Every bard has in their repertoire tales of valor, romance, tragedy, and humor. These are thirty of perhaps the most famous ballads recounted across the lands.
1. The Valiant Valador
The legend of heroic knight Valador, who sought the hand of a fair noble maiden, and rode off to battle against a dragon to prove his worth. While typical of such tales the knight was indeed victorious and returned with the somewhat smallish head of the terrifying beast, and was proclaimed worthy to marry the princess and inherit the kingdom. The ending however is more tragic, as it recounts the kingdom being plagued by two greater, more fearsome dragons that destroyed the castle and its occupants in vengeance for the slaying of their young hatchling.
Snatches of this tale can often be heard sung during long overland marches by soldiers and mercenaries. "Valador the valiant! Valador the bold! Valador the courageous who slayed the dragon cold!"
2. The Clumsy Emperor
This historical favorite is told more cautiously in the emperors' lands, for fear of the retribution that comes with openly mocking the nobility's ancestors. The tale itself concerns an arrogant emperor who received a pair of cursed dancing shoes as a wedding gift that gave him two left feet. Aside from the embarrassment upon the ballroom floor that evening, he was forever remembered for his clumsy gait and inability to climb stairs without stumbling.
Some bards will reenact his amusing walk and dance during the tale, to the joyous glee of the audience, the catchy lyrics whistled and hummed by townsfolk to timid to sing it openly. "He was dancing as if possessed by chaos; he was dancing like a ship caught within a storm, but after that fateful day his dancing wasn't quite the norm!"
3. Love Knows no Boundaries
A touching lesbian romance, recounting the chance meeting of a ranger and a priestess at a small towns harvest festival. It tells of their blossoming love during the following winter as they struggled to protect the hamlet from vicious goblins, hungry predators and a small epidemic.
While of mixed popularity among the more conservative crowds, it has become a favorite of independent women and perverse men across the land; both appreciating the tale for very different reasons. "Ones caress like silk, the others touch like fire, between them sparked a burning desire. Days turned to weeks and their friendship did grow, evolving into a love more pure then hinterlands snow. United through conflict on the side of the just, during the cold winter nights they tenderly satisfied their heated lust. United as one, heart body and soul, they each were the half of a sacred whole."
4. The Three Wishes Of The Blackthorn Guards
Another fun story recounting the wishes three Blackthorn gate guards made over lunch upon releasing the genie trapped in their newly opened bottle of rum. With there being three men surrounding the container the genie saw fit to grant each one a single wish, the tale recounting how the first man wished for a island all to himself and to be surrounded by lovely ladies willing to cater to his every whim and the wonders he soon began to experience after the genie teleported him to his paradise.
The second man is said to have wished for a quiet hunting cabin in the middle of the woods, where he was free to live peacefully and enjoy the wilderness far away from the noise and crime of the city, with several verses of the wondrous forest he appeared in and the great bounty that awaited him.
The recollection ends on an amusing note with the third mans wish, their sergeant and commanding officer, who while cursing them for their abandonment of the city and the kingdoms pride, smiled gleefully and wished them both back on duty after lunch.
This tale is often accompanied with fast banjo or fiddle music thorough out, the tune carrying far and wide by the boisterous voices of off duty guards. "One wish made for pleasure, one made for self gain, and wouldn't ya know it that bastard sage, he wishes em both, right back again!
5. Sharwyn's Last Desire
The sad, mournful yarn of young bard Sharwyn, whose voice was said to be more beautiful then any heard since. It recalls her tragic torture and eventual death at the hands of empire soldiers, and the majestic silver oak tree the goddess Lelune erected to mark her passing.
Often accompanied with silver chimes, this tale of sorrow can often elicit tears from even the most stalwart of listeners. "A drink of burning liquid silver stole her voice and seared her very soul, left violated, bleeding, and alone, her lips seared black as coal..."
6. The Rise And Fall of the Drasguard Empire
A fast paced saga tells of the ancient empire of Drasguards' rise to power, from the unlikely romance between a dragon and a sacrificed maiden, to the glory days of the kingdom and the brief time when men stood at the side of dragons as brothers before the fear and jealousy of rival kingdoms brought about their downfall.
Best told with a pounding drum beat, the epic odyssey also sounds nearly as good on a tambourine, the lilting lyrics carrying a thunderous rhythm. "A dragons scales never tarnish, even as a dragon's life fades, and still the kingdoms spires rose to the sky as if daring the gods to come and try to knock the towers from on high and drag the city to the depths below..."
7. The Scorpion Sword
The valiant legend of the famed Scorpion Sword, the blade forged from the bodies of desert scorpions and given a life of its own. While carried by bandits and desert tyrants for centuries and the subject of many a campfire tale, no other retelling quite captures the horror and overwhelming sense of doom those on the wrong end of this blade felt as this one.
Often sung in a deep baritone with rattles and thumb cymbals signifying the scorpions clawed grasps, it is not soon forgotten by any present. "Death and burning shimmer gloom, the hiss of agony fills the room as the scorpion blade strikes true burning the soldiers armor through and though, a poison so vile it eats the soul, melting the flesh and dissolving him whole!"
8. Ballad of the Blind Maiden
The tragic song of a beautiful young maiden, blinded by her cruel father when she was caught spying though a keyhole on his nightly meeting with members of the thieves guild. Despite the loss of her sight she went on to sing of the beauties of the world as she could still perceive them, though sound, scent and touch. Eventually she was sold into slavery to a traveling merchant, who made small fortune off her haunting voice and moving lyrics, the girls' entire existence spent in near poverty.
Its chorus has been known to stick in the minds of listeners for many days after hearing the mournful melody. "I used to sit and watch the days go by, the blue birds sing and the lovers sigh, all these things I’d sit and watch beyond my door, all these things I’ll see never more. Alone now I sit and listen to birds like I always had; only now, all of their songs are sad…"
9. Love Blooms on the Battlefield
The inspiring romance between a solider fighting desperately for survival on a war torn field, and the timid healer woman who saves his life by striking down an enemy warrior from behind before he can land the final blow upon the hero. Surprised and grateful the soldier struggles between his obligation to his kingdom and feelings for the young waif, eventually retiring from the battlefield to become a war surgeon and saving the lives of his comrades in arms.
The cheery song has been said to inspire hope and renewed vigor to those facing difficult conflict. "The healer and warrior, life giver and taker at their core, once separated by their duties now united forever more."
10. A Salty Sea Wench
An amusing parable about a beautiful wench of the docksides, who would promise sailors the night of their life, then get them drunk and run away with their coin purse, leaving them in a run down inn snuggled next to whatever unconscious beggar or half starved animal she could find in a near by alley.
The song often is accompanied by harmonica, and everyone listening downing a shot of hard liquors every time the lass in the tale seduces yet another man. This last tale of the evening continues until the bard, and his audience are too drunk to sing the chorus coherently, which is usually something along the lines of: "Remember lads and lasses, hang to your purses tight this dark and rainy night, or ye just might find, fates been unkind, and yer in fer a fright, when ya wake in yer bed at first light!"
11. Black Water Be My Lover
The harrowing account of a wealthy man who was seduced by the black sea, forsaking all his worldly possessions to sail its frigid waters. Despite pirate attacks, sea serpent sightings, and a mutiny, the hero never gives up his love affair with the sea. The tale ends with him still said to be riding the endless ocean waves atop a ragged clipper ship held together by the strength of his love alone. A popular song often sung by sailors when setting out on a lengthy voyage: "Black water be my lover, black water be my bride, black water keeps me sailing true, black water by my side."
12. Days of old
A admittedly bawdy drinking song concerning the "days of old when knights were bold" often with amusing variations on what had not yet come to pass or no longer was, such as "In days of old, when knights were bold, and toilets not yet invented, people dropped their load aside the road, and walked away contended." And of course the ever popular: "In days of old, when knights were bold, and tavern wenches not particular, you'd line them all against the wall, and screw'em while drinking liquor!"
While not a song ever to be heard in a kings court room, it's wildly popular in the soldiers barracks and run down taverns bards oftentimes find themselves playing at.
13. Great Deal, What A Steal
A cautionary anecdote of a swindler called Jack who sold a none too bright young man a set of thin iron armor he convinced him was magically durable and worth every gold piece the man possessed. Unfortunately for the huckster, the witless mans much brighter (and stronger) brother was drinking in the tavern across the street, and upon hearing from his brother about this "great deal" paid a painful visit to the charlatan, and bent the breast plate over his unsuspecting head.
On an energetic night many of the crowd can be heard to loudly join in singing the along with: "Great deal! What a Steal! A brother's fortune taken for real! Careful Jack, better watch your back or, the touch of vengeance you'll surely feel!"
14. Forget Me Not
An inspiring narrative guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face who's ever forgotten something of great importance. It recounts a absent minded scholars furious note taking on the proper way to host a wedding ceremony for her daughter, only to forget to attend her daughters wedding entirely, being so lost in the planning of it.
Rumors abound of those who hear the song being able to recall events and pieces of their past long forgotten if they whistle the ditty. "Once was forgotten now remembered forever more, around your finger tie a string, then you'll never forget a thing, you wear it just like a ring..."
15. Funeral Dirge
A sober but ofttimes necessary duty bards find themselves called upon to perform when a valued member of society kicks the proverbial bucket and their family and friends wish to see them fondly remembered in favorable prose. Using a simple and generic template the bard can often adjust this tale to speak of a person's appearance, occupation and positive qualities while sounding quite original. If used too often in a single area however the bard may find themselves facing accusing looks and admonishment for stealing another person's memoir ballad for their own needs.
In its most basic form the tale is often recounted to the soft strumming a harpsichord or guitar, this easily adaptable composition having a simple stand alone quality that gives it wide appeal. "Once alive, never more a beautiful woman long before, a woman of courage a woman of care, a woman with flowing golden hair, now at last she rests her face, at long last taking her rightful place, above the clouds and birds flying high, never a chance to say goodbye..."
16. Lost child Annabelle
A heart warming tale of the lost child Annabelle, who vanished during a bandit raid on a small village and was feared lost forever. She later returned as a wandering healer clothed in a simple blouse and short black skirt, treating the sick and infirm. The tale tales goes on to recount her miraculous rescue year ago by a young monk who showed her the secrets of herbal healing and art of unarmed martial combat. Upon her return to her former village she raised a homegrown militia against the bandits plaguing the country side and restored peace to the land once more.
Her tale is often recounted by village militias when rising up to overthrow injustice and pretty tyrants, being said to make them immune to fear and routing as long as it was carried on the lips of even a single fighter. "Annabelle the beautiful, face smeared with bits of dirt, she returned and showed the bandits the meaning of hurt, bare handed, sandal footed, an wearing naught but blouse and skirt!"
17. Crystal Dreams
A conflicting fable attributed to an insane bard of ages long past, it evokes a sense of wonderment and fear as it recounts a travelers experience of becoming lost within their dreams after a night of intense drug use, dreaming backwards all the way to not only their birth, but the very dawn of creation itself.
Fast paced frantic violin or guitar music accompanies this piece, which is the closest thing to bardic death metal many fantasy dwellers will thankfully ever hear. "Crimson sky, burning earth, longing to die before my birth, yet sill my mind it carries on, singing this endless fantasy song, as I sail these crystal dreams without hope."
18. Grandma's Ghost
A moving holiday folk tale of a grandmother's ghost that returns to bake her grandchildren cookies, and reward them with festival treats and presents one last time. An extremely popular song played during festivals celebrating the dead and ancestors long past.
This soft piece is usually accompanied with a gentle flute or ocarina. "Her form pale as the fingers of fog on a cold winters morn, the grandmother began her final sojourn, bringing wonder a plenty for children resting upon beds of hay. It t'was the last time they'd see her on that warm festival day..."
19. Running Wild
A rollicking adventure of a young girl raised by wolves, who grew to adulthood never knowing the sound of human voices or the comforts of civilization. When captured by well meaning rangers and returned to town she quickly came into conflict with the locals and easily offended the more timid country girls. In the end the woman ran back to her animal brethren and affectionate lover, the moral of the song being to live true to ones self even if society doesn't agree.
Sung in a lilting faced paced tune nearly any instrument is suitable, although the fiddle is considered the original composers choice. "Run though the fields and run through the trees scattering the butterflies in the fall breeze, you know where to wander, and have everywhere to see, always and forever, the need to be free!"
20. A farmers Fortune
The pleasing, hopeful song of Farmer Ned, a well meaning but ultimately poor farmer who discovers a buried chest of gold when plowing his field one spring morning. Finding himself much richer then he really feels comfortable being, he donates the money around town, disguising himself as the kingdoms tax collector and giving out refunds.
Popular with everyone in the dirt grubbing professions, numerous non bards can be heard to sing this tale horribly off key as they go about their daily chores. "An Ned knew quick he'd lose his head, a farmer give'n away gold would get shot stone dead, so under the cap of tax collector he hid his head, laughing as everyone watched his approach with dread on that gray spring morning!"
While rarely believed as true, the fable does inspire common folk to look for other ways to apply their natural gifts at making a living rather then the plainly obvious. "The fake diamonds were plain as the nose on his face, Magnar's rage boiling over in disgrace, how dare these nobles try to slip such a farce by! A foul smelling lie as ever t'was smelt, Magnar's fist quickly raised a big welt upon the fair man eye, the dandy noble could do not but cry and leave the shop with nary a reply, leaving poor Magnar to growl and wonder why."
22. A Humble beginning
A grand reminiscence of lowly peasant Elroy Earnest, who by luck slipped in a pile of horse manure and jostled young prince Fenthick, causing him to fall to the side of curb just in time to miss being trampled by a runaway carriage. In a dramatic turn of events, (often accompanied by the loud wailing of a kazoo or accordion to the annoyance of many listeners) Thinking the hapless commoner had pushed him out of the way and thus saved his life, Fenthick knighted the terrified chap on the spot, and Sir Earnest (as he came to be known) went onto become a champion of the people, saving many a unfortunate soul from the unfair retribution of those holding a higher social title.
Widely frowned upon by nobility far and wide as a song encouraging commoners to attempt to rise in social status to their ranks; most royalty unofficially blacklist any bard who is heard recounting this parable from ever singing in the high courts again. Sadly this has made the tune all the more popular among the peasantry and poorly skilled bards who know they'll never have the skill to play for the royal houses anyway. "Earnest the just was never full of pride, known and loved by commoners far and wide! He'd take a stand, or fight a duel quite grand at any peasants' behest, no matter your standing he'd bend an ear and carefully hear your humble request!"
23. Can Ye Hear Me Now?
One of the more humorous recitals in any bards' tome, this song recalls the amusing misadventures of the mostly deaf wandering cleric Floyd Thursby, who was said to heal people of numerous maladies they didn't even have, and insist on helping commoners with their chores despite their insistence to the contrary. Given his lack of hearing most of the lyrics revolve around the amusing misinterpreting of simple chores such as mishearing a request to "feed the geese" as an plea to "breed my niece."
Adored by large crowds, they are often heard joining in with the yelled (often at the top of their lungs) chorus lines of "Thursby was kind, yes it true, his heart was pure but his ears full of glue! Around the farm even the animals would yell, from the goats to the sheep to the fat old sow, Thursby m'boy can ya hear me? Can ya hear me now? No? By the gods' dear man, yer deaf as plow!"
24. Sounds of the City
Enjoyed among the rural areas and small villages, this raucous song describes life in the noisy metropolitan areas, often with impromptu sound effects and copious amounts of embellishment, leading many back woods hicks to believe streets are paved with gold and there's a pretty willing woman on every corner, and a cut purse in every alley.
Usually accompanied by a banjo the faced paced lyrics are often enough inspire many a drunken farmers' son to run away for an ill fated adventure in the municipality. "Tis a loud and great fun romp in the city, gold bricks under yer feet and the girls so pretty! They look so fine and are so will'n, yet around the corner lurks a black hearted thief, ready ta make a killin!"
25. Over The Edge
A terrifying war song sometimes versed at full pitch by barbarian warriors and Valkyrie alike on the fields of battle, inspiring them to a fearless rage against their enemies. In the hands of a skilled bard with a set of well tuned bag pipes this powerful musical piece has been known to drive crowds to bloody riot, and cause deadly bar room brawls to erupt in otherwise peaceful taverns.
Due to its destructive nature many bards prefer to keep this composition in reserve to pay back stingy hostels and ungrateful dukedoms that attempt to short them the agreed upon payment. "I embraced oblivion, and now I pay the price, gambling with the reaper and death loaded the dice! Grinning as it nears, the sharpest axes wedge, running with my arms outstretched, screaming over the edge! Revel in their pain and laugh at their cries, with every swing of the blade another coward dies! Pound my fists against their flesh and rip out their hair, I am a walking living hell, none can meet my stare!"
26. Prison Break
A rebellious tale if ever there was one, this ambitious tune speaks of a innocent man unjustly imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit, sentenced to the Black Wall Hole, the most infamous dungeon around. Refusing to be broken by the grueling prison conditions he bravely planed and executed a brilliant escape plan using little more then a stack of red candles and straight razor to fake an outbreak of the red plague, causing a riot long enough for dozens of inmates to make their escape.
Revered by the common folk as a heroic tale, it is equally reviled by everyone of higher social standing and often laughed at as an outright fabrication to hide the truth of a real outbreak of the red plague within the prison walls.
Regardless of its truth, imprisoned bards are known to sing this tale endlessly until their voices give out, legend holding that every time the song is sung in full while within captivity a growing curse of bad luck falls upon the jail. "T'was no prison made that could hold this man for long; he knew true as true he was innocent of any wrong! Crafty as a fox, and quicker than a snake, he plotted and planned for a daring jail break!"
27. The Loyal Dog
Beloved by dog owners everywhere, this cheery fantasy tells of a talking collie dog that saved her owner from certain death after a case of river blindness rendered him all but helpless. Never leaving the man's side, the dog acted as his eyes through a harsh and brutal winter, even starving itself at times to ensure the young lad had enough to eat, keeping him from frostbite with her body warmth, and from despair with her gentle seductive voice.
Traditionally accompanied by maraca and chimes, this melody is also been played with flute and cello to dramatic effect. "She saved her master from disaster as only a loyal companion should. Mans best friend, 'til the end, she cared for him as only a lover could!