Gwaeron Windstrom embodies the skills of tracking and understanding woodland signs. He is the quiet, reclusive patron of rangers of the North. Taciturn and slow to anger, the Master of Tracking prefers to instruct through example, not words, and his rage, once ignited, is a terrible thing. He loathes trolls, and is known to stalk them across the Evermoors. Although Gwaeron is highly respected by rangers active in the North, his faith is more one of emulation than veneration.
Gwaeron roamed the North as a mortal ranger many centuries ago, and he was elevated to the ranks of demipowers by the sponsorship of the Lady of Forests after successfully stalking and slaying at least one avatar and several manifestations of Malar in quick succession. This accomplishment has earned him the undying enmity of the Beastlord and resulted in any unending battle between them that was continued during the Time of Troubles when Malar appeared in the North after his defeat by Nobanion. Malar, the Lord of Beasts, was relentlessly pursued throughout the North by Gwaeron and could not shake the Master of Tracking from his trail.
His followers are mainly rangers of the North who seek to interpret woodland signs and to track outlaws or game. Many rangers believe Mielikki is too wild and mysterious to pay attention to them. Because of this, many who might have pledged their heart to her directly turn to Gwaeron as a proxy instead. Gwaeron represents them well in their trade, and is believed to speak with Mielikki on their behalf.
There is not an organized Gwaeronan church distinct from the church of Mielikki, and the existence of his faith is little known outside the ranks of northern rangers. Rather, most shrines of the Lady of the Forest in the North include a small shrine or side altar to the Master of Tracking within their confines. Gwaeron's followers work to keep the numbers of trolls, orcs, and other humanoids in check across the North and oppose the followers of Malar at every turn.
Gwaeron's clerics walk the trails and wilderness of the North practicing their craft, becoming attuned to their environment, and observing the activities of the "monster" races. When called upon by the church of Mielikki or hired by local rulers, they track down fugitives from justice, elusive predators (both human and beast), or lost travelers. Some join militias, mercenary companies, or adventuring companies where they typically serve as scouts. In times of famine, Stalkers travel to regions where game is scarce and the inhabitants are in danger of starving and use their skills to provide food. Almost all clerics and druids of Gwaeron Windstrom multiclass as rangers.
VestmentsGwaeron's priests dress practically for their environment, preferring clothing made of supple, sturdy leathers and comfortable boots. They let their hair and beards grow freely, but keep them neatly combed and arranged in practical styles. Female clerics wear their hair in a long, loose braid down their back. All Stalkers of the Silent Path (see "Orders" below) wear a patch or sport embroidery on their formal vestments displaying Gwaeron's symbol and respect the seasonal colors of Mielikki's clergy's ceremonial raiment in the dyes used to color their formal clothes. Many priests choose to tattoo a blue or brown five-pointed star on themselves in honor of their dedication to the order of the Silent Path.
Gwaeron's followers dress practically when adventuring, in clothing very similar to their formal garb, but not as colorful. Stalkers of the Silent Path pay respect to the seasonal colors of Mielikki's clergy's garb in their trim or accessories while in the field, but not so as to make targets of themselves in incompatible-colored terrain. When the weather permits, male Stalkers like to work bare-chested, and both male and female Stalkers prefer working barefoot or in soft moccasins when practical.
TemplesIn the North, temples and shrines of the Lady of Forests, such as the shrine found in the hamlet of Mornbryn's Shield, often include a small shrine or side altar to the Master of Tracking within their confines. Shrines consecrated in Gwaeron's name are typically simple altars made of a single boulder inscribed with Gwaeron's symbol and are mainly found within the High Forest and Cormanthor.
RitualsClerics and druids of Gwaeron Windstrom pray for their spells at dusk, when many wild beasts emerge from their dens to forage and hunt. Gwaeron's followers observe no holy days other than those celebrated by Mielikki. After a successful "stalk," those who invoke Gwaeron's name are expected to leave a circle of six footprints in the ground with their right foot, the heel of each print neatly touching and the toes facing outward.
OrdersRangers of Mielikki's clergy who are specifically sworn into Gwaeron's service are members of the Fellowship of Stalkers of the Silent Path. This informal order (composed exclusively of single-classed human and half-elven rangers) focuses on the interpretation of woodland signs and tracking all manners of beings and beasts. Members retain close ties to the regular hierarchy of Mielikki's faith and are considered regular members of that church as well as of the fellowship. They serve as the tracking, scouting, and hunting arm of Mielikki's faith, much as Gwaeron serves Mielikki.
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Intelligent beings can live in harmony with the wild without requiring the destruction of one in the name of the other. Embrace the wild and fear it not, because the wild ways are the good ways. Keep the Balance and learn the hidden ways of life, but stress the positive and outreaching nature of the wild. Do not allow trees to be needlessly felled or the forest needlessly burned. Live as one with the woods, teach others to do so, and punish and curtail those that hunt for sport or practice cruelties on wild creatures.
Gwaeron Windstrom always appears as a tall and physically impressive human male stripped to the waist with flowing white hair and a long white beard.
Gwaeron Windstrom has forged alliances with the deities of the elven, gnome, and halfling pantheons whose portfolios most closely match those of Mielikki, Silvanus, and his own. He opposes Malar the Beastlord. Given that his following is so small and so similar to that of Mielikki, he may be accidentally subsumed as an aspect of the Forest Queen or fall prey to Malar if he is not careful.
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