The Uneasy Alliance
Bard the Bard
A silver tongued, quick witted musical folk hero with a love of rats and a hatred of slavery
● Primarily ranged fighter
– music based spellcaster
– light crossbow wielder
– has a hidden sliding dagger in left cuff for emergencies
● Light armor class
– dislikes melee combat, will attempt to disengage whenever possible
● Folk Hero
– Rustic Hospitality
– Hero to slaves
● Animal Handler
– Commands swarms of rats
– Fluent in rat dialect
– Has no fear of rats
– Disdain for cats
Bard is the name that slaves around Gallsopp whisper in secret. He is known as the Rat King, Slaverbane, and Hero of the Chained. Bard works in secret, moving from city to city, to undo the slave trade and free all those who are in bondage.
Bard keeps a low profile, as he is wanted in many cities for freeing slaves and killing slavers. He is very charming, and can talk his way around most situations. However, almost no one knows much of his past, and he never tells people the truth about it, preferring to invent a new wild story each time he is asked. Also, although he has a natural charm with the ladies, he staunchly rebuffs any attempts at seduction or romance. He enjoys the company of elves and half elves (and rats), but is rather wary around humans. He is angered by seeing slaves anywhere, particularly elven slaves. If he sees an opportunity, he will stop what he is doing to free them. He will become enraged if he sees a master abuse their slave. If the slave is an elven woman, he will fly into a blood rage and try to kill the master.
Music is one of the most powerful forces in Creation. Some think it was used by the gods to forge the multiverse. Others believe it holds the key to the most powerful of magics. It is seen by many as an art, an entertainment, and a way to touch the soul. When the slave Gimug found a young boy gifted in the musical arts, however, he saw a different purpose: control.
Gimug was a huge human man who ran a small, nameless elf slave trading post near the southern port of Medford. While he was a cunning man and shrewd business dealer, he never had the resources to expand his trade until one day when one of his workers called him into an alley by the keep. There in the alley lay a dead woman who clearly had starved to death, but in her arms was a small baby of barely a year. Curiously, the baby did not gurgle or cry, but hummed a sad but strangely beautiful tune. Surrounding the baby and her dead mother, hundreds of rats stood on their back paws, swaying hypnotically to the baby’s song. Gimug realized that the child had in his voice a great power, and in that power was a golden opportunity for Gimug.
Gimug took the child and raised him as his own, naming him Bard (Gimug, while clever, was not terribly creative). Every day he made the boy call more rats and bring them under his sway. The longer they were held under Bard’s sway, the more docile they became. The rats were trained into a disciplined army that heeded Bard’s every command. Gimug eventually was able to replace many of his workers with rats. They cooked and cleaned and patrolled the halls by the thousands. So effective was Gimug’s new operation that his profits soared, and within a few years he was able to construct a massive slaver compound run by tens of thousands of rats. To keep hold of his victories, he kept Bard under his thumb throughout the boy’s entire life. That is, until Bard met Alonna.
Bard served Gimug faithfully, but did not have the cruel spirit of his father. In childhood, Bard wasn’t allowed friends, but he delighted in the company of the rats. He made sure they were well fed, bathed them regularly, and even sung them to sleep so they would have pleasant dreams. Bard still longed for human company though, and as he grew into a young man, he began befriending the slaves that passed through the port. They taught him sleight of hand and how to charm a guard, and he quickly earned a reputation as a kind soul. One day, a young elf woman slave named Alonna came to Bard and begged for his help. She and her brother had been captured recently, and her brother had left a wife and newborn child behind. She begged Bard to let her brother go, so he could return to them. Bard had never even considered helping a slave escape before for fear of Gimug’s wrath, but he was so moved by Alonna’s selflessness and passion that he agreed, and together they slipped her brother out in the night. Bard then offered to let her escape too, but Alonna insisted she stay, as more people needed her help.
Bard and Alonna quickly formed a tight friendship which blossomed into romance. Alonna did not fear the rats like the other prisoners; she even helped Bard care for them. She was also a gifted dancer, and Bard found himself almost as mesmerized by her movements as his rats were to his songs. Alonna taught Bard that all slaves were people, not property, and the two began freeing them in secret.
Unfortunately for them, Gimug was not a foolish man, but he was a cruel one. He discovered what the lovers were doing, and he flew into a rage. He had his human guards bring Bard to him, chained him to the whipping post, and beat him for hours. Though Bard commanded legions of rats, he had spent his entire life in fear of the old slaver, and could not call a single note to his lips. Gimug then brought out Alonna, kicking and screaming, to stand in front of Bard. The musician begged and pleaded for his father to spare her, promising to be a good and faithful son. But Gimug just laughed, pulled out a curved knife, and slit Alonna’s throat, letting the blood run onto Bard’s face.
Only a few who witnessed what happened next survived to retell it. A horrible scream ripped from Bard’s throat. Every rat in the compound surged forward and lept onto Gimug and his guards. Tens of thousands of biting, scratching rodents attacked everyone that wasn’t a slave as Bard screamed and screamed. As Bard choked out a last sob, the rats dispersed, leaving behind only clean picked bones. The rats gnawed away his bindings, and Bard held Alonna’s body and wept. There he swore to her that he would dedicate his life to ensuring no one would suffer like she had, ever again. He sent a final command to his rats, who freed the slaves and scurried off into the woods, freed as well.
Now Bard works tirelessly to fulfill that promise, tearing away at the slave trade to the sound of scurries and squeaks.