|Affiliation||The Grey Tower|
|Affinities||Air/Water, Spirit, Fire, Earth|
In her appearance, Flora is, at best, average in nearly every way: average height, average weight, not buxom, not thin. She is neither beautiful nor homely. Her only remarkable features are her copper-red hair, not entirely uncommon in Andor, bright green eyes, and a patch of birthmarks across her jaw and neck. While she is not slovenly, her physical appearance is not the trait in which Flora takes pride.
Since she was young, Flora had a fairly remarkable voice. Born to a gleeman, she began singing at an early age and often performed with her father as a child. When she grew into adolescence, her voice matured to a rich, strong mezzo. Though she still regularly performed with her father, she often sang solo or took the melody while he added harmony. Other times, he would simply allow her to perform alone, accompanying herself on lute or harp.
Having grown up with musicians, organization does not come easily to Flora. As well, she is constantly humming or singing under her breath – especially while everyone around is silent. She can be flighty and fully commits to the task at hand to the exclusion of anything else. She is also extremely passionate; she can pull others into her joie-de-vivre in her high periods but crashes down to catastrophic lows.
“That girl of yours could be a court bard someday, Jon.” Hector Bizay laughed, taking another long swill of his ale. The firelight cast dancing shadows over his rotund face, the red light making it appear even more flushed. “Light, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t end up playing for one of the Great Houses after a few more performances like today.”
Jon Cecil beamed at his daughter. “When I heard the queen was holding a fair in Caemlyn, I knew we had to get up here as quickly as possible – we were halfway to Illian when I heard. There are several inns there wondering where in the Blight we are.” he chuckled.
They were three sitting around the campfire on crates. This grand carnival in Caemlyn, while a potential goldmine for potential cushy posts with wealthy families, also meant the capital was full to capacity and even gleemen were left out to sleep beneath the stars. So, the Cecil family had made beds on and beneath their wagon in the field where the fair was being held: Flora and her mother beneath, her father and brother, Tomas on top. While it got cold at night, at least their proximity afforded them a chance to claim an idea area to perform.
“So you, of course, hightailed it up here to show your daughter off to every Lord and Lady from Four Kings to Aringill.”
For her part, Flora sat back silently trying to appear humble as she accepted the drunken men’s compliments. Truthfully, the girl knew she had held the growing crowd’s attention from her first note until the applause finally died out some time after she had finished. Blood and ashes, she was still grinning like a madwoman. Her mother had warned her that such arrogance was not befitting of a young lady, but Anna Cecil had long since retired to her blankets beneath the wagon, leaving her daughter to bask in her achievements.
Flora looked longingly at the tankards of ale her father and master Bizay were drinking. Nothing would feel better right now than to celebrate with a few pints of ale; however, she’d promised herself not to partake until after her last performance. She could not afford to be sluggish or have her voice break here – there was too much that could still happen if the right person heard her sing. Their family’s companion did not seem to have any such concerns about his own performance as he belched loudly and wiped his mouth with a sleeve. Flora wondered if he would manage to sing at all tomorrow without retching on passers-by.
“The Wheel truly favoured her today.” Bizay slurred on. “Though I suppose it was your idea, Jon, for her to sing Hawkwing’s ballad. I’m sure I’ll hear it a few hundred more times before I leave the country – I’d forgotten these people still think of themselves as the closest nation to Shandelle that now exists. None though, will hold a candle to your daughter’s rendition today. Burn me, but I could have sworn the sky clouded over and became dark the moment she sang of Jalwin Moerad’s arrival in Hawkwing’s court. Light, but the wind picked up cold as he stood outside the gates of Tar Valon. I worried the storm would break and she wouldn’t finish but the moment she did… it just cleared up as if it had never existed at all.
“Are you paying bribes to someone up there, girl?” the man laughed uproariously at his own joke, nearly toppling off the crate upon which he was perched. “Know any Aes Sedai? Light, but with a voice like that, you could wrap men around your finger as easily as they.”
“You show have seen her in Lugard.”
Flora jumped as a hand clapped down on her shoulder. “Light, Tom! You nearly stopped my heart!”
Her brother grinned and unsteadily slopped some of his drink over her head. “Oops, sorry little sister – but at least you know how the rest of us felt when you called that thunder to strike when that army was banging on the city gates with that battering ram. Lucky wench, are you sure you have made some sort of deal with the Dark One?”
Flora shoved him back, feigning outrage. “Get out here you useless lump! It’s not my fault you drink your voice away and are up half the night on top of one love-struck girl or another.” Tomas Cecil was a handsome young man, tall with the same copper hair as Flora; however, his cheekbones and jawline were more sharply defined. His good looks were as much his curse though as his salvation – the family had already been chased from several villages after he’d rolled in the hay with half their womenfolk.
The young man laughed, pulled up another crate, and collapsed onto it. “No, you’re no Darkfriend; it just runs in our blood.” He pulled out a purse, heavy with clattering coins. “The Light shines on we the pious.”
With a guffaw, Flora kicked her brother in the shin. “The Light shines on me, you bastard, because I’m actually talented. You are a too-pretty hack who cheats at cards. Please, tell me none of the fools you were playing with caught you. I really don’t want to be run out of this festival just yet.” No, she had something rather spectacular in mind for tomorrow that she had not yet shared with anyone.
“I am terribly offended by this vile accusation.” The boy’s indignation might have been believable if he didn’t break down in laughter a moment later. Regaining his composure, he shrugged his shoulders roguishly. “Of course not. You may have the better voice, little sister, but I’m still the better harpist – what can I say, I’m good with my hands.” By his grin, she knew exactly what he meant.
“You disgust me.”
“At cards, I mean! Filthy wench!”
By now, everyone around fire was laughing uproariously - at least until a shrill call came from the shrouded form beneath the wagon. “Would the lot of you shut your traps and get to bed! Or don’t you all have things to do in the morning.”
Still chuckling, Jon shouted over to his wife. “Alright, dear, we’ll stamp this out and be over.”
As Tom shovelled dirt over the fire and Flora gathered up their tankards, Master Bizay turned to the boy. “Before I leave, what was that you were saying about Lugard?”
“Oh,” Tom said, leaning on the shovel, “we were in Lugard nearly a month back. We were playing in an inn there, the King’s Health – Murandians love their humour. In any case, Flora was playing “The Fall of Malkier” and the whole room was silent. All of a sudden, you could hear the wind pick up outside and I swear the heat in the room dropped and a draught chilled half the crowd.” Hector Bizay stood listening, hanging off every word. While, he might admit that his sister was the more talented musician, Tom was every bit the performer as well – and he was loving this. He leaned in close. “Maybe it was just me, but it was as if the wind was screaming like the Trolloc horde overtaking the Seven Towers.”
When Tom finished the story, Bizay turned to stare at Flora. Though she might enjoy the attention of an adoring crowd, something in this man’s gaze unnerved her and she shivered.
“My son exaggerates.” Jon said, shaking the other man from his trance with a hand on his shoulder. “That was actually where we were when we heard about the carnival. It is actually good luck that Flora took ill shortly after, I’m not sure word would have reached us if we’d moved on from the city already.
“On that note, I will bid you goodnight, old friend. My wife is right; we all have a great deal to do tomorrow. Some more than others.” He said, turning and smiling proudly at his daughter.
Everyone mumbled their partings and headed toward their blankets. For some time after Flora curled up beneath the wagon beside her mother, she remained awake debating the wisdom of her plan for tomorrow. Her father believed she should sing “Coming Home from Tarwin’s Gap” again since her audience had responded so profoundly to it in Lugard. However, she’d decided to sing a much older song, one she’d only heard once from a gleeman in Baerlon. Long after everyone else had gone to bed, she’d been the last soul in the commonroom that night and she begged him to teach it to her.
She’d been practising it for months, quietly after the rest of the family had retired for the night. It wasn’t exactly as the gleeman had taught her, she’d had to guess at some of the chords but she’d arranged it as closely to his version as her memory would allow. Jon would likely tell her it was too mature for her, singing about the bloody death of thousands of men, and she still wasn’t entirely confident of the last few verses after modulating. However, since the crowd had responded so well to her tale of Hawkwing, she was sure they would cheer just as loudly for a tale of one of their more ancient ancestors.
Finally, Flora dozed off and her barely audible hum fell silent. One of her final thoughts was how many would recognize the tune of “Mideon’s Forge”.
[ooc: The next day, while Flora is performing she will unknowingly channel and cause a bit of a ruckus from which she will be saved and taken to the Grey Tower. I just got tired of writing the bio all by myself.]
- Novice (1 April 2015)