Before we begin this tale of adventure and intrigue dear listeners, a word to the wise. Always follow your true calling and your heart’s desire, but be prepared. Sometimes the most beautiful path is the one with the most thorns.
Marelda Damav was born to a middle-class family in Longsaddle, along the northern Sword Coast. Their family owned an inn, just south of town, which had been passed down the generations. While the building may have changed over the years, The Traveler’s Repose always had a friendly atmosphere. Her father ran the business side of the inn, while her mother was in charge of the kitchen. She also would create the occasional floral arrangement when there was a special event in town. Marelda was the middle child of three: an older brother by three years and a younger sister by four.
Our story truly begins when Marelda was eight years old and a certain Halfling Bard came through their inn. Ever since she could read and write, Marelda had always been fascinated by the myths and legends of old. She would spend many a night memorizing stories by candlelight. She also began writing her own tales. Her meager little room was littered with pages full of poems and stories that would make a lesser authors green with envy. Her inspiration was often sparked by the traveling jongleurs that her parents allowed in the inn. Whether it be their music or their own, lesser, storytelling skills, Marelda always tried working in the dining room in order to listen in.
Rosafice the Graceful was famed through the Northern Sword Coast. A Bard of great beauty and lovely voice, any inn graced by her presence would speak of her for months after. And one afternoon, she happened by the Repose. Knowing that her performance would bring much business, Marelda’s father wisely struck a deal: Rosafice would perform throughout the evening for free room and a meal. Having heard the stories about Rosafice, Marelda was beside herself with excitement. Before the beautiful Bard took the stage, she showed her what was, in Marelda’s opinion, her greatest story yet. Rosafice was so taken aback by the emotion and passion in the story, she asked Marelda to read it tonight, accompanied by her on the dulcimer. On the stage, reading her own lovingly crafted tale, Marelda found her true calling.
After her performance, patrons kept praising her story and the artful way she told it. While her parents were proud, they also weren’t willing to allow this to go further. If she performed with musicians, very well, but this would never come before the inn. Marelda was not of the same opinion. She wanted to dive headfirst into this new life and leave the old one behind. So! When Rosafice prepared to leave the next day, she found Marelda waiting for her with a packed bag. Marelda expressed her desire to learn from the Graceful Halfling and become a Bard of great renown. Seeing the talent she had with stories and the telling of them, Rosafice agreed and took the child under her wing. Together they traveled all along the Sword Coast, Marelda learning the tools of the Bard trade.
When she was 16, Rosafice declared that it was time for Marelda to strike out and create her own name. To commemorate her new beginning, Rosafice gave her the new last name of Joyquill. This name honored her stories and her love of the written word. Marelda left, with the skills of writing, playing lure and pan flute, and the ability to speak Halfling, she quickly began to develop her own reputation. By the time she was 18, she had perfected her storytelling enough to usually earn free lodging in return for a performance. Never once has she stepped back into her home town of Longsaddle.
During one of her stays in Nesmé, a trading town in the central north Coast, Marelda met a young man named Andres. She was merely 20, but a romantic at heart. He was 24, a soldier stationed there to keep bandits away from the town. After hearing her music one night, he tried to confess his love. Marelda initially turned him away, as she had done to every moon-eyed suitor. She was used to such treatment and would flirt back, but never allowed it to go behind words. Yet, he persisted her entire stay and she finally accepted an evening stroll by the river. He charmed her with his wit and she had already stolen his heart with her mer words and looks. This caused her to stay in town longer than any other she had travelled to. Eventually, her roaming spirit called her back to the open road. She gave Andres her heart, and swore to write to him. He accepted it and they made plans to have letters delivered to a set place, so that she could easily collect them during her travels.
Marelda and Andres stayed lovers for a little over one and a half years, but even love can become tainted. Andres’ letters became less frequent and shorter in length. While Marelda, at first, thought nothing of it, she began to doubt. Determined to put her fears to rest, she traveled back to Nesmé to see her love. Upon arriving, she found that Andres had began courting another maiden who worked in the local brothel. She was everything Marelda was not: meek, timid, and especially endowed. Marelda became enraged, but underneath the anger, her heart was shattered into millions of pieces. Andres tried to convince her that he still loved her and this other woman was just a rumor, but Marelda would have none of it. She very nearly used her magic to drive the pair of them insane, but instead, she wrote a poem about an unfaithful man and his trollop. In the end, the two were cursed by a hag: the woman with eternal ugliness and the man to fall in love with a swine. It was one of her most popular stories as of yet, humiliating Andres and the wench as it rose in popularity.
While Marelda had gotten her revenge, her heart was still broken. She hid it beneath her sharp tongue and wit, all the while continuing her travels. Though now, to try to feel that love once more, she would overtly flirt, even spend the evening, with any man who “confessed” their love. Her wanderings eventually led her to Waterdeep, where we wait to see what unfolds for our Bard next…