The Realm of Nimbral
II: What the Eye First Sees
By Ed Greenwood
The rare visitor to Nimbral today is a curiosity and does not receive hostile treatment (unless armed and aboard a slaving ship, or engaged in the act of slaving or raiding and pillaging the Summer Land). So long as that visitor obeys any glass-armored knights he or she sees, or any herald of the realm (any person flying without a steed, and bearing a rod of white carved bone fashioned with a spread-fingered human hand at either end), he or she can freely roam the island at will and might well observe some of facts and specifics that follow.
Nine out of ten Nimbrese today are dark-haired, fair-skinned humans (apt to be slender and tall of build, sometimes with blue-tinged skin around their cheeks and throats from traces of moon elf blood), with the tenth Nimbrese being a half-elf of obvious moon elven descent. No social stigma is attached in the Summer Land to being one or the other. Nimbrese refer to themselves as "the Folk of Summer" and their land as either (very formally or poetically) "the Land of the Summer Seas" or, more often, "the Summer Land."
Nimbral uses the Calendar of Harptos, though the latitude of the island, plus the cooling sea breezes that customarily blow gently over it, make winters a short, mild month (Hammer) of rains, cold mists, and mud (followed by another month or so of warming weather accompanied by near-blinding fogs), and summers long and gentle. They embrace the standard Roll of Years, and many Nimbrese are familiar with extensive local lore (events down the years, including shipwrecks, dragon arrivals and slayings, births and deaths of important citizens as well as their own kin, and so on).
All Nimbrese speak Common and Halruaan. (The former is used in daily speech, and the latter in prayers, family and community lore, ballads, and formal speech.) Most use the Draconic alphabet daily, and many are also familiar with Elven and the Espruar script. Song, rhyming tales (from simple children's ditties such as "Oh, if you go down to the sea today/The merfolk will call: come away/Heed not their pleas if you would stay/Alive, alive-o!" to long, intricate narrative ballads), and romantic tales of true love, sacrifice, and loyalty are favorites of most Nimbrese. One rarely finds an unlettered inhabitant of the Sea Haven, though many prefer to listen and speak little, writing when haste is unnecessary and strong emotions or principles latter. (For example, love letters and notes to state positions in disputes are common.)
Nimbral itself is a gently-rolling, well-watered land of lush forests. Knee-deep ferns, sun-dappled blue-green shade, damp air, and fireflies by night are the elements that come to the minds of most folk when asked to describe the Realm of the Flying Hunt. One never strays far from small brooks and ponds when in Nimbral, though it has only one river: the Ormarr. This river is navigable from its mouth to the cascades that bring it down from the high slopes of Maern Prestarr, which is the largest and highest peak of the Seirsardar. This central range of mountains provides a rampart for the island against the occasional "Great Waves" that sweep across the sea to the west of Nimbral. "Maern" means "mountain" in Nimbran naming, and "Thorl" is rock (usually applied to offshore rocks that endanger Nimbran fishing boats, or the sea-lashed coastal rocks where shellfish many be found). Interestingly, Nimbrese have no word for "Wood" or "Forest," because, despite some open meadows and cleared farmlands, they regard all of Nimbral as a place of trees.
The visitor roaming Nimbral can see trees, trees, and more trees. Marshes are few and so are farms (which tend to be individual clearings strung along the unsignposted labyrinth of dirt lanes that crisscrosses the realm in a great web). High meadows exist only on the rising slopes of the maerns, in particular along the eastern side of the Seirsardar and the southern face of the Vaerael (the mountain range at the northern tip of the island).
All of the sizable settlements in Nimbral are ports, though few of them are large enough to even be towns, to mainland eyes. These settlements climb steep, rocky slopes up from the sea in a series of terraced lanes that link a dock front strip of warehouses and fishing-net frames with a few shops and a scattering of garden-bedecked homes.
In the next article, find out more about what visitors can see while in Nimbral.
© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.