“… and then the half-orc slew the giant with his last gasp and collapsed, I was sure he was dead. But miraculously he wasn’t, the she-witch Dawn Warrior ran up and revived him. Just at that moment, the second force arrived and trapped the remaining orcs. Most of them tried to flee, but many were still caught in the magical vines that the candidate had trapped them with at the beginning of the battle. He truly is what we have been looking for.” Gwaeron Windstrom looked at his eager assistant Pwyll and tried to understand if Pwyll’s judgement was not clouded by weeks of worry and overwork. Something was wrong in Waterdeep, but there were so many levels of trickery involved that he was unsure exactly who was behind it all, or even of their intentions. He knew the Dawn Warriors were the closest to understanding what was happening, and he knew he needed an inside informant. However, there were so many layers of intrigue he was unsure if any of them were trustworthy, or up to the task of taking on the evil that hung over the city. In addition to this ominous situation, he also was faced with the prospect that the lower ranks of the Harpers had been infiltrated by the enemy. That was why he was searching for a loyal informant to infiltrate the ranks of the Harpers. When the Harpers had approached him for aid and counsel in dealing with the situation in Waterdeep, he saw that he could perhaps kill two birds with one stone.
Gwaeron snapped out of his forlorn gaze and asked, “What about the druid, perhaps he would be a better candidate? The ranger seems to care too little for the city, the Harpers will not appreciate his one-sided view of the world, however much you and I might sympathize.” Pwyll felt a sudden rush of shame. The group of orphans had first attracted his attention while he was reconnoitering the caves beneath Waterdeep after reports of strange occurrences. In battle with the fishmen, the druid had impressed Pwyll with his skill and bravery. However, after the Halfling rescued his sister from the slavers, Pwyll noticed a change in the boy. A brooding darkness that sometimes lashed out without warning—as that poor cleric in the tavern had found out too late. Pwyll answered, “He is powerful, and skilled, but he is too unpredictable… and chaotic. He has suffered much, and I worry his pain and desire for vengeance has opened his heart to Shevarash.” Gwaeron nodded. He too had great hopes for the tiny druid, and perhaps still did harbor a faith that he would find his path. Why else would he have argued so strongly to Silvanus and Mielliki for mercy on the part of the Halfling? Silvanus, was unmoved at first by his argument that the druid was scared, and at first announced that he would never aid another misguided druid who believed the way of nature was chaotic. “I did not strive for ages to create a natural world of chaos! I left that to the humans!” However, when Gwaeron reminded him that something was wrong in Waterdeep and that these orphans were their best hope of getting to the bottom of it, Silvanus relented, and allowed Mielliki to return the druid’s powers temporarily. Gwaeron shuddered at the trials that lay before the Halfling druid in his redemption quest, and hoped he would forsake chaos for balance, but then the choice was not his to make.
Pwyll nervously cleared his throat. “Shall I make ready to go and make myself known to the ranger as we discussed?” Gwaeron replied, “No, we must try a different plan, I will need you here, this latest news from Waterdeep has certainly set back whatever scheme is afoot, but our other reports are even more ominous and opaque. Send out one of your seers instead.” Pwyll was dismayed at the fact that he would not be able to fight alongside the strangely charismatic orphan ranger that reminded him of someone, but he could not recall who. A strange thought entered his mind, “Had he known the orphan’s parents? When? Where?” Gwaeron interrupted Pwyll’s thoughts and said, “We cannot recommend that the ranger join the Harpers. First, he would have to learn to read before they would even consider asking him to join, and they will never accept an illiterate who shows such disdain for the lore of the past, and who has such an uncertain relationship with the city.” Pwyll’s spirits sank lower at these words fearing this meant Gwaeron had given up on the orphan entirely. But Gwaeron’s next move surprised him, without speaking he walked over to a massive chest at the side of the room, opened it, and retrieved “Banebringer.” Gwaeron asked Pwyll to hold the illustrious longsword and placed it across Pwyll’s hands. Gwaeron closed his eyes and whispered an incantation. As he did so, the sword grew light in Pwyll’s hands and suddenly disappeared. “We have to make sure that boy lives long enough to learn how to read, with the aid of Banebringer, he just might survive. Now go, quickly, the “dark hour” that our scouts have whispered about is fast approaching!”
Once outside in the forest, Pwyll knelt to the ground and whispered to the earth the words he had spoken so many times before. Pwyll heard a rustling and suddenly a badger burst out of the underbrush, stopped and their eyes locked for only a moment. Immediately Moritasgus son of Braenon, son of Faerig, understood his mission. He quickly scampered away, heading towards the dark clouds that hung over Waterdeep.
Buck wiped the last of the orc blood from his longsword with his cloak. Suddenly, he felt quite dizzy. Was it the adrenaline, the fear, or the loss of blood? He made his way toward the barricade where he saw a dwarven cleric healing a badly battered archer. All he really wanted was a drink of water. Perhaps he was more dizzy than he thought, or perhaps he was just focused single-mindedly on the canteen that the cleric had slung over his shoulder, but Buck suddenly lost his footing and fell to the ground. Stunned, he slowly realized he had tripped over something, relieved that he was not as weak as he thought, he felt beneath him for the object that had tripped him. It was a sword, the most finely wrought he had ever seen. He looked around and saw no one nearby dead or alive except the body of an orc, the contents of his rucksack spilling out onto the ground. The sword seemed incongruous with the other contents of the bag, scraps of dried meat and rotten cloth. He drew the beautiful glimmering sword slowly out of its scabbard and saw its blade glow a pale white, as he did so he noticed some script etched on its blade. He would have to ask Hyacinth what the script said. Perhaps he should learn to read after all. He would have to ask Hyacinth about that also, but for now, he wanted a drink of water and a nap.
As he sat in the shade beside the battlement and drifted off to sleep, (his new longsword nestled closely in his arms) he had a strange dream. In his dream he was back in the forests around Waterdeep tracking a party of orcs. He was moving swiftly through the underbrush, knowing that the orcs were only a half day ahead, his comrades Gaverin, Bjoereth, Beorwyn, Hjarith, and Crithrin behind, ready for battle. He seemed to find the trail with supernatural ability, as though the hand of Mielliki was guiding him, or was it the hand of Gwaeron Windstrom? Hjarith was an avid disciple of “The Tracker Who Never Goes Astray” the hero of rangers in the north of Faerun. But the rest of their party found Hjarith’s zeal too much at times. They happily made the sacrifices and prayers to Mielliki, and her law was easy to follow. In fact, most followers of Gwaeron were also not nearly as zealous of Hjarith, and Buck found there to be few differences between honoring either Mielliki or Gwaeron. Perhaps Buck was caught off guard because he was thinking about why Hjarith felt the way he did, whatever the reason, Buck did not see the pit before him and he fell into the darkness. Buck awoke to the familiar scent and feeling of a badger nuzzling his face. As he stood up, the badger stood up too and as he rose he began to take the form of a human. He wore a cloak of darkest green, his face was bearded and weathered. But what stood out most to Buck was the massive greatsword by his side that seemed to flicker as though on fire. The sword was held in place by a massive swordbelt whose buckle bore a simple design: an imprint of a bear’s track with a white star in the middle. The symbol of Gwaeron Windstrom. The man spoke to him in a booming voice, “Balance cannot always be maintained with impartiality, when evil reigns, only good can maintain the balance of the natural world. Soon you must choose, Buck.” Buck began to speak, but as he did so, he awoke and found himself once again on the walls of Waterdeep at the site of the victory of the Dawn Warriors, confused and at the same time strangely comforted, he clutched the sword closer to his chest and fell back asleep.