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CELENE

 

Ruler: Her Fey Majesty, Queen Yolande of Celene, Lady Rhalta of All Elvenkind
Capital: Enstad (pop. 7,020)
Population: 21,000 Demi-Humans: Gray Elves (9,700), Sylvan Elves (8,300), Gnomes (13,500), Halflings, Tallfellows (2,500)
Humanoids: None
Resources: Foodstuffs, Cloth, Silver
NATIONAL ALIGNMENTS: NG, LN, N

GEOGRAPHY: The Kingdom of Celene is a fruitful land protected on all sides by natural terrain. To the north, it is bounded by the Kron Hills and a spur of the Lortmil Mountains. Gnomes and dwarves still hold this land against any unwanted or evil forces. To the west lies the southern half of the Lortmils, which still remain free of the humanoid forces, which boiled out of the Pomarj prior to the Year of Peace. The eastern reaches of the land border the Welkwood, one of the three forests which separate the Wild Coast of Wooly Bay from the interior of the continent. The portions of this wood west of the Jewel river still remain firmly in the hands of elves and rangers allied with Celene. The lands east of the river, however, are constantly changing hands in a struggle between elves, human bandits and orcs from the south. To the south, Celene is bordered where the Lady's River meets the Jewel River on the northern edge of the Suss Forest. It is from this dark wood that humanoids constantly test the borders of Celene; few elves or humans feel comfortable beneath the dark and twisted branches which grow here.

Celene is a geographically sheltered land and this aspect is reflected in the tradition of Celene's aloofness from the politics which trouble the rest of the Flanaess. The kingdom has, in recent years, traded with the nations of Ulek, but it rarely opens its borders to others. Celene remains, for the most part, a mysterious and unknown place, although its fine silver, magnificent cloth and extraordinary wine is known across the continent.

Celene lays claim on the entire Welkwood, although this is debatable at best on the forest east of the Jewel, and the easternmost portions of the Lortmils (including the range of hills which borders Courwood). From these areas comes Celene's vast natural resources.

HISTORY: Celene is an ancient land. The gray elves of this area have been ruled by an Elven Queen in the "heart jewel" of the elven peoples since long before the invasions and migrations of the Oerid, Bakluni and Suloise peoples.

During the time of the Flannae migration into the Flanaess, the elven kingdoms were the mightiest realms of the East. The Eastern portion of Oerik marvelled at the mighty elven mages, and shook under the forces of the elven hosts. In time, however, one man changed all of this. That man was Vecna. The forces of Celene suffered a severe defeat at the hands of this powerful wizard. The result of the expenditure of magical energy of this battle was the creation of the Bright Desert. All of the elven realms suffered, and the mightiest of the elven realms was even destroyed. During this time, Celene closed its borders and ceased all contact with the outside world (including the other elven kingdoms). This was the beginning of what is known in the Elven calendar as "The Sleeping Years." The elves slept long.

In 446 C.Y., the 15th Queen of Celene, Astaranthe made a decision of which the full import is still unknown--she aided a large group of High Elves from the northeastern Ulek province of the weakened Kingdom of Keoland, along with a group of disaffected Suloise and dwarves from the southern hill range of the Lortmils to form their own independent governments. In doing so, Astaranthe opened Celene for the first time in thousands of years to contact with the outside world.

The opening of Celene's borders proved prosperous for both Celene and the countries with which she traded. Celene's beautiful silver products, fine cloth and clothing, and distinctive and flavorful emerald green wine flowed across the Flanaess. In the year 498 C.Y., in the three hundredth year of her reign, Astaranthe stepped down from her throne in favor of her daughter, Yolande. Yolande and her consort, Prince Fasstal Dothmar, ruled Celene well. But the tradition of seclusion was still strong, and the older Celenese were still wary of "outsiders." Many of the elves of the realm indeed felt that treating with humans was no better than dealing with orcs. And many hearkened back to the ancient days when dwarves and elves warred.

Many of the elves of the realm (especially the younger ones) found fault with Yolande's isolationist policies. These individuals formed the Knights of Luna, a group of young nobles, organized both to offer aid to Celene's allies, and to try to convince the Queen to change her policies. Foremost among these adventurers was Melf, once Prince Brightflame of the royal house of Celene, nephew of Yolande.

The council of the "traditionalist" forces proved disasterous for Celene's neighbors during the Greyhawk Wars. Yolande, listening to these conservative voices, refused to involve Celenese forces when the great evil of Iuz, and the less evil, but more immediate Turrosh Mak began warring on the Flanaess. Yolande cited the destruction visited upon the realm when Vecna walked the face of Oerth as defense for her seeming indifference. Some elves refused to listen. These took part in the valiant defense of dwarves and gnomes at the Battle of the Pass of Celene (584 CY) which halted the northwestard push of Turrosh Mak into Uleki lands. Despite this, most of the land's allies saw Celene's failure to participate as cowardice at best, and treachery at worst.

POLITICS: Celene is a political oddity among all the elven lands in that it is the only kingdom wthe elven lands in that it is the only kingdom which is always ruled by a hereditary queen. Among the elven lands, Celene is the most purely gray elven, and so it reflects more than any other elven kingdom on Oerth the strong structured government of the gray elves. At the founding of the ancient elven kingdoms, Celene was recognized as "the heart jewel" of elvendom, and the Queen was established as the Lady Rhalta of all Elvenkind. Her male counterpart, The High King of Elvendom, ruled in a kingdom that lay far north and east of Celene. After Vecna destroyed that kingdom, Celene remained as the sole Gray Elven kingdom in the Flanaess. The tradition of a ruling queen has been maintained, and it is said that if there is ever a time when a Queen does not hold the throne of Enstad, The Queen of Celene may be selected from among any of the adult females of the Royal Family by the adult members of the House Royal of Celene. This decision is then ratified by the heads of the 10 Noble Houses of Celene. A queen, once ratified, retains the monarchy until either her death, or until such time as she deems it proper to step down from the throne. Once ratified, a queen may not be removed except by the Act of Grand Censure, requiring a unanimous vote of the adult members of the House Royal, the heads of the Houses Noble, and the Queen's Council. Never has a queen of Celene been so removed.

The queen is advised by a council which includes the Queen's Consort (Fasstal Dothmar), the Royal Court Mage (Onselven), the High Minstrel, the Lord Constable (Parseval), the Lord Protector and the chief priests and priestesses of Corellon Larethian, Sehanine, Hanali Celanil, and Labelas Enorath. However, the queen's rule is absolute. Only certain people are allowed to attend Council meetings to voice opinions, to ask for royal favor, or to voice dissent against the queen's policy. These people include all adult members of the House Royal, all heads of the Houses Noble, all High Priests of other Elven deities, the Lord High Mayor of Enstad, and the Lord Mayor of Courwood. The designated Princes of the High Elves of the Gnarly Forest and the chieftans of the Sylvan Elves in Welkwood, as well as nobility of other states (elven and non-elven) may also petition to speak before the Council.

Each of the Noble Houses has three to five Houses Merchant (which include the Guild Houses) which it oversees; artisans, traders and merchants come from these Houses. If the head of a House Merchant has a need or complaint, he must petition the lord or lady of his Noble House for action. Some few of the Houses Merchant are actually High Elven families, although this is a fairly recent development. Finally, Each Noble House has charge over several Houses Servant. The general working population comes from these Houses and they may include human families, families of other elven races, gnomes, halflings and in one case even a dwarven family.

Despite the current disatisfaction with many of Yolande's policies, it would be unthinkable for an elf in Celene to attempt to change this system in any way. Even the Knights of Luna revere and respect their queen, feeling simply that she has been given bad advice by her Council.

RELIGION: Although all of the Elven gods are honored in Celene, the "Four Noble Gods" are the most worshipped. Corellon and Sehanine are held in almost equal reverence throughout the land. The Kingdom itself is named after one of the moons, Celene, and Sehanine is also called "Moonbow." The Queen and the High Priestess of Sehanine perform magical rites during the time when the moon, Celene (Kule), is full. The role of both Corellon and Sehanine is seen in part to be the perfecting of elves--something near and dear to the hearts of Gray Elves. Hanali Celanil, the goddess of beauty, and Labelas Enorath are also seen as important in their representation of the truest attributes of elves and so they, too, have many worshippers. Many human generations ago, an elven priestess of Hanali gifted the ruling queen with a fountain and pool which in which the Charisma of the bather is permanently raised by one (once only). The fountain, called the Pool of Celene, also strips away mental and physical fatigue...and bathing in the pool for one hour is the equivalent to one night of elven revelrie, or one night of sleep for a human. Fortunate indeed are those invited to bathe in this fountain's waters.

In the environs of Welkwood, the sylvan gods are favored over those worshipped in Celene proper--Rillifane Rallathil, Solonor Thilandira, and Erevan Ilesere are the chosen deities of the elves hard pressed by bandits and the troops of Turrosh Mak. It is whispered that some of the elves who dare the Suss Forest, including possibly tribes of Grugach, the wildest of elven kin, worship Fenmarel Mestarine, a secretive, little-known elven deity.

CULTURE: The culture of Celene is as rare and fine as is the green wine made there. Although the Gray Elven rule is strict, the quality of life is very high--possibly the highest of any land in the Flanaess. Yolande is noted for her lavish dinners and gala balls. The food is heavenly, and the music played in the elven courts is unearthly, beautiful and haunting; many is the human who has been transfixed and charmed by the sweet notes. The Royal Library at Enstad rivals the very best libraries of the Universities in Greyhawk and Rauxes, and it contains many volumes which are extremely old by human standards, including some printed in the youth of the Suloise Empire. The sages of Celene are well thought of and frequently sought out by the young adventurers from Celene (alas, non-elves and those from outside of Celene's borders have a much harder if not impossible task in trying to set up appointments with these worthies).

The architecture of Enstad and Courwood is said to rival that of the greatest elven citadels of Old...and is even compared with that of the City of the Summer Stars before its fall. The stonework and artistry of the several concentric rings of the cities' walls, surmounted by fairy spires, is said to bring tears to the eyes of the most taciturn dwarf of the few who have actually seen the cities. It is rare for any visitors to actually see these cities, for the entire realm of Celene is shrouded in illusion and magic to fend off both foe and unwelcome visitor.

MILITARY: The military of Celene is unique in that it is fairly consistant in structure. Each Noble House has its own standing army (generally 10 to 30 knights plus leveed troops--this may include leveed knights of High Elven or Sylvan houses, human retainers and in some instance gnomes or even dwarves). Each house also provides ten knights of the highest quality to the House Protector, each of these knights brings ten elves at arms (all drawn from among Gray Elves). The knights of this House are called Knight Protectors of Celene, both knights and the men at arms may add "ni'Celene" to their names. This is considered a great honor. The House Protector is led by the Lord Protector of Celene.

A separate force, the Royal Guard, consists of 10 knights and 100 elves at arms and is charged with protecting the person of the queen. This force is commanded by the Lord Constable and is stationed at Enstad. In addition to these units are four special forces in Celene. The Royal Hippogriffs are 50 elven knights who each maintain and fly on hippogriff mounts. They are among the most feared cavalry on the Flanaess. Each holding of the Royal Hippogriffs has a small shrine to Aerdrie Faenya. The Royal Archers are made up of the 100 best archers of the kingdom from among any of the Elven races, each is at least specialized in the longbow, and some are full masters of their craft. The Royal Rangers are a specially trained group of Sylvan Elves assigned to keep watch on the Welkwood and the Suss Forest. Finally, the Halfling Slingers are a group of 100 Tallfellows who use both the short bow and the sling to great effect.

In addition to these formal forces are the bands of Gnomes and Tallfellows which number somewhere around 1000 when fully mustered. The Sylvan Elves of the Welkwood are also capable of mounting a significant force if necessary (almost 4000 when fully mustered). The Knights of Luna, led by Prince Brightflame, also number around 50 plus personal retainers and men-at-arms (occasionally humans and half-elves).

PERSONAGES:

Sir Anelwreth Skywarden: Only 130 years old, this young knight has made a name for himself among the Royal Hippogriffs. His family, the Naerallyn, is one of the smaller Noble Houses of Celene. Anelwreth is hoping to change his House's status in the realm. He is personally credited with leading a foray in the Eastern part of Welkwood, which helpethis young knight has made a name for himself among the Royal Hippogriffs. His family, the Naerallyn, is one of the smaller Noble Houses of Celene. Anelwreth is hoping to change his House's status in the realm. He is personally credited with leading a foray in the Eastern part of Welkwood, which helped stem the encroachments of a company of orcs. This young fighter/mage is very aware of his present popularity at court, and does much to make sure it continues. Like most Gray elves, Anelwreth would be considered arrogant by non-elves (or even non-Gray Elves). He, however, has a sense of humor which borders on irreverent and is seen as a bit of a rogue among the other members of the Royal Hippogriffs. He once had the audacity to fly his Hippogriff into the central court of Enstad and land beside the Pool of Celene where Queen Yolande sat.

In spite of Anelwreth's apparently flippant nature, his heart is true, and he fights well and bravely to uphold the land and the Queen. He has, however, recently begun to question Celene's refusal to help her neighbors. He admires the Knights of Luna, and is thinking seriously about joining them when his present tour with the Royal Hippogriffs ends. Fortunately, his first tour is up in the near future...only twenty years remain of his twenty-five year duty.

Anelwreth was chosen to be a member of the Royal Hippogriffs at the young age of 125. His delight for flight (as was early seen by his teachers in spellcasting) and his iron will and admirable use of a blade, made him an excellent candidate for this post. He is currently the youngest of the Royal Hippogriffs. As with all knights of the Royal Hippogriff's, he was gifted by the queen with a non-magical suit of elven chain. As is the tradition, this suit was exchanged for a magical suit of elven chain when he was feted for his exploits in the Welkwood.