Heralds of Nimbral wear distinctive black-with-white-piping "triangular" tabards over black breeches and high boots. The tabards are identical belted black robes dominated by an equilateral triangle-front having one point at the belt, the other two giving the wearer wide, impressive shoulders. This triangle echoes Leira's holy symbol, but no Herald will be pleased to be told this. Every tabard magically resists mold and soiling, and has stronger magical powers equal to those of a winged shield. (There is evidence Lords often temporarily confer additional magic on a tabard, for the wearer's use in a specific task).
The breast and back of a Herald's tabard display the symbol of the Nimbral Lords, which is also the Sign of the Realm: a white three-pointed star with one point straight down and the other two at forty-five-degree angles to upper left and upper right. The downmost point is a fish, snout up to the center of the symbol; the left point is a stout tree, in leaf; and the right point is a human left hand, fingers and thumb spread, with tiny stars floating above the end of each digit.
Twelve Heralds are stationed in the ports; the other four (?) wander the interior except when relieving the stationary Heralds (usually for nine days of "off duty" time in small, secluded forest cottages that each Herald builds and eventually retires to). Heralds may be on a first-name basis with neighbors, but when "working" use only their names of office.
In order of seniority, the heraldic offices are Fyrefelen (stationed in Ormen); Ohndivur (Tethmor); Ramrath (Curstallyon); Durlance (Nimsur); Mhanrued (Esdul); Lyaparce (Bromtor); Skannajh (Rauthaven); Hoathal (Sombor); Statharn (Nimith); Ultaunt (Vindal); Taerash (Suthhaven); Thuldroun (Arevar); and the wanderers: Maunthar; Vorlmaer; Culree; and Honthallow (and possibly more). The origins of these names are lost in antiquity, but many think they were once nicknames of prominent leaders of the Voyagers who came to Nimbral long ago (from Halruaa).
All Heralds live simply, presumably as directed by the Lords. They're encouraged to have hobbies, some of which seem odd to outlanders (the collecting of human skulls, for instance). They tend to be grave, soft-spoken, firm folk rather than haughty or officious; Heralds who exhibit these latter traits soon disappear.
To Be Nimbrese, and How Things Got This Way
Brief strife marked the fall of the Church of Leira in Nimbral after the Time of Troubles as the hitherto all-powerful Priests of the Deceiver were slain or driven from the realm by the wizards they had subjugated for generations. (They had shut away the wizards in spell-workshops in the guarded enclave of Selpir, whose fortress towers also held Nimbrese driven mad by the constant deceptions).
Life in Nimbral before the Loss of Leira was two-faced: on one hand the simple, necessary labor of fishing and forestry, and on the other the neverending "dream deceptions" practiced by all Nimbrese upon each other. These always-changing games of falsehood and deception were spun with lies, playacting, illusions, physical disguises, and hallucinatory drugs added to most drinkables and cooked dishes. Priests took pride in being the "Master Dreamweavers" of manipulation, causing Nimbrans to do strange things through false perceptions and beliefs. (Taking the place of a person's mate unnoticed, for instance, was a favorite practice of the clergy.) Nimbrese engaged in this ongoing game with enjoyment, seeking to uncover the falsity and weavings of others while spreading their own deceits, large and small.
Since the Fall, the ever-reclusive Lords have succeeded in causing revulsion in Nimbrese for life-wasting, pointless deceptions, turning their love of invention and spectacle into interest in tale-spinning and in harmless false impressions of décor. (One such example is a sort of painting known in our real world as trompe l'oeil, which Nimbrese apply to surfaces in their dwellings and to their ever-present cloaks, typically giving the latter large and fanciful beast-faces on one side, and nigh-perfect camouflage on the other.)
The Nimbrese of today glean excitement and enjoyment in life from things of beauty, from clever tales and entrancing music, and through loving and befriending alert, alive, witty people. Inventive fashions and cuisine are encouraged, but ridiculous extremes in either are just that: moments of whimsy to laugh over together and then set aside in favor of the practical work that must be done. As local sayings put it: "A life lost in dreams is a life wasted" and "Time spent deceiving could better be spent achieving."
Find out about the Knights of Nimbral 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 . . .