MerricB writes "In the days before the Two Moons rode in the sky, the seven Bardic Colleges were established. Here is the tale of their beginning, as well as much lore of the original Flan people that has been forgotten except to the wise.
It is now well over one thousand years since the seven Bardic Colleges were created, and much lore has been lost of the story of their creation. I, Cirrem the Dreamer Minstrel, Magna Alumnae of the Old Tradition of the Bardic Art, do now set out the story of their creation, and of their legacy to the ages.
It is recounted that it was in the days before the two Moons rode through the sky, and long before the Twin Cataclysms, that the Flan people came into that land now known as the Flanaess. It is said that they fled from a great evil, but what that evil was is not now recounted.
The Flan were by nature a tribal and clannish people, suspicious of strangers, and any not of their own tribe. Fealty would they swear to their own chieftains, and occasionally to a greater chieftain that had been revealed by some sign from their gods. To them, the wise were known as the Druids, an order that had much knowledge of the natural world. The Druids were accounted the greatest of their Judges save the gods themselves, and to their groves would come the great needing advice and judgement.
The Druids were relatively few in number, and would rarely leave the groves that they tended. To those requiring lesser judgement - for indeed the Druids were greatly feared - they would turn to the order of the Bards. The Bards, in general, were the younger sons and daughters of the chieftains of the Flan people, those that had been trained by the Druids in a variety of arts - not least of all was the art of the Recounting of History - but all manner of knowledge was theirs.
In this land to which the Flan people did come, they found a vicious and brutal race known as the Firbolgs. Huge of stature and mighty in war, yet they had little refinement or intellect, though they were as cunning as any who have every fought. The seven tribes of the Flan fought against the Firbolg for many years, and there were many losses on both sides.
There came a day when messengers of the Firbolg arrived at the dwellings of the seven great Flan chieftains, desiring a truce between their people. Weary of war, the chieftains of the Flan agreed, and a meeting place and time was decided to finalise the terms of the treaty that would divide the lands now known as the Flanaess between them.
It was on the way to this meeting that Lirr, goddess of bards, appeared to each of the eldest sons of the chieftains. She counselled each of them to take up an instrument and play it and chant with all their skill, whilst their fathers did sign the treaty, and thus enthrall the Firbolg and enable the Flan to take the best lands for themselves.
So it was that when the first chieftain of the Flan came to sign the treaty, his son Fochlucan took up a Bandore, and with it played a melody that beguiled the Firbolg leaders, and so was able to choose the forest lands to the north for their own, and the Firbolg made no complaint.
The son of the second chieftain was named Mac-Fuirmidh, and he did play a Cittern, and the plains of horses were chosen for his tribe.
The son of the third chieftain was named Doss, his instrument the Lute, and the valleys of the west were thus attained.
The son of the fourth chieftain was named Canaith, and his instrument was a Mandolin, to his people were given the shores and oceans of the east.
The son of the fifth chieftain was named Cli, and his instrument a Lyre. The shores and oceans of the south were given to his people.
The son of the sixth chieftain was named Anstruth, and his instrument a Lap harp. To his people were given the valleys of the east.
The son of the seventh chieftain was named Ollamh, and he was the greatest amonst them. He played the Great Harp, and played in such a manner that when the sun went down, and the treaty signing complete, the lakes and plains of the mid-lands had his people attained, and the Firbolg were consigned to the barren mountains of the east.
And though, recovering from the magic of the music, the Firbolg realised they had been enthralled, yet they had sworn upon their dark gods that they would abide by the day's decisions, and the sun had now set. And so the Firbolg did depart to the barren mountains to the east, and the lands were now truly those of the Flan.
To honour the doings of the sons of the Flan, the Druids did declare the creation of seven colleges of the bards, that would be used to determine the ranking of a bard within the Faith, and they did name the colleges after the seven sons: Fochlucan, Mac-Fuirmidth, Doss, Canaith, Cli, Anstruth, and Ollamnh. Those that had mastered the teachings of all the colleges would be called the Magna Alumnae, and rare indeed were those that attained that title.
It came in later days that the Firbolg did seek to break the treaty, and regain their lands that were theirs, but that is a tale for another time.
I am Cirrem, called the Dreamer-Minstrel, that have told you this. I was at the signing of the treaty with the Firbolg, and let none doubt my tale, for I have told you every word true. I, a Magna Alumnae of the Old Tradition of the Bardic Art do swear it. And so may this tale be told until the end of days.
Note: Flan, Firbolg, druid"