Location: Fantasy Worlds » Forgotten Realms Lore
land of Sembia was settled by humans coming to the Sea of Fallen Stars
from the south, and was originally chosen for its stands of huge, high-quality
iliyr-wood timber so prized in shipbuilding. However, as the forests were
cleared over the years, the treecutters came into increasing conflict
with elves who feared the loss of their entire wood. This would undoubtedly
have occurred, had not the hastily gathered mercenary troops of the fledgling
land been defeated by the elves at Singing Arrows (884 DR).
This battle convinced distant Chondath to abandon its holdings in the
region and allow the immigrant Sembians to establish their independence
(though as little more than a collection of rival city-states, much like
the Moonsea or Vast of today). It also set the stage for the appearance
of the Raven. The young country grew strong as farms prospered in the
newly cleared lands. Craftsmen arrived from the south to take advantage
of this chance to acquire land and wealth, bringing their trades with
them. Rauthauvyr the Raven unified the city-states and towns in the face
of the continuing "elven menace," and insisted on maintaining a standing
army, which he kept in practice by policing Sembia's borders and improving
At this time (913 DR), Sembia became as a true nation. The Moonsea's (Dragon
Sea's) mineral wealth was discovered by humankind at about this time,
and pressure began to grow for a trade road through the elven woods to
make Sembia the world's gateway to all these riches. The Raven went alone
as an envoy to the Elven Court and asked the elders of their Council to
approve a road open to humans linking Sembia to the shores of the Dragon
Sea (an earlier road had been destroyed during the conflict and was now
overgrown). Raven proposed that the elves choose the route and retain
control of it and the woods around it, so that no woodcutting or human
settlement would occur.
The elves had earlier made similar arrangements with the Dalesmen and
had no difficulty with the concept of such an agreement. However, the
inhabitants of Velarsdale (now Harrowdale) refused the proposal, not wanting
or needing such a road at that time (curious, since later a ruler of Harrowdale
commissioned the disastrous Halfaxe Trail). The elves, not wishing to
offend long-time allies, refused Raven's request. Rebuffed, the Raven
then threatened to exterminate the isolated elves in Amothoi, the last
embattled remnant of the elves in Sembia, if the Elven Court did not cooperate.
If the road was built, however, they would be free to trade, or not trade,
as they wished. The elves agreed under this pressure, and Sembia's financial
future was secured. Hillsfar, on the shores of the Dragon Sea, became
a commercial meeting ground between humankind and elves, as did Elventree.
The route the elves chose ran past the base of the Standing Stone as a
reminder of earlier, less-hostile dealings between humans and elves. Over
the years the elves of Amothoi came north to join their brethren or slipped
away to seek Evermeet, leaving their wood to gradually disappear.
Sembia grew rich under merchant leaders of increasing wisdom, such as
Saer (for whom Saerb was named) and Selgar (for whom Chancelgaunt was
renamed as Selgaunt). Before his death, Rauthauvyr the Raven saw that
these merchants had a strong standing council of merchant elders to advise
them and to ensure that no ruler could hold onto power by force of arms.
Then this farsighted man, creator of a nation, now halfblind and infirm
from old war wounds, rode north into the elven woods and disappeared.
None know what happened to him or where his bones lie, save perhaps some
few elder elves.