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In the fictional fantasy setting of the Forgotten Realms, the Moonstars are one of the most recent and most covert secret societies to appear in Faerûn in decades. Born in the tumult of a fall-out between several senior Harpers, the members of the Moonstars now operate independently of the former group, though they share many of the same goals. Led by the iconoclastic Chosen of Mystra, former Master Harper, ex-Lord of Waterdeep, and incredibly powerful and knowledgeable mage, Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun and his consort, the Mage Lady of Waterdeep, Laeral Silverhand, the Moonstars have spent the last few years establishing their own intelligence network, including agents, spies, informants, adventurers, and a system of portals to allow them fast access to any part of Faerûn.
In 1370 DR, Senior Harpers Bran Skorlsun, Obslin Minstrelwish (the Seneschal of Twilight Hall in Berdusk), and Belhaur Thantarth (Master of Twilight Hall) uncovered evidence implicating Master Harper Khelben Arunsun of making deals with the Harpers' archenemy, the Zhentarim. Khelben admitted that he did indeed make the deals he was accused of, and he promptly resigned his position in the group, as did his wife and fellow Chosen, Laeral Silverhand.
These events caused many repercussions. The three Senior Harpers listed above became worried about other "traitors" in the ranks of the group, and they begin investigating many "suspicious" Harpers and their activities; some of their critics use the term "witch-hunt" to describe the trio's tactics. As a result of this internal investigation, some Harpers have quit the group, either to join Khelben's Moonstars or to disappear from the life of an agent completely.
After his resignation, Khelben gathered his closest allies about him and founded the Moonstars, known as the Tel'Teukiira in Elven. One sagely member of the group has located one reference to this Elven term in Amagal's Tome, an ancient elven text of early Cormanthor. In that usage, the term Tel'Teukiira refers to those who "will come hidden and in many guises and faces. They dwell in shadow and speak in omens, yet they shall bring about waking dreams and save us from the Three Threats Who Wait in Darkness, the Prefects, and ourselves." No one within the group claims to know what this means, although many suspect Khelben knows and is being typically closed-mouthed about it.
In the years since the "Harper Schism", most of the individuals aware of the circumstances have fallen into one of three schools of thought:
- They trust the Twilight Hall trio and believe that Khelben has indeed betrayed them.
- Some trust Khelben by past reputation or personal knowledge and accept that he is up to something long-term that will be made clear in time.
- Some have ignored the schism and wish only to continue doing good work in Faerûn, ignoring in whose name they supposedly perform their deeds.
Khelben's first rule for any Moonstars agent is this: Don't get caught while performing Moonstars-related activities. He cares not how an agent spends her days or nights, just as long as she doesn't compromise the carefully constructed secrecy that remains to this day the Moonstars' greatest weapon. All Moonstars agents are prompted to accomplish their missions, but not to risk certain capture. Aborting a mission due to that possibility is never frowned upon. Overt actions that would require such decisions remain relatively rare for the small group at this point, however.
The majority of Moonstars "missions" are nothing more than reconnaissance of targets chosen by the Blackstaff or Laeral. Agents stealthily observe their targets and report their findings, nothing more. At times, however, action is called for and the Moonstars do not hesitate on such occasions. If the Moonstars discover a doppelganger, fiend, or other creature using magical abilities to infiltrate civilized society, the Moonstars act to kill or drive off the monster. Other Moonstars activities that some might view as questionable include the following:
- Kidnapping evil individuals for interrogation and a magical "mindwipe" to remove all memories of the questioning;
- Stealing (or planting) of magic items and even relics and artifacts;
- The “reapportioning” of profits and goods gained by the Moonstars after breaking up or destroying criminal or evil activities.
These are just some examples, and all such efforts are likely known only by the most senior Moonstars.