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The Obsidian Trilogy is a three-novel fantasy series, chronicling the journey of Kellen Tavadon in relation to the third war between the Light and the Endarkened, co-written by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. The series began with The Outstretched Shadow, released in 2002, continued in 2004 with To Light a Candle and reached its conclusion in 2006 with When Darkness Falls.
As suggested by the name, this is the land in which Elves reside. The Elven Lands lie to the east of the continent. There are nine major cities in the Elven lands:
The latter three cities are located to the north of the Mystrals mountain range which separates Ondoladeshiron from Ysterialpoerin, with the rest lying to the south.
Sentarshadeen is the political centre of the Elven lands, housing the King of the Elves. Lerkalpoldara is the northernmost city, surrounded by mountains, and accessible only by a single mountain pass. The Elven lands are home to other locations of interest, including the Fortress of the Crowned Horns of the Moon, a safe-haven for the Elven women and children during wartime, and the Jeweled Caverns of Halacira, an Elven jewel mine-turned-fortress between Sentarshadeen and Ondoladeshiron.
Armethalieh, also known as The Golden City and City of a Thousand Bells is the home to the High Mages. It lies to the west of the continent, built on the western sea, surrounded by the Delfier Valley. Armethalieh relies on the "Home Farms" in the surrounding valley to feed its people. The ruler of Armethalieh is Arch-Mage Lycaelon Tavadon. A notable difference between the city and other locations in the Obsidian Trilogy world is that it is solely inhabited by humans, and in fact, people of the "Lesser Races" are persecuted and disallowed entry to the city.
The name, City of a Thousand Bells is derived from Armethalieh's extensive magically linked network of bells. At intervals of 15 minutes and 2 hours, the bells chime on different levels to mark what time it is. Additional bells toll to mark dawn - notably rung several hours after the actual rising of the sun - and noontide, and evening. The bells toll together in perfect harmony.
The Delfier Valley is the lush forested farmland surrounding the Mage city of Armethalieh. Consisting of many scattered villages, less than a day's ride separated from each other.
The high mages in Armethalieh are the government and the law. Ambitious mages rise to the top of the social ladder through corruption and treachery, and the government is self-elected, maintaining a dictatorship over both mages and commoners. All goods and culture are censored, with many being rejected from the city as too new or different. The mages are obsessed with maintaining the pretence that all the work they do is "for the good of the city".
The high mages control and maintain the city wards that keep enemies (and any non-humans) from entering the city, in addition to maintaining fine, clear weather. The mages also wipe people's memories and magical abilities at their convenience. This is often done in females, who are Forbidden to practice the high magic.
The mage college in Armethalieh teaches male youths who show any skill in the art magickal. As they continue their studies, based on their performance, the students rise through the ranks of Student, Apprentice, Journeyman, Undermage, Mage, High Mage, and, if they have sufficient skill, Arch-Mage.
Armethalieh is also home to many commoners who do not possess magical ability. Most of the commoners' district is slums; however there are some wealthier areas and a bustling outdoor market.
The Elves are the oldest race alive in the Obsidian Trilogy world, predating even the Endarkened. They live very long lives of a thousand years, have very explicit formalities and insist on tea ceremonies at every meeting. Elves tend to be obsessed with crafts and small details and have a very discerning eye; Kellen meets a potter who shows him a room full of pottery that would sell for thousands on the human market...and the master potter describes them as failures. Everything is perfectly suited to its surroundings, and anything inharmonious to the eye must be corrected immediately; making the choice of clothes for the day a very important matter.
It also is considered rude to ask a direct question, no matter how mundane: 'How is the weather?' would be considered somewhat brutish. 'One might wonder when it will rain next' would be used instead in civilized conversation. Allowances are made for times of war when soldiers may ask each other direct questions; this is known as War Manners, and is part of the Elves' Knightly training. It's mentioned in the sequel trilogy, The Enduring Flame Trilogy, that "To ask a direct question is to demand it be answered", explaining why the Elves, who favor ease and calm, would consider direct questions offensive.
In the Obsidian Trilogy world, time is measured in different units to the real world, even though many are units that have been used in the past like sennight. Units differ even further in Armethalieh and may have been based on archaic naval terms.
Armethaliehan time is the same as the above, but instead of using seconds, minutes and hours, they use a "bell-based" system, attributed to the many bells found in every district of the city.