|Tiberio di Talento (3.5e Stats)|
|Antonio Zito, History: Youngest member of Zito Family Players. Came to new world - River Baronies in particular - to escape the cynical corruption of old Zulary and the spectre of Gallantish oppression. Hooked up with Finbell and the Boddyjons and have been touring Federation ever since.|
|Pellegrino di Talento|
|BROTHERS & SISTERS: ages when you left Zulary in 4 A.I. Paula (f-18), Iacomina (f-16), Salvestro (m-14), Isabetta (f-11), Sabbatino (m-10), Nofri (f-6), Tiberio (m-4) (you are currently 19, you escaped bondage at the age of 18, 8 months ago); COUSIN: Tristam Violante (m-26)|
Appearance & Personality:
Quotes + Notes:
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Familia di Talento
You can still remember the look on your father's face as you set out for the Bithtat Sengar. He wore a look of hope even your young eyes could understand. You can't even feel ironic about that now. Of course what your family encountered there must have made the machinations of court life in the city states of Zulary seem like children's games. But that was a lifetime ago.
You were too young at the time to know how your father came about earning a lordship in the lands of the River Barony SilvertÓ. You distinctly remember leaving Zulary because it was the week before your fourth birthday. You were devastated that you would not be able to boast to your friends of the gifts you had imagined you would receive.
Your parents were very excited and the house crackled with an energy and intensity that your six brothers and sisters all reflected to one degree or another. You think you left in a hurry, though not in fear. You know you wept for having received little more than a lyre. You had wanted a sword. You threw it overboard before you lost sight of Terranse. Fortunately for you, your parents later replaced it when you sheepishly lied that you had left it on the boat. It's funny what you remember.
Familia di Talento were merchants, though not of one of the Great Houses. Modest merchants and entrepreneurs, but you are fairly certain that your father had little talent for either. His talent was for his family; that, and telling stories, reading books, and daydreaming. Talents that would eventually lead to his doom in your brutal new home on the Sengar.
You had never had the heart to look deeply into your family's background while you had the chance in the Vaults of the Libriohenaeum Order in Bostik. There was always something else to read, and you never seemed to find the time. The old librarian, Istik, was kind to you.
Oh, you remember a lot from your nearly nine years in SilvertÓ. They were good years. But your memories of that time are a child's memories. Happy. Selfish. Oddly disconnected from where you are now, in the distorted way of memories. Little of substance to inform you now. Now you curse yourself for having been too timid to risk your masters' wrath during your time permitted in the libraries. But now, even that was a lifetime ago.
The Rise and Fall of the River Confederacy
Your father was granted the Barony of SilvertÓ after the death of his cousin, killed during the early years of the River Wars that erupted after the Devil's Horn Canal wiped out the principal source of revenue for the robber baronies of the Sengar. The Wars of Independence that forged the Sunterranse Federation lasted eight years. The River Wars, which raged around family's new lands for years after you arrived, lasted 21.
When your family arrived on the small patch of land you had inherited, it's previous population of 10,000 souls had been reduced to just above 3000. Your father had big ideas. Your family spent the first night at resplendent Lorn Manor, sitting high on the river's steep banks, and left for the countryside the next day. The old castle would stand empty and unused for much of that first year, much like your father's title of "Baron" would remain the entire time you lived in SilvertÓ.
Your family spent most of the time in the countryside. Your mother and father would attend meetings constantly. They helped clear fields in the day and taught people to read at night. They was tireless, and their energy infected the population. Their hopes were contagious. As a young boy you would sometimes travel with your father from settlement to settlement, listening to him talk to farmers, craftsmen, serfs and slaves.
It was during these wanderings that you began to show real skill in the talent that would one day save your life. Your parents couldn't have been more proud and they nurtured you in your love of music, story and song - though you hardly needed the encouraging. Your father would sometimes stop in the middle of an intense debate and turn entirely just to listen to you play, and the crowds that would inevitably have gathered around him would do the same. Your oldest sister, Paula, would say that your youthful singing and lyre playing became the soul of your family's realm.
Lorn Manor became a government building for the burgeoning confederacy of communes conceived by your parents. Your family founded a tiny village out of one of a murdered aristocrat's estate and named it Picapiedras, for the nearby quarry.
Your second oldest brother, Sabbatino, explained it to you when you asked him if you thought you would ever go back to Zulary. "Mother and father considered it more noble to struggle and to live by the fruits of communal labours here - fishing, agriculture, artisanship, barter with other settlements - than to endure the corruption of the old world." You felt chastened for having asked.
You did not understand at that time what slaves were. You did not know your father was an abolitionist. You did not understand what a heresy this was in Zulary, nor what a death sentence it would be on the Sengar.
By the end of your family's first year in SilvertÓ, they made revolutionary changes to the way it was governed, improving the lives of its people dramatically for the first time in living memory. Serfs and bondsmen were freed, entire villages were given grants to govern the use of their surrounding lands on their own, corrupt officials were run out of town and, most incredible of all, slavery was abolished. He didn't call it that - he was not completely na´ve - but the effect was the same.
Your father named his experiment the River Confederacy, and dedicated it to Apollo's name. He hoped one day to turn Lorn Manor into a school. It was an exciting time.
Your territories bordered those of the powerful and entirely amoral Barony of Bostik. Your family's experiment with the politics of human decency began causing disruptions in their holdings early on. It did not take long for slaves to flood SilvertÓ from every border. It was not easy an easy life, and there were times when even your music could not wash the tensions and frustrations away.
There is no question that your neighbours felt SilvertÓ was weak. You were! The parasitic feasting knights and their feared troops were one of the first institutions your father dismantled. They had preyed on the people of SilvertÓ for a generation. Your eldest brother, Salvestro, tried to organize local militias as best he could, as it was certainly not your father's talent, but the task proved too much for him as well. The only thing that probably kept your neighbours from attacking sooner were the worries with which they were watching developments in neighbouring Twareg and K÷ln. You father had made appeals to the Federation for assistance, but with troubles of their own beyond the Sengar Wood, there was little they could but send words of encouragement.
It has always interested you that the Baronies could stand the abolition, but the thing that infuriated them into action was your parents' decision to cease charging river taxes to what merchants still plied its banks. Instead, your father invited merchants to sell their wares in SilvertÓ, to the growing population of runaways and other migrants, and levied a modest tax on the sales. It seemed a promising strategy.
When the merchants and boatsmen began to have the temerity to demand as much from Bostik and others, that was the final straw. It took Bostik and Pintere two days to cease control of your entire territory and install a puppet. They must have been planning the invasion a while, and were simply awaiting an excuse. A cousin of a cousin of a cousin was put in place as the new ruler. He was mewling and corrupt and insipid and malleable and cruel. He bent to Bostik's will, which is what it was looking for in a neighbour, until he died from an accidental beheading.
Salvestro's militias were crushed in a matter of hours. Sabbatino was publicly beheaded in a Guillotine brought from Gallant especially for your family. You learned later that Salvestro had taken his fight to the hills and held out with his band for a few days. Mercenaries from K÷ln brought him from the hills, trussed like an animal. They used horses to dismember him and laughed madly while he screamed and begged them to stop. His head still sits on a pole outside the haunted husk of Picapiedras. You saw it when you passed quickly in SilvertÓ under cover of darkness almost a year ago. It could have been anyone's skull, you suppose, but you were certain it was his. His pregnant wife, Gwen Farmer, and his one child, your young nephew, Alexandro, are the only members of your family for whom had not been able to account in the ensuing years. Besides your infant sister, Fabressa, the rest were slaughtered during the invasion.
Isabetta had hidden you both in the home of a tailor woman. Picapiedras, like a dozen of the other settlements your parents had built, were razed to the ground. You are certain your were spared only because your affiliation to Familia di Talento was unknown.
You were found clutching Fabressa and your lyre. You were young and handsome and you heard the mercenaries arguing that you might fetch a good price performing as court slave. You remember having been quite confused. Hadn't your father abolished slavery?
You were twelve. You also remember wishing they given you that sword after all.
The River Wars ended later that year. Fabressa died of pneumonia during your first month as a slave. You had no tears left to cry. Her salve brand had become infected and she never did fully recuperate. It was two weeks after they took her from you that they bothered to tell you she had died. You envied her.
Thus began your life as slave to the ruling family of Bostik. Your hands were branded, and you were forced to sing and play for their corrupt aristocrats and decadent court. You were kept from grave harm for having eventually caught the eye of Aconšata Cilento, Baron Othon's favourite concubine.
Aconšata is a Zularean from the northern hills, near the border with Hespan. She helps you to complete your education, and in turn she finally has a companion with whom she can speak Zularean. Her own sons were well placed in the court, but had little time for their mother - they were too busy scheming aginst each other and their father.
Your bond is reinforced in your shared faith in Apollo, something in which she has been forbidden to indulge, for the court owes its obeisance to the God-King Gallantine. You worship together secretly. She is your protector and sharing tales of Zulary in your mother tongue keeps you both sane.
By the time you turned 18, your strong bond to Aconšata was well known in the Court, "The favourite slave of the Donna." You were well loved by many for your songs and storytelling.
For the past year, her youngest son had begun to treat you with great cruelty. There was little either you or Aconšata could do to curtail him - you were just a slave after all, and she only a concubine. It pained and shamed Aconšata greatly to see you so mistreated by her own flesh and blood and she knew that the boy, Romain, was more jealous of her happiness than her attentions. Competing for place in the Courts of Bostik does something to men's minds.
You had conceived of a thousand daring escapes never having tried a single one. It was a source of personal entertainment and you never spoke of it to anyone, not Aconšata nor Istik the librarian. Aconšata surprised you awake in the middle of the night in mid-Heironea in the final days of Spring. She had overheard Romain and his friend planning to torture and kill you. She delayed them with wine and concubines, but feared they bloodlust would overtake them soon.
You had little enough time to get dressed, let alone grab your journal and your lyre. It seems that Aconšata had also spent some time planning for your escape. From the slave quarters you used her cloak of shadows to reach the sewers undetected. There, she had hidden a sword and some money for you over a year earlier in a tiny bundle.
She gave you a few days of food along with instructions how to get out of Bostik city. You were to travel by night overland to SilvertÓ where it would be easier to travel overland undetected. You were try your luck in the Sengar Wood, using your wits and its denizens' hatred of the River Baronies to help you to survive its perils. Before you departed, she gave you a small and simple pendant made of a river stone form her home in Zulary. For the first time since the Fall of the River Confederacy six years earlier, you wept for you had nothing to give to her. "Oh, my dear boy," she said, "Don't you know you have already given me more in our few years than three sons have given me in a lifetime? Apollo be with you. Don't look back."
He was. You didn't.
On your fourth day hacking through the Sengar Wood you had found yourself laughing out loud for having thought that maybe you should go back to Bostik. Brownies had been tormenting you for the past two days. They had forced you to keep moving in the direction they wanted, "Apollo only knows to where," you wondered. You had not eaten or slept since they had begun to bait you along, not that you had any food. You lost the sword that morning while crossing a patch of bog. It mattered little as it had been dulled to uselessness by all of the slashing and trailblazing you had to do.
Scratched, battered, beaten, and numb form dozens of Brownie spells, just after sundown you stumbled into a glade before you even realized it was there. "Mistress," you heard a brownie chirp, "We've brought you a human with a lyre. If he sings for you, will you grant us a boon?" You've gotta' be kidding me - the absurdity nearly made you guffaw. A horrible crone appeared form behind a tree. She reeked of urine and dirt and sweat and age, but her wide, watery bug eyes were electric. Her voice crackled as she chased the screaming brownies into the underbush, "Horrible beasts, you've interrupted a spell I've been working on all week. I shall have to start over again!"
She cast you a look that froze you to the spot. Dear god she was foul. "What have we here now?" She lumbered over to you, talking to hereself. "A Bard in the woods? A runaway slave by the look of you." She spit and made a sign against the evil eye. Maybe things would be okay, you managed a, "Hey."
"So is it true? Have ye' a song for me? Or should I just boil you in my pot and eat you for dinner, eh?"
Scratch that. Things just got not okay. Judging from the smell in the glade, she was not joking.
Exhausted, beaten and with no choice in the matter, you sighed and pulled out your lyre. Though one string was broken, you played, and you sang. For some reason you chose an old Gallantish ballad, one of the few that are not overwrought or clichÚ even though it tells the tale of a tragic unrequited love. When you finished, and the last strains of the melancholy melody drifted into the moonlit glade, you looked up at the crone.
For a moment the two of you just stared at each other. She smirked, and soon she softly began to laugh - no, she began to chuckle. "Very good, my boy, very good." She turned back to her cooking, talking to herself the entire time. "I don't suppose you like Bugbear stew?" Ah - the smell. "Probably not, well, come here, let's see if we can find you something nice."
Her name was Gladys, or the Mistress of the Glade, as the Brownies would call her in mocking tones before she frightened them away. She was a wicked hag with a bad disposition, but for some reason she took a shine to you. You stayed with her several days until you were healed, and then a few more weeks, once you found yourself enjoying her company.
Every day you would tell her about Bostik and the Baronies and in the evenings you would sing her a song and she would chuckle as she smoked her pipe. In turn, she would teach you a little spell or two, showing you how to draw magic form your music. She also spoke of legends and history as though she had lived through them herself, and judging from her age, she probably did. You wondered that old Istik would have loved to have cross-referenced his books with her tales.
One morning, you woke up, and she said simply that you would have to go today or she would certainly have to eat you. A little abashed, you gathered your meagre possessions and a bit of food, and set out to leave. You are not sure what it was that possessed you to do it, butyou leaned down and gently kissed her hairy, smelly cheek. She looked at you with her bug eyes again and chuckled her chuckle. "Off you go, then. Before I gobble you up."
Before you left the glade, Gladys called your name. You turned and beheld an utterly beautiful young woman, glowing blue in Elven silks, "Thank you," she breathed. Then she chuckled, turned on her heel and an ugly old woman tottered back to her reeking pot.
Gladys had told you about the Earliers in your many conversations. It was a band of abolitionists that helped runaway slaves from the Baronies through the Sengar Wood and into Federation territory. She knew where their camp was as she would sometimes steal their chickens. You travelled for three days, following the directions she had given you, before you found the camp.
The Earliers helped you to reach Twareg. They were made up largely of runaway slaves themselves. They combed the wood at the leave of the Lady of the Wood herself, the powerful spirit who oversees its denizens. The Lady knows that the River baronies make slaves tromping through her realm inevitable, so she would prefer to make it as undisruptive as possible. That's where the Earliers come in.
You were the only slave they had found during this trip. They planned to return and move closer to the borders of the River Barony. Its dangerous work, the Lady grants them passage, but that means little to the woods denizens. It simply means that the Lady will not hunt them and destroy them for trespassing.
In the month you spent with them, travelling form camp to camp and combing the woods, and looking for other slaves, they taught you a lot about the new Federation and its history. More importantly, however, they helped you to prepare for the difficult adjustment to living as a free man. Looking back now, you can only wonder how difficult it might have been had you not encountered them.
Security was a paramount importance for them and you never learned any of their names, nor did they ask you yours, though you gave it freely. They were all "brothers" or "sisters," distinguished from each other by their characteristics, brother grey-beard, sister one-eye, but even those names were not kept for more than one passage through the wood.
When you finally left them you had grown weary of their secrecy and their seriousness, though you admired their single-mindedness and passion. It was time to move on, and they had slaves to free. They gave you a few silvers and some new clothes and sent you on your way to Twareg.
You finally reached Twareg in midsummer. The Earliers left you with the Garrison at Table Lake, where your name was recorded with the federal registry as a new citizen of the Sunterranse Federation, by right of fleeing bondage. You are welcomed and you bask in your new status as a freeman.
You begin to make your way through the towns along the Devil's Horn Canal, intent on travelling to Selunaport - a city of universities and colleges on Lake Seluna, and the home of the Libriohenaeum. Perhaps the Order could get word to Istik that you had safely made your way to freedom.
You busked for coppers and silvers, and occasionally managed to play in exchange for drinks and a room. One night, in the tiny town of Ferris Dale, your life took a new twist. You met Finbell, a gnomish bard and inveterate trickster and front man for a band of Gnomes called the Boddyjons.. The band was taking a break from touring and visiting Finbell's mom.
The two of you immediately hit it off and your joined them for a time. Finbell's light-heated personality was the perfect foil for Tiberio's more laconic ways. Finbell was born in the Mazari, but travelled to the Downelands in the North as a young man. His tales and travels filled him with songs that would keep you up talking long after the last song was sung, and the last pint was pulled.
The Boddyjones were a traditional five-Gnome band that broke all the musical rules and really innovated with their work. They are enormously popular in Twareg amongst the tall and the short folk alike. The Boddyjons spend most of their time in Selunaport, but wander up and down the Devil's Horn Canal, making the occasional appearance in the Three Cities as well. The visual juxtaposition of your being a part of the band, along with your cool riffs, only increased the Boddyjons popularity. You were the quiet one and you drove the girls crazy.
After a few months, you tire of this life and take your leave of Finbell and the Boddyjons. Word of The Festival of the Two Moons has reached your ears, and I your wandering heart desires to see Riot's Gate. Finbell tells you have the heart of a Hobbit (he means it as a compliment), and you part ways with an open invitation to rejoin any time you wish.
Arriving in Riot's Gate
A laker takes you to McGreevy Town, one of the port cities that serves Riot's Gate. You ascended the mountain on a tram car to the city shared with a priest of St. Cuthbert. You'd seen members of their Order before admonishing a group of trussed up Slave Hunters caught by Federation authorities in a small town in Twareg. They are righteous and dour - but you gotta' admire their willingness to stand by their convictions. They kicked those bastards' asses.
The priest was coming to town to observe the eclipse two days hence and was eager to talk about it. The Festival of Two Moons is what attracted you to Riot's Gate in the first place. You had hoped to arrive before it began, but there were problems finding a berth, what with all the refugees. Then you hit a rough patch on the lake before finally making arriving half way through the festival.
You had heard the Festival was supposed to culminate this year with the ovoid moon, Dakar, passing in front of the big beautiful moon, Seluna. The priest told you it hasn't done that since the war to establish the Sunterranse Federation started, which is why the event is called the Eye of Independence. For it to happen twice in as many tenyears is apparently pretty rare, and, according to the priest, Riot's Gate is the best place in all of Sentar to see it happen!
You were a little bitter about arriving late and responded in short clipped monosyllables to the priest's enthusiasm about the eclipse. You rode in silence for a while before you noticed him looking at your lyre and he asked if you were playing anywhere. It was too difficult not to talk to this guy, so you finally gave in. That turned out to be fortunate.
He gave you the name of a place called the Bell & Dragon in the Steel Ward Market. He said it had a nice stage and it even if it was booked, the manager might know someone who was looking for some talent.
When you arrived at the summit, you bid each other farewell and he disappeared into the teeming crowds around the tramdocks. This was your first glimpse of the great capital surrounding the fabled Dwarven city whose stone towers reached out from its centre into the cool mountain air. It was still a bit of a climb through winding chaotic streets, but you were feeling good for the first time in several days that maybe this wouldn't be a bust after all. Besides, everything you had heard about Riot's Gate was true - the city was breathtaking.
It was not as refined or beautiful as a River Court, but who needed beauty and refinement when your streets were filled with freemen and former slaves walking together without fear. You paused a moment to draw in the raw energy of the city before looking for the Steel Ward.
As it turns out, the Bell & Dragon did have an act booked for the Festival of Two Moons but the guy did not show up the night before. The owner, a fat Half-Elf named Plake was in a bind and needed a bard to fill his stage. He was desperate, and probably would have settled for Orcish limericks or a Goblin comedian.
The Bell & Dragon is a really nice place, not like the dingy holes and reeking harbour bars you've played in since you arrived in Sunterranse. It's the type of place a bard could make a name for himself - a dedicated stage, lots of seating, decent acoustics!
You gave Plake a sample of what you could do - a sad song, an upbeat song, a drawn out patriotic number - and he was sold. You signed a contract for room and board and 2 sp a night in exchange for three sets. Plake will wait and see how things go tonight and then you can renegotiate the contract tomorrow morning. It's a good arrangement. Plake is grateful to have you, and you are pleased to play in well-outfitted establishment.
As soon as business was done, he poured you a pint and showed off the collection of copper bells he keeps behind the bar - "You're a bardů" here it comes, you thought.
Turns out he brought them from his hometown, no kidding - it's called Bellhold, which apparently makes bells and gongs and organ pipes to order for a lot of the local churches. "They all come to Bellhold because they say that the bells made in our valley have the truest tones." You have to admit he is right. He's been in Riot's Gate a few years. He's a braggart, and talks more than would be good for him in Bostik, but he seems fairly well connected and knows the city. Besides all that, he's a genuinely nice guy and runs a hell of a fine tavern.