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King Shield was a merry man, fond of wine and jest, and often travelled the roads of his kingdom disguised as a rowing tinker telling bawdy stories and singing comical songs.

His Skillmistress was Solem who was 70 years old when Shield became King. She had trained a coterie for the king's mother Queen Perceptive and they too were much older than their king. It was during one of Shield's road travels that he met a young lad of eleven years in a tavern who knew the answers to all his riddles despite being completely uneducated. Shield realized the boy had the Skill and brought him immediately to Buckkeep to be trained by Solem. He told her to find others like him, and to build him a coterie that could laugh as well as Skill. The boy became known as Merry.