The Lost Flute of Jasloff is a wooden instrument and does not appear particularly special or magical. It looks old, battered, scratched, and chipped. A slight but ever present warmth is the only sign that the flute is more than it appears.
In the hands of the unskilled, the flute has a terrible sound. Its years become obvious, the sound dull and hollow or shrill and piercing. In the hands of a true master, there is no more beautiful sounding instrument. The sounds are rich and touching, making the heart slowly break with its deep and rich tones, or causing the spine to tingle as though brushed by ghostly fingers. The musician feels the music overtake him and the audience is spellbound for the duration. The musician is completely unaware of anything outside of the music and the collective reaction of his audience.
The flute was lovingly crafted by an old bard named Jasloff many generations ago. He kept it close on his journeys, always wandering from one land to the next, learning new songs and spreading music wherever he traveled. He kept the flute close by through many a year, his natural magic infusing the instrument little by little. And when he played an impromptu concert for a fae of the forest and was found worthy, the flute was given a final enchantment as a gift.
Jasloff's natural magic imbued the flute with his own musical tendencies. Though he was poor, he was an incredibly talented musician who enjoyed playing deeply emotional pieces. Whether they were songs that started out slow and built to sounds of intense joy, mournful tunes that brought tears to the eye, or wordless songs that overcame with a nameless sense of longing, Jasloff enjoyed exploring the depths of human emotion. As magic built up in the instrument, it gained the ability to inspire deep emotions in its listeners.
The bard's career ended abruptly when he unknowingly insulted a lord and was hung for punishment. A greedy court musician grabbed up the flute but quickly discarded it as it sounded horrible when he attempted to play.
A servant's child retrieved the instrument and used it to learn, undaunted by the difficulty of mastering such a reluctant instrument. He favored simple, fanciful tunes. And while he had no inherent magic of his own, the flute learned from him the ability to fortify the soul against hardship. Magic which, in the hands of a true bard, could be used to heal the mind and the body.
When grown, the child passed the flute on to his daughter, who left home to become a wandering bard. Like the flute's original owner, this bard enjoyed traveling and learning. She apprenticed herself to a more knowledgeable musician, following him for years and learning everything that she could. In her middle years, she went off on her own and traveled the less civilized lands. There she was welcomed among the Thanes, for their respect toward the bardic profession is legendary. A skald, who could plainly see the power of the flute, introduced her to the power of true bardic magic, which she was able to use to good effect. She mastered the difficult traveling magics of the northern skalds, which lets the musician invite the ancestors from beyond the veil to appear and share wisdom with their mortal descendants. From her the flute learned the power of communion with the Beyond.
On her deathbed, she bequeathed the flute to her favorite student. That student was slain in the early part of a war, when invaders spilled across the land with massive speed and numbers. A soldier gifted it to his son, who promptly tossed it in a gutter. From there it ended up being sold to a shopkeep by a street urchin, where it sat for years gathering dust. A passing Ranger purchased it for his lover, who vanished mysteriously in the forest shortly thereafter.
The flute resurfaced a few years later in the hands of a traveling rogue. With a legendarily fast tongue, it is said that she had the power to talk a Fae out of his gold. Whether or not that is true, it is true that she quickly mastered the instrument and learned how to temper its magic. Having little use for healing or talking to the dead, she focused on songs that would manipulate the will of her audience. Some would lull its listeners into complacence and let her walk off with their dearest treasures. Others would cause guards to drop off into a slumber while she quietly made her way out of a city, and away from officers of justice.
It happened that the thief attempted to pilfer the stores of a necromancer and found herself being dragged off by skeletons. The necromancer divined the power of the flute and set about learning its secrets. He took special glee in making captives go insane or causing them to watch the flute's music strip the flesh from their bones.
On a dark night in the middle of winter, the necromancer’s keep was overwhelmed by shadowy figures. When they left, the necromancer was but a pile of ash and the flute was nowhere to be seen. It has not appeared in this world since.
Any unworthy of the flute's gifts can produce no more than the sourest of sounds and will quickly divest themselves of it while those with a true bard's heart can see within it the dearest of treasures and produce the most wonderful of melodies.
The flute has the ability to enhance any bardic song, whether mundane or magical. Mundane music becomes mesmerizing; audiences lose all sense of time and place, finding themselves transported into the music itself. Magical music becomes more powerful. A bard skilled in magic can put whole rooms of people into deep slumber, heal the sick and wounded, cause or cure insanity, and even drive away the foulest and most unnatural of creatures.
But the owner must be careful of the flute's audience. If the flute is played within earshot of most species of fae, there is a high probability of the musician becoming surrounded by fairies ready to listen to beautiful music. If the musician does not prove the equal of the flute, meaning if the player does not prove to have an exceptional level of skill beyond that needed to properly play the instrument, then he can find himself surrounded by unhappy fae. The enchantment was bestowed by the fae, after all, and they will see no base minstrel defile it.
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? Responses (12)
A solid first submission. I quite like the descriptions in the second paragraph. Personally, I would insert some bold headings to separate out different sections but as it is, it's still quite easy to read and I didn't take any points off.
Very nice. I have always enjoyed ideas revolving around the gifts of fey creatures and this one is very atmospheric, well detailed, and fun. My favorite part is the paragraph about the hands it has passed through. Great first submission, a very nice take on a traditional Bard's instrument.
Update: I added a few headers to break it up into sections, per Moonlake's suggestion.
A nice magical instrument.
A fine first submission, Mystic. I especially like the drawbacks to using the flute poorly -- fae can be dangerous when angered, but I bet that you could still talk your way out of serious trouble. This is also a nice reminder that an item need not be ornate or auspicious to be magical.
A few thoughts:
The paragraph you spent on how the item passed from hand to hand makes for an interesting read, but adds little to the overall piece. After hearing how the flute parted company with its creator, all we really need to know is that it changed hands many times before being lost in a forest. This is a minor nitpick; you wouldn't need to cut it out unless you were planning on greatly expanding this piece. At that point, it would become an unnecessary extra.
This would be fun to combine with axlerowe's Magical Songs.
Overall, I like this item enough that I may have to use this in an upcoming submission as a quest reward.
Very nice. Instant Bard instrument with lore (and a downside). There is a scroll somewhere we can attach this too, but it escapes at the moment which one it may be.
Let me throw out the ubiquitous, Welcome Aboard!!
I actually enjoyed the path of the flute from person to person. I kept waiting for that to come in play though as mentioned and was disappointed when I didn't see it. They are correct that it doesn't add much to the sub...unless.
Perhaps the flute takes a piece of each person that it touches along its path. Each expert that can harness the flute imbues it with a little part of him/herself. As the flute passes from hand to hand it actually slowly accumulates more power and more music. Flutist may fall into the sound and stat playing pieces that past owners favored...etc etc.
I do love these kind of items and anything that gets the ideas flowing is always great.
A very nice magical instrument, I like it. Welcome aboard!
Update: After letting some of the comments sink in and percolate a little, I have expanded the flute's history. Thanks Strolen for the idea of tying the history into the powers of the flute itself.
Well done, and a belated welcome aboard!
Update: Added Music freetext