Death and the Bard

Long, long ago, some of the gods are said to have taken lovers. Nirian, of course, had many over the millenia, and Vanaheiz, Giver of Life, is said to have had the most offspring. Most of those who Shagras and Geskekelud turned their attentions towards tended to be drained afterwards, in one sense or another, and Anz did not choose to dally with mortals. But in all the tales, only one speaks of a mortal who touched the heart of the Dark God.

Moran d'Vale was a bard of Soliden (one of the two countries that formed Belid), one of the few in his time (or any other) from the east. While many bards were satisfied to write songs about what they had heard, Moran wished to write about what he had done. He travelled with a Cliffsfall mercenary company, and proved his worth with an axe as well as a harp, before writing his songs of glory about the Wars of Ambition. Before writing his romantic ballads, he courted some of the most beautiful women in all the lands, and left many a broken heart behind him. Moran wrote songs about every facet of life, and each song was from true experience.

Moran's life was long, but eventually it came to pass that he became old and withered, and knew his death was not long from him. And so he wrote his last ballad, a song for the Taker of Lives, for he wished to leave no part of his life unsung.

And the song came to the notice of the Ender of All Things, who left Its throne and walked among the world of men to call on Moran. And the Ruiner offered to show the bard Its domain, so that he might know the truth of where he was bound. And then Moran was not seen for a month and a day, and during that time all who died, regardless of their suffering, were seen to smile at the moment of their deaths.

The Gatherer of Souls, it is said, offered to refrain from collecting Moran's soul, granting him as much life as he desired, and Moran declined the offer, saying that as he had rushed headlong into everything else in his life, he would not hang back now.

When Moran's death came, the Ender granted him a final gift: though the bard's life would end, his songs never would. And even now, his compositions are sung in grand halls and in ale houses, and the Last Ballad at funerals, even in lands where the well-travelled Moran had never managed to go.

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