Volo's Guide To Cormyr

Volo's Guide to Cormyr (8mb pdf)

Eveningstar

This picturesque farming village of 400 or so folk stands where the Starwater Road meets the High Road and the latter crosses the Starwater River by means of a broad stone bridge. Small and quiet, Eveningstar is a prosperous farmers' market and travelers' waystop. It lies across the mouth of a rocky gorge that carries the Starwater River down into Cormyr from its source.

The Eveningstar Gorge provides the only easy route up into the dangerous mountains north of the Forest Kingdom. It's the only major break in a craggy limestone escarpment that stands like a wall along the High Road from Tyrluk to near Arabel and bars easy northward expansion for Cormyr. There are many tracks and scrambles up and down the Stonecliff, but no other routes by which mounted people or livestock less agile than goats and sheep can pass from Cormyr to the high moors of the Stonelands and vice versa. The gorge itself is thickly grown with thickets and scrub woodland and is the favorite playground of bolder local children, who in season pick many baskets of berries there.

Eveningstar itself is full of trees and gardens. The village rises out of the surrounding farms "like an orchard with buildings in it," as Elminster says. It is dominated by the Stonecliff and the prosperous fields of the House of the Morning, a handsome spired temple of Lathander that sprawls in the mouth of the gorge. No other temples or shrines exist in Eveningstar, but the local lord allows temporary shrines to be set up in the market for up to three days (dawn of the first to sunset of the last). Eveningstar is one of the bucolic beauty spots of Cormyr, a place of soft, glorious sunsets and sunrises and gentle, starlit summer skies.

Eveningstar is ruled by Lord Tessaril Winter, a mage turned warrior who wields much magic. She is perceptive, considerate, and utterly loyal to Azoun. Some folk in Cormyr say she's a little too friendly with him, but although Azoun often visits Eveningstar when he wants to cast the cares of ruling aside for a time, I'm assured by senior war wizards that the time when Azoun and Tessaril were paramours precedes the king's wedding. These days they're just good friends.

Evenor farmers keep sharrada1 and sheep in the walled common land of the High Pasture on the edge of the Stonelands plateau. The farmers gather once every six days for a market, bringing produce that is often snapped up by visiting caravans. Eveningstar produces wine, parchment, wool, milk, cheese, eggs, poultry, mutton, beans, carrots, and parsnips.

The village is a favorite stopover for overland caravans. Most caravan masters are good friends of Dunman Kiriag, owner of the Lonesome Tankard, one of the best inns to be found anywhere. On many soft summer evenings, dozens of caravan masters can be seen fishing from the Starwater bridge, enjoying a pipe or two, or strolling the evening streets. Even more caravan guards are often seen bathing in one of the Starwater's swimming holes to drive off the dust and sweat of the road, then putting on their best and slipping out to the Low Lantern tavern, dance hall, and theater for some late-night fun.

Eveningstar remains one of the favorite haunts of King Azoun, who comes here cloaked in magical disguise by Vangerdahast to relax. Vangerdahast usually accompanies him. The king enjoys a stroll, a quaff or two at the Lonesome Tankard, and an evening of dancing at the Lantern. More than once he has been moved to shed his disguise, usually upon finding Tessaril dancing, too.

The locals regard Azoun as a fellow Evenor villager with respect and affection. Zhentarim agents with poisoned steel once attacked Azoun in the Lantern but were set upon barehanded by everyone there. The patrons rushed to form a human shield ring around the king until Tessaril and her Purple Dragons, alerted by excited youths up past their bedtimes, arrived to rout the intruders.

Visitors used to the late or all-night hours kept in many cities are often disappointed to find that, except for the inns, the Low Lantern, and the temple, Eveningstar completely closes down soon after dusk. Farm folk hereabouts eat heavily and go to bed early in order to rise with or before the dawn and get out into the fields again. Many nap at highsun, making the early afternoon another quiet time in the village.

Landmarks

An oddity found on occasion in the trees and streets of Eveningstar are tressym: small, fluffy, winged cats. These cute, mischievous little terrors are semi-wild and thought to be the result of long-ago wizardly experimentation. Villagers feed them and try to prevent the worst of their vandalism and aerial catfights, and the local farmers value their owl-like rodent control in the fields. Most of these flying cats lair in the gorge and hunt the farm fields night and day, avoiding local cats and dogs rather than fighting or tormenting them. A few mages have come seeking these creatures as familiars; Lord Tessaril has one.

Eveningstar currently features two inns, the Lonesome Tankard and the Golden Unicorn Inn, and two rooming houses. A third Evenor inn, the Welcoming Hand, burned down a decade ago and still hasn't been rebuilt. It was formerly Eveningstar's best and best-known inn. Its ruins stand across the High Road from the Lonesome Tankard, so visitors mistakenly seeking it won't have to go far to find alternative accommodation. One rumor says that the fire that burnt the place down was caused by a fell beast from another plane summoned by night to the cellars of the Hand in a dark ritual. Other locals say the fire was caused by a careless manservant who shoveled live coals into the kindling bin when he was slinging ashes out of the hearth.

Of old, many mages dwelt near Eveningstar in the woods or in small, now-ruined towers or caves in or just north of the Stonecliff. Their spells and magic are still sought by many with high hopes. Aside from Lord Tessaril, however, the only other mage now living in Eveningstar is Syndair Thorn. She makes her living as a weaver and dressmaker. Part of the way up the west side of Eveningstar Gorge is the entrance to the Haunted Halls, a subterranean stronghold built by dwarves long ago for the human bandit-lord Rivior and since home to kobolds and worse. At least one adventuring band each summer comes to try its luck at gleaning treasures from the Haunted Halls; notably fewer stalwarts come to explore the Halls in winter.

Rivior was slain over 200 winters ago when Enchara, warrior-queen of the fledgling realm of Esparin (since absorbed into Cormyr), knowing Rivior's bandits to be short of food, tricked them out into the winter snows with a false caravan publicly rumored to be burgeoning with food and coins. Desperate for what they saw as easy pickings, the bandits swarmed from their lair and were slain to the last one. The deserted hold was soon home to monsters that were rumored to have been brought by evil Zhentarim mages who took up abode in the Hall to discourage intruders. The hold was often visited by adventuring bands seeking to win experience and fortune. The undead remains of some of these intrepid unfortunates gave the former bandit hold its present name.

Among the more famous tales of the Halls are the titanic battle between the young, unproven Knights of Myth Drannor and the evil mage Whisper. Exploring the Halls was the Knights' first real adventure. Another famous encounter played out at this site was the explosive confrontation between the Company of the Unicorn and a circle of nine levitating, fireball-casting, black-robed mages before the entrance to the Halls.

Despite continuing patrols, the Haunted Halls are still home to many dangerous monsters. The area near Eveningstar also has a continual problems with trolls, particularly to the east, in the troll caves traditionally known as the Caverns of the Claws.

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