Wandering across the northern reaches of Saerith, Drostan looks nothing like the stereotypical bard. There are no hose, no jounguer’s cap, not even a lute. Hailing from the sourthern Nyirian enclave of Talpra Bay, Drostan is typically tall, standing six foot four inches tall and has black hair that hangs straight to his waist. His jaw bones are wide and prominent, as is his crooked nose. The most striking thing that audiences notice is the deep and raw gravely sound of his voice.
Born to a humble fishing village, it seemed that life would be nothing but mending nets and hauling the slick skinned black Perugn Carp from the cold waters of the Western Sea. Fate stepped in, taking the form of a marauding warband of trolls from the swamplands to the south. his young life shattered by emotional scars from seeing friends and family torn limb from limb, eaten while still alive and screaming, and the girls and women of the village sexually violated before being cast into hungry jaws and eaten like so much uncooked lamb.
Drostan was left to wander following the destruction of his home. He developed severe alcoholism, drinking himself into stupors and lending himself out as a temporary worker. This lasted a number of years until Drostan had the fortune to come across a self proclaimed bard who purported to sing valorous songs of fighting trolls and vanquishing foes. Disgusted with the bard’s lame attempts at singing of battle, Drostan knocked him unconscious and started screaming at the gathered audience. The remaining lutist started playing along to his rant, and Drostan discovered an unknown ability to keep musical beats and compose lyrics on the fly. Rather than throw Drostan from the stage, the patrons were drawn into his apocalyptic lyrics and his brutal form of charisma.
The Bard’s Entourage
The lutist who kept playing during Drostan’s impromptu first performance was Venoch Jindurn, a wandering human accompanyist who originally hailed from the elven city of Koryl. Reviled by the elves, they claimed that Venoch had a soul of darkness and they exiled him from the human quarter of that city. Left to wander as a step away from being an outlaw, Venoch took up playing the four stringed base lute and persuing a life of violence, self indulgence and destructive nihilism. upon hearing Drostan’s impassioned tirade of brutality and death, Venoch found someone he could stand to be around for long periods of time without resorting to bouts of violence, indeed the two started traveling together as a two man group, spending as much on beer and whores as they made.
The duo wandered for roughly a year and a half before encountering a fleeing half elf named Qos Mrikul. Obviously a false name, the duo really didn’t care, but they liked the fact that the dreadlocked half-elf offered to play drums for them, and more importantly, carry their stuff around. Qos proved to be a good enough musician, but did not really join the Nihilist group until some months later when Qos lunged off the performance stage to attack a heckler who continually mocked one of his drums being out of tune. Drostan and Venoch learned that Qos was also a good shot with the bow, and suspect, correctly, that he is a run-away from some Elven legion ordered to march against Prax.
Distinction and the New Sound
The Lauske brothers, Thalak and Sokoya, were the last and perhaps strongest members who would eventually join Drostan and form their cult of Nihilism. The Lasukes hailed from the marches of Taurenor Keese. Both had long hair much like Drostan, but had thick accents of the woodfolk which made their ability to sing less than valuable. In fact, aside from drunken debauchery their only skill was in playing six string bitterns. Their style of play involved hitting two notes at one time, as well as playing very fast, running a tempo of as fast as 32, while other bards hovered in the range of 4 to 6.
The Lauske’s fell in with Drostan after a mix up, a absent-minded clerk scheduled both groups at the same time. Neither side would yield the stage, and a battle of what some call noise erupted as both sides tried to drown the other out. What actually happened ended up being something magical, not good, but certainly magical.
The Cult of Nihilism
Having seen the worst of life, its coldness and brutality, the newly forged group of musicians was able to translate that emotion into a sound. That sound resonated in many who heard it, and grew. It was not long before cults of nihilism sprouted in their wake. Formerly idyllic communities were rocked by sadistic violence, desecration of churches, abuse and cruelty directed at animals, the young, the elderly and anyone not associated with the new movement.
It was not long before the group started taking advantage of this phenominon. Initially they made crude and base demands, free alcohol, the self-humiliation of women, gifts of money and other such implements of greed. Once the group was financially secured, they started telling their increasingly rabid and devoted fans to do other things, just to see what they would do. Self mutilation, suicide, public crime and civic disobedience skyrocket in the vicinity of the group, something that they find massively amusing.
The Black Hoods
In a strange move, a group of fans donned black hoods, indicating their absolute servitude to Drostan and his Nihilist movement. It was not long before the group started using the Hoods to carry their gear, serve as protection, and as servants for their every whim. The few attempts to neutralize the group thus far have met with failure because of these Black Hoods who have on several occasions died to protect the group, and on several more have killed in their name. In a sort of self-imposed dehumanization, the Hoods refer to themselves by a number rather than a name.
No one is really quite sure when the well groomed and well spoken T’Chal appeared but he quickly integrated himself with both the group and with the Black Hoods. T’Chal organized the Hoods, started managing the groups increasingly impressive finances and acting as a sort of leash on their increasingly destructive behavior. Without his constant guidance from behind the scenes, the group would have self-destructed years ago rather than reach its current level of success.
The Nihilistic cult has found fertile soil to grow in, taking root across Prax, Nyir and even into the war torn reaches of Elvindorm’s Taurenor Keese and Moonlight Glade. The problems caused by their self-indulgent violence has not yet reached the attention of Sidious Praxingdrell yet. A conflict between the Drostan, the cult, and Prax would be a catastrophic thing, as her military is increasingly being infected by the cult, including some of her middle echelon commanders and at least one of her warlords. The resultant civil war/coup could quite easily destroy the Praxian kingdom and leave the entire region open for Elvindorm to sweep through.
While Drostan and the rest of his fellow musicians are by all means entertainers, collectively they create a subconscious and primordial sort of magic through their music. This collective unconsciousness is what calls to the populace and draws them in. In a climate saturated with war and violence, the nihilism espoused by Drosten is planted deeply and firmly into the listeners. The Black Hoods have all but been brainwashed by continual exposure to the music.
There are only three modes of defense against this musical effect, four counting deafness. Having a pure an unsullied heart, a heart of innocence defeats the heartless brutality of Drostan’s music. The opposite, to be already entrenched in despair and brutality negates the message as the listener has already seen it. Those between the black and pure of heart are the most vulnerable. Finally, magical wards of protection and charms against persuasion are also effective at negating the magically aspect of the music.
Mr. T’Chal’s secret
T’Chal is a demon. In the Chthulu mythos fashion, T’Chal is the herald of Blacha, an elder demon of the Primordials. Recognizing the destructive potential of Drostan and his angst ridden performances, T’Chal has signed on to orchestrate the group and keep them from falling apart before the appointed time. His final goal is to use Drostan and crew to release Blacha from it’s eternal prison and back into the world of Saerith.