I shall begin, against my personal custom, at the beginning rather than the end. The story begins better much later on, but I know that some of you prefer it this way.
I was born and grew up in a small village of the Forest of Gronzi. Its name is unimportant to you, but it should be known that I, like everyone else in this village, was gnomish.
This would be an extravagant detail to many of you. After all, to look at me, you would at once see me for what I am. But I tell you it here so that you better understand my life. I grew up around people of normal size, whilst passing visitors appeared huge and gawkish to me. I was told that outside the forest, the people were all of this size, and it was we who were the strange ones. I wouldn’t believe them for years.
As you mark time, I was thirty years old when I said goodbye to my mother and father, my family and friends, and set out to make my fortune.
I had a strong voice, and my father had carved me a lovely wooden flute when I was young. I had played it incessantly of course. I had little else in the world, but upon my departure my mother presented me with the finest clothes we could afford. I had hoped that my luck and my talent for music, as well as the cantrips I had learned in my childhood, would be enough to see me grace the noble courts of the menfolk. The traveeling traders had said that I would be a natural fit, and that they were always keen for a showman such as myself.
That was nearly true. They were always keen for a show. I hadn’t quite learned the subtleties of the courts, and sadly it took me far too long to realise that my personal skills of storytelling and song weren’t to everyone’s appreciation.
Where I grew up, to make light of your neighbours foibles was to lessen their impact. It was what made us thrive as a community. If Old Man Poosk got a little handsy with the maidens when he’d been drinking, that didn’t matter. He knew that everyone knew, and we knew he knew. He knew when to stop, is what I’m saying.
Maybe I never learned where to stop.
I headed northwards, and soon found myself attached to the court of a nobleman, a minor lord of House Orlovsky. He liked to hear me sing songs of the Fae in their own language. When he asked me to sing a song in his own tongue, I surprised him with one about his neighbours in the next county, drawn from a rumour I had heard about the young Lady Medvyed. Whilst he chuckled briefly, his wife’s stern glare caught us both, and I knew I had as grievous an error as I could.
Lady Medvyed being caught with a stableboy and her pants down was perhaps a story to bold to broach to the elder sister of said Lady.
I made my excuses, and fled as fast as I could. A few more gold pieces to my name, a nice set of clothes to perform in.
And then I took over a decade to learn a simple lesson, something which perhaps I could have learned much more quickly, had I paid better attention.
The Lord you are performing for always has a sister married off to someone else nearby. The Lady you’re performing for is invariably the daughter of the Lord and Lady with the interesting goings-on at parties.
I travelled all about, but slowly south and away from the webs of courtly intrigue.
It took me another few years to realise that, whilst the nobles in the south were fewer, and less powerful, and less tied in to the rumours of the north, they were still keener to patronise the artists who didn’t make light of the people that they wanted to be.
And so I found myself out of favour as far as I could easily travel, and ended up taking my songs and stories to the taverns. I managed to make a living, for what commoner doesn’t love the lewdest tales of his lord?
Eventually, even these tales had earned the ire of the local mayors and magistrates, perhaps brought down from above them.
Needless to say, I ended up in Restov, just when they were calling for brave persons to head into the untamed wilds to the south. I didn’t have a great amount of choice in the matter. I was wanted as far away as possible.
And so I went.