This book comprises papyrus leaves sewn into a leather binding. The leather has been dyed black with some thick, durable dye that remains supple and covers the hide deeply, preserving the tome somewhat. Into the front cover is inset a silver clawed talon (held by means of its nails, which pass through the hide and have been folded under shrewdly with a hammer so as to close the grip), from which the book has gained its name. rhe edges of the leaves have been painted red, rather unevenly, mottling the border of each page.
History and Description: This book believed to have been the workbook of the famous and much-feared archmage Asmiak, the "One Without Fear," when he was but an apprentice to the wizard Thurl. The strongest proof for this belief comes from the talon device set in the cover (the book is untitled and unsigned), which Asmiak used at the name. This does not mean the book was necessarily his, but a study of Asmiak's deeds reveals his recurring attempts to obtain the book (or re-obtain it, assuming he once possessed it). This indicates he knows the book exists, but its contents would be so superfluous to him now, at the height of his power, that his attempts seem to be evidence of an -emotional attachment to the tome. Asmiak's attempts to possess the book have never been carried out personally, always by agents. At least eight former owners of the book, all of them magic users of low level, have met death because of Asmiak's servants, and other owners of relatively higher levels have narrowly escaped the same fate. Their reports indicate that Asmiak employs a varied complement of servants, many of them not human. One survivor by the name of Casimur, an ex-magic user who now runs the Whistling Wizard Inn, relates that he was slain by three gargoyles, who fled with nothing but that one book from among those in his library, and that he found this out when he was subsequently raised by the cleric Steeleye.
The adventurer Steeleye confirms this incident, and adds that the gargoyles were slain with a shower of silver arrows by the elves of the High Forest as the creatures swooped low over the treetops, looking for a place to rest.
The gargoyles were flying east at the time, far across deserts and mountains. The book fell into the forest and was not recovered by the elves, but somehow found its way to a bazaar some winters later where it was purchased by the astonished magician Phandal. He in turn exchanged it for other spells with the theurgist Alphon, who fled with the book into a forest to escape repeated goblin raids against his property. It is not known how Alphon fared after that, but the druid Rairun "Blackbrow" was the next known to have possessed the book. He tried to send it overland to a colleague, but the caravan vanished in the moorlands en route to its destination.
Although no trace of the caravan itself was ever found, an adventurer named Shoon later came across the book in the dungeons of a deserted castle and brought it to the city of Waterdeep. There he sold it to the merchant Deragus, who never had a chance to sell it, since his shop was robbed later the same night. The master thief Dunas is known to have had the book one winter later, and he traded it to an unknown magic-user for three magical weapons. The book's whereabouts at present are unknown. Dunas has been heard to say he's glad to be rid of the Book of The Silver Talon, and any who find it would do well to conceal it, or risk attack from the servants of Asmiak.
The first twenty-two leaves of the book contain spells, all written in magical inks upon the papyrus in a slanted, beautiful hand, including the necessary runes, glyphs, and symbols and notes on necessary conditions and components. The spells are, in order of their appearance in the book: read magic, burning hands, comprehend languages, detect magic, erase, write, identify, message, shocking grasp, shield, darkness 15' radius, detect invisibility, knock, ray of enfeeblement, web, wizardlock, blink, dispel magic, gust of wind, infravision, phantasmal force, and protection from normal missiles.
Some spells appear to be Asmiak's own. The magician Phandal, who copied from the work spells he needed and noted the changes in those he already knew, notes that the burninghands spell developed by Asmiak (or taught to him by the wizard Thurl) took four segments to cast because of its longer verbal component, and took the form of a thin beam of flame like a rod or staff extending from the caster's forefinger. This beam can be varied in length from two feet to eight feet by force of will, but is stopped (and deflected, at possible hazard to the caster) by stone, thick wood, earth, and the like. Casimur, who retains this spell in his books, notes that it can be fanned back and forth rapidly by merely waving one's finger, and is therefore far more than a parlor trick for cutting ropes or lighting candles.
The twenty-third page of the book, which was beyond Casimur's mastery when he possessed it, contains notes on how to strengthen the spell's flame into a more potent weapon. This improved version is of the second level of spells, and the theurgist Alphon is thought to have employed it when battling trolls on the Evermoors. It takes six segments to cast, lasts for two rounds, and consists of a cone of flame extending 20 feet from the forefinger, six feet in diameter at its farthest extent. The intonation of the verbal component dictates how hot the flames will be; they may be so hot as to create a breeze and cause target creatures to fall back from the heat. The flame does + 1 damage (caster's level + 1, expressed in hit points) in the first round after being cast, and damage equal to one-half the caster's level (rounded up) in the second round.
Thus, a 7th-level caster does 8 points of damage to those struck in the first round, and 4 points to each victim in the second round. Phandal dubbed this spell the flame ray.
Other spell variations are minor. Asmiak's darkness 15' radius uses a tiny vial of ink smashed to the ground, serving as the center of the spell effect, as well as bat fur. Thus, the spell cannot be moved once cast, and the ink seems less effective than pitch or coal, because the spell lasts only eight rounds, plus one per level of the caster. Asmiak specifies giant octopus ink, but Casimur has subsequently experimented with giant squid sepia, and reports that it also produces darkness, although of but six rounds (plus one per level of the caster) duration. Asmiak's version of the ray of enfeeblement has a different verbal component than the accepted norm, and takes three segments to cast. It has a fixed range of 6", and a fixed duration of eight rounds. Similiarly, Asmiak's blink spell has a fixed duration of four rounds, caused by the differences in both verbal and somatic somponents (the level and casting time remain the same).
Asmiak's gust of wind spell is an improved version; it emanates from a self-chosen extremity of the caster, and is thus directional and the caster can rapidly change this direction. Its somatic component differs from the norm, and its material component is a sycamore seed cluster or milkweed seed (or similar seed, of the type having hairlike fibers that enable it to be borne aloft on a breeze).
The last three pages of the book are careful notes on the preparation of magical inks for all the first-level spells in the book. Users of the art will notice that these are not the only known ink formulas for these spells.
Back to Spell Page