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Elfsong is the second book in the Songs and Swords series by Elaine Cunningham. It was originally released as the eighth book in The Harpers series.

The bards of Waterdeep remember the past. Or do they? Even as they sing their ballads, a mysterious spell is changing their memories. Danilo Thann, Harper and would-be bard, sets out to uncover the mystery. In this quest, his closest companion is his deadliest enemy, the rogue elf Elaith Craulnober.

At stake is not merely the future of Faerûn but also its past.


SummaryEdit

In 1364 DR, the riddle-loving green dragon Grimnoshtadrano, also known as Grimnosh, was approached at his lair in the High Forest by Iriador Wintermist, a half-elven spellsinger and former member of the Harpers, a semi-secret organization dedicated to fighting for freedom and justice. Garnet was using the alias "Garnet" and wanted revenge on the Harpers because of their recent actions and their lack of attention to preserving knowledge of the past. To implement her plans of vengeance, Garnet needed the Morninglark, a magical elven harp that had recently been taken by Gimnosh from the village of Taskerleigh, which he had destroyed. Therefore, Garnet made a deal with Grimnosh: if the dragon would allow her to have the Morninglark, she would use the instrument to issue a widely spread challenge for adventurers and riddlemasters to approach him and try to answer a difficult riddle that he had devised. Grimnosh agreed to the arrangement and received a magical scroll from Garnet to give to anyone who succeeded at the challenge. Shortly after Garnet returned to her home in the city of Silverymoon, she used the Morninglark to change the songs of bards without their awareness, cause a blight to afflict crops all around and beyond the port city of Waterdeep, and control monstrous creatures that used music for a weapon. Garnet also utilized the Morninglark to begin turning popular opinion in Waterdeep against the secret Lords of the city.

The elven bard Wyn Ashgrove’s magic was not affected by Garnet’s spell, but he noticed the inexplicable change to minstrels’ traditional songs. Wyn eventually made his way to Waterdeep and reported his findings to the archmage Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, one of the city’s secret Lords and a high-ranking member of the Harpers. Khelben assigned his nephew Danilo Thann, a Waterdhavian nobleman who publicly acted like a dandy and a dilettante but was secretly a capable wizard and Harper agent, to determine the cause of the mysterious spell. Danilo, who was also an aspiring bard, was ordered to travel to the High Forest, confront Grimnosh, and obtain the magical scroll that was in the dragon’s possession. Danilo was informed by Khelben that he would be accompanied on his mission by Wyn and the dwarven entertainer and fighter Morgalla. Danilo wanted to hire the distinguished riddlemaster Vartain to help him complete his assignment, but he soon discovered that the scholar had been employed by Elaith Craulnober, a moon elf rogue and crime lord in Waterdeep, who hated Danilo.

Also at that time, Garnet met with Lucia Thione, a manipulative relative of Tethyr’s ousted royal family and a prominent merchant in Waterdeep. Lucia was also secretly a member of the Knights of the Shield, a clandestine organization based in the lands south of Waterdeep that gathered information and manipulated politics for their own nefarious purposes. Lucia had secured her position with the Knights by falsely claiming to be one of the secret Lords of Waterdeep. Knowing about Lucia’s association with the Knights of the Shield and believing that she was a secret Lord, Garnet wanted the noblewoman to help her strike against the rulers of Waterdeep. Understanding that she did not have any other choice, Lucia agreed to work with Garnet. The spellsinger told Lucia that they would undermine and assail many of the Lords of Waterdeep while the half-elf also tried to remove Khelben from power by using her bardic magic to spread damaging tales and rumors about the archmage in order to discredit him. Garnet demanded that Lucia reveal the names of the Lords of Waterdeep, but the noblewoman did not know who they truly were. Consequently, Lucia told Garnet about a few individuals who were widely believed to be some of the secret Lords.

Meanwhile, Elaith was seeking the Morninglark and had hired Vartain and a dozen mercenaries to assist him in acquiring the magical harp. Elaith and his followers searched Taskerleigh, where they learned that Grimnosh had taken the Morninglark. Elaith’s party was then attacked by a flock of harpies, and although the elf and his men defeated the winged creatures, several of the mercenaries were wounded or killed. Following the fight, Elaith and the others encountered Danilo, Wyn, and Morgalla. Danilo and his companions had left Waterdeep and tracked down Elaith’s band in attempt to gain the services of Vartain. After being informed about Danilo’s mission, Elaith told the Harper agent that he would permit Vartain to assist him. However, since Elaith hoped that by successfully completing Grimnosh’s challenge, he could gain possession of the Morninglark, he forced Danilo and his comrades to agree to allow the rogue elf and his men to join them on their quest. Danilo named the combined band "Music and Mayhem," and the group then traveled toward the High Forest. As they moved through an area of marshlands, the members of Music and Mayhem were assailed by monstrous frog creatures known as amphibious pipers. Danilo and the others fought the pipers until Wyn used a spellsong to stop the monsters and allow the companions to continue their journey.

In Waterdeep, Garnet had a force of agents of the Knights of the Shield led by Hhune, a merchant nobleman from Tethyr, severally beat Larissa Neathal, a prominent courtesan who served as one of the city’s secret Lords. Lucia was concerned with finding information about the Lords of Waterdeep in order to placate Garnet, but she suspected that her lover, the Waterdhavian nobleman and adventurer Caladorn Cassalanter, was one of the secret rulers. While Caladorn was elsewhere in Waterdeep, Lucia searched his home and managed to discover the magical helm signifying his position as a Lord. Waterdeep was increasingly beset by the various problems created by Garnet and Lucia, including the widespread crop failures and musically inclined monsters attacking people throughout the region. Garnet ordered Lucia to reveal the names of several more Lords of Waterdeep so that Hhune and his men could assail them. Since she lacked knowledge about the identities of any more of the secret Lords, Lucia attempted to mislead Garnet by telling her the names of some of her business rivals. Garnet later had a lorelei magically ensnare Texter, a paladin of Tyr and a Lord of Waterdeep, while he was traveling through the wilderness near the city.

Danilo, Elaith, and the other members of Music and Mayhem soon made their way into the High Forest and confronted Grimnosh. Vartain overthought Grimnosh’s riddle and failed to answer it correctly, but Danilo cast a musical spell from a spellbook given to him by Khelben that immobilized the dragon. Grimnosh quickly began to overcome the enchantment, but the companions used an explosive powder to incapacitate the dragon and retrieved the magical scroll that had been provided to him by Garnet. Danilo, Elaith, and their associates immediately fled from the High Forest and began to travel back to Waterdeep. When Danilo and the others examined the scroll taken from Grimnosh, they discovered that it contained a complex magical riddle and ballad that revealed the powers of the Morninglark and indicated that the spellcaster who had created the document needed to visit the sites of the seven renowned barding colleges in northwest Faerûn to gain control of all the magical harp’s powers. Danilo and Elaith agreed that the members of Music and Mayhem would continue working together until the scroll was completely deciphered, the spellcaster responsible for the spells on the bards and Waterdeep was found, and the spell was removed. However, Danilo was also forced to agree to allow Elaith to take possession of the Morninglark. After the group solved part of the riddle, Danilo used a magical ring to teleport himself, Elaith, and Wyn to the city of Sundabar in an attempt to find Garnet, but she quickly learned that they were searching for her and departed.

Around that time, Hhune was following Garnet’s orders to harry the Lords of Waterdeep by increasing the criminal activity in the city, and his agents eliminated the merchants whom Lucia had falsely named as some of the secret rulers. With the public discontent in the city increasing, Caladorn met with Khelben and Piergeiron, the Open Lord of Waterdeep, to discuss the numerous problems. The three Lords had discovered that Hhune was a member of the Knights of the Shield, and they realized that agents of the evil organization were the cause of many of Waterdeep’s difficulties.

Danilo, Elaith, and Wyn later magically traveled to Taskerleigh and encountered Ingrival, a famous elven minstrel and hermit who had possessed the Morninglark before he had been driven insane during Grimnosh’s attack on the village. Danilo and his associates decided to allow Ingrival to accompany them to Waterdeep, where they could find elven priests who could care for him. When Danilo and the elves rejoined the other members of Music and Mayhem in the woodlands near Taskerleigh, the party was assailed by a magical whirlwind summoned by Garnet. While the companions were recovering from the magical storm, they were attacked by a monstrous cricket created by Garnet. Although Danilo and the others killed the cricket, several of Elaith’s mercenaries were slain by the enormous insect. Following the fight, the members of Music and Mayhem managed to decipher the rest of Garnet’s magical riddle and learned that the half-elven sorceress planned to strike down one of the Lords of Waterdeep in the arena known as the Field of Triumph during the Midsummer festivities in the city. The group ascertained that Garnet would specifically implement her plot on Shieldmeet, the leap year day, which was in a few days time. Immediately afterward, Danilo and his comrades were attacked by a flock of harpies that Garnet had sent against them, but they quickly killed all of the winged creatures.

While Danilo, Elaith, Vartain, Morgalla, and Wyn magically traveled to Waterdeep, Elaith’s remaining mercenaries and Ingrival slowly made their way to the city on foot. Once Danilo and the others reached Waterdeep, they searched for Garnet and sought information about the spellsinger’s plot. The companions soon learned that Garnet was working with agents of the Knights of the Shield in the city and that Lucia was a member of the evil organization. Danilo informed Khelben about the group’s discoveries, and Wyn later explained to the nobleman that he had learned that the Morninglark could be used to cast a powerful spellsong that would negate Garnet’s spells. Since Danilo would have to be the person who cast the necessary spell with the Morninglark because of his magical skills and his ability to play the harp, Wyn helped him prepare and taught him some of the principles of elven spellsong magic. Meanwhile, Garnet arrived in Waterdeep and told Lucia that part of her plan was for the noblewoman to openly claim to be one of the city’s Lords during the festivities on Shieldmeet and to demand that Khelben resign from the council of rulers. After Lucia seemed reluctant, Garnet became suspicious and ordered her to reveal the magical helm that proved that she was a secret Lord. In order to keep her deceptions from being exposed, Lucia planned to poison Caladorn and steal the nobleman’s helm.

Realizing that Lucia and Garnet may try to harm Caladorn, Danilo warned him, but the adventurer refused to believe his friend. However, when Caladorn later met with Lucia, his consequent doubts about her true identity resulted in him avoiding being poisoned by the noblewoman while she stole his helm of a Lord of Waterdeep. Lucia hastily fled to her home, where she was confronted and apprehended by Elaith. The rogue elf had some of his men detain Lucia and he gave the magical helm that the noblewoman had stolen to the archmage Laeral Silverhand, Khelben’s consort, so that she could return it to Caladorn. Also at that time, Danilo encountered Evindal Duirsar, the patriarch priest of the elven god Corellon Larethian, and asked him if Ingrival could be accepted at the elven temple as a ward. Evindal agreed to allow the mad hermit to be cared for at the temple, and after he learned about Danilo’s quest, he revealed the reason that Elaith sought the Morninglark. Evindal had sent Elaith to retrieve the magical harp in order to restore his honor and reactive his dormant moonblade, a hereditary magical sword, for his infant elven daughter, Azariah Craulnober.

The night before the Midsummer festivities in Waterdeep, Khelben confronted Garnet, who used the Morninglark to magically incapacitate him. During the celebrations at the Field of Triumph, Garnet prepared to cast a spellsong that would persuade the large crowd of Waterdhavians to demand that Khelben be removed from power. Before Garnet could use her magic to charm the crowd, she was stopped by Vartain, who challenged the sorceress to a contest of riddles. Garnet accepted the challenge, but she incorrectly answered Garnet’s riddle, which was the same question that Grimnosh had asked him. Garnet immediately summoned a violent magical storm to assail the people of Waterdeep, but Grimnosh suddenly appeared and seized the spellsinger, taking her away from the city.

Elaith gained possession of the Morninglark, but Danilo then confronted him and persuaded the rogue elf to honor the terms of their agreement by allowing the Harper agent to use the magical harp to reverse Garnet’s spells, including the one that immobilized Khelben. As Danilo began casting the spellsong with the Morninglark, he was attacked by several agents of the Knights of the Shield. Morgalla, Wyn, and Elaith defended Danilo and fought the assassins, while the nobleman managed to successfully cast the spellsong, which magically consumed the Morninglark. Danilo’s companions killed the agents of the Knights, but Elaith was wounded by a poisoned weapon. Believing that he was near death, Elaith made Danilo swear to ensure that his moonblade would be given to Azariah. However, Elaith’s recent honorable actions caused his moonblade to reactivate, and the rogue elf received care from the priests of the elven temple.

Later that day, Caladorn and the authorities of Waterdeep forced Hhune to leave the city with his agents and assassins. With her deceptions exposed, Lucia was also sent with Hhune, who decided to take the noblewoman to Tethyr to be punished by the local people. Following the negation of Garnet’s adverse spells, the people of Waterdeep assembled to confirm the power of the Lords of Waterdeep and to hear Danilo magically sing an improvised and almost-accurate account of his adventure.

Several days later, Danilo met with Khelben and Laeral to discuss the end of the many problems that had afflicted Waterdeep. Danilo learned that Larissa was recovering from her wounds, Texter had returned to the city, and some of the other secret Lord’s difficulties had ended. Khelben then presented Danilo with the magical helm of a Lord of Waterdeep and asked him to become one of the city’s secret rulers. Danilo agreed to assume the position of a Lord after Khelben assured him that he would have time to continue studying the art of spellsong. Shortly afterward, Danilo spoke with Elaith and told him that Morgalla and Wyn were preparing to travel to the dwarf’s home in the Earthfast Mountains. Azariah was soon to be officially acknowledged as heir to Elaith’s moonblade, and the rogue elf informed Danilo that he planned to take his daughter to the elven island of Evermeet, where she would become a ward of the royal court. 

CharactersEdit

Main charactersEdit

Supporting charactersEdit

Minor charactersEdit

Mentioned charactersEdit

LocationsEdit

Major locationsEdit

Minor locationsEdit

CreaturesEdit

ArtifactsEdit

AppendixEdit

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ed Greenwood; Eric L. Boyd, Steven E. Schend (2000). Presenting...Seven Millennia of Realms Fiction. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-08-12.

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