Upon a pale horse... (The Mists of Ravenloft)
Eli the Bard
Eli was born to a prostitute in Pont a Museau, Richemulot in BC 729, growing up with his numerous siblings in the streets of that rotting city.
At age 8 he became enthralled by Noémi Geneviève, a bard that had begun working at a local higher-class tavern, often sneaking into the establishment to hear her entertain patrons with her singing and storytelling. Noémi noticed him there every night, but took pity on the child and never gave him away.
Smitten with the nice lady and amazed at the worlds she created with just her voice, Eli took to leaving gifts by her door. One night while trying to sneak in he got caught by the owner of the inn who accused him of thieving and began to savagely beat him. Roused from sleep, Noémi ran into the hallway. Fearing for the child’s life she screamed at him to stop. Enraged, the innkeeper accused her of using children to steal for her and had his guards throw them both out of the inn.
Eli’s final memories of the event was being swept up by a weeping angel and carried away from the alley behind the inn.
Life on the Road
Noémi took Eli with her when she fled the city and nursed him back to health. They traveled together from town to town, from festival to festival earning their way by her talents as an entertainer. She taught Eli how to play a mandolin (a skill he took to with surprising ease) and he began playing music to accompany her storytelling. The years flew by and Eli continued to learn the life of a bard; he picked up several instruments (though none with the same mastery as he displayed over the mandolin) and committed more than a few songs, stories, and legends to memory. Noémi taught him what she knew of reading and writing so that he might learn more from any books or scrolls they happened upon. He learned the roads and when and where the best festivals would be. All of this was a far cry from the life he had known on the streets of Pont a Museau.
From Boy to Man
Years after their flight from Richemulot at the Harvest festival in Karina, Invidia, Eli was singing the chorus line for Noémi while they worked the crowd and his voice cracked drawing gales of laughter. Seeing Noémi redden slightly he dropped the chorus and finished with just his mandolin. Embarrassed, he fled from the stage as soon as the piece was finished and disappeared into the crowd. Confused and angry with himself, he wandered the city streets until dark before finally wandering back to where they had made camp. Noémi , eyes red and tears running down her cheeks ran to him and held him close to her. Eli tried to apologies for embarrassing her in the middle of her act, but she wouldn’t let him. She told him how afraid she was that he wouldn’t come back and made him promise to never leave her alone again.
In BC 746, during late fall, the two were crossing Verbrek trying to reach Mortigny. The land was drenched in a cold rain that made building fires very difficult. They spent many nights huddled together in the cold and dark, shivering to the cries of wolves. On one particularly cold and foggy night as the two lay together under their blankets a pack of wolves happened upon them. Fighting as best they could with just their walking sticks, they managed to get out from the center of the pack and fled into the night. The fog grew thick around Eli and he lost track of Noémi . Terrified, he screamed her name and fumbled through the mists looking for her; hearing nothing but wolves growling and baying all around him in return. Finally in desperation, Eli climbed a tree and waited out the freezing night alone. Though it haunts his dreams to this day, Eli could swear he heard one of the wolves laughing during that night.
He woke the next morning to the sounds of raucous laughter and the bark of a muzzle-loading gun. Stiff from cold and from clinging to the tree through the night; Eli carefully let himself down, slipping and falling the last few feet into a pool of boggy, marshy water. Startled, he regained his footing in the waist-deep water and looked around; not a single tree looked familiar to him. Slogging through the mud toward the voices Eli came upon two men in a small raft talking to one another; one was huge, with a loud voice that boomed throughout the marsh and carried the musket he had heard earlier. The other was armed with some manner of extremely exotic crossbow and looked strange to him; small like a child, yet carried himself with the poise of age. Taking notice of him they asked him why he was in the middle of the swamp; Eli began weeping openly and collapsed in a heap.
That evening; dried out and warming by their fire, he learned that Bartholemew and Lazarus Vesper (whom he learned was elven) had been hunting the crocodiles that infested the bog to settle who’s weapon was better; Bartholemew’s musket or Lazarus’s repeater crossbow, though they had yet to break the tie between them. Having nowhere else to go nor anyone else to turn to, Eli began traveling with them. Eventually Batholemew went his own way but Lazarus and him have continued on as companions until the present time.
Eli and Lazarus drifted from town to town; with Lazarus picking most of thier destinations. The two making thier way by taking work on riverboats and Eli continued to work as an entertainer in whatever venue he could find. Lazarus would often dissapear for days at a time in some towns, and Eli would grow somewhat accustomed to it (though it always bothered him). One day while working on Nathan Timothy‘s riverboat they came across a group of people on a sand bar in the midst of the river. Eli managed to talk Nathan into letting them board instead of leaving them stranded despite the presence of Vistani within thier ranks. That evening however, it seemed that Nathan’s superstitous nature was correct as the party came under attack by wolves. Quickly organzied around the fire by Rudolph Van Richten, the party managed to fight them off.
On reaching Karina, strange events continued to dog them as a cart mysteriously overturned right in front of them. Fearing the safety of Helen of Verbrek and Raul, Eli quickly dragged them down a back alley to hide from the mob as the rest of the party delt with the calamity. Helen swore she had seen a mysterious child dressed in black vanish into thin air just before the cart overturned and suspected he was involved somehow. <unfinished>
Spirit broken following the horrors he endured at the hands of Headmistress Lynn, Eli wandered the land for a number of years, before finding himself in Kartakass. Entranced by the free lifestyles of Kartakan bards, Eli took up his instrument again and wandered the lands for several years. (…or something like this… What do you think Jon?)