By Rand Sharpsword
Rand Sharpsword, collector of bits of travel and geographical information, brings you further details about the Moonsea. Rand provides these to supplement the information found in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
Major Geographical Features
River Duathamper: The River Duathamper is a minor tributary of the Moonsea that flows through the forest of Cormanthor from the south. A few woodcutters cut timber from its banks and float the logs downriver to the Moonsea, but the elves of the forest quickly run the interlopers out.
River Stojanow: The swift, cold River Stojanow flows to the Moonsea from the foothills of the Dragonspine Mountains. Ships and barges carry ore from Dragonspine mines to Phlan and Melvaunt.
Elmwood (Village, 500): Elmwood is a small farming community on the southern shores of the Moonsea. The locals supplement their incomes with fishing and woodcarving, and they sell their goods to passing ships and adventurers at fair prices. Few places in the Moonsea can be called peaceful and serene, but Elmwood is one of them. Constable Thoyana Jorgadaul (NG female shield dwarf Ftr8), an adventurer who retired here years ago, oversees the community. Elmwood owes its security both to its isolation and the simple fact that no one in the town owns anything worth stealing.
The Temple in the Sky: Little known outside the Moonsea region, the Temple in the Sky has always had an eerie reputation. Literally a huge rock floating in the sky, legend states that spells dating back to long-fallen Netheril lifted it aloft. It has drifted around the skies of Faerûn ever since. Eventually the Zhentarim tethered the rock with huge chains to the Flaming Tower, which is a simple, square stone keep north of Shadowdale inhabited by hell hounds and fire giants.
The Temple is a huge, horizontal-egg-shaped hollow rock with landing stages at one end linked by a series of passages, grand temple chambers, living areas, prison cells, and storage caverns to a large innermost cavern.
When Zhentil Keep was ruined and strife shook the Zhentarim, many awed Zhents took to worshiping the beholder Xulqorth, a gigantic eye tyrant. It brought treasure into the Temple that included servitor gargoyles and dragons (controlled by magic items), undead servitor beholders it created and controlled by spells, and even "ghost" beholders that served it due to its possession of certain remains and relics.
A cult (largely of former Zhent troops and mercenaries -- half-orcs in particular) made offerings to Xulqorth the Great Eye (the "All-Seeing and Unsleeping"). In return they received rewards of magic (including touches of the Hand of Healing, an enchanted gauntlet it could operate from afar) and its direction of Cult members in careful raids on, and skirmishes with, fleeing Keep refugees and Moonsea caravans and prospectors.
When these successes aroused the Knights of Myth Drannor to attack the Temple, the Great Eye severed the tethering chains and the rock took flight across the skies. The Temple later returned to the Moonsea, and Xulqorth mastered some means of steering and controlling the untethered Temple's flight and location. The remains of several adventuring bands who have tried to raid the Temple have been found beneath its current location.
Plots and Rumors
Dwarves Delving: Dwarves have been seen in the Tesh valley. Lots of dwarves. Most of these dwarves are well armed and armored, and all are traveling upriver toward the mountains where the old dwarven kingdom of Tethyamar once lay. Will that realm rise again? If not, where are the dwarves bound, and why?
Terrible with Customers: In years past, Hillsfar was one of the few places in Faerûn that had a legitimate magic shop. The proprietor, Laris, grudgingly sold off a few minor items he didn't find useful. He was unfailingly rude to his customers and relied on a pair of stone golems to enforce his high prices. Several days after the Red Wizard envoy arrived in the city, Laris made a brief and fatal appearance in the arena (a behir swallowed him). No one knows what became of Laris's golems, but it is assumed they were destroyed or that Maalthiir has somehow appropriated them.