Friday, March 15, 2013

Secrets of Desylinn: Liara Rosetongue

by Dominic Ford

Entering the dark room, Machi’s heart pounded, filled with dread. Although the market this morning had been one long catastrophic event, he couldn’t believe it had warranted a meeting with the renowned Lady of Whispers. A lamp in the corner flickered to life, and his heart skipped. He had expected a hag, but this woman was so far from that. His tongue dried in his mouth. Her elegant face, unmarred by the slender scar covering her Imperial origins, was smiling. Her neck, decorated with a delicate rose tattoo, led his eyes to her silvery gown, which however modest couldn’t hide the woman’s majestic beauty. Machi swallowed hard and forced his eyes upward, looking into her inviting green eyes. She began to whisper.

Although born into the frozen Elven Empire, Liara had her heart warmed at a young age by the life and music of the Transcendent BjordHalf-foot. Instead of embracing the cold, Liara turned to music. Liara was among the first to scar herself rather than continue to carry Kady’s Kiss, the mark left on all Elves upon the death of Empress Arcadia. Her fame as a Bard spread beyond Hub, and her tours took her across Desylinn, from the Kindred’s tents and the Gren's Wagons to the Dwarves' distant forgehalls. Her career took an abrupt turn when a jealous performer snuck into her home one night and slit her throat. Luck, or the Transcendent Bjord’s blessing, was with her, and she survived the devastating injury.

Left with an ugly scar on her throat, her was voice utterly destroyed. Liara turned her back on her career, her magics, and her previous life. She took a vow of silence and maintained it for over a decade. Seeking understanding of the nature of the Gods, of life in Desylinn, and a new purpose for herself, she searched within for answers. The first answer she found in Transcendent Bjord’s second teaching, Altruism. A servant in the Temple of the Five, she became a silent bringer of hope, dedicated to alleviating the endless suffering of the world. One day, deep in meditation, inspiration struck. She rose, collected her wages, and left the temple. She went straight to a tattoo artist, and whispered the design for her rose into his ear.

Her new life bloomed with the rose. She took her money and invested in small shops, independent merchants, and desperate yet skilled craftsmen. Slowly these investments expanded and grew, and with them so did her influence. The small shops grew into flourishing businesses, the merchants into significant caravanners, and the lowly craftsmen advanced as masters of their respective arts. Finally, the collected organization began to fray, too large and unwieldy for any individual to manage, and Liara knew that a change had to happen at once. She petitioned the Council for official status and her organization became the Merchant’s Guild.

Within the Merchant’s Guild, Liara’s word is final. She has advisors and bodyguards, but once she whispers instructions they are carried out immediately, to the best understanding and ability of her followers. She considers her people to be a powerful machine, and modeled it after Transcendent Bjord Half-foot’s famed artifact, the Voice of the Changeling. She trains her people to be perpetually flexible, and empowers them to make decisions in the moment, from the bottom level up to the highest caravanners. Her organization stretches almost as far as her fame once did, and few dare cross the Merchants for fear of bringing a single whisper against them.

Liara has not allowed this power to go to her head, however. She spends her time praying and meditating, trusting her followers to do as she has asked. She never forgets the second half of Transcendent Bjord’s teachings, and instills the value of Altruism into her entire organization. She demands loyalty, trust and honor, and in return ensures full wages, adequate reward and proper punishment for any in the Merchant’s Guild. In spite of this, her understanding of both business and mortal weakness ensure that she is increasingly profitable. She passes most of this back to the Guild, and the rest to the Temple of the Five, choosing a life of humble honor for herself.