House Phoenix by Sir Panther of the Southern Wastes
House Phoenix is a concept as much as a household. It encompasses sworn vassals, family and kindred, guild members, and knightly orders. It has been home to many scores of people through the history of the Realms. Luminaries such as Sir Randal the Light of Shadowhawk, Archduke Cinnabar of the Borderlands, and Sir Lysis of the Crystal Hall had their start in House Phoenix before seeking separate destinies. The rulers of no fewer than six nations are members. People who've never sought to rule anything are members. House Phoenix is their home and their shield.
The start of House Phoenix as we now know it came in the year 990, when at the request of his liege Princess Vrille des Reves, Malabar the Alchemist - as he was then called - founded the Guild of Alchemists as the official college of magic for the nation of Blackavar. His first apprentices were Randal the Light and the singer Bronwen ... there would be nearly seventy more in the next decade. He deemed his apprentices his personal household, following classical practice. For a symbol, Malabar chose a phoenix rising from the flames. Apt for his own history, significant in alchemical lore, the Phoenix would become as recognizable a token as any in the Realms.
Years went by before Malabar sought any more power than through his Guild. The year 993 proved a watershed. Not only did he acquire his first vassals - the rogue D.A., the healer Aislinn, the mage Gordon, and the warrior Cinnabar - not only did the Guild ranks skyrocket, but he found himself by mid-year virtually the only active possessor of the potent Circle of Healing enchantment. This state of affairs would persist for years longer than he ever imagined, with predictable consequences. Many would be the gathering at which he raised from the dead not dozens, but hundreds, and it is safe to say that no other healer in all the Realms ever did or ever will bring so many from the brink back among us.
By the year 994 his ties with Blackwood were strong indeed, and he soon pledged bonds of brotherhood with its ruler, Earl Nigel. Beyond that, he fell in love with Blackwood's High Priestess, Elana Damfino, and she with him, and they were soon betrothed. Seeking the family he had lacked for centuries, Malabar adopted as daughters the ladies Willow Brightsong and Orchyd Kelso, the former House Phoenix's first Champion of magic, the latter a newer vassal, along with her husband Rock Kelso, who with his guards would be the backbone of the House's fighting strength for a time. Malabar's growing household was moved from Blackavar to his homeland of Gwenethlin, which he purchased in that year.
The early winter of the year 995 proved another watershed. As Blackavar began its slow fading from the Realms, Malabar took over the mantle of Knight-Commander of the Sable Dragon, adding another facet to the House. Elana was forced to leave Malabar by her goddess Edaone in a vision quest. At that time, a plan was afoot to unite the lands of Blackwood, Gwenethlin and the then-giant Borderlands under Malabar as their High King. In so doing, he would need an heir, and therefore a queen. He chose the lady Allassandra, and wed her in April ... at a gathering in which his soul was (temporarily) destroyed, with devastating consequences. Further, that winter saw Malabar reunited with the blood daughter he never knew he had, Galadryelle of the Vistani Gypsies. 995 also saw the lady Cleya of Rrathchlwynn and the Sons of the Phoenix giving their oaths to Duke Malabar, as he now became. Under their leader Bryon of Grath, the Sons were settled in the lands of Starhaven, and in the persons of the warrior Lysis and the alchemist Aemili provided two pillars of the household for years to come.
The year 996 would bring more changes. Many trials, and his six-month long imprisonment in the Black Sword, had wrought direly, and the Duke took back his old name of Morgil Ravenswing, no longer cloaking himself under a false identity. The Guild of Alchemists continued to prosper, reaching unprecedented numbers and adding a mages' college for the first time in many years, first under Donovyn of the Church of Law, later under Master Smaug, and finally in two factions under Marquis Voltric of Thorne Valley and Lady Savyne of Banecroft. At Creathorne, the people of Gwenethlin and House Phoenix hailed Morgil as their Prince. Although torn by war against the Cadre, House Phoenix stood strong. Morgil pledged brotherhood with Baron Diamond of Banecroft, bringing that worthy man who has been called "House Phoenix's conscience" into its ranks.
By 997, Squire Lysis - knighted by Morgil at the Feast of Blackwood - was the right hand of House Phoenix, gaining many vassals in his own right, with the addition of Lord Magnus of Sowelu and his folk, and swelling the ranks of the Phoenix's armies. The Guild of Alchemists would reach greater heights than any guild in Realms' history, numbering in the dozens of active healers and mages. The end of the year, in response to threats against Morgil's person and those of various Phoenix members, would see even more expansion. From out of the mists of the past, the Kingdom of Verai, in the persons of Morgil's kinsfolk King Taithan and Princess Cora, came to pledge their aid to the House, along with Lillith, the matriarch of the Vistani Gypsies and the Vistani clan. Too would the group that would come to be known as the House's "Fighting Fist" - DragonsBreath - seek refuge from the Borderlands in fealty to Gwenethlin. Finally, Julia of Wren and several of her own folk pledged to the Phoenix. As Sir Shean O'Quinnlan of Creathorne muttered, watching, "House Phoenix just got BIG!"
In the year 998, Morgil brought House Phoenix past the Storm Portal into the Kingdom of Miller's Reach, aiding against many threats, in the end being granted the Earldom of the Summerlands in that realm for his services. DragonsBreath exploded in numbers to be a formidable presence in its own right in the Realms. Although merger talks with Blackwood were suspended as unnecessary given the strong ties of kinship and friendship between the nations, the two lands continued to work together in all things.
As the year 999 dawned, and the coming of the millenium, Gwenethlin grew with the settlement of the army of DragonsBreath in the fief of Westmarch, with Durakis Firespawn as its Baron, and with new settlement of elves and mages in the Barony of Sharangil in the north of the Principality. While Durakis and the DragonsBreath forces fought to great renown in the lands of Chimeron and Creathorne, that latter gathering saw Thorne Valley pledge their fealty to Prince Morgil, thus melding Thorne Valley's magical strength to Gwenethlin's shield wall. At Creathorne, the Prince elevated Thorne Valley's rulers Aelias and Gwendolyn to the rank of Duke, along with a very deserving Durakis. The strength of their domains was apparent when DragonsBreath and Thorne Valley, fighting under their own banners in the famous Creathorne War Tourney, finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Meanwhile, the Sharangili forces grew in strength, often sojourning into the monster-beset lands of Miller's Reach, as the summer came to its close. DragonsBreath continued to prosper, with the autumn addition of Munger and the tribe of "Potatoe" goblins to their ranks. The annual great Yule feast in Silverport was the century's last gathering of the Realms, as emissaries from Chimeron, Rhiassa, Folkestone, Rathkeale, Eagle's Rook, the Borderlands and other nations came to toast the Realms, and to see Lord Dragon raised to High Mage of Gwenethlin (following a brilliant duel arcane with Ender of Thorn Valley) and Lady Julia of Silverport dubbed a Knight of the Sable Dragon.