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Taglaruth the Shadowmaster
by Eric L. Boyd

Taglaruth's earliest memory is of being released from a sarcophagus by the jaded young nobles of the Scions of Saerloon. He had no recollection of how he came to be interred in the depths of an ancient tomb hidden beneath the boughs of the Archwood, nor of his previous life. But, after convincing his rescuers that he was not some form of undead monster -- and flashing a winsome smile at one of his female benefactors -- the charming Taglaruth found himself inducted into the Sembian company and given a rapier and shirt of chain.

Over the next few months, Taglaruth gained some modest profiency as a bladesman (see Taglaruth at 3rd level) despite nightly dreams plagued by twisted shadows. However, he began to suspect his continued survival lay more in his ability to shrug off his opponent's swordthrusts than in his own skill with a blade. An opponent's glancing blow with a weapon forged of silver proved nearly fatal, leading Taglaruth to the inevitable suspicion that he must be infected with some form of lycanthropy. It also gave him the impetus to act on his belief that his true vocation lay in the study of the Art, in the hopes it might enable him to understand and master his condition.

In the years that followed, Taglaruth's mastery of spellcraft grew rapidly, as did the vividness of his nightly nightmares. His roster of spells grew to reflect his shadowy obsession, although he came no closer to unlocking the mysteries of his past. It was during this period that Taglaruth's extended use of a potion of alter self unlocked his latent shapechanging ability and laid to rest his suspiscions of lycanthropy.

Taglaruth's understanding of the Art crystallized during a deadly encounter with a Netherese wizard from the floating city of Shade. More than half of the Scions of Saerloon were slain in the battle, and two others were nearly drained of life by the chilling touch of the Shadow Weave. The company disbanded in the wake of the disastrous combat, with Taglaruth claiming the Netherese wizard's orizon (traveling spellbook) for further study as his share of the plunder.

The wizard retired to secretly pursue his studies of the Shadow Weave, in the process reshaping his understanding of the Art. (See Taglaruth at 6th level.) Within a few months, however, Taglaruth found himself under attack by an elite company of shadow adepts, allies of dead Netherese wizard who had nearly destroyed the Scions of Saerloon. After narrowly escaping with his life, but not the Netherese libram, Taglaruth was forced to master the art of shapechanging and go into hiding.

As months passed, Taglaruth -- who had taken to identifying himself only as "the Shadowmaster" (although he did not realize the importance of that title) -- became a skilled shadow adept in his own right. His war with his shadowy pursuers continued unchecked, stoking his deep and abiding hatred of all things Netherese.

Eventually, Taglaruth stumbled across accounts of a fell tome known only as the Malaugrymoire, said to contain the ancient secrets of a clan of shadowwalking wizards. As he pursued accounts of this mysterious compendium, Taglaruth slowly assembled the story of Malaug and his descendants. The shapeshifting shadowmasters, he discovered, lived on the Plane of Shadow, where they had battled with the Netherese inhabitants of Shade for generations. From time to time, individual malaugrym came to Faeržn in search of magic or to battle their longstanding enemy, also known as Elminster of Shadowdale. Others came to procreate with humans, reclaiming their progeny after they were born. It was this last fact that gave Taglaruth the first inkling of his true identity, for occasionally a shadowmaster was slain ere it could recover its offspring. At last the wizard had an explanation for his powers, if not the story of his early years.

Today, Taglaruth is a master of the Shadow Weave and dedicated foe of the inhabitants of the Netherese floating city of Shade. (See Taglaruth at 10th level.) The secretive shadowmaster pursues a solitary war against his chosen enemies, attempting to thwart them at every turn. He cares little for the inhabitants of his adopted world, seeing Faeržn as little more than a new battleground in the eternal War Amidst the Shadows. Curiously, Taglaruth has not drawn the attention of any known foes of the malaugrym, nor has he been contacted by any of his kin. He suspects that these developments, or lack thereof, and the cloak over his own past may be part of a larger plan by the elders of the Clan of Malaug to place one of their own in the Realms to discover the secrets of the Netherese without drawing the attention of the enemy. However, this theory is merely supposition until further evidence one way or the other presents itself.


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