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Two neighbors may meet one day, conversing outside their homes in the lush forests of Britannia. Of like mind, they may join together, for benefit or for protection. Soon, others may join, and yet others. Homes are built, shops open their doors, and a community is born.

Yet it is a rare community that flourishes without struggle. Monsters may rampage, wandering brigands raid, members come and go. The larger the community, the greater the challenge. And yet the people persevere, look to the future, and grow strong in commitment. Our spotlight this week focuses on the Drachenfels city of Valendor - a community that has weathered struggle and looks to the future with anticipation.

 "Sam Woodchopper sat in the Griffin's Talon and stared out the window towards some dark structures. Depressed, he poured the entire contents of his glass down his throat in one gulp. He felt warm now, but somehow he still had a chilly feeling. Behind him he heard the door open and shut. "Welcome," said bartender Khaled Zhar, to the stranger who had entered the tavern. Sam didn't look around to see who it was. He was not curious by nature. The stranger sat down beside him and asked, "You are Sam Woodchopper? The previous Mayor of this town?" Sam nodded, still not looking away from the window. 'Might I ask what's happened with Valendor?' the stranger asked. Sam looked up towards the man, noticing a pin with the insignia of Lord British on his tunic. Sam thought carefully and answered, 'The same as in all of Britannia it seem. We are under siege. Not by roving bands of brigands, as we were accustomed to, but by monsters.'
"The stranger nodded. 'I did notice that,' he said as he pointed towards the door where the corpse of a giant scorpion was lying in the burning sand. Sam waved to Khaled, 'Sir Zhar, two goblets of yer finest wine. One for me,' he pointed towards his empty goblet, "and one for this lord 'ere."

"The stranger took a sip from his wine and said, 'Would you mind telling me the story of Valendor?' Sam closed his eyes, thought carefully, and started the tale.

"'The town of Valendor was formed in the last months of 1998. The first houses were erected in the safety of the woods east of Minoc. Carnos Galandor gathered many nice people around himself and soon the town was too big for the clearing in the woods. A council meeting was held and all agreed on relocating Valendor.'

"'Twas a cold January 1999 when the great trek started. Citizens packed their belongings and moved towards the dire desert north of Britain. The near presence of the Shrine of Compassion would give the citizens more protection. The woods at the edge of the desert and the mountains surrounding it gave the craftspeople enough resources to build up their little safe haven.'

"'In those times the City lived in harmony. There were various guilds; The Temple of Light, The Valendor Craftsmen, The Valendor Citizens, The Dragon Guard, and even Clan Wolf were a part of the town once. Lord Threeleaf, Phobiatic, Carnos, and I worked hard to get things rolling. We started with placing a tavern. Soon a wandering sage with the name of Sargen Tempest came by and founded the library. Lady Xantha opened her tailory, Master Nickey Smith opened the UBB branch smithy, a band of gypsies led by Nathagarba joined and opened the Dark Wolf Tavern, and all along the desert perimeter, forges were opened… Aye, it were grand days. The town shone like a diamond.'

"'In the months to follow, Valendor grew quickly. House after house were placed and decorated with much care. Events took place, neighboring towns paid visits, and there were casual town attacks by murderous bands who thought the craftspeople were easy prey - and they were right. I initiated 'peace talks' with almost every attacking band and surprisingly, I was able to get them to work with us, instead of against us… But all that is past now.'

"'What happened?' asked the stranger.

"'Factions,' said Sam. 'Damned politics. The mages of the Drachenfels Mage Tower are declared part of Valendor, but autonomous. ClanWulf is still part of the community, but autonomous as well. The Emerald Knights, led by Belgarion of Trinsic, took the place of the Dragon Guard to protect Valendor, but alas, our efforts to keep Valendor safe from brigands were so successful that there became no need for a guard.' Sam sighed. 'Of course, it was imminent that the Emerald Knights would go their own way again. Valendor is still a town - there is still a strong bond between everyone who lives in the desert - but times have changed.'

"The stranger took another sip of his goblet and said, 'They have?'

"'As you may have noticed, the giant scorpions keep the craftsmen busy now. They lack the time to actually mine and work the ore. Even the warriors have a bad time as it seems almost all the time giant earth elementals rise from the desert grounds, attacking anyone who comes close. It's hard times indeed. The Bard has gone missing, the innkeeper lost his mind and turned a murderer the day those black structures appeared at the shrine,' Sam waved towards the shrine of Compassion. 'It's magic, I tell you, and the mages of the Mage Tower have had no success against it!' Sam shook his head, noticed that his goblet was still full, and swallowed the content of the goblet in one go. 'Khaled, another round 'ere.' Khaled placed a full pitcher next to Sam's goblet.

"'There's still many good people about, the effort is there, the scene is still 'ere, but there's rumors of moving. There are still events and explorations to the dungeons to find artifacts and knowledge - even a mage master named Zephian McDohl offered his help to defeat the monsters.'

"'Then all is well?' asked the stranger.

"'This desert is not the place it used to be. It's dangerous. Houses that fall down due to lack of maintenance cannot be rebuilt as some magical force prevents us. Things change, and if they be for good or worse, we don't know. That, after all, is the problem with change - the uncertainty. Valendor still stands, and it will keep standing. It remains a safe place for anyone, be they merchant, craftsman, murderer, or thief. But the future is often unpredictable…' replied Sam.

"At that point, Sam turned his back on the stranger and looked out the window towards the defiled shrine of Compassion. Outside people were fighting monsters, and a miner passed by followed by a giant scorpion. Sam shook his head and filled his goblet with wine from the pitcher. Khaled motioned the stranger over and said, 'Better leave him alone for now. He's in one of "those" moods. He doesn't know but the town is full of great people. He might look depressed now, but Valendor will shine again. The people just need a leader - one who can bind the factions together again.' The stranger nodded and said, 'I think so, friend. I think so as well. What do I owe you for the wine?' Khaled shook his head and grinned, 'Tis on the house. Any friend of Valendor is a friend of mine.' The stranger stood and said, 'Very well… I thank you.' He straightened his cloak, turned around, and headed towards the door."

Sam Woodchopper

The city of Valendor is located on the Drachenfels shard, in the desert near the shrine of Compassion, north-east of Britain. You can read more about the city of Valendor at their website at http://www.valendor.org.

Join us next week as we continue our spotlight on tales of your adventures and accomplishments in the world of Britannia. And please keep an eye on FYI for new spotlight topics!

Published: October 2000
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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