Tristan de Fontaineaux
Born on the 4th January in the year of our Lord 1164, Tristan was the second child of his mother Berenice and the fourth of his father Grégoire de Fontaineaux, a local nobleman located at Dijon. His two half-brothers Roland and Hugues, sons of his father's first wife Estelle who died in childbed after a stillbirth, quickly turned out to be most principled and virtuous like their father. Roland became an advisor to noone less than Hugh III, the Duke of Burgundy, while Hugues excelled as a knight and quickly chose to join the Knights Hospitaller at Jerusalem, reflecting the family's tradition in piety. Even Tristan's full brother Gustave chose a pious way and became a monk at the Abbey of Cîteaux. Which didn't leave much room for Tristan to excell - if not through becoming the complete opposite of what his parents desired.
Beginnings in France
Little is known about Tristan's years prior to his departure, and he certainly does not talk about it often. He started squiring for a friend of his father's, Seigneur Jacques de Saint-Roland, but allegedly absolved his training a bit half-heartedly, being more into the beautiful arts of knighthood - like singing beautiful ballads to charm fair maidens. And popular he was, which was enough to distract him from completing his training. Alas, lacking in discipline and perhaps in danger of tainting his family's name in scandal as he was not averse to engage in affairs, he was sent away to the Holy Lands where he would not be so prone to the temptations of the fair sex.
Arriving in the Holy Land
Tristan arrived in the Holy Land by late 1182, accompanied by his brother Hugues. They headed for the Hospitaller fortress Krak de Chevalier, where Tristan soon continued his endeavours to become a knight after spending some time in his chamber, supposedly praying for enlightenment. Many months of hard drill ensued, with the young nobleman committing himself to the training with surprisingly high determination. He was a Novice still, under surveillance of the knights Hospitaller, and it would take another year to gain him both knighthood and the title of Knight of the Hospital.
In November 1183 the stronghold Kerak of Oultrejourdain was under siege by Saladin's men, while inside one of the Towers the marriage of Humphrey IV of Toron and Isabella of Jerusalem took place. Defending the fortress, Tristan was able to show his worth as part of a sortie that was led against the Saracens, and was one of the few that were able to make it back. He was knighted and accepted into the Order on the following day. Some years in Jerusalem followed, with relative tranquility and the chance to fall back into old habits - chasing women, especially courtesans. It was then that he resumed his singing and lute playing which earned him admiration and sometimes even more than that. A furious Hugues de Fontaineaux was sometimes seen storming into Tristan's chamber, yelling and even punching him into his pretty face to leave shortly after, dragging a devastated and hurriedly dressed damsel behind. Needless to say, the already strained relationship between the brothers cooled even more.
Battles and Sieges
In May 1187, things started to get nasty with the Massacre at the Springs of Cresson, where a force of 500 Hospitallers and Templars were killed by a Saracen force of many thousands. Although he luckily had not been among those, Tristan was not spared from the experience of the Battle of Hattin, where he fought and was heavily wounded in his face when a Saracen managed to slash him with his saber, cutting half of his ear off. Defeat was even more bitter. Tristan was like many others taken captive - and not among those who falsely claimed to be a knight Templar when Saladin decreed some days later that all knights of the Temple were to be executed, like his sworn brother, Nicasius of Sicily. No, it was not Tristan's intention to become a martyr. Maybe God might have had other plans for him. In a lucky moment of lax custody he was able to flee with a few others and joined the forces that were on their way to the Siege of Acre.
Captivity had left another mark on Tristan, and he was more than eager to pay the Saracens back for the 'hospitality' he'd received as a Hospitaller. So he fought with a ferocity bordering on the suicidal during the Siege and the Battle of Acre, and when the city had been successfully reclaimed, he was among the Hospitaller forces that accompanied Richard to conquer Jaffa and Ascalon.
At the Battle of Arsuf on the 7th of September in 1191 the crusaders were harrassed by the Saracens in an attempt to break their lines, while Richard wanted his forces to wait with their attack until he gave his sign. Ironically enough it were the Hospitallers, with Tristan in fact being among the first with his poor discipline, that broke ranks and charged at the Saracens, following their Master Garnier de Nablus. Had not Richard called for the other forces to join them in their attack at once, this might have turned out into a much greater debacle than the incident of Cresson. But as it were, it turned out to be a great victory instead. The Hospitallers claim to this day that it wouldn't have been possible without their heroic charge, and Tristan certainly is convinced of this. Three days later Jaffa surrendered, and Ascalon was retaken soon after. Most Hospitallers returned to Acre afterwards and took up residence at the Keep of the Order of the Hospital, and Tristan was most certainly among them, enjoying the time the Lord has granted him - for a little leisure with the beauties of Acre, wine, and an occasional song celebrating the victory of Arsuf.