Before she was “Alianna the Bard, Chronicler of the Exploits of the Owlbear Scourge, Favored of Death”, she was Ali the apprentice. This is part of her story.
Alianna was a foundling, one of those babies dropped off by unknown parents at the orphanage. They had their reasons, but Alianna never knew what they were and always wondered. She knew they had left her when she was very young, only a few days old by the best estimates of the humans who cared for her. Her pointed ears, fluffy coils, and rich, bronze skin marked her as different from the beginning, but it was her voice that truly set her apart. All who heard her sing knew that she had a gift that should be nurtured, so she was apprenticed early to one of the great masters. She learned the lute and harp, any instrument that she could play while singing for none wanted to interfere with her greatest musical tool.
She rose quickly through the ranks, learning quickly through both talent and hard work. She would practice for hours, playing until her fingers bled and her throat was parched, only stopping when she had to sleep or eat. She caught the eye of an attractive noble who offered her patronage that would place her among the glitterati with access to the courts and all their events, but turned him down to instead rise on her own merits.
She graduated her apprenticeship after performing a concert for the nobles of the city on its five hundredth anniversary. She stood on the stage, dressed in all white, hair carefully coiffed, borrowed jewelry gleaming at wrist and throat. She stood and sang, her voice starting soft, rising and falling melodically as she sang the history of the city. She sang of its rulers, both the kind and the cruel. She sang of its people, the powerful and the poor. She sang of its institutions and buildings and the river that flowed through it and the mountains that protected it and the sea whose bounty provided for it. She sang, pouring her entire soul and being into it until the last note died in the air of the opera house in utter silence, then stood head bowed, chest heaving from the effort and waited. A single drop of sweat dripped from her brow and plopped on the floor, breaking the silence. And that’s when the applause started as if some spell were broken. The Regent herself rose to her feet, tears flowing down her face as she walked over and congratulated Alianna. “You are destined for great things my child. Brava!”
Years later, as she reached out to touch the inky black spike in a city far from where she started, she would remember that moment. The last thought that would run through her mind before agony ripped through her and Death came for her would be ‘Is this the destiny she foresaw?’