Perilous Gateways
Emerald Enclave Portals
By Jeff Quick

Cormanthor

Queen Amlaruil has been secretly establishing ties with governments and organizations across Faerûn. The Emerald Enclave is one of those organizations. In exchange for unspecified favors, the Enclave commissioned one of their number, a male wood elf named Selsian Earthenhands (N male wood elf Drd4/Exp12), famed for his artistry in landscaping, to construct an elven garden to welcome the slowly returning brothers and sisters from Evermeet. Begun nearly ten years ago, the entire project has become more of an effort than anyone ever envisioned.

Originally, this was just what it seemed: an opportunity to restore order and balance to what had become an unruly magically tainted wilderness. In an area pockmarked with overgrown plants and hidden mythals, Selsian first went in with a pack of disenchanters and cleared unwanted magic out of several square miles of forest near the ancient Elven Court.

Then, he developed a blueprint for a garden so rich and beautiful, the like has never been seen outside of Evermeet. The shapes, colors, textures, architecture, and plant choices combined in interlocking layers of meaning that evoked historical, philosophical, religious, and sociological commentary on elves in Cormanthor. The whole effect was designed to welcome and challenge returning elves to their millennia-old home. The design had a beauty and complexity that was nothing less than inspired, and the first phase of implementation went flawlessly.

So it was understandably hard for Selsian to accept the tribes of wild elves that overran his vegetable opus during a complicated inter-tribal contest that amounted to a bloody game of "capture the flag."

Committees formed. Meetings were called. Discussions took place. The wild elves cared nothing for it. They continued their barbaric existence unfazed by the high art being constructed around them.

Rather than fight, Selsian wisely incorporated the wild elves into his masterwork, using thick shrub barriers and subtle psychology to channel his wild kin into certain places and away from others. Logically, wild elves are part of the elven tapestry within Cormanthor. In retrospect, it seemed only fitting that they should be a living part of the welcome garden, and it was serendipitous that they "intruded" into the plan before its completion, allowing for their inclusion. He soon drew up the plans again, and if anything, the garden took on a deeper, more satisfying subtext in the interplay of history and present-day life that everyone agreed was really superior to the previous work.

So it was understandably even harder for Selsian to accept when the surface drow in Cormanthor began vandalizing the garden.

Drow cannot be incorporated. Drow must be eliminated.

But Selsian is a landscaper, not a warrior -- he used the tools at hand. Soon, seemingly random sections of the garden would spring to life at the very mention of the word "drow." Tendriculoses, shambling mounds, assassin vines, and even stranger plant creatures would attack any elf with skin darker than deep tan. Even spiders larger than four inches across are killed on sight by scuttling, low carnivorous shrubs.

This too has worked surprisingly well. The constant foliage ambushes not only discourage drow incursion, but also poignantly represent the elves' struggle against their dark kin through their race's long memory. Once again the garden neatly encompassed another layer of meaning.

Unfortunately, so many layers have been inadvertently added to Selsian's original plan, that even he has forgotten some of the original signs and meanings locked within the garden. Among other things, the landscaper has lost the original portal to Ilghon that brought him to Cormanthor.

Before he started redrawing plans and giving the landscape free reign to rearrange itself, Selsian had tried to hide the portal from marauding drow by having misdirection and permanency spells cast on it, making it seem to be grass. Now, not even an analyze portal spell can find it, and the chief landscaper has no idea how to locate it again. No one of sufficiently high level to cast a limited wish spell has appeared to help yet, and Selsian needs to find the portal again before any drow do.

All Selsian can say for sure now is that the portal is bordered by an archway surrounded by rosemary somewhere within the shifting boundaries of the garden. He hopes good elves can find it before the dark elves discover a way to spread their taint to the hoe of the Emerald Enclave.

How to Incorporate the Cormanthor Portal Into Your Campaign

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