Heroes of Hillsfar
The following information is from Volos’ Guide to Myth Drannor, City of Song and, as Elminster advises, should be taken with a grain of salt.
Volos’ Guide to Myth Drannor, City of Song
Well met again, wise readers!
Yes, ‘tis Volothamp Geddarm, famous wayfarer of the Realms, “Volo” to all, at thy service. You are most wise to consult me in all matters of life in the Realms – in particular the ’little dark secrets’ rulers, guilds, and other folk of power least want you to know.
Wherefore, ’tis high time to unfold some juicy lore about the fabled City of Songs. Not the Myth Drannor of old that so many tales tell of, nor yet the fiend-haunted ruin of cracked and riven buildings spilling out treasures so magical that their blue glow could be seen for miles by night… but the reoccupied ruin of today, the refounded city.
What follows may seem tantalizingly incomplete, but I assure you that even assembling this much was both difficult and dangerous, yet I am ever willing to brave such perils for you; place your deep trust in Volo!
Locations in Myth Drannor
- Throne of Thought
- Army Barracks
- Shaundakul’s Throne
- Cormyrean Embassy (formerly House of Dahast)
- House of Song
- Castle Cormanthor
- Windsong Tower (ruin, detailed in Anauroch)
- House of Orangyl
- Glyrryl’s Pool
- Alicorn Inn
- House Dlardrageth
- House of Antiquities
Myth Drannor is old – so old that no living being knows its beginnings. Originally it was an elven camp; a community of large, inhabited trees around clearwater drinking springs and pools. Later it was an elven city – a place of needle-sharp spires of growing, hollowed-out wood, linked by slim, dangerous suspension spans that were either railless wooden arches or the even more precarious “running ropes”.
This city grew in size and might with the elven communites of the western Dragonreach, over two thousand years, until humans first came to the north shores of The Sea of Fallen Stars. At that time, the city was the seat of a kingdom of moon elves and wood elves ruled by a moon elven royal family called the Irithyl. The city was known as Cormanthor, and when men reached it, they called it The Towers of Song for the music made there.
Coronal (king) among the folk of Cormanthor in those days was on Eltargrim, a once-mighty warrior who had grown wise and gentle in his old age. He fostered knowledge, craft, and mastery of magic in his city, and foresaw that men were a foe too numerous and relentlessly ambitious and adaptable for his people to defeat or keep out of their lands – so he sought out the greatest wizards and wood-lords (who some called rangers and druids) among them, and invited them to dwell together with him in his kingdom. So that all strength might be gathered, that none be excluded and made enemies, and that the kingdom never become a prize to be fought over between elves and humans, Eltargrim invited the gnomes, the halflings, and even the dwarves to come to Cormanthor. The city grew swiftly in size and might.
After the creating of the mythal – a powerful protective magic covering the city – Cormanthor changed its name to Myth Drannor. Over the decades and centuries that followed, Myth Drannor grew in beauty, happiness, and luxury to the greatest height known in all Faerun. The City of Bards, some called it, or the City of Song, or the City of Beauty. Inventors and craftsmen were welcome in Myth Drannor as in all cities – but more than simply the makers of coins were revered. Bards, storytellers, artists, historians, alchemists, mages, and seekers after knowledge of all sorts were welcomed and encouraged.
Songs of lasting fame began to come out of Myth Drannor, and its wizards grew in might to rival the great human kingdom of magic, Netheril. This rivalry several times spilled over into open war – magical skirmishes known as the Crown against Scepter wars. (One of Myth Drannor’s names was the City of Crowns, because many magical items crafted in the city took the form of crowns and diadems, whereas the sorcerers of Netheril tended to use scepters). . Its jewelers were matchless, and its musical intruments (made by elven artificers, notably the families Lharithlyn, Shraiee, and Tlanbourn) stood unsurpassed in all Faerun. Spectacles of dance and song, theatrical masques led by skilled bards, became frequent – and folk began to travel to Myth Drannor just to see these marvels.
Myth Drannor earned the name “the Towers of Beauty” among bards, and as the years passed and happiness reigned over all the elves gave it the name “the City of Love”, out of joy that the races of Faerun could live together in peace and contentment.
Myth Drannor reached its height in the Year of the Bloody Tusk (661 DR). At the end of that year the ancient king Lord Eltargrim died, and there was a great mourning. Almost at once – although likely had been brewing for some time – Myth Drannor was beset by scheming wizards from Thay and orcs, gnolls and goblins attacked the edges of the lands protected by the great city. These raids increased in frequency and size, until the city’s warriors were constantly busy repelling the raids.
Not even the exact year of Myth Drannor’s fall is remembered: too many perished to keep the Roll of Years straight in the fledgling Dales. It is clear that over six hundred years ago, sometime after the Year of the Lost Lance (712 DR), a power in the far north (possibly an evil human archmage, more probably a great flind or orc shaman) summoned fiends in numbers to aid them in an assault on the rich human lands of the Dragonreach, which in turn led to a great Army of Darkness that swept south like a hurricane. In their thousands these evil humanoids perished, in headlong attack upon every monster of the Moonsea North – and still, driven by the merciless fiends, they swept on. Their numbers were such that not even the army and combined wizards of Myth Drannor could stop them. The Captain of the Guard, Fflar, had begun a hasty evacuation of the city, emptying it of those too weak to fight, or too brilliant to be risked. There was time only for each to snatch up what they could carry and run, ere the orcs and fiends were howling up against the last defenders of the city, the oldest warriors who stood side by side with the surviving wizards and army.
The Army of Darkness lost thousands upon thousands that day – but they were still numerous enough to obliterate those few who held the city against them, and rampaged through its streets, burning, pillaging, looting, and slaying those too slow or stubborn to have fled. Myth Drannor fell, and was ruined. What was left of the Army of Darkness broke up into small raiding bands, and hungrily pursued the fleeing folk of the city to the very coast of Sembia, hunting down and slaying many, ere the armsmen of the coastal cities sallied forth to scatter or drive back the raiders. Bands of evil creatures fought among themselves in Myth Drannor for treasure and captives, many of these hiding their spoils in the ruins to be collected later. Often they never did.
The few survivors of the City of Beauty brought tales of terror with them – and Myth Drannor was left empty, to grow its own haunted reputation with the passing years. Only the elves who dwelt in the woods nearby dared venture near the shattered city. They rose up in arms to rid their forest home of the many wandering bands of orcs, gnolls, flind, and bugbears who had been part of the Army of Darkness – and for two years hunted them relentlessly, until all the woods were cleansed.
Having paid such a high price for reclaiming their land, the elves were not eager to welcome intruders who might bring new danger, and closed the woods to those not of their kin. Myth Drannor was swallowed up behind a cloak of elven xenophobia. Myth Drannor became lost to the outside world, and the legends grew.
In the Year of the Moonfall (1344 DR), the elders of the Elven Court ordered the Retreat. Most moon elves and sun elves of Cormanthor departed for Evermeet, leaving the Elven Woods largely unguarded for the first time in centuries.
In 1346 DR, worshippers of Bane created a gate to Avernus (the first layer of the Nine Hells) and released devils into the Myth Drannor ruins to deal with the monsters there, however they were outsmarted by the devils, who poured through the gate in greater numbers than expected. In desperation, the Bannites created a barrier around Myth Drannor to contain the devils. They then spread rumours about Myth Drannor being unprotected, intending – and succeeding in – having hordes of adventurers descend on the ruins and deal with the devils.
The Year of the Prince (1357 DR) saw two attempts by powerful outsiders to seize the ruins. During the Time of Troubles, an avatar of the Rotting God made a concerted push to reach the city, creating Moander’s Road from the ruins of Yulash to roughly the midway point between the two ruined cities. Later that same year, in the month of Marpenoth, a possessing spirit known as Tyranthraxus briefly seized control of the entire City of Song, wrapping the ruins in a dome of force and establishing a pool of radiance (effectively a pool of raw magic, manifested as water) in the old Temple of Labelas Enoreth. Both entities were driven off by adventurers, leaving the ruins once again open for exploration.
In Uktar of the Year of the Prince, one heretofore nameless band, who later took to calling themselves the Knights of Myth Drannor, shattered the portal to Avernus and then took to guarding the ruins against interlopers, with modest success. In the decade that followed, adventurers who made it past the Knights’ gauntlet confronted devils, dragons, alhoon (illithiliches), nagas, phaerimm, other adventuring companies, and countless greater perils. Many died horrible deaths, but a few escaped with ancient coins, works of art, or items of precious magic, encouraging others to follow in their wake.
Over the next two decades several power groups and villains used Myth Drannor as a base, none lasted, having to deal with each other as well as adventurers and the elves. In the Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR), in the wake of a failed assault on Evereska, the daemonfey gold elves of House Dlardrageth returned to Myth Drannor, accompanied by a legion of fey’ri liberated from the Nameless Dungeon. The Abyss-tainted elves destroyed the Morninglord’s temple in the Westfields, claimed Castle Cormanthor as their seat of power, and summoned the exiled arch-devil Malkizid. These efforts came to naught when Seiveril Miritar and the elven Crusade overran the City of Song, at the cost of the commander’s life. Under the leadership of Ilsevele Miritar, the elves refounded Myth Drannor, only to find themselves under attack by an alliance of Zhentarim legions and the Masked Brigades (Vhaeraun-worshiping drow of House Jaelre and Clan Auzkovyn).
The refounded City of Song became more armed camp under siege than thriving city. The populace was dominated by warriors, not commoners, almost all of whom fought in the Crusade and populated the ranks of the Army of Myth Drannor. Most visitors to the city came under armed guard as members of a merchant caravan. The city’s primary exports were antiquities looted from the ruins – broken statuary, old coins, gems, jewelry, and magic. While Myth Drannor’s forges produced a steady stream of arms and armaments, nearly all such items were purchased by the Army of Myth Drannor to supplement its troops. Elves and other races started to settle back in Myth Drannor, clearing rubble, killing or driving out the remaining monsters, and repairing buildings or building new ones. It seemed that the ruins would once again become a city. Seiveril Miritar’s daughter Ilsevele Miritar became the new coronal.
In 1487 DR, after years of skirmishes against the Shadovar, the floating Netherese city of Thultanthar was brought to ground by Elminster Aumar to stop their leader Telamont Tanthul from taking control of The Weave, the source of all magic. The floating city fell upon Myth Drannor, destroying both cities. Ilsevele and many of her surviving subjects fled to Semberholme. Others, and surviving Shadovar, fled to other communities around the Moonsea or to communities within the Cormanthor Forest.
Myth Drannor has become ruins once again.
Note: In 1490 DR the Heroes of Hillsfar reported they had encountered fey’ri and at least one member of reviled House Dlardrageth, indicating that these demon-blooded elves have beome active in the Moonsea area around Cormanthor as the power of the demon lord Graz’zt seeps up from the Underdark. It may be that they have based themselves in the ruins of Myth Drannor, and there are none there to verify this.