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Elaith Craulnober is a fictional character in the Forgotten Realms fantasy campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Elaith is often used by author Elaine Cunningham and has appeared in many of her novels, namely, Elfshadow, Elfsong, Silver Shadows, Dream Spheres, and briefly as a very young child in Evermeet: Island of Elves. He is often portrayed as a cunning and opportunistic elven rogue with an infamous reputation, although the Forgotten Realms campaign setting presents him as a fighter/wizard. The author uses him both as an antihero and a recurring villain, and is often referred as "The Serpent." Elaith has also made an appearance in Neverwinter Nights as a merchant who has taken up a calmer outlook on life.
Elaith Craulnober is described as a tall elven noble with sharp, handsome features and a graceful build.[who?] In one of the novels, he is described as being as tall as Arilyn Moonblade (making his height approximately 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm)). Elaith has silver hair and the pale skin common to his people, the moon elves (gray elves). His eyes are often portrayed as having an amber color. He favors to wear his trademark black cape and elven daggers, which he often uses to solidify his already fearsome reputation. He is often likened to a "silver snake" because of his appearance, which gave him his alias, "The Serpent".
Although Elaith can be quite ruthless, even cruel, in the pursuit of his goals, he is also a tragic character who seemingly never recovered from his initial fall. His descent from the Captain of the King's guard on Evermeet to the brutal and heartless crime lord he is today has given him oft contrasting qualities. Before meeting Arilyn Moonblade, Elaith has been a heartless crime lord with a penchant for cruelty. He was portrayed as a manipulative and evil elf whose canny intelligence managed him a worthy position in Waterdeep's nobility. Elaith is also portrayed as a very proud elf, where any slight made to him is answered brutally. Despite his often unforgiving manner, Elaith has a twisted sense of honor, and seems to fully respect (albeit in a twisted fashion) many elven traditions - including his use of "Elf-friend." During the events of the Song and Swords series, Elaith has undergone a drastic change. He became more questioning in his moralities, and even began to actively seek redemption - through any means possible. Currently, Elaith is still an evil crime lord, albeit with a little less than cruel streak.
Elaith tends to be hard on his allies; in other words, few live to tell the tale of their travels. Tavern stories tell of several adventuring bands that Elaith has organized to go off after some treasure or other. Invariably, Elaith is the only member to ever return from these expeditions.
While his sinister reputation precedes him these days, Elaith has few foes that live long enough to be identified as such. After his recent involvement in one of their plots, the Knights of the Shield can be considered an enemy.
Talents and abilities
Foremost to his abilities would be his fearsome reputation and his willingness to commit the vilest, cruelest acts. Elaith has honed his reputation to a point where he is nigh untouchable in the City of Waterdeep. He is also the owner of a large portion of the city and numerous magical trinkets, not to mention a fortune in gold. Elaith often prefers to hire mercenaries to perform his illegal activities for him.
But aside from his wealth and reputation, Elaith is also very capable in combat. He is a highly skilled master warrior even by the highly exacting elven standards, as shown in the book Elfsong. Elaith is also a master in wielding daggers, and often dual wields them to confuse (or to toy with) his opponents. He has also exhibited various magical capabilities, including Scrying and Invisibility.
Elaith is also quite familiar with the criminal underground, and practices larceny quite easily. He is known to deactivate locks and traps with ease. And he is also known for blending well into shadows. Whether he performs these by mundane means or magical is still up for debate.
Elaith prefers melee combat to magical but will often soften up his foes with a dramatic fireball or lightning bolt before closing to the up-close-and-personal contest of blades. Elaith’s foes are lucky in a way. They get to see firsthand a display of Elaith's dazzlingly graceful swordwork. More than once has Elaith taken a certain black glee in toying with an opponent in the midst of a tavern brawl, much to the entertainment of those not involved.
Elaith is a prodigious collector of magical items, so his entire inventory would be impossible to note. His more notable magical trinkets are as follows:
- his dormant Moonblade, an elven artifact that previously rejected him as its owner because of his questionable character - inevitably causing his exile. It has been reactivated in the novel Elfsong.
- a magical dagger that returns to his hand after it is thrown. He obtained it through a trade from the harper, Danilo Thann.
- a scrying ball, which he uses in conversing with prospective clients - and potentially spying on them.
Elaith's strongest bond was with the Princess Amnestria, Arilyn Moonblade's mother, and his supposed betrothed. Elaith left her and the elven community after he was rejected by his Moonblade - inflicting exile upon himself. Elaith's unresolved emotion for the princess is one of the few things that can break his iron self-control. During the Dream Spheres event, he was almost killed because of this weakness.
Elaith has two children, although only one of them is known to him. Azariah Craulnober, for whom he sacrificed a lot to recover the dormant Moonblade, is currently being fostered in Evermeet and being trained as blade-heir. Elaith also has a son by the Princess Amnestria. However, she gave birth to him in secret after Elaith moved to Waterdeep. The lost prince's story has not yet been told.
Elaith's other closest companion was, ironically, the harper who was formerly his most hated enemy, Danilo Thann. After the events in Elfsong, Elaith named Danilo Thann an elf-friend in return for the Waterdhavian bard saving his life, though he has been known to refer to this as an act of supreme folly.
He views the half-elven assassin Arilyn Moonblade as elven royalty - and possibly as the daughter he never had with Princess Amnestria (as evidenced in Elfshadow). Initially mistaking her for Princess Amnestria, he has forged a tentative alliance with the brooding half elf.
Elaith has professed a seething hatred for Arilyn's human father, the Harper Bran Skorlskun, a former friend. Whether this hatred stems from his human heritage, or to the human's inability to protect Amnestria, or to the fact that she loved the human more than she loved him, is unclear in the novels.
Elaith also briefly met the charming rogue, Bronwyn Caradoon, secretly a Harper Agent sent to sabotage one of his plans in Dream Spheres. He has displayed an uncharacteristic attraction to Bronwyn, an attraction that constantly prevented him from killing the sly female rogue.
He also has a somewhat awkward "treaty" with Khelben Blackstaff and the Lady Laeral, as he had saved the archmage's life from a powerful charmed state during the events in Elfsong, and provided aid to Laeral and her sisters in Silverfall.
Elaith was born and grew to maturity amid the splendor of the isle of Evermeet. He had a home and a love, and he was heir to the Craulnober moonblade.
Elaith was a captain of the guard on Evermeet, a highly skilled warrior and a very respected elf. He was betrothed to Princess Amnestria, the mother of Arilyn Moonblade, whom he dearly loved. He was due to inherit a moonblade, and, although well aware that many had been judged unworthy of wielding it, it never occurred to him for a second that he might not be considered worthy. He lived what he himself felt was a charmed life.
However, Elaith had a fatal flaw. Although not truly evil at this time, he lacked depth of character. He excelled at fulfilling the rules and laws of Evermeet and meeting, even exceeding, expectations of what an elf should be, but only because this was what was expected of him. He obeyed the rules only because he was supposed to. This failing was enough for the moonblade to judge him unworthy.
Elaith's world was shattered when the moonblade rejected him. Usually, a moonblade's rejection is fatal to the one who draws the sword, but because Elaith was the last of his line, the sword merely became dormant (although Elaith surely would have preferred death.) Unable to face anyone on Evermeet, particularly Amnestria, after his failure, he fled, taking passage on a vessel to Waterdeep. Once there, he discovered the cold rage and icy temper that have come to mark most of his life since then. He soon found that utilizing his great skills in ventures that were not necessarily ethical (or legal) could prove immensely profitable—and that indulging in acts of cruelty could allow him to sublimate the great pain he felt at his own loss. Putting his own interests and survival above all, Elaith has grown to be quite the notorious figure in and around the City of Splendors.
He soon became a rogue elf, and began building his own underground empire in Waterdeep. He acquired a reputation for ruthlessness as both assassin and crime lord, which he went to great lengths to keep for some time. He has a fondness for magical items and retained his family Moonblade, though this was of course dormant.
Elaith met Danilo Thann and Arilyn Moonblade in the events of Elfshadow, and aided them in their quest to find the Harper Assassin. However, despite Elaith's fondness for Arilyn, he had his own personal agenda and vendetta - which caused no little difficulty for the pair. Especially Danilo Thann, whose assassination he arranged for - a job he later rescinded. He later aided both of them in solving the puzzle to finally defeat Kymil Nimesin and his personal plan to usurp the elven throne.
In the events of Elfsong, Elaith hesitantly joined forces with his hated enemy, Danilo Thann - in order to solve a riddle of the ancient Green Dragon, Grimnoshtadrano - and to hunt down an artifact to stop a sorceress from destroying Waterdeep. With a rag-tag army of minstrels, mercenaries, and riddlemasters, Elaith and Danilo solved the riddle and regained the artifact, whereupon Elaith finally revealed his true intentions. He stole the artifact in an attempt to reactivate his dormant Moonblade to rehonor his bloodline for his new daughter, Azariah Craulnober. The Moonblade was later reactivated, not because of the artifact, but because of his selfless sacrifice for his daughter.
In the events of Dream Spheres, Elaith discovers the magical qualities of the Dream Spheres (a mercantile product used to create dreamscapes for the upper nobility of Waterdeep). In an attempt to test the "evil" of his soul, Elaith took a legendary intelligent Mhoarkiira - a magical artifact used to magnify a person's magical capability. Legend says that the Mhoarkiira would bend an ordinary person's soul to evil, but if wielded by a truly vile being, the artifact would bow down to his will completely. Temporarily fooled by a false copy of the artifact, Elaith, believing himself beyond redemption, sank down to the evil streak of cruelty and ruthlessness he was previously known for. However, at the end, he once again aided Arilyn and Danilo in destroying the evil Mhoarkiira to restore order in Waterdeep.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Forgotten Realms|
- "As you will learn, my pride has a very high price indeed." —Elaith Craulnober, Elfshadow
- "Elaith Craulnober, under different circumstances I believe we could have become very good friends." - Laeral of the Seven Sisters in grim agreement with Elaith's twisted justice, Elfsong
- "Better to embrace evil than to become overcome by it." - Elaith Craulnober, Dream Spheres
- "Thanks, but I don't want you to get troubled on my account. No offense, but who will believe that you fought to protect my honor?" - Bronwyn gently refusing Elaith's offer to help, Dream Spheres
- "The difference between a rogue and a hero often comes down to who tells the tale." - Danilo Thann describing Elaith, Dream Spheres