Amreth, Elven bard
My name is Solwyn Amreth, daughter of Angmareth. My family tradition has led me to become a bard, like my mother and her mother before. The family proceeds in a matrilineal fashion. We trace our ancestors back to a time before history, when the entire continent was filled with nothing but nomadic clans. Secrets of the ages are woven into our song and into our tales.
As bards wander endlessly, it’s virtually impossible to know my father’s identity. I have hope that one day I will find him. While my family of women taught me to be strong and proud on my own, I long for the answers. I feel as though there is a piece missing within me.
My mother died violently when I was barely of age. The details are something that I have not chosen to reveal to anyone. There is a sharp edge within me, honed by the pain of losing my only parent. Orphaned, for all intents and purposes, I have been searching for my place in the world. She left me a signet ring, although I don’t really know where it came from. The seal on it doesn’t look like anything I have ever seen before. I have a few small jewels from her as well as a simple headpiece with an amethyst mounted in the front, surrounded by small emeralds.
I am just over 4 feet feet tall, slim, but with a decidedly feminine build. I have straight, deep auburn hair that shines like copper in the sunlight. The color of my eyes tends to change with my mood and surroundings, although generally they’re a deep emerald green. I have a tendency to wear modest but fine clothing, with a preference for purples. In my profession, it’s always necessary to look my best, although my stage experience has taught me a thing or two about disguise and costume.
I am well traveled, as my mother was highly skilled and her talent was in great demand throughout the continent. I am almost as familiar with Frichosia as I am my native Jiskadar. The contact with other races, especially in the capital city of Inalia, has given me many stories of heroes and villains. I weave the truth with enough embellishments to disguise identities… most of the time. When it is advantageous, I can turn my “fiction” into satire or social commentary.
Memory spells (both true and false) are my specialty, as I learned them at my mother’s knee and she at her mother’s. I can play virtually any instrument that I encounter. Although accompaniment isn’t necessary, it does seem to have some power to focus or strengthen my spells.
One evening, while performing in a tavern here in U’Kalves, I encountered a group of the Duke’s courtiers. They had been drinking Ehl’seil, a type of dwarven rotgut liquor. They were well into their cups when my performance began, and most were watching the serving girls in the same the way that a starving man looks at a banquet. One, however, had eyes only for me. His name was Drevus Krubb, and he was well known, married to a niece of Duke Rajyras’s. He was enraptured more with each song. After my show, he came to me, begging me to join him for a drink. I agreed, but gave the barkeep our sign to water my drink. I knew I needed to keep my wits about me.
There is a private table in the inn, tucked away behind a tapestry. What the customers don’t know is that there is always someone watching over the inhabitants from a hidden room just above. I felt as safe there as I could possibly feel, and I felt it would be advantageous to have a witness to anything that was said or done.
He began bragging to me about his conquests, naming names, telling me how he satisfied ladies of the court as though they were common wenches. He gabbed on about the dice game he’d played earlier, and how much he had won. He hoped to impress me, seduce me and add another notch to his jewel-encrusted belt. I wasn’t falling for his lines, but I knew opportunity when I saw it. Ehl’seil will make a man spill his deepest secrets. Far be it from me to let good gossip go to waste!
My memory is strong, but I wanted a backup for the details. I stepped away from my admirer, explaining that I needed to freshen up to make myself more worthy of his attention. While I was away, I asked one of the serving girls to listen in and keep track of what was said. I swore her to secrecy, but as you know, there is never much chance of that sort of oath being kept. Nonetheless, I had no other choices. Shonn’aliv was the best I was going to find. In hindsight, it may not have been one of my better decisions.
Returning, I found Drevus opening another bottle of the Ehl’seil. He poured me an ample glass and the same for himself. Then he began to speak, in earnest. He told me that he had had the daughter of a prominent nobleman named Rah Rosin. He had been a guest at her coming out party, and had begun sending her notes and small gifts, keeping his identity hidden. Through his messengers they kept a romance building. Finally, Drevus asked the lovely Feravain to meet him at an inn. She managed to get away from her chaperon on several occasions after that, and they did that which is at once sacred and profane. She’d been out of the country for several months after that, and now I had a suspicion why. It would seem that he had fallen in love with the girl, and now she would not see him. I let him cry on my shoulder, reminding him that it wasn’t the end of the world, the moons had not fallen from the sky and that tomorrow would be another day. Oftentimes that is what a man is looking for from a woman. Not necessarily physical intimacy, but the emotional intimacy he hides deep within himself, away from the world’s cold eyes. Of course, in that case a man is just as likely to say he’d bedded me, if not more so. That was not my concern, though.
Soon, Drevus became sleepy. The Ehl’seil was working, along with a little bit of help from my Lullabye. When he was completely out, I whispered in his ear that he would remember none of what he told me. I didn’t know if my charm would be strong enough to do anything since he was out cold. The tavern’s guards carried him out to the street and left him there. That was the last I saw of the man.
I had my gossip, though. Several stories were brewing in my mind, and I was wondering how close to true identities I could get without causing real danger to the ladies involved.
The next day, there was commotion in the streets. Drevus had been found, murdered! There were no witnesses, but a rogue named Yablo the Entertainer had been taken into custody. Of course I knew him, if only by reputation. Everyone in Frichosia knows him. Try as I might, though, I could not remember whether he’d been in the tavern last night. The dice games generally took place in another room, so it was possible that I hadn’t seen him.
Immediately, I begged Shonn’aliv to forget everything she’d heard the night before. I got the parchments that she used to take notes last night and stuffed them into the most hidden of my pockets. No one must connect me with the murdered man.
Late this afternoon, I had a caller at my private quarters in the inn. Imagine my surprise when I found a hooded and cloaked Elven woman with luminous silver eyes. They seemed liquid, changing, like quicksilver. She said, “Quickly, let me in. It would do neither of us well to be seen together.”
Once inside, she removed her hood and turned to me. “My name is Aedra Ovistuligr. I am a diplomat in the employ of Duke Rajyras. The Magistrate wishes you to join the escort traveling to Inalia, in Frichosia. We are attending The Grand Summit of Dukes at the Festival of Argon.”
“Why me?” I do have a familiarity with the city, but I wasn’t about to point it out if she didn’t already know. I already felt as though she held the upper hand, and I needed to hold to my breast everything that I could. And I certainly wasn’t going to bring up Drevus and his secrets!
“The Duke has heard of your talent and wishes to hear for himself. As he’ll be leaving within days, this will be the only opportunity. He is a man of whims.” Interesting. A lie, but an intriguing one.
It seemed to me not so much the offer of a job, but a command to attend. I was sure that there was much more to the story than what she revealed. It was clear that I had no other option than to agree. She told me that the retinue would be leaving at dawn, three days from now, then hurried out the door, once again hooded to shield from prying eyes.
Taking out my traveling bag, I begin to gather my costumes and travel equipment. I’ll sew the parchment between two layers of the oilcloth that make up my pack. I wonder what is to come…
Solwyn: Family name: Memory musician
Amreth: Given name: Wise, arcane
Angmareth: Given name: Glitter, magic, arcane