House of Ardenai
Sharyth Ardenai, the first matriarch, established the city of Ta'Ardenai in the eastern part of the ancestral elven forests, within the Darkling Wood, in year 1418 of the Elven Calendar (47,689 years before Modern Era). The Ardenai elves had not found the arguments of Korthyr Faendryl, Linsandrych Illistim, and Aradhul Vaalor as persuasive as the rest of their brethren, and did not believe as strongly that it was the destiny of the elven people to rule over Elanthia, but still preferred the civilized life of cities and townships to the nomadic old ways.
Ardenai scouts and mages played an important part in the Undead War, fighting alongside the rest of the alliance against Despana. In the aftermath, like the rest of the elven houses, the Ardenai elves retreated into their own territory and became more concerned with keeping internal affairs in order than taking part in outside matters.
In the thirty-fifth millenium of the Elven Empire (14,823 years before Modern Era, and nearly 20,000 years before the present time), a great blight affected the crops around Ta'Ardenai. In their efforts to keep the city from starvation, Ardenai hunting parties ranged far north into the steppes for food, where they came into conflict with the Brughan clan of halflings. The Ta'Ardenai populace began to blame the halflings for the famine, believing rumors that the halflings were spreading the blight. The Ardenai king decided to use this opportunity to claim the Brughan lands as rightful Ardenai domain and sent a legion to take them by force. The Brughan halflings called on their Malghava and Mhoragian allies and took advantage of the elves' overconfidence to mount a successful ambush at Ragalatan, defeating the initial invasion.
Unable to abide the humiliation, the Ardenai king continued to wage war on the halflings for years, even after the blight had already passed. In a secret meeting with his sorcerers, the king devised a plan to poison the halflings' prized pony herds. The spell took ten years to prepare. When it was finally cast, all the ponies across the halfling lands, both domesticated and wild, began to die. The spell was more powerful than even the Ardenai sorcerers anticipated, and all of the Ardenai horses fell ill and began to die as well. Within six months, all the ponies and horses were dead.
The mad king died soon after, and his name is not spoken among the Ardenai today, who regard the whole affair as a shameful matter that is better left forgotten. The Ardenai herds were eventually rebuilt with purchases from other houses. As for the halflings, they would always continue the rituals they practiced while the ponies were living, in hopes that someday, the horse tribes would return.
Eamon Ardenai is the current king of Ta'Ardenai, succeeding his father King Mattheanth to the throne in 5099 Modern Era. He is married to Princess Elsevel of House Loenthra, their wedding having taken place several years before Eamon's coronation.
Ardenai elves tend to be less haughty than members of the other houses, and have less of an imperial bent. They are typically appointed as emissaries to other races, and are more tolerant of half-elves (though unions with "lesser" races are still shunned in high society). Ardenai are also capable warriors at need. All Ardenai grow up to revere the hunt, and few can match their bow-masters.
Language of Flowers
- Official Documentation: A Speech Unspoken: The Language of Flowers
The Ardenai popularized the tradition, now found in many different cultures, of using a gift of flowers to communicate a coded or symbolic message. The peony flower, for instance, blooms for less than a week in the forests around Ta'Ardenai, and thus is used to symbolize bashfulness.
- Official Documentation: Elven Ruhan
A standard piece of Ardenai garb is the ruhan, a long, draping garment made from a single piece of fabric with an opening for the head and neck at its center. Originally used by rangers, the ruhan has become commonly worn by all Ardenai and a number of elves in the other houses as well. The material is most often wool, with a pale grey to moss-green coloring that blends into forested surroundings.
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