The Legend of Halcyon Hills
Generations ago, long before Rone Wehnimer stumbled across
the place where he would later build his port city, and eons
prior to Melgorehn placing his Keep near Lake Eonak, a group
of wandering sylvans of the Lassaran D'ahranal clan decided
to settle in what we now know as Upper Trollfang.
The sylvans built their homes high in the tree canopy, and
far below the roots of those trees, a long-established dwarven
colony was tunneling away at the earth, seeking the beautiful
gems concealed within the rockbed. When it happened that the
two groups encountered each another, they were initially surprised
by the contact, but over time and as they continued to cross
paths, they grew friendly and settled into an amicable system
of trade. The sylvans provided the wealth of the forest in
exchange for silver and mithril from the dwarven caverns.
Less than 10 years had passed in this fashion when something
went terribly wrong for the dwarves. Even long before Red
Rot, dwarven miners would occasionally fall ill when carving
out some new area foreign to their clans, mainly sickness
of the respiratory system. This time, they broke into a primeval
cavern deep underground, disturbing the spores of ancient
fungus were, and after inhaling the fine powdery substance,
many of the miners fell wretchedly ill.
Their breathing was ragged and strained, and their hearts
weakened. Known medicines and food seemed to give no relief
or nourishment. The contagion spread like wildfire throughout
the colony, leaving more than half of them paralyzed and anguished,
and the other half fearing they would catch the plague at
any moment. Even their prayers seemed to be of no avail.
At first, the sylvans tried to help their trading partners,
but, to their horror they discovered this plague could strike
at sylvan lives as well. The symptoms appeared somewhat milder,
yet the results were just as devastating. None of their medicines
worked to cure the illness either. For the sylvans to survive,
they would need to leave these wood, lest they suffer the
same fate as the doomed dwarven colony. Quickly, and as is
their way, they dismantled their aerie homes and destroyed
all evidence of their encampment before they fled -- leaving
the trees in their natural state once again.
Despite the plans of their kin, a handful of sylvan healers
remained with those afflicted, determined that they would
die before abandoning their stricken patients. At the sylvan
healers' advice, the dwarves collapsed their tunnels, and
moved into makeshift lean-tos constructed beneath the trees.
Both colonies lived, worked, and slept together, as they tried
to combat this plague.
One by one, the healers perished alongside the dwarves, until
three more were dead and the last two were ailing. Beseeching
Imaera, the goddess of healing, they asked for her assistance
in finding a cure, as each day they ground new combinations
of herbs in an attempt to stop the plague. To their shock
and joy, one of the dwarves finally began to show signs of
recovery! The healers had discovered a successful treatment,
and rejoiced that the two colonies would be saved.
Hearts sank again, however, as it soon became clear that
the cure would not assist the sylvans. Something about the
way in which the disease afflicted the sylvans was simply
too different from the way in which the disease afflicted
the dwarves, and, although almost a third of the dwarven colony
was saved through their efforts, the remaining sylvan healers
quickly perished to the vicious disease.
Somberly, the dwarves laid the dead sylvans into cavern graves
-- near enough for the comfort of the earth, as in dwarven
burial rites, and below the trees the wood elves so loved.
There they would remain, undisturbed and unmolested, for all
eternity. Then, the dwarven colony abandoned the area, for
they feared that their tunnels might encroach upon the fungus
plague's domain again, and, although they knew how to cure
it, they did not know how to prevent or eradicate it.
Time passed. The migrating sylvans from the encampment rejoined
others of their kind, and the surviving dwarves crafted a
new home as well. Nothing more might have been said or done
of the matter, if an old dwarven priest had not seen Lake
Eonak and the path leading to the burial cavern in a dream.
He gathered his clan and told them that he had to return to
that place, and asked who would come with him. Roughly two
score set back towards the forest, to see what had become
Normally, dwarven hearts are not lifted by the beauty of
land, but by the beauty of a perfectly faceted gem or the
gleam of a frozen crystal river coursing deep beneath the
bedrock. This was an exception. Finding the obscured path
of the vision, they ascended it, and then paused. They stared...
for, where there had once been only a wild forest and the
sylvan encampment, stood glorious wildflowers blooming in
profusion, their colorful petals lifted to the sunny
sky and crowding around an entry to a cave. Each blossom
was so marvelous in symmetry and hue that all paused in astonishment
at the sight.
The dwarves searched high and low, to see whether anyone
had tended the area, but they could find no evidence of other
travelers. Only one, the old priest, saw anything at all.
His voice was hoarse with awe as he described the graceful
young sylvan dressed in robes of leaves and flowers, that
he had seen kneeling among the nearby trees as she caressed
a lacy white flower. None present doubted that the old priest
had seen the goddess Imaera.
Upon returning to their home, the dwarves spoke wonderingly
of the miracle, and many others asked if they could go and
see it. Word spread slowly outside the first dwarven encampment,
about the place where Eonak's consort had blessed the sylvan
graves, and, though most of the first travelers were dwarven,
the rumor gradually reached other races as well. Sylvans,
clerics of Imaera, and other curious people asked to be led
to the beauteous fields.
The dwarves kept the location to themselves, and would refuse
to guide those who would not keep their silence as well. They
did not wish the gravesite's peacefulness to be violated,
but generously would lead those who wished to pay respectful
visit. As the rumor drifted very slowly across the face of
Elanith, it came to pass that the descendants of the sylvans
who had first deserted the woods, learned of the colony's
survival and they were deeply moved.
By now, over a century had elapsed, and the old dwarven priest
had long since been laid into the ground near the graves of
the sylvans. The surroundings had seemed to sorrow at his
passing, for the flowers did not bloom as brightly, grow as
strongly, or smell as sweetly as they once did -- or, perhaps,
Imaera no longer walked among the quiet yet constant stream
More bodies had been laid into the ground, for word of the
place's sacred nature had spread quietly among the various
worshippers of Imaera in Elanith, and, as more burials were
held, more people came to honor their own ancestors rather
than to pray to the Lady of the Green. Compared to the great
tombs among the elves or the battlefield cemetaries of the
humans, it could be considered an unimpressive gravesite,
but it possessed a peace unlike any other. Many planted their
own remembrances as well, but these flowers did not grow with
the grace of those that the old cleric had seen, still they
grew and blossomed, even when the climate and terrain were
not well-suited for them to thrive.
With the rumor of the place confirmed, the sylvans contacted
the dwarves and asked very humbly to know the location of
the memorial, so that they might go and pay respects to their
dead kin. After little debate, the dwarves consented. Almost
instantly the sylvan visitors were so moved by their initial
sight of the place, and so saddened by the loss of both colonies,
that they took up the mantle of caretakers, swearing never
to abandon their fallen kin again. Once more, the garden bloomed
in riotous color, and many who visited were stunned into silence
by the sheer awe and wonder.
Despite the dwarves' efforts to keep the garden safe, stories
of this hidden graveyard reached a half-elven necromancer.
His exact motivation cannot be guessed, but the nature of
his visit became hideousy clear when the caretakers were awakened
by the agonized, semi-melodic keening of a newly-raised banshee.
With tears of shock and dismay streaming down their cheeks,
the caretakers were forced to take up whatever weapons they
could muster in order to destroy the animated bodies that
had once been blessed and laid into the ground.
The necromancer was successfully killed as well, though it
cost the life of one of the caretakers. The survivors buried
their fallen companion just outside the original cavern grave,
and then dragged the necromancer's body away to a distant
and unpleasant locale, before abandoning it to whatever wildlife
might wish to make a meal of him.
On the wings of a gyrhawk familiar, the sylvan caretakers
sent word to the dwarves about what had happened, and informed
them of their desperate plan. With the first light of dawn
they would seal the garden against any further intrusion,
shielding it with a powerful protective magic, so that no
one else would ever desecrate its sacred soil. They asked
the dwarves to come one last time, intending to teach the
dwarves the secret of traveling in and out of the
magical barrier, so that they would not be barred from the
graves of their kin.
A party of dwarves left their encampment immediately, to
make the night-long journey, but they never reached their
destination. The necromancer had not acted alone; his allies
were waiting on the most likely road leading into the wilderness,
intending to join him, yet wondered why he had failed to appear
at the appointed hour. When they saw the dwarves, they were
nervous, twitchy, and itching for a fight. They fell upon
the first group, and, despite the mithril armaments that the
dwarves always carried, the magical attackers were regrettably
Those dwarves who followed behind took up a swift and merciless
revenge, hacking the necromancers' allies limb from limb,
but as the red-gold rays of the morning sun crowned the sky,
the sylvans had already sealed the forest path. The dwarves
searched and searched, but their minds were clouded by sylvan
magic, and they could not find the way. Eventually they gave
up and head back for home, sad and defeated.
Years grew into decades, and decades grew into centuries.
Many generations passed among the dwarves, although only
few generations passed for the sylvans. Within the memorial's
magical shield, the sylvan caretakers grew old and died without
ever leaving again. Outside, word of the marvelous memorial
site dwindled away until it was thought no more than a legend.
The sylvans told their children, but their children forgot
to tell their grandchildren, and words
failed even more swiftly among the much shorter-lived dwarves.
Eventually, even the legend became dust.
Almost... For another group had taken an interest in the
shrine -- a group of the Greengair gnomes. After hearing word
of Imaera’s appearance, they took a great interest in
locating the site, and they saw no need to bother with a dwarven
guide. Unseen and unheard, one of these small people watched
as a sylvan caretaker sat outside on that final day to watch
for the returning dwarves, and then the gnome listened with
care as the sylvan uttered the incantation that would part
the magical shield of obscurity. Then, the gnome relayed this
information to the elders of her group and asked whether so
important a site should be kept out of gnomish hands.
It is difficult to say whether the sylvan caretakers ever
became aware of the Greengair presence, for the sylvans left
no writings of the kind behind, and enough time has elapsed
since then, that local gnomish histories are unreliable. The
Greengair slipped in and out of the magical barrier with consummate
ease, but they sought to avoid sylvan attention as much as
possible. It is well known that a gnome who wishes to remain
hidden is almost impossible to find, particularly for larger
folk. When the last caretaker died of old age, several of
the gnomes buried him beside his companions and planted seeds
on their graves, letting a beautiful field of flowers cover
the caretakers' graves until nothing obvious remained.
That might have been the end of the forest’s tale,
if not for a diary unearthed by a young sylvan woman among
her great-grandfather's effects. Having died long before
was born, these possessions had been stored for generations
before she unearthed them. Among them was a plain-looking
leather book that she opened carefully, blowing the dust
from its fragile pages, and turning them curiously. Squinting
at the ancient, cramped handwriting, at first she was puzzled,
then dismayed to learn the full story, including the fact
that her great-great-grandmother's grave lay hidden in some
unknown wilderness within a magical veil of concealment.
told some of the others who lived in her village about her
findings, and gradually the truth came to light as people
searched through old records and older memories.
she and a group of like-minded sylvans searched
for a map or other clues that would locate he gravesite,
but the few others who remembered hearing about such a thing
it as legend. Fifty years after the uncovering of the journal,
however, word reached the ears of a Wendwillow gnome who
the story to be true. The Wendwillow contacted his kin, and
those kin contacted their kin, and eventually the gnomes
tended the memorial garden learned of the sylvans’ search.
This spawned a great deal of discussion and more
than one argument among the gnomes.
After careful consideration, the gnomes decided to let the
sylvan descendants know the truth of the matter. They agreed
among themselves to grant the sylvans the exact location
the path's barrier. And there they found, in one of the cavern
graves, a dusty tome that attempted to catalog all those
in that hidden site. When confronted by the sylvans, and
shown that members almost every race had been buried there,
the period as a pilgrimage site, the gnomes decided that
it would not be sufficient to allow only the sylvans
to pass -- but that all who would come in peace and with
respect must be allowed entry. With their consent, the sylvans
the barrier. Once more, the path was visible.
Upon the 10th day of Lormesta, in the year 5104 of the Modern
Era, at three hours past noon, gnomes and sylvans reestablished
a passageway, permitting all who wish to visit the memorial
forest to do so. Now, all races are welcome to walk within
the once-hidden site. As it is resting in the shadows of Melgorhen's
Reach, it was given the name Halcyon Hills, for its peaceful
location. The tale of the gravesites near Lake Eonak is known
again, and will remain more than merely a legend.