Frontacian Bard of Rinanni
To those worthy folk of the Spur,
My name is Schroeder DeVayne. My family, one of the lesser houses, has served the Illendrine house as court musicians for seventeen generations. Though I have carried on this venerable tradition, I fear I shall be the last to do so. My lord is dead, or wishes he were, and I have traveled far to reach the Spur. I shall relate to you the gruesome details of the termination of my employment, and my reasons for traveling here. I do this not to elicit sympathy, except perhaps sympathy for my cause. One might regard it as a cautionary tale.
My lord Zendermon of Illendrine was a proud man, and shrewd. He was wealthiest of the nobility in the county of Therdin, and ruled his lands not only by right of blood, but by right of mental acuity. For though our folk are not considered dim, he was indeed among the brightest of flames.
His only failings were his gentle bearing towards his lessers, and his trust in them. These failings were complimented by some, but proved in the end to be his undoing. He foolishly entrusted care of important concerns of his household to those who could not and cannot be trusted.
The worst of these assorted brutes was the master of his wine cellars, a San who called himself Davertin, though I know not if that was his true name. I oft spoke of him to my lord, saying that a San could not be trusted with such a crucial position. But my lord dismissed my concerns, never believing that such an inferior might be a threat to him.
But I persisted, and my lord eventually agreed to have him watched. Sure enough, within the week Davertin was caught thieving silver from my lordís treasure chambers. My lord was furious, of course, and had the criminal soundly thrashed and branded with the mark of the thief (which in our realm is the four-fingered hand). Zendermon then had him stripped naked and thrown down the privy chute. I begged my lord to reconsider his lax punishment, but he was certain that this slap on the wrist was sufficient.
We heard naught of Davertin for months, and I hoped against hope that perhaps he had managed to drown in the sewers. But one evening when Zendermon was entertaining some other lords of the county with a hired traveling show, we were ambushed. The actors were all disguised San, and leapt upon my lord and his guests with wild abandon. There seemed to be an endless supply of them, cached under the makeshift stage, in the portable room for changing, on the stage. A few of them headed for the gate and let in yet more. It seemed dozens of San poured in from every door and window. I fought with one for a bit, a wild-eyed berserker, but the weight of numbers was against us, and they had surprise on their side.
Seeing an opportunity to elude capture, I took it. I disengaged myself from the berserker, after claiming his energy, and concealed myself behind a tapestry. My timing was impeccable, for I could now see the battle was lost. Most of the guests were dead, as were my lordís soldiers and most of the staff. Zendermon himself was restrained by four San who held his jaw and his arms so that he could not work his magic.
I watched in horror as the San won the battle. I now realized by the brand on his cheek that the San kneeling upon my lordís chest was Davertin (as San largely look alike, it can be difficult to distinguish them from one another). He had with him a strangely tattooed Taathian priest who was chanting some sort of barbaric ritual, and praying to his god.
I waited behind that tapestry for two full days, as the San tore down my lordís palace around me. For some reason they avoided the tapestry I had chosen. They were preparing some sort of ritual, and though I longed to escape, I could see no way to. I grew weak from lack of food, water, sleep, and the cure. I knew I would have to get out soon, or not at all.
After two days, they held the ritual. My lordís beautiful court was now graffitoed with symbols of Taath, disturbing and crude drawings, and unspeakable slogans. My lord was restrained in some sort of great metal vat, with spikes piercing his jaw open and affixing his hands and feet to the bottom. I could see the blind rage in his eyes, and longed to help him, though I was weak with thirst and there were a hundred of the enemy. But still I kept my place behind the tapestry.
Davertin sat upon Zendermonís high chair, as if passing judgment. I could see that the brand had never completely healed, and oozed uncleanly as he spoke. He smirked at my lord. "So," he said. "You begrudge me the use of your silver." The tattooed priest mumbled louder and louder, seemingly speaking in some odd tongue, but one unlike any tongue I have heard used by mortals. Davertin glanced toward the priest, and continued, "You may think I am going to kill you. I am not. My friend here is calling upon our great god to ensure that you do not die." At this the priestís mumbling, which had grown almost to bellowing, suddenly ceased, and Zendermonís body was encircled with a sickly glow. "What I AM going to do," continued Davertin, "is return the silver I have borrowed, that which you hold so dear." And a few muscular San stripped to the waist pushed a smaller vat over to my lord, this one filled to the brim with molten silver.
I cannot possibly express to you the horror that I beheld when the silver was poured onto my lordís body. Nor can I tell you of the look in his eyes, or the noises he made, as it began to seep into his skull while he still breathed. I can tell you that I could take the terror, and the waiting, no longer. I sprung from my hiding place and bolted up some stairs for the closest unattended exit, a second story window. Most of the San were preoccupied with the ritual, but one saw me and wrestled with me at the window ledge. As the San became alert to my presence, some of their warriors came at me, and I hurtled out the window with my wrestling partner. I landed on top of him and still he struggled to hold me prisoner. With exhaustion, rage, and terror, I grabbed a rock and bashed in his skull. I could see now that he who wrestled me was no more than an adolescent.
I fled over the countryside, feeling no remorse for killing that which would grow to be a monster. They sought me for a time, but I managed to hide myself in a tree. After fleeing for a few days, I stumbled exhausted upon a group of Firs, who managed to overcome their bestial fear of their better and provided me with food and sustenance. After a few more days, they even managed to locate some of the cure for me, though I know not how. I stayed with them for a short time, learning some of their ways and helping them to hunt San.
After a time, though, I knew it was time to move on. The Fir, while friendly and well-versed in the ways of the forest, were slow of wit, and I knew that the few Sans we cornered and killed were not doing the world enough good. I traveled on to the Spur, of which I had been told tales since I was a child.
My travels have left me weak. I think perhaps the ritual has scarred me, for I have not yet regained the skills worthy of a court musician. I would that I had not seen what I had seen, save that it taught me a valuable lesson. Never trust the San.
Court Musician to the Illendrine
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