Clan Verdonne is a Major Clan in the Kingdom of Vornair. The matriarchal line traces its lineage in direct descent from Ran the Warrior Maiden. Despite the founder's first profession, the clan has always been, at heart, farmers. They are steady workers and love the land. Though the Verdonne are most known for their unflagging pride and fearlessness, the family's tenets place great value on work ethic and the pursuit of knowledge. As long as the land is cared for, children are encouraged to broaden their horizons. Any and all interests are supported, and they will dabble or even master a wide variety of skills.
The family symbol is the ox, which represents loyalty, strength, reliability, and determination. Their colors are blue and grey.
Family motto: Know thyself.
Notable physical traits of the line include black hair and dark eyes, and both genders are small in stature. The hard work and discipline instilled from a young age grants them stamina for long hours of work, practice, or study. Diligent and loyal, they are quick to defend their own interests of hearth and kingdom.
Ran, often named the Warrior Maiden, is a historical figure from ages before Vornair. She is sometimes called the Savior of Verdun, the Angel of Verdun, and Verdonne ("Lady of Verdun"), after the legendary stronghold of which Ran led the defense near the end of her campaign. There are a number of songs, stories, and legends centered around Ran the Warrior Maiden.
Although no scholar disputes that Ran was a real person, there are few written accounts of her existence, as most accounts of the time period were passed orally. She served under Jarl Jorunn Rhyne, who fought neighboring jarls over control of the land. The only written source comes from the journal of Ran's superior, the Marshal Audolf Rhyne. He writes in his account, помню ("I Remember"):
- We turn away the beardless boys unless they are exceptionally strong and hearty. No one wants the blood of a child on their hands; war is the place of men and might. I only remembered him because of the way he stepped into the ring. Most - nay, all - boys are unsure. While the larger, stout boys voice bravado, their step gives them away. In my forty-two years in service to the army, I never missed a ring duel. I only saw that walk a handful of times. Ran did it twice.
According to oral sources, Ran was turned away the first time, at the sober age of fifteen as most boys are when they aim to join the jarl's army. Approximately seven years later, Ran returned a different person, one that had traveled and learned. The "still beardless" Ran earned entry into the army at twenty-two years of age.
Rhyne took the young Ran under his wing, and it was a mutual relationship where Ran taught Rhyne combat techniques, and Rhyne taught Ran battle strategy. Ran excelled in most types of swordsmanship, and in command tactics. Colleagues and superior officers never suspected that Ran was not male. According to Rhyne, who spent the most time with Ran, the soldier was a very private person, who slept and ate alone. As Rhyne wrote:
- Ran served twelve years, culminating in achieving my second in command, then abruptly asked to be relieved of duties. It was eight years before I retired and went to visit whom I considered a close friend and confidante. Upon arriving at the residence, I was greeted by a small child. Imagine my surprise when I saw the girl's mother in cloth rather than leather or plate!
Based on the age of her daughter, Sen, it is surmised that Ran became pregnant toward the end of her campaign. No man came forward, and the identity of the father remains unknown. After her military retirement, Ran became a proponent for women's equality, especially on the battlefield.
Verdun ("strong fort") is the site of a series of legendary defenses led by Ran the Warrior Maiden. The stronghold was destroyed by an earthquake some years afterward, which does lead fans to argue that it has never been captured. The exact location is widely disputed. Several strongholds and cities claim to have been built atop the original location, but none have been proven.
Some scholars have debated the etymology of the name, suggesting that Verdonne comes instead from ver- ("truth") and donner ("thunder"), thus "thundering truth". They argue that the Lady of Verdun is an attempt to use a story to examine our ideas of loyalty, lives, and war. Professor Pat Grim of Stony Brook writes, "If instead of thinking about these issues, we go off looking for rubble, we have sorely missed the point."
Several members of the Verdonne line have proven exceptionally proficient in combat and battle strategy. They are remembered in the stories told at the Festival of the Arts, which is held yearly in Freebird's Glory.