By invitation only, a few select (and wealthy) guests are attending an Archduchy-sponsored, post-mortem, estate sale and auction of the Mad Composer, a musical genius and virtuoso of his time, but one possessed of a black-heart.
Von Zygilvein’s name was celebrated by the masses. After all, he was already revered for composing and staging the nobilitys favorite opera, The Saga of Artibor-King, had invented new and wondrous musical instruments (some say with help from wizards), and had swept the zeitgeist entirely, developing a following and a personality cult in his name, among the bourgeois and nobles of the times.
What few knew however at the time was that the great composer possessed a cold, black soul. The tale of Von Zygilvein is too long to relate here, but suffice it to say, his reputation suffered after his death, and whispers of his evil-doings emerged. His musical genius was still unquestioned, but his had star dimmed significantly, by the time his estate sale was held, his compositions, notes, journals, and instruments auctioned-off to the highest bidders.
Among the eccentric composers many possessions, was an amazing collection of bizarre, odd, and magical instruments, strange contraptions acquired over a lifetime. It is these instruments which are the items most sought after by the attendees of the estate-sale.
Inspired partially by MoonHunter’s Garage Sale from Hell and ephe’s Novel Musical Instruments. These are the bizarre or rare, magical, musical instruments and pseudo-instruments a mad-man’s estate might have up for auction.
Additional Ideas (5)
The wheel-fiddle, or Hurdy-Gurdy, is an odd enough instrument on its own, but the Von Zygilvein Apparatus is a one of a kind contraption. First constructed by the legendary composer, the apparatus was crafted of the finest woods and painted with the finest varnishes. A new instrument for the time, the apparatus captured the attention of the music-loving public, and earned its place almost instantly amidst the ball-rooms and minstrel-halls of Haracons Arch-Duchy. Wheel-Fiddles began to be crafted by artisans, and many a bard, learned the complex playing style of the instrument, involving strings, a metallic wheel, and an ivory keyboard.
What no one knows to this day is that the apparatus is possessed by a spirit of a fey, a miserable creature Von Zygilvein had captured and bound to the apparatus with magic. In essence, the composer had trapped the fey inside the physical confines of the hurdy-gurdy, and forced the fey with geas bindings, to control, play, and enhance the instrument by controlling a complicated set of knobs, buttons, and levers, all hidden inside a wooden hollow.
And so the fey did as it was bidden, and Von Zygilvein traveled the courts of dukes and kings, playing his amazing new instrument to the applause of rapt audiences.
Eventually, both the public, and Zygilvein himself tired of the hurdy-gurdy, and moved on to newer musical innovations. His apparatus was cast aside, and it was not long, before the fey inside the contraption, died from a broken, grief-stricken heart, collecting dust in one of Von Zygilveins many rooms.
The fey however would not go quietly into the night. The creature returned as a poltergeist of sorts, a spirit bound to the wheel-fiddle, and will begin to cause its particular brand of havoc as soon as some unfortunate enthusiast purchases the instrument at the auction.
The fey spirit can control the hurdy-gurdy, and cause unpleasant accidents. A string can suddenly snap for example, striking a musician in the face like a lancing scourge, or the instrument can slip from the hands, smashing ones foot.
Worst of all, the fey-spirit can cause the instruments crank to turn, thus causing the rosin-wheel to animate. Instead of playing the instruments strings, the rosin-wheel can lash out ten feet on its fine, metallic chain, and clamp around an unfortunate victims throat, strangling the poor soul, for as the crank turns, so constricts the wheel.
The murderous, bitter, and insane fey-spirit can most likely not be placated. The creature desires revenge on Von Zygilvein, and not being up to date on current events, or the events of the last century for that matter, will be incredulous if told that the Mad Composer has died. The apparatus is a gruesome instrument, with no redeeming traits, which will most likely cause bodily harm upon those owners it deems "worthy" (read: all owners). But of course, the potential buyer will not know any of this.
The flute, unlike some of the odder instruments in the auction, is merely an ancient find, once unearthed by Zygilvein during one of his archaeological forays, and not a weird contraption of the Mad Composer's baroque era.
Seemingly made of stone, but actually carved from the larynx bone of a stone giant by unknown hands, the Gorgonsbane Flute can be played by anyone capable of actually playing a flute, though in the lips of a bard, the flutes magic power can be truly evoked. As soon as a bard begins to play a melody upon this ancient instrument, any and all petrified creatures within hearing distance of the bard, magically stoned or otherwise, will immediately revert back to flesh. This goes for equally for companions, who may have moments ago been turned to stone by some angry medusa or frothing gorgon, as well as statues centuries or even millennia old, those who may have once been victims of the same predicament.
The effect of the flute is temporary. As soon as the bard stops playing the melody, all those creatures, friend and foe, originally affected will turn back to stone, if such was their state prior to the playing of the flute. Even a bard tires at some point, and once the melody ceases, the power of the flute cannot be used again until the following day.
The worth of the Gorgonsbane Flute is self-evident, and well-known legends tell of many instances where this flute was used by adventurers, such as the time, when Tilymgol the Skald, escorted his band of companions many leagues from the Gorgon Plains, and back into town, after the entire band was turned to stone, aside from Tilymgol. Travelers of those times often spoke of the fellowship led by the flute-playing minstrel, who by night formed a ring of immobile, stone statues surrounding the bard and the camp-fire, and by day were simply a traveling band of flesh and bone. Eventually the adventurers safely reached the town, and their curses were reversed by wizards.
Other more fanciful tales speak of Vukaj the Lark, a master-thief, who once played the flute in the very archways of the Hall of Sleeping Gods, great stone statues amidst half-buried, antediluvian ruins. The result of his foolishness is to this day unknown, but Vukaj the Lark was never seen again, and the flute lost once more to the fogs of time.
How this ancient thing, turned up among the belongings of the erstwhile composer and black-heart, Von Zygilvein, is anyones guess.
This horrific automatons origins lie in the distant past. It once served as an instrument of torture to amuse the decadent rulers of the time. A perfectly crafted brass and bronze statue of a giant bull, one and a half times life-size, the bulls stomach is hollow, and a hatch on its flaring chest, nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the metal around it, can be opened. In the olden days, victims sentenced to death, were put inside the bull-construct, and steamed alive, as fires were lit beneath the bulls belly. The death was an agonizing one, but when Von Zygilvein discovered the old relic in some forgotten museum, he purchased it, and improved upon the design.
Von Zygilvein had his metal-workers and instrument-crafters, add complex sets of metallic tubing and piping throughout the beasts body, making the statue in effect a macabre musical instrument.
Occasionally, Von Zygilvein would stage elaborate, concerts for a few private friends. As unfortunate victims burned inside the bulls confines, the Mad Composer would conduct a brief musical piece, as the screams of the boiling, were turned to bizarre musical sounds due to the many installed pipes and tubes.
One night, the unexpected occurred. The brass bull somehow animated, and began thrashing about, shocking guests and Von Zygilvein alike. It was whispered later by sages, that so much pain and suffering had the inanimate object felt throughout the centuries, that an unknown and indescribable sentience and awakening occurred that night, infusing the torture-instrument of brass with a malevolence and berserk rage, unheard of even among the undead.
That night the bull caused much destruction, and Zygilvein was lucky to escape with his life. Later still, the Mad Composer and his wizard friends caught up to the rampaging creature and dispelled whichever foul magicks had infested the bull in the first place. The bull was put in storage by Von Zygilvein and forgotten. Now it is up for auction, and who knows if another spark of golem-like animation lies somewhere dormant inside the erstwhile torture-machine.
Sold in one piece is a large collection of mostly common musical instruments, the master kept them in a separate room and liked to peruse them, much to the wonder of his ruthless servants. Some are damaged, very few finely decorated or of a better quality. There's violins, horns, several drums, even a harp. There are quite a few other instruments. None of them will register as magical or seem to have anything of interest for a genius composer.
It will be sold as the last item, to those who failed to win the better items.
Every single of the instruments has been used to violently murder someone, which can be found with appropriate skills and spells. Beware though, one such item is nothing unusual, but their sheer number can prove detrimental to anyone's sanity. Those able to hear their stories will probably hear all of them.
Note: some of the items have been adapted for their purpose, so they have sharp edges or hidden needles coated with old poison. Handle with care.
In the hands of the majority of people, the knob on the top is enchanted to project the voice like a microphone. But for someone with the bardic gifts who can make up a song of his or her own of a decent length, and sing the song to it's end without stopping, what happens in the song will come true. It was made by a mage for a bard whose island was being terroised by the feared Captain Fryer and the crew of his ship, the Edmund FitzGerald.. The bard sang a ballard about the Edmund FitzGerald sinking in a violent storm with all hands, and sure enough, as soon as the ballard was over a huge storm appeared and sank the Edmund FitzGerald with everyone on board.
As well as the song having to finish to have an effect, should the singer be cut off muid song for any reason, then it has a very negative effect on the singer. The singer might be struck almost dumb, and left only able to speak or write the words that have allready been used in the song. Or the bad thing in the song might attack the singer instead. Or if the song was meant to do something really evil, the Staff itself might suck the soul out of the singer and into itself, leaving the singer's withered dead body behind.