House Blackwood has traditionally been in existence for four and a half thousand years, however, the family is in fact able to count their bloodlines from well before this date. Springing from the previously dead, yet recently revived Magister House Silverleaf, a grand power before the destructive Amani wars, the Blackwood family had always been what was known as the evil do-ers, or justice takers among the Silverleaf.
Comprised entirely of Rangers, rogues, and those willing to dirty the hands for the greater-good of all, the Patriarch of the house has always traditionally been three things: A Royal Spymaster, a Ranger-Lord by right, and last yet never least, one of the largest hands on the Thalassian black market scheme intended to benefit the crown, as well as keep corruption in Quel'thalas to a dull roar; or in short, one of the few legal smugglers to hold the full backing of the crown, and later, the Regent-Lord.
Officially, on the books is the tale that House Blackwood was founded by eventually what would later be the only survivor of the Amani wars toll upon House Silverleaf; Lady Lissanathel Blackwood. The present Matriarch, Cere'thien Blackwood, is descended from this famed woman in an unbroken line.
"If you need them dead, we can give you that. For a price, friend."
As the ones responsible for carrying out all orders within House Silverleaf, the Blackwood family, whom began life from the founding as a lesser noble family under the purview of the Magister House, eventually the Blackwood came to be known as those that sanctioned honourable assassinations; ending those people that did not hold to the laws and rigors of Quel'thalas.
They would remove the most foul from existence, and had as well a long reputation of that as the 'noble fixers'. In short, if one had a severe blood feud with another family, the Blackwoods were the ones to locate to assist in ending it without much actual damage and loss of life, presuming one could afford them. Loyal they were, yet also at once mercenary, having a history of dealing with certain types of smugglers, pirates, and legal Thalassian maritime traders, all considered equal at the Hidden Harbour, if one was so lucky to be granted a 'coin' of passage that could get a ship past the enchantments that veiled the property from most seekers.
Slowly, over the first several thousand years, they rose in prominence among House Silverleaf and Quel'thalas at large, serving a specific sort of function that led to the family head always being called to serve as a royal spymaster by one thousand years after the founding. Always, it was whispered later that the head of the family was often considered a friend to those that rode the grey lines of what was legal among elven-kind. What that meant precisely, however, was always up for interpretation among each Patriarch, or Matriarch, of which there have been several due the tendency as well for Blackwood rangers to throw themselves at the front lines without concern of the risk inherent in that action. Politics were always an area that had been avoided save for that singular, deeply honourable place - tending and nurturing the darkness.
Family Seat Edit
"You will die before you find the Lair. Do not bother, fool."
What sort of family indeed calls their home after the dark crevasse of a dragon's resting place, one might well wonder, and why. It is in fact the case that Sha'alethas Lair has been around since the founding, and simply was not owning the wealth and power it later would. Serving as both House Silverleaf's only deep water port, harbor, and major outlet to the sea, Sha'alethas held the distinction of training first those that would work in the darkness on the behalf of the ancient, and pratically lawful good house.
There are no maps that exist on any book regarding this property, as the Silverleaf decreed it an impossibility due the sensitive nature of secrets kept by their close kin. Ancient enchantments surround the entire enormous area of forest held traditionally by the Blackwood family, and is in local speech referred to as the Green Wood, which is why the Matriarch is traditionally considered the Warden, or guardian of the Green Wood rather than typically holding the seat of the Ranger-Lord unless all conditions are met. When travelers found themselves walking the edges of the property, they are generally safe, while the magics flat out shove intruders away until they get the message, or find themselves carried by a true ancient all the way to the Gates of Sha'alethas.
Fairy dragons, wisps, and treants call this wild place home, and there are a number of villages that dot the inner core along the Lair itself, though this is not knowledge open to the public. Traditionally, it was the once-overlord of House Silverleaf and a few rare souls in the Thalassian government that were aware precisely, at least to some degree how to get oneself invited within. Rare trees, flowers and herbs that have not been seen since before the third war are also deeply prevalent, as well as the preservation of lands being the most important position of the Blackwood kin.
The family seat, Sha'alethas Lair, is a work of art in its own right. Twenty one towers rise from the earth in white stone that had been carried from Kalimdor were used to build the estate, while the forest closes in on all sides save the sea side, which one is able to walk down a stone stepping path directly to the harbour. Gigantic trees hold up the entire estate and have over thousands of years fused directly into the stone walls, which were hollowed out long ago for the use of rangers' companions and those that did not prefer living in the somewhat more proper section of the Lair. Furthermore, rumours of its beauty have always persisted among the highest throngs of the elven court, and to receive an invitation was of considerable worth.
Trees of all colours, shapes, and types dot the landscape in a profusion and tangle that suits the land far better than the carefully manicured sections of forest that have been reclaimed from the damage. It is in truth one of the very last uncorrupted areas in all of Quel'thalas, both being a beacon of hope for those that would desire to restore what was lost to them, but as well a major source of envy among other noble families. Unlike many, House Blackwood lost people, and suffered no damage to their lands as a result of the enchantments that were a separate business from the shields upon Quel'thalas as a whole. Sha'alethas is infact guarded by its own personal trio of moon gates, which is in part why the magic is so strong in that part of the forest. Ancient vines crawl most of the visible surfaces of the stone walls of the citadel, and both white, wild roses and moonflowers are often in bloom at various times throughout the year.
Traditions and Mysteries Edit
It is a tradition among the Blackwood that dead kin have their bodies fully returned to the earth, and trees are planted for the memories of each life lost. Thus, the Sacred Grove is the most prized section of the entire estate, and it is traditionally the location in which all those that would either join the house or wed into it, choose to swear oath, that the ancestors or so it is wistfully believed, might offer a blessing upon their rule.
Among these, are the Prayers of Remembrance for the Dead, as well as a rigorous tendency regarding the both the training of druids and rangers to the distinction that it is a well known fear of being lost in 'The Blackwood' only to never be found again, or potentially dragged off by some mystical denizen several times more frightening than any Amani. Some claim that there are even cold-eyed basilisks, yet whether this is true or not, one would need to inquire of the owner.
Cities and Settlements Edit
In the capitol of the region, Silverbranch, the dangerous forest almost seems to slip away to perfect white stone that gleams by the light of the moon, and is home to the Blackened Oak Druidic Sect, an ancient tradition that predates the Blackwood family and its rise to nobility, and marking it as the previous offshoot of the Magister House Silverleaf that it once was. While the largest settlement, it is not the only one, and white paved stone roads with marbled green and obsidian traverse the forestlands, when one can find them, at least.
The roads, as enchanted as the rest of the entire stretch of property and as a result, under the influence of a considerable weight of Arcane magic, change and move at will as part of the curious defense system in place, which is maintained by a Magister-Captain either oathed to the Blackwood family, or one preferably married in.
In addition to the primary settlement, there are nine other locales that were rumoured to have existed at one point or another, yet as there are no current maps in the hands of the Thalassian State, current population is only known as holding steady as last census report granted to the Royal Department of Records. The enchantments around the province prevent counterfeit maps being produced by unauthorized personnel, and uninvited guests are dealt with most severely, yet at least with the advent of more modern methods, trespassers are at least safely removed with a thud rather than transfiguration into potential garden gnomes or trees.
By contrast, it is lesser known that the history of the Blackwood Clan, or Family began upon the Bladestar Isles, which trail along the coast of the Living Wood Province from north to south, ranging to a total of nearly one hundred and fifty named islands individually inhabited, and several hundred more that are are considered to be "uninhabited". Whether they are or not is generally unknown. Unlike much of the eternal climate within the remainder of the province, these isles have a warmer, near-tropical climate for half the year, while the rest is known for its very dangerous storms. The settlements upon the isles are considerably more mutable, while the maritime culture in the location has several thousand years of history outside of the Blackwood as a noble one.
These lands are where the Blackwood family first settled following the founding of Quel'thalas, eventually ending up under the purview of a Magister House, and later, separating to become its own entity. Given that this portion of the property is technically outside of Quel'thalas, the laws and customs are often considered "guidelines". The current head of the Bladestar Isles particularly is the Lord Patriarch of Shallowbrook, and Acting Ranger-Lord Vaelrin Firestorm, whom serves as the Lord Dread Captain. The Bladestar Isles have a separate succession from the majority of the remainder the lands held by House Blackwood specifically, though both are still by right of combat rather among potential heirs than singularly chosen heir of any gender, or special appointee by the head of house. Ships, both of the line and merchant traders are a regular sight, as are others with fair passage. House Blackwood's assassin guard also are known to train on the isles, but this is detail unknown by the public.