Mintiper's Chapbook

Part 3: Leaves of Gold

by Eric L. Boyd

MintiperMintiper 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.

Leaves of Gold

Autumn's turning yields leaves of gold,
A mantle fit for woodland kings.
Wood nymphs weep cold tears of sorrow,
And yet the fair Hamagess sings.

commonly recounted poem
attributed to Mintiper Moonsilver
Year of the Moonfall (1344 DR)

Keeper's Annotations

Oft confused with the Nether Scrolls [1], the Leaves of Gold are an obscure magical phenomena believed to be unique to the northern High Forest, specifically the region of the woods that lies near the city of Everlund and is commonly known as the Woods of Turlang. [2] The Leaves of Gold take the form of living oak leaves fashioned of pure gold, each of which is inscribed with the runes of a single wizard's spell. [3] No more than a dozen such gilded leaf-scrolls have been recovered in a single season, and each has been found near the base of ancient tree believed to have once been a great treant in centuries past.

Taken at face value, the first two lines of Mintiper's poem seem to describe the changing hues of northern woodlands. However, those familiar with the legend of the Leaves of Gold believe that Mintiper is alluding here to the time of year when such treasures of the Art may be gathered. The reference to woodland kings is then interpreted as "Wood Rulers," a title by which the treants of the High Forest are most commonly referred to, yielding the general location where the Leaves of Gold can be gathered. [4]

At the most straightforward level, the next two lines again refer to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. "Wood nymphs" is a common appellation for dryads and their ilk, and the reference to "cold tears of sorrow" suggests the coming of winter. The Hamagess is an obscure name sometimes employed by the faithful of Mielikki for Our Lady of the Forest, and her singing can be seen as a promise that the cycle of life will continue and that winter will be of finite length. However, once again Mintiper's words can be read at another level, this time alluding to an obscure tale from centuries past.

Ere the fall of Netheril, when the Eaerlanni elves ruled the High Forest, there appeared a hamadryad skilled in sorcery whose mastery of the Art was said to rival that of the most accomplished elven High Mages. The Hamagess, as she is sometimes known, is said to have sprung from the heart of a Turlang, the first wood nymph born of a treant and not an ordinary oak tree. Turlang and the Hamagess ruled the High Forest as king and queen for over a millennium before the fall of Ascalhorn in the Year of the Curse (882 DR) threatened the High Forest with the taint of the Abyss. The Hamagess is said to have given her life to form a living mantle around the High Forest to shield it from infestation by the twisted vegetation of the Abyss. [5] Although her death was an occasion of great sorrow for those races that live in harmony with the great woodlands, it is said that the Hamagess' songs still drift through the Woods of Turlang each autumn, whispering words of comfort and magic to her mate. If her breath touches a brilliant yellow leaf in the process of drifting to the ground from the limb of a long-slumbering treant, it leaves in its eddy a leaf of pure gold inscribed with the workings of a rare or unique spell. Through these Leaves of Gold the forest can be defended against looming threats to its existence. [6]

Chronicler's Footnotes

[1] The Nether Scrolls are 100 sheets of platinum and gold whose discovery precipitated the rise of Netheril as an empire of human wizards. Consisting of two sets of 50 scrolls each, the Nether Scrolls are believed to have been penned by the Creator Races and collectively compose the foundation on which the Art of modern wizardry is built. One entire set, known to the elves as the Quess'Ar'Teranthvar and said to have been transformed by an elven High Mage into a slim, golden beech tree with leaves of gold, was held in Myth Drannor in Windsong Tower ere the City of Song was overrun by fiends, but its current location is not known. The fate of the other set of Nether Scrolls is wholly unknown, but, at various times over the years, a series of unsubstantiated claims have been made that one or two of the Nether Scrolls have been recovered, leading some sages to speculate that this set is no longer a single collection but individual scrolls scattered about the Realms.

[2] The Woods of Turlang were once the home of Turlang the Thoughtful, ruler of the hundred or more treants who inhabit the High Forest and respected elder of the countless dryads, hamadryads, centaurs, korreds, leprechauns, and other faerie folk that dwell within the depths of the great woods. Since the destruction of Hellgate Keep in the Year of the Gauntlet (1369 DR), Turlang and most of his treant subjects have moved east and south within the High Forest, animating trees from deep within the forest to spread the tree line across the Upvale to connect with the Far Forests.

Following the departure of the Wood Rulers, the Woods of Turlang have become a quiet region inhabited only by ancient trees, other vegetation, and abundant wildlife. In keeping with the varying personalities of their former treant guardians, the various stretches of woodland still range from immaculately clean tree gardens to dense, dark, and eerie, seemingly haunted forest, although nature's hand is slowly distorting the more unnatural features.

Recent interlopers into the former Home of the Wood Rulers have discovered that the treants did not leave Turlang's old court unguarded in their absence. Those who seek to harm or plunder the Woods of Turlang find their passage thwarted at every turn by thick brambles, sharp thorns, and entwined vines that seem to spring up along their chosen path, no matter how much the intruders change their course. Sudden heavy rain showers quickly douse fires in this area, and even the faintest breeze seems to regularly whip heavy branches against intruders with killing force.

[3] The Leaves of Gold are equivalent to unbound pages in a wizard's spellbook, not scrolls whose magic can be unleashed by reading the inscribed runes.

[4] The Leaves of Gold can be gathered anywhere within the Woods of Turlang that oak trees grow during the autumn season, although most have been found just as the northern High Forest reaches its peak color and the first leaves begin to fall. As a good number of Leaves of Gold have been brought out from the depths of the High Forest over the years, examples of these spell pages may also be found scattered about the Realms.

[5] The living mantle that envelops the High Forest is somewhat akin to a powerful ward or minor mythal. While it stands, vegetation native to the Lower Planes, such as viper trees, cannot grow within the borders of the High Forest, and the taint of fiends from the Lower Planes cannot corrupt any plant that grows within the confines of the great woods. (The Dire Woods are believed to be an exception of sorts to these restrictions.) If Turlang and his allies succeed in their efforts to extend the High Forest's northeastern boundary to encompass the Far Forests, then the Hamagess' surviving form will slowly purge that woods of its centuries old taint as well.

[6] The Folio of the Hamagess is a unique wizard's libram assembled by the half-elven archdruid-magess Dalanaer Llundlar of Tall Trees in the Year of the Staff (1366 DR). The Folio contains more than half of the Leaves of Gold known to have been recovered, and it continues to grow as those who venerate Mielikki make additional contributions.

Mintiper Moonsilver contributed a leaf inscribed with the 6th level spell known as The Hamagess' Staffsprout, detailed below, to the Folio of the Hamagess. This spell is most commonly used when an archmage wishes to arm a small group with single-shot magical devices that can all be unleashed in a single round, and it has been used to great effect by small bands of green elves against large orc warbands.

The Hamagess' Staffsprout

(Wiz6; Alteration)
Range: 0
Components: V, S, M
Duration: Special
Casting Time: Two rounds per branch created
Area of Effect: One wooden rod, staff, or wand
Saving Throw: None

This spell affects only wooden rods, staves, and wands of magical construction that are usable by wizards and have more than two charges remaining. This spell or similar variants can affect such items at most once per thirty days. When cast upon such items, the Hamagess' Staffsprout spell causes small branches to sprout along the length of the target. At most one such branch can be created for every two levels of experience of the caster, although less can be created if desired. The number of branches is further limited by the number of charges in the targeted item, as explained below.

As chosen by the caster, this spell directs a single spell effect from the target magic item and the corresponding number of required charges to unleash it into each created branch. (Note that the effects of breaking the original item, such as the retributive strike power of a staff of power, a magical attack and damage bonus, or any other effect not powered by charges cannot be directed into a branch.) Each branch can then be broken off and employed as a single shot magical item capable of unleashing only the chosen spell effect at the cost of the siphoned charges. Once cast, charges siphoned off into branches by this spell cannot be restored (although it remains possible to recharge the original target if normally possible). The use of this spell always expends one more charge than the total needed to power the effects imbued in all of the branches, regardless of the total number of branches created. In addition, at least one charge must remain within the original magic item after the casting. As such, the number of available charges limits the number of branches that can be created.

Once created, each branch has a unique word of activation, as specified during the casting by the creator. Each branch must be used within twenty-four hours of its creation or the magic fades and the charges are lost. A branch cannot be recharged, and its spell effects function at the same level as the original item.

The material components for this spell are the magical rod, staff, or wand to be targeted and a green (just broken off) branch from a tree of the same species as that was used to fashion the wooden item. That tree must have grown for at least nine years while in contact with an item bearing an enchantment, either among its roots, stored in a hollow within it, or that the tree has grown around. Also, the tree must have been in continuous contact with that enchanted item at the time the green branch is broken off.



Leaves of Gold

Mintiper's Chapbook