The Realm of Nimbral
I: Legends, Mysteries, and History
By Ed Greenwood
Some Faerûnian mainlanders say that human-sized and larger versions of the fey, many possessing extra limbs and strange powers, inhabit the secretive, seldom-visited island realm of Nimbral. Still other tales whisper of lush, deep, and endless forests inhabited by elves (or elflike beings) who can turn invisible and teleport at will. The tales tell of the inhabitants tormenting intruders with spells and sudden "thrusts from nowhere" of poisoned blades. Some folk of Faerûn believe that Nimbral is a land of fell women who have, over centuries of spell use on their newborns, changed their races form to gain tails or extra limbs and innate magical abilities. These beings supposedly dwell on Nimbral under the rule of hags and use portals to reach certain mainland forests and cities to breed with men who never suspect their true nature and origins. Still others think the isle serves as the abode of a centuries-old colony of disciplined and powerful arcane casters who use spells and spell-commanded monsters to drive off intruders and spread wild tales (like the preceding beliefs) of what truly exists on Nimbral.
Most tales of Nimbral agree on two things, however: Deep green forests (temperate woodlands dominated by soaring shadowtops, duskwoods, oaks, and elms) dominate the realm, and a Flying Hunt of glass-armored knights who ride pegasi steeds call the place home. Legends of this splendid aerial spectacle have given Nimbral its most famous mainland nickname: the Realm of the Flying Hunt. Some name it the Sea Haven for its location, too, since it made its small harbors a refuge from storms for sailors blown west from the shipping lanes around the Chultan peninsula and into the seemingly-endless expanse of uncharted ocean.
Many mainlanders had the existence of the Flying Hunt proven to them dramatically in the Year of the Shield, when a Flying Hunt flew across the Trackless Sea and raided pirate ships in the Nelanther Isles -- the first such foray in living memory. They left several pirate ships off the coast of Tethyr afire and adrift, with the crews slaughtered. Many in coastal lands lauded these deeds, but the actions of the Flying Hunt awakened fears of where the Hunt might strike next, and whether any land remained safe from their raids. Flying ships from the mage-land of Halruaa sailed the skies to Nimbral shortly after this foray; some thought the ruling wizards of the Land of the Skyships wanted to discourage any possibility of the Nimbrese becoming a new sort of aerial pirate, coastal raider, or conqueror of lands in face-to-face discussions.
What ensued from those talks remains unknown, but rumors among seafarers up and down the Sword Coast and the Shining Sea ports suggest that the Nimbrese were avenging pirate raids, not embarking on any campaign of raids or expansions. (However, other sailors have reported finding caves on small, isolated sea isles that had Nimbrese garrisons and that also possessed pegasi pens, forage for the steeds, and "star charts" to aid in oversea flights.) Moreover, seafaring Calishite slavers revile the Flying Hunt as ruthless raiders and bandits, blaming them for many disappearances and "strange ills" (the local term for bad luck), suggesting a history of strife between the Nimbrese and all who come slave-raiding within their reach.
The folk of Nimbral seem self-sufficient, and they engage in no regular shipping or trade with mainland Faerûn. Some sailors and sages of interior Faerûnian lands alike believe this land is purely legendary; others, such as the monks of Candlekeep, hunger for more information about this remote and reclusive island. Scholars, by the way, apply the term "Nimbrese" to the collective folk of the island, "Nimbran" to their work, study, beliefs, and customs, and "Nimbrian" to items of their making. Thus, a Knight of the Flying Hunt is a Nimbran, wearing Nimbrian armor, and of the Nimbrese people.
The history of Nimbral remains sketchy at best, but moon elves colonized this forested island of wild beasts long ago, and they later welcomed humans from Halruaa who (unlike the majority of folk in that wizard-ruled realm) worshiped Leira, goddess of illusions. Intermarriages between the races became common. Those elves who had no wish to live so closely with humans gradually departed, until almost no pureblood elves remained. No record of strife exists between elf and human inhabitants of Nimbral, perhaps because neither racial group has ever been so sufficiently numerous as to overcrowd the island.
Read about what the eye first sees when in Nimbral in the next installment.
© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.