How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
Frank lives in a musical.
Frank’s a city half-orc. Not any one city for long, but he’s always felt more comfortable where the crowds left him a dark enough shadow to work in. He had a hard time in his little home tribe where he came up as a runt bastard. Despised for his small stature and quick tongue. His mother had him by a human pilgrim in order to increase the numbers of their cult. Franks human father never stayed for his birth. Frank was kept around as a kitchen whelp, axe target, and whipping boy. When he came of age, at 6, he was pressed into service as an acolyte of the Soaked Hound, a dark aspect of The Traveler and she left him behind to fight in the war.
In the temple, Frank learned to play the bones, sing the old battle curses of his tribe and learned a healthy hatred of demon-worshipers, never much embracing the tenants of the cult its’ arduous ritual requirements. Frank got out eventually. He had used some quick talk, fake promises, the aid of a rookie paladin, and a knife in the back of a high priest, but he had gotten out. And with him, he carried the sacred bones of the cult of the Soaked Hound. Preferring his own song and meditation as a form of worship rather than that of his family. The more he learned of The Traveler’s true nature, the better he knew to stay on the road rather than squatting in a dusty temple.
He set out for the nearest town and busked; playing the bones. Then a mercenary company, the Black Mariahs, came through, and with a tip from Frank, sacked the town during the city watch’s fortnightly bloodball game. They took him on as a musician, armor scrubber, and apprentice to the company mage-bard, Big Jim. Big Jim Nickerbocker was a Tiefling and amateur musician with an enthusiasm for collecting and drawing the arcane powers out of bones.
Frank ran with Jim and the Mariahs for a few years, collecting bones, stories, spells, poisons, and connections. After the Mariahs sacked a city they’d usually stick around long enough for the client’s army to come in and assume control. Usually this exchange was accompanied by a small feast and Frank always took advantage of those times to plonk out a tune on his bone-machine; a rattletrap contraption that he’d use to accompany him as he groaned out old war chants from his home tribe and sad love songs he’d learned from port-town whores. the new warlord magistrates would put up with the odd ramshackle melodies and blood-soaked lyrics and some even remembered his name when he would visit in later years. Despite his lack of melody and rasping voice, his songs had their own kind of romance and the more kinds of creatures he’d killed, the more bones Frank had for his bone-machine. The more bones, the sweeter the music.
His music was so sweet, it happens, that he had attracted the ear of Alice, a gnomish warlord’s daughter and rookie bard. Frank and Alice began to play together and it brought out a strange tenderness in him that he never knew was there. For the first time in his life, he was content. Happy. He made plans to part ways with the Mariahs and take Alice and the gold he’d saved to run off and start a country inn where the two of them could settle down, play music, and maybe have some kids.
This plan didn’t please Big Jim when Frank brought it up and after a long argument, it became clear to Frank that he had become too valuable to let go of so easily. The next morning, Frank found his love’s severed hand in his sleeping bag. The rest of Alice was nowhere to be found. Frank decided that if he would ever succeed in finding his love, he’d need to leave the Mariah’s for good. Dead, if necessary. It was the only way he could rid himself of the violence that lead to Alice’s mutilation.
The night, he played an especially mournful tune by the nightfire. The Mariah’s had just endured the last of a string of failed battles and hasty retreats and tempers were already high among the company. With empty stomachs and bruised pride, the warriors began to feud and blame each other for their recent failures. As the resentment grew, Frank played more discordant themes and broken rhythms at a rising tempo. The feuding lead to blows, the blows to bloodshed, and at some point in the midst of the fray, after seeing Big Jim catch a halberd to the throat as he was winding up an eldritch blast, Frank split. He grabbed Jim’s bag of bones, his machine, and headed off on his own. He hadn’t heard from Jim since, but he knew him too well to assume that he’d never see him again. He also never heard from Alice. He looked for a while but after some time, it seemed more likely that she had either died or found safety and comfort that he could never give her.