The Zeethara

This Zandir instrument has 24 strings and the most difficult and bizarre tunings of any instrument in Talislanta. Few have mastered the zeethara, and those who do are viewed as menaces, since this instrument creates tones so off key and discordant that they have been compared to the Drukh songs of madness.

The zeethara finds its humble origins in Zandu. It is said to have been designed by a minstrel and tavern owner in or around the year 530 N.A. as a means to empty his establishment at closing time; inebriation increases the torment caused by the zeethara. Many practitioners of the zeethara claim that it was created by Thazros of the Ten Thousand. Thazros loved to cause discord, so there may be something to this story.

There are many connoisseurs of the zeethara in Zandu, but it has yet to catch on elsewhere. In fact, the Sultan hosts an annual competition, on the twenty-first of Laeolis, to find the best zeethara player in Zandu. The winner is given a prize of five thousand Crescents and is exiled from Zandu for one year, to give the "gift" of the zeethara to the rest of Talislanta.

The Bodor consider the zeethara a travesty to the art of music. No Bodor has ever mastered the zeethara, for even the act of tuning the instrument, which can take up to three quarters of an hour, gives them severe headaches. A few days before the Competition of the Zeethara, Bodor leave the city en masse, only to return when the winner has left the city.

Text by Joe Porrett, Artwork by Ed Heil.