Andrew was born in the land of Saxe-Numidia, which is to be found beyond Cathay, or sometimes deep in the heartland of Africa, or more frequently not at all. This land is ruled by Prester John, who is nothing like the way he is represented in the works of Mandeville and others. The apparently nonsensical name was given to it by the first person to suggest that it needed a name: the king and people tolerate it, but never use it in conversation among themselves, preferring to say "my land" if they have to talk about it at all. Saxe-Numidia is the final resting place of a great and holy treasure, which only the king may see or touch: but the land is always fruitful and the people prosperous, and many live to a great age with no diminution of faculties or strength.
Andrew learned the rudiments of poetry and songsmithing, and was expected to continue his studies and eventually take up a post as bard to the king: but while still a beardless youth he expressed a burning desire to leave Saxe-Numidia and explore the magical and wondrous lands beyond the borders. The king granted his desire, for reasons best known to himself, and Andrew set forth with a soldier of the palace guard as his companion. Unfortunately, the palace guard of Saxe-Numidia, while well-armed and trained, are unused to actual fighting, and the guard was killed in a skirmish with a band of brigands before the travellers had reached India. Miraculously unhurt but grief-stricken at his companion's death, Andrew wandered on through the Middle and Near East, hardly seeing the marvels he had longed to experience, and eventually passed through Europe to fetch up on the shores of the Far Isles, where he was found and brought to the court of the then Baroness Heloisa.
Andrew spent many happy years in the Far Isles, dabbling in the writing of songs and plays. The form for which he is best known is the Tale of the Ticklish Ferret, a very short play set in an alehouse of no particular period and featuring four archetypal characters, somewhat in the style of the commedia dell'arte but scripted rather than improvised. (This form is believed by historians to have originated in the village of Avevale around the time of Andrew's presence in the Isles: research into the implications of this fact is ongoing.) He also acted in various productions of the Guild of Performers, in which he rose to the rank of Master. While there he met the lady known as Janette of Neresby, whose husband, grievously wounded in some Crusade or other, obligingly passed away in short order. Andrew lost no time in pressing his suit, but before he could get all the creases out the lady had secured his hand in marriage. The wedding was a grand affair, graced by the presence of guests from all ages, and all seemed to be going well for Master Lyng and his bride.
Then, suddenly and without any warning, Andrew announced his intention of returning to Saxe-Numidia. The reason behind this action is a matter for conjecture: suffice to say that Lady Janette elected to accompany him, and within a month the pair were gone, many thought never to return. The manor of Neresby fell into disuse, and the people of the Isles went about their business as usual.
The Barony became a Principality, and the county of Camber's Well became the Duchy of Camcairndryth. The household of Endore's Keep was enlivened by the presence of a strange old man, prone to fits and visions, and obsessed with Andrew Lyng, who had lived two hundred years earlier from his time zone. John of the Wood, or John the Wood[mad] as some called him, lived an eremitic life in a hut in the woods near the Keep, tended by his thuggish familiar Geraint Carleyne, and never ventured out to revels till some time after the Princess Heloisa had stepped down from the throne, and the Prince-Archbishop Theophilus had taken her place.
John was seen at one of the gatherings held every October to commemorate the Far Isles' foundation and independence, when he was repeatedly mistaken for Andrew himself. Whether this drove him further into his madness is not known, but shortly thereafter he went wandering on the seashore, out of sight of Carleyne, and when the companion caught up, the body lying on the sand was not John's but Andrew's: of John of the Wood nothing more was seen. Andrew spent some time in a nearby priory being healed of the stresses caused by his miraculous translation, and appeared again at the Foundation and Independence revel, where he showed that his skills had not deserted him by winning the Gorsedd cup for that year. Janette arrived in the Isles shortly before this, by more conventional means, and the two remain in the Far Isles to this day.
In demeanour, Andrew is quiet, hesitant, and totally devoid of the kind of spiritual armour that people outside places like Saxe-Numidia develop as a matter of course. Very sensitive to atmospheres, he will withdraw at the first sign of conflict, and seems content to watch from the sidelines (and a safe distance) the strange games that his adopted people play.
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