The first dragonmarks appeared among
the elves of Aerenal more than three
thousand years ago. The Mark of Shadow
and the Mark of Death appeared at about
the same time, and the elves quickly
understood the significance of the event.
House Phiarlan organized around the Mark of Shadow and began turning the abilities provided by the mark into an economic dynasty. However, with the slaughter of the House of Death twenty-six hundred years ago, House Phiarlan left Aerenal and relocated to Khorvaire, where the elves intermingled with humans and helped lay the foundation for the Five Nations. The Mark of Shadow grants divinatory and illusory powers to those who possess it. The Entertainers and Artisans Guild of House Phiarlan provides gifted members of both professions with gainful employment. The house’s true work, done in secret, involves information brokering and espionage.
During the Last War, the secret work of the house led to a schism within the family. Some parts of the family favored one side or faction in the conflict, other parts favored other sides. Eventually, the tension became too much, and part of the family split to form House Thuranni. Today, Baron Elvinor Elorrenthi d’Phiarlan serves as the house matriarch from her palatial estate in Sharn. (The original family enclave in Cyre was destroyed along with that nation, but as luck would have it, all the leading members of the house were abroad on that fateful day.)
Most people believe that the elves who work for her are the best entertainers and artisans that money can buy. Few suspect the truth—that each is also an integral part of her network of spies operating throughout Khorvaire. Most of the house’s business (at least for information) comes from Breland, Aundair, and Thrane. House Phiarlan maintains cordial ties with the elf lords of Aerenal, but it has long since accepted that it is no longer part of the elf kingdom.