A Haunted Bard Edit
Ælric Naïlo was the bastard child of a high elf noble and his human servant. His father being ashamed of his actions, but unwilling to admit them to the world, had the woman banished and the child abandoned. Having no one to care for him he was orphaned and taken into a children’s home in search of foster care. He grew up there hoping that someday his parents would come looking for him… but that day never seemed to come. He watched other boys and girls whom he had befriended get adopted, and it seemed like he couldn’t keep friends for very long at all. The only things that stayed constant were the walls around him, and the women in charge. After several years he lost hope of finding his mother and father and simply desired for someone to love him like his parents should have. But even that hope eventually faded into a dream when he turned 16. The children’s home could no longer take care of him because he was too old to be registered there. He was forced to pack his few belongings along with a gold piece from the administrator and was sent into the world to fend for himself.
Not having any experience in living alone, he quickly found himself lost, lonely and most of all hungry. The shiny gold piece that filled his belly for a few weeks had suddenly and tragically become depleted and having no job, he was reduced to begging. He would sit outside the local tavern to beg in hopes that someone out of the kindness of their hearts (or in their drunken stupor) would give him some coin. He lived like this for a few months beginning to loose what little weight he had on his body from lack of food and loosing hope for a happier life when someone extraordinary stumbled across his path. A tall, handsome man with flowing golden hair dressed in the most magnificent clothing Ælric had ever seen approached the tavern where he was begging. “P-please sir, spare a copper?” Ælric pleaded to the magnificent figure that towered before him. “Why would I do that…” the man started. Ælric sunk back into his pathetic sitting position next to the swinging doors when the man finished, “… when I can teach you how get gold pieces yourself. Interested in music my boy?” Ælric stuttered, “I… n-never really gave it much thought sir.” “Then start thinking. Follow me.”
The man grabbed Ælric by the hand and led him into the tavern, keeping him close by his side to keep him safe from drunkards and waiters who would chase off street urchins. He led Ælric towards a small stage at the end of a large dining room and sat him down on the edge. He then produced a small stringed instrument from his pack and began to quietly play a tune. What Ælric experienced next was unexplainable, the whole tavern quieted down slowly upon hearing the softly plucked notes from the man’s fingertips and many of the men and women began to sing to themselves. Gradually the man played louder and faster until the entire tavern was singing, dancing or laughing merrily in each other’s company. Many clapped along keeping time with the man’s music. He quickly took off his hat mid song, set it out on the stage and many customers began dropping silver pieces in it. The barkeep brought a round of drinks and the waiter brought fresh food and set them at his feet as he played. Still entertaining the masses the brilliantly dressed man motioned for young Ælric to eat from the food brought for him. Ælric ate while intently watching how the man glowed with happiness as he brought cheer to the hearts of the many men and women and how they loved him. He was so enthralled by this feeling of desire for what this man had that he almost forgot that he was nearly starving. A few songs later the man played a farewell tune, thanked the crowd for their generosity and packed his things. The people resumed their normal conversations as the man redirected his attention towards Ælric. “So my boy, what do you think? Are you interested in becoming a bard?” Almost before the man could finish Ælric said with great excitement, “You have to show me how to do that! That was amazing! Everyone loved you, and you got to eat and enjoy yourself for free!” “Tis the life of a bard my boy. Come pack your things and come with me and I will teach you.”
Thus Ælric began a new chapter of his life following a master bard named Davion Beckwith learning how to use music not only as a entertainer’s tool for profit, but also as a way of understanding and bending the world. After years of studying the arts of performance, music, and social grace he had become one of the most talented bards that Davion had ever taught. However old age and illness caught up with his beloved master before he could finish his studies and create his masterwork of song and poetry… His master would never feel the pride of his favorite student’s accomplishments. Driven to despair, Ælric once more took to the streets, however this time better equipped to take care of himself. He floated from town to town putting on a mask of happiness spreading joy to bar dwellers and tavern folk, only to return to his room for the night mourning the loss of his master. He realized that this man had become a father to him and the loss of Davion was like experiencing the death of the parent he had once longed for so much.
Ælric tried to ease the pain of his loss by spending his earnings on a lavish lifestyle. He busied himself with drink, romances, fine foods, expensive inns, and the like but none ever seemed to satisfy. He wanted to believe so badly that there was something that he could buy that could bring him happiness… he just didn’t have enough money. So he learned a few games and some dirty tricks to use while on his adventures. At first they worked, making a bit more money out of the townsfolk through cheating in cards or dice, but one day it caught up to him.
He entered a town called (See James about the town name) and he began his usual routine in the inn; playing his music, talking up the guests, and making some money by performing before moving on to phase two. Once the people had sufficient drink, Ælric began to pull his dirty tricks in gambling. He made a pretty penny off the townsfolk whenever he did this, but he did have a moral code, he vowed that he would only con people out of what money they could “spare.” However one man named Lander Stormwind, a local hero and the strong-arm of the town, called a game of dice to be played. Naturally the bard was invited because of his lively nature. Lander caught Ælric swapping out the dice sets while distracting the folk with his smooth conversation. Lander rose to his feet stumbling over himself here and there because he had had too much to drink. “You lying cheat!” he yelled at Ælric, “You are no entertainer, you’re a thief in disguise! To your feet! I challenge you to a duel to defend my town’s honor.” Ælric had no choice but to accept for fear of being executed.
The two stepped into the streets and produced rapiers began dueling. Both Lander and Ælric were good fencers, Lander because of his years of fighting experience and Ælric because of many staged sword fights and a natural sense of coordination. The fought went on for many minutes showing no sign of a clear victor when Lander yelled out, “Why don’t you fight me like a man you slimy bastard!” Ælric, infuriated by this taunt, lashed out with a perfectly placed lunge lodging his blade in the arm of Lander. He fell to the ground writhing in pain unable to move his sword arm in the slightest. Ælric, still enraged by the man’s heckling began to stab him in the arm several more times. He stopped however when he realized what he was doing, and that the man had no idea he was personally offending him in such a way, and when he saw the shocked and angry looks of the townsfolk. Ælric ran from that town to get out of the range of the town’s justice, but stayed around to hear what befell Lander. He afterwards found that he had reduced the man to begging. Ashamed Ælric fled the area in search of a place that would not have seen his face before.
Several years later Ælric decided to return to Lander’s home and try to make amends. He entered the town disguised as a mercenary and asked some townsfolk where he could find Lander Stormwind. The people looked at eachother awkwardly and one of them pointed towards the churchyard. Ælric thanked them and walked towards the church. When he arrived the first thing he saw was a grand headstone marked “LANDER STORMWIND: HERO, FRIEND, AND HUSBAND. MAY HE REST IN AS MUCH PEACE AS HE KEPT HERE.” Upon seeing this Ælric was reduced to tears. Ælric thought to himself, “I have inflicted the sort of pain that I have been running from my entire life on this man. Except even in misery HE was loved… What have I done?”
Ælric left the town determined to somehow make it up to this local hero who’s life he had destroyed. He traveled long and far in search of a way, but only found the next tavern to earn a quick coin at… that is until he met Brother Urgo and a band of merry misfits…
Perhaps this could be his opportunity to atone for his sins. He took up The name Lander Stormwind and vowed he would continue the legacy of the do-gooder and small-town hero...