Roleplay the Bard College choice and the game-strategically chosen spells [on hold]

Regarding group composition, what are reasonable spell and college choices?

After a 10 year hiatus, I just got back into rpg-ing and built my first caster. I am playing a Human Bard with the Ritual Caster Feat. At the end of our last session we had a level-up and I am a bit lost where to steer the character with the pending decisions. (I am asking several questions, which might be better answered in separate questions. However, as they rely a bit on each other, I kept them together. If I should divide them up in separate threads, please tell me.)

I am a sucker for fluff and I am toying with the idea of going for College of Whispers, which i think would work nicely with the background story (see below), but I am afraid to leave the group hanging by giving away advantage gained by following College of Lore.

With Bonus Proficiencies of CoL I could choose additional skills that I could up with the regular Bard Lvl 3 Expertise. This seems too good to pass up on (How many skill proficiencies does a College of Lore Bard have?).

The PHB states about CoL that

The college’s members gather in libraries and sometimes in actual colleges, complete with classrooms and dormitories, to share their lore with one another. They also meet at festivals or affairs of state, where they can expose corruption, unravel lies, and poke fun at self- important figures of authority.

We will start our next session in Baldurs Gate and with respect to How to explain Bard getting College education suddenly? I think she could try meeting other bards in the city or get information about a criminal, highly connected, and partially government-protected group she wants to bring down.

  • What would be a good way to RP that college? Where could she go in Baldurs Gate to find reliable information on this gang (see backstory)?

Additionally, there’s the spells I have to choose. At Level 3, my character knows 6 spells. With the Ritual Caster Feat, she picks two Rituals from the Wizard class (Alarm, Find Familiar)

  • These Ritual Caster spells of the Wizard class do not count into my 6 known Bard spells, right?

My current spell setup is Minor Illusion and Vicious Mockery for Cantrips and Bane, Dissonant Whispers, Healing Word, and Tashas Hideous Laughter for Level 1 spells (forgot to choose the 5th).

At Level 3, my Bard knows 6 spells, and I am debating which two of the following would be most helpful. She usually does buff/debuff and engages from a distance. Aside from magic, she is using a crossbow.

  • Which two of the following spells would complement my character and backstory the most, and a strategically sensible?

Level 1 spells

  • Unearthly Chorus
  • Comprehend Languages
  • Heroism (every round!)

Level 2 spells

  • Blindness/Deafness
  • Cloud of Daggers
  • Crown of Madness (120ft, nice to get a surprise attack)
  • Enhance Ability
  • Hold Person
  • Invisibility (great! but I cant attack and we have a Rogue)
  • Phantasmal Force (Damage dealing zombie ravens? Nice)
  • Suggest (Could be really powerful to manipulate alliances/foes out of fight action)

Backstory: My character is a Shou from Westgate and worked as an apothecary, selling more or less potent healing and love potions. On one of her errands she had an unlucky run-in with the local mob of the Nine Golden Swords who ambushed a local hero. She unsuccessfully tried to help the guy and they killed him anyway. She had to run afterwards, leaving her grandparents behind to an unknown fate (they were warned but we don’t know if they ran, too or stayed). (Travelling and meeting the hero group) I would like for her to start collecting information about the Nine Swords, gather alliances and eventually bring them down. So, a more cloak and dagger sort of road, dealing in whispers of corrupted officials who protect the mob bosses ect. She has a Raven Familiar, who gained a cult-following with some of her party. I have not decided yet, how she found out she could use magic (for more than her potions). Maybe her grandfather played a mighty lute or she met a bard when she ran.