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SEVRIN LORE: The lute (Overheard in "Cat and Cauldron")

Storyspinners, scalds, and minstrels gather in the Cat and Cauldron to ply their trade, raise a mug, and chat with their fellow entertainers.  A minstrel widely known as Crazy Jorgen sauntered in, wearing a proud smile and carrying a second-hand lute.

Two scalds exchanged knowing glances.  Jorgen’s smile dimmed. “What?” he demanded.

The older of the two scalds nodded toward the lute. “Planning on settling down, I take it. Giving up the road.”

“You never heard the stories of a man setting off for adventure and glory, a lute on his back?”

“Heard the stories.  Never met that particular breed of minstrel, though.” The skald paused to slurp his ale and dash the foam from his mustache. “I’m betting you haven’t, either.”

Jorgen frowned. “Now that you mention it.”

“Good reason for that. For starters, lutes are damed awkward to carry. And they don’t like the weather. Any weather. The tuning pegs pop out when it’s dry, the gut strings soak up the damp. Either way you’ll spend more time tuning than playing. The good news? You won’t have to keep at it for long. That wood isn’t much thicker than parchment.  It’ll crack if you look at it wrong.  But let’s say you get where you’re going with the lute in one piece. The sound doesn’t carry far outside, and it won’t be heard in a noisy tavern. The lute’s a fine instrument, if you’ve got a room that’s small and warm and dry and quiet, but it’s not meant for the road.”

The minstel slumped into a chair. “Then where do all the stories come from?”

“People got to sell their old lutes to someone, don’t they?”  The scald winked and signalled for another round of drinks. “But enough about the lute. Let me tell you about this fine old pair of self-patching boots….”

SEVRIN LORE: The lute (Overheard in “Cat and Cauldron”)

Storyspinners, scalds, and minstrels gather in the Cat and Cauldron to ply their trade, raise a mug, and chat with their fellow entertainers.  A minstrel widely known as Crazy Jorgen sauntered in, wearing a proud smile and carrying a second-hand lute.

Two scalds exchanged knowing glances.  Jorgen’s smile dimmed. “What?” he demanded.

The older of the two scalds nodded toward the lute. “Planning on settling down, I take it. Giving up the road.”

“You never heard the stories of a man setting off for adventure and glory, a lute on his back?”

“Heard the stories.  Never met that particular breed of minstrel, though.” The skald paused to slurp his ale and dash the foam from his mustache. “I’m betting you haven’t, either.”

Jorgen frowned. “Now that you mention it.”

“Good reason for that. For starters, lutes are damed awkward to carry. And they don’t like the weather. Any weather. The tuning pegs pop out when it’s dry, the gut strings soak up the damp. Either way you’ll spend more time tuning than playing. The good news? You won’t have to keep at it for long. That wood isn’t much thicker than parchment.  It’ll crack if you look at it wrong.  But let’s say you get where you’re going with the lute in one piece. The sound doesn’t carry far outside, and it won’t be heard in a noisy tavern. The lute’s a fine instrument, if you’ve got a room that’s small and warm and dry and quiet, but it’s not meant for the road.”

The minstel slumped into a chair. “Then where do all the stories come from?”

“People got to sell their old lutes to someone, don’t they?”  The scald winked and signalled for another round of drinks. “But enough about the lute. Let me tell you about this fine old pair of self-patching boots….”

SEVRIN LORE: Black Svaria

Most people in Sevrin have fair hair, ranging from pale blond to light brown.  Red hair is less common, and truly dark tresses are exceedingly rare.  That’s one reason why the skald known as Black Svaria is easy to pick out of a crowd.

In a land where most women are merchants, farmers, or crafters, Black Svaria’s warrior frame stands out.  She is only slightly above average height for a woman but is so strongly built that she’s usually described as tall and imposing.  Most people assume she’s from some distant land, and she doesn’t bother to dispute the stories. She was, in fact, born on Stormwall Island, the only child of a fisherman and a tavern cook.  If her father suspected that his wife put more on the menu than seafood soup and roasted mutton, he never raised the issue.

Svaria learned the truth of her paternity when she was little more than a child. She cut her hair, took a job as a cabin boy, and took to sea to learn of her heritage. She returned twenty years later with a lifetime’s worth of experiences and songs.

Though she is a talented musician well versed in the styles of several mainland cultures, Black Svaria primarily performs as a traditional skald, declaiming ancient tales in ringing, rhythmic speech.  She also sings traditional and newly composed ballads, adding rhythm with a goatskin hand drum. Her bawdy sense of humor and easy, engaging manner with the audience make her a popular performer at several storytelling venues, most notably the Cat and Cauldron.

This is how Black Svaria earns her bread, although rumor suggests that she can occasionally be pursuaded to put her warrior skills to work.  She is also in considerable demand as a settler of disputes–arrangements that are entirely informal and have no legal binding. Her warrior reputation, however, is usually sufficient to made her decisions stick.