And so it began, as troubled times do, not with the dark sense of foreboding that hindsight would suggest but with the gradually building irritation born of knowing that your life will pan out to be less comfortable and easy than those generations before you. The slowly dawning knowledge that the world has laid some unwanted destiny at your door, that the tale of life has somehow scripted you as a hero and not merely a contented extra, is somewhat unpleasant. The poetic vicissitude of such times is lost on those who are unfortunate enough to live through them. Dreams of great deeds of sacrifice and courageousness are not dreamt by those who find themselves having to carry out those deeds when they had been planning a more salubrious and somewhat longer life.
It was not altogether true that those who were to sacrifice themselves in fulfilment of this destiny were planning a quiet life, nor is it true that they found their destiny as wholly unwanted as many. They were, for the most part at least, adventurers. A quiet life to them is like an empty classroom to a schoolmaster, appealing at first glance but soon to become tiresome and pointless.
However, if they were to choose, many would not elect a crusade of such proportion, preferring the relative peace of plunder and pillage. It is not, as has been mooted by some of the more philosophical observers of the adventurers art, their wish to simply travel the world killing people in new and interesting places. Whilst that is undoubtedly part of their remit, it is not their sole purpose. Simply killing people is a military life, not an adventuring one. To an adventurer, murder is merely a necessary side effect not a final goal. The final goal is often dependent on the individual but can usually be summarised as the pursuit of three things in some combination: fame, fortune and of course excitement. Some loftier adventurers have claimed they are interested in acquisition of knowledge, protection of innocents and the betterment of civilisation but they nevertheless expect their share of the more material spoils.
In light of these career goals, it seemed somehow strange that at the turn of the twelfth century, it was a group of adventurers that found themselves standing in the eye of a rapidly growing storm.