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Name: The Unicorn's Sanctuary

Submission by: Craig Sefton .

Location: Within the fringes of the Wood of Sharp Teeth

Description:

The Unicorn's Sanctuary is a small glade venerated by local druids and rangers of Mielikki, as well as others of her faith. It is a small clearing in the trees, roughly 15ft in diameter, surrounded on all sides by dense shrubs and bushes with several paths leading into the clearing.

Directly in the center of the clearing is a large granite stone, weathered with age. Although the stone is old, an outline of a unicorn can easily be seen etched into its surface, as if it had been carved yesterday. (1)

Immediately behind the stone, standing 4ft in height, is one of the rare shrubs known as Mielikki's Tears (2). A small stone marker bearing two symbols can be found at the shrub's base. The first is the Harper rune for "Hidden Cache"; the second is another Harper rune, meaning "Grave and/or place not to be disturbed". The cache can be found in a small tree hollow roughly northwest of the stone (3). To understand the second marker, one must comprehend the legends surrounding the clearing.

History:

Several hundred years ago, in an age long since forgotten, a ranger, known only as The Unicorn, hunted these woods. As a worshiper and follower of the Goddess Mielikki, he created the small glade as a shrine to her and her beliefs. He led a simple life, doing what little he could to curb the encroachment of loggers, and to help those in need. A small cache of food and water left within a tree hollow benefitted travelers who stopped in the glade.

One night, The Unicorn tracked strangers into the wood. He kept distance as he recognized them to be hunters of some sort. Generally, he would have left them alone, but rumors of a unicorn's presence had been spreading amongst the creatures of the wood. While he had not seen the creature, he disliked the thought of ruffians stumbling across the unicorn's path; an opportunity to capture a prize, such as a unicorn's horn, would not be missed by these hunters.

A glimpse of white and a shout of triumph echoed the ranger's worst fears - they had sighted the fabled beast. Moving silently and as swiftly as he dared, the ranger followed the unicorn, finally tracking it into the shrine's clearing.

It is at this point that the various versions of the tale differ. Some say Mielikki transformed her faithful follower into a unicorn and, together with the other, they fought against the hunters. Another version of the tale claims that the ranger turned into a unicorn, but took the place of the true unicorn who fled into the forest, the ranger staying behind to defeat the hunters. The truth is unknown, but the outcome was still the same; the ranger died saving the life of the Unicorn. Since that day, a single Mielikki's Tears sprouted where the ranger fell, and the strange emblem, believed to be the symbol of the ranger, was found etched into the rock.

It is believed by many that, because of the Ranger's sacrifice, the glade is blessed with his spirit, protecting good folks that seek its shelter. Many tales are told of travelers seeing the ghostly shape of a man dressed in furs and leathers watching over the glade at night.

As stated above, rangers and druids venerate the glade, guarding it with their life. Anyone so foolish as to defile the sacred glade should consider their lives forfeit at the hands of Mielikki's followers.


Details:

(1) The Rune of the Unicorn
This rune is not known to hold any special powers, but it certainly is magical - a detect magic spell will give a strong sense of Alteration magic. It is believed, amongst Mielikki's faithful, that one day a man or woman with the heart of a unicorn will touch the rune and become the next Champion of Mielikki.
(2) Mielikki's Tears (taken from a journal of Dazrin Drak'arden, Master Harper)
Distribution: This beautiful shrub is found throughout the Dales, Cormyr, and the surrounding environs. It can be found elsewhere as it is a highly prized garden plant. While once being fairly common, it is now only found in the deepest parts of forests, or inaccessible parts of these lands.(a)
Description: When I first gazed upon this plant, I wept because of its tremendous beauty. It is no wonder the plant has this name; every specimen seems to give an aura of loss and sadness, as if Mielikki's suffering had been imbued within its mortal form. (b)
The plant stands roughly 4 feet off the ground, often growing in small clumps of three or four bushes. I have seen specimens reaching up to 6 feet in height, but this is a rare occurrence. The first thing that strikes you about the plant is its unnatural silvery hue. In moonlight, the plant almost seems to shine with an inner radiance; during the day the plant is, strangely enough, very ordinary in appearance. Its leaves are star shaped, roughly the same size as an elven hand. The flower is the most remarkable part of the plant,as it flowers once a year during a full moon. The flowers are silver and blue tear-shaped clusters of ten or more petals - highly prized flowers amongst most nature-lovers. (c)
Legend has it that the plant was formed from the tears Mielikki shed when the first trees were cut down by loggers in times long past. If you are lucky to behold the beauty of these flowers, it is easy to believe these tales. It is also said that if you eat a freshly plucked flower, it bestows great healing powers upon the user. I myself do not know the truth of such tales, having never wanted to destroy the specimen I was lucky enough to view. (d)
Consider yourself lucky if you ever see one in bloom.
(3) The Cache
The cache holds enough food and water to sustain a person for four or five days, and is replenished every week either by local druids and rangers, or by a wandering traveler. It is common for travelers who have used the refuge to return and replace what they took during their stay.


(a) Prices for these plants range anywhere from 500 to 1000gp resulting in, sadly enough, major destruction of this plant. In some cities it is considered a punishable offense to have one of these plants within your garden without the proper licenses (obtainable through the local offices of the city in question).

(b) The flower's healing properties (see below) have added to its rapid destruction.

(c) The aura surrounding the plant is very real, and very powerful. No creature sleeping near this plant will come to harm. It is unknown whether this is due to magic, or godly protection, but this power is very real. In fact, Unicorns often seek this plant as a refuge.

(d) The date this plant flowers changes from year to year, but it always falls upon a full moon. It is interesting to note that, once every 50 years, the plant flowers on the same night of the anniversary of the creation of the Harpers - it is rumored these flowers have fantastic magical powers. Such rumors have never been proven.
Eating the flower makes the user fall asleep until morning. This healing sleep rejuvenates the body and mind, restoring the person to full health, as well as curing all poisons. To be effective, the flower must be eaten immediately after being picked, and the sleep must take place next to the plant.
Note that, should the flower and/or bush be destroyed or burnt, small spores are released into the air that poison all those within ten feet causing 2d12 points of damage (save for half), as well as depleting hit points at a rate of 1d8 per turn. The poison can only be cured by magical means.

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