A Bard's Tale
His original name was Jean Dafé, a French merchant who found his fortune trading spices in the early 1600s. He traveled all over the known world selling a discovering new trades and by the time he had reached the age of twenty-three he had traveled to every port in the Black Sea; walking the entire distance of the Silk Road three times. Jean knew every secret road and pass which allowed his goods to safely pass thru bandit lands.
He craved knowledge that he did not possess and when he did not possess it he went by every means to do so. On the rarest of occasions a Monk China-man, of sorts, came to him asking for safe passage past the barbaric Mongolians to the north; his name was too difficult for the trader to pronounce so he simply called him ‘monk’. Jean was no fool, the Mongolians were gorilla warriors, they kept to their woods and knew ever inch of their land and whatever they conquered they memorized as well. Not a trader alive had discovered a path around them. Jean thought the old man to be a fool even to try, but aside from a hefty amount of gold he was offered a permanent and exclusive trade with the chain of temples in the high mountains.
At first Jean thought the deal was one sided, the cost and man-power required to take goods up the steep mountains would over turn more spending than profit. He pondered for many days and then rather than trade, he asked to be allowed to observe the temples and record there methods and rituals. Not in this age, but one day far past his time these recordings will make ‘someone’ very rich either in knowledge or wealth. The monk questioned Jean’s change of payment: why would a western trader care for ancient traditions that would do him no good in his life? The Frenchmen was different than his companions, he sought more than material goods, he wanted enlightenment.
They traveled up the Mongolian roads in disguise--keeping to large groups as to not draw attention to themselves. The Monk said little as to why he needed to go north, only that there was something he must return with at all costs. Their travels with the group brought them as far as possible until separation was necessary. In the winters of the north snow was commonly seen, though Jean never saw much of it in his homeland it was a pleasant experience...as long as it didn’t impede their journey. Many times the two found themselves hiding within trees and under fallen limbs to avoid the scouts.
The monk was strange in his ways, many times he would disappear in the night and then return with small animals. In a bamboo container strapped to his side he consumed a type of thick tea, as he called it, the monks of his order used to prolong their need for food or water. After many months of their travel and enjoyable time together they had arrived at the cave that was sought--a large temple lay in its center, where the ceiling broke and collapsed giving way to the sun’s light. Ordinarily any outsider would not enter this sanctuary however the monk found trust in Jean, a trust not easily gained especially from mortals.
Jean followed him silently, taking in every detail of the temple; there were dozens of guards however they seemed to have suffered great loss in a recent battle. He had seen their expressions before; weary, worn; yet these ones had not lost their glimmer of hope as other soldiers had. These people were different, they all had marble-like, flawless features complemented by their black and red armor.
The monk ushered Jean to stay close, that if he stared too long into his master’s eyes they would capture him forever. As the meaning in his words became as obscured as the morning fog Jean did keep close until out of nowhere a man had grabbed him and threw him against a wall. Their speed was beyond his comprehension; the monk came between the two, their blades collided, snapping on impact; the guard was seized by his shoulder plate and flipped onto the ground; his body created a crater. Jean could not believe his eyes when the guard stood up without a single hint of harm--they spoke in an odd language, one that he who spoke seven could not understand.
Jean kept even closer this time as a child would with their parent in a crowded plaza. Within the depths of the temple, as light dwindled little by little Jean and the monk came upon a large room that over looked the true size of the cavern. The trader was speechless, his eyes feared on their own for in all his travels he had never seem anything so beautiful. The monk instructed Jean to wait behind him as he continued forward another twenty feet before dropping to a single knee and lowering his head. Jean learned upon his first trip to Italy: when in Rome do as the Romans do--he placed his hand over his heart and lowered the upper part of his body to where his gaze would not see past the monk. A woman’s voice could be heard, but once again he could not make out what they said until the obvious point of conversation turned to the mortal behind the monk when she spoke perfect French.
“I thank you for bringing my friend safely to us.”
Jean rose his head slightly to see a beautiful blonde-haired woman before him. She was just as those who surrounded her; flawless complexion and yet her radiance was even greater and pure; he was in the presence of an angel. Next another person came baring a large bag of what is undoubtedly his payment. Jean glanced at the bag and then back to the angel and at last found his words.
“My lady there is no need to pay me.”
He had seen the state of the soldiers; the guard’s attitude toward an outsider. Jean may indeed be young, by his mind and senses are trained to know and see the behavior of people, though they were developed for a different purpose, he is well accustomed to judging a type of person one is or could be.
“You have more need of that gold than I do.”
The angel looked upon him quizzically, “You risked your life to bring one of us here and yet you want no reward?”
“Humans always want something.” The guard growled saying such in his language purposely.
“That is true, however what I want is measured in a different kind of wealth.” Jean turned to the woman, “My lady if it would be permitted I wish to help in anyway I can.”
It was true he was no warrior, no man of great strength or willpower, but his memory was as flawless as their skin. Knowledge takes one a great deal in this day and as a trader he knows his way around--nothing is done for free. This woman knows it, they all know it, Jean is getting paid, but not in material means. The guard was not pleased, he wanted the man to die and be done with it--they have already risked too much for an outsider and a human at that to destroy everything they have tried to protect.
“There is a way you can help, but you may not like what must be done.”
The monk jumped up, ‘Your majesty, please you cannot possibly be considering-!’
“It is his choice.”
Jean may not survive. The monk pleaded for his friend’s life hung in the balance--this could be a curse or a blessing, but not without sacrifice!
“Jean please think carefully at what she is about to offer; what we are its--!”
Jean and the monk locked arms, “I knew...” The Frenchmen smiled when seeing the monk’s eyes had become as red as the blood within his container, “I knew the entire time, my friend.”
Jean gave a wide smile, his father was a noble vampire, but his mother had been his human mistress; needless to say he had been born a bastard child. It didn’t bother him that his father was not human. He did not hate his father for killing his mother or for casting out a human son. He was grateful rather because if that had not happened his father would not have given him the necessary funds to live on his own and see the world, he even helped start his son’s business. It was a funny way to show love, but it was how his father was.
“If it enables me to help, to gain the knowledge I want than the risk to my life is worth it.”
From that day, Jean was an immortal, a servant to the immortal queen Carmella. As his human body died the trader felt a sort of release, a lightness to the weight of his human life. He was no longer a trader, but an informer using his previous knowledge he traveled around the world. Jean and the monk did this together eventually the songs of the temple the monk had learned as a boy inspired Jean to compose his own songs and poetry. He never though himself good at singing, but he had all the time in the world to get better and eventually Jean’s works were known throughout all the land as he sang about the past and present; he judged all he sang by their actions and presence; to be given a title by this bard was like a royal decree.
For over two hundred years he served Queen Carmella, giving her the required information about her enemies and on occasion moving her to an alternate location--they were running from someone. As time passed he took notice how carefully her guard kept to her; never leaving her side and though the untrained eye could not see it to Jean it was obvious. They were defying the Nightraven Curse. When it was brought to conversation the Jean relayed a fact that he learned from a member of ‘that’ clan. He asked his long-time friend what he should do, if he should do anything.
“If our enemy knows then its all the more reason to protect her and keep them separated.”
They felt the warmth of the fire, though its creation was unnecessary for both, and watched its flame dance and spark in the moon light. The monk unwrapped a book within his belongings, one Jean held much curiosity too however he never dare act on it.
“This is the Book of the Moon, the one of two books detailing the history of the vampire people.” The monk’s gaze was discontent with the book itself; sadness swept over him each time he touched it with his bare hands.
This book told of a cruel destiny. With the gift of foresight its author saw what the future brought and what was brought was death; the death of all things and yet there was the future of one she could not see clearly. Perhaps it was her approaching death that obscured her vision or she simply could not see it, but the one she spoke of filled her with dread. They would either save the world of men or the world of immortals, a single person would make this cruel choice. Which ever they choose they would undoubtedly die.
The author and original care-taker died leaving him to care for the book until he too met an end. For so many years he thought her words meant a single truth, but perhaps if anther knew the same words they would come to a different conclusion. Jean could not read much of it, even after two-hundred years the old and new words of the immortal often left him with an entertainingly confused expression. The monk began to explain however a sudden cry from her majesty sent both of them into the house.