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The Elven Village of Goldleaf

by Rick LaRue

Twenty miles southwest of Rifllian, in the centre of the eastern section of Radlebb Woods lies the peaceful elven village of Goldleaf. Until recently, Goldleaf was home to less than 200 Callarii elves, but now due to an influx of Alfheim refugees, there are about 300 residents. In addition to the elves, there are several halflings and one human. The village has less than 200 buildings total, built both above and on the ground. Carefully constructed tree dwellings are connected by hanging walkways and rope bridges. Well-spaced, each building has a natural quality and can be difficult to recognise amid the surrounding foliage. Only in the centre of the village can one tell there is a village at all. The village survives on hunting, fishing, gathering forest goods, some farming, and a little trade with Rifllian.

Goldleaf is loyal to King Stephen, but prefers to use elven law to settle internal matters. A council of elders governs the village and makes all final decisions, but all residents are welcome and encouraged to voice their opinions. Currently there are 3 village elders old enough to be on the council, Mendaril, Cylitheara, and Synthandria. An elf becomes eligible after reaching the age of six hundred years. Council service is not mandatory or automatic, but it is an honour to be offered a seat by the current members. Council members are required to relinquish official ties to their family by no longer using their family name. The idea is that Council members should owe first allegiance to the Goldleaf community as a whole, not just one family.

The focal point of village life is an ancient Beltara Oak, a rare and wonderful tree. Long lived, Beltara Oaks produce exceptionally strong wood and edible nuts. In autumn, the leaves turn a deep golden colour, which gives the village its name. Some believe that these oaks are wise, silent sentients that grow in areas of strong magic or great beauty. The elves of the area say that the tree was here when the elves first arrived, and will still be here after they have gone. This giant tree stands nearly 150' tall with a trunk diameter of more than 25'. No buildings or markings mar this great tree. The residents call it the "old one", to honour the ancient tree, which to them represents wisdom and strength. The village uses the area surrounding the tree as a meeting place and as the primary location for public ceremonies. The local elves have many stories about the "old one". A particularly popular legend tells of a foolish young elf, well known for his poor judgment, who fell asleep in the boughs of the "old one" and awoke with newfound wisdom. This story is partially true. In game terms, anyone within twenty-five feet of the "old one" for more than two hours gains a temporary Wisdom bonus of +1. The bonus lasts for one hour, and can only be gained once a month. The elves never cut or remove parts of the "old one". In autumn, the villagers gather Beltara nuts as they fall, and many woodcarvers gather fallen branches with which to make their woodcrafts. The villagers forbid the use of Beltara oak wood for fires.

The village does not support a "town guard" as such, but instead all residents take turns patrolling the nearby forest for danger. In an emergency, residents respond to the threat, to protect their homes and the "old one". On average the village could muster some 250 residents to its defence if the need arouse. No one can approach the village without someone watching them. Recognised visitors may enter unmolested. Armed parties of elves follow strangers or foes to determine their purpose, and if necessary, deal with them.

The village is simple, and does not have the large number of shops and inns you might find in a human town. Many village elves work from their homes, and sell or trade with other villagers for needed items and goods. Goldleaf has one Inn, The Long Candle, which doubles as a tavern, run by Pren and Shiya Shortwick and their two children Pelm and Fern. Rates are average, but the food, drink and rooms are excellent. One night for one person costs 5 crona, or 1 royal with dinner and breakfast included. Pren has an excellent selection of ales, wines and mead, many made locally. A typical dinner is venison stew or roast, wild rice with leaks and mushrooms, fresh bread and goat cheese. Portions are healthy. Breakfast is usually leftovers from the night before, with eggs, porridge or broth.

The village also boasts an excellent blacksmith's shop, run by a human named Boris Belinski; a shop selling common goods and tools owned by Thalaric and Betisa Coldstream; a healer named Kaelen Deepeyes who is the local priestess of Ilsundal. She maintains a shrine several miles to the west at the site of a small magic pool. The pool is sacred to Ilsundal, and has a calming effect on all within 100 yards of it. While within that radius, no violent act may be committed without making a save versus spells at -6. Evil creatures are at -2 while within the radius and will not usually approach willingly. Undead and extraplaner creatures can not enter the radius at all. The water of the pool is always clear, clean and cold and one drink will remove fatigue and thirst. If removed from the pond, the water maintains its special properties for 1d4 days, and then becomes normal water. Kaelen uses the water to make Holy Water and to bless the ceremonies she performs. The village has a small public stable run by the Taelin family who charges 5 crona a month to residents and 1 crone a day to visitors. The village is large enough that there is someone with just about any common skill.

The Alfheim refugees arrived a little over a year ago and number just over one hundred. The refugees hail mainly from two Alfheim clans, Grunalf and Erendyl, with a few members of other clans mixed in.. Although welcomed warmly, they have yet to integrate into village life completely. Their experiences have made them distrustful and a little bitter. So far, none of their original number sit on the council, and some of the younger refugees are beginning to make a stir. The council only invites wise and respected elves who meet the age requirement, but none of the refugees are "mature" enough yet. Regardless, they have discussed allowing the refugee's former leader, Deloran Grunalf, to act as an adviser until he is eligible for council membership in twenty short years. The council hopes this will satisfy the refugees and deter any problems without violating village tradition. The Grunalf elves are disheartened by their distance from the other Grunalf elves in Wendar, and are eager for news concerning that far northern land.

Recently, a young elven maiden named Tianna Silvermist was found murdered. A group of travellers discovered the body. Clues implicated several local individuals, but in the end the primary suspect was a human ranger named Garon. Tianna's sister, Brista, an important local figure, assisted the group in their investigation. When Garon fled, Brista and the travellers split up to search for him. Brista returned, having found no sign of the human ranger. The travellers have not yet returned or sent word. During the investigation, a small Shadow Elf outpost was discovered, hidden about a day's journey to the west. Brista found it abandoned when she later returned. Since then, she has been on her guard for signs of other Shadow Elf activity.

The Shadow Elves from the western outpost relocated when Brista and the travellers exposed them. During a confrontation between the two groups, a surprise attack by Garon slew the Shadow Elf leader. Siristel, a Shadow Elf sub-commander has assumed leadership in his place. There seems to have been some unknown connection between Siristel, Garon and Tianna. Unknown to any in Goldleaf, one of the Alfheim refugees is actually a Shadow Elf spy. Telemon appears as a normal elf of the Mealidil clan, spending his time teaching elven children the history of their people. Once a month, he disappears into the forest on a "hunting trip". During this time, he makes a report to Siristel at the outpost. He is so unassuming, that none suspect him. The outpost does not pose an immediate threat to Goldleaf or Radlebb Woods in general, but their presence could foretell possible future problems.

Several other more immediate threats concern the local people. Throughout Karameikos, the King's men patrol the major roads, but bandits still appear from time to time. Too often, Radlebb Woods offers them protection. Their presence makes travel within the forest more dangerous. Recently, a group of bandits attacked a number of caravans on the road between Mirros and Threshold. Initially believed to be rogue elves, they were later exposed as magically disguised orcs lead by a blue-skinned spell caster and his troll-like bodyguard. A group of heroes tracked them down, and defeated the orcs, but the leader and his henchman escaped. The people of Goldleaf are also plagued on occasion by the lycanthropes, vampires and nosferatu who secretly dwell throughout Karameikos, gnolls and hobgoblins from the hills to the north and several varieties of giant spiders.

NPCs from the village of Goldleaf.