|Eye on Eberron: Vadallia and Cardaen|
|Publication||Dragon Magazine issue #407|
|Publisher||Wizards of the Coast|
|Series||Eye on Eberron|
|Preceded by||The Trust|
No creature could match the Titan King Cul'sir in power or greed. His strength was immeasurable. He knew one thousand spells and held the treasures of a continent in his vaults, and yet he still hungered for more. He held the elves in his thrall, yet some were sly enough to slip through his fingers and find refuge in the wilds. Many of these free people wished to flee as fast and as far as possible from the Titan King, but there was one who stopped their flight and rallied them together: Vadallia.
Vadallia was born in the saddle and learned the tongue of horses before she learned our own. No elf understood the ways of war as she did. She wielded soldiers as a master wields a blade. One of her eyes was a diamond, through which she could see glimmers of the future. In this way she knew that the elves would never see peace while Cul’sir still lived, and that no one clan could stand against him alone. Such was her passion that she united the Taeri and the Elorrenthi, and brought Shol and Thuranni to one table. Time and again she clashed with Cul’sir and his host, testing the king and learning his strength. She knew she could goad him to meet her on the battlefield... but she also knew that for all the skill of her warriors, steel alone could not match the magic of the giants.
At that time, the elves were still slaves of the giants. But there was magic in their blood, a potential that the giants could not match... and when Cul’sir saw that potential in a slave, he raised him as one of his own. So it was with Cardaen. He was born in a high tower and Cul’sir made sure Cardaen’s feet never touched the ground. Cardaen crafted mystic weapons for the giants, never knowing that they were used against his own kind. He cared only for magic—until he met Vadallia. The Queen of Swords caught a glimpse of Cardaen through her crystal eye and knew hat his magic could turn the tide of the war. And so she led her band into the heart of Cul’sir’s Throne and carried the wizard away with her. It was a dangerous move, and it allowed Cul’sir to place a scrying trace upon Vadallia. The giant then assembled his army for war.
As she prepared for battle, Vadallia urged Cardaen to fight at her side. Though her words touched his heart, Cardaen still thought of the giants as his kin instead of his captors, and he refused to raise his hand against them. Vadallia pleaded with him, telling him that his true people needed him, and still he resisted. In the end Vadallia fought the battle without him, while he watched from afar. Her warriors battled without fear, and her strategies were brilliant. Drow and giant fell before the united clans. Then Cul’sir unleashed a terrible weapon, a lingering curse that rotted the bones within the body. It was a spell Cardaen had created, and when he saw it used and realized the suffering he had brought to his own kind, he was filled with horror. He took to the battlefield and shattered the curse. His fury lent him strength, and he blunted every spell the giants threw against him. For the first time in his life, the Titan King knew fear; he fled the battlefield, and his host was scattered to the far corners of the earth. Yet Cardaen’s revelation had come too late for Vadallia. He found her on the battlefield, mortally wounded by the curse he had made. No one knows what words passed between them before she died; when he left the battlefield there were tears on his cheeks, and he held her crystal eye in his hand. From that day forward he was a force for vengeance, and the giants feared his name.
When Aeren led the elves to their haven, Cardaen remained behind. He remembered Vadallia’s vision — that the elves would never see peace while Cul’sir still lived. His final fate remains a mystery. But by the time the elves reached Aeren's Rest, Cul’sir had fallen... and so their future was secured.