often had me counting the stores of some minor lord for which we would labor.
Waves splash, the boat rocks. A cold breeze lifts spray to my face and brings me back. My eyes can see the years and miles etched into the hands of the oarsman. So many years, so many miles. He and I with so many leagues behind us. Yet, each day he returns to this approaching shore. To home and kin, warmly met. How shall I be greeted? What have I to offer? Will it be enough?
It was in the barns, shops and smyths of the small shires and away places that I learned from kind folk to be a humble servile man. It was in the wood and upon the hillsides that my aunt taught me of the mother earth. It was at the shoulder of my aunt near the beds of the sick and dying that I learned the power of miracles, the comfort of a kind word and the nobility of all people.
From my uncle and cousin I learned skills needed to refine the flesh of the earth… the creation of wealth. I learned to read and cipher and to become an asset to those whom I served.
In my service to others I also learned to build with my hands, to create with my mind and to transform my thoughts into form. To my shame, some of my machinations, which were designed to protect the weak from those who would destroy, were turned into devices for dealing death. As a result I now travel alone. Returning to the place from which I was born.
I have been torn from the band that has been so much a part of me since my mother's death. I have left the lie that I had lived for so long among so many. Now across the sounds of this river I search for something more. I pray the sun to clear this fog, to allow me back into my mother’s land. I want so much a clear path to my kindred there. I want so much to find myself among them.
I want so much to proclaim: "I am Saher, son of a daughter of Caid. I am home."
- Highland War Instructor (Day Sky, Night Sky), 08/29/08