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Lady Salandra Firesong
Salandra new

Race

Quel'dorei

Age

331

Titles

Priestess of the Sunwell
Sun Matriarch of House Firesong
Caretaker of Ysandre Firesong

Born

Quel'Thalas

Location

Allerian Stronghold

Relatives

Lord Entilzha Firesong(brother)
Ysandre Firesong (niece)
Lord Xarian Firesong☨ (father)
Ranger-Cpt. Ariella Firesong☨ (mother)
Matriarch Aylena Firesong☨ (maternal grandmother)
Lord Taravel Firesong☨ (paternal grandfather)

Faction

House Firesong
Diocese of Quel'Danas

Reaction

Be wary

Status

Alive

Salandra Firesong is Entilzha's younger sister. Born approximately three decades after her brother, Entilzha was still quite young for a Quel'dorei though having been studying the arcane arts since he was about 8, he had begun to show hints of his vast potential, and Salandra's childhhood was very much defined, if not by his own design, by the path of her elder brother.

House Firesong had, since their days seated in sunny Vash'jir, been a House of mage-lords, Salandra's father Xarian an accomplished magister himself. As Lord of Ashal'Thalas, a small piece of land along the southeast coast off what is now the Ghostlands, separated from the mainland by the jagged Thalassian Range.

Ashal'Thalas is formally sovereign though traditionally considered part of Quel'Thalas. More conservative than the rest of Quel'Thalas as Ashal'Thalas was founded by elves reluctant to abandon Elune worship, a small movement led by House Firesong's Matriarch during and immediately after the long crossing, A'malia Firesong.

Elune worship persisted some 3,000 years in the quiet seclusion of Ashal'Thalas, and while long since abandoned when Salandra was born, the enclave's fundamental nature - deeply conservative, traditional and resistant to change, stood strong.

With Entizha, Xarian had a male heir with great promise in the arcane, seemingly suited to carry on his family's almost 12,000 year legacy. Should Entilzha have disappointed before reaching maturity, Xarian and Ariella had more time for another child.

Therefore Salandra's maternal grandmother, Aylena Firesong, born into a minor branch of House Dawnstar. Aylena had worn the Sun Crown, the regalia of House Firesong's matriarch, for almost three centuries, as her mother had refused it to join the Farstriders, with whom she came to earn the rank of Ranger-Captain.

Aylena had a singular mission regarding Salandra; House Firesong last sat on the Convocation of Silvermoon two centuries prior; she was present the day the seat went to another, and saw very much in Salandra what was needed to return House Firesong to where, in her view, they belonged.

Xarian of course welcomed the notion of a return to the Convocation, and gave his mother in-law clearance to raise Salandra how she determined was most suited to that course, a compliment to and refinement upon her brother.

Salandra's education in the ways of nobility began young and it began hard. Hours practicing her posture only to be switched if she slipped for a second. So much dancing practice her feet were covered in sores. Tomes on every noble family in Quel'Thalas and a good deal that had fallen from grace, all of which she was to memorize.

By twelve she began accompanying her grandmother to all but the most sensitive of meetings, learning quickly the need for discretion, and to remember names and faces, times and places, correctly the first time. Salandra hosted her first Ball, a catered affair near modern Fairbreeze Village, when she was fifteen, in celebration of the 300th anniversary of her grandmother's coronation.

With virtually every house in attendance in some fashion, Salandra's poise and properness at such a young age, her elegant grace clearly rehearsed as one might expect, she began to draw notice from other Houses, and soon learned to play the role of the young, reasonable go between to her stubborn old grandmother.

Salandra did not have the option to follow the path her heart sought; High Priest Vandellor and the Sunwell clergy fascinated the young Salandra, and she never could understand why Entilzha complained about attending prayers to Belore; for Salandra it was a time of peace, just her and Belore in the warmth of eternal spring.

Each time Belore called, her grandmother pulled back. having no such affinity herself, Aylena spoke of such as unnecessary. If she wasn't going to be a senior cleric, there was no point in her view, and Aylena was eager to see Salandra fully trained to pass off the Sun Crown, retiring in triumph after House Firesong's return to the Convocation. Decades of training as a priestess didn't fit there. Over this Salandra grew immensely envious of Entilzha, whom despite being their father's heir, was permitted to prioritize his studies of the arcane over virtually all else.

She with time came to see the tradition and the meaning of such in Ashal'Thalas; House Firesong was ruled by Mage-Lords, not Priestesses. When she stated as much to her grandmother in her thirties, she was permitted to attend the seminary for a scheduled five year term.

A Touch of Belore Edit

When Salandra arrived at the small chapel on the coast of Quel'Danas where she was to spend much of the next several years, she noticed quickly that most of the other girls had been studying for quite some time already, and could cast blessings and call upon Belore's light to soothe and mend mild injuries.

Salandra knew that performing at the back of her class only meant returning to Ashal'Thalas, and devoted herself to learning what most do in decades in a few months. This was always how she'd done things with her grandmother; master a task and move on to the next, with occasional retesting.

Salandra was intrigued and at first dismayed to hear this wasn't the case with Belore's Light, calling upon Her requiring the utmost faith and devotion, a confidence that no matter what happened, with faith in Belore and resolve, it could be overcome.

Fortunately, Salandra had unknowingly begun much of that critical "relationship building" from when she was quite small. She gained a sense of calm from services and with a small Belore statue and common prayer book, would pray and allow her mind to wander often; her favorite was slipping away before dawn to watch Belore's first rays rise above the ocean. With much of Ashal'Thalas near the coast facing east, she watched Belore faithfully rise any day her grandmother didn't have her on tasks before dawn.

Salandra was naturally behind the others in terms of calling to the Belore's Light in a useful way, though her stories of sneaking off to watch Belore rise, contemplating Belore's mission for her without being told, was the sort of thing the priesthood loved to hear, and she began receiving one to one lessons from Larise Springlight, a woman of 250 and a Sunwell priestess herself for nearly a century.

Larise was among the clerics impressed by Salandra's faith, though having come from a noble background herself, knew Salandra would not be allowed to reach her potential if trained as usual and her development measured in decades. Entilzha had that...one of the first things Salandra learned from Larise is that Belore's call as she'd heard it is a rare blessing. Belore had a path for all, but not each path led directly to Belore. Others did belore's work in their own ways.

Some would be stirred as she was during a prayer service, others might fall asleep dreaming of jumping into the Sunwell. Those strongest in their resolve to do Belore's work, striving always to do good not harm, and to see the elves of Quel'Thalas protected both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Larise taught Salandra the concept of body, mind and soul as three distinct entities that merge to form her, each requiring something different to be at peace with Belore and herself.

Salandra finally felt as though she was beginning to understand, she was more sensitive to Belore than most, since before anyone taught her a thing. Her brother, falling asleep as the High Priest held high his gilded sun scepter that shone almost at bright as the actual sun in the hands of one as strong as High Priest Vandellor.

Entilzha didn't get the feeling she got; neither did her grandmother. Belore chose her, Her, of all elves. Belore picked her! Her! For some reason, Belore chose Salandra to bring her warmth and radiance to those around her. House Firesong seldom had notable priestesses, and Salandra grew determined that she could be one, and a good one, spreading Belore's Light and being a proper Lady.

Larise later revealed that she went against her family's wishes to live the life of a priestess, and Salandra also learned something else important. She did not want that. Belore made her family so together they could do anything. Her An'da and brother were strong with spells, their birthright as a people, and would lead House Firesong with the strength of a Mage-Lord tempered by all that reading Entilzha did.

Her mother was close to the natural world; she felt around trees and plants how Salandra did around Belore. Salandra seldom saw her mother Ariella whom was often on patrol with the Farstriders, but she made sure to ask the next time she saw her and the feeling Ariella described was quite similar. Her mother said that out in the forest, with no one around, she felt at home. She felt the woods talk to her, comfort her. It was her job to protect the woods and the elves that travel in them.

Salandra was around 35 when they had this conversation, and Ariella began to feel guilty for missing so much of her daughter's childhood while off being a Farstrider. Salandra talked about what she learned from Larise, but she also applied what she'd picked up from her grandmother; how to seemingly by chance steer the conversation right where she wanted it.

She told her mother she understood and that if she was doing what felt right to her and it was good for the Quel'dorei, Belore's children, then Ariella was following Belore's path for her. Ariella seemed surprised at the depth from which Salandra spoke, and Salla didn't need to lie at all to explain that it was Larise and her time studying with the priesthood that made her understand. Made her understand Entilzha too. From there is was a simple matter to express concern that her grandmother would want Salandra back home before she'd learned enough to be Belore's voice and the inspiration her family needed.

Ariella wated to meet Larise; Salandra was nervous. What if they didn't like each other? What if it just looked like Salandra was trying to avoid her grandmother? She couldn't do that. Her family needed her. Ariella meeting Larise instead pushed Salandra's mind further on the concept of balance, her mom conversing with the priestess about that big tree way down by the second elfgate, and how it worked with the Sunwell to balance arcane and nature. Balancing just like mind, body, and soul.

From her studying, Salandra knew the first elves were primitive creatures, transformed by a magic Well much much bigger than the Sunwell. Elves have a natural part from the beings they were, and a magical one from what the Well of Eternity made them. Nowhere were they in harmony like Quel'Thalas; its what males Quel'Thalas so special, her mother said. Nature and magic in harmony, the woods feel at the same time natural and earthy as they do magical and mysterious. Salandra never thought about that before, but it made sense. She started talking about the balance between mind, body, and soul, but took it further, each of these things with a natural part and an arcane part. Six pieces to balance with Belore, and also magic and nature. "How many more such things are there?", she asked after drawing six little boxes, "Every piece of us needs to be balanced, at peace with the rest. If you forget one, it won't be right."

The two adults gave each other a smile, each responding that that was a very good question, but one Salandra had to figure out herself. Salandra reaffirmed her concern that if she went back to her grandmother too soon, she wouldn't understand balance well enough to do what she felt she needed to, and what her family needed. Salandra had done her research by this point, along with meeting other noble girls, some of higher standing than her, yet had been at the seminary since they were children, because their family was led by priests how hers was by mages.

Salandra didn't want to change House Firesong; she wanted to help it and help the people she cared about, but she needed more time. Those horrid books her grandmother made her read, about every noble family in Quel'Thalas. She checked with them again, and found that many houses led by mages or rangers, would have a daughter touched by Belore to offer prayers before meals and bring Belore's light into the family. Many times, she noted, if a family didn't have someone like this, it was quite common to marry a priest or priestess.

House Firesong needed to be whole to be its best and get back to the Convocation, and it also needed to be guided by Bellore's path to use their power to do good and not evil. Larise and Ariella were both impressed at Salandra's level of thought, and agreed that more time was needed, but they had to make Aylena understand, even though she didn't feel called by Belore.

With a year left in her scheduled five, Salandra's faith was beginning to maniest. Her prayers were different than most, each with six parts - body mind and soul in both the arcane self and natural self, each needing something different to bring it into harmony. A rhythmic, soothing chant might work well on the natural mind; Salandra came to judge calm by the absence of worry. But the arcane mind needed something different; it needed to be calm, but magic is a mystery, and the arcane mind loved mysteries. Verses about Belore's vastness, Her ability to touch any blade of grass in the universe, or all of them at one time.

Despite her short period of formal training, the experienced priests of the Sunwell seemed to notice what she was attempting; Salandra was happy to explain when asked why her prayers always had six seemingly distinct though related parts; some places didn't even need words just the right image to reflect on. The wizened older priests sat back and smiled.

Salandra's efforts to remain at the seminary beyond the agreed 5 years is detailed in the short story "A Noble Play".

A Noble Ploy Edit

Book Spoilers..

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Assistant High Priest Nor'dalen Dawnblossom reveals that him and Salandra's grandfather, Lord Taravel Firesong, were friends, if Taravel held some affinity to the divine he never could apply it as she. His room had a number of Elune-related religious items in addition to those honoring Belore. Salandra was correct in assessing that Dawnblossom shared her interest in balance, but his definition very much included balance between Sun and Moon as well.

Nor'dalen told Salandra some of her own family's history, Ashal'Thalas' founding Matriarch A'malia was a fierce defender of Elune worship; the site of the current Sanctum of Elune in Bal'deni, a typical Quel'dorei Sanctum in appearance, had once been the site of a small temple to Elune, giving Salandra an ancient book that had belonged to her grandfather Taravel she'd never met, an ancient tome containing much of what he'd spoken of, a diary of A'malia Firesong.

When Salandra asked Nor'dalen to write her father, bypassing her grandmother, advising that to serve House Firesong to the fullest Salandra needed the time it would take to allow the budding priestess within to mature. Nor'dalen said he would do no such thing, but would take Salandra as her apprentice.

Such an offer being impolite to refuse from a senior cleric, Salandra's friend Karine impressing upon her grandmother the valuable role a noble priestess could play, in words she'd later learned to be Salandra's, and Nor'dalen's insistence that Salandra both give the time her duties to House Firesong the time they deserved and learn to be a proper Sunwell priestess, following Quel'dorei tradition to the letter in public, seemed to settle the matter.

Careful What You Wish For Edit

The next half century of Salandra's life, those youthful years before 100 which so many elves spent having wild times, finding themselves along the way, would be nothing at all like that. Instructor Dawnblossom, as he insisted he be called, had indeed some to terms with her grandmother Aylena, terms that kept Salandra quite busy.

Salandra would often spend weeks serving the interests of House Firesong, first alongside her grandmother and as her sense of inner calm, calculating reason, began to develop, Aylena began using Salandra very much as a proxy, and looking at situations both in terms of how House Firesong may benefit, but as well how all may benefit, how to spread harmony not friction, had helped Salandra in securing the allegiance of Houses Lightglow and Dawnmist, each minor houses fallen from much in the way of standing, but with numbers, and with incomes that absorbed well into House Firesong's increasingly portfolio outside Ashal'Thalas, very much a theme of Aylenna's strategy to return to the Convocation.

Salandra spent three days per two weeks with Instructor Dawnblossom on Quel'Danas, or at another site of his choosing, and offered her prayers daily at the chapel to Belore in Bala'deni. Attendance at services rose notably as Salandra, free of the fancy gowns she was typically seen in, led prayers in traditional Mooncloth vestments she'd found tucked away as she researched the diary of A'malia Firesong.

Xarian was reluctant to allow his daughter access to A'malia's possessions. They were well kept in a chamber among the vaults of the the Dal'felo Spire. Entilzha had seen them, as like Xarian he was soon to be a Magister, not religious and the collection was an important piece of the early history of Ashal'Thalas, the stubborness of A'malia Firesong had gained a following, one that assured House Firesong's place among the new nobility as Quel'Thalas was settled.

Such beliefs had persisted for three thousand years in quiet in Ashal'Thalas, that temple standing where the Sanctum of Elune now stands among the only temples to Elune ever built in Quel'Thalas. One of Salandra's spirituality though, he worried might decide to go about restoring the old traditions. Ashal'Thalas was certainly old fashioned, and it might take to some degree, especially of the information on the founding were made public, but Xarian was a staunch Anasterian loyalist, an believed firmly in a strong, united Quel'Thalas. He did not wish to see a rift as explosive as religion divide his people from their kin; too many were isolated as it was.

Xarian recalled Nor'dalen vaguely, though as a much younger elf, before his father's passing. After a number of years watching Salandra with increased interest, as she both took on more of the Sun Crown's responsibilities and had made daily services to Belore not only vibrant, but with Salandra's increasingly priestess-like leadership, a compassionate face of the Firesong leadership.

After a number of years he recanted, cautioning Salandra that the material was for her alone, that regardless of her spiritual leanings, Ashal'Thalas could not afford a religious rift forming with Quel'Thalas proper and he would not permit one. Expecting argument; Salandra was exceeding skilled at pushing her points, she instead wholeheartedly agreed, speaking of her personal journey and public face as two entirely different things. In public she had to be what House Firesong needed, ruthless in the pursuit of goals at times, at times a compassionate beacon of Belore's light. She stated she sought not to return to the past but to learn from it, and that the inner balance she sought would only further her effectiveness as Matriarch.

Xarian seem pleased at his daughter's understanding, and she was given access to Matriarch A'malia's collection, to which she returned the diary Nor'dalen had given her, taking one other book at a time; her ancestor seemingly had an affinity for both reading and writing, and many of the tomes she held were in Darnassian, a language Nor'dalen helped her to understand.

TBC...

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