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Marko Guru

Legendary musician Marko Guru.
 
"They say I'm getting too old for love, it's true,
But I know that I struck gold when I found you."   ---Marko Guru 'Struck Gold'
    The years have been less than kind to Marko Guru. Since the spotlight left him years ago, the lines on his face have deepened, his graying hair thinned further, and his fingers curled inwards ever so slightly more each day. The days of glory long behind him, all he has left are the memories, the scars, and the lingering effects of years of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. However, Marko is still believes that the right stage is being set and his adoring fans are waiting for him, chanting his name with wild passion. The lights are set just right, the instruments all in tune, and the groupies are young, dumb and beautiful, and one day, he’d going to walk out in front of the people and reclaim his title as a god of music.  

Early Career

 
"It'll leave you blind
And your fingers numb,
A bitter aftertaste
On back of your tongue.
It burns your throat,
It'll cut like a knife.
Yeah, love is like moonshine;
It'll ruin your life.   ---Marko Guru 'Moonshine'
  As the founder and frontman of Hoarfrost, Marko Guru and his rhythm lute came up in the industry the hard way, learning his craft in the clubs and dirty bars of various cities and towns, trying with all his might to find the right gig that would shoot him to stardom. Years spent with his bandmates – Yent Ingram (lead lute), Oribal McRellan (piano), and Turi “Tarrasque” Bo (drums) – formed a bond stronger than blood, and they gave everything they had in every performance. Despite years of struggle, they failed to achieve the success they dreamed of. That was until “Struck Gold.” The bands first power ballad and to this day their most popular tune, “Struck Gold” was the crowd pleasing anthem that got Hoarfrost the attention that they dreamed of. In a whirlwind of gold, contracts and tour schedules, Hoarfrost were catapulted from obscurity to the big time, becoming household names practically overnight. Where their previous in the basements of dingy taverns attracted little more than a handful of people, aside from the regular crew of drunks and lay-abouts that made their homes there already, their arena shows and concerts now attracted fans by the thousands. Some of their events were so large that people would pay four tot five times the asking ticket price just to get in, while others of less financial ability would crowd the outside of the venue just to hear their favorite song. Some say that this was where Marko started to lose his grip. The stress of living on the road constantly hunting for gigs only to take in pocket change was replaced with the stress that gold, women and narcotics place on the mind and soul. Performing contracts ensured the money and drugs kept rolling in, but they also kept Marko tied to his quill and paper writing new songs, desperately trying to repeat the commercial success of “Struck Gold.” However, nothing ever quite came close, and the disappointment that Marko felt became a knot within his heart that grew with every subpar note and insipid lyric. The problem was that the songs weren’t him. Despite being a crowd favorite and an epic tune that has been covered by many musicians since, “Struck Gold” wasn’t his style, and Marko desperately wanted to his work to reflect the anger and anti-establishment sentiment that Hoarfrost were founded on. He was an artist, not just a performer, and was getting tired of being the dancing monkey he saw himself as. Since his bandmates were too busy enjoying the frivolities that fame brought them to care about Marko’s feelings, his frustration continued to grow, until he was closer friends with the bottles of booze than the musicians he had spend so many difficult years beside.  

Fame and Misfortune

  As the drink took more of Marko Guru’s time and attention, the performances suffered from the lack of his spirit and the overabundance of strong spirits. This came to a climax during a high profile performance at a concert celebrating the birthday a regional princess who had been a fan of the group since “Struck Gold” and had demanded that the band headline the performance for her at her 16th birthday, a privilege for which her father put up a massive sum of 100,000 gold pieces. Sadly, Hoarfrost would fail to see even a copper, and it was all Marko’s fault. Under the influence of alcohol and several other substances when he took to the stage that night, Marko was already on track for one his most embarrassing shows even before he made the mistake that would condemn him and his bandmates back to poverty and obscurity. It was during “Struck Gold” that, when plucking his lute somewhat more aggressively than necessary, Marko snapped a string. Instead of carrying on like a professional, he halted the performance immediately, commanding the crowd to shut up and he jumped around on stage in frustration, leaving only the broken, tone-deaf voice of the princess singling along to the words. Spinning towards her, Marko screamed “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP! The songs a piece of s**t and somehow you’re making it worse!” before slamming his lute on the ground storming off stage, leaving the crowd and the rest of the band in a stunned silence. This was the beginning of the end for Hoarfrost and Marko’s career. During a later performance at an open air event, another string broke on Marko’s lute, and he stop the song again to yell into the crowd that he would “sell his f***ing soul for a lute that would stop f***ing breaking,” a statement that attracted the attention of the wrong kind of fan. After that same show, a strange Tiefling woman with blood red skin and a midnight black pantsuit came to his caravan with an offer. Despite not looking much like the usual floozies that fling themselves at the band in the hopes of a fleeting moment of fame from having slept with a star, Marko was intrigued and firmly attracted. The woman offered him an instrument of great strength and value, one that would never break nor lose its tuning, for just one night of passion with the great man himself. Being several bottles past his limit already and note really able to answer coherently, Marko grinned, took down his pants and stood there with his arms open invitingly. The following morning, Marko’s hangover was worse than any he had ever had before, and the quick count of empty bottles in his caravan didn’t account for the throbbing of his headache. The woman from the night before was gone, which wasn’t something he was particularly unfamiliar with, but what was strange was that all his belongings were still there – most groupies took a souvenir as proof – and even more strange was that where the Tiefling woman had been, laying in the crook of his arm was a brand new lute, crafted of beautiful redwood and inlaid with ebony. The silver strings seemed the vibrate ever so gently, almost as if they were breathing. Across the front in beautiful flowing script was written the word Fehn’Darr. He reached out and gently plucked a string, and the lute almost seemed to sigh gently before emitting a single clear, resounding note.   Fehn’Darr granted Marko an new lease on life. In the days that followed that weird and magical night, Marko gradually drank less and less, preferring to spend time alone in his wagon feverishly writing new songs. It consumed every moment that he wasn’t on stage, even leading Marko to forgo sleep for several days at a time, becoming an absolute obsession. Since the band was beginning to struggle thanks to Marko’s on stage antics, the trappings of fame were drying up, and his fellow bandmates developed more and more of a grudge against him, justifiably blaming Marko for their dwindling popularity. When Yent and Oribal tried to approach Marko to discuss the future of the band, he slammed the door in their faces without saying a word and turned back to writing more songs that would never be shared with the others. As this isolation grew, the other members of Hoarfrost agreed that at the end of the current tour, Marko would be kicked out of the band. During the final show at the prestigious Utopia auditorium, Marko was on the top of his game, belting out songs at the top of his voice, and plucking the strings of Fehn’Darr with such perfection and precision that it seemed to start harmonizing to itself. This was the single best performance the band had ever given, and would come to be known as the defining moment in their careers, and it was all because of Marko Guru and his magnificent musical instrument. However, after the second encore, the band members gathered together to tell Marko he was out of the group that he himself had begun. Without a word in response, Marko took up Fehn’Darr and walked back out on stage. Despite the lights turning off and the crowds leaving the venue, he began to play the music he had been writing alone in his trailer. Starting off as a melancholy yet strangely beautiful melody, he sang a sweet clear tale of an elf and a dwarf, bound by passion yet divided by fate. The song attracted the attention of the leaving droves and before long, everyone in the venue, even the employees were enraptured with the strange, haunting tune. The lights were turned back upon Marko, and the fans returned to their seats, all silent in awe of the enchanting music. Suddenly, Marko’s voice broke and the soft, lilting melody was replaced with harsh guttural grunts barely distinguishable as words. The pleasant tinkling from the lute rang into staccato bursts or discordant noises, seemingly carelessly cobbled together into a piece of music. As the song changed from beauty to horror, so did Marko, as long jagged horns sprouted from his temples and his head was encircled with a ring of fire. His fingers elongated into black, spindly claws, and his pale blue eyes that had always been such a hit with the ladies became bloodshot and dirty grey in color. But this was nothing compared to what the audience was experiencing. Marko could not hear the tortured cries over his own performance, but the crowds began the flee the auditorium as blood poured from their ears and eyes, and flames erupted from the edges of the stage moving hungrily towards them, chasing down and devouring those unfortunate souls too slow to escape the growing blaze. Still Marko played on, his claws now snatching at the strings, and Fehn’Darr making cackling, animalistic sounds in response. Though it felt to him like mere minutes, the cacophony lasted over an hour, more than enough time to chase every patron and employee out of the venue and raze the auditorium to nothing more than a smoldering pile of ash. When Marko finally regained control of himself, all he could see around him was the soot, rubble, and the charred remains of his victims. He crumbled to the floor, aghast at what his music had wrought, blood dripping from his now normal fingers. The only spot untouched by the flames was the three foot circle in which he knelt. Fehn’Darr felt heavy in his hands, the wooden inlay seemingly warped into a twisted smile. Realizing his folly and the guilt of what he had done, Marko began to weep out of fear and agony, yet he never took his eyes off of the horrific scene around him, determined to emblazon it on his brain as much as he had on the earth.  

Missed Notes

  The day Utopia burned was immediately infamous as one of the greatest tragedies ever to occur in the music business. 87 people had been confirmed to die in the disaster, including all three other members of Hoarfrost. Several others were severely injured by flames, falling debris and smoke inhalation. By the time emergency services had arrived to put out the fire and treat the wounded, Marko Guru was nowhere to be seen. Since that fateful day, Marko has been plagued by the guilt of his misdeeds every waking moment. He turned back to the drink, but found that every drop evaporated from his throat as soon as the bottle touched his lips. Washed-up, alone and terrified of his own craft, Marko resolved to never touch his lute again. This proved easier said than done. He first tried to throw it in a river, but found it lying against his pillow when he returned to his caravan. Next he built a small bonfire of his writings and possessions, hoping to start a new life with a new identity, placing Fehn’Darr a top the pile, only to see the wood warp into weird grinning shapes yet never break, while the strings chucked gently throughout. He tried cutting the stings, but every blade dulled to nothing as soon as they touched. Even bludgeoning the wood with rocks left not a single scratch on its finely crafted form. Reluctantly, Marko carries the impervious instrument to this day, yet solemnly refuses to play even a single note upon it for fear of the damage it may yet be capable of. Instead, he has turned to the first instrument he ever mastered, the triangle. Now he travels alone in search of a reprieve from the terrible weapon he carries upon his back, desperate for a fresh start and an opportunity to recapture the beauty of the music he once wrote.
Age
57
Children
Presented Sex
Male
Eyes
Pale blue
Hair
Shoulder length, heavily greying black hair, adorned with beads and trinkets
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Lightly tanned and heavily wrinkled
Height
5'9"
Weight
147lbs

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Comments

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10 Feb, 2022 23:52

Talked about the formatting stuff over on discord, so i wont go into that here. A good list or resources for character art is https://blog.worldanvil.com/2020/11/19/5-best-character-portraits-resources/ A lot of people have used either heroforge or art breeder for their character pictures for this challenge, and both are free to use.   You did a good job capturing the feel of a rock band who rose to fame to fast. There is some ambiguity in the writing as to your worlds age. Is it medieval fantasy (lutes and taverns) or more modern fantasy (arena concerts, bars and clubs) At least the arena concerts would require some form of magical or electrical amplification.   A very good take on a "deal with the devil" trope, and I like that the story leaves off before his death, leaving the possibility open for him to try to find salvation.

A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
12 Feb, 2022 19:02

Thanks for the feedback!   In answer to the question of Era, the answer is sort of yes to both. The world I'm creating blends magic, science and technology to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable from one another. Since the world is being used as a setting for an RPG game I'm running, I want to keep it as open as possible.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Feb, 2022 08:29

Fascinating story! Such a shame he finally managed to make amazing music when the curse took hold :( You wrote very well Marko's slow descent to hell and his frame of mind during all of that...   Did people try to hunt down the creature after the incident? Or is there a warrant of arrest for Marko? If some people survived, I imagine the story of what exactly happened spread.   Like other have said on discord, I'd advise you to use more paragraph breaks, as beyond a few lines big paragraph are very difficult to read on computer screen

To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Feb, 2022 08:29

And yes, don't forget to submit the article to the challenge! :D

To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge
11 Feb, 2022 12:22

Nice read! Was truly interesting to read how he got that magical instrument and how in the end it would also prove to be his downfall. Still wondering in what type of technological era this all takes place. I also wonder if he was not arrested or sought after killing so many people, I can imagine some eye witnesses survived?   As for layout some pieces have very long text so you could try to divide that up a little :)

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
12 Feb, 2022 19:16

The storyline is great! I could really believe Marko's progression. As others have pointed out - some more fine tuning on the paragraphs, just breaking up the text flow and a bit of cleanup - and you have a very well done article.

If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
13 Feb, 2022 21:58

A really gripping, grippingly written story with a whole lot of emotion, be it his despair about the music, the wordlessness after being kicked out of the group, the horror at the last big concert. And so completely fitting with the Bard theme when the Bard is about music. Well, at least I always associate music with emotions and they come across well.   It would have been nice to have more paragraphs and short quotations, a bit more around the character apart from the story, to make it even more attractive, to round it off, but: The story stands and that's the main thing. And the Triangle as a conclusion is just brilliant.