The Coinkind (Part One)
By Ed Greenwood
Word is spreading fast of a series of mysterious gift-givings in the cities of Waterdeep, Everlund, Suzail, and Arabel: coins that arrive unlooked-for, as if by magic, into the hands of those in need.
These unexpected appearances of coins probably began about three seasons ago, though the precise date they started isn't certain, since most of the recipients kept such matters secret for as long as they could.
The obvious explanation for the gifts is the favor of gods, most probably Waukeen or Tymora -- but as high priests of both faiths have fervently and repeatedly denied divine causes (after, in all cases, claiming to have communicated directly with their deities about what was first known as the "kindly-given coins" and has since been shortened to "Coinkind"), the mystery has deepened.
The coins appear only in four cities, usually in the warmer months, and always take the form of nondescript cloth bags of mixed and well-used coins, usually coinage of Waterdeep. (As many folk have remarked, the nature, denominations, and packaging of the coins all aid in making them easy to spend). Sometimes the coin bags are found in saddlebags or outside larders, but more often they're tossed through open windows or down delivery chutes into private residences. The recipients are seldom hovel-poor folk, but rather those of the working classes who've known some success, but fallen into financial need (often overextended shopkeepers and crafters, or folk in trouble with creditors).
The Coinkind appearances have attracted the interest of the Harpers and the authorities in all four cities. Several investigations have uncovered more recipients, but learned nothing of who the benefactor is. Moreover, no connection (other than financial hardship) seems to exist between the recipients. All of them are genuinely bewildered as to where the coins came from, and in most cases how anyone, beyond their creditors, even knew of their circumstances.
War Wizard investigations in Cormyr and Watchful Order spell-probes in Waterdeep determined that no kindly change-heart creditor is responsible, and the well-handled nature of the coins has made it impossible to magically "read" a common handler for any of them.
As far more pressing and dangerous matters lie heaped high on the platters of these and other authorities in the four cities, the investigations have faded to "nothing much," though certain Harpers continue to peer and listen.
Harper concerns (or as Lady Cylyria Dragonbreast of Twilight Hall put it, "the curiosity that runs ever strong in our veins") were strong enough to cause Storm Silverhand to inform Elminster of the matter.
The Old Mage of Shadowdale undertook his own investigation, discovered the truth of the matter, and has thus far shared it with no one, telling Storm only that he'll "get around to doing so, in time."
Tongues loosened by drink in taverns never fail of either curiosity or invention, of course, and wag tirelessly on, inventing half a hundred fanciful tales and speculations as to who's delivering the coins. These range from a wizard or drow or yuan-ti or illithids spreading curses or mental influences by means of spells cast on the coins (that will affect all who handle them) to a "rob the rich" clerk somewhere who's slyly emptying a royal treasury to return taxes to people, or a cabal of keepers-of-the-purse who serve various cruel nobles in either Waterdeep or Cormyr or both, who out of spite are beggaring their employers by doling out coins to the needy who must swiftly spend them, so no trail will remain to be readily followed.
The most popular tale, however, concerns "The Coinkind," seen as a secret fellowship of rich widows who are being influenced by a capricious deity -- or scared into philanthropy by a god openly threatening them with divine disfavor or denial of reward after death if they don't part with the fortunes they're sitting on. The Coinkind, it's said, pays thieves well to deliver the coins with stealth and agility, for them, as they watch from coaches nearby.
Some tales even claim that the coin-deliverers are misers or thieves goaded by tormenting magic to take the coins to selected spots, while the Coinkind watch. Still other stories say the Coinkind intend to lessen the "power of the mighty" and make all folk equal, but want to avoid strife at all costs, and so have chosen this long, slow method of raising up the lowly.
Who is behind these acts of kindness? Find out next week.
© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.