|Bal'adeni, Crown of Ashal'Thalas|
Bal'adeni's spires set among the lush Central Highlands Forest
Early Thalassian Era
Sun Matriarch A'malia Firesong
Sanctum of Elune
Bal'adeni is the capital of Ashal'Thalas, and home to nearly half of the residents of the isolated Quel'Thalas province. With Thalassian Spires soaring among the trees of the Eversong-like Central Highlands forest which surround Bal'adeni, even the city's busiest marketplaces have an odd serenity to them, much like the Quel'Thalas of old, as Ashal'Thalas is a deeply traditional region, founded with as such with limited historical contact with the rest of Quel'Thalas, Bal'adeni is a vital hub in the trade of agricultural goods and foodstuffs from surrounding lands, raw minerals and finely cut gems. Master tailors and jewelcrafters have a long-established presence in the city, which is bolstered by the patronage of its socialite governor, Sun Matriarch Salandra Firesong with Countess Ysandre Firesong but seven years old and in regency to her aunt Salandra.
As non-elves are prohibited in Ashal'Thalas, the location of Bal'adeni adjacent to Malana Island, an offshore island with deep water port where foreigners are permitted for trade purposes. As one of the few deep water ports on the east coast of Quel'Thalas, and possibly the only that will not impose a heavy tariff on neutral-flagged ships, Malana Island serves as a vital trade link between Quel'Thalas and the outside world, and much of Bal'adeni's economy is based around trade.
Bal'adeni was founded shortly after the arrival of the battered Quel'dorei to Quel'Thalas, with the founding of the Sunwell bringing a measure of peace after the journey that claimed so many lives.And radical change had come to those whom survived. With such anger against the Sisterhood of Elune for the banishment that claimed so many lives, all traces of Elune worship, safe the name of the new capital "Silvermoon" were to be abandoned, thematically replaced with the Sun as a symbol of Quel'Thalas' rejection of the Kaldorei.
The anger and sentiment to move in a new direction guided by the charismatic Dath'Remar Sunstrider was just, and nearly all felt it on some level; nearly all had lost one dear to them because of it.
However, some of the older, more conservative elves whom had made the journey, elves whom long based their lives around service to Elune, crediting the Moon Goddess for their creation and seeking her guidance, if not her strength. It's speculated that the naming of Silvermoon may have been in part an attempt to ease the fears of the more religiously conservative elves present, whom came to believe that is was the Sisterhood that had grown arrogant and corrupted, and that Elune herself should be honored and asked for guidance as she had before, without such power handed to priestesses.
This viewpoint was a severe minority opinion, though it was championed by Sun Matriarch A'malia Firesong, of House Firesong. A'malia and her brother Solanar Firesong I were the two surviving kin of Lord Bailas Firesong of Biel'aran, Vash'jir, with Solanar a seasoned arcanist having served in Suramar and Zin-Azshari, escaping the demon-filled elven capital during the War of the Ancients. A'malia was a civilian noblewoman whose was seen to safety due to the machinations of her father Bailias, whom took up calling upon Elune's Light upon seeing so many slain and wounded during the conflict with the Legion.
A'malia speaks in her published diaries of working alongside several Elune Priestesses during the War of the Ancients, but having had no formal place among them, and with her brother and siblings facing exile after the Ashenvale display, there was no question A'malia's loyalty was to her family, refusing to use her connections within the Sisterhood to spare exile for herself, she was a leading presence among House Firesong's contingent on the ships, one whom expected to be obeyed, yet one with a deep sense of conviction and purpose that uplifted others during the darkest days and at sea, and in Tirisfal.
A'malia was popular among the Quel'dorei for the inspiration she provided them, and a voice for those whom were wary of complete abandonment of the old traditions. A'malia was politically shrewd as life as a Highborne noblewoman demands, and saw that while those drawn to a "slower, more gradual transition", a message slowly tempered to be more acceptable in simply calling for time to adjust to the new ways and develop the foundation of a new belief system.
House Firesong was a powerful family from Vash'jir, and A'malia with her brother Solanar calculated in private to seek out an isolated location, close enough to the Sunwell, but not easily accessible from the mainland. Solanar had been studying regional leylines, and spoke of a powerful ley nexus in an isolated, forested region east of the newly-named Thalassian Range in southern Quel'Thalas, and just north of the troll-occupied Amani peninsula.
A'malia took what kin and retainer remained of House Firesong, along with several hundred elves in the first wave, via portals by her brother Solanar, establishing a "Temple" to Elune, presently known as the Sanctum of Elune, in the rounded, domed design of Kaldorei temples but stronger.
The waters inside the structure gained a magical quality described, by visiting arcanists with no self-interest in the matter, as quite similar to that of Moonwells. While A'malia and her supporters heralded the font as a blessing from Elune, it was formed some time after the Sunwell, and may have been energized with waters from the nascent Sunwell. It's not believed A'malia or any others present held sufficient knowledge of the rites needed to create a Moonwell, though she did spend a time during the war with priestesses and may have observed it.
Regardless, as word of the structure spread, and Solanar together with A'malia declared House Firesong sovereignty over the otherwise untouched Ashal'Thalas, though in fact a short distance from Tranquilen and Thas'alah if but for the looming mountains.
Solanar Firesong I, Lord of Ashal'Thalas, established his seat at the Dal'felo Spire, over the ley nexus which initially drew his attention to the region, and forming a circle of magi known as the Arkhana'dorah. The spellcasters, many of which were apprentices, some veterans, were all taught portals to the mainland, and helped to move those interested in the new Temple or the general slower pace of change to and from Ashal'Thalas, which held verdant soil and mineral-rich mines, and a pristine seashore of ocean meets trees, with occasional bluffs.
The location of the Temple was near a small offshore island, today used as a deep water port for trade, known as Malana Island and the only part of Firesong jurisdiction which non-elves may enter, and then solely for trade or transit purposes. The island and coves along its shores and that of the mainland proved welcoming to small fisherman, with seaman seasoned on the long crossing recruited and among the ancestors of the many fishing families whom call Ashal'Thalas home to this day.
With magi to easily arrange the movement of goods in and our, Bal'adeni came to prosper, putting up grand Thalassian spires over the many tailoring shops, jewelers, diners and merchants along its treelit avenues, a Suramar-like feature. Bal'adeni would prosper, though the traditions of old would in time fade, with the waters of the Sanctum of Elune losing their glow, and the building fitted with a Thalassian Sanctum Spire, renamed the Sanctum of Elune. The ley updraft generated by the Spire flows through the pool, which glows softly with arcane, though is but a reminder of the past, as with no true priestesses, and the last generations of elves whom lived through the long crossing faded into the past, Bal'adeni would slowly lose Elune worship, but a deeply ingrained isolationism persisted, with few elves leaving the province, and those that did almost always Arcanists of the Arkhana'dorah, traders, and House Firesong diplomats.
The isolation of Ashal'Thalas would lessen greatly after the Troll Wars, during which Amani attacks against Ashal'Thalas in an effort to outflank inland defenses led to a general levy in the territory. Although the threat never reached as far as Bal'adeni, much of its forces were conscripted, and served beside the Farstriders and Magisters of Silvermoon.
With less culturally separating them from inland Quel'Thalas, which itself had grown deeply isolationist, Bal'adeni grew increasingly lavish, a seaside destination catering to nobility with upmost decorum and discretion. The Grand Ballroom of Bal'adeni was built in honor of those lost in the Troll Wars, and the Matriarchs of House Firesong grew well-known for lavish and well-attended balls.
Culture & Notable Events Edit
As much as the world changes in greater Quel'Thalas, the people of Ashal'Thalas now moreso than perhaps ever, contemplate their origins, the weight of their ancestors and living up to the shoes of those that came before them.
This introspective, non-dogmatic though clearly traditional view defines much of Ashal'Thalas' differences with the Quel'Thalas mainland. Nine out of ten elves in Ashal'Thalas are believed horde-skeptical, a view held, informally, by House Firesong, and no waiver to permit the entry of horde races was granted, though a small position on Malana Island was authorized, largely as a display of solidarity with Silvermoon.
And recent events have provided many reasoned for residents of Bal'adeni to contemplate the past, with the arcane font within the Sanctum of Elune again empowered and referred to locally as a Daywell, generally not "the" Daywell. Experiments on the font by Lord Arcanist Entilzha Firesong led to an increase in its arcane output during the period without the Sunwell, by no means alleviating the pain but providing relief as a Moonwell might. Since the Sunwell's Restoration, the Bal'adeni Daywell has grown brighter and stronger, suggesting a connection. The lower floor of the Sanctum of Elune is generally open to residents of Ashal'Thalas, though will be sealed as need arises. The magi in the city, typically of the Arkhana'dorah or visiting Magisters, tend to reside in the Royal District, with a small presence in the Spire of the Lord Arcanist, and are conveniently on hand for portals, communications and other such needs. Though its use for worship long faded, since the arcane waters of the Sanctum have grown brighter, more pass through the Sanctum than before the Fall, and its importance as a heart of political and social life in Ashal'Thalas has been amplified not only by the font but by Salandra Firesong's openness to matters related to Elune, and the presence of their long-isolated Shal'dorei kn in Ashal'Thalas.
House Firesong has been less skeptical of Sin'dorei military encounters since the debacle in Pandaria, throwing strong support behind Lady Liadrin's Sunsworn Campaign on Draenor, resurrecting the spirit of the Shattered Sun Offensive which reclaimed the Sunwell. House Firesong has taken a more direct role in the conflict in Suramar via the Thera-dora, but has contributed notably to Sin'dorei regulars assigned to Suramar, and Thalassian military garb, that of a Farstrider, Magister, Blood Knight, or Spellsword is by no means uncommon on the streets of Bal'adeni, with many such elves also serving in the local defense forces, the Arkhana'dorah for magi, Emberstiders for Rangers, Bailan Guard for heavy armored, mounted, spellsword, and lightwielding units (the Bailan Guard act as the primary keepers of law and order in Bal'adeni, Ember Watch, and other Ashal'Thalas populaiton centers, while the Emberstriders safeguard the wild places). Members of the services have orders to maintain a low profile within the city and do not maintain an armed presence save for the functional/ceremonial Bailian Guard units in the Royal Quarter.
The city was militarized twice in its history, once during the Troll Wars when southern Ashal'Thalas was facing troll raids, and an especially egregious attack claimed the lives of a family on the southern outskirts of Bal'adeni. The levies that followed saw nearly all capable of fighting trained to do so, with the once peaceful city essentially a fancy war camp for the battles being fought in the South. Matters would return to normal as the might of the Dal'felo Spire erected a shield, and the military presence would largely shift to the southern, second city of Ember Watch, where the Emberstriders, Seastriders (coastal defense), and Skywing are based. Bal'adnei resumed its peaceful, civilian character until the fall of the Sunwell.
Though fear was rampant, those in the city during the sack of Quel'Thalas were generally spared, though many residents gave their lives in defense of Quel'Thalas or Ashal'Thalas itself. Sun Matriarch Sarenthia Firesong, grandmother of Entilzha and Salandra, was with Lord Xarian, their father at the inland Sanctum of the Moon, with which House Firesong had a close relationship, and are believed to have fallen before knowledge of the advance reached Silvermoon or Ashal'Thalas.
Ranger-Captain Ariella Firesong, Xarian's wife, fell alongside the Ranger General, and Entilzha barely escaped the Sunwell with his life, Salandra on a "diplomatic mission" to the Highveil arranged by Xarian and Entilzha in an act of caution given the scorching of southern Quel'Thalas not long ago in the Second War. None of the leadership being present or accounted for only added to the panic, and Israai Lightglow, then a Lieutenant in the Bailan Guard of the House of Lightglow, a military family long loyal to House Firesong and Ashal'Thalas, is credited with taking charge of the remaining defense forces, deputizing civilians to keep order and maintain a presence in the city as scourge incursions in the West and North of Ashal'Thalas were dealt with.
The scourge in the West had crossed treacherous mountain passes, doing so slowly and the Emberstriders' knowledge of the Isera'duna Talah Passage reversed their advance. Lands to the north of Ashal'Thalas, notably a series of family burial sites, were overrun with scourge, and the risen elves from the tombs contributed to a bloody front which was put down before War neared Bal'adeni, which had filled with refugees hoping to board one of the few passing ships.
Many lives were lost, including almost one member of every Bal'adeni and Ashal'Thalas family from the highest nobles to the simplest farmers, but the undead were held in the north, and the thousands of elves which had flooded Bal'adeni escaping the carnage inland spared.
The city had never seen such stress on its population, with over five times the typical population in the city for weeks. Most believed Ashal'Thalas would soon fall, even after the victory in what became known as the Northern Blightwood, and generally left as they were able; Entilzha Firesong returned after a period of time and took his father's crown, the Drassil'felo'aseasl, in a public Bal'adeni ceremony meant to inspire confidence in Firesong rule.
Entilzha used the opportunity to share Prince Kael'Thalas pronouncement that no longer were their people Quel'dorei but Sin'dorei, a change some in the conservative region have adopted and some have not, often not in line with eye color, with many of blue eyes identifying Sin'dorei and vice-versa. Those whom retained their blue eyes throughout the years of fel irradiation largely did so by remaining in Ashal'Thalas which was suitably distant from Silvermoon, though most traveled to the city often enough to receive a light dose, and fel-green eyes greatly outnumber Quel'dorei blue ones, though the tight-knit nature of Ashal'Thalas, and barring of incendiary figures such as those tied to the Silver Covenant, have prevented the sort of infighting common elsewhere in the kingdom. To comply with Thalassian law, all elves in Ashal'Thalas are registered as Sin'dorei, and after the Sunwell's restoration, most of those retaining blue eyes traveled to Silvermoon with Salandra Firesong upon her return from three years in the Hinterlands, taking the Sun Crown and pledging fealty to the Regent Lord beside her people.
Lady Salandra had been well-groomed by her grandmother Sarenthia for the Sun Crown, and her rule did much to stabilize the city, which had grown by some 30% in population size since the invasion, largely due to refugees whom never left. Salandra and later her niece, Countess Ysandre Firesong, recently named Countess of Bal'adeni, whom at age seven serves in Regency to Salandra, together, in title, Salandra along in fact, govern the daily affairs of the thriving if moderately sized city, one rooted in its past but with a keen eye to the future.
From a distance, Bal'adeni is defined by its distinctly Thalassian Spires soaring among the Central Highlands Forest which surrounded, and very much mingled with, the city itself.
Few areas are without trees, with the prominent avenues near the Sanctum of Elune lined with droiping, glowing plants, a style likely originating in Suramar. The city's districts and spires draw closer with nearness to the Sanctum of Elune, which is to present the formal residence of the Sun Matriarch. The Sanctum along with the adjacent ballroom and Bailan Guard post, all look upon a central square fountain with gilded figured of Dath'remar Sunstrider alongside A'malia and Solanar Firesong. Leypetal flowers transplanted from Suramar have grown popular in Bal'adeni, and the establishment of the Shal'dorei settlement Belore'aran nearby has begun impacting the clothing, jewelry, and architectural designs being seen in Bal'adeni.
Bal'adeni is designated into four quarters: Tailoring Jewelcrafting, Royal, and Residential. The names are misleading in that trades of all stripe occupy the two trade districts, which occupy the east of the city closer to Malana Island and is in essence one district, though fine tailoring and jewelcrafting were established in Bal'adeni, and the artisans and their apprentice carried much prestige.
The Royal Quarter is a more garden-like arena, ans serves as the functional political capital of House Firesong, with manicured fountains and gardens along elegant ballrooms suited to noble company. Spires dominate the Royal District more than elsewhere, as only the "Falah'Thalas" or Garden Home, the Sun Matriarch's manor and for most their primary residence, with the Sanctum used for formal affairs.
The tallest spire is reserved for the Lord of Ashal'Thalas, currently Entilzha Firesong. Though the Lordship holds its seat at the powerful Dal'felo Spire, the Lord Arcanist or Lord Paramount is recognized as sovereign of Ashal'Thalas. However, governing documents place Bal'adeni's daily affairs and ruling council in the hands of the Sun Matriarch, and the Lord's direct powers are limited on an administrative level, able to conscript men into the services but not order a shop closed. The manors of the Head Seamstress and Gem-Captain stand at the center of the Tailoring and Jewelcrafting districts, respectively, with their guildhalls and apprentices peddling wares on the streets nearby.
The Sun Matriarch frequently consults both for stylistic and in some cases, political advice, and both are elves of high esteem both in their profession and Bal'adeni's social circles. Spires in the two trading district generally also include residential space within, and the use of translocation orbs is common throughout the city, with most spire structures having a main floor devoted to trade and at least one, possibly more orbs of translocation connecting to residential levels mid-spire and above. Vertical construction has long been popular in Bal'adeni, whose residents were wary of giving up their home interspersed with nature, developed a strong tradition of masonry and spire construction, with artisans from Bal'adeni inspiring and working on designs in Silvermoon and elsewhere in the kingdom.
With the magi of Ashal'Thalas based at the Dal'felo Spire, Bal'adeni lacks a formal mage quarter, and the remaining Residential quarter is the most densely populated of all, if still frequently interspersed with trees. Shops are less frequent and cater more to foodstuffs and other such needs, the streets generally less adorned than those in the Mercantile or Royal Quarters, where the more well off citizens reside in Spires above the bazaars and shops below. The Sanctum of Elune stands in the center of the city where the districts converge, though considered part of the Royal Quarter.