When examining the history of the Giolanvus family, one must first examine the beginnings. One of the most appraised, yet infamous families in the nation, or even the world began humbly enough with an orphan who was adopted by an aging, childless noble.

Disproving the now popular belief that a person is defined not by his actions but by biology, this orphan's actions were reflected by his descendants for generations to come, even after his name had slipped from common knowledge. It is only fitting that a base peasant boy would bring dishonor to his inheritance.

I do little good by simply describing the conclusions I have reached through my studies, however. I am confident that by relating the history of the Giolanvus family to anyone with the patience and intelligence to read this history, I can accurately portray one of the greatest blunders in history. No one can read this text without reaching the same conclusion I have: that baseness begets baseness, and only a true noble can act in a noble fashion. Perhaps with further research into our history, we can rid the world of their fetish with the mistaken belief that a man's worth lies not in his bloodline, but in his actions.

Giolan felt the grass scratching his back, but he ignored the slightly discomforting feeling to focus his attention on the very plain-looking girl who lay beside him. Her long, brown hair splayed in the grass around her, providing a pillow for her almost coarse, sun-tanned face. Hers was the look of one who'd had to work for all her life.

Wriggling his bare feet in the moist, brown earth, Giolan pointed up at the sky. "Look at that cloud, Nestula," he told the girl. "Doesn't it look like a soldier riding into battle?"

While Giolan couldn't see Nestula's face from his position on the ground, he could picture her screwing up her face in an attempt to make a picture from the white spot floating miles above. Just as he'd suspected she'd say, Nestula announced, "I don't see anything other than a cloud."

Giolan rolled his eyes, then complained, "You're no fun. Now, use your imagination." He scooted closer to the girl, then pointed again and asked, "See that wispy part right there? That's his sword. And down, there, that part that almost looks like a hook? It's the horse's tail. And there's his head, and the horse's head, and a hoof. See it now?"

Giolan almost believed he'd shown Nestula his vision, but she abruptly ruined the moment by sitting up and proclaiming, "Giolan, sometimes I think you're crazy. All I see is clouds."

"Well, of course you only see clouds," Giolan conceded. "Clouds are all that's up there, with the exception of maybe a few birds. The point is that you have to look beyond the cloud, at the pictures it makes."

"You know, you can be really foolish sometimes," Nestula complained. "Who has time to look beyond things? Why did I even let you convince me to come out here, anyway? Mom probably needs help with the boys." Nestula had seven brothers. "Imagining things and seeing pictures in clouds may be all fine and good for nobles who have nothing better to do with their time than lie around all day, but I have work to do. Don't try to make me come out here with you again."

"Someday, I'll be one of those nobles who lie around all day," Giolan suddenly declared, repeating an old but improbable dream. "I'll go into town and sell eggs and butter and buy myself some nice, fine, elegant clothing. Then, I'll parade around at all the balls and parties, and those snobs won't be able to tell me from them. I'll start my own noble house, and name it after myself. I'll call it the house of Giolanvus."

Nestula sighed, knowing she was allowing herself to be taken in by Giolan's wild dreamings again. Returning to the spongy grass, she asked, "What will you do then?" she asked. "Are you going to marry some delicate noble girl and act just like all the other rich people?"

"Of course not!" Giolan cried. "Why would I want to marry some fragile girl who doesn't know how to do anything other than look pretty and make babies? I want someone tough who can actually do things." Casually, he wrapped an arm around Nestula's broad shoulders. "Once I'm rich, I'm going to marry you."

Nestula giggled and blushed. "Come on," Giolan whispered. "We're going to marry some day, I promise you. Why don't you give me a quick preview of our life to come? Just a little kiss on the mouth?"

"I think not," Nestula replied, oblivious to the clever way in which Giolan had flattered her. "Promises are all fine and well, but I won't give you anything until I know for certain that you only have good intentions. Now, if you were to tell my father about your plans . . ."

Giolan laughed. "You expect me to explain to your father how I'm going to someday be a noble? Then he'd really think I was crazy. Come on, what do you have to loose? Don't you trust me?"

Nestula felt herself being won over by Giolan's charm again, but just as she began to lean in for a kiss, she heard a boy's laugher. One of her brothers had escaped from her mother's watchful eye, and she knew who would be blamed if her mother learned that she'd been idly lying on a hilltop with Giolan. "I have to go!" she cried, picking up her skirts so that she could run all the faster.

Giolan was awakened from sweet dreams of beautiful, willing girls of the village when Nestula rudely shook him awake. Initially, he believed he was still dreaming, as the good girl would never have come into his bedroom at night, but his mind immediately began creating all sorts of crises for which she would have come that night to wake him up.

"Are the barns on fire?" he blurted, although he was well aware that there were far more serious reasons Nestula could have sought him out. Someone could have been sick, or dead, or even worse, he might have been in trouble for one of his many escapades from the past several weeks. "I'm awake!" he cried, as Nestula obviously hadn't heard his previous exclamation. "What's wrong?"

"Shhh!" Nestula hissed, holding a finger before her pursed lips. "Be quiet, and pack your bags. We're leaving tonight."

"What?" Giolan demanded, this time in a whisper. "Leaving? Why?"

"Why not?" Nestula responded. "Remember what we were talking about earlier today? You said that someday you were going to make a lot of money and become a noble. Well, we've been talking about those things for a while, and we've never done anything about them, and I wondered why not? Sure, it's nice to talk about changing our lives, but why can't we do anything?"

Giolan stared at his friend in astonishment. While he'd always been rather wild and uncontrollable, Nestula never made rash decisions, as she seemed to be now. "What are you talking about?" he asked. He wanted to assert that all his talk of escaping from his ordinary way of life had never been anything more than talk, but he knew that admitting this now would hurt his friend more than anything.

"Why shouldn't we leave?" Nestula cried. "Why can't we just set out tonight? Nobody will be awake to miss us for a few hours, and by then it will be too late for them to catch up. In the meantime, we can walk to the city and start selling things. I don't know much schooling or anything, but still, I figure that if we work hard, we should both be rich nobles within a month."

Giolan knew Nestula's reasoning wasn't sound, but he didn't feel inclined to argue. Instead, he thought of the opportunities her suggestion presented. He and the girl would be alone together, beyond the responsibilities of the village. Maybe, he could finally get her to kiss him, or even to go further . . .

"That's a brilliant idea, Nestula!" he cried, and she beamed. "Let me just grab some things for the road, and we can head out right away."