THE MASTERBARD JUDITH OF BARDAVOS

 PERSONALITY- BIOGRAPHY

Judith, a contemporary of the Sage Artimidor Federkiel, is a qualified masterbard (holds three Bard’s Rings from the Guild School of Tunes in Bardavos) who has composed for courts and noble homes across Caelereth, though you would be as likely to find her singing bawdy ditties in an Arvennorian tavern or entertaining Shendar children on the edges of the arid Rahaz-Dath. Her speaking voice is both controlled and dramatic, matching her warm alto singing voice. Judith also practises a little healing, mostly herb-based, and enjoys teaching children crafts, games, and songs, spreading bits of cross-cultural entertainment wherever she wanders in Caelereth. She is good with her hands, as one might expect from a lutanist, but hopelessly undisciplined - in fact, she dropped out of the Seven Schools of Magic (Memnoor settlement, inside the edge of the Etherial Void, Aeruillin continent) due to her inability to focus on anything for long periods of time.

Judith of Bardavos

View picture in full size Picture description. Portrait of the famous Masterbard Judith of Bardavos, entertaining a bunch of dwarflings. Image drawn by Faugar.

Personality. Her charisma and engaging ability to discuss almost any topic at range, if not in depth, make her an excellent conversationalist, although a poor listener. It is possible that her studies with the Memnoor Brownies have assisted a latent magical ability to intensify other’s emotions, as her songs and poems often demonstrate. Whether composing a lullaby, a lament, or a lovetune, her music will draw an appreciative audience, and her lyrics ready listeners.

Judith enjoys the attention but can turn moody and solitary just as quickly. While she has never actually walked out of a performance, it has happened that at the end of a successful tavern set she will dismiss the applause, leave the coins on the floor (and her paid-for room) and stride out into the darkness with only her hooded cloak and her lute, spending the next seven-day on the plains or up in some mountain fastness. Her temper is as quick as her tongue, and a fair match for her hair; she does not suffer fools gladly, and can write a satire savage enough to raise blisters.

It is believed that she is celibate, though gossip makes her out to be a widow rather than a virgin. At any rate, though she has any number of male friends, none of them are lovers. She is also of rigid morals and easily shocked. Perhaps this is due to her unflinching belief in a Brownie minority faith (the worship of a purposeful, kindly creator known as the First One). Though she never proselytises, she believes actions to speak louder than words, and attempts to behave in a moral and compassionate manner, though inevitably she is not always successful.

Biography. Not much is known about Judith’s early years. She seems to have been born in a remote mountainous area in Manthria, a province of the Santharian Kingdom. Her parents were foresters, imbuing her with a love of the outdoors and a respect for nature. She had little initial formal schooling, but eventually found her way to Bardavos in her teens, where she studied at the Guild School of Tunes by day and worked as a leather-crafter’s prentice at night. Surprisingly, she managed to persist long enough to achieve her first ring, at which point she broke her prentice contract and left Bardavos. Relying on her leatherworking skills and her bardic ring for bed, board, and protection, she began moving northward through the Sarvonian continent.

From some of her early poetry we know that Judith made it as far north as the Tandala Highlands, which she wrote about movingly and with a perceptive eye. At some point she learned quarterstaff, and, while never a master of the offensive moves, became a quick and competent defender, with a number of disarming moves reminiscent of Thergerim axe techniques. About ten years later, at the age of twenty-five, we find her plump and healthy back down the length of the land, at Strata, where she took ship for the continent of Aeruillin.

There Judith was able to gain admission to the Memnoor Brownie-run Seven Schools of Magic, and spent an undetermined amount of time studying under the Memnoor regime, with apparently little success. If you were interested, and able to ask the Brownie professors there about the core classes she took, they would tell you that she got through Elementary Browniin and Basic Magic Tongue with little difficulty, but struggled through Breathing and Focusing, demonstrated disinterest in the Basic Physical Components course, and never did master Taking from the Void. Judith keeps this part of her history undercloak, and if asked about her education or magical ability will often wave a hand aimlessly and say, “Oh, here and there, a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” and change the subject deftly... It is also during this undocumented period of her life that it has been theorized she met, married, and was widowed by, a human Sandrider. However, this is gossip and unsubstantiated.

Bard Judith's Certiicate

View picture in full size Picture description. Certificate of the Third Ring of the Composers Circlet awarded to Bard Judith. Image compoese by Artimidor Federkiel, text by Alysse the Likely.

At twenty-eight or so Judith returned to Bardavos, still disinclined to settle down; tanned golden-brown by the desert, baby-fat melted off but still amply framed, and affecting leather clothing in imitation of Sandrider garb. She threw herself into the earning of her second bard’s ring with no apparent enthusiasm but a grim passion which earned her the title of Masterbard very swiftly. The corpus of works she had built up in the thirteen-year absence from Bardavos made no small contribution to this achievement. Minstrels from far-flung areas of Santharia would report back to the Guild School of popular tunes being sung, little ditties chanted in the streets by children, satires winging round a local duchy, and hummed lullabies overheard - when asked for the composer or poet, quite often the answer would be Judith’s name or description.

Now in her early thirties, Judith is an intense and well-travelled personality with a charismatic appeal, although she can be quickly and savagely off-putting. Her face is more arresting than pretty, though her smile is generous. She travels often, returning to Bardavos where she will always find a room and a welcome at the Guild School's Home Hall.

Strengths/Weaknesses. Judith has more stamina than energy: though she can walk all day, any quick expenditure of effort will leave her short of breath. Her ability to think fast and make decisions quickly can be both a strength and a weakness, as she also tends to jump to conclusions and judge people by their cover. She is good with her hands but terrible at sports, can play any number of instruments but can’t dance, can use a quarterstick with speed and accuracy but would probably cut her own arm off if handed a sword. She knows a good deal about Santharian herbs and natural medicine, but can’t cook (thereby enriching a good many tavernkeepers and foodstall owners over the years!). Racism is a foreign concept, and she gets along well with most races (particularly Brownies and dwarves); however, her strait-laced morality and minority religious beliefs have caused some conflict on occasion.

She is usually found wearing a long divided skirt, her favorite cream-coloured Yuatu’way tunic, and her trademark multi-pocketed leather vest. She is never seen without her E'ur Oak staff, her Cloewen Lute, and her hand-made green-dyed belt, strung with a dwarven brass buckle in the shape of a cave drell biting its tail. Assorted powders, herbs, and dried fruit fill the pockets of her vest: dried loriv berries, baien-cha tea leaves, foridite spice, totit flatbread mix, yahrle ointment to stanch bleeding, sahnrix throat lozenges, and so on.

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