So when he was a young dungeon master, James loved him some Dragonlance, the very unironic epic fantasy setting in the D&D family of settings. Since we’re taking a break from Dirwin but crave some roleplaying action in the meantime, he’s going to be running the Dragonlance campaign for me. Now I have very little knowledge about this setting, which is going to lead to some fun times when I inevitably derail everything. I’ll be playing the role of Goldmoon, the sole female against a seven-strong sausage fest of main characters. Part of James’s interest is in seeing me flesh out Goldmoon who has, in his mind, been neglected in the Dragonlance saga, probably because of her gender. So, let’s see how we go!
Goldmoon, age 18, was priestess of her tribe, having inherited the title from her mother Tearsong on her death. Tearsong was now a goddess, as all Goldmoon’s female ancestors had become upon death – as she herself would become on her own death.
It was a significant day for Goldmoon and her people, the Que-Shu, one of several plains tribes. Today young men would fight for the right to escort her to her mother’s tomb in the foothills of the Eastern Wall mountains, where having come of age she would speak with her mother and other goddesses and take the power to lead upon her.
Hollowsky was the favourite to win, being the son of Lorman, her father’s chief adviser. The wild card was a man called Riverwind, an outsider. His family had long lived separate from the tribes, since they believed in heresies. Goldmoon’s handmaiden told her he was known to be raised by cheetahs after his parents died. He even refused Goldmoon’s blessing before he fought. And yet he was winning against all his challengers.
Before the final round between Hollowsky and Riverwind, Goldmoon noticed Hollowsky sneaking away from the weapons tent. She entered and found he had tampered with Riverwind’s staff, splitting it down the middle enough that it would shatter once his staff made contact. Goldmoon was unsure if she wished to support Riverwind, but she could not abide cheating, so she switched the broken staff out, replacing the decorative feathers and beads on a new, whole staff.
The fight took place, and Riverwind was the victor, much to Hollowsky’s shock. And so Riverwind was chosen to escort Goldmoon. However, Hollowsky did not respect this. When Riverwind and Goldmoon stopped to rest, Riverwind bit into the food to find it drugged. Goldmoon whipped out her sling. Hollowsky approached her, professing his love and saying he would kill Riverwind. While she distracted him and kept her sling up, Riverwind groggily came up behind him and hit him. They fought, and Hollowsky ended up falling down a ravine to his death. Goldmoon and Riverwind decided to keep this a secret between themselves. Also, Riverwind professed his love to Goldmoon. She found this confusing. Why then did he deny she was daughter of a goddess? They conversed, Goldmoon asking him about his family, his past, and his belief in other gods, gods that his family had believed in from before the cataclysm that sent the tribes to the plains 300 years past.
They arrived at the tombs of the goddesses and Tearsong’s ghost confirmed what Riverwind was saying: she was not in fact a goddess, but she was living with the gods now. Goldmoon tried to think what she could say to the tribe, or if she should say anything at all. They returned to the tribe, and on the way Riverwind asked Goldmoon if he might try to court her. She answered uneasily that he could ask her father for a quest, as is the tradition.
But the quest given by Goldmoon’s father – manipulated by Lorman – was impossible. To find physical proof of the gods he claimed existed. Goldmoon said goodbye to him at the edge of the village. I’m sorry, she said, knowing the quest to be impossible, and knowing he was right about the gods all along. Riverwind smiled bravely, his faith strong, and left.
Five years had passed since Riverwind left Goldmoon to start on his great quest. And now he was back.
In that time Goldmoon’s father had suffered a stroke, and in his weak state, Lorman had manipulated his way into power. Goldmoon had not let this happen without a fight, and had been building her faction and playing at politics. It was a weary, endless fight between the young woman and the older man.
But now her Riverwind had returned, sick and raving, with an odd looking staff in his hands. Goldmoon nursed him back to health, and listened to his feverish ranting. He said he saw a swamp, a broken city, and death on wings. His fever broke as he spoke of a blue woman who had given him the staff. Now awake, he was questioned by Goldmoon, but could remember very little of the last five years.
This evening Riverwind was well enough to present the staff to Goldmoon’s father as proof of his quest being done. Everyone gathered at the twilight to hear the proof. Riverwind presented the staff to Goldmoon’s father, but he saw nothing in it to prove the existence of his gods. Lorman took charge of the situation and called for the village to stone Riverwind to death.
Goldmoon cried out and appealed to everyone to stop, but that was when she realised her politicking had not been enough. The village were now turned against her. As she and Riverwind began to take hits from her own villagers, Riverwind rushed to cover her. As they connected, both of them touching the strange staff, a blinding flash of light took them away.
They opened their eyes to find themselves in a forest. After a moment or two of disorientation, and realising they had no wounds at all, they tried to plan what their next move was. Going back to the plains was not an option. They would have to get disguises and move as far away as they could. Both knew they had the ability to live off the land. Looking around, they saw lights in the twilight, so they went towards them.
It was a place called Solace, a village in the trees. Goldmoon was not happy about the heights, but the inn was on a high platform, so she had to climb. In the Inn of the Last Home they met Tikka and gave her false names. They sat at a table and began to eat. Several strangers entered, some of them strange looking, like the dwarf, the kender, the gold-skinned wizard, and others in heavy armour. Riverwind was on edge and insisted on tasting Goldmoon’s food and drink before she did.
The storyteller thrust a lute into Goldmoon’s hands, and nervously she sang the only song she could think of, the song she had been writing for the last five years. It told the story of her growing love for Riverwind in his absence. She improvised the last verse, telling the story of what had just occurred, how they had been stoned, and how magic had saved them.
Suddenly a drunken man started yelling at her, and Riverwind stood over him. A gentle push was exacerbated by the man’s drunkenness, and he fell in the fire. As Goldmoon grabbed a tapestry off the wall to cover the burning man, the kender rushed over and whacked him with Riverwind’s magic staff. Suddenly the man was not only not on fire, but he was healed. In the silence, Goldmoon put the tapestry back carefully and asked for the staff back. The kender handed it back.
All hell broke loose as the once burning man now yelled at Goldmoon and said he was going to get the High Seeker onto her, that she had the staff they were looking for. As he ran out, the strange party of six offered to help the couple escape. Tikka let them out the escape hatch, and they ran into the forest.
Finding a quiet promontory where they could watch out, the new gang talked and introduced themselves. All six were long time friends and had reuinted tonight to say what each had done for the last five years of questing. Caramon and Raistlin were brothers, the former a fighter, the latter a wizard. They had spent the last five years searching, and found the towers of sorcery. The kender Tasslehoff was hard to understand as he raved in his high-pitched voice, and hadn’t found much. The dwarf Flint had searched for the entrance to the great halls of the mountain dwarves, lost for 300 years. Sturm Brightblade searched for his inheritance and the Knights of Solamnia. Tanis the half-elf had searched for the elves.
What had they been searching for? Proof of the gods, they said. Goldmoon was so suprised and delighted by the coincidence that she decided to tell the others the truth (especially after Flint told her quietly that he realised the song was about her and Riverwind). She told them their real names, and that they had been separated for five years as Riverwind had searched for the gods, and he had found this staff. Sturm swore to follow her and aid her. Flint also seemed to quietly acquiesce. The others were a little more guarded.
They tried to decide where to go next to solve the question of the staff. Any settlements were out of the question, as the Seekers, a fanatical false religion, had taken over and had allied with goblins. Riverwind found the idea of seeking the elves of Qualinesti unacceptable. Then Goldmoon had the idea to speak to the one person who had met the gods – her mother.
The plains were not too far, and by midday they were on the plains once more, though Goldmoon hid her face in Flint’s borrowed cloak. They made their way by skirting around the plainsfolk villages, but when they came nearer Que-Shu, they saw smoke on the horizon. Goldmoon couldn’t help herself, she had to know what had happened. Que-Shu was in ruins. There was no sign of anyone around, and in fact tracks led off to the east, humans being taken by things not human.
The night was closing in so Goldmoon decided they would go to her mother’s tomb and follow the tracks in the light of day. On the way to the tombs they ran into a trio of wild boar which they killed and prepared for dinner. As they were cooked, Goldmoon prayed, begged, and beat her head uselessly against the door to her mother’s tomb, unanswered.
As the full darkness grew, Raistlin raised a wasted hand and pointed up. Two great constellations had vanished entirely from the sky. As Goldmoon despaired, her mother’s voice came to her. Go east to Xak Tsaroth. Be there in two days to meet your destiny. The stars have fallen to fight on the earth.
And here is a beautiful picture of Goldmoon and Riverwind by Keith Parkinson.