1: Moonlight's Triumph
by Eric L. Boyd
Moonsilver is one of the legendary bards of the Forgotten Realms, and
tales of his adventures have long been recounted around hearthfires
across the North in musical, poetic, and narrative forms. Transcribed
in Silverymoon's Vault of the Sages by the Keeper of the Vault, Mintiper's
Chapbook is a compilation of the Lonely Harpist's ballads, poems, and
tales. Selected pages of this chapbook have been annotated and passed
into this chronicler's hands and shall be revealed here in a periodic
Selûnes path they did walk,
no stone unturned.
battle fought, all but six were lost,
final triumph earned.
A nether tide swept down the pass,
search of silver plunder.
hundred strong the mists did cloak,
with waiting thunder.
Arching shafts flew aloft in flocks,
boulders rained down on the field.
tuskers blood ran red and hot,
nary a blade did they wield.
From yonder bluffs did lightning strike,
a scarlet furrow.
Art lived, by reflection lost,
laid forever low.
With cries of rage the orcs did charge,
battle joined at last.
waves were dashed upon the rocks,
none did ever pass.
Five score did fall upon each blade,
the nether tide receded.
of the rocks that stood so firm,
bloody sand postceded.
Along Selûnes path they did walk,
no stone unturned.
battle fought, all but six were lost,
final triumph earned.
from "Moonlight Paean"
by Mintiper Moonsilver
of the Moonfall (1344 DR)
valiant sacrifice of the Moonlight Men in the Battle of Turnstone Pass
in defense of the Gem of the North and neighboring Everlund is justly
celebrated in song and tales throughout the Moonlands. After eight splendid
seasons spent roaming the North, all but six men of Mintipers
legendary company of mercenaries gave up their lives battling the orcs
of the Nethertide Horde in the Year of the Boot (1343 DR). The Moonlight
Paean is perhaps Mintipers most poignant work, for it speaks
of a commanders anguish as those loyal to him fight desperately
for a noble cause, yet die nonetheless.
this excerpt from the beginning of the ballad, the reference to Our
Lady of Silver in the first and last stanzas suggests that Selûne in
some way guided the Moonlight Men (and she may still guide Mintipers
wanderings even today).  The reference to "no
stone unturned" is an apparent allusion to both the companys
success in treasure-hunting in ruins across the North as well as the
site of their last battle. Some have suggested that taken together,
these two lines hint at the location of the Cairn of Moonlight, believed
to lie somewhere along the length Turnstone Pass. According to such
theories, the location of this barrow is revealed on certain nights
when the moon is full. However, at least a score or more of treasure-seekers
have failed to uncover such a site, casting doubt on any such claims.
is from the second stanza that the Nethertide horde destroyed by the
Moonlight Men earned its moniker. Here "nether" has multiple
connotations, suggesting the orcs origin in the Nether Mountains,
the regions ties to ancient Netheril, and the perception among
humans and demihumans that orcs are a lesser species. "Tide"
connotes both the overwhelming numbers faced by the Moonlight Men and
the nigh endless supply of orcs that endlessly plague our land. "Silver
plunder" suggests the target of the horde was Silverymoon and,
to a lesser extent, Everlund. "Mists" is often used to suggest
the goddess Leira, and a mantle or cloak of mist is often an allusion
to the use of magical invisibility.  Finally,
"ready with waiting thunder" matches accounts that the Moonlight
Men had in their possession one or more horns of blasting, although
no such devices were ever recovered or accounted for. 
third stanza recounts the initial ambush launched by the Moonlight Men,
as archers let fly thousands of arrows and prearranged rockslides were
next stanza suggests that the wizards of the company stood on bluffs
above the pass and rained lightning bolts and other evocations down
on the orcs below. "Freestaves" is a common term for mercenary
wizards suggestive of trees, and the metaphorical imagery suggests that
the mage corps was toppled like a forest felled by a woodsmans
axe. "By reflection lost" is a curious turn of phrase considered
by most scholars to be either a lament for knowledge lost or an acknowledgment
that mercenary spellhurlers forego the opportunities for scholarship
afforded to their more introspective colleagues. Despite common belief
that the companys wizards eventually fell to a series of suicidal
charges by the orcs, it is my belief that Mintiper was alluding here
to a heretofore unknown battle tactic of the orcs that enabled them
to hurl spells back at their caster. 
following two stanzas recount the bloody battle that ensued between
the orcs and the Moonlight Men, said to have outnumbered them twenty-to-one.
 Mintipers imagery suggests a pounding surf
gradually beating rocks into sand, a metaphor that can be taken in two
different ways. On one hand he is obviously celebrating the valor of
the Moonlight Men, to have prevailed against such odds. On the other
hand he seems to be suggesting the futility of pitting armies against
the endless hordes of orcs emerging from the wastelands of the North,
for no matter how strong their defenses or valiant their efforts, they
will eventually be worn down. Perhaps there is a better way?
stanzas that follow this excerpt record the entire roster of the Moonlight
Men and their fates, and they are only rarely sung in full. Some of
the more prominent names from these stanzas include Lord Laerlos Silmerhelve
II , Tsaelynos of Everlund ,
and Barundar "Firebeard" Battlehammer, son of Arn, of Kelvins
Cairn . A full recounting of the individual exploits
of the Moonlight Men is beyond the scope of this annotation, but rest
assured that their deeds are the source of countless fireside tales.
Evidence of Selûnes favor persists in a magical legacy of the
Battle of Turnstone Pass. All who pray to Our Lady of Silver within
the confines of the pass are cloaked in a mantle of invisibility
(as the 2nd level wizard spell) with respect to those who
bear some trace of orcish blood, no matter how faint. The Moonmaidens
boon is not given to any individual more than once per cycle of the
moon or to any individual bearing some trace of orcish blood, and it
fades immediately if the recipient makes an attack against any being,
regardless of whether or not the target is of orcish heritage.
The Cairn of Moonlight does indeed lie within the confines of Turnstone
Pass, containing the bones of some two hundred men interred by Mintiper
and his five surviving comrades immediately following the battles
end. The barrows exact location is revealed only on nights when
the moon is full, and then only to those who stand in the correct spot.
When the surviving Moonlight Men erected the cairn, they situated it
so that its position was revealed when the moons radiance was
observed through a nigh-circular gap in a nearby stone. That landmark
has since been buried under a ton of rock by Turlangs treants
and allied galeb duhr, so it is unlikely even Mintiper could find the
gravesite today. Interred within the Cairn are many magical items employed
by the Moonlight Men, including an amulet of leadership, at least
two horns of blasting, a horn of valor, a ring of armoring,
a staff of thunder and lightning, and a talisman of memorization,
as well as several unique items mentioned below.
"Tuskers" is a regional name for orcs commonly employed in
the Moonlands and the lands of Old Delzoun.
The orcs of the Nethertide horde employed magical talismans fashioned
of iris agate, silver, and powdered dragon bone. These talismans
of spell reflection provide protection to the bearer equal to that
of a minor spell turning spell (as the 4th level wizard spell
of the same name) for one round. This protection is invoked by the first
spell to affect the wearer of the talisman, and lasts for just that
round before the talisman crumbles to dust. Only the witch doctors and
shamans of the Thousand Fists tribe currently know the process of fabricating
such talismans, although Kaanyr Vhok (a marquis cambion formerly of
Hellgate Keep) and his legions of tanarukka (tiefling-orcs) are undoubtedly
seeking to spread such secrets to tribes throughout the Nether Mountains,
the Rauvin Mountains, the Greypeaks, and the Fallen Lands.
There were some 4,000 orcs in the Nethertide horde and only 200 Moonlight
Men standing against them. Nevertheless, their bones are but a fraction
of those that litter Turnstone Pass, for horde upon horde has swept
down this gorge to fall upon rich kingdoms awaiting plunder.
Lord Laerlos Silmerhelve II was the only son and heir of Lord Laerlos
Silmerhelve I, patriarch of House Silmerhelve of Waterdeep, and Lady
Tannyth Silmerhelve. A proud and rebellious son who joined the Moonlight
Men against his parents wishes, the younger Laerlos death
shattered his mothers spirit and plunged his father into a deep
melancholy from which the Silmerhelve patriarch has never fully recovered.
At the time of his death, Laerlos II bore several important family heirlooms
that the Silmerhelves are very keen to recover, including the Griffonlance
of Goring, Nimoars Blazing Bulwark, and the Silverhelm
of the Guardian (considered a minor relic by the followers of Helm),
some or all of which may still lie within the Cairn of Moonlight.
Tsaelynos of Everlund was one of the brightest graduates of the Ladys
College of Silverymoon in his day and a member of the clergy at the
Temple of Silver Stars. He is famed for his crafting of the Starstaff
of Tsaelynos and for developing wizardly versions of many spells
known only to the clergy of Selûne. Seekers of arcane lore and the Moonmaidens
faithful have long wondered if the tome in which he recorded his discoveries,
entitled Starsongs of Tsaelynos, was interred with the wizard-priest
at the time of his death, for it was not recovered from his chambers
back in Silverymoon.
Barundar "Firebeard" was a shield dwarf "Wanderer",
who left his home decades before Clan Battlehammer reclaimed Mithral
Hall. He achieved great fame and the title of "elf-friend"
by slaying Horned Wyrm of Quaervarr and only joined the Moonlight Men
in the twilight of his career. None know where he buried his legendary
fortune, although some whisper that his spirit might be compelled to
reveal the truth.
Moonlight Men are noted in the original Forgotten Realms boxed
set in Cyclopedia of the Realms, p. 60.
is first mentioned in published Realmslore in the write-up of the
blade Shazzellim, which first appeared in Dragon #74,
p. 22, and has since appeared in Encyclopedia Magica: Volume
4 & Index, p. 1392. This blade was also detailed in FR4
The Magister, pp. 58-59, but reference to Mintiper was
omitted. (This reference was undoubtedly omitted as erroneous, as
it stated that Mintiper was an example of a bard who was not
a member of the Harpers when other sources contradicted this point.)
next reference to Mintiper appears in Dragon #94, p. 46, in
the original write-up of the bhaergala, where the Lonely Harpist is
noted as having befriended and traveled with one of these song-loving
beasts. (A later write-up of the bhaergala, detailed in the Forgotten
Realms Monstrous Compendium Appendix II, omits this reference.)
is noted as having visited the House of Stone in Dragon #128,
p. 11, an account repeated in City of Splendors: Campaign
Guide, p. 16, and The North: The Wilderness, p.
is referred to once again in Dragon #139, p. 72, and in a Monstrous
Compendium sheet included in Ruins of Myth Drannor. As
part of a discussion of the metalmaster, a metal-slinging slug, it
is revealed that one or more of his songs refer to such as beasts
as "sword slugs."
Moonsilver and Asilther Graelor were first detailed in Dragon #187,
pp. 48-51. These write-ups were slightly revised and republished in
FOR4 Code of the Harpers, pp. 64-70. These write-ups
recount many years of Mintipers adventures, from the Battle
of Turnstone Pass to his rescue of Asilther Graelor.
Mintiper is also referred to in The North: Cities, p.
45, where it is revealed that he named Silverymoons army the
"Knights of Silver" in a ballad.
Vault of the Sages and the Keeper of the Sages are discussed in The
North: Cities, p. 54.
chronicled in The North: Cities, p. 50, the Moonlight
Men saved Silverymoon and Everlund from an orc horde in the Year of
the Boot (1343 DR).
detailed accounting of the Battle of Turnstone Pass is given in FR15
Gold & Glory, pp. 50-51.
agate is noted as having spell reflection powers in Volos
Guide to All Things Magical, p. 42.
Thousand Fists orc tribe are noted as inhabiting the Nether Mountains
in FR5 The Savage Frontier, p. 48, and The
North: The Wilderness, p. 62.
Vhok and the tanarukka are detailed in Hellgate Keep, pp. 12-15.
Silmerhelve family is discussed in City of Splendors: Whos
Who in Waterdeep, p. 23, and Dragon #250, pp. 80-84.
was an early warlord of Waterdeep who won the first Trollwar, as noted
in City of Splendors: Campaign Guide, pp. 26, 29.
Ladys College is detailed in The North: The Wilderness,
proper nomenclature for dwarven names is given on the gatefold of
FR11 Dwarves Deep. Dwarven clans are listed in
FR11 Dwarves Deep, p. 12. Clan Battlehammers
success in reclaiming Mithral Hall is recounted in Streams of Silver
and numerous other sources.
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