The mysterious Ladies Archwhite have ruled their icy islands for hundreds of years. Their history is steeped in legend, rumour and superstitions. To add to the mystery, the personal identities and histories of the women seated on the throne have been disregarded in comparison to the almost avatar-likeness of the office they occupy. In their enthronement oath the Lady Arcwhite has to deny herself with the following words: "...as I take this seat, who I was has never been and who I am now is all that will be..."
We live in an era of technology and information and even ancient traditions bow if not just bend before it. The mysteries of the Ladies Arcwhite are therefore far more accessible than ever before. In today's post we will discuss the private person of Esther Mormaer, the current holder of the title Lady Archwhite but we will also flesh out a bit of the history around the impersonal office which almost has an identity of its own stretching through time.
In the year 666 after suffering tireless raids from pirates and defending against invasion from the Kingdom of Britania without any assistance from their liege lord, the King of Scotney, the nuns from the Convent of the White Veil felt neglected and abused. They began working towards taking their governance into their own hands. Amidst politics ruled over by men the women from the isolated convent decided to declare their "realm" independent from Scotney. The Mother Superior, born a peasant orphan named Barbara Haelström broke her 33 year vow of silence in order to dictate the Decree of the Veil declaring their sovereignty that was delivered to King Bruce of Scotney. The King replied by sending his response written in the blood of the young nun who brought the message to him. The bloody Royal Decree accusing Barbara of witchcraft and the King's immediate declaration of war, was shot into The Convent of the Veil by one of the governor of Scotney's catapults whilst attached to the rotting corpse of the nun. The bereaved and now bitter Mother Superior cursed him stating that the governor and "his" King of Scotney will not only lose their power over Arcwhite but that the King will lose everything he holds dear.
This rare medieval engraving depicts Barbara Haelström, the first Lady Archwhite recognized officially by historic record. It shows her signing the Declaration of the Veil. Very few artistic representations of the historic people occupying the office exist as tradition was to keep the identity and even the person completely secret from the public.
The full scale invasion of the King of Scotney was stalled by the winter season which made travelling by boat in the arctic waters around Arcwhite impossible, so the islanders had more than nine months to prepare for the invasion. By the time the Scotney fleet arrived under the command of the Duke of Stirling, the entire island chain and its original Scotney armaments were under control of the Order of the Veil and the peasant farmers who owed no loyalty except to the kind ladies of God who served them for years. The invasion was a total failure and the Kingdom of Scotney had to reluctantly concede to Arcwhite's independence now also forced by the capture of the Duke of Stirling who was the heir to the throne of Scotney. The hostage Prince who commanded the invasion was released but committed suicide a few months later after accidentally killing his younger brother in a hunting accident. Foul play was suspected but remains unproven to this day. The bereft King died without an heir and the crown passed to a distant cousin. Many legends surround the story of how the sin of the King in conjunction with dark spells cast by the Mother Superior led to the young Prince's demon possession and murder of his brother. Some say it was God's judgement in defense of the betrayed nuns, others say the nuns themselves made a pact with the Devil.
The photo above shows the original and now ruined Convent of the White Veil. It is considered the holiest shrine in Arcwhite and also of their separate branch of religion. It is still used for very specific and secret religious rituals on rare feast days.
For their violent act the Mithrandir, Head of the Church of Europa, excommunicated the Order of the Veil saying: "...what they gained in governance they lost in conscience..." The Order of the Veil has never renounced their act and has never been accepted back into communion with the church. They instead formed their own off-shoot of religion and declared their autonomy from any church upon the recognition of their independent sovereignty. This was immediately celebrated with the investiture of the Mother Superior as the first Lady Arcwhite. She was now, Head of State and Church within the sovereign territory of Arcwhite and over all its legal citizens wherever they were in the world.
This now sets the foundation for the modern Nation of Arcwhite still ruled over by a current Lady Arcwhite. A figure, traditionally shrouded in secrecy, citizens of Arcwhite at times couldn't even vouch for certain that the person of the Lady really existed. The Order of the Veil, which is the de facto governing body, however was visible and occupied almost all administrative offices. Even the army of Arcwhite is presided over by a Lady of the Veil. Historically it was common for people to never see the Lady but she would interact with the outside world through official envoys sent out from the Order of the White Veil and blood relatives of the lady would even marry Royalty and Nobility from other nations.
Where in other monarchies the ruler is often referred to as Your majesty, Arcwhite employs no styles of address for their ruler or Nobility. Lady Arcwhite is just commonly referred to as My Lady and the same goes for all Nobility. The office of the Lady Arcwhite was given the style Your Illustrious Highness by common consensus of all the other monarchies in 1786 but it was refused and was never used by a Lady Arcwhite. The current Lady Arcwhite is reputed to hate it and apparently finds it demeaning as it implies a generic collective Royal authority that she believes does not exist.
In 2010 all precedence was broken when the current Lady Arcwhite decided to leave her realm and to attend, diplomatically, the Annual Royal Christmas Ball. Even though her official status was an invited one, she was not expected to attend and shocked the guests with her arrival. To compound matters, her time of arrival was in breach of protocol. Diplomatic immunity denied any and all correcting measures and the faux pas was turned into a media spectacular by the Duke of Swann who welcomed her and placated the atmosphere of shock by opening the dance floor with her. The current Lady Arcwhite has seemingly made it her aim to set new precedents for public appearances and acting directly in representing her office and nation abroad. Be that as it may, in accordance with the secret workings of her office, very little is known of the current holder of the title. It is however on a lighter side considered that her fashion sense, ruling of her country and the managing of her private business enterprises have been of such a high standard as is rarely seen in the world today or its entire history. She has definitely even set herself far above any other Lady Arcwhite that preceded her.
Shortly after the Mithrandir excommunicated the Order in the year 668 it was agreed by the nuns that the Mother Superior may and should take a husband to perpetuate the newly established "Royal House". It was from this moment that the title of Lady Arcwhite was officially established as the Head of State of the small island nation. The remaining members of the Order of the Veil remained celibate and devoted to God and to the responsibilities of government and ministry. The husband of the Lady Arcwhite, who is given the title Lord Skeksis, may be anybody she chooses as long as the Order of the Veil sanctions the union. Girls born from the marriage are immediately taken into the Order from where new Ladies Arcwhite are elected. Other members of the Veil are sourced through voluntary new recruits and the daughters of the sons of Ladies Arcwhite who are encouraged to "marry well".
The only photo that exists of the former Lady Arcwhite, taken in 1952 after a press conference that did not allow photography. A reporter "stole" this opportunity and only released the photo after her death.
The current Lady Esther Mormaer was born the daughter of the former Lady Arcwhite. Although extremely gifted she struggled her way through the training and the ranks of the Order like any other member as none are given favour above the others. The strict education and physical and martial training within the Order of the Veil is kept partially secret but is known to be of an unequaled standard. The highest rank in the Order below the Mother Superior/ Lady Arcwhite, is that of the Sister of the Silver Cuffs. Currently this rank is held by Esther Mormaer's niece Drealle. This office is seen as the Lady Arcwhites right hand and personal assistant, it does not however secure succession to the throne. Esther Mormaer also remains unmarried and might remain so as enough blood relatives exist within the Order of the Veil from which a successor may be gleaned.
Drealle Mormaer is the niece and the current protege Sister of the Silver Cuffs to her aunt. She is the most obvious choice at this stage to succeed her aunt. She is the daughter of the former lady Arcwhite's brother James Mormaer and his wife Brenda Van Der Bilt a distant cousin of Queen Gloria of Normandia.
Esther Mormaer has a flair for business on a scale of the D'Rothchilds and Van der Bilts. Her company Arc Investments, a company solely owned by Lady Arcwhite in her personal capacity, controls several international brands like Mine Magazine. The takeover of the magazine by her corporate gobbling machine made headline news in 2008 and sparked huge controversy. Arc Investments employs an aggressive technological policy where automation and digitisation takes precedence over human employment. As such the takeover of Mine Magazine boosted the magazine as a profitable international company but caused the loss of almost 10000 jobs. It is a two way street which helps in both directions to own a global business and to be a Head of State. Some might question the ethics but it works in favour of her country and her own pocket.
Esther Mormaer is a successful business mogul and amongst others owns the Mine Magazine in her private capacity.
In 2012 another break with precedent and feather in the cap of the current lady Arcwhite, came when the nations of Arcwhite and Swann settled a centuries old contention. For more than fifty years in the early 1300's, skirmishes raged between the two countries partially sparked by renegade pirates seeking to pick off both sides of a larger vendetta. After this devastating period during the early 14th century AD, known as the Hundred Year Raids, King James of Scotney stepped in forcing a peace between the two nations in 1346. The King saw this as an attempt to make amends for the sins of his distant predecessor but also shared in the financial benefits of not having to play referee any more. The Treaty of Avalon was signed on the small island of Avalon bringing an end to the petty wars once and for all. One of the strange stipulations of the Treaty of Avalon stated that neither of the respective Heads of State of the two countries might set foot on the others sovereign territory. Even though tensions subsided in the centuries since then, it never completely abated and the Treaty of Avalon itself has caused tensions between the countries as it strained trade and immigration procedures between Swann and Arcwhite.
For more than 600 years the Principality of Swann and the Island Realm of Arcwhite have had a cold relationship at best. This contention came to rest in 2012 with the signing of a new treaty and the Duke of Swann's State Visit over Christmas attending the Ball in his honour. Scotney again played host in assisting the peace, again bearing responsibility for its share in Arcwhite's troubled history.
The Lady Arcwhite is required to always wear white when operating in an official capacity whilst upon "sacred ground" blessed by the Order of the Veil. It is thus easy to spot when she is within these holy spaces as often she will wear colour when operating outside them or in other countries. In this photo we see the Lady Arcwhite as she appeared wearing an official headpiece at the 2012 Christmas Ball.
As we said little is known of her personal history and she rarely shares her own opinions. It is clear however that the title bears its own personality and is currently exhibited in such a way that has strengthened the Island Nation of Arcwhite and pushed it to its highest height. Whether it is Esther Mormaer or the Lady Arcwhite seems to have lost all relevance, The Icy Islands and their ruler have become a noteworthy force to be reckoned with.