Dawntree, Part One

I: Bold Dreams

By Ed Greenwood

Wider Faerûn doesn't know it yet, but a few members of the youngest generation of elves are attempting something different from the prevalent pursuits of their kin over the last thousand years or so. They're trying to found a new elven kingdom.

Younglings of every race and background, if given the chance, gather with no elders present to discuss their plans for the future, their dreams of how the world around them should be, and their hopes (and unfolding fears) of what will come to pass.

In the early spring of the Year of the Tankard, in one corner of the City of the Dead in Waterdeep (which besides hosting funerals and burials, sees use by the citizenry of that city as a park, highsun dining area, meeting-moot, trysting-place, exercise run, playground, dueling ground, minstrels' -- and would-be minstrels' -- performance venue, and diverse other things besides), four young moon elves met for a mid-afternoon meal of fresh mintberry jelly (liberated by Oenel from his parents' shop), hardshar cheese (bought from a caravan arriving from the Tethyrian backlands), and blackslake wine (made in Neverwinter, bought at Almaeko's Imports on the Way of the Dragon -- and universally pronounced "awful" by the four friends).

These four had all grown up in Waterdeep, dwelling with their shopkeeper parents and hearing tales of the deep green woods and lands unspoiled by cobblestones and cartwheels and noise and dirt, but managing only a few family forays to the verges of Ardeep, to the top of Maiden's Tomb Tor, and to the now-vanished stands of trees along the road between Waterdeep and Rassalantar. They were told slumber time tales of the great elven kingdoms that flourished before "the tides of humans and of orcs came, and met and clashed together, breaking over our peoples who stood between." They dreamed of running free in the forest, far from the stinks and the crowding and the ever present shoving for space, shoving to make sales, shoving to keep a few coins, and shoving to find some time and space for solitude. The best nights were those of soft sea-mists and skies full of glittering stars, when the city seemed to turn quiet and folk took to the rooftops to look up, and tell tales in hushed voices, and dream. . . .

These four wanted to make their dreams real. Or rather, a dream: of a new elf land, somewhere, where they could dwell. A place to call their own, a place to be proud of, a place that could stand tall when all of these humans spoke of elves as "a dying people" who were "too soft and weak to hold any place, and so flee and flee again, until they've now almost run out of places to run and hide in." Oh, there were elves who forged successful lives in Waterdeep, such as the notorious Serpent, Elaith -- but who wanted that? To become more ruthless and grasping than humans, just to win a place among them?

These things, and more, the four said that afternoon, spurred by blackslake, until one of the four -- Tasar Taurntyrith -- looked up from his turn at the bottle, waved it, and said, "If humans like this saurot [taint-rot, in modern Elven slang], no wonder they think and act as they do!"

At which point Rauvelore Bhephel thrust his face fiercely forward to gaze around at his friends and hissed, "That's just it! The humans act; they go out and do things! Maethe [perhaps, in modern Elven slang, a word now creeping into Common] wrong-headed, damaging things . . . but they do them, and achieve some things! Whenever did our blesséd [immediate family, a contraction of "most-close-blesséd-kin"] do anything bold, anything more than 'what's the most astute thing to buy'? How shall we speak on this or that, when customers flap their jaws in the shop? How is it best that aethen [others, modern Elven slang for non-elves] see us?'"

Nremyn Sarsantyr's eyes glittered in excitement at his friend's words, and he held up a hand for silence . . . but when given it, nodded slowly and said only, "You speak truth, Rauve."

Oenel Mrhulaedir, who never used two words when one would suffice, said merely, "Let's do this. Please."

Whereupon Tasar leaned forward and said excitedly, "I've been thinking a lot about this, and I'm hungry to see this dream made real. I want to live in a new realm of our people -- the proud new land of Dawntree!"

Read more about the would-be founders of Dawntree in the next article.

About the Author

Ed Greenwood is the man who unleashed the Forgotten Realms on an unsuspecting world. He works in libraries, writes fantasy, sf, horror, mystery, and even romance stories (sometimes all in the same novel), but he is still happiest churning out Realmslore, Realmslore, and more Realmslore. There are still a few rooms in his house with space left to pile up papers in . . .

© 2003 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.