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Semberholme was a range of wooded hills that were once home to a cavern-dwelling community of elves. It was one of the four old communities of Cormanthyr (the others were the Elven Court, Myth Drannor, and the Tangled Trees). It lay on the banks of Lake Sember, in the south and west of Cormanthor

EnvironsEdit

The woods of Semberholme were a mystical range of thick-trunked trees in south-western Cormanthor. In fact, they were some of the thickest trees in all of the forest, and the ground level was often darkened by the thick canopy overhead (thus forcing the elves to build arboreal settlements so as not to be completely without light). This also caused the ever-present thick gray fog that rolled along the lake's surface and the forest floor, with accompanying lichen, humidity, and mushy peat that could be found throughout.[1]

BoundariesEdit

Semberholme as a region was considered to be the forests north of Lake Sember (but west of the Verire river) and south of the lake (but north of the Glaemril. The Thunder Peaks to the west were a natural boundary, though that remained the most definitive boundary. The elves who lived here never formally drew out a political line around it.[2]

Flora and FaunaEdit

The trees of Semberholme were primarily immense oak trees and even taller maples, which were the most common type of trees upon which the elves built their dwellings. West and south of Lake Sember, a traveler could find many groves of spruce and hemlock trees. The forest floor was often shrouded in thick underbrush thanks to the rich soil, making travel faster by tree top than by ground.[1]

Semberholme was home to many native fauna, including, but not limited to, deer, squirrel, rabbit, opossum, and skunk as well as oversized versions of raccoons, porcupines, and weasels (rumored to be enlarged by magic from Netheril). Forest buffalo and owlbears were some of the more dangerous creatures to inhabit the area.[2]

Limestone CavesEdit

Semberholme was known for its network of limestone caves that crisscrossed about the forest, forming a grid of secret passages and hideaways for the numerous elves that once lived here. Historically kept safe by the Moonshadows, an ancient Semberholme military group, they once were used as training facilities for young elves as well as storage areas for food and supplies in the event of an attack. Some of these caverns connected to Lake Sember through underground streams, and were once used by the aquatic elves to rear their young.[1]

Magical DefensesEdit

Like many elven communities, Semberholme was a place of magic, and it was often used to protect the settlements. Early in its history, the Moonshadows used what were called sigil wards, runes carved on trees and stones that were used to keep non-elves and violent monsters from wandering into the communities that lived within the region. They were created by the High Mage of Semberholme and could cause an affected creature to modify its path and wander away without any knowledge of its change in course. They would also alert the creator if anything managed to bypass them, thereby alerting the Moonshadows to trouble.[3]

In addition to the sigil wards, Semberholme was also the setting for the elves' teleportation fields, which were magical forces that could teleport intruders without their knowing so as to direct them away from the heart of the forest or its communities. After the Opening of Myth Drannor in 261 DR, many of these fields around Cormanthyr were disabled or changed, though Semberholme's remained.[4]

After the Weeping War and the fall of Myth Drannor, certain High Mages fled to Semberholme and weaved further magical protections into the forest. Many mages lost their lives, and their spirits became infused with the natural mists that occur as cold air from the Thunder Peaks reacted with the warmer air over Lake Sember. These sentient mists were detectable by the elves and half-elves, but to others, the mists implanted powerful suggestions, which forced intruders to flee for their lives, struck with terror and panic. To outsiders, it caused actual pain, dubbed mindfire. By the 1370s DR, the power of these mists had faded, causing lesser emotions such as melancholy or loneliness, though they could still cause nightmares for the sleeping.[5]

PoliticsEdit

As of 1374 DR, agents of the Eldreth Veluuthra were active in Semberholme. Their aim was to gain supporters amongst the elven population.[6]

HistoryEdit

Semberholme could trace its roots back to −8000 DR, after the banishment of drow from the surface world. The elves of the Realms decided that they needed a safe place for women, children, and elders during times of trouble or strife that would inevitably come.[7] The woods of Semberholme around the Lake Sember were the thickest in all of the forest of Arcorar, and the limestone caves that spread under the roots of the trees proved to be a great asset in the event that the elves had to hide. The entrances to these caves were well hidden and difficult to spot even for vigilant elves passing by. The apparent defensibility of the area caused it to be declared an official place of refuge for Cormanthyr by the Coronal Eltargrim Irithyl, who was born in Semberholme,[8][9] in −200 DR.[10]

The task of settling the woods fell upon the Ulondarr clan of moon elves, who witnessed an avatar of Corellon Larethian proclaim that Semberholme would be a place of peace and that if ever an elf slew another elf, then the people of Cormanthor would be banned from Arvandor forever.[11] Semberholme was peculiar in that, unlike other elven realms, it had no Coronal, instead being ruled by the Council of Trees.[12]

Over the course of the millennia to follow, through its early years and its incorporation into the empire of Cormanthyr in −4000 DR,[13][14] Semberholme became an important location for pregnant elves to bear their children under the watch of its skilled midwives and priests of Corellon Larethian and Labelas Enoreth (the latter of which was considered to be a blessing if present during a birth). Stillbirths or births with complications were exceedingly rare in the woods of Semberholme, and it also became known for its festivals and galas honoring newborns, which could last days depending on the family. Noble clans needing heirs to their lines would often travel here to give birth. By the laying of the Standing Stone in 1 DR, Semberholme was home to moon elves, gold elves, green elves, and even a large number of aquatic elves who, tired of human encroachment, sought the calm waters of Lake Sember to raise their young. The most notable aquatic elf clan was the Kelpor'ral, clan who brought great amounts of knowledge to the region.[2] The aquatic elves also became a big part of the defense of the region as part of the deal to colonize the lake.[15]

By 261 DR, when Myth Drannor was opened to the non-elf races, Semberholme had become a great center for learning and education, supported by various gold elven clans and most faiths of the Seldarine. It further grew in size as noble elf clans, in disagreement with the Coronal Eltargrim's decision to open Myth Drannor, began shipping their family members to strictly elven communities such as Semberholme or Elven Court. By 680 DR, it had doubled in size from two centuries earlier. As Myth Drannor became richer and the threat of incursion grew, Semberholme remained shielded from the encroaching aggressors, thanks to its natural boundaries, though the Ulondarr clan did not take the risk, and established the Moonshadows, a force of warriors and spellcasters devoted to the protection of the woods.[2]

Semberholme of course became an important refuge once the Weeping War began in 711 DR. Early on, pregnant elves and the elderly were given the option of departing there.[16] Few took this choice early on, but when the threat became more credible, many flocked to within its safe borders.[17] The Moonshadows, sword defenders of the realm, played their part in the war, battling remnants of the Army of Darkness along their demarcation line during the battle of Thorn Gulch in Alturiak of 714 DR[18] and fighting alongside the satyrs in the Battle of Vengeful Hooves in Tarsakh of the same year.[19]

After the war came the "Shunning of Semberholme", during which many druids (both human and half-elven), such as Aubaerus the Ravenmaster, began to protect the borders using their magics. Aubaerus was granted long life by Silvanus for his task, and was rumored to still be alive by the 1370s DR. The elves settled no more new settlements in Semberholme, and took up a more nomadic lifestyle, using their continual movement to avoid detection, along with their magical gardening techniques that steered intruders in paths away from their homes. Elves cut off contact with the humans, and with the work of some outside allies like Elminster and a lone envoy, Luvon Greencloak, they convinced the world that the elves had left and the place was instead full of demons and monsters.[20]

After the Retreat in 1344 DR, Semberholme was largely and truly abandoned along with the rest of Cormanthyr. Many of the old settlements no longer existed, though some defected to Deepingdale and became elven communities within that region. The area mostly staved off intrusion from the Cormanthor drow after they showed up in the forest.[21]

SettlementsEdit

  • Aluianti, a former gold elf village, abandoned after the Weeping War and fitted with traps.
  • Bristar, a village once part of Semberholme formerly known as Velethuil, in later Deepingdale.
  • Ferrengrove, a green elf village for elves serving in the Moonshadows, entirely arboreal.
  • Llanthorn, a former village abandoned after the Weeping War.
  • Moonrise Hill, an old moon elf village near a wyvern-infested crag, part of later Deepingdale but formerly called Ssrenshen.
  • Muirllar, a former village abandoned after the Weeping War.
  • The city of Semberholme (city)Semberholme, the ancient center of the region, a village on the banks of Lake Sember.
  • Tsornyl, an old village that was destroyed by the followers of Moander and the High Mages who imprisoned them.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 89. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 87. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  3. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 90. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  4. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  5. Ed Greenwood (2006-07-27). Semberholme (Part 1) Legend and Mystery. Realmslore. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on July 28, 2008.
  6. Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd (May 2005). Champions of Ruin. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 79. ISBN 0-7869-3692-4.
  7. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  8. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  9. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 126. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  10. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 91. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  11. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 86. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  12. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 25. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  13. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  14. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 125. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  15. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  16. Steven E. Schend (1998). The Fall of Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-1235-9.
  17. Steven E. Schend (1998). The Fall of Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-1235-9.
  18. Steven E. Schend (1998). The Fall of Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-1235-9.
  19. Steven E. Schend (1998). The Fall of Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 0-7869-1235-9.
  20. Ed Greenwood (2006-08-09). Semberholme (Part 2) Legend and Mystery. Realmslore. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on July 28, 2008.
  21. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 133. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.

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