Battledale 1372 DR
Population: 32,714 (humans 87%, half-elves, 5%, halfling gnomes 2%, dwarves 1%)
Religions: Gond, Tempus (Chauntea, Corellon Larethian, Silvanus)
Imports: Clothing, fine metalwork, oil, rope, spices
Exports: Ale, cheese, fruit; grain, meat, livestock, wool
Alignment: CG, NG, N
Battledale's fierce name isn't a reflection on its character or its foreign policy - it's an indication of the dale's geographic position the middle of the best invasion routes through the Dalelands. Historically, the biggest local battles have been fought in Battledale's rolling meadows.
Not all outlanders who arrive in Battledale come to fight. Over the centuries, Battledale has grown into its role as a meeting place and refuge for an odd mix of warriors, adventurers, and traders from all over Faerûn.
Life and Society
For its size, Battledale is nearly as diverse as Waterdeep. Merchants of Turmish settle in the country, then raise children who move out into the Belt or join the local militia. Refugees from the wars in Tethyr come to Battledale to serve as hunters for a Sembian estate-lord and stay on after their Sembian employer passes away, sending messages to Tethyr to bring their other relatives.
On the other hand, Battledale's children leave as adventurers, traders, or travelers, many of whom never return. The dale is large, but its population is relatively small. In some areas, overgrown ruins outnumber lived-in cottages. Battledale's biggest town, Essembra, isn't even in the dale. It rests about thirty miles north, inside the elven woods.
Essembra is the closest thing Battledale has to a capital, but Ilmeth, the lord of Essembra, has little authority over the rest of the dale. Nor does Battledale possess any formal system of laws. Neighbors usually enforce law and order themselves. Serious matters such as banditry, arson, or murder are taken to Ilmeth if they can't be handled locally, but he is under no official obligation to deal with problems outside Essembra. In practice, since Ilmeth is a good and just lord, Battledarrans listen to his advice.
Major Geographical Features
To most outsiders, "Battledale" means the pleasant meadows and fields alongside Rauthauvyr's Road. In fact, this dale has several disparate regions.
The Belt: This region of open rolling farmland by Rauthauvyr's Road is pleasant country, consisting mainly of small walled orchards, fenced-in farms, and large expanses of sheep-grazing land. The country folk live in walled cottages or palisades, since banditry and dangerous beasts from Cormanthor are constant problems here.
Streams and ponds full of fish are sprinkled through the Belt, often alongside small shrines to Chauntea or Silvanus. Chauntea's shrines are stone tables that travelers and Belt-dwellers heap with offerings of food meant to be consumed by hungry travelers. Silvanus's shrines consist of small bells hung above pools or wood land springs.
Three Rivers Land: The lands where the Semberflow and the Glaemril join the River Ashaba northwest of the Pool of Yeven are fertile and beautiful but sparsely settled. Burnt-out ruins of now dead adventurers' keeps and manors testify to the viciousness of the owlbears, lycanthropes, and other magical beasts that occasionally plague Three Rivers.
Yevenwood: This ancient wood has plentiful game, no dangerous inhabitants, and a delicious edible mushroom, the relshar. It has held a dozen names over the centuries, including the Wood of Many Names. It was also called Battlewood (during the years when it was forcibly cleared of monsters), Satyr's Run (after a famous satyr sorcerer who eventually disappeared into the Underdark), Forester's Freehold (after the years when the wood was occupied by emigrants from Aglarond who weren't yet certain they wanted part of Battledale.
Unlike those dales that consist of one interesting town an assortment of mundane cottages and orchards, Battledale is known for dangerous locations within a half-hour's walk of places that are relatively safe.
Abbey of the Sword: Fourteen years ago, during the Time of Troubles, Tempus appeared on the battlefield of Swords Creek in Mistledale. An Amnian priest named Eldan Ambrose traced Tempus' path to the battlefield and discovered that the god had arrived in Faerûn in the shell of a shattered castle in Battledale. Ambrose established a temple, the Abbey of the Sword, in a rebuilt portion of the castle. About fifty to one hundred worshipers of Tempus took it upon them selves to guard the temple and the numerous portals in its sub-cellars and in the local Underdark tunnels.
In 1371 DR a strong force of Vhaeraunian drow, the vanguard of the Auzkovyn clan, attacked the Abbey. The drow came up through an unwatched portal in a nearby deep cavern and smashed past the Abbey's defenders. Eldan Ambrose himself perished in the assault, devoured by a demon after he had destroyed the portal. His actions prevented the whole strength of the Auzkovyn from descending on an unguarded Battledale.
Unfortunately for the defenders of the Abbey, the drow vanguard slipped away into the forests despite fierce fighting. The Auzkovyn later managed to open another portal somewhere in the forests north of Battledale, bringing the rest of their people to Cormanthor. The defenders of the Abbey of the Sword no longer have enough warriors to guard all of the portals below, and even true resurrection spells cannot bring back Ambrose until the demon that devoured him is permanently slain.
Aencar's Manor: Four miles south of Essembra, in plain view of Rauthauvyr's Road, stands one of the most deceptively inviting ruins in Faerûn. Unlike many haunted estates, Aencar's Manor still looks like a splendid and stately home, albeit the home of a warlord, judging from the relief carvings of mounted knights covering the outside of the manor. Indeed, the outer gardens and environs of Aencar's Manor are safe enough to serve as the site of the great Battledale Shieldmeet festivals.
The manor's interior is another matter. It's certain that the manse is haunted, but the wraiths do not disturb everyone who comes in. The Cult of the Dragon has a secret stronghold in one of the building's cellars, which is accessible through tunnels from the Underdark.
Essembra (Large Town, 2,804): Battledale's largest town does not demand respect like Archenbridge, or impress visitors with its beauty like Highmoon. Deep within the elven woods, Essembra is a long lane of well-spaced cottages on both sides of Rauthauvyr's Road. The road is dotted with watchposts - small wooden archers' towers outfitted with road-blocking equipment that are usually left unmanned. Only a few cross-streets lead between these cottages to other cottages in the woods and those paths are more trails than alleys.
Toward the center of Essembra, the great walled courtyard of Battle Court leads to the only part of the town that city folk think of as a town, a grouping of fifty or so residences, taverns, shops, a temple to Gond, and one official building, Ilmeth's Manor. The temple, known as the House of Gond, is quite impressive, but visitors accustomed to Gondar enthusiasm for new ways of doing things may be disappointed. Clerics who favor Gond's aspect as a god of crafts- folk, not inventiveness, staff Gond's Battledale temple.
Ghost Holds: For every estate owned by a Sembian nobleman, there are two or three more that went to ruin and were overgrown by the forest. With all the attention focused on confronting the drow of Cormanthor, Battledale's roads and countryside are not as safe as they used to be. Bandits have taken to occupying these ruined estates for days at a time. Ilmeth is seeking companies of reputable adventurers to clean out the "ghost holds," since the few soldiers under his command have been busy patrolling against drow raids.
Hap (Village, 467): This spot Of twelve permanent buildings and many outlying farms has a blacksmith, a sawyer, a tavern, a shrine to Lathander, and a permanent guard of five to fifteen of Ilmeth's Lord's Men. The guards spend their time hunting, gambling, or practicing at arms, but they also keep an eye on the traffic along Rauthauvyr's Road and another eye cocked warily up Haptooth Hill.
Haptooth Hill: An old wizard's tower crowns this granite hill overlooking Hap. Not so long ago, it was occupied by a Red Wizard named Dracandros. Adventurers slew him and dealt with his drow allies, who had built up some hidden strength in the passages riddling the hill. Now that drow have returned to Cormanthor, the folk of Hap fear that some of these new invaders may seek io reoccupy their old stronghold beneath the wizard's tower.
Ilmeth's Manor: The present Lord of Battledale lives in a moated keep inside the greater enclosure of Battle Court, the walled east side of Essembra. Ilmeth (LN male human FtrS/Chm5 of Helm) is a fair man, but grim and somewhat obsessed with his responsibilities. Chief among them is command of Battledale's small army, a hundred-warrior squadron known as the Lord's Men. If adventurers stay out of Ilmeth's way (and most especially stay out of his manor!), he grudgingly tolerates them as useful scouts and extra swords that he does not have to feed, arm, or heal.
Battledale began as pieces of older dales, stitched together when their governments proved untrustworthy and the people decided to settle their affairs themselves.
Essembra, Battledale's most influential settlement, has a better-known story. The town is named after a red-haired adventurer, a woman who carved a name for herself with a sword and a fierce wit. Essembra the adventurer spurned an elf lord, strangled a dwarven king with her bare hands in a wrestling match, and finally revealed her true song dragon nature by marrying a silver dragon. Some say that descendants of Essembra's part-dragon children still live-near the town that bears her name. It's certain that modern Essembra produces far more than its share of skilled sorcerers, humans and half-elves whose magical talents flow free instead of fitting into the harness of wizardry.
Slightly over three hundred years ago, Battledale gave the Dalelands the closest thing they have had to a High King. Aencar became warlord of Battledale in the year 1030 DR. He took the title of the "Mantled King" and began a campaign to unify the Dales. After some early success, the man who would be High King accepted an invitation to a feast in Essembra that turned out to be a trap. Aencar was slain by a dracolich summoned by one of his enemies. Shadowdale and the other dales owed Battledale itself nothing: their allegiance had been to Aencar, so the dream of a united Dale died with the Mantled King.
A descendant of Aencar's chief swordcaptain still rules Essembra. Chancellor Ilmeth, Essembra's current lord, is a brooding warrior who serves as Battledale's delegate to the Dales Council.
Along with Deepingdale, Battledale is heavily committed to combating the drow now occupying parts of Cormanthor. Essembrans in particular have always been good friends of the elves of Cormanthor, and they feel strongly about the drow invaders since the attack at the Abbey of the Sword.
Sidebar: Aencar, the Mantled King.
Plots and Rumors
The greatest threats to the security of Battledale are the House Jaelre drow (see Cormanthor), who see an opportunity to overthrow a weak dale while they gather their strength to deal with better defended or better organized dales. Skirmishes against the drow concern the Battledarrans greatly because of the quadrennial Shield-meet festival to be held outside Aencar's Manor at Midsummer. The Lord of Essembra seeks loyal and competent adventurers to help him secure Battledale's borders before the festival begins.
A Strange Visit: A Red Wizard walks peacefully into Battledale, telling all who ask that he intends to visit Dracandos's Tower on Haptooth Hill. He journeys on to Hap and enters the tower-but doesn't come out. Strange lights - and sounds around the tower convince the locals that this is a job for adventurers. The heroes are asked to find out what became of the Red Wizard and to determine what he wanted with the old tower in the first place.