House Phiarlan is an elven Dragonmarked house throughout Khorvaire, although they are now based in Sharn, Breland their former base of operation in Cyre having been destroyed in the Day of Mourning. The Carnival of Shadow is the traveling circus of House Phiarlan, filled with illusion, acrobatics, and exotic creatures and entertainers from across Khorvaire.
House Phiarlan traces its roots back to when the elves were slaves to the giants. The ancestors of House Phiarlan were liaisons between different elven sects. They called themselves Phiarlan which means spirit keepers because they held the different elven sects together. The Phiarlan learned the customs of the different elven tribes as they worked there trade as liasons. They started to carry intelligence for the war and this was their first real taste of espionage.
With the Phiarlan knowledge of the tribes of elves they helped the leaders to gather their tribes and flee Xen’drik. The Phiarlan helped to keep the elves together by giving news to the different noble courts that were founded before the Undying Court. They also helped keep the nation together by uncovering rivalries and schemes. The Phiarlan were very highly respected were allowed in all the courts, primarily because to deny them meant a noble was hiding something. They use song, dances and other arts to entertain and pay back their hosts.
The elves have been trying to get their heroes back from death and many of the nobles try to do so in a variety of ways. The two paths that were put to use were the Priests of Transition and the House of Vol. The Priests of Transition studied ways to preserve the spirit beyond the death of the body. The House of Vol dabbled in blood magic and dark arts. The Way of Transition priests gained the most support and thus created the Undying Court. The Undying Court brought the lines of the nobles together. With this new change the Phiarlan became true spies and at this point the Mark of Shadow appeared.
With the Mark of Shadow appearing the Phiarlan lost the Undying Courts favor. Then the war with the House of Vol came. The House had gained the Mark of Death and with their union with Dragons the Undying Court killed all their rivals. The Phiarlan, fearing that they would be next, fled for their very lives. The ones that stayed soon spread the Mark of Shadow all over the nation.
In the new land of Khorvaire they started to amass power and form an intelligence network. They also started to create fine works of art with their many skills. They sold their new creations to the people of Khorvaire and this help them establish contacts and money. Their entertainment business also helped them gain money and information to increase their influence.
House Phiarlan possesses the Mark of Shadow. The oldest living dragonmark the Mark of Shadow first appeared on Aerenal. This mark grants various magical benefits that relate to divination and illusions. The house turned these power to the arts of entertainment as well as the skills of actors, musicians, and acrobats for which the Phiarlan are legendary. During the Last War some members of the house disapproved of the houses involvement and broke away forming House Thuranni.