Mistledale 1368 DR
"Of all the Dales, no two are closer in temperament and way of life than Shadowdale and Mistledale. While Shadowdale has been through invasion and pretenders to the throne, Mistledale has been a mirror image of what Shadowdale is like at peace. Since the rule of Doust Sulwood in Shadowdale, Mistledale has been as true a neighbor and ally as you could wish for. Ye should go visit them sometime - they're good folk." - Elminster
A large, open Dale located in the heart of the Elvenwoods, Mistledale is a prosperous and heavily-trafficked area.
Population. Ashabenford: 455; Elven Crossing: 110; Peldan's Helm: 80; the countryside: 4,300.
Inns. The White Hart offers good accommodations for 1 gp per night. The Ashabenford Arms is an excellent inn with matchless service for 16 sp per night.
Taverns. The Velvet Veil is a rowdy dance hall and taphouse. Many travelers along the Moonsea Ride take their rest here, making the tavern a good source of rumors or offers of employment.
Supplies. Lhuin's Fine Leathers manufactures and sells saddles, bridles, belts, and leather armor at a 10% discount from PHB prices. Multhimmer the Merchant operates a general store that trades in all goods, but specializes in imported metalwork and glass. Most household items can be purchased at a 20% markup over PHB prices.
Watch. Mistledale is patrolled by the Riders of Mistledale in groups of three to four. The Riders lead squads of trained militia. Ashabenford itself usually has 10 to 15 Riders in the area and 50 to 60 militiamen in garrison at the barracks.
Temples. Large abbeys dedicated to Chauntea and Silvanus can be found in the countryside of Mistledale.
Known as a quiet, orderly land of sturdy farmers and good rulers, Mistledale is counted with Deepingdale and Shadowdale as a leader of the good Dalelands. The people are friendly and open, and are free of the problems that trouble many other Dales. Adventurers often find Mistledale to be a somewhat boring place.
The Dale covers a vast expanse of land, stretching more than 100 miles east to west and averaging 30 miles in width. It is very flat compared to its neighbors, and its rolling plains are broken only by the occasional copse or thicket. The folk of Mistledale never cleared this land; even in the days of ancient Cormanthor this was a region of open grassland.
The Tilverton-Hillsfar road, or Moonsea Ride, runs through the center of the Dale and accounts for most of the passers-by. Mistledale is isolated to the north and south by the dense elven woods. A well-marked trail leads north to Shadowdale along the banks of the Ashaba, and another south to Battledale by Yeven. There is a dangerous path through the Vale of Lost Voices that cuts straight to Essembra, but the locals warn travelers away from it.
There are a number of small hamlets in the Dale, including Elvencrossing, Glen, and Peldan's Helm. The largest and most important of the villages is Ashabenford, a town of about 500 people. The Council of Six meets in Ashabenford once a season, and the High Councillor remains here to administer affairs all year long.
The Council of Six: Mistledale is ruled by the Council of Six, a group of representatives who are informally elected. The councillors come from all corners of the Dale, and are usually clan leaders, village heads, or important gentleman farmers. The council only meets once every three months, since most of the councillors have duties back at their homes.
The six councillors choose a high councillor to remain in Ashabenford all year long. The high councillor can look after routine matters of administration and low justice, but is expected to call the rest of the council together for a special session if anything important comes up.
Currently, the high councillor is a merchant of Ashabenford named Haresk Malorn (LG male human Ftr0). Haresk is a well-liked individual noted for his wisdom and honesty. As high councillor, Haresk holds the Rod of Peldan, a black scepter of office that is rumored to have magical powers.
Other members of the Council include:
Ulwen Sharin (LG female human Ftr0), a graceful and regal gentlelady and landholder. Ulwen is the head of the Sharin freehold, a large and strong farm located in the eastern part of the Dale.
Targen Holdfast (NG male human Rgr7), an ex-adventurer who retired about eight years ago and only recently assumed the responsibilities of a councilman. Targen is a woodsman and trapper of the northern forests, and speaks for many of the farriers and loggers of the area.
Sister Alena (LG female human Clr5), a young and zealous priestess who represents the Abbey of the Golden Sheaf. Alena leans towards fanaticism at times and troubles the other council members with her insistence on observing Chauntea's rites and prayers.
Dumic the Red (CG male human Ftr0), a large and loud man with a great store of common sense and hidden wisdom. Dumic is a rancher of the western glens.
Law and Order
Mistledale combines its first line of defense with its police force - the famous Riders of Mistledale. There are 30 Riders, and they are empowered to keep the peace in the land and defend Mistledale from outsiders. A Rider may take criminals into custody, but cannot try or sentence an offender; only the High Councillor may pass judgment. However, the threat of being inconvenienced by a trip to Ashabanford is usually enough to convince countryfolk to resolve matters before formally involving a Rider.
The Riders usually operate in small groups, leading patrols of militia (see Defenses.) The Riders wear black, lacquered plate armor emblazoned with the white horse insignia of Mistledale. All Riders are fighters, rangers, or paladins of levels 3 to 6. The high councillor can pronounce sentence on any crime except murder or armed robbery. For those offenses, he must call the entire Council of Six to sit in judgment. Such tribunals are very rare, with only two cases in the last two years.
As noted above, Mistledale's Riders function not only as constables but as soldiers too. They vigorously patrol the Dale and the Moonsea Ride, from the Standing Stone all the way to Tilver's Gap. The Riders also patrol the woods bordering the Dale, now that the elves have left.
The Riders are assisted by a well-armed and well-trained mounted militia. All young men and women are offered the chance to join when they turn 18. If they accept, they agree to serve three months per year for the next 10 years. The militiamen are paid while in uniform and equipped with chainmail, spear, and short sword. At any given time, there are about 200 militiamen under arms, with 600 more off-duty and available in an emergency.
When they muster out, militiamen are given the chance to keep their weapons, armor, and mount in lieu of a last pay-day. In addition to the active and reserve militia, there are several hundred more ex-militiamen in Mistledale who retain their weapons and mounts.
The Riders and the militia are headquartered in Ashabenford. The current Captain of the Riders is a (LG female human Pal12), a great heroine and swordswoman noble paladin of Chauntea named Nelyssa Shendean noted for her compassion and courage.
Ashabenford is an important trade town in the Dalelands. Mistledale's farmers come here to sell produce to Cormyrian and Moonsea merchants, while buying textiles and manufactured items from the large cities. Mistledale is a breadbasket of grain, hay, potatoes, beets, and vegetables with plenty of room left over for large herds of cattle and sheep.
The Black Eagle Coster is a small company that buys grain, ale, cheese, and salted meats and conveys them overland to Hillsfar, Harrowdale, and Scardale. The coster is owned by a five-man partnership of silk, lace, cotton, and rare spices in Cormyr and brings named Jarwain Evensword (CE half-elf male Ftr4.) Jarwain buys them to Mistledale to sell. Jarwain is secretly an agent of the Dragon Cult, and in return for the safety of his own caravans he supplies information about other caravans passing through Tilver's Gap.
Another company of note is Jarwain's Imports, a single-shop operation owned by a seasoned half-elf former adventurers, led by Iletian Blackeagle (NG male human Ftr7.)
Mistledale is home to two important abbeys. The abbeys are temples, but are found outside of towns and are surrounded by their own walls and small villages. Nearby farmers often come to the abbeys to trade and seek the clerics' blessing.
The Abbey of the Golden Sheaf lies a couple of miles from Ashabenford, and is dedicated to Chauntea. It is supervised by Reverend Brother Derim Whiteshield (LG male human Clr13) a soft-spoken man of great faith and courage.
The Oakengrove Abbey is about 20 miles from Ashabenford, beneath the eaves of the Elvenwood. It marks the site of a sacred grove of ancient oaks. The Abbey has been in decline over the last 10 or 15 years, and is only served by eight priests these days. Their leader is the Oakfather Gannon Durei (N male human Clr9), a young and ambitious man who is looking to reverse his abbey's fortunes. Gannon will go out of his way to help adventurers who serve the forests and Silvanus and bring fame to his abbey.
The most important town in Mistledale, Ashabenford is a growing marketplace and trade stop located on the Moonsea Ride - the road from Cormyr to Hillsfar. It is the center of the Dale, and in the summertime people from all corners of the land meet here to trade.
1. White Hart Inn. Opened two years ago by an adventurer named Holfast Harpenshield (NG male human Ftr9), this inn is a meeting place for the Harpers and other agents of good. Holfast maintains a secret safehouse for good characters in trouble and provides excellent accommodations for good-aligned adventuring companies for only 1 gp per night.
2. Thorm's Mill. Owned and operated by Thorm Ubler (NE male human Ftr0), this is the only mill in Mistledale. Thorm is a greedy, miserly man who lines his pockets at the expense of honest customers. He is known for his two bad-tempered and good-for-nothing sons, a pair of sneering braggarts (both CE male human Ftr4.)
3. Kaulvaerus Stables. Kaulveras Greymantle (LN half-elf male Ftr2) owns one of the better stables in the Dalelands, and maintains a fine selection of riding horses. He occasionally breeds and trains warhorses and may (30% chance) may have one in his stables at any given time.
7. Shrine to Chauntea. Maintained by a young priestess named Jhanira Barasstan (NG female human Clr5), this roadside shrine is visited by many locals as well as passers-by. Jhanira would like to see the shrine grow into a full-fledged temple.
8. Arlho's Fine Flasks. Owned by one Arlho of Arabel (LG male human Ftr0), Arlho's Fine Flasks is a brewery and winery of note. Arlho prefers to keep his business small and manageable, even though the quality of his ales and wines would enable him to do well in a wider market.
9. Multhimmer the Merchant. As noted in the sidebar, Multhimmer (CN male human Rog7) runs a general trading post, buying and selling most anything. He is also a skilled fence and will buy stolen property of all descriptions. Multhimmer prefers not to buy items stolen from locals because of the risk of discovery.
10. Braunstar Wheelwright. Braunstar (LN male human Ftr1) is a skilled craftsman whose advice and wisdom are sought out by the other members of the community. He makes and repairs all kinds of wagons and carriages for very reasonable prices.
11. Heresk's Pool. Local legends state that a bandit captain concealed his treasure in the depths of this dark pond. Several attempts to drag the bottom have brought up only muck.
12. House of the High Councillor. Heresk Malorn lives here, along with his wife, two daughters, and a small staff of servants. Heresk owns a general store in town, and imports from Cormyr and Sembia. Since his home is the largest and most spacious house in Ashabenford, it is used as a seat of government by the Council of Six. The council plans to build its own set of council chambers soon.
14. Horsewater Pool. An open well serving all passers-by, the Horsewater Pool is a local gathering spot and gossip fence.
16. Arvien's House. This is the home of Arvien Blackhair (LE female human Rog4), a tin and pewtersmith. Arvien is a spy in the pay of the Zhentarim, and she carefully watches the activities of the council and the Riders.
17. Barracks of the Riders. The Riders of Mistledale are headquartered in this small compound, along with the active militia. The Riders' compound also serves as the town jail.
A small hamlet near the Dale's western edge, Peldan's Helm is named for an old Cormyrian soldier who retired to Mistledale. When he came to the site of the village, Peldan is said to have used his helmet to mark the center of his land, claiming all the land that could be seen from the helm's location. Peldan founded his freehold about 350 years ago.
Over time, Peldan's family grew and prospered, and the freehold grew into a small village. Other farmers and woodsmen moved into the area. Now everyone within 20 miles claims descent from the old soldier. The western portion of Mistledale is considered wild and dangerous, and over the years many bandits and monsters have thrived among the ruined farms and abandoned freeholds of the area. Adventurers visiting Peldan's Helm will find that the village is an excellent base of operations for the exploration of some of these old ruins and the dark woods nearby.
At the other end of Mistledale lies the abandoned keep known as Galath's Roost. Galath was a bandit captain who raided the Dale and the lands nearby extensively. About 400 years ago, Sembian forces struck back and destroyed the keep with the aid of powerful magic. Galath and his band were killed. The Sembians searched thoroughly for any sign of the bandits' treasury or loot, but nothing was ever found. It is widely believed that a sizable hoard may still be hidden in the keep or buried somewhere in the nearby woods. The Roost itself is rather dangerous, and is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of Galath and his band. Other people claim that the keep is infested with orcs or some other unsavory types.
About 30 miles east of Peldan's Helm there is a large, grassy glen with a dozen or more old mounds snaking across the field. The Barrowfield is something of a mystery, and most people guess that some ancient and nameless tribe of men wandered through the Dale before the raising of the Standing Stone, leaving their dead here. The barrows seem to attract the mists of the Ashaba, and the area is rumored to be haunted.