The Border Kingdoms06/07/2006


Bloutar



Bloutar

This town of woodcutters and hunters nestles against the southern verges of Qurth Forest. Of old it was the hold of the 'Bloodsword Baron', Bloutar Hilathan, for whom it is named.

Bloutar was the scourge of orcs, rival rulers, and just about anything living that came within his reach and failed to swear fealty to him. He is said to have slain no less than three dragons, the first when fighting alone, and to have been an ugly monster of a man, as shrewd and wary as he was iron-fisted and mighty in battle.

The Bloodsword Baron led his small but fiercely loyal band of followers in always-victorious raids on the lands around and all travelers who happened by. He took to the saddle when over seventy years of age to defeat a rival, Lord Duke Andilyon Ornth of the neighboring (and now-vanished) High Duchy of Blaemar, who'd unwisely judged Bloutar too old to fight.

In the end, Bloutar died in his bed after over ninety years of a wild, brawling life. The many sons he'd sired promptly tore his realm apart fighting over it, leaving, over a century later, only the town named for him and the hamlets of Deltyn's Dagger and Empaerla, since overgrown by Qurth Forest.

This small remnant, the Bloodsword Lands, suffered under a succession of brutal mercenary warrior rulers, until Klelder Blackhawk (a fighter who'd founded and made famous the Company of the Horn) conquered it and some neighboring hamlets. It was named the Barony of Blackhawk in his honor, and he retired there. Klelder made an enemy of the archmage Lyrildan of Calimport, whose spells made Klelder's realm teem with monsters. Klelder died in his castle forecourt fighting seven dark nagas long after most of his subjects had perished or fled the mage's curse.

The Barony of Blackhawk continued to spawn things taloned, fanged, and tentacled for over three hundred years until Lyrildan was slain by an ambitious apprentice. During that time the barony became a widely-feared peril that made the lands around unsafe. It occupied many adventurers and avid hunters alike, yielding glory to some and untimely graves to many others. Even today the rolling, forested hills around Bloutar are known as superb hunting country and the nearby forest as decidedly perilous hunting grounds. The area's dangerous reputation has made it a refuge for outlaws, exiles, and hunted folk who dare go nowhere else.

Over the years, Bloutar's folk have become known for fierce independence, hardiness, fearless defiance of authority, and dislike of outsiders. These traits kept Bloutar ungoverned but independent until less than a decade ago, when a large army from the Barony of Blacksaddle overwhelmed a few Bloutarran defenders.

Bloutar has sullenly remained part of the Barony largely because of the wealth that comes by trade along the new road built by order of Blacksaddle Keep. Bloutarran pelts and smoked forest beast meats are snapped up as fast as the locals can produce them. The pelts are traded north to Derlusk for export to Calimshan, the city-states around the Lake of Steam, and Tharsult, for use in making fine fur garments that are sold throughout Faerûn. An outlander charismatic leader (priest of a forest god, fighter of commanding prowess, or even a tightly-knit adventuring band) could easily bring Bloutar to rebellion.

Bloutar is a maze of long, rambling log houses that seem to grow out of the sheltering stands of trees, with wagon-ruts winding off in all directions to outlying farms. A few woodcutter's clearings form the nuclei of hunting trails that plunge into the vast gloom of Qurth Forest. Hunters, trappers, seekers after rare woods, adventurers, and other visitors are strongly advised to hire a local guide.

North of Bloutar, the trails lead into deep ravines where owlbears lurk, and forest-dwelling spiders spin many trap-webs. These features have almost certainly been allowed to survive, or are even encouraged by Bloutarrans, to ensure their employment and control over Qurth's most easily reached resources. More than one hunter and sage has (from a safe distance) voiced the suspicion that local powers may have placed a deepspawn in a nearby cave to produce endless stags, because Bloutarran-led hunts seldom fail to bring back two or more such prizes.

Beyond these defenses and arranged perils, a few paths wander into the heart of Qurth Forest through reaches roamed by korred and intelligent fungi, to ruined, overgrown cities (including Hawklyn, where Klelder made his court). Treasures are said to lie forgotten under tree-roots, and monsters roam the deep cellars and crumbling halls.

Every summer, hunters and adventurers with a taste for hunting stags and boars or battling darker forest beasts arrive. They find accommodation at Althyn's Lodge (Fair/Moderate; a shabby but cozy rambling, old rooming house that leaks in rainstorms) or The Spitted Stag inn (Good/Expensive; a beast-trophy-decorated feasting hall at the heart of three wings of guest suites decorated in solid, rustic furniture, with hip-baths and good wine available).

About the Author

Ed Greenwood is the man who unleashed the Forgotten Realms on an unsuspecting world. He works in libraries, writes fantasy, science fiction, 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 . . .

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