Vataivë

City Population: 45,000 Goverment: Brennea Lyderëon Alaaré

Introduction

For over fifteen centuries, the City of Mists has refused all visitors. Death is the strict policy of its leaders for those who discover its location. Once part of the far-flung arms of the elven state, when the high water mark withdrew and Essad was left ruler of the great pinelands of the Cloud Sea Coast, the Vataivën were sundered from their kin for many long centuries before they constructed a Silver Circle within their own city walls.

Powerful spells keep the place hidden. It is said that if you stumble upon a bank of mist within the pine barrens then you are nearing Vataivë – and that horrible things stalk those mists, to devour the unwary intruder. Outsiders have never seen its high walls or its soaring towers; it remains inviolate, secret, and hidden.

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The City of Mists

Legendary lore holds that Vataivë was sighted by none other than Imdré-who-strode during the long war march against the goblins and the forces of the north. According to popular myth, the place where the Brennea’s palace is sighted was once a campground for Imdré. There are, of course, no commemorations of the prince within the city walls – those who follow the path of Imdré are reavers and outcasts and the elves of the hidden city are not refusers. Yet, they are not as far from their wayward cousins as they may like to imagine, for they still speak of Imdré in high tones and despise the men of Essad with a fire that would have pleased the schismatic.

The city was founded during the elven renaissance of the late 8th Age, during a time when Essad had been mostly dismantled; It was the capital of a small elvish kingdom in fealty to Sidabrinä at that time. However, when the plague struck the north the peoples of the pine-valley contract heavily in numbers and economy. They retreated to the areas just surrounding the city and heavy rules were raised to prevent outsiders from entering the territories and bringing with them the terrible disease.

During the plague the first great warding stones were erected around the city and throughout the tributary countryside. These stones were, like the magic of the other elvish kingdoms, empowered to cause travelers to lose their way. Men became lost in the vicinity and soon the region began to have a strange ring about it’s name. Folk began to avoid the city.

At the dawn of Magron Thur’s renewed empire of slaves at the beginning of the Shield Age, the Brenneon of the city consulted with the clerics of every major religious house there. He spoke also with the mages of the city and the bards come north from Iiriem. They fashioned a plan to seal the elvish lands from the world of men and make their borders impassable. What it was precisely remains unknown, save that when it was done Vataivë was become the city of mists. Great banks of fog had always rolled across the pine barren, but now with them there came a killing-thing. Bound to protect the city, some whisper that demons and devils have been chained to the mists, others that elvish war parties ride out to slay all those before them.

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The Elves of Vataivë

A reclusive people, the elves of the Hidden City rarely leave their borders and when they do, they generally travel by the Silver Road. However rare, it is not entirely unheard of for the wind elves of the City of Mists to journey amongst the Essadi. Such journeys are usually brief and for the purposes of trading for needed goods or vengeance in return for some slight made abroad.

There is an entire class, however, of elvish society that find themselves thrown out of the City of Mists upon reaching maturity. These are the lesser nobility’s second and third children. As land is limited amongst the city’s inhabitants (the wardstones may only protect so much area) there is none to spare for many of these lesser scions. They are effectively exiled by their brothers or sisters to prevent them from becoming a threat. These exiles roam Essad singly or in small bands; they are a haughty group, and they see the Essadi as boorish, crude, and vile.

The society of the city is similar to other elvish societies the world over, though with the variations that one will find in any settlement. The largest number of elves are not free farmers, but rather bound serfs (gwerrë) who serve the noble families of the city. These gwerrë are owned directly by the powerful families of the great houses, and may not alienate their land in any way. Additionally, they are expected to perform work (unfree labor or nyoris) at certain major harvests and once a month.

The noble houses of Vataivë are uncommonly powerful and long-lived. Since the cities’ sealing, only three houses have died out and only one has been created by the Brenneon. This has left the rulers of the city with a vastly reduced powerbase; they must struggle constantly against the might of the powerful houses.

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Vataivë

Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius