The Realm of Nimbral
III: What the Eye Next Sees
By Ed Greenwood
For most Nimbrese, life is simple, and one that remains harmoniously close to the cycles and ways of the land or sea. Nimbrese avoid boredom by mastering craftwork (such as weaving, gemcutting, wood carving, cookery, and building with beauty and elegance in lumber or stone) and by enjoying and spinning written, told, and sung tales. The realm holds many inventive storytellers and a lively publishing industry. (Almost all Nimbrese chapbooks are short, lurid romantic tales.)
Coastal Nimbrese dwell in stone houses that have been built into hillsides; each one has roofs of either slate or growing thatch. Most inland Nimbrese inhabit small log lodges that either snake along a wooded ridge, or make extensive use of stairs, platforms, and rooms in trees like the elf dwellings of Tangled Trees in Cormanthor.
Overland travel in the realm is by foot or on horseback, with small carts being used to move goods about. Traveling peddlers number many, but large market-moots few. Inns tend to be stout stone or log buildings that sprawl in all directions in a welter of wings and spired rooms obviously built at different times; the structures growing as needs demand.
The western shores of Nimbral see the harshest seas and weather, and ship travel tends to be for short "hops" from one port to the next, whereas numerous small vessels ply the waves along the southern and eastern coasts of the realm. Both large amounts of heavy goods, and items and folk who need to move a long way in the realm swiftly, tend to go by water except in the winter months.
The backwoods lanes, however, always teem with local traffic (something it should always be remembered that forest predators are aware of). Here and there, the visitor traversing the trails can see the only thing (besides the prevalence of uncut "forest giant" trees) that makes the Nimbrese landscape instantly different from upland Turmish: the slender spires of small, "fairytale" castles.
Nimbrese castles are stone structures that they call "fairytale" or "fairylike" because they're built in graceful, sweeping curves that feature tall, slender towers, balconies, and beautiful stonework. These serve as the abodes of the Knights, the wealthiest and most worldly of Nimbrese, who ride in the Flying Hunt and who have usually journeyed (in secret, not openly wearing glass armor and flying in concert with armored fellows) to the mainland in their youth, to taste what the rest of Faerûn has to offer. Many of the most restless Nimbrese youths can't wait to "take the Tour" as this practice of wandering and adventuring is known -- but unless they meet with misadventure abroad, or fall deeply in love with someone there who is rooted to the mainland, they tend to return to live out their lives in the Realm of the Flying Hunt, wiser and happy to be home, where (as many of them put it) "things aren't so crowded, dirty, violent, and spoiled."
A "home farm" surrounds most castles of Knights, and on these farms live a small cluster of tenant families who grow specialized crops for sale around the island. Knights seldom compete directly with nearby neighbors in types of produce grown, but when they do, rivalries can be fierce.
Knights of Nimbral wear full suits of glass armor enhanced for hardness and for providing various magical attributes upon the wearer. They follow an elaborate code of chivalry (designed centuries ago to prevent Knights raiding each other's holdings and families, and ever making war upon each other directly), and on their patrols they attack predatory beasts and monsters, repel invaders and raiders (such as pirates and slavers), observe the whereabouts and doings of Nimbrese and visitors, and enforce the laws of Nimbral upon visitors and citizens alike.
Most mainlanders regard some Nimbrian crops as unusual: Nimbrese harvest certain giant dusty-red "shade roses" and ugly, bulbous creeping forest vines for the table, for example. They crush mint-ferns to purify water, as well as add, crush, or ferment some very odd things, from bark to seaweeds, for addition to various local wines and teas.
Nimbrian medicines can be even more surprising. Certain grubs, swallowed whole and living so as to be kept alive in the body for as long as possible, for instance, neutralize some poisons and diseases (though such effects work only for some Nimbrese, and they do not help almost all outlanders save half-elves and human with some elf bloodlines). Many shore-harvested local weeds have roots that they pickle for eating, and almost all inland Nimbrese garden and gather edible fungi and berries in the woods.
Read more about Nimbrian life, coin, and livingss in the next article.
© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.