Storm Silverhand's Quieter Days
I: A Quiet Storm
By Ed Greenwood
There was a time, decades ago, when the Bard of Shadowdale traveled the Realms performing like any strolling minstrel. More recently, she has fought openly in many battles and led daring Harper forays against Zhent fortresses and mightier foes.
Yet Storm's lasting reputation in the Dales is as a motherly guide to Harpers, warmly affectionate nurse of the stricken and bereaved, and capable farmer who finds joy in cultivating lush edibles and herbs in plenty. Her rustic farmhouse kitchen is open to all who have need of advice, warm drinks, and friendly aid -- though few opposed to the Harpers or the good of Shadowdale dare to accept her hospitality. Some in her home dale openly fear her, for it is common local knowledge that Storm wields "some mighty magic," and that her sunny nature and affectionate manner conceals a temper that seldom turns stormy -- but that can be a mighty (yet coldly, precisely controlled) tempest when it does.
Most folk of Shadowdale revere Storm for the aid she has given them or their kin in setting broken bones, helping with pain, illness, or childbirth, finding lost ones, and giving guidance to rebellious youths, kin who have come to angry relations with each other, and so on. Yet most dalefolk hesitate to visit her farm except in emergencies, because word has got around that Storm's home is haunted, and her house guests may include great prowling monsters as well as dangerous armed outlanders and all manner of heavily armed Harpers.
Storm makes no attempt to weave a veil of secrecy around her doings (except when not doing so will endanger fellow Harpers), but few folk understand just how she spends her time in these "quieter days" when she is seldom seen outside the tall hedges of her own farm.
Some persons in Faerûn, of course, are very interested (one might even say "too interested") in the doings of Storm Silverhand. Many spy on her from time to time, but like all Chosen of Mystra, the Bard of Shadowdale is protected against persistent spying by the magical interventions of tarsardar, pursuivants arcane, weavespinners, and other avowed servants of Mystra. Usually such silent watchers cause magical scrying to fail, but sometimes they'll misdirect such scrutiny into showing false or misleading images, or somewhere and someone else in Faerûn.
If such vigilant guardians ever stood back to allow unbridled and continuous observation of Storm Silverhand, her watcher would learn something like this:
Storm does leave her farm whenever people need her for emergencies and have sent word by messenger or distinctive horncalls from the Tower of Ashaba or the woods. (Storm's summons is an ascending triad of notes, followed by two repetitions of the top note, and then the triad again.) Sounding this alarm attracts immediate scrutiny by servants of Mystra; beings who try to lure Storm into peril through a false summons discover that reinforcements aid her almost immediately. (Magical attempts to contact any Chosen are also monitored by servants of Mystra, who do so almost entirely to discern falsehood, trickery, or important omissions, and they report these immediately to the contacted Chosen. Elminster, the Simbul, and Qilué are among the Chosen who dislike such "meddling," whereas Storm, Dove, Alustriel, and Laeral all welcome it.)
Aside from responding to emergencies, Storm seldom leaves her farm (where there is always work to be done) except after dark, when she often walks to the Tower of Ashaba to meet with Mourngrym, any of the Knights, or visitors staying at the Tower. (Elminster and Harper personages usually come to her.)
If Storm wants to visit commoners of Shadowdale, she usually keeps to the woods, circling around through the forest to emerge into the open dale over the back fences of the farm she is heading for, or at a point close to the abode of dalefolk who don't farm. Few local dogs or other guardian beasts will raise an alarm at her approach, and she has spells and cantrips to silence those who do.
Like all of the Chosen of Mystra, Storm need not sleep if important needs press; she can call on the Weave around her to give her fresh vigor and alertness. She customarily keeps "long hours," doing as much by night as by day, and cares little for her own appearance, including her garb or lack of it (a casual style that has led many folk to think of her as a "loose tramp, little better than a festhall dancer"). In life, she fears for others, not for herself.
Read about some of the people Storm deals with in her endeavors in the next installment.
About the Author
Ed Greenwood is the man who unleashed the Forgotten Realms on an unsuspecting world. He works in libraries, writes fantasy, sf, horror, mystery, and even romance stories (sometimes all in the same novel), but he is still happiest churning out Realmslore, Realmslore, and more Realmslore. There are still a few rooms in his house with space left to pile up papers in . . .
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