|The Shimmering Vale|
(The Shimmering Valley by Isharton)
House of Sunders
Kingdom of Quel'thalas
The Shimmering Vale, often call simply Shimmervale, is a large holding in the Northwestern corner of the Ghostlands. It starts from the coast (and includes a large island off the waters) and continues inward between the protective walls of two mountain ranges until it reaches their throat. The region is named after the sparkling magics that lend to the eternal violet twilight of its woodland heart, and is currently lost to contact with the living.
Lost to time, all information on the Vale comes from its histories, as protected (and curated) by the House of Starsunder.
A lush, self-sufficient land, Shimmervale is known for its violet woods and its ability to close its borders easily (though infrequently) from the outside world. The Shimmering Vale has undergone several long periods of time without contact from the outside world. Due to its size, and location, everything necessary for the lives and livlihood of its inhabitants can be grown, or mined, or raised, within the borders of the rising mountains, with luxuries coming from the port or traded at the market along the only easily passed entry to the Vale.
Though named for the deep and lush river valley at its heart, the lands of the Vale are much larger than merely the valley itself. Shimmervale claims both mountain ranges on either side of the vale, the valley itself, and the delta where the Gilded Ribbon River lets into the sea.
In its height, Shimmervale produced wines and agriculture of middling quality, but their silvermines in the northern mountains and other precious resources in the southern chain were among the most sought after in the kingdom. In recent years, after the civil conflict, the land had grown ragged and less capable, leading to a mass migration of those not born into the Sunders and leaving parts of the farms fallow. Now abandoned, there is no telling what the undead have inflicted on the once beautiful land.
"In the start, there were the Galesingers. They were of the commonest of the Highborne, siding against the nature-aided elves, and when their side was banished, they left with fearful tread. Their king, Sunstrider, took his name as they walked, and they followed his lead in all things; the Galesingers, the storm-callers-- they became the Dawnwatch, with their eyes keen to warn and their hearts veiled with the secrets they did not choose to share. As they settled in Tirisfal, it was their voices who were raised against the dark heart of their new lands, urging the lords to move forward. They feared the unknown, almost as much as they feared how much they wanted to explore it.
When they came to the forest of the southern reaches, through the Thalassian pass and into their promised land, they gasped at the beauty. Some stayed in these far reaches, the wild mountains, and those became the elves most reclusive and ancient. The Dawnwatch did not, and their boots left their mark in the heart of the wood that the others did not trust to follow.
The river that parted the golden north from the amber south was their last step, and with bent knee they took to the western edge, with a river above in the gentle mountains, another at the heart in a verdant delta, a steep mountain range to the south cutting the land off from the rest of the kingdom.
It was here that house Dawnwatch made itself a home... and it was here they watched another House lay claim to the place they had discovered. They served... but not for long."
--Vitium Starsunder, "The Birth of Sunders"
Discovery of the ValeEdit
The Dawnwatch, as the House of Sunder were once known, were the rovers and scouts of the surviving Highbourn. In the beginning, the family that would become the Sunders discovered for their King many places-- Having come from the very lowest of the high, they took to the role of servants and trusted allies. They were the first to tread in many places among their kin; the first to foray into the darkness of Tirisfal, the first into the throat of the Thalassian Pass.
Their heart, though, was stolen by a valley in the north easternmost coast of the Quel'thalas peninsula. Resting below the river that segmented the southern half of Quel'thalas from the north, it was a beautiful land filled with natural resources, and it was in this valley that they made their home.
Yet, their name and prestige was not enough to grant them the duty of their beloved home, and their King chose the Brightwinter to govern the land. An old family, and near to the lost Queen's line, they were stoic and cold towards their new found paradise, leading to a division between them and their Dawnwatch vassals that would eventually boil into conflict.
The Brightwinter RuleEdit
In their years as beloveds of Azshara and her court, the Brightwinter were indolent, self indulgent and shortsighted. With their relocation to the Vale, they brought with them their self importance and their skills in magical enchantments. They saw the beauty of the land they have been granted power over they wished to make it in their ideal, as their lost queen had her own lands.
In a feat of great magic, they slowly changed the land from emerald to violet-- the aspen and ash with their pale bark were turned to silver, leaves growing in hues of deepest violet; the oak and elm were turned dark as ebony and their leaves deep purple. Mists, rising from the waters, were ephemeral lavender.
This effort took the skills of all of the Brightwinter mages, and even as they shifted the hue of their home, the rearranged it's features. The lilac of the forest were all stolen for the personal gardens and arboretums of the Brightwinter, streams were stoppered to create artificial lakes. The reshaping might have been a boon rather than a curse, however the Brightwinter saw no need for the vale's beauty beyond what they chose to value, and ruined swathes of forest to create their perfect palaces.
Their treatment of their kin as well was equally deleterious. Several small houses had taken up the Brightwinter colors as bannerhouses, and served in the vale, but they had no voice in the Brightwinter courts; no assistance was to be offered to them in times of need. With high tariffs and taxes, and cruel punishments for those who crossed their masters, the houses diminished and fled to greener lands. All left the Vale but the Darksun, who kept to their strange ways and high mountains, and the Dawnwatch.
This disregard for any but themselves would lead to the downfall of the Brightwinter, and allow for the birth of the Sunders.
The War of the TreesEdit
In secret, the Darksun and Dawnwatch conspired against their Brightwinter lords. Forging an alliance that lasted to this day, they devised plans to weaken the cruel and indifferent masters who had begun the ruination of the precious Vale. In queit ways they reclaimed their homes-- stealing lilacs from the Brightwinter to replant in the woods, building trade routes and supply chains that circumvented the major holdings of the Lords.
There were no battles beyond those of the courts in the War of the Trees, though those were bloody enough. The Brightwinter would ruin years of work with the wave of a hand; the building of a new stead, the destruction of another. Nevertheless, the people who loved the vale persevered and continued their civil warfare, denying the Brightwinter of funds and support, growing their lilacs in secret.
It was a quiet war, and one stages over many decades, but it would eventually lead to the fall of the Brightwinter.
Battle with the TrollsEdit
Though the Amani had ever been a threat to the elves, they became an ever increasing one as the children of the high spread. Centuries before their conflict became a war, the Amani of the western coast began an assault on the lands around them-- the vale being too protected by the mountainous walls for them to scale with armies, they merely used its foothills to assault the lands around. This harrying proved effective; several of the eastern settlements were ransacked by the trolls and were lost.
In an edict by the crown, all houses were to fight the troll menace wherever it could be found. The word was carried to Shimmervale, and the Dawnwatch and Darksun waited for word from their masters the Brightwinter, readying themselves for the assault they knew would come.
The Brightwinter, however, weakened by the War of the Trees and selfish, chose not to heed the summons of the King and kept their troops and militias at home, in the manors and along the roads that granted them wealth. Though three times did the King order their obedience, they turned deaf ears on him.
In this, the Dawnwatch rose in the eyes of Quel'thalas. Without the aid or support of a major house, they gathered their kin, their friends and allies the Darksun, and under the white-and-ash of their banner took to the hills alone. They fought the menace of the trolls in the ways of the their own; from ragged mountain spines, and from the shadows of the very trees. Through the very means they had lowered the Brightwinter, the trade routes and secret deals, they arranged for the munitions and supplies they needed to be where they needed it, when they needed it.
Nevertheless, the Amani were a wily force and they chose to attack where the Vale was weakest; sending small, death-seeking warriors through the mountains, their death-shaman fought the forces of the Brightwinter, and without the aid of their bannermen, the house was left in shambles even when victory was garnered.
Elsewhere, outside the Vale and matched in their own tactics, the Amani were forced to give ground, losing stronghold after stronghold until there were trapped between the coast and the unrelenting forces of their enemies.
In a battle that would define the leaders of Dawnwatch, Leyneice & Alaraan wiped out the Amani in the Battle of the Sundered Coast; and in it, they displayed a prowess with magics uncommon (at that time) to the elves-- that of the Light, harsh as noon suns and burning worse than flames. Where the mages killed the living trolls, the Dawnwatch used their newly harnessed powers to strike back the undead among the Amani ranks, and the blow against them came solely through the efforts of the Dawnwatch. They never revealed where their mastery of the magic came from, and in the events to come, would never speak of it to outsiders.
The Rise of LightsunderEdit
In the days after the Amani defeat, there was turmoil in the Vale as the Brightwinter, who saw their rightful honors going instead to the Dawnwatch, turned on their banner house and attempted to strike them from the vale-- banishing their name and hunting them down. Though this was against the order of the Crown, they closed the borders to the Vale in an attempt to scour the lands for their enemies, without interference of the King.
Though not much is known of the year where the Brightwinter fell, when the borders opened, their estates were barren and the Dawnwatch instead bowed knee to the Sunstrider.
In recognition of their efforts, the family was given a new name, honoring them and the magic they conquored; Dawnwatch were no more, and in their place, the House of Sunders rose.
House of SundersEdit
The First SundersEdit
The Sunder SquablesEdit
The Lasting PeaceEdit
The Betrayal of the ShadowEdit
A House BrokenEdit
The Three StandingEdit
The Errant HeiressEdit
The Shimmering Vale can be broken down into five separate and distinct regions: