Adventure was my destinyThe sea whispered my nameWithout a place to call homeI answered sea's plead
Aral was born on an island in the south of Valabrad. He had an older sister. His parents tried to raise him in the same traditional duties and chores reserved for women, as they did with his older sister: keeping the house clean, caring for the animals, sewing and cooking. The custom on the island was to marry the women after their fifteenth birthday. The girl's parents decided who she should marry and have children with. Aral didn't want any of that. He rebelled against his family since he was very young. Aral's mother used to tell him "The day you started to speak I lost any pride I had for you."
As a rule breaker he often got into trouble, sometimes with kids, sometimes with adults. That's why he prefered to be left alone. Aral spent many hours hiding in the docks watching the ships come and go. He yearned for a way out of the island and the life his parents wanted for him. Close to his fifteenth birthday, a musician arrived on the island to perform for the locals. Her name was Carmilla. The bard wasn't very successful because the people disapproved of a woman travelling without a husband and with a bunch of sailors. Aral was fascinated with her and the lute she carried around. He realized music was his calling.
During Carmilla's short stay on the island, Aral asked her about her travels, how he could learn to play the lute. He confided her his wish to leave the island. Carmilla was kind to him and told him to follow his dreams. Aral took this advice to heart, and on the last night, before the bard sailed away to Valabrad land, he smuggled himself in the ship.
Two days later, he was found by a not so surprised sailor. The Captain wanted to throw him overboard, but the bard vouched for him and made the sailors feel pity for the kid with a song. After that, Carmilla told Aral she couldn't take care of him after the ship touched port because she had chosen a childless life for herself. She wanted to be free of any attachment. Aral asked her for one last favour: a tool to work for himself and survive when they'll get to Valabrad. Carmilla agreed and she bought him a lute "Now go. Be careful because this land is doomed."
Rise to fame
I will sing for a drinkI will sing for a mealBut if you want to make me singRent a room for usI may uncover the secretsI keep in the tip of my tongue
Aral didn't have an easy life when he arrived at Valabrad. The nation was (and still is) suffering the consequences of the Big War between mages. He earned coins doing odd jobs or singing and playing the lute. Most of the time it wasn't enough to have a roof over his head but he survived. He wouldn't trade a night under the stars for a warm bed shared with a husband he loathed. Aral commanded his life and no one else.
It took time, patience and a good number of getting kicked out of taverns, but Aral made a name for himself, and slowly people started to recognize him and ask for his performance. At first, he sang popular songs from more well know bards, as was usual for young performers. But one night he dared to sing one of his compositions. It was an immediate success. People asked for more. The young bard's songs were in everyone's mouths around the bigger cities on Valabrad.
Aral became very popular as a bard but also as a lover. His burgundy hair, his dark skin and grey marks on his face, along with the raw power he displayed in his performance attracted many hearts and bodies. In the face of a bleak past, present and possible future many turned to his music to distract themselves and enjoy the beauty of being alive. Some even had the privilege of enjoying the bard's beauty and talents on the bed.
Aral used his affairs as inspirations for his songs. Many enjoyed the saucy songs and gave him coins for this. He didn't need to sleep under the stars anymore. If he couldn't pay for a room, he always found someone to share the night and sometimes even the day. Many disapproved he was so open about his sexual affairs and considered his songs and himself scandalous. Aral didn't care about them.
From bard to rebel
Our victim became our executionerWhat we stole, she will take it backOpen your eyes to what's been hiddenIf we break free, we'll have a chanceIf we break free, we'll have a chanceIf we break free, we'll have a chance
Aral became famous around a couple of decades after the Big War ended. He wasn't even born to see the mages fall of grace or witnessed the chaos they generated. Of course, he did know the stories and Lylla's curse very well. Countless songs told King's Alane tragic story and all the years of war, devastation, and hunger were a testimony of how magic ruined the nation.
At the same time he established himself in Valabrad's most important city, a new type of government seized the power to protect the struggling nation. A government of men, wealthy and prude. They blamed the war on women and Lylla as the instigator of all the crimes committed with her power. They twisted the story to frame her as the guilty one. Her seductions skills were the reason for all the punishment the land was suffering. This way of thinking forced women to retreat to their homes, and while men hold the power they were also under scrutiny to not fall on lustful behaviours. Soon enough, everything related to enjoying one's existence was persecuted, erased. The only thing that mattered was working to save the nation and bring more children to the world to join the work.
Aral, as an artist and storyteller, knew every story has many sides, and often who presents themselves as hero and saviour could easily become a villain, or maybe that's what they were all along. The bard had strong feelings against the new government, not only because he worked hard to make a living for himself with his music, but his lifestyle was also threatened. Society's changes were taking a turn for the worse.
He wasn't the only one against the new government and their new rules. One of these laws was to hunt and kill all the surviving mages. The problem was no one knew if there were mages survivors. This law unleashed a massive series of false accusations and public executions of innocent people. The injustice of it all enraged Aral and even if his only weapon was his lute, he decided he needed to do something.
Aral sang against the injustice, sang for the people who were tired of breaking their bodies fighting against the ever devouring nature. He sang about love and pleasure, peace and reconciliation between humans, mages, and nature. He sang for the people forced to fit in roles they didn't want to fit. Aral became a rebel and his songs were anthems for the misfits and outcasted.
Hero or coward?
Time will come for meMy body will decay and dieBut they can't take my songs away
Even if he didn't plan it or even had the intention, people began to follow him and even spread his songs. Aral didn't set up to be the leader of any rebel group, but it happened to him anyway. He felt responsible for the people who believed in him and were in pain because of the harsh conditions nature and humans imposed on them. Aral began to think that maybe mages could redeem themselves of their past and break Lylla's curse. He believed peace between all living beings could be achieved.
Of course, the government considered him a threat as Aral gained more followers and searched for mages. Hunters were sent to silence the bard by any means necessary. This forced Aral to go underground, and his group created a clandestine network to protect him and each other. This group called themselves The Unveiled. Many times, although it was dangerous because creatures roamed the forest, Aral hid with them in there. The Hunters failed to find them. Many died in mysterious circumstances. The Unveiled never killed anyone.
Aral and a group of his comrades, arrived at a little town were the people immediately tried to get rid of them. Aral convinced them to help them the way he knew best: with songs and his charming manners. One night after he retired to bed, he saw an envelope in his room. It had a map with a message "If you want to help your people go to the red cabin in the woods tomorrow at sunset. Don't tell anyone." Aral was torn because he suspected it could be a trap.
The next day, bad news arrived: the government didn't settle for Hunters anymore. Now they were sending the troops in search of Aral. They wanted him dead. Aral asked his comrades to run away from the town and use their underground network to create new identities, spreading the tale that a hunter killed him, so they could continue peacefully spreading their message. Aral knew they weren't soldiers ready to fight. His comrades wouldn't last a second on a battlefield, and it was his fault to put them in danger.
Aral promised them he would find them under another identity some months later when they weren't being persecuted anymore. They believed him. Aral took the letter, and although he was sure it was a trap to kill him, he didn't care because he wanted to save the ones who had trusted him. Maybe, someday his songs would help others to find a reason to rebel and find a better way of living. But he was a simple bard and couldn't bear the burden of people dying in his name.
When he found the red cabin, he was only armed with his lute. What he saw there was not a group of soldiers ready to kill him on the spot. Aral saw one of Lylla's siblings waiting for him: @ceyl
-You proved yourself worthy.-Worthy? I'm a simple bard who only knows how to cause trouble.-You cause trouble because you're ahead of your time. Come with me.-My friends will be safe?-Yes, I promise.-Then I'll go with you.
Aral was never seen again. The red cabin is still in the woods. Deserted and gloomy. No one ever comes close to there. Some said is haunted.
The Unveiled followed Aral's wishes and waited for him. When a year passed, one part of the group decided to give up and integrate into society once again. They abandoned all hope, convinced Aral ran away and left them. But others believed Aral was caught and murdered by the government. Because that was what the soldiers said, but they never showed Aral's body. Even if they didn't have the strength to continue their mission, they did the best they could to resist the oppressive laws and the ever-looming threat of nature. All of them lived long lives. Happiness or fulfilment wasn't a usual occurrence.
Music and entertainment are not common on Valabrad. Since Aral's disappearance, bards declined and today they are a rare luxury reserved for the wealthy. Beauty and art are not easy to find, but some held the hope in form of old songs sang in clandestine circles, that Aral will come back or maybe another bard will take his place. The problem is everyone in this doomed land know hope is a treacherous path.