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The Valmont family has its quirks. Every family does. But the Valmonts lean particularly toward the occult. Emperor Reville the Mad believed in ghosts; he was certain that his mother continued to advise him after her death, and that the angry shade of his twin brother sought his downfall. He employed the services of soothsayers to convey messages from beyond the grave and to stave off his slain brother's wrath.

His son, Emperor Judicael I, had a fascination for all things ancient and arcane. It is said that his desire to reconstruct the palace of Halamshiral—after an elven uprising destroyed it—was due more to his interest in the site itself than in politics or the Game. They say he chose to spend the winter months at this family retreat because he believed the palace was located at a nexus of elven magic, that spending time there would grant him longer life as with the fabled immortal elves. In the end, the palace did not prevent his death due to heart failure.

His youngest son, Prince Reynaud, has a similar interest in elves and the Dales. He collected carvings of halla—the Dalish beasts of burden sacred to one of their false gods. The statuettes—all the work of Dalish artisans during the Long Walk—were kept in his room in the Winter Palace. When his daughter ascended to the throne, she had them repurposed as keys. But why? And for what? No one can know.

—An excerpt from Architectural History of Orlais, Volume 1 by Elodie Ferrneau

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