Claugiyliamatar

Old Gnawbone

Description:

Ancient Female Green Dragon

Bio:

This wyrm delights in hunting down and slaughtering small armed bands wandering in the wilderlands (in other words: adventurers). From time to time she varies such activities with devouring a field of almost-ripe grain in Goldenfields or tearing apart a food-caravan bound for the northern interior and eating men, beasts, and cargo alike. Claugiyliamatar usually signals this last sort of triumph by plucking up a caravan wagon, flying very high (to avoid the attention of griffon-back city patrols until it’s too late), and dropping the wagon down as a lethal missile on the roofs of Waterdeep.

Some ballads call Claugiyliamatar “Old Gnawbone” for her habit of carrying a corpse dangling from her jaws to munch on absently from time to time, just as some humans suck on unlit pipes or chew cigars. She is cunning, paranoid, and possessed of a cruel sense of humor: Trapped victims have been known to escape her because she played with them to watch their pain and suffering instead of slaughtering them outright.

Claugiyliamatar lives alone, driving away male green dragons who come courting, but rumors state that she employs several dozen loyal human and halfling agents to work behind the scenes for her in the less savory side of business in Neverwinter and Waterdeep. In particular, these agents make profits on goods made scarce by the dragon’s attacks. Old Gnawbone seems to enjoy manipulating affairs in the cities for the sake of wielding secret power, not for the wealth it brings her. Little treasure is brought back to her lair; all but the coins pocketed by her agents — misdemeanors Claugiyliamatar pointedly ignores if the amounts stay small — is invested in businesses meant to stir up rivalries and gain her ever-more-powerful organizations, allowing her more swiftly and thoroughly to create trouble in her next scheme!

Claugiyliamatar is fascinated by human and elven women who wield power, and she spends hours watching them from her lair through her array of crystal balls. This collection of scrying spheres marks the second thing that fascinates Claugiyliamatar: magic, especially items that allow her to take human form and participate in the things humans do (knifings in alleyways, for example, and passionate courting, and, well, drinking). Her personal spells are too weak to enable her to take human shape, so she watches the nobles of Waterdeep and the sorcerers of Neverwinter for hours at a time, learning who has magic and where it is hidden, before sending her agents forth to steal it. Woe betides an agent who tries to cheat Old Gnawbone out of even the tiniest scrap of magic: He will find himself nailed to a tree deep in the forest, drenched with blood, and left for the wolves (or other hungry forest denizens).

Claugiyliamatar herself hungers for the bustle and intrigue of city life in the form of a human, but she wishes to call on her full range of dragon powers while in that form. She was almost tricked into servitude once by a wizard, Hyrix Greentree of Waterdeep, whom she hired to craft her a variant shapechange spell. The magic would have transformed her into a beautiful human maiden, yet leave her able to call on her magic, breath weapon, and immunities. She discovered, however, that while in human form she would have been Hyrix’s charmed slave, and he would have ensured that her desire to return to dragon-shape was firmly quenched. Hyrix died slowly and painfully, and if the phantom of a screaming wizard silently fades into view from time to time above the spell scroll Claugiyliamatar keeps carefully hidden in a coffer beneath the floor of her lair, she ignores it.

Having her own way is everything to Claugiyliamatar. Among other dragons, her reputation for trickery makes her best avoided. Balagos, for instance, considers her a twisted, crabbed thing given to petty silliness and, as such, beneath his notice.

She is a tireless foe who goes to ridiculous lengths to cause even small harm to someone she regards as an enemy, and this “worry-all-the-bones” trait has made most other dragons leave her alone. This is just fine with Old Gnawbone, as it leaves her free to pursue her schemes wrapped in the presumption of her own supremacy over other dragons. It also leaves her great Waterdeep as part of her territory. That more than a dozen dragons dwell in the city under her very nose, and generally regard her activities with amusement, is something she serenely ignores, even when one of her agents is imprudent enough to point it out to her.

How those in authority — in particular, women of power — wield their influence and legal might is something Claugiyliamatar never tires of studying. Increasingly she has turned to scrying Alustriel’s Palace in Silverymoon, and even distant Twilight Hall in Berdusk. She seems unaware that her snooping was detected long ago in both of those places. Junior mages in both cities now take turns honing their illusion-weaving skills by spinning false scenes of intrigue for the green dragon to watch. The impish mage Ralderston Tinter of Silverymoon has even taken to crafting scenes of a handsome young green dragon who takes on human form to court ladies of high station. It has been observed that Claugiyliamatar’s agents are visiting Silverymoon in a steady stream these days, looking for a certain young man with the emerald eyes of a shapechanged green dragon.

Certain mages of Silverymoon have been weaving spells that can be cast covertly on an unwitting agent, to be triggered by Old Gnawbone’s presence: spells made to plunge the green dragon into a long, heavy slumber, so adventurers can safely reach her lair for a massed attack. So far, the castings they’ve attempted have failed. For her part, Claugiyliamatar seems not to have noticed. She has explained away the occasional clumsy images and distortions she observes through her crystal balls as the defensive magic her scrying is penetrating.

Claugiyliamatar’s Lair

Old Gnawbone has her lair in a cavern in Kryptgarden Forest, at the end of a deep ravine that runs from the base of one of the mountains that bounds the old, thickly-grown woods on the north. Several tombs and abandoned dwarfholds pierce the mountain walls nearby, including the infamous monster-haunted complex known as Southkrypt. Claugiyliamatar employs both human agents and woodland creatures as guards around her lair, and these guardians lead intruders astray (sometimes with the aid of ghost sound and other spells she casts herself) into waiting traps or into one of the waiting perils of another cave.

The green dragon doesn’t seem to have a name for her abode, but to humans it’s Deeping Cave, a name of forgotten origin that it possessed long before Claugiyliamatar arrived (in 1303 DR, most sages believe).

The cave gapes at the end of a gloomy, vine-crossed gully overhung by gigantic old oaks and duskwoods. Within, Old Gnawbone’s lair is a weird place of creeping phosphorescent lichens, giant toadstools, and hanging mosses draped over statues of imperious human women (warriors, mostly) looted from a dozen tombs. (At least one of the statues is believed to be an emerald golem, detailed in Magic of Faerûn.)

At the back of the cave, Claugiyliamatar slithers about in the gloom from her bed of coins to the alcove where her crystal balls glow and flicker. She often spends hours sprawled before them, watching what befalls far away, while a servant (always a man clad only in manacles and chains, though these are a decorative costume he can remove whenever desired) oils her soft scales with tree-sap and ointments made to the dragon’s own formulae from crushed and boiled forest leaves, fungi, and roots.

Claugiyliamatar is vain and believes she will stay youthful and supple if her scales are tended daily, polished with these healthy substances to a deep, almost blue emerald hue. Those who anoint her are allowed to scoop up as many coins they can grasp in one hand (only!) from her hoard-bed as payment when they leave. Thus, attending the dragon is a popular duty among her servants — though one must be careful to do nothing to make Old Gnawbone suspect treachery; she’s been known to roll over with sudden, deliberate speed and crush a servant beneath her bulk.

Claugiyliamatar’s Domain

From Deeping Cave, Claugiyliamatar holds sway over a dominion that stretches from the southern bank of the River Mirar down the Sword Coast to the north bank of the Dessarin, and along the western fringes of the High Forest to about Dead Horse Ford, where it swings north and west in a wide arc over the Evermoors to take in Nesmó, Longsaddle, and Grunwald, to reach the Mirar south of Mirabar. If all the borders of her territory are disputed by other dragons (particularly northern Neverwinter Wood and the land between the Dessarin and the High Forest) and her ability to waltz into Waterdeep is more fantasy than something she dares do, Claugiyliamatar cares not. She rarely flies anywhere east of the Long Road and seldom leaves her lair in any case, preferring to watch through her scrying crystals and have agents work for her. (Those servants who contemplate treachery have learned to their cost that she does on occasion closely watch just how they carry out her orders.) This habitual idleness does not keep her from jealously defending her dominion when young dragons scout it — and, seeing no draconic occupant, decide to settle in.

Lance Rock, a landmark west of the Long Road south of Red Larch, looks as if a gigantic boulder were hurled down from the sky to strike deep into the ground — and that’s just what happened. A brash young adult red dragon, Smergadas, liked the look of the lands around the Dessarin. After flying about unchallenged for most of a day, he filled his belly with roaming deer and curled up for a nap — whereupon Old Gnawbone, who’d been watching him through one of her crystals, emerged from her lair, plucked a loose boulder almost as large as herself from atop the mountains, and flew over to drop it on him. Then she landed to fill her own belly with foolish red dragon.

Deeds of Claugiyliamatar

The favorite prey of Claugiyliamatar is adventurers, particularly human males, but she does enjoy the taste of dragon-meat. When orc hordes sweep down from the mountains, Claugiyliamatar emerges from her lair and gorges herself, devouring the orcs by the hundreds until, too bloated to fight any more, she labors back to her lair and crawls inside to sleep off her feast. Sages have identified such occasions as the time when she’s most vulnerable. Of course, when orcs are streaming by the thousands down into the lands of civilized men, dragon-hunting is a luxury no one can afford.

Claugiyliamatar prefers to hunt between Westwood and Kryptgarden Forest (on deer, cattle, or human travelers that she can catch in the open), or if she’s feeling more energetic, in Neverwinter Wood south of the river. She drinks from the mountain streams that empty into the Mere of Dead Men, or sometimes from the lake that feeds the Laughingflow, or the Dessarin itself. Most of her days are spent scrying and sleeping but she can break her sloth with periods of agile, lightning-quick flight, and fighting if need be.

Adventurers know Claugiyliamatar for the grim toll of their ranks she’s exacted down the years, and in particular for the time she posed as a silver dragon to dupe a Waterdhavian noble (the late Saerlin Brokengulf, head of his house at the time). In her disguise, she tricked Saerlin into hiring her to rid the Brokengulf grazing lands of herself. She learned through scrying where her payment was being assembled, used magic (alter self) to appear as a silver dragon again, and in that guise destroyed the place, seizing all the coins and devouring all the guards, and then flew to the Brokengulf ranch and used illusions (persistent image) to make it seem as though a titanic midair battle was being fought by a silver dragon and a green. In the process, she smashed fences, allowing the terrified livestock to flee out into the open grasslands for her later dining pleasure. The battling dragons disappeared west over the mountains, and a battered and angry silver dragon subsequently perched atop the Brokengulf abode in Waterdeep and demanded the payment for slaying Claugiyliamatar. Lord Brokengulf had to scramble to find alternative funds (as the silver dragon made it clear the alternative was to lose the house the wyrm sat upon), and the silver dragon flew away straining to hold aloft a Brokengulf boat plucked up from the harbor and crammed full of coins.

Old Gnawbone spent a leisurely tenday arranging coins in several hidden mountain caches (emptying her bed in Deeping Cave), then reappeared at Brokengulf Towers as herself — just as angry, and demanding twice the payment the “Silver Slayer” had received to spare the lives of the entire Brokengulf family. When Lord Brokengulf played for time (trying hastily to hire a wizard to blast away his dragon troubles forever), Claugiyliamatar toppled the grandest tower of the villa down into its garden, crushing three of Lord Brokengulf’s sisters and crippling Saerlin himself. She got her payment, though it almost emptied the coffers of the noble house. Then she flew happily back to her cave, after wrecking the rest of the villa almost as an afterthought. She then set all the traps she’d prepared and went off with the loot to Neverwinter Wood to hide while all the angry forces of Waterdeep scoured Kryptgarden for a dragon so bold as to dare to attack a noble of the city in his very home!

The crowning stroke in Claugiyliamatar’s plan was her timing of the whole affair to coincide with the first cautious foray into her forest of Endracritar, a rival green dragon from the High Forest near Loudwater. A young male already fearful of the forces of Hellgate Keep, Endracritar had been growing increasingly wary of Zhentarim incursions near his own lair, and he had been preparing spells and stratagems for a decisive attack on Claugiyliamatar for some time. Unbeknownst to him, Old, Gnawbone had been scrying on him regularly for some time, too — as she did all the dragons she could find except Balagos, whom she didn’t quite dare to watch — and knew all about his plan. The strike force from Waterdeep charged into the Kryptgarden looking for a rapacious green dragon… and they found one.

Endracritar’s vaunted spells and stratagems were no match for the fury of the assembled mages and heroes of Waterdeep. The smoke had barely ceased to drift and curl from his blasted bones when Claugiyliamatar glided calmly back across the mountains and returned to her cave, bringing her best crystal ball with her. It was time to spy on another noble family, to find something else she could exploit for enrichment, power, and pleasure.

Claugiyliamatar may acknowledge her physical and magical inferiority to other dragons (such as Balagos), but her behavior and occasional comments to agents reveal that she thinks herself smarter than all other dragons. She believes that she can manipulate other beings to gain her own way in situations where rival wyrms can only charge in and fight or lay waste to the surroundings — to achieve their ends by force. Lack of sufficient magic is the only real weakness she seems to be working at rectifying; however, her paranoia makes finding wizards mighty enough to develop a roster of powerful unique spells for her, and to enable her to shift freely between dragon-form and human shape, a very difficult task indeed. She’s recently come to the conclusion that the only way to find such a being may be to raise one herself — to “adopt” a magically-gifted and good-aligned child as a mysterious, helpful benefactor, helping the human to grow into a mage of power who regards Claugiyliamatar as a friend whom he owes a tremendous debt. Yet even this long, exacting process is fraught with perils, and Old Gnawbone is proceeding very cautiously, scrying until she can find a handful of candidates. If one turns on her, is slain, or otherwise “goes bad,” she’ll then have others without all her time entirely wasted . . . and if all of them come to trust her and to master magic, she’ll have more wizards at her beck and call than most emperors in the Realms ever manage!

Claugiyliamatar has little use for other dragons. She feels that mating will only delay or destroy her schemes, forcing her to rear offspring who’ll inevitably turn on her as they grow up, and she fears it will give a male dragon entirely too much knowledge of her lair, defenses, and nature. Fear can win the loyalty of lesser creatures, however, and Claugiyliamatar is satisfied that very few of her carefully selected human agents ever cross her and live to tell the tale. She holds no special likes or dislikes of any species, but she finds humans both fascinating and useful; she believes their wits and dexterity almost equal that of a dragon’s.

In recent seasons, word of her existence seems to be spreading slowly in Waterdeep, and more adventurers and young, bored nobles gone a-hunting have arrived in her forest; Claugiyliamatar has enjoyed taking the magic that these puny foes carry, but she is growing alarmed that folk of real power (such as the Lord Mage of Waterdeep, Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun) will eventually show up, so she is working hard at having her agents eliminate folk who spread rumors of her. The flattery of a good ballad, in particular one that speaks of a deadly green dragon coiling triumphant about Kryptgarden “long ago,” would be more welcome. . . .

So Old Gnawbone lies in her cave, watching the schemes and deeds and unfolding lives of humans in bright Waterdeep and the other settlements of the North, striving to become ever more subtle in what she bids her agents do, so that her power will grow even as knowledge of her wanes. She is close to danger, but if she can keep out of its reach, there are centuries yet to grow mighty — and a city just pulsing with magic just beyond her very snout . . . magic that might all someday be hers.

Claugiyliamatar’s Fate

The Dragon of Kryptgarden Forest dwells too near Waterdeep ever to be truly safe, and if civilization grows in the North as most sages expect it to, and settlement spreads up the coast or (more likely) up the Long Road, Claugiyliamatar is likely to be discovered with increasing regularity and tested by band after band of adventurers. Eventually one will be too strong for her, or too lucky — or her continuing slaughter of them will bring a foe she can’t defeat to her door.

She could relocate, of course, but Neverwinter Wood is too cold for her liking and probably soon to be a territory where younger dragons regularly show up to make challenges (to say nothing of the white dragon Arveiaturace). The High Forest, with at least three incumbent green dragons 1, is likely to become her grave if she dares try to lair there. Claugiyliamatar knows of these perils and would prefer to slip away from unwanted foes by taking human shape, or otherwise having magic enough to prevail against even the mightiest foes.

If she can see a way to achieve undeath herself, without the meddling, manipulative aid of the Cult of the Dragon, she may very well do so. The removal of a need to eat and keep warm would allow her far more freedom, and she can continue to enjoy her chief pursuit and entertainment: spying on humans and other humanoids, and manipulating their affairs just to enjoy her power over them.

Sometimes, though, she dreams of an even better fate: ruling Waterdeep as a human queen, her dragon nature hidden. Even more often, she sees herself as an alluring, mysterious lady all the noblemen and ambitious merchants of the city are wild over, as she glides from dark alley trysts to gentle jests at parties, with all eyes on her and all tongues darting with the news of her latest outrageous deeds. Her servants say Old Gnawbone sighs often as she stares into her crystal balls. . . .

Claugiyliamatar

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