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 column.
dwells a wyrm of golden hue amongst the tallest trees of a great forest.
Like those venerable forest giants, he has seen the passing of uncounted
seasons and yet stands unbowed. By his king, this wyrm was charged to
guard against evil, to dispense justice, and to show mercy to all those
who dwell beneath the forests boughs, and never has he wavered
in his commitment to this trust.
the early years of his calling, the wyrm of golden hue battled all manner
of threats to those who dwelt in his domain, whether they be rampaging
orc hordes or the periodic brush fires that broke out from time to time.
Yet, despite his efforts, many species within the golden dragons
domain fell victim to disease and hunger, and the forests fragile
web of life grew weak.
there came a day, one scorching hot and dry summer, when bolts of lightning
hurled by the Storm Lord set fire to great swaths of the forest just
as an orc horde swept down in a frenzy of killing. As was his habit,
the wyrm of golden hue strove mightily to arrest the flames and destroy
the orcs, but to no avail. The resultant conflagration burned for weeks,
killing trees, shrubs, animals, birds, insects, and sentient beings,
leaving only devastation in its wake. Those who escaped the flames were
driven into the arms of the bloodthirsty orcs. Exhausted by his efforts
and his injuries and bewildered by his failures, the draconic steward
of the forest settled into his lair for a decades-long nap, plagued
by nightmares of what would happen to the woods as he slept.
the golden dragon finally awoke, the charred forest about his lair had
been reborn. A riot of plant life had eagerly overrun the newly opened
glens, and the animal, bird, and insect populations had more than regained
their original numbers and health. Even the sentient races had greatly
increased in number, for the fertility of the forest from which they
harvested their sustenance had been greatly renewed, and they seemed
less susceptible to the blighted touch of the Mistress of Disease. Amazed
by what had unfolded in the years since the great fire, the wyrm of
golden hue tasked himself to find the being or beings that had accomplished
this miracle and pledge himself to his or their service.
many years, the wyrm sought the one who had restored his beloved forest,
but to no avail. At last, the golden dragon came upon a man garbed in
green who was in the process of setting fire to a fallen tree in an
ancient tract of forest.
to smother the blaze, the wyrm of golden hue demanded, "By what
right do you destroy these sacred woods and take the lives of those
who dwell beneath its boughs?"
man in green replied, "By what right do you smother new lives and
let disease and rot ravage those who live?"
a cycle of the moon the two did argue, until at last the wyrm did yield.
The golden dragon agreed to serve the man in green for as long as the
life of an oak tree, and then compare the results of their labors with
the wyrms earlier efforts. Although it troubled the wyrm mightily,
he followed the commands of the man in green, culling the weak and the
old from herds, setting fires all about the forest, and letting all
manner of predators stalk the woodseven orcs.
at last the oak did fall, over two centuries had passed. The man in
green summoned his draconic initiate to his side and bade him look about
the woods. To the wyrms amazement, the great forest was flourishing
with life, and the misfortunes that had previously beset those who dwelt
in his domain had largely abated. With newfound insight, the dragon
hue spoke these words:
like a dragons hoard,
A forest doth expire.
Life reborn and enduring,
Is wrought by gilded fire.
since that day, the wyrm known as Gildenfire has acted as natures
hand, all in the long-term interests of justice and mercy. Truly,
the great forest has become his most precious treasure.
entitled "By Gilded Fire"
attributed to Mintiper Moonsilver
Year of the Moonfall (1344 DR)
quoted by the followers of Mielikki and Silvanus, this parable elucidates
a central tenet of the various druidic faiths: All species are best
served by allowing the hand of nature, however harsh, to cull weakness
and disease from the cycle of life and to allow new life to flourish.
Mintipers tale also suggests how much damage the righteous can
inflict on their environment if their good intentions are misguided,
and it speaks to the environmental devastation that even a benevolently
inclined wyrm can wreak.
Mintiper takes care to keep the setting and principal characters of
this parable obscure, the reference to the "tallest trees of the
great forest" coupled with an awareness of the Lonely Harpists
trek through the High Forest suggests that Mintiper speaks of the Tall
Trees settlement in the northeastern region of that great woods. 
Moreover, several accounts in recent centuries of a great gold dragon
winging its way above the High Forest and using its fiery breath to
spark precisely placed forest fires gives additional weight to this
that this parable first came into common circulation in the Year of
the Moonfall (1346 DR), it seems likely that Mintiper encountered the
"wyrm of golden hue" of whom he speaks during his southward
trek through the High Forest, and that Gildenfire, as some have taken
to calling the gold dragon of the parable, is in some way allied with
the druids of the High Forest.  In addition, although
the identity of the "man in green" in this parable is not
disclosed, I suspect he may have been Sinklayr Greenstroke, the former
Grand Druid of the North of the Mielikkian faith, and now a Hierophant
Adept, for who else is better suited to instruct a golden wyrm in the
tenets of the various druidic faiths? 
last line of "By Gilded Fire" suggests that Gildenfire has
adopted the entire High Forest as his hoard, and that, in its entirety,
the High Forest is truly one of the greatest treasures of the North.
Some, however, have interpreted the Lonely Harpists words to mean
that Gildenfires hoard includes other precious treasures as well
and is hidden somewhere within the High Forest. If such is the case,
however, I know of no account in which any portion of the Druid Dragons
hoard is said to have been recovered. 
From its founding circa 4,500 DR, the elven tree-city of Teuveamanthaar
was the capitol and largest city of Eaerlann, the moon elven realm
that lay within the northern and eastern reaches of the High Forest
amongst the ruins of Aryvandaar. Built atop a steep-sided ridge, Teuveamanthaar
was known for its soaring oak trees, which towered over the rest of
the forest like hill giants to human youth and whose trunks were said
to be the width of most northern human villages.
fall of Eaerlann in the Year of the Curse (882 DR) led to the abandonment
of Teuveamanthaar, but prompt action by the followers of Mielikki
kept the abandoned tree-city from falling into the clutches of the
demons of Hellgate Keep. Despite the dangers of the nearby Upvale,
the Supreme Rangers followers have maintained a strong presence
in the abandoned elven city ever since, having driven off the concerted
attacks of both orc hordes and demon-led ghoul packs on repeated occasions.
is now known as Tall Trees, and the citys ancient treesbelieved
to be among the oldest of the High Forestare home to nearly
two dozen mostly senior druids of the Mielikkian faith. The druids
of Tall Trees occupy only a tiny fraction of the entire city, but
they seek to preserve as much of the ancient Eaerlanni settlement
as possible. Uthgang Jyarl (N hm D14), Great Druid of the North, leads
the Tall Trees Circle and is acknowledged by humans and elves alike
as the Regent of Teuveamanthaar, a title that suggests the TeuTelQuessir
may one day return. Three Initiates of the 11th Circle,
Elighaer Teushandor (N hem D11Mielikki), Sarragh of the Sparrows
(N hf D11Mielikki), and "Vaeros Fireshield" (see below),
serve the Great Druid directly, and fifteen lower-ranking initiates
serve them in turn. In addition, several other senior druids of the
faith make their home amidst the former tree-city, including Dalanaer
Llundlar (N hef M15/D13Mielikki), Sinklayr Greenstroke (N hm
D18Mielikki), and Vanuseed (N treant D12Mielikki).
abandoned remnants of Teuveamanthaar lie high above the forest floor,
linked by a network of magically warded and preserved rope bridges.
Only a handful of rope ladders lead down to the ground, and they are
normally drawn up into the trees. Ancient wards dating back
to the earliest days of Eaerlann still protect the Tall Trees settlement
from magical and nonmagical fire, the danger of lightning strikes,
and the threat of rot and disease. The inhabitants of Teuveamanthaar
created fabulous dwellings from hollows painstakingly shaped into
the trunks and branches of the great trees as they grew, and these
chambers still exist today, largely unchanged from the day their elven
inhabitants departed for lands to the south and west. Although the
Fair Folk of Eaerlann took nearly everything of value with them when
Teuveamanthaar was abandoned, a few magical and nonmagical artifacts
that they left behind are still found on occasion.
Born in the Year of the Burning Tree (890 DR), "Gildenfire"
is an old male gold dragon whose true name is Aerosclughpalar. For
many years the "wyrm of golden hue" has dwelt in human guise
among the druids of Tall Trees, who know him as Vaeros Fireshield.
(Only Sinklayr Greenstroke, Uthgang Jyarl, and a few gold and silver
dragons know Gildenfires true identity.) "Vaeros"
(N(LG) gold dragon male D11-Mielikki) is in fact an Initiate of the
11th Circle of the Forestarm branch of the church of Mielikki,
and many followers of Our Lady of the Forest suspect that "Vaeros"
may eventually succeed Uthgang Jyarl as Great Druid of the North.
Aerosclughpalar is not considered a rogue by other gold dragons, he
does hold to philosophical positions at odds with most others of his
kind. The Druid Dragon, as those who are aware of his true identity
sometimes call him, still acknowledges His Resplendence Lareth, King
of Justice, as his liege and the sovereign of all gold dragons on
Abeir-Toril. However, the great gold wyrm and Aerosclughpalar have
engaged in a series of lengthy philosophical debates on the few occasions
they have met, each endeavoring, so far without success, to convince
the other of the merits of their philosophical approach to life.
Each of the various nature faiths, including the churches of Chauntea,
Eldath, Silvanus, and Mielikki, have their own druidic hierarchies,
including Circles, Initiates, Druids, Archdruids, Great Druids, Grand
Druids, and Hierophant Druids. Thus, for example, there are four Great
Druids of the North at any given time, each of which venerates one
of the aforementioned powers.
addition to Sinklayr Greenstroke, known Hierophant Druids active in
the Realms include Aubaerus the Ravenmaster of the Thunder Peaks (N
hm D16Silvanus), who dwells in a cave high above Lake Sember,
Khamlautas Iriphar of Cormyr (N hm D17Silvanus), who vanished
into the Stonelands ere the Time of Troubles with plans to restore
its natural ecology, Pheszeltan of the Forgotten Forest (N hm D16Silvanus),
whose has taken to wandering and training other druids, Lady Shadowmoon
Crystalembers of Ilighôn (N ef D22Silvanus), one of three leaders
of the Emerald Enclave, and Shinthala Deepcrest of Ilighôn (N hf D30Silvanus),
Grand Cabal of the Emerald Enclave.
Gildenfires hoard is barely recognizable as such, for he truly
cherishes the High Forest in its entirety. Nevertheless, the Druid
Dragon has established what might be called "treasure caches"
throughout the great northern woods. Each such "cache" consists
of a grove of weir trees, a highly prized species that is now quite
rare, carefully shaped over the centuries into living sculptures of
dragons of yore. Lingering enchantments (akin to a dancing lights
spell) placed by Gildenfire cause these weir trees to flicker with
dancing balls of light, leading some travelers to mistakenly conclude
such groves are inhabited by will o wisps. Gildenfires
groves are indeed warded against interlopers, but those of pure heart
may wander through them unhindered. At the center of each such grove
lies a single tree fashioned of gold, silver, or some other precious
metal and cloaked in a permanent illusion to resemble a living weir
tree. Such trees are typically worth more than 20,000 gp in precious
metal alone, and some have one or more magic items encased in their
trunks, such as the Amber Acorns of the Moonwood Circle, the
Haircloth Mantle of Tappan, and the Silver Sickles of Soranth.
Gildenfire, a gold dragon in human guise, is discussed in FR5
The Savage Frontier, p. 8, and The North: The
Wilderness, p. 67.
Eaerlann is discussed in FR5 The Savage Frontier,
pp. 39, 49, 51, The North: The Wilderness, pp. 7-8,
13, 52-53, 55-58, 61, The North: Cities, p. 61, Cormanthyr:
Empire of Elves, pp. 33, 34, and Netheril: The Winds
of Netheril, pp. 5, 16, 65, 91.
Tall Trees and the druids of Tall Trees, including Sinklayr Greenstroke
and Uthgang Jyarl, are discussed in FR5 The Savage
Frontier, pp. 8, 51, and The North: The Wilderness,
pp. 20, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 67, 68.
A draconic nomenclature is given in Dragon #260, pp. 56-58.
Lareth, the king of the gold dragons, and gold dragons of the Realms
in general are detailed in FOR1 The Draconomicon,
pp. 18, 20, 36, 42-43, 57.
Hierophant Druid Khamlautas Iriphar of Cormyr is discussed in FR4
The Magister, p. 6.
Hierophant Aubaerus the Ravenmaster is discussed in Forgotten Realms:
DMs Sourcebook of the Realms, p. 18, and Forgotten
Realms: Running the Realms, pp. 31-32.
Hierophant Druid Pheszletan of the Forgotten Forest is discussed in
Forgotten Realms: Cyclopedia of the Realms, pp. 45,
51, Forgotten Realms: A Grand Tour of the Realms, pp.
93, 95, and Elminsters Ecologies: Appendix I:
Hill of Lost Souls, pp. 3, 6, 18.
Lady Shadowmoon Crystalembers and Shinthala Deepcrest are detailed
in The Vilhon Reach: Dungeon Masters Reference,
Weir trees and weir wood are detailed in Volos Guide to All
Things Magical, p. 64, Ruins of Myth Drannor: Campaign
Guide to Myth Drannor, p. 14, and Dragon #125, p. 16.
Tappan the Undying, the bearded god of the korred, and the magical
value of korred hair are discussed in Dragon #119, pp. 42-44.
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