A Fellowship Rises
In the case of some stories, it’s good to start at the end and let it wind its way to the beginning. This is especially true when retelling the lives of heroes and tyrants. That way we can learn valuable lessons on how the road sometimes shapes the traveler.
Daughter of Talanthe Truesilver
Year of Wild Magic
It’s untrue to say the good folk of the Delimbiyr Crescent have lost their faith in the Lady of the Forest and her chosen. But there is doubt. The Phelaniityr family has shown utter and outward contempt for the choice of the orc, Otar, but others are content to wait and see the reasoning of the goddess unfold. In the past, Mielikki has chosen milkmaids and those who seemed buffoons to enact her will, and when their reign was done, few question the goddess’s wisdom in choosing them.
But no one in the Realms thinks the gods are infallible. And in the North there’s a saying, “while the wise may worship, only fools bow and wait.”
In these trying times few Scions of the Green Regent are waiting. The lack of access to the Green Regent has created worry, but not lethargy. Many have gone forth to do good in the region as their predecessors have done for generations. Now they are not the only organization dedicated to the defense of Loudwater and the region. Another group was born from the wake of Otar’s coronation. A more militant and focused group with an active, present, and charismatic leader named Stedd Rein—a group called the Red Fellowship.
The common room of the Red Boar Tavern is supported by a large plain pillar, the remains of an ancient oak that stood on the site before the Rein family moved to Loudwater from Waterdeep almost 60 winters ago. That pillar is covered with decades of parchment and paper postings and bills. Almost since the tavern’s raising, the pillar has been the place where many humans post news and events. The elves and many half-elves of the community tend to avoid its use, since the felling of the great oak by the Reins is still considered a great tragedy. Almost a tenday after Shieldmeet, Stedd Rein, the youngest and almost the best known of Deldron Rein’s children, nailed a parchment on the pillar. It detailed what he saw as the problems of Loudwater and what he was going to do to solve them. In that action he created the Red Fellowship as an organization devoted to the betterment of the City of Grottos, and communicated the group’s manifesto. The following are the manifesto’s main points:
- The Zhentarim forces in Llorkh are a plague to the region. The Oath of Orlbar will not contain them, as they have no desire to live in peace with the folk of Loudwater. The Red Fellowship is sworn to actively thwart the Zhentarim whenever possible, toward the end of their eventual retreat from Greyvale.
- The prosperity of Loudwater is dependent on its ability to trade with the larger cities of the Sword Coast. The Red Fellowship stands against those who would stop the flow of trade between the vale and the western cities.
- Evil powers ought not be tolerated. A concerted effort should be made to hunt down the savage enemies of Loudwater whenever possible. This includes the savage tribes of orcs that have recently attacked the homesteads up the vale.
- The whims of esoteric religious practice should be cast aside, or at the very least reduced to mere symbolism. The only true stability comes from a strong foundation, and governed by a sturdy architecture of law.
- After the retreat of the Zhentarim, the creation of strong trade routes, and the cleansing of savagery from the region, Loudwater should annex the lands of Orlbar and Llorkh and join the Lord’s Alliance as the Free Lands of the Vales. That state would be under the leadership of and elected High Lord, not from the best offerings of a secretive religious ceremony.
Many like-minded individuals have flocked to the energetic and charismatic Rein. While there are few people in and around Loudwater who would openly malign the High Lord or the Green Regent, there are many among the traders and merchants of the city who think the old elven, Harper, and Mielikkian philosophies of living a peaceful coexistence with natural world translates into an insidious apathy that at the very least stifles the progress of the City of Grottos, and that may even put it in grave danger of future raids, like that of the Night of the Blood Moon, or outright Zhent control. Many of these folks have thrown in with the burgeoning fellowship. Steed’s own devotion to the Red Knight, and his use of her trappings, has earned support from the soldiers of Loudwater, especially those under Harazos Thelbrimm, Gauntlet of the Eastern Marches.
Stedd's father is his greatest supporter, and has supplied his son with the financial backing of his Red Boar Trading Coster. And while the elven families worry that Deldron’s money will only bring a murder of human mercenaries to the region, Stedd’s accomplishments, integrity, and sincerity have made him an idol to many young humans and even half-elves in the City of Grottos.
Mielikki’s choice of Otar as her chosen was not the only shocking event surrounding the Shieldmeet celebration. Stedd, the popular favorite for the title of Green Regent was denied even the title of Scion during the drinking of the Green Draught. It is said that gasps of surprise were the only thing that could be heard after Stedd regurgitated the concoction onto the floor of High Moon Market.
Few expected the goddess to reject the young man. While it was true that he revered the Red Knight, Mielikki has had no problem anointing the faithful of other powers (even neutral powers) as scions or even Green Regents. Even the nine chief elven families, who, in recent decades, have habitually acted contrary to anything involving the Rein family, were stunned at the denial of such a worthy candidate. The moon elf Beutaleen’dal family has even used it as an example of an indication that this year’s ceremony was tainted by some mysterious skullduggery.
Not all the elven families have been so charitable. The Phelaniityr, while agreeing that the coronation of Otar is not Mielikki’s actual will (and some of the more outspoken members have even questioned the validity of existing scions—a proposition most in Loudwater find absurd), also believe that Stedd’s denial is just further proof that the family is intrinsically villainous, drudging up Deldron’s various questionable woodcutting ventures in the region and his the family’s history of treachery supporting this strange theory. The paradox of this argument seems to be lost on stubborn sun elves, as is the fact that Stedd’s actions show him to be no villain.
Blood Moon on the Delimbiyr
On a warn autumn night in the Year of the Gauntlet, savagery struck the City of Grottos. Malar-worshiping werebeasts took the appearance of a blood moon as their call to ravage hated Loudwater. The timing could not be worse. The beloved High Lord Nanathlar Greysword was on his deathbed, the brave warrior finally giving in to old age. Both gauntlets were away from the city, and even Deldron Rein was away to Daggerford on business and to greet the return of his dear son from Amn.
The Green Regent at the time was Galaer Grasswave, a kind, gentle, and studious elf wizard, kin to the Bentillail family. Galaer was no warrior-mage, but rather was a philosopher from Loudwater’s famous Velti’Enorethal, and more importantly a student (and some would say prodigy) of the powerful elven high magic wards and mythal. His short reign was spent pursuing repairs on the wards that nourish the cities flora, and protect the city from the ravages of disease and infection, as well as invasion. Scions of magical talent (especially those elves who studied at the Velti’Enorethal, of which there were many during Galaer’s reign) aided Galaer in the arcane repairs, while the others searched out rare components and lore to aid in the wards’ mending. Galaer and his scions were in the midst of important rituals at Standing Stone Hill when the lycanthropes attacked.
Not able to pause the ritual, Galaer was forced to split the scions between defending the hill and protecting the people of Loudwater. The scions were decimated in the ensuing battle. After two night of fighting, fewer than a quarter of those defenders still drew breath. But they found death bravely. The ritual had not been interrupted, and many citizens had been defended against the Malarite ravages. Help came in the return of Gauntlets Kalahar Twohhands and Harazos Thelbrimm, as well as half of the Red Boar Trading Coster’s guard lead by Stedd Rein. Stedd was returning home from Athkatla where he had spent the last eight years being educated at that city’s famous College of War. When his father received a magical message telling of the attack, he sent his son ahead his guard to Loudwater.
The gauntlets regrouped the scions, charging them to defend Standing Stone Hill, while their men, Rein’s private army, and the elven houses split the city into quadrants of defense in preparations for more assaults by the children of the Thicket. Opening his father’s stores, Stedd supplied almost two score of his warriors with alchemical silver weapons.
That night the lycanthropes attacked again in a more organized, but intensely savage, strike against the ritual on Standing Stone Hill. The hill stands in the elven quadrant of the city. While some of the elven house guards fought valiantly, others delayed, leaving their main forces to defend their own estates. When Stedd heard that the hill was in danger, he gathered his men. Stedd lead the warriors toward Standing Stone Hill rippling through the Malarite lycanthropes with silver and spell, in a mad rush to Galaer Grasswave and his scion’s aid. But in the long, valiant assault toward the edge of the city, the initiative was lost. Stedd’s group found only a handful of scion survivors, and poor brave Galaer’s head displayed on the earthen ramparts of the cities northeast edge. Still, Stedd’s valor and leadership saved the lives of many that night, including Ovendal, the new matriarch of the Beutaleen’dal family. Most of the ritual had been completed before the Green Regent’s fall. Exactly what parts the sages, priests, and wizards of Velti’Enorethal are still trying to definitely determine.
When Deldron returned to the City of Grottos he was greeted by the pungent smell of the fallen defender’s funeral pyres, and words of praise for the Rein name on the lips of survivors. A sound Deldron no doubt welcomed, as almost everyone thought the name was irreparably damaged by the treachery of his daughter, but that story will have to wait until later…
Next time we’ll explore some special backgrounds available for characters from Loudwater.