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By Christopher M. Dwinell and Sheila Wherry
The Misty Wood could be glimpsed from the edge of the High Moor and the trees looked cool and inviting. Onassin couldn’t wait to be underneath the emerald shelter of the leaves. The ride had been long and treacherous for the moors were still rife with trolls and orcs to name only two of the dangers that had beset the small group.
The Blade and Song was an adventuring band consisting of five members. Onassin of the Strings, a bard who played the fiddle among other instruments. Lucas, a warrior whose claymore was taller than Onassin. Sinessa of Gladius, an individual whose tattoos marked her as a former slave of Thay. There was also Silk, a slim girl whose dark clothing and graceful movements made the rapier she carried doubly dangerous. Finally, Jordan of Tymora, whose healing spells and defensive magics had saved their lives' time and again.
Onassin glanced at Silk, the girl couldn’t be more than seventeen but the pain lining her face made her seem older. She had been struck down by a poisoned blade and only by sheer willpower had she managed to ride this far. Sinessa also held an arm tightly to her side, holding broken ribs into place. All of them had been wounded in the last battle, but hope was not far off if the words of an amber eyed innkeeper were true.
“If you are hurt, or need a place to rest, just within the south east border of the Misty Wood is a small village. Look for a stream leading to a pond with a small island in the center. Just north of it is the village. It is called Sanctuary.” The half elf had smiled then. “Don’t be surprised at whom you find there, and don’t offer violence to anyone. The folk there are good and will offer aid if you need it. There you will find shelter and rest if the dangers of the High Moors prove to be too much.” The female half elf had also offered several other pieces of advice on what they would find in the High Moor. Onassin still hadn’t been able to figure out how she’d known where they were going and what they’d planned to do.
“Just hold on a bit longer.” Jordan, who was out of healing spells, pleaded. “If Tymora smiles on us we’ll reach the village soon”
They’d reached the tree line and soon found a pond fitting the innkeeper’s description. Heading north they did find the village. However nothing could have prepared them for what they found there.
A family of orcs waved at them and called friendly greetings in common. Two goblins were working on a chair with a tall man. A hobgoblin was watching with interest a sword fight between a drow and a moon elf. Another elf was playing the flute and watching the same fight.
They had no sooner passed the first two huts when the drow woman and elf stopped the fight and with a grin for the applauding hobgoblin approached the newcomers.
The drow female possessed very long silver hair and rose eyes. Her skin was a purplish black. She wore a lacy black gown and rested her long sword casually on her shoulder. Her face wore a welcoming smile and it warmed the weary travelers against their better judgment.
The moon elf was also a female bearing a scimitar and an arm length tattoo of a cheetah. Her hair was also long, though brown and her eyes dark green. She too was smiling and said something in a sibilant tongue to her companion.
“Welcome,” the drow woman said gaily. “I’m Alauniira of Eilistraee, and this is Shenandoah.”
Onassin looked desperately at the drow woman and hoped that the innkeeper had been right. “We were told that this is where we would find Sanctuary?” His voice was both questioning and hopeful. “We need help.” Alauniira’s eyes had already moved past him to the rest of the company, taking in Silk’s sway of exhaustion, Sinessa’s stiff posture and the wounds the rest of them bore.
“Shen help me get her down.” Alauniira said quickly, to her elven sparring partner. The elf moved to take the girl from her horse. Sinessa dismounted without aid but apparently was sorry for it a moment later as she grimaced and clutched at her rib cage.
“Poison,” the female warrior wheezed out. “She was poisoned.”
Alauniira immediately knelt beside the dark clothed girl and began the prayer that would neutralize the poison in the body. Shen, one of the orcs, and an elderly gnome fellow helped the company from their horses and others appeared to lead the weary animals away.
When the prayer was done Silk still lay unmoving and one of the orc children asked tentatively. “Dark Lady? She be all right?”
“Yes Erga,” the priestess replied with a fond smile. “She’ll be fine. She sleeps now.”
Onassin breathed a sigh of relief and looked at Lucas who’d been pale with worry. He and Silk had been lovers for some time now. The warrior was pumping the drow woman’s hand in thanks, obviously incoherent with relief. The
other members of the company looked around in wonderment now that the danger of death had passed. Even though they were safe, they couldn’t help but wonder. What was this place?
Sanctuary is what its name implies. Located where the Misty Woods join the High Moor about three days ride east of Daggerford. It is a place to belong for those who feel they do not belong any where else. Any being of any race and any goodly religion may come and live in peace and harmony with themselves and their neighbors. It is a place where one can go and rest, away from the rigors of the world. Sanctuary is a place where spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical rest are found. A place where one can feel safe and sheltered for as long as one may need.
Sanctuary was founded in 1364DR by Alauniira, a priestess of Eilistraee. As a drow on the surface world Alauniira understood how many people are judged by prejudices and not by their individuality. To this end Alauniira founded Sanctuary where anybody of good intent could live in a community of friends. There are many gods worshipped or venerated within Sanctuary. By far the goddess worshipped the most is Eilistraee.
There are twelve priestesses, or Dark Ladies, or Eilistraee. Alauniira and these twelve serve as Sanctuary’s guiding hand. They do this by initiating most worship rituals, hunts, revels; they also provide both physical and spiritual healing. Sanctuary is also a base of operations for the Knights of Twilight (qv).
Sanctuary lies on 20 acres of a peaceful glade within the Misty Wood. Sanctuary is no more than a cluster of huts and small cabins nestled haphazardly amongst the trees. Though primitive, the hand of the drow and elves can be seen in the simple beauty the huts contain. Many are built around the trees with branches still growing through the roofs. These homes radiate out from the central part of Sanctuary, a large clearing about thirty yards in diameter. This clearing is where most grand feasts and revels are held. In the true spirit of Eilistraee these usually involve a large bonfire and a lot of dancing.
Sanctuary is much like any other village until a close look is taken at the inhabitants. However several differences are almost immediately discernible. Sanctuary is more closely attuned to the harmonies of the forest surrounding it. The clearing at the center of the village is a natural one and the ancient trees were left undisturbed.
There are two large ponds close to the clearing, one, Pixie’s Ocean, has a stream called The Run leading into it from the north and then running from Pixie’s Ocean to Elfwood Pond. The Elfwood Pond has a small tree clad island in the center; Culton’s Creek feeds the Elfwood and Sword’s Edge stream runs off of it to the south.
About a mile south and a little west of Elfwood Pond is Shield Hill, a large mound set like a round shield among the trees.
Many of the residents have tilled their own gardens of varying sizes. The harvests of which are shared openly amongst all of Sanctuary. Similarly the hunters share their bounty as well. The folk here, though many are racial enemies, are kind and accepting. If a helping hand is needed it is usually offered without hesitation. There are shrines of many of the gods worshipped by the residents scattered throughout the woods. There are no shops or mercantile exchange within Sanctuary. Every couple of months or so a trader will bring supplies, many of which will be bartered with meat, vegetables or furs. As the residents are free to come and go as they please, trade and news of the realms is never wanting. Visitors are welcomed with open arms. As news of Sanctuary’s hospitality grows, more and more travelers through the Misty Wood try to stop at there. Guests are often invited to stay for two to three days exchanging song, stories or some other contribution for food and shelter.
In case of attack a dozen priestesses of the goddess of good Drow offer ample protection. In addition many of the residents are powerful individuals in their own right. All freely defend their Sanctuary.
Some of the Personalities at Sanctuary
Alauniira of Eilistraee (NG drow f P14; Wis 17 Dex 20 Cha 16)
Originally an acolyte of the Chosen of Eilistraee, she was destined to guard the Promenade near Skullport from the enemies of her goddess. Yet she believed Eilistraee had other plans for her. Upon meeting a group of human adventurers lost in Undermountain, she knew she was meant to see the beauty of the surface world as Eilistraee wanted for all drow. When she became a full priestess (1st level), the Lady Qilue’, the Chosen of Chosen, gave her leave to adventure in the surface world. The Song of the Chosen bore her to the surface on the moon’s rays. She adventured for a long time in the Realms traveling from the Moonsea to Waterdeep spreading the Song of Eilistraee along the way and making many converts, one among them an outcast moon elf blade-singer.
An influential Senior Harper in Waterdeep, Lady Laerl Arunson, spied upon this drow’s actions within her city and soon realized the good and the glory of Eilistraee’s Song within the young drow’s heart. Laerl asked her to join the Harpers. Eilistraee, who favors the Harpers, was pleased to have one of her Ladies, the first really, join that august group. Little did Alauniira know (nor did this author) that Qilue’ was one of the Seven Chosen Sisters of Mystra. Qilue’ asked her sisters to keep a subtle eye on her follower.
Alauniira is armed with a bard blade +4 that she has named Quicksilver. She is also aided by a shield +3 named Fullmoon. Alauniira is 5ft. Tall and has silver hair that falls to the small of her back. Her body is thin and lithe like a dancer’s. She moves with the grace of her drow heritage and her distinctive laugh, sounding like small windchimes, can be heard often. Her eyes are a soft rosy hue that warms the heart like a sunset when she smiles.
Enigma (NG hem F8/T9; Str 17 Dex 18 Int 17)
Enigma is the professional name for a half-elven elite warrior. His real name remains unknown by anyone. Originally from the Vilhon Reach, from one of the Blade Kingdoms, he was trained first as a warrior and later as a spy and assassin working for a despotic and paranoid baron. Despite the advanced training he received, he despised his kingdom and his job. On a particular training mission to Calimshan, to learn from the assassin’s guild there, Enigma faked his death and ran away, north to Baldur’s Gate. He has since worked as a mercenary, merchant guard, and even a free lance burglar in many cities throughout the heartlands including, Westgate, Iriaebor, and Berdusk. He has even been hired by the Harpers occasionally for particular stealthy jobs, but is not himself a Harper.
He is usually quiet as he seldom speaks. He is suspicious and secretive. Much of this is carried over from his days as a secret agent in the Vilhon Reach, but also because he fears retribution from his old kingdom. He carries him self as a professional soldier. He is usually clean shaven, has short hair, maintains a “stiff backed” air about him, and is usually very polite. He also has the ability to slink in and out of tight corners and dark shadows with cat-like grace. Enigma sometimes feels slight guilt for the terrible crimes he committed years ago in his homeland, even though he did his job under the pretense of law.
One of Alauniira’s first converts to Eilistraee, he is also the leader of the Knights of Twilight, and one of Alauniira’s most trusted allies. He is honest to a fault. He is skilled in many bladed weapons, including the long sword (specialized), short sword, and daggers. His aim in throwing a dagger is impeccable and he usually has three or four hidden on his person. He often fights two handed with his long sword (+3 defender ) and his favorite dagger, a +4 weapon he has named Shadowbite.
Shenandoah Ailounee (CG ef W12/F13, Dex 18, Int 16, Chr 18)
The only Bladesinger at Sanctuary and the first Knight of Twilight is rather startling. Only five feet tall and beautiful even by elven standards, her many tattoos and deadly skill with both scimitar and magic tend to have a disconcerting effect upon strangers. She is high spirited, however, and her greatest delight is in playing her harp on dancing nights. She is fervent in both her worship of Eilistraee and her friendship with Alauniira. (The two of them were adventurers together.)
Shenandoah bears the elaborate cheetah tattoo of her bladesingers guild which covers her right arm. She tends to wear fringed traveling leathers with a Cloak of Elvenkind, Elven Chain, and Bracers of Blinding Strike. She also wears a Ring of Protection + 3 and a holy symbol of Eilistraee. She always carries two scimitars, never wanting to be without a blade in battle, one of which is a scimitar + 2 which she named Elsinondai.
Some other residents of Sanctuary are:
Orc family (Muca, mother; Greth, father; little Cet, the baby; and Erga, the young daughter)
Rethyier, the Voadkyn
Jessica, Peacewoman of Eldath
Robito, Cleric of Chauntea. A large, almost obese man, who loves to cook and has great skill in this area
12 Dark Ladies of Eilistraee, including two drow from the Promenade near Skullport, 1 half elf from the dales, and 1 gnome from the Trielta Hills.
Kil and Brok, the goblins of the camp.
Jared, Druid of the Singing Waters (Eldath). A large muscular black Turmish man who stands @ 6'2". He is a secret member of the Emerald Enclave.
Brengarr. A middle-aged retired warrior. Devout in his following of Tyr, the Even Handed.
D’anni and Feldin. Dawn Priests of Lathandar. D’anni is from Cormyr and Feldin from Amn
Roma'r, an acolyte follower of LLiira. A handsome young man in his late 20's. Very charming and charismatic
Nadina of Selune. This cleric also has with her 2 acolytes. The girl is 15 and the boy 21.
Different elves, including 2 clerics of the Seldarine, 1 priest of Solonor Thelandira and one minstrel)
Halflings, including the Feeger Family of 5 and 1 tallfellow carpenter
There are 8 gnomes living in Sanctuary.
Humans; including the Brendal Family, the Whiteleaf family and the Porters, making 11 in all.
Adam; a barrel-chested, very tall woodsman. A follower of Selune, a were bear, he is seen frequently with Nadina.
Agnoman and Deirdriu. Twin half elven children of Shenandoah with an empathic link for each other, they have taken up Eilistraee’s mantle as their own. Deirdriu is a priestess of the Dark Maiden, and her brother Agnoman is a ranger who strongly venerates the drow goddess as well. Both are adventuring between the High Moors and Waterdeep.
Windlass. An elven female, she is the highest ranking Dark Lady of Eilistraee at Sanctuary aside from Alauniira. She is Alauniira’s right hand in guiding the faithful, she is also a friend of the Harpers, and a powerful priestess in her own right.
The Knights of Twilight
The Knights of Twilight are a religious order within the Church of Eilistraee. They were founded in the Year of the Sword, 1365 DR, by the Darklady Alauniira. Like Eilistraee, the Knights are open to any race and religion, as long as that individual believes in the sanctity of the individual and that all creatures should be treated as such. While all followers of Eilistraee believe the drow should live on the surface in peace and harmony with all races and especially other elven races, followers of Eilistraee are persecuted heavily by other faiths of the drow, most notably those followers of Lloth and Gaunadaur.
Enter the Knights of Twilight. The Knights often act as spies, smugglers, and go-betweens from the surface and the Underdark. The Knights all strive to develop a large web-work of contacts and informants while keeping their identities and intentions rather unknown. Furthermore, the Knights often work to further the aims of the Harpers, as both groups have many of the same beliefs and ideals. In the first case, the Knights often hear of, and escort drow who look for a life on the surface to Sanctuary, a large congregation of Eilistraee followers in the Misty Wood, near the High Moor. In the second case, the Knights directly oppose the Zhentarim, the followers of Vhaeraun, (specifically the Dark Dagger), the Cult of the Dragon, and many more organizations of evil.
Barely a dozen strong, and with only a couple of drow in the group, the Knights are led by a mysterious man known as Enigma. Recruited by Alauniira, Enigma immediately found in Eilistraee’s faith the void he had always felt in his heart. The Knights are “based” out of Sanctuary, but in truth are spread over the heartland’s. Their particular concerns are those places that have a rumored trade with the Underdark, like Skullport, and many others in which the forces of evil are trying to gain a foothold..
Onassin caught a glimpse of Silk laughing merrily as she danced with the other women around the bonfire. It had been only a week before when she had arrived in Santuary fighting a deathly poison. She was too weak to dismount from her horse without aid and Onassin thought for certain that day would be her last.
Onassin shook his head. It was hard to believe. In only a week the residents of this tiny village had overcome the prejudices he and his fellow adventurers had possessed. Silk was not the only member of the Blade and Song to have surrendered her foolishness to embrace the joy and understanding the village had offered. Sinessa had been healed of her broken ribs and was at the moment sparring with one of the Dark Ladies of Eilistraee. Jordan of Tymora was arguing philosophy with Nadina of Selune. Lucas was sitting contentedly with Brengarr watching his lover, Silk, as she danced.
Onassin grinned wryly. He had been captivated by the music Sanctuary had at its heart. Even now he played his fiddle for the dance. It was indeed difficult to believe, but in this tiny village almost hidden among the trees, it seemed anything was possible. Truly he wondered if he could persuade the rest of the company to leave when it was time, and did he even want to leave himself? They could do much worse than to settle in Sanctuary.
The dance continued as the moon rose high in the sky and Onassin smiled up at it. Sanctuary was truly a wonderous place.
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