Illeana Crystelan (born Redshard) is a member of a side branch of House Redshard. While her position granted her some distance from the bickering among the noble houses, she was never free of it – and decided to forgeher own path through it.
Fact sheet and appearance
- Species: Elf
- Age: ca. 2150 years (as of Eternal Defenders #1)
- Affiliation: House Crystelan
- Home: Royal Palace, Eltoria
- Family status: married, one child
- Skills: diplomacy
- Related characters: Nadyenne (daughter), Venelaos (husband), House Redshard (ancestors/relatives), Ellisia Darkwood (friend)
Queen Illeana is most noticeable for her short growth, thin figure, pale skin, and the contrasting black hair. Due to her weakened body, she spends most of the time in the Royal palace, involving herself in court gossip, diplomacy, and care for her daughter.
Ancestry: A bitter defeat
The ancestors of House Redshard found their home in the west slopes of Crimson Peaks. Finding rubies in the area gave them their name and mining of those gems was the path to their wealth. They used a mix of diplomacy, threats, and wealth (the ratio shifting with each heir) to gain control over the nearby lands and bind the lesser nobles to their will.
The greed of one of their ancestors is believed to be the first strike of the Elven War as they tried to push their boundaries to Crimsonbirch (a neutral area of interest both to House Redshard and House Leafshade) and towards the lands of House Crystelan.
After a long conflict, House Redshard faced defeat at the hand of House Crystelan. Following the war, Crimsonbirch was declared to be a neutral buffer zone under the watch of a governor appointed by the newly-formed Council of Nobles of the united elven kingdom. Since then, House Redshard held the House Crystelan in a bitter hatred.
Illeana: An apple far from the tree
More than forty generations later, Illeana was born in a side branch of House Redshard. Living close to the borders with House Crystelan and seeing the populace cared not for those petty conflicts, she decided to find a way to end it.
During her duty as a member of the nobility, she came to meet Prince Venelaos Crystelan. Sharing her opinion of the struggle and her desire for its end caught Venelaos’ attention. The pair eventually became friends, much to the spite of the Redshard heirs.
As decades and centuries passed, Illeana and Venelaos formed a deep friendship based on trust, common interests, and mutual understanding. Illeana and Venelaos eventually married, the move angering House Redshard so much they severed most of the ties with her and disowned her, only to find Illeana not caring for it at all.
Bonding through tragedy
Despite being close friends, it was believed the pair was not in love by the time of their marriage. Venelaos simply found no worthy candidate who he’d have a better understanding with and, likewise, Illeana considered Venelaos a good ally more than a potential lover.
As Illeana was on the verge of her twentieth century, a strange disease swept through the lands. Illeana was one of the victims but, unlike Venelaos’ mother, she survived, even though weakened. Due to their growing closeness, she was a strong mental support for the Prince – who was crowned a King in the coming years as his father grieved the loss of his wife. It was in those days the bond between Illeana and Venelaos began to grow stronger and cross the line to more than friendship.
Eventually, the pair decided to assure their legacy. Unfortunately, the queen (forevermore weakened by the disease) almost died in the birth. Remembering the kindness she had shown him after the death of his mother, Venelaos decided he’d not trade the chance for a male heir for her life and the pair would have only their firstborn child, Princess Nadyenne.
Raising a Princess
Weakened, Illeana found herself unable to be as involved in diplomacy as she hoped for, being prone to exhaustion. Having long adopted the ties and values of House Crystelan, she did her best to pass them on, along with her own story and experience, down to her daughter.
Thus, Nadyenne grew up looking at the Redshard-Crystelan rivalry with disdain. Seeing the Redshards despised many allies the Crystelans had, including the Eternal Defenders, Nadyenne hoped she would one day came to understand the Eternal Defenders just as Illeana came to understand the House Crystelan.
Illeana was glad to see her daughter sharing her determination but feared what impact would such an effort have on the Princess. Knowing what steps she was willing to do herself, she knew she had to keep an eye on her daughter and make sure her determination will not lead the young Princess into trouble.
The story of Queen Illeana will continue through the Eternal Defenders trilogy. She’ll have a minor appearance in the first book but her history will make its way to the forefront as the balance of power changes and old hatreds resurface. Watching the conflicts unfold will make the queen think whether there is any way to end the struggle between the two powerful houses.