Mistledale 1372 DR
Thousands of years ago, the heavens ensured Mistledale's future prosperity when a falling star plowed a hundred-mile-long, thirty-mile-wide swath through the elven woods. The trees never regrew in the scar where the star had fallen, but the land proved amazingly fertile once Dalesfolk put it to the plow. Mistledale has always the lucky dale - blessed with fertile land, protected from foes as the Zhentil Keep and Sembia by intervening dales or the Elven Court, and occupying excellent trade routes between larger area Cormyr and the Moonsea.
Life and Society
Life is good in Mistledale, or at least it was until the present struggle against the drow of the forest. The dale has no lord; instead, six elected Councilors serve as its governing body. The Council of Six chooses a seventh Mistran who serves as the high councilor, bears a black rod as a sign of office and commands the Riders of Mistledale. The present high councilor is Haresk Malorn (LG male human Exp6/Ftr2), a quiet merchant known more for his wisdom and passion than his martial skill. Haresk is doing an excellent job of keeping his people calm in the face of danger, but he worries that he might have to step down to make room for a true warrior.
Mistledale is a widely spread dale. Its small settlements can see each other across the gently rolling hills, except in the morning and evenings when mist from the river rises to fill the valley. For communication across the dale, each hamlet is equipped with special designed to penetrate the fog. Each bell carries different messages of alarm or inquiry. These sounds are understood by long-term residents of the dale but a mystery to outsiders.
Major Geographic Features
Mistledale occupies the clear valley along, both sides of the Moonsea Ride, east of Peldan's Helm and west of the spot where the forest closes in some three miles before the Standing Stone. The River Ashaba cuts across the center of the dale, crossed by the Moonsea Ride at the excellent natural ford, at Ashabenford.
Of all the Dales, Mistledale is closest to the ancient ruins of Myth Drannor. Forest trails, somewhat dangerous at times, lead to Shadowdale and to Essembra to the east.
The Barrowfields: Located at the western end of the dale, the Barrowfields earn their name from the dead warriors buried in the long lines of low, grass-covered hills throughout the area. The ancient Netherese wizard-warrior corpses here have a disturbing tendency to manifest unusually deadly undead powers.
Beast Country: The western end of Mistledale has always been dangerous, thanks to a seemingly indestructible population of bugbears, orcs, goblins, and other obnoxious creatures coming down out of the Thunder Peaks into the softer climate of the Dales. It's great spot for rangers and other skillful hunters, but less of an attraction to normal folk. The arrival of the House Jaelre drow has not improved the country's reputation.
Fiercely independent homesteaders and freeholders occupy most of Mistledale. Hundreds of small farmsteads dot the vale, but there are few real villages.
Abbey of the Golden Sheaf: Like Goldenfields in the Sword Coast North, this temple to Chauntea doubles as a walled farm. The Abbey of the Golden Sheaf is not as large as Goldenfields, covering only three square miles, but its twelve segmented fields yield the greatest harvests per acre in all of human Faerûn. It's said that the Abbey has enough stored food to feed all the Dales for years. The clerics of Chauntea who oversee the Abbey wield great power and influence throughout Mistledale.
The Dark Road: This little-traveled forest path cuts through Cormanthor to Essembra. It would be traveled more often by nonelves if it didn't come so close to the Vale of Lost Voices. For the Mistrans, the only consolation about the proximity of the Vale of Voices is that the place is even harder on drow than on humans. Luring drow pursuers into the Vale wouldn't be a bad tactic if the fleeing person cared more about hurting the drow than saving her own skin.
Galath's Roost: Some fifteen miles trom Glen, a couple inside Cormanthor, this ruined bandit's keep is rumored to hold great treasure. The tales are enough to draw occasional adventuring parties. None have found the great treasure said to lie somewhere in the flooded tunnels beneath the keep, but more than one has had to fight against villains and monsters searching for something themselves.
Glen (Village, 701): This dwarven village of stone-and-thatch cottages has a secret. The "Deep Mine" on the outskirts of town isn't a mine at all but a tunnel into the Underdark. It allows the dwarves of Glen to trade with their fellows as far away as Dwarves Deep, via an amazing Underdark tunnel called the Long Road that runs under the entire length of the Sea of Fallen Stars.
The secret of Deep Mine has started to leak into the general Mistledale community. Mistrans might be more concerned about the Underdark connection if they weren't already fighting off the Auzkovyn and House Jaelre drow. At least Glen's dwarves do a good job of policing their Underdark passageways, unlike some worsphipers of Tempus in Battledale that the Mistrans could name.
Peldan's Helm (Hamlet, 210): This tiny village of stonewalled cottages is humanity's foothold in the Beast Country at Mistldale's western end. Hunters from Sembia, Cormyr, and elsewhere in Faerûn come here to track magnificent prizes. Some hunters end up as prey themselves.
Though sometimes overlooked by those who keep an eye on the armed strength of the Dalelands, the Mistrans are anything but soft. As recently as 1356 DR, the Riders of Mistledale (with a little help) defeated Lashan of Scardale and his army. In war, as in peace, Mistledale has had a charmed career.
In the current year, some say that Mistledale's luck may have finally run out. Of all the Dales,Mistledale is suffering the from pressure brought to bear by the Vhaeraunian drow in Cormanthor. It used to be that only the western side of Mistledale was subject to monstrous incursions, but now the entire dale is on edge, never knowing where the next fight with the drow may flare up.
The Riders who turned back the Zhents' seven-thousand-warrior army during the Time of Troubles have had less success against the drow. Unlike the Zhents, the drow are fighting a campaign of stealth and sudden retreat. Mistledale's defenders do not yet knoyv that several different groups of drow live in Cormanthor, or that their principal antagonists are the drow under the command of Jezz of House Jaelre.
Plots And Rumors
More than anything else, the High Councilor and the Riders unde his command want to determine where the drow raiders are coming from and just how many of them there are, and then strike back. So far, efforts to locate the Vhaeraunian drow and drive them away from Mistledale have failed.
The Black Network: A Sembian merchant is killed on the Moonsea Ride by a party of drow raiders who are quickly driven off by Riders of Mistledale. On the body the Riders discover a sealed letter in code that, on translation, turns out to be a detailed description of Haresk's efforts to bolster Ashabenford's defenses. Apparently, Zhent spy in Ashabenford dispatched the report with the Sembian. Who is the spy, and what else has he or she learned? Do the Zhents have plans to strike at Mistledale?