The Moonstone Mask (Tsaveric)
It is to be noted that the works in this section take place in the Faerûn universe, as part of the Forgotten Realms franchise, which is owned and maintained by Wizards of the Coast. The author of these works takes no ownership of the referenced setting materials. However, all created characters are the intellectual property of the author.
The dim firelight flickered onto the rowdy merriment of the Moonstone Mask, the tavern in the heart of Neverwinter. Tsaveric and Kiira had been walking for hours to get to this particular tavern, which welcomed all sorts; an elf and a genasi would fit right in. Tsaveric was also good friends with Ophala, the owner, and knew she would let them stay the night free of charge. Ophala always loved when he would play for her patrons, but he suspected her affection was more personal than that. So in they went through the ornate portal, and if the elf was weary, hungry, and longing for a night’s rest, you would never know it. He strode in like he owned the place, whistling a curious tune which floated towards the bar, where Ophala brightened up and looked to the door. She saw her old friend, and her eyes lit up and a little smile escaped her scowling façade as she walked to him.
“Took you long enough, Tsav; I was beginning to think you weren’t coming back! How was the haul this time?”
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant, Laranlas!”—his pet name for her, an elven term used for women of nobility– “Or… It would have been, my dear, had we not hit a devastating storm! Needless to say, I’m between ships at the moment, I’m afraid, and…”
Ophala didn’t let him finish, she could tell he was too tired to tell a proper lie.
“–They mutinied, didn’t they?”
Tsaveric tried to look surprised, tried too hard, in fact.
“A Mutiny!? My dear, you’ve wounded me! As if they’d have any reason! No, my lady; just a storm, that’s all. Not a tenday out of Neverwinter, would you believe it?”
Ophala sighed wearily. “I wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t believe that an elf accustomed to the storms of Evermeet was bested by a few clouds not a tenday off the Sword Coast.” She replied curtly
“Believe what you will, my lady, but get me a drink while you’re doing it. When am I on?”
Ophala smirked. “You’re up next, if you like. I was getting tired of this rabble anyway. I’ll get you that drink, and your table in the corner is free. I’ll be with you in a minute, and you can tell me what really happened, “said Ophala, with a bit of a motherly undertone. She turned and started walking towards the bar but stopped short a few paces away.
“Oh… Who’s your…friend?” She added hesitantly. Tsaveric wasn’t the type to hang around women this young, but who was she to judge?
Tsaveric gasped. “Oh, dear. Where are my manners! Ophala, this is my adopted sister, Kiira. Kiira, this is Ophala, the loveliest woman from here to Evermeet!
Kiira nodded, tired and uncomfortable.
Ophala walked the few paces back and looked as nicely as she could to the girl. “It’s alright, dear. I know he’s full of it, sometimes. I’m a good friend of his, and I hope to be one of yours, if you’ll have me.”
Kiira laughed at that, and smiled. “Okay.”
The patrons quieted down as the peculiar couple walked on the stage. The instrument the man held was like nothing they had seen before… It had a long neck, with strings running from its tip to its deep, resonating body. Not quite a lute… The neck was longer, and it had these strange little cranks on the end, one for each string, of which there were six. Ophala knew of Tsaveric’s Shalaquin, of course. It was a traditional elvish instrument he had brought with him from the legendary Evermeet… An instrument that few knew how to play, and even fewer had mastered… In her presence was one of the rare few. Looking up at him on the stage with the little girl, she couldn’t help but notice just how human he looked. Elves usually had this aura about them.—one of regality and grace… Not so with this one. Tsaveric walked up with all the swagger of a human, and stood relaxed on stage, whistled to test the acoustics, then knelt down, a slight trickle of a smile escaping his lips as he whispered something to himself and drew something on the floor with his finger. His short, feathery hair covered his ears; where Ophala knew there were no telltale points to be seen.
Every time she had asked about it, he had told her a different story. Maybe that’s what she liked about him. Every story ended the same, with some mythical beast holding him in a headlock, so tight that he had to pull his head free by force, tearing at his ears in the process.
It’s funny, she thought, how when you hear someone tell enough lies, you start to hear the truth beneath them.
She had no doubt that his stories were at least partially true. She was sure that an elf was not welcome on a pirate vessel, and his ears were a dead giveaway of his heritage.
She shuddered at that thought. Was it self-inflicted? Would he cut his own ears to better fit in? Did he admire humans so? Or was it humans who did it to him? Made a mockery of his race?
She almost preferred the latter. Better that than for he to think so little of his people that he would resort to self-mutilation to further his life with humans…
She woke from her thoughts when Tsaveric started playing. He always started with something lighthearted and akin to human lands, the flicking and strumming of his shalaquin an exciting remedy for the hard-working people of her city.
But this was different. This was no song she had heard before… and he was… accompanied? Kiira, this girl who he called his sister… was singing with him.
It was beautiful. They fit so well, their chorus was perfect!
They knew the song well, and they were perfectly in time and tune with each other. Kiira must have been on his ship; this was a rehearsed act.
She wondered for how long… How did Tsaveric stumble across a Genasi in his travels? They were rare enough as is, and they usually kept to themselves in small colonies on the outskirts of civilization.
—To call one his sister? She almost couldn’t believe it. Where are her parents? Why was she on his ship to begin with?
Yes, Tsav had some explaining to do. But, she supposed she could wait a few more songs…