The Border Kingdoms
By Ed Greenwood

This market town in the Realm of the Smoking Star consists of modest wooden houses standing amid shady trees. It stretches along both sides of the coastal road that runs the length of the realm (which is typical of Starran settlements -- it's been said the only difference between a Starran settled area and a "wild" area is that in settlements, tree branches don't meet over any road to roof it in a continuous canopy).

Most cartographers copy larger, grander maps, and so perpetuate the omission of Estelker from their depicted views. On the map published in Power of Faerūn (smaller views of which appear on this website), it stands on the road (dotted brown line) east of Ythtym, directly under the top curve of the capital "S" in the word "Smoking."

Cartographers trying to view the Border Kingdoms from aerial steeds or conveyances to check their maps can be forgiven for missing Estelker. Despite its local importance, it's largely hidden by the trees, except to travelers on the coastal road. The ever present foliage and its coastal location makes it a damp, shady, often fog-shrouded and dripping place.

Almost all of Estelker's houses sport roadside stalls (counters with bench seats and awnings) where "Stelkers" sell forest herbs and roots they've gathered, live rabbits and crayfish caught locally, and rabbit pie. Folk from all over the realm come to Estelker and pay a few copper pieces or a silver piece for the use of a stall for a day to trade and sell smoked forest meat and fish from the Lake of Steam, medicines derived from sylvan substances, and clothes and furniture both newly made and no longer wanted.

Within the curve of the sharpest road bend in town, near the west end of Estelker and on the north or seaward side of the road, is a rustic but well-run inn, The Haunted Harpy (Good/Cheap). Sellers who can't find stall space to rent usually pay the inn to set up in its stable yard.

Most Stelkers are carpenters and boatbuilders. Though the town sits on wooded cliffs well above the Lake of Steam, most folk who dwell on the north side of its lone road knock together small, poorly-made, open fishing boats and let them down the cliff on ropes to go fishing.

They troll with long lines for whatever they can catch for their own tables, but their main effort is drag-netting for rocklhar, a large, speckled, gray, hard-armored crayfish that digs in the shallow, coastal mud of the Starran shore of the Lake of Steam. Rocklhar flesh has (in the words of one traveling Harper) a flavor "like old cheese." They are eaten locally with gusto -- and various herb sauces.

Like all Starrans, Stelkers have minor aptitudes for magic. For example, one can conjure faerie fire in his or her palm and either carry it along or leave it stationary in the air where it first formed -- another might manage an outbound-only, six-words-maximum sending. They tend not to use or speak of these abilities around strangers.

The badge of Estelker (most often seen as low-to-the-ground blazes on forest trails, marking the "way back home" when ground fogs are thick) is a crab balanced atop a vertical (disembodied) human finger. The crab's two large claws curve out and around (in a horns-down crescent) to touch the finger on both sides.

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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