There was once a bard who sung with a voice that rose and fell with the sound of the running waters of his homeland. Who harkened from the soft rivers and sheer cliffs of Alfred’s Isles.
Who had traveled across the wooded plains of Aalto, climbed the Rasmussen Mountains, and crossed the border into the fierce lowlands of Foureira.
A bard who had crossed the Waylon to the song-rich island of Rybak. It was even said he had sailed the Schulte Sea to sing the songs of war as Hvala Ne won its independence and freedom.
And who knows? Maybe even the rumor that he had traversed the Great Wood and journeyed beyond The Edge Of The World was true.
No-one can say for certain what he looked like. Whether he had cropped blonde hair and bright blue eyes, or if his hair was a black shock of curls and his eyes shone deep like emeralds.
Either way, he was said to be gorgeous. No-one really knows about the bard, but everyone knows of The Beast he traveled with.
The thing was said to be seven feet tall when sitting. This was not impressive in of itself, many a giant would dwarf that.
But when coupled with the short snout full of too many teeth, the curling horns ringed in hard ridges, and the black fur that shone red in the right light, the thing was was something to behold.
The most terrifying thing about it though was the gleaming blood-soaked eyes that could burn right through to a man’s soul. At least, that what people say.
And, for the most part, it’s true. The beast was terrifyingly intimidating and fierce, and yes the bard was incredibly talented and handsome. But that’s not the whole story.
For a start, the bard was not a he or even a human. You see, those who people Alfred’s Isles are an ancient race.
Their language is older than even that of the Wood Elves of Keijukainen, strange and musical to those unfamiliar with it. But their language is not the strangest thing about them.
Though they look mostly like humans, the tips of their ears are feathered, along with the point of their elbows.
Their eyes and skin glow warm like amber, and their black hair coils like barbed wire. They have two defined sexes, though no construct of gender.
Most notably though are the two sleek wings that stretch from their shoulder blades. The wings are tall as their bodies when folded in, and shine golden as a sunrise.
It’s these wings that give them their name - Svítání, or Siren in the Common Tongue.
But the Sirens of Alfred’s Isles are not the same that populate the coasts of Foureira.
Those sirens are much fiercer, using their songs to drag men to their deaths and feasting on the rich marrow of their bones.
No, like the lazy rivers that criss-cross the high plains of the Isles, these Sirens are gentle and meandering.
The raging whirl that is the currents that surround Alfred’s Isles deter explorers and the islands are far enough out of the way that trades don’t give them a second glance when they see them
on the horizon. They have no need to drown men or wreck ships. As a result, their songs are of a softer sort, to be used for rituals or flattery.
They chose not to live in the harsh cliffs that ring the Isles, instead wandering nomadically along the banks of gentle waterways.
The only trace of their vicious relatives is the two sharp fangs they bear. Peace has made them safe, and in this safety they have grown soft.
And so now you know of the race that the Bard called their own.
But what of the beast they traveled with? What race could possibly be the source of such terror? Well, none that you’ve heard of.
The beast was a Tranceling, born of a curse and doomed to be outcast from all societies. A terrifying spectacle, the beast was terrifying to look upon.
However, her personality was a stark contrast. True, she could be ferocious when the situation called for it, but really she just wanted to see the world.
You see, after being born as such a monstrosity, her father had hidden her away deep in the woods.
For years she had never even seen the sun, confined to the small, windowless shack she was forced to call her home.
So when a young bard had accidentally stumbled across her on their travels, she had immediately agreed to join them.
And so off struck the bard and the beast, across the wooded plains of Aalto, over the Rasmussen Mountains, and into the lowlands of Foureira.
They crossed the Waylon and marveled at the songs of Rybak. They had sailed the Schulte Sea and fought side by side on the frontlines at Hvala Ne.
They had considered traversing the Great Wood but ultimately decided that was a trip for another day.
As they traveled they became firm friends. The beast filled their lives with roars of laughter and the bard filled them with stories. They learned of each other's pasts and presents.
The bard learned how the beast had befriended the mice and rats that would use her shack for shelter during the hard winters of Aalto,
and how she had slowly learned the language of the birds that would sing to her through the keyhole.
The beast learned how the bard had grown bored of the watery peace of their homeland and had left for Rybak fueled by the legends of the songcasters which they had learned from the gulls
that migrated South every winter. And they both learned of the other's loneliness, for one does not gain much companionship from rats and gulls.
So the bard and the beast found themselves settled into legend, known to most but known by few.
They found it difficult to believe, the people they told stories of had only been written about after their death, and they were far more impressive.
But legends are tricky, and seldom follow the rules.
Who knows what they’re up to today?
Perhaps they did finally make the trek beyond the Edge Of The World, or maybe they went back to visit Alfred’s Isles, or perhaps they have gone to study with the songcasters of Rybak.
Or maybe they’re sitting on the edge of the woods, sharing their campfire with a wandering traveler, and telling stories.