Valmaxian "Val" Wands

Valmaxian_wands
"We will be the stuff of legends!"
User: Jim
Campaign: Waterdeep
Race: Half-Elf
Gender: Male
Role: Leader
Class/Level: Bard/5
Description:
Valmaxian Wands, or Val, to most his friends, is a classically trained bard, focusing on the traditions of bardic performance and diplomacy. Val trained at the well-established Bardic College of Olamn, where he learned classic poetry, soliloquies, a’capella and accompanied song, musical instruments, languages, and both the magical and diplomatic arts of the profession. Val also dabbled in the “street arts,” as most young bards called them, such as tavern performance and common story swapping. Valmaxian was born to be a bard. From his wanderlust and desire for adventure to his immense talent and beauty, Val could be one of the greats. AS such, Valmaxian is ready to begin his great masterpiece – a life of legend.
Background:
Valmaxian Wands was born to Torlyn Wands, head of the noble house of Wands in Waterdeep and Earathuil Alean’urdrenne’mitore, moon elf emissary from Evermeet. His birth was seen as a great blessing to the house of Wands, which had all but disappeared. Torlyn and Earathuil never married but the moon elf stayed on as the lady of the house after Valmaxian’s birth.

Torlyn rejoiced in the birth of a son, although he immediately realized that Valmaxian being born out of wedlock and as a half-elf made him less than perfect as an heir to the high seat of Wands. Waterdeep nobility prejudices being what they were, it would be an uphill climb to seat Valmaxian as anything.

Regardless of the political dilemma, Torlyn and Earathuil loved their son and loved each other. The first four years of Valmaxian’s life were idyllic and everyone around them marveled that Torlyn has come to such a good place as his years started coming upon him.
When Valmaxian, or Cricket, as most called the toddler – as he was incessantly noisy, either with idle chatter, songs or other noises – was four summers old, Earathuil received an urgent message from her house in Evermeet. Come now and prepare for war.

Earathuil loved her life and her family but Earathuil was a woman of purpose and honor. With much grief and promises to return when she could, Earathuil left for Evermeet.

Torlyn and Cricket were suddenly very much alone. The laughter that filled their house seemed a cruel jest and a deep silence fell upon the House of Wands. Although a man of means, Torlyn could not assuage the deep heart ache that both he and little Valmaxian felt with Earathuil’s sudden absence.

Sometimes these life changes can bring people together and sometimes they can create a gap that is difficult to cross. The latter was true for the Wands family for as Valmaxian grew, he bore his mother’s exquisite beauty so remarkably that Torlyn, when in his son’s presence, was constantly tortured with the loss of his elven love. As the years passed, Torlyn never recovered from Earathuil’s departure and still longed for her return.

As Cricket grew, he was raised to the life of a Wands, which meant that he was accustomed to all that life had to offer. His family lineage was one of power and prestige, especially in the wizarding circles. To say that lineage was waning would be an understatement but reputations and histories are everything to the noble houses and Torlyn was a worthy and honorable Wand in the best of the family traditions. Likewise, he raised Valmaxian to become a Wand in all the ways that were important, if not race and circumstances.

Valmaxian would attend The Guild of the Watchful Order of Magist and Protectors, of course, and become a great wizard in his own right. Beyond that crucial step, he would become a man to make Torlyn and Earathuil proud. Cricket was told stories of his ancestors and their great deeds. He was told, he too, would do great things one day and must add to the legends of the Wands family and Torlyn was sure that he would.

To prepare for that, Cricket was given the finest of a wizard’s education, starting at a very young age. Even at the onset, the whispers in the hall about Cricket’s struggle for progress always grew quiet as Master Wands approached, but Valmaxian was treated kindly, even gently, as no matter how he strained with the lessons or drills, he was easily the best liked boy in the school. Perhaps it was because of his heartfelt efforts and encouragement to others as they excelled beyond him. Perhaps it was his dogged determination to complete tasks that were clearly beyond his reach. Regardless of the reasons, Cricket won the admiration and friendship of students and masters alike. And perhaps this is the reason his inevitable failure to master his lessons was so long concealed from Master Torlyn.

When Cricket was twelve summers and had grown to a long and, frankly, beautiful boy, ten senior guild masters tremulously approached Lord Wands with some bad news. Valmaxian, despite being a very good boy, a charming boy, a handsome youth, and all the things Torlyn had hoped for, despite all these great and grand qualities, Valmaxian had failed his wizarding tests abysmally.

As Torlyn listened to the report, his face reddening by the second, the senior guild masters confessed it was not lack of effort or persistence. In fact, they were astounded that persistence and solemn effort had gotten him this far. One senior guild master confessed, the other children rallied around Cricket and helped him to such an extent that, this too, obscured his lack of progress until this late stage. But they finally, begrudgingly, painfully, had to concede that while he had some various strengths, Valmaxian would not be able to complete the training required of a full wizard. Torlyn’s eyes bulged but with there was no place to vent his wrath. It certainly was not Cricket’s fault, I had to admit. Nor was it his instructors. Nor the other students. It was much worse than that: For the first time in memory, a Wands was not fit to be a wizard.

Valmaxian was told of this meeting and waited in his rooms for his father’s arrival. He drew pictures in the condensation on the paned glass and looked out over the North Ward. As he cleared away his last drawing, his reflection caught his attention and, if such a thing could be said, it looked back at him. The slight imperfections in the glass almost made the reflection feminine and a song suddenly came to mind. It came upon him so powerfully that he began to sing it.

Oo ee veh-thehd nah ee ohn-nahd.
See boh oo-thahn-nah
Eye oo-ess-tell-ee, ess-tell-ee-akh nahd.
Ess-tell-ee-oh ahn, ess-tell-ee-oh ahn, ess-tell-ee-oh,
Ess-tell-ee-oh ahn, ess-tell-ee-oh vehl-ehth.

Torlyn had stormed down to Valmaxian’s room with the senior guild masters in he wake, still trying to quell Torlyn’s temper. They arrived moments after Valmaxian started singing and could do nothing but listen to the hauntingly beautiful boy singing as clear as a cold, spring brook with such sorrow and passion that everyone, Torlyn most of all, had tears streaming down their face.

As Cricket realized they were there, he stopped and turned, his face growing hot.

One of the guild masters cleared his throat and translated the elven out loud,

This is not the end...it is the beginning.
You cannot falter now.
If you don't trust this, trust nothing else.
Trust this, trust this, trust,
Trust this, trust love.

Valmaxian could not recall where he learned the song and his elven was not yet graceful enough to spontaneously create the refrain. Not a single senior guild master in The Guild of the Watchful Order of Magist and Protectors could explain it.

The next day, Valmaxian had ten letters of recommendation for the school of Olamn, the prestigious bardic college of Waterdeep. He would have had eleven but his father refused to write it.

If Cricket was drowning under the weight of his wizarding lessons, he grew gills and flourished in the waters of the bardic college. He was easily the best a’capella singer and natural speaker in the college. Despite not having the sharpest mind, Cricket was always the most in tune with the material, whether it be song or word. His natural talents and skills were finally able to burst forth and blossom.

Valmaxian grew into a talented performance bard and was drawn to the artistic side of the school. He considered the art of diplomacy an art in true form. Words became a master craftsman’s tools to him. As this talent, among so many, flourished he occasionally was chosen to act as go-between for the wizarding and bardic communities. He was a Wands, after all, and he knew the layout and facilities of both school very well. More than that, he was liked and trusted by all. As he became a senior student, many of his duties led to emissary assignment with local dignitaries or visitors from outside of Waterdeep. Valmaxian became fluent in Elven, Dwarven, and Draconic as well as being able to translate most languages beyond that through his budding bardic talents.

Valmaxian Wands was destined to be a great bard – perhaps one of The Greats. This, of course, came with certain jealousies from other, more run of the mill, students. While Val – as he was starting to be called by close friends – was well liked and always had been, some people simply don’t like what they cannot possess. There were some like this in school but not many and while Val was among the best he was also the most encouraging to others. He did not take his own excellence as an excuse to be arrogant. He knew, from real experience, how hard it was to struggle and how humbling it was not to be at the top of the list.

He still knew; in his father’s eyes Val would never be a success. Or at least Valmaxian felt that way. He would never truly be a Wands in the ways that counted. His expulsion from wizarding school, although it came with discovering his real path in life, was a blow for his father. While they were never close after mother left, that chasm widened their relationship even further.

Val accepted long ago that his mother might not ever return. His memories of her were loving and warmed him at times, almost as if she were close by, but memory was all he had. His father pined for her and that deep grief left little room for happiness with his son. Never the less, they were family and Torlyn afforded Valmaxian with the privileges of a noble lifestyle with one exception. While he paid for his education in Olamn, he did it with one condition: Valmaxian could leave his wizarding studies and become a bardic dilettante but afterwards, he must make his own way in the world. Torlyn could hold his head high despite the shame of his only living son not being a true wizard, but he would “be damn if he would support such an indolent lifestyle afterwards.”

This fact was widely known and even before Val came to his master’s year, offers to perform, to translate for royal dignitaries, to have a permanent post in other houses, to do whatever a bard of his obvious caliber might want to do. With a future so bright, it was an outright scandal when Valmaxian announced his intentions. He wanted to adventure. Truth was, he had been gathering equipment with his father’s stipend, meager as it was, and already had his armor, buckler and a couple of fine steel daggers. His Aunt Nharaen, his only other living relative, was delighted with the news, as she now had juicy gossip for her ladies who lunch, but she was alone in her delight.

Guild masters, fellow students who were seeking official posts, and even Torlyn pleaded with him to reconsider. Jobs were offered. Positions secured. Promises and moneys generously presented. But all propositions were graciously and summarily declined.
In a desperate final play, Valmaxian was summoned to an audience of the full board of Olamn. Honored guests from The Guild of the Watchful Order of Magist and Protectors, including his father, attended the meeting. All in all, thirty people were gathered in a half circle with a single stool placed in the center of the room. It was demanded that he present his reasoning for such a desire before the board or risk expulsion before graduation.

Valmaxian donned his armor, adjusted his buckler, and set his daggers on hip and in boot. He wore his best cloak and boots. And his lute, he placed carefully upon his back. Val the adventuring bard went to battle to fight for his dreams.

After much gracious flattery, pomp and circumstance, exhorting, explanations, calls to listen to reason, and finally threats, Lord Torlyn stood, a tremor in his voice, “Why do you find new ways to throw your life away, Valmaxian? Why!”

Val looked at his father’s eyes. A memory came of playing with croquet mallets with his father, his mother. They were laughing as Cricket tried to hit the ball. Val smiled.

Then he stood and approached the gathered officials so he could speak quietly, “Father, I do not seek to waste my life, but to celebrate what life is, for you, for mother, for everyone. What I seek cannot be found in an office or position of high esteem, however gracious those offers may be. I seek a life worth telling children about, telling men who have worked in the sun all day, women who struggle to feed their families. I seek something to give them strength. What is a bard if not to inspire others to live their dreams and seek beyond their meager circumstances? I seek a life of the heart, of the soul, not of the coin purse and what I do, I do for those that cannot see this for themselves. All of us need heroes, father. It is, perhaps, the noblest thing I can think of to do and while I am not worthy, and might never be worthy, I will do it and the life I lead will be in service to those who need that. So sing of me and the companions I find. Write our stories. Record our adventures for the ages, for we will be the stuff of legend.”

The room was silent. With nothing more to say, Valmaxian bowed, turned, and walked out of the room.

A week later, Valmaxian Wands, of the House of Wands, graduated the bardic college of Olamn with full honors and as highest approvals of his class. Val looked to the west, out over the clousy sky and thought of his mother and he thought, just for a moment, he could hear a soft refrain.

With tears of faith and loving arms
I’m always there in Reverie.

Details:
Physical Description

Valmaxian inherited his mother’s immeasurable elven beauty, as well as artistic talent. Val is, simply put, a devastatingly beautiful creature; on par or surpassing even elves. He wears his flaxen hair long and down, creating no fuss over it other than to keep it clean and brushed. His chiseled features mark him as a man, but his soft eyes and languorous body balance his masculinity with a softness that is almost feminine. Val dresses simply and lightly when the weather will allow. He simply does not acknowledge the effect his acute beauty causes. He only has eyes for his studies and goals, but he gathers friends and acquaintances as a bee gathers pollen. While, he has many girl friends, Valmaxian has never has a lover. One might surmise he simply has not found anyone that sets his heart aflame but Valmaxian’s heart belongs to his music and to his bardcraft. In essence, he is in love with song and word. He does have an eye for fine clothing and dresses for his bardic activities, but spends most his allowance from his father (Lord Torlyn Wands) on adventuring gear in preparation for his graduation from Olamn. Valmaxian desires to become a great adventurer bard of legend and his dress makes this statement dramatically.

Personality

Positive attributes: Caring, optimistic, cooperative, inspiring
Negative attributes: Entitled, head strong, bleeding heart, dreamer

Valmaxian has led a princely life that still allows him to see the best in most people. This has lent him a generous attitude and a kind, even loving, demeanor toward the world. Val is handsome, to be sure, and while this would be, should be, enough for most, Valmaxian’s talents outshine even his physical appeal. Tall and lean, his lithe form disguises a lion’s heart. Val has no great strength or agility, but his presence can have a very powerful effect on a person if he focuses his considerable will toward them. Val is no great intellectual and he has learned this lesson harshly in the past, but he is earnest and considerate and has learned to surround himself with people who can work together. Valmaxian deeply values communication and teamwork. He understands he cannot become a great bardic legend on his own and he knows he must both lift others up and stand tall with them to live on in story and legend.

Social Skills

Valmaxian is a creature of two worlds; on stage and off. When not fulfilling a role, either in a band of adventurers or on stage, Val can be quiet and introspective. Unlike most bards, he does not need the adoration of the crowd. In fact, one might surmise he tolerates it as the downside to being able to celebrate life through song and word. On the flip side, when Valmaxian is “on,” he inherently masters the role required for the moment; whether enigmatic singer in a royal theater or a beacon of inspiration in the heat of battle, Valmaxian ignites with purpose and passion. One might say Val truly becomes the role required as he so instinctively conforms to the situation at hand. Behind all the masks, though, there seems an aloneness that Val cannot always hide.
Problem Solving: Valmaxian relies upon his ability to negotiate a problem and partner with others to solve issues. He inherently understands relationships and connections and although it is not a conscious action, Val leverages those things to solve issues and get everyone what they want. Val has become accustomed to being liked so much that he sees the world through rose colored lenses and expects most everyone to look favorably on him. He also expects the world to be a reasonable place full of reasonable people. These constructs will be challenging for him as he encounters creatures that are not naturally drawn to him or who are not reasonable in the least.

Life of Legend

Valmaxian sees his life as one that will go down in legend. Once he finds companions, he assumes they will be the ones the gods have led him to and that, they too, are meant for legendary things. He truly believes this and it is the driving force behind much of his inspiring presence to his companions. When you travel with Valmaxian, rest assured, you must be a hero. This presumption on his part, does not mean he is egotistical – far from it. He is honored and humbled to be chosen for such a life. He is equally honored to be friends and companions with those whose destinies must be equally bright. Together, Valmaxian and his brave companions will live in story and song throughout the ages.

Thoughts on family

While from a noble lineage, Valmaxian does not seem to value or take advantage of the resources and benefits of the noble lifestyle. Perhaps this is a defence against his cool relationship with his father and his lack of noble inheritance, due to an agreement his father and he came to upon choosing to enter bardic studies. Val does visit his father but the meetings are never warming and he realizes there is no great comforts to be had at home. He does get on with his Aunt Nharaen and visits her quite often. Nharaen is the only other familial member in Waterdeep that Val knows of, although there have been rumors of cousins throughout the realms that he might be able to meet.