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'Cause I'm No Ordinary Bard

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It was a beautiful summer day when the Viscount and his wife had their first child, a beautiful baby boy by the name of Julian.

A week later when the family gathered at the entrance to the sea beneath their house. The house was built atop a cave, within which was a lake that emptied into the ocean. When baby Julian, carried by his father, was placed in the lake the water began to foam. The foam surrounded his legs, hiding them from view. When it finally dissipated there was a beautiful blue tail, the color of the sky on a clear summer day, in place of his legs. He was laying on his father’s tail, a bright purple one that stretched nearly five feet in length (Alfred Pankratz was always very proud of his tail, the very color of royalty, proving him fit for his role as Viscount).

Julian grew up loved and spoiled on the island that his family called home. He befriended some of the servant kids that were around his age, playing games both on land and in the sea. Not much happened on the island worth talking about in Julian’s opinion. The first event of note happened when he was five years old and his baby sister Isabella was born.

“Mama,” baby Julian stared up at his mom, eyes wide and sparkling with love and curiosity as he stared at his little sister, “what color do you think her scales will be?”

“Oh honey, your sister doesn’t have any scales.”

“Why not?”

“Because honey bunches, only the oldest kid gets to have scales.”

Julian deflated at that. “That’s not fair. Bella should get scales too.”

His mother laughed at that. “I agree, it’s terribly unfair. Unfortunately not everyone gets to have scales. But what’s truly important is that your dad and I love you both with all our hearts, scales or no.”

While Julian knew that not everyone had scales, his sister and best friend Jakub were proof enough of that, it wasn’t until he was thirteen that he learned why.

Nobody still alive remembers what happened or why but generations ago the Pankratz family was cursed. The eldest child born to the family would turn into a mer at the slightest touch of water. Despite this though none of the Pankratz’ really considered it a “curse”. Inconvenient for sure but it came with a lot of upsides, such as the ability to dive deep and explore the beauty beneath the waves and of course the amazing abilities power over water that they each have.

The family had claimed the island they now called home around the time of the curse, it was the perfect home for them, with both an underwater and above ground entrance to the home. The children didn’t leave the island while the eldest learned to control their abilities (and learn how best to avoid water and by extension accidental transformation). The island was staffed with trusted people whose families had been keeping this secret for years alongside the Pankratz’.

Julian’s father was a fun-loving and care-free man who always seemed to have a smile on his face. So when his father sat him down with a serious expression set on his face he knew it was important. “Julian, you must never let anyone know about your scales.”

“Why not? My scales are amazing.”

His father gave a small smile at that. “Yes they are, but do you remember what you were taught about elves?”

“Because…” The young viscount-to-be scrunched up his face in thought, thinking back to his lessons that he only half paid attention to. “Because the elves were different and so the humans banished them?”

“It was a little more complicated than that, but essentially yes. So what do you think humans would do to you or me if they found out about us?”

Julian paled at that thought. He may be young but his parents had hired the best tutors around who spared no detail when describing the various atrocities humans had committed in the past. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

His father relaxed at that, his typical smile once again lighting up his face. “I’m glad. Make sure you keep that in mind when you go off to Oxenfurt next year.”

“Oxenfurt! But can’t I just stay here, where I don’t have to hide my scales?”

“I’m sorry, but you need to explore and see the world for yourself if you ever want to be a viscount.”

And so next fall Julian went to Oxenfurt. During his stay he quickly fell in love with both the city and his music lessons.

It took a couple years and a couple dozen letters but Julian, now Jaskier, convinced his parents to let him abdicate his position to his sister (who was absolutely thrilled at the prospect of ruling) and instead start his career as a bard. A month and a half later he found himself in a tavern in a little known town called Posada.