HARKEN'S HEART

Powerful and vi9ilant, Harken’s Heart druids are closely
attuned to Harken Forest and its needs. For centuries, the
forest’s elf protectors have taken any measure necessary to
saje9uard the land and help it thrive.
In the Nentir Vale’s earliest days, when the elves and
the eladrin separated, many elves settled in the lush
and lively Harken Forest. A handful of elves quickly
developed a strong connection to the living forest’s
primal power and became the land’s first druids. Over
the centuries, the druids became wholly attuned to the
forest’s needs. This band became known as Harken’s
Heart, named after its symbolic position in the great
wooded land. Many of the forest’s other elf residents
came to view Harken’s Heart with a growing combina¬∑
tion of distaste, disapproval, and fear, believing that the
druids’ obsession with the primal power drawn from
the ancient wood was dangerous. Their fears were well
founded.
When war broke out between the treants of the
Harken and Winterbole forests, it was natural that the
Harken’s Heart druids leapt to their forest’s defense.
However, the group’s ruthlessness toward its foes and
its central and violent role in the fighting shocked the
valley’s other druids. After the war ended, a powerful druid master named Eyton cursed the Harken’s Heart
druids, severing them from their primal power source.
Angered by Eyton’s actions, yet fearing the intense
power required to accomplish the severing, the Harken’s Heart druids appealed to the god Melora for aid. If Melora heard the call, she only partially acceded to the UJ
druids’ pleas. The spell was altered and became known ~
as Harken’s curse. While within Harken Forest, those c<
of Harken’s Heart retain their full powers, including :::C
tneir ability to defend themselves and the forest. However,
their primal powers quickly decline when they
leave the forest’s boundaries, and dissipate completely
a league outside its borders. Thus, the druids’ overzealous
tendencies cannot harm the surrounding lands and
people, or so nearby communities hope. Despite having
regained limited power from the curse, Harken’s Heart
has continued to seek an end to it.
A druid known as the Hierophant
leads Harken’s Heart. He or she is the group’s ultimate
negotiator, judge, arbiter, and policymaker. Once a
druid attains this top position, it’s for life. Each Hierophant
handpicks and rears his or her successor. If the
Hierophant dies without an established heir, the Harken’s
Heart druids elect a new leader. The Hierophant
is highly respected for his or her power, wisdom, and
forest knowledge, even by some elves and druids outside
the group.
Scattered and Stealthy: The general membership
of Harken’s Heart numbers in the hundreds. Most are
born into the group, though some outside elves occasionally
join. Harken’s Heart druids live in small camps
or settlements sprinkled throughout the forest, and they
rarely number more than a dozen members in a particular
community. Many live and travel alone, residing
in any glade, woven tree (see below), or isolated grove
inside the forest as need dictates. Harken’s Heart druids
prefer to travel in beast form, or at least in a highly
stealthy manner when moving about the forest. They
observe first, and then act, often aggressively.
Defenders are druids who best know their forest
region and can recognize and halt significant threats
before they become greater problems. Most of the
druids, including the defenders, instruct acolytes in the
forest’s ways and needs and teach the younglings about
their powerful primal connection. The druids’ garments and gear are colored in forest
hues, but members often keep brightly decorated individual
items among their personal effects to remind
them of the diversity of the forest.
The Forest First: Harken’s Heart is greatly feared
within the forest, and inhabitants know to respect the
power of the druids, if not their ways. Harken’s Heart
protects the forest above all else, and its members take
a broad view of what constitutes a threat. This attitude
brings the druids into regular conflict with other
groups, residents, and races that seek to use the forest’s
resources for their own advancement, because the
Heart’s idea of protection often goes well beyond what
most druids or rangers would consider reasonable.
Where the latter groups seek to protect the forest as
well as the balance of nature, Harken’s Heart considers
no factors beyond those that affect the forest directly.
Woven Trees: Like other elves, Harken’s Heart
druids weave living trees and plants together to create
permanent structures, sometimes using magic or natural
methods to increase the growth rate. They prefer
to conceal solitary structures within dense groves,
narrow valleys, twisting crevasses, and other easily
overlooked nooks.
The Great Braided Tree, a tall, multileveled woven
structure near the center of the forest, is part headquarters,
part education center, and part residence for the
largest Harken’s Heart population. It holds about two
hundred elves, though this number sometimes swells to
several hundred in times of great discussion or peril.
Harken Treants: Throughout the treant wars,
Harken’s Heart was a steadfast ally of the Harken treants
(page 104). Since the establishment of Harken’s
curse, the druids’ magical aid is limited to defensive operations. The group might, however, send advisors
and observers beyond Harken Forest to gather
information; the druids have also been known to put
themselves at great personal risk when a mission could
lead to the forest gaining territory. In recent years, a
Harken’s Heart’s sect has devoted itself to expanding
the forest’s boundaries, which would give all Harken’s
Heart druids a wider berth in which to use their
powers. Meanwhile, the Harken treants are rumored to
be planning an all-out land grab in the near future.

HARKEN'S HEART

Saving Darkvale NickPassaro