***** PERSONALITY *****
Bright and boisterous, chatty and outgoing, dramatic, a troublemaker who was always smiling. These are words that have described Val almost since birth. Her parents have said that Val was born to be a Bard. It was as though the Angels themselves had reached into the womb and styled Val for that express purpose. As a child, Val was always telling stories. Most of the time those stories were excuses designed to get the girl out of trouble. She could talk her way out of almost every situation, or as her father often said, she could sell a cupful of sawdust to a carpenter if she bent her will to it.
As she aged she refined the skill. Her stories became less about getting herself out of trouble and more about entertaining her friends and family. Her quick sense of humor, flare for the dramatic, and her penchant for getting into trouble ensured that her tales were almost always well received.
By the time she reached adulthood, she could always be counted on to have the right words to say in any situation.
***** APPEARANCE *****
Val's family was a poor one. They often did not have enough food to send everyone to bed with full bellies. Life in Geheim was hard, and Val's body reflects that. She is perpetually thin, small of frame and short of height. Her hands are heavily calloused from hard work and the stress of lute strings on her fingers. At age eighteen there are already the beginnings of fine smile lines around her eyes. But for all that she is a pretty enough woman. Her success as a bard will eventually allow her to begin to purchase some of the finer things in life, including clothing.
Her attire is designed with travel in mind, with skirts made of sturdier fabrics and the hems just a tad shorter than the fashion dictates. She wears sturdy walking boots with flat soles, and a no-nonsense cloak designed to keep off the weather.
But that's for travel.
When Val is entertaining a crowd, you can be sure she is dressed to the nines. She has learned that an extravagant getup helps 'sell' her performance, and showing a little extra cleavage increases the number of tips she earns after a performance.
***** HISTORY *****
Val's parents emigrated to Geheim before the woman was born. Their home land was one of vast deserts and nomadic peoples. It was a harsh life and could not have been more of a contrast to climate they discovered in Geheim. Where there had been sand and sun, now was snow and stone. But because they were fleeing the unjust rule of a tyrannical ruler, they considered themselves lucky to have survived the journey.
Little did they know that Geheim would wind up under the rule of the cruel Emelia Echtheit. But that's a story for another time. By the time Val was born her parents had settled into their little mountain home and were trying to make a living as goatherds. They named their daughter in the fashion of the people they'd come to live among, in the hopes that it would give their daughter an easier life. She may have looked foreign, but her name suggested she was born on this continent at the very least.
Establishing a new herd proved difficult for people who were inexperienced with the profession, however. That meant that the family could not afford to slaughter any of the animals for meat - but they had all the milk and cheese they could want. But the herd began to dwindle after a particularly nasty winter, and soon they didn't have even that.
Val was on the edge of puberty when her Gift awakened. There was no trauma to set it off. No life threatening situation that forced it into wakefulness. Merely the natural course of things. It was strong enough that Val was immediately identified and recruited by the Argent that came to their nearby village the following summer. She found herself scooped up and carted off to the Monastery, even though she had little intention of becoming an Argent in the first place. This was not an ability that could be left untrained, they said. It needed guidance and control, they said.
Her gift for gab ensured that Val was promised she was in no way obligated to become an Argent if she truly did not want to do so. It was the monastery that gave the girl her first lute and encouraged her to pursue a musical career. And so we find her now, finishing her education in the Monastery and preparing to head back out into the world putting her skills to use in taverns all across the continent.
Upon her graduation she will take up the surname 'Brightsong', under the belief that if she one day becomes famous for her tales and songs, it will be a catchier name than her family's name of El-Amin.
***** ABILITY *****
Projective Empathy - Val can use her Gift to make others feel any emotion she has experienced herself. She uses this as an enhancement to her music and tales. Imagine hearing a sorrowful tale of star crossed lovers and feeling a very real pain of loss and heartache when one dies in the arms of the other. Or experiencing the thrill and victory of a tale's hero as he defeats the villain, as though you yourself defeated him.
That's what her ability does. It can have you crying in your ale, or laughing merrily. It brings life and realism to her songs and stories.
But he Argents have discovered a strange caveat: the Gift ONLY works when Val is engaged in story-telling, lute-strumming, or singing. The strength of it allows her to affect large audiences as well as small ones.
If she hopes to use the ability offensively or defensively, for example, it would have to be while singing or reciting poems, and the people she hopes to effect would have to be within earshot. Even then, it is not very effective in that capacity. Val is better suited to protecting herself with weapons designed for such things. She carries at least one dagger on her person at all times.