Ascendants Rising - A Forgotten Realms Campaign
“Grab a mug of your favorite brew, sit back and let me entertain you with a song!”
Life’s tales are meant to be shared; be it through song or prose. And Bards are the wizards that manipulate a story’s magical energy.
Tohnii hails from a small village northeast of the King’s Forest just west of Arabel in Cormyr. She was raised in a loving home, with her parents and 4 older siblings. Their home was modest, yet ample and the family’s craft generated sufficient income to provide all they needed. The Calandras were potters; plain and simple. The clay harvested from the bed of the river running through the King’s Forest, once kiln fired, was a shimmering array of reds, ranging from a pale pink to deep, almost blood, red and the Calandras have mastered the skill of glazing to produce whatever hue was desired.
Turning clayware was a family affair encompassing jobs ranging from clay harvesting, splitting kiln firewood of uniform size and shape, throwing the ware, up to cleaning the wheels and dip tubs in preparation for the next firing.
To produce the volume of wares for each weeks trip to the Arabel market, a very regimented schedule was required, with each family member knowing their roles and doing them well. The family turned many different types of ware. However, their signature throw was a 3 hands tall, fluted, thin walled vase. Because of the difficulty of the throw and the myriad of red hues generated from the glazes, the vase yielded a premium price at market. The delicate nature of the throw and the small opening of the vase mouth required slight, yet strong fingers; of which the youngest, Tohnii, had 10.
To pass the time, the Calandras often sang to themselves and with each other while performing their daily duties. After the days batch was kilned for firing, the family would clean up and share an evening meal, discussing the day’s events or listening to Fehlun, Tohnii’s father, spin fantastic tales of times past.
The favorite event for the family, whereupon the day’s work was held and special meals and treats were made and the winecasks tapped, was when Tohnii’s uncle Rob, Fehlun’s brother, would come to visit.
Asking Rob his profession would yield a reply of “Entertainer”. Rob wandered town to town, inn to inn, bar to bar, wherever he was able to find a perch, play his harp, sing his songs, and tell his tales. Rob always had seemingly more than enough coin as he would bring presents for the entire family; the latest fashions for Tohnii’s 2 sisters, the latest gadgets for her 2 brothers, and best of all books for entire family. Rob would visit every other month or so, laden with gifts for the Calandra family.
Rob’s visits were some of Tohnii’s most memorable times. Rob would spin tales of his adventures well into the morning hours. The entire family would turn in to bed, yet Tohnii would stay up, enraptured by every word. She found his tales near magical and would swear that he was capable of imparting any emotion with just his voice.
Over the years the uncle and niece forged a common bond through the love of song and story. Rob instructed Tohnii on the intricacies of using inflection, volume, tone, pitch and even silence to influence the emotions of an audience. And, of course, taught her to play his beloved rosewood harp. The harp was Rob’s most prized possession and was never out of his sight. Literally. He claimed the harp was as familiar to him as his arm and losing or damaging it would be as debilitating. Tohnii was the only other being that Rob would allow to play it. Perhaps it was because she was the first person to demonstrate to him that she also understood the significance of one’s voice becoming one with the accompanying instrument, as he did.
This is also where her hours upon days upon years at the wheel throwing the stubborn clay, making it yield to her will, her fingers becoming dextrous, strong, confident, served her well. Her slightly calloused fingers felt as one with the gut strung instrument, her hands rising and falling effortlessly from neck to soundboard, from column to knee. Tone, timbre, pitch all at her thoughtless command.
Tohnii’s love of performing was obvious to her father, so when Rob inquired of Fehlun if Tohnii could accompany him on his next performing engagement in Arabel, he, of course, obliged.
The contract with the Boar’s Tusk Tavern main room was for 3 nights. The contract provided a single room with 2 meals daily, and Rob being slotted for 4 hours entertainment each evening from dinner to closing. Rob and Tohnii performed beautifully; each song seamless and effortless having spent countless hours playing together over the years. The crowds showered the pair with laudations and promises of future engagements as well as coin beyond what their purses would hold.
Returning to the Calandra home, Rob and Tohnii shared their success with the family and after a brief discussion, determined that the pair should continue together and received the blessings of the family to do so. The uncle and niece continued performing together in Arabel and the surrounding Cormyrian settlements for several years. Word of their skill often preceded them providing generous crowds and they were always well received.
During this time, Rob had, on occasion, brought up the notion that he may like to have an inn of his own one day, as his age and health, not being what it used to be, was beginning to catch up with him. In his estimation, pooling their funds would be more than enough to buy part ownership in an Arabellien inn. In fact he had already been in contact with the current owner of the Golden Dog inn and tavern and had come to an agreement; pending a signed contract.
Tohnii was unsure of whether she was ready to settle down, as she relished the travel and meeting new faces everywhere they performed. But she loved her uncle dearly and recognized this was something he truly desired. She agreed and the 2 were fast part owners of the Golden Dog.
The Golden Dog flourished with pair as nightly acts and soon they had earned enough to buy out the other owner, thereby making them the sole proprietors. After some time, Rob eventually adopted the position of Maitre’d, slowly but measuredly leaving the entertainment responsibility to Tohnii and/or signing contracts with other acts. Tohnii began to secretly long for the adventure of the road and new experiences from which to pen new songs as she felt her skills and repertoire were stagnating here. Eventually a day came where she could no longer keep her desire to herself and broke the news to Rob with her intention to leave the Golden Dog. Rob, understanding the lure of the road’s adventure having experienced it firsthand, wasn’t upset having her leave, but proud that he had recognized, and had been able to cultivate, the bard within Tohnii and that she may one day perform his songs and tell his stories in addition to her own, someplace they’ve never yet been sung or told.
Tohnii left the Golden Dog after having said goodbye to her beloved uncle with promises of returning one day with new songs and stories to tell. After mounting her horse with an eye on the road out of town, she felt a brush against her leg. Looking down she saw her uncle, with an oil cloth wrapped bundle. Handing it to her with tears barely held in check, he turned wordlessly back toward the inn. Even without unwrapping, she knew that the bundle contained her uncle’s most prized possession; the rosewood harp.