Remembering the Bardic Voice, Volume IV (book)

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Remembering the Bardic Voice, Vol. IV
By Siraan Lisange

-- Introduction

Throughout history bards have been the keepers of lore and oral traditions handed down through many lands. To this end I write these journals that tell of my wanderings. Shortly I shall retire to the quieter life, as I have been offered a place in the Therengian court, but my heart remains on the dusty roads where the tones of a lute can be heard coming from a distant tavern.

In this book I have recorded two more serious roles the bardic folk have played, that of the standard- bearer and healer. Though both offices often endanger the singer's life or sanity, I still encourage bards to experience at least one of these posts during their life and travels. It is a bard's duty to see that certain roles are filled, no matter where we travel, and that is the trust I place in you, my peers, students, and descendants of bardic kindred.

See that your duty is never forgotten.

-- Standard Bearing

Although too often lacking in these parts of late, the standard bearer can be found in armies of many lands. It is in this office that a bard is called upon to be more than a minstrel and traveler, but to also bear inside themselves a strength and determination beyond what most mortals can endure. In this office a bard is called on to be not just a minstrel and traveler but to wield a strong arm with a determination beyond that of most mortals.

The standard bearers of an army do just what the title describes -- they bear the pennants, flags and standards for the ruler or cause that they represent. More than this, they also are responsible for improving and holding high the morale of their comrades in arms. To this end I have heard, even sung on occasion, stirring renditions of national anthems, battle hymns, and even one or two rousing rounds of "The Tavernkeep and His Lady" to keep the laughter flowing among the squads. Well into the night while the camp prepares for a scant few hours of rest one can usually find a bard or two instilling some much-needed confidence into the troops.

However, the role of a bardic standard bearer is not one limited to boosting soldier morale during the late hours of night. The bard must continue to do so even during the long days of battle, rousing the troops not only with song and ballad but with magic as well. The simplest of enchantes, when raising the strength of an entire army, can turn the tide of a war. However, this power must be tempered with wisdom as well. Should the bards of opposing armies not use their full repertoire of enchantes and instead sing the most aggressive ones at their disposal, the results can be cataclysmic. In this manner the infamous "Rage of the Clans" gained its name, for in the midst of a clan war armed with bards on both sides, such bloodshed was seen that was unheard of for centuries before. There were no winners in that battle, so total was the loss to both lands. Perhaps a better name for it might have been "Blood of the Clans," for that is one that it truly earned.

The standard a bard holds is itself often a target of an opposing army's efforts. Even the youngest footsoldier knows that the standard of a king, clan chief, or hero inspires allies on in battle. This is why bards who wish to travel with an army must be strong of arm and trained in weaponry beyond that of most of their guildmates, to guard their standard and ensure that above all it stays aloft. Bards training in this are often scoffed at by their colleagues, because such training in weapons is not required for advancement among the echelons of the Guild, but nonetheless is necessary if a bard wishes to survive past the first battle.

As you can tell by this time, dear reader, the role of a standard bearer is one fraught with desperation and peril, and one that asks a strength and endurance beyond what most will ever need. But the role of a standard bearer is more rewarding than most other roles a bard may find himself in. For when after a long battle you survey the chaos, the remnants of mortal bodies whose souls have fled to Urrem'tier's embrace, and your flag still stands proudly above the carnage, you truly understand what it is to feel alive. Tread not lightly into this role.

-- Herbalist

When one speaks of herbalists, what comes to mind are those hardworking, empathic souls who care so much for their fellow being that they take onto themselves the wounds of others. While true healers and life- givers, they are not the only ones you can find tending to the injured and fallen when one conflict or another has given birth to bloodshed.

Without the empathic gifts of a guilded healer, one must rely on knowledge and skill in their stead. Seek out the extensive libraries inside each of your guildhalls or, whenever possible, those of your kindred who have already devoted their time to the alchemical arts. From these people and tomes you can learn ways to heal wounds in ways that may rival the speed of empathic healers, and do not depend on one's own strength and endurance to work. Such tinctures and salves made in this manner may also be passed on to others, and a single jar can save the wounds of many from infection, rather than one.

This is not to say that a bard's magic can be of no help when they seek to aid another. For the steadfast herbalist the simplest of Lilt's can be used to speed an entire infirmary on its way to recovery, easing the pain of wounds to the point where the patient's own relaxed posture can better aid their own healing. Such work is tireless and thankless, and the sight of so many wounds has driven many a stir-crazy bard to abandon their playing in favor of attempting to tend to the wounds on their own, but this is folly. A simple set of bones in one hand, and a bottle of healing unguent in the other can work wonders if the bard has the patience to utilize them.

For this reason, in addition to so many others, a bard's presence upon the battlefield can be more than a merely token one. Their training in weapons gives them the freedom to go where an empathic healer may not, and to defend themselves against the enemy in their sojourn amongst the armies. Many a time a bard armed only with his or her bag of healing reagents, a dagger, and the simple rhythms of "Drums of the Snake" to better aid them in the arts of evasion and stalking, has proven themselves to be an asset in even the seemingly most dire of situations.

Some concern may be given at this point that the role of a bard as a herbalist is one that only addresses the needs of others, and that the bard himself is left wanting of purpose. To these people I advise to look to themselves, in the role of an herbalist. Learn the simplest salves to ensure your voice and arm stay true, and arm yourself with these - I guarantee that during your travels, be they on road, through tavern, or in a battle, you will find need of them yourself. And if others find use of them as well, so much the better. You will have fulfilled your duty and kept the knowledge alive.

       Safe traveling.                                
                         ...Siraan Lisange...