The Amblecrown Chronicles
Chapter 1: Beginnings
I firmly believe that every good story begins somewhere in the middle then jumps back to the beginning leaving the reader wondering how the writer will craft all the wonderful story elements together in a massive reveal.
But, alas, this is not a good story. It is, however, my story and it deserves to be told.
I am Thaedious Amblecrown, lover, swordsman, writer, artist, playwright, and Duke of Amblecrown, consort to Her Majesty Irena Vermile, Queen of Erandfell, Light of the World, and Descended of King John himself. It’s a mouthful to be sure, but then again, so I am.
My story begins in Erandfell in the house of Amblecrown, on the shores of the Shining Sea in late autumn. They say when I was born I didn’t cry, rather I wailed and sang a wordless note that rattled the very windows in my mothers chambers. Everyone knew then and there that I would be a talented bard. I’d spend my days fumbling around the courtyard of my family estate lulling the hunting dogs to sleep with a lullaby that I had just learned from my wet nurse.
My first experiences with stringed instruments were much like walking. At first I stumbled, but soon put one foot in front of another and weaved melodies that haunted the halls of the Amblecrown Estate for days. By the age of five I was writing songs to the match the words I was just beginning to learn. My favourite was the first rhyme I conjured by accident during bath time.
O Bath time
This duck of mine,
As a friend you’re fine,
But I miss that lass named Trine
With golden hair and blue eyes
That lass named Trine
But here I am,
With this duck of mine
During bath time.
- Thaedious Amblecrown, aged 5
I didn’t know what a lass was, nor did I know who Trine was, but I knew she would be important. The rest of my childhood was more of a preamble to adolescence rather than a forming of my future character. While others were learning to fight with swords and bows and arrows, I spent my time wandering the streets, heralded as the young prodigy able to play any instrument and sing the knickers off passing by ladies and the occasional man.
Then, like a charging bulette, my loins ripened to the fruit baring age. By thirteen I was on first names basis with half the brothel’s in Erandfell, and some of the royal houses, who shall remain a prudish Lion crested idiot who deserved everything that came to him, disapproved of my God giving talent for music and fuckery.
Unfortunately, that dimwitted shell of a man, Prince Martin Everbrook, of Lyvander, the small lower nipple of the Free Cities of Men by Stonebridge, took issue with my courting of Lady Tessa Riverbend. Turns out the fair Lady Riverbend was to be married to Prince Everbrook and did not enjoy the fact I had tending to the lady’s flowers before he had summoned the gumption to do so.
Fortunately for Prince Everbrook, he had been training with a rapier for many years and towered over me. So, using the talents that brick headed mule had, he challenged me to duel over the Lady. Who was I to refuse such a slight! Me, the heir to Amblecrown, master of song and spirit, was not going to turn down a fight.
The contest was lively, I assure you. Some tell the story that I was knocked prone with in five seconds and then pleaded for my life. Others, who are correct, will remember that while I have been knocked prone, I was not pleading for my life. I was, in fact, pleading for his. I begged him to stop! But no, the Prince’s honour was stained and only my blood would cleanse it.
So I did what any man of my talents would do, I crowded his mind with whispers of death and ruin. How was I know he would bleed from the ears and then collapse! Poor boy couldn’t handle a simple spell. With the Prince dying on the ground the guards collected his unconscious form then threw me in jail.
I really should have paid closer attention to the laws. No magic during duels.
My father pleaded the local judge for a lenient penalty. Some money changed hands and my fate was sealed before the gavel drummed three times.
I was to be exiled from the Free Cities.
All of them.
Chapter 2: Same Great Verse as the First
I found myself on the road. It is a long walk from the free cities to, well, anywhere. I managed to make it comfortable enough by humming tunes to myself. Simple diddies really, I managed to write a few into the roving epic, “To woe a fae.” But I’m jumping ahead. Feeling rather tired of the road I stopped in the small fishing village of Saldor.
Saldor didn’t have anything of note about it until I rolled into town. The wharf was a welcome site. A few small ships, the smell of fish, and my first love, the Sea’s Bounty. She was shackled to a dark part of the docks while her current owner, a half drunk mostly dumb man of 47. The bounty has stolen my heart and I was going to win it no matter the cost.
After a brief conversation I discovered the elder sailor had a minor gambling fascination. I bet him my fancy lute and 3 months of free labour that I could beat him in a card game, any card game. He chose Mimicry. A fun little game that I didn’t know. The rules were surprisingly simple. Two players draw 4 cards from the deck and place them down in front of them. The goal is to match the cards in front of your opponent before they match the cards in front of you. It’s a tough game to master, but I managed it easily enough. After a few games I had him in a debt only his ship could crawl him out of. Between crying about his family I managed to beat him and win the deed to his ship.
The next day I sailed across the sea, having convinced some local sailors to join me in my quest, to get as far away from the free cities as possible. The free cities make many orphans.
I hadn’t truly learned to sail so it took some trial and error before learning to catch the wind. The Bounty was a patient teacher. At night she would rock me gently to sleep and in the morning greet me with the most dazzling sunrises. In fact one sunrise in particular was the inspiration behind Lady Bellaluna, the Enchantress featured in, “The Marvelous Mask.” But of course we are no where near the beginnings of my writings.
It was an idle day, the wind had died, the crew was restless, and I was a tad morose over the absence of movement. I wanted to cheer up the crew so I decided to sing them a jaunty little tune. It was a wordless strumming of the lute that held no special connection to anything. Or so I thought.
You see a bards talents are odd, and sometimes you discover them at the most inopportune times. The magic rose up within me before I had a chance to fully understand what was broiling underneath. The feelings of being lost at sea, being rocked gently to sleep, and just existing burned in my soul. That fire was unleashed on an unwary, unknowing, crew. Their eyes glazed over and they began to sway with my rhythm.
The best audience is an audience who dances. So I asked them to dance and they juked and jigged until they could no longer stand. Then I forced them to stand once more to give me the ovation I deserved.
No one sits when the Bard plays.
Chapter 3: At Sea, what a way to be.
Fresh sea air does things to a man. It was refreshing. The freedom to supplant the shackles of my previous life with the chains of my own desires was intoxicating. I took advantage of my new found leisure.
In the beginning games of chance were a passing fancy. My crew, now willful servants from the power that flowed in my veins, were crushed beneath my towering intellect. By the end of a rousing game of King’s Hands I owned every man for a year. This was the beginning of The Legend of the Bounty.
I could sail for months in every direction from the Free Cities. Our cook, the spoil sport, felt we needed to acquire some more coin lest we all die of starvation. Since that wasn’t a fitting end for a man like me it made sense to make for the Elven states. The Empire of the Sun and Moon were shrewd traders but always willing to do business. We made for Milimetheas, home to some of my father’s contacts. They were the rough and tumble sort, elves who didn’t mind getting their hands dirty when needed.
If we were going to make it before we resorted to eating one another we had better get a move on. I brewed up a fancy little spell that helped shift the winds. All you need do is convince the wind to join you in a song. Mustering up some guile and vigor I issued simple challenge to the quiet deck of the Bounty. The West wind answered my challenge. Gentle enough bloke, but you have to use his real name to make him come around. I won’t write it here, lest everyone go around calling him out but I will say he certainly is Civil. My challenge was easy enough, Who can blow the longest? If I failed I at least sped up our voyage.
My flute damn near broke from the 5 straight days of playing. Thankfully we made land fall before I was willing to admit defeat.
The West Wind agreed I truly was a blow hard.
Chapter 4: Slip through the door
Sailing is fun. The freedom of the sea is intoxicating. The men are jaunty enough, the sea life playful, but something is missing. I thought I couldn’t put my finger on it until I ran ashore one idle afternoon while in port. Men reach places a lady just can’t, it’s basic math really.
But of course a man’s face never launched thousands of ships to get him back. A name had been echoing in my head for more than a few weeks now. The trip to Milimentheas was eventful, legendary even. But of course it’s bad luck to have women aboard so
Naturally the first stop was to find some company of the gentler persuasion. The usual fare wasn’t going to satisfy me either. Now a full fledged sailor, with salt in my veins and a permanent tan, I needed a full scrub and some care that came from more than just a simple evening with a lady.
I needed something mystical. Something not really a good idea but something I could write about. No sooner had I finished explaining to my First Mate that I needed something more than just a regular old roll in the hay did I see my swift exit. I didn’t, at the time, realize I would be leaving the Bounty behind.
But when three Fey Nymphs beg you to play for them you better agree. It’s an experience you’ll never forget. Sure, they will judge your music harshly but always remember, the fey have a soft spot for lies. Since they can’t tell them they love to hear those who can lie through their teeth. They see it as joke for the most part. Just…never lie to a Fey Knight. Troll Knights, for instance, hate lies with a passion. If they ever catch you in one you’d better run.
Anyways, after a quick set of songs, about ten or twelve, I had enough Fey under garments to be very fashionable dressed in the summer court. I wasn’t expecting to receive a nights rest in the fey wild, and yet I went anyways. I left the bounty behind and began my journey through the Summer Court. By the time I would leave I would be the only human to ever please a nymph so much that she bestowed some magic on me.
What they don’t tell you about the Feywild is that time works a little different. I would spend the better part of a year with those Nymphs, playing music and enjoying their presence, but when I would return to the material plane it would have only been a month. I would, in time, learn to take advantage of that time difference.
After all, what can a man do with an extra couple of years?
Everything, he can do everything.
Chapter 5: Secrets in the Depths
What does one do when they have sampled the fruits of creatures made entirely of light? Where can you go when you have reached the peak of sexual gratification and musical perfection?
Well, down, it seems.
So I may have spent a few years lost in the feywild. The Summer Court is wonderful. They love like they have never known pain. The Winter Court is equally as wonderful. They have a comfortable numbness that I find is worthwhile. A group of people made entirely of uppers who are neighbours, and sometimes at war, with a group of people who are made entirely of downers.
Queen Titania and her Summer Fey are amazing. Unfortunately you may find they are rather clingy and could, very easily, smother you out. If Queen TT decides you are worthy then you may find yourself in the presence of Lord Victor Blackgate, a fancy enough fellow, who has some of the best connections in the two courts. When the Queens need to talk, either privately or just to gossip about their followers, Lord Victor Blackgate is the one who will make the connection.
Of course, I should mention that for all the love and hugs of the Summer Court, the Winter Court is equally mysterious. Bundle up if you go winterward. Vic should have helped you cross the ice flows leading into the vast wastes of the winter court. Just…mind the gaps in the ice. The water will chill you to the bone, quick.
You haven’t lived until you shared a bed with the Queen of Air and Darkness. You also won’t be living when you share a bed with the Queen of Air and Darkness. At least when you die there, she may resurrect you. If she does kill you, then you’ve got a choice ahead of you. Embrace the darkness and roll in its embrace. Or, and I recommend this, swear yourself into service. How else can you reclaim your rightful place amongst the mere mortals?
Thankfully the Queen of Air and Darkness knows more than a few masters of the undead arts. She reached out to an old friend, some sort of Dragon by the name of Droshuck Ileem. With a quick spell and a twist, I was back to life and ready to keep on going in the service of my new found Queen. What were my first set of orders?
Destroy the cities that sent me here.
The monologue from “The meaning of a man.” After Marious escaped his Uncle Cornilious betrayal, Marious ponders his existence.
Act 1, scene 4, Enter Marious
“Born of a king, son of a lamb and a lion.
The lamb, draped in cloth and saddled with the crown,
Was thrown into the sea and drown.
The lion, fierce and deadly, caged and broken.
And the cub? Alone, in this sewer, hiding.
The prince who hides.
The boy who cries.
Tear stained cheeks red with cowardice.
O’ damned prince, what makes you?
Kord? Did you see how I ran?
Ioun, do know what rots inside of me?
My core has eroded as it Cornilious ripped it from me.
Bane, if I asked would you work through me to right this imbalance?
Perhaps Melora, great mistress of the woods, could grant me the power to dethrone the new king?
The echoes of your silence are deafening.
You stood idle while my family was moved from one square to another.
So be it. This game of yours has been played out and I will make the next move.
I shall seek out the only ally that remains, Polonious.
I hope his blade is sharp, my plan will see it bloody.
To work then.”