The investigations of Volo continue this time with Gaulauntyr "Glorytongue."
First mentioned in the Sword Coast Curiosities, Gaulauntyr is a mature adult topaz dragon of sinuous appearance. She has haunted the Sword Coast from Baldur's Gate to Luskan for the last century, and she moves about often to avoid other dragons, whom she has no interest in fighting. She prefers a life of stealth in and about human cities to the more typical -- for wyrms -- slumbering in a lair in the heart of a territory one dominates.
Authorities unanimously refer to this dragon as female and solitary. If she has ever taken a mate, history knows nothing of him or of his fate.
Gaulauntyr is one of the most intelligent and paranoid dragons of the North. She almost always cloaks herself in illusory disguises and hides in forest glades, abandoned warehouses or ruins, or just under cover of darkness whenever possible. She's quite adept at landing softly atop the palaces and mansions of nobles, cautiously testing the roofs to see whether they'll bear her weight, then draping herself over them to be as hidden as possible from eyes watching either from below or from windows in the building itself. She then employs remote viewing and unseen servant powers, plus her glorytongue power, to pluck gems and magic items out of the building.
Gaulauntyr is sometimes called "the Thief Dragon" because of her hunger for gems and the manner in which she has used spells, human hirelings, and stealth to steal gems from humans -- notably Waterdhavian nobles, but also jewelers and gem-merchants in Luskan and other places up and down the Sword Coast. Gaulauntyr's more familiar nickname, "Glorytongue," comes from her habit of delivering touch effects with her tongue after employing a 1st-level power, glorytongue, to make it a long, precise ribbon of flesh that can enter rooms via openings as small as a keyhole.
Gaulauntyr's true success, however, comes from a magic item and her own sly wits. The item, Jharakkan's Talon, is a little-known draconic artifact of Faerūn. More importantly, her shrewd mind allows Gaulauntyr to understand the societies of Luskan, Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate, and Caer Callidyr, thus learning where gems and wealth may be found, and when they'll be most poorly guarded. She has learned the way both dragons and humans tend to think, allowing her to misdirect those folk of both races time and time again.
Gaulauntyr often uses spells to lure or misdirect humans, employing such devices as the illusion of a beautiful human girl to give sobbing evidence or to distract pursuers. On one occasion, the Thief Dragon was lying in a stable yard, and she magically cloaked herself to appear as a fresh and steaming pile of manure, with her elongated glorytongue running through a cellar and up a heating-vent into a great bedchamber in an adjacent mansion. Guards were pounding on the door of the room, trying to reach its rightful occupant -- a noble lady whom Gaulauntyr was keeping bound, gagged, and stuffed above the canopy of her own bed with the dragon's glorytongue. The lady had struck an alarm-gong before being thus trapped, and the guards gave the dragon only a few minutes to think of something before they brought the door down. When they burst into the room at last, the astonished guards saw naked women diving out every window of the bedchamber, clutching their lady's gems and finery. When the men gave chase to the illusory thieves and the stolen treasure, Gaulauntyr stuffed the lady headfirst down her own garderobe to keep her quiet for a while, supervised an unseen servant while it tied up the best gems in some bed-linens, and rolled the bundle out a window.
The guard whom the falling gems almost hit had a few moments to stare at them before the dragon's tongue, emerging from the cellar, dealt him a spell that toppled him into slumber. The dragon snatched up the gems and took wing in the suddenly glowing guise of a red dragon with a certain and recognizable wizard riding a high saddle on its back, so that the crime would be blamed on someone else.
Gaulauntyr spends her days watching (remote viewing, in most cases) human life up and down the Sword Coast, devising new ways to steal gems or, sometimes, food. She loves exotic cheeses and sauces, even though human portions give her only fleeting tastes of such delicacies.
Glorytongue's relationships with other dragons have been, in the words of the human sage Velsaert of Baldur's Gate, "one long series of hurried escapes and misdirections."
The key to Gaulauntyr's character could be said to be her wry grasp of human and draconic nature, and the skill born of this that always keeps her thinking three steps ahead of opponents. She always has an escape route, a scheme to disappear or adopt a disguise, or a secondary plan for seizure of gems or goods if the first one fails. Often ending a secondary crime with a spectacular occurrence, such as pulling down a building, creates enough confusion that Gaulauntyr can pursue her original plan once more.
Gaulauntyr is said to be an accomplished mimic of human voices and is very good at improvising interesting small talk to put in the mouth of one of her spell-images. Many dragons are said to be halfheartedly seeking her to recover the gems she has stolen, but Gaulauntyr seems to have no strong and persistent foes. The Cult of the Dragon would probably be deadly enemies to her if they knew just who was behind many of the thefts from their agents and treasuries that have occurred up and down the Sword Coast.
Glorytongue makes her true lair in a many-armed tidewater cavern on the western face of a tiny island known as Alsapir's Rock, which was named for a long-ago fisherman who died when his boat was dashed apart against it during a storm. The Rock is so close to Mount Sar that it is ignored by most maps and charts.
Here she keeps the gems she steals, as well as a captive deepspawn, whose creatures can't escape from the caverns thanks to its watery entry. The monsters it births includes rothé, deer, and boars, among other prey suitable for Gaulauntyr's appetite. The cavern lacks any food for these beasts, but Gaulauntyr usually devours them long before they have any chance to escape.
The lair has no known traps or notable features, but Gaulauntyr usually devours any humans who see its interior. She keeps her treasures hidden in crevices and on ledges behind large boulders that she rolls up to form a false wall. Thus, most intruders think the cavern ends where her heaped boulders begin. The Thief Dragon has no known servants or habitual accomplices or allies.
From Alsapir's Rock, Gaulauntyr roams up and down the coast, usually keeping to the outward islets of the Moonshaes or the vicinity of Waterdeep, but sometimes working as far south as the Nelanther. Glorytongue is finding the City of Splendors and its environs increasingly crowded with various disguised dragons and other formidable spies and creatures of stealth. She makes fewer and less bold forays into its range than she once did.
The Deeds of Gaulauntyr
Although she customarily dines on what her captive deepspawn produces, Gaulauntyr favors wyverns, giant squids, and -- when she dares to attack them -- dragon turtles. She has almost died several times trying to slay dragon turtles. Once, during a storm, she succeeded in beaching one too far out of water for it to return, and she had a feast.
Gaulauntyr spends most days more lazily, using spells to spy on events up and down the coast. She has the strength to dive in and clamber out of the submerged mouth of her cavern in all but the worst storm weather or winter ice, and she is known to have some high meadows and desolate tors to rest upon when she can't return to her lair or doesn't want to lead pursuers to it.
Glorytongue is not likely to have a long and uneventful life. Sooner or later, one of the wizards who dwell in the Sword Coast North will catch up with her. Alternatively, an attempted theft might go seriously wrong. The topaz dragon can be a fearsome foe in any battle, but if she's caught overextended, she could well be slain.
At least one elven mage of Evermeet is considering how Gaulauntyr's psionic powers could be manipulated so as to make her steal things upon command, thus providing the elven realm with an additional line of defense. In such a case, Gaulauntyr could deprive explorers bent on reaching the fabled Far Isle of the magic they need, or of masts and keeps for their boats, or she might merely distract them with the apparent rise of a persistent personal foe.
One power devised by Gaulauntyr appears hereafter, but her mightiest magic is Jharakkan's Talon, a draconic artifact she wears at all times.
Jharakkan'sTalon is really a talon-sheath: a hollow cone of black horn from some unknown creature. It is very hard and tough, so most blows don't even mark it. The Talon is 8 inches long, and is large enough to fit over the end of a dragon's own talon. It has a pierced end, so the real talon protrudes through it, allowing the dragon to make claw attacks normally while wearing it.
The Talon is named for Jharakkan, a dragon-sorcerer who created it long ago. (No one alive is sure where or when.) Old legends recorded in books kept at Candlekeep say that Jharakkan was a black wyrm who lived for over 4,000 years and devised many magic items. No other evidence supports these tales, however, and some theorize that these tales are simply an exaggerated retelling of another tale, and so on.
The Talon was found about 60 summers ago by Gaulauntyr on the skeleton of a drowned dragon that was just off the end of the island of Highport in the Moonshaes. The skeleton might have been the remains of the red dragon known as Ualintharghar the Devouring Flame, of whom the Ffolk tell wild tales.
Other creatures (such as humanoids) that cannot wear the Talon can still employ its powers simply by touching it.
Certain organizations (such as the Zhentarim, the Red Wizards, the Arcane Brotherhood, and the Cult of the Dragon) would be very interested in acquiring the Talon to see whether its powers could be unraveled and adapted to the creation of items that would temporarily allow underlings to cast a few minor spells so as to aid in attacks, though it will probably drain the lives of those unfortunates in the process.
Holding or wearing the Talon allows any arcane spellcaster to cast six additional spells per day, with one coming from levels 1 through 6, similar to a ring of wizardry's ability to grant additional spell slots. The item must be held or worn to provide these additional slots; it cannot be used to prepare additional spells and then left behind. It does not allow a caster to use spells they could not normally use (so a 1st-level wizard could not use the Talon to prepare a 6th-level spell, but she could use the higher-level slots to prepare lower-level spells).
However, the Talon bears a curse: Every time one of the extra slots is used to cast (but not prepare) a spell, the artifact deals 1d6 points of damage to the user. This damage does not disrupt the caster's concentration and does not require any special magic to heal.
Several stories exist about how to destroy this artifact, if one were so inclined.
You gain the ability to stretch your tongue great distances and manipulate it as if it were a true limb.
The tongue is treated as a Diminutive construct with 1/2 HD, hit points equal to half your maximum hit points, AC 13 (+4 size, -1 Dex), Strength 1, Dexterity 8, Con --, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1. It uses your base attack bonus to touch, grab, or attack, but it does not threaten an area and deals no damage with its attacks. It is fully under your control and can manipulate objects like a tentacle. You can use the glorytongue to deliver touch spells. You can cause it grow (up to 100 feet long) or shrink (to its normal size) as a free action. It does not interfere with spellcasting or speaking. It can be used to make grapple checks, although its weak Strength makes it difficult to actually grapple a creature. It can wind its way up ropes, walls, and other vertical surfaces, and it is strong enough to suspend up to 10 feet of itself free of any supporting surface (to cross a pit, for example).
The end of the tongue is a primitive sensory organ and can see up to 5 feet away with normal vision. (It does not have blindsight, darkvision, or low-light vision). You perceive everything the tongue perceives. Because it is an extension of your tongue, you can use it to taste things, although poisons and harmful effects do not transmit to you through the glorytongue.
If destroyed, all but the original length of tongue that existed before the glorytongue power was used collapses into dust.
About the Author
Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms setting and sometimes appears at conventions dressed as the wise old sage Elminster. He's worn other costumes, too. As a result, he was once described as "quite a fetching tavern dancer -- except for the beard and the belly."
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