The Winter Council was a group of advisors, and later secret manipulators, that influenced elven policy across Golarion. It was especially active in Kyonin, where it worked through proxies to keep the existence of drow a secret from the rest of Golarion.
Return to Thorn's EndThe council's traditional headquarters, the fortress of Thorn's End, was situated within what had now become the Tanglebriar, the domain of the demon Treerazer. The building's ancient wards kept it relatively intact, and the council concluded that with the aid of an artifact known as the Maleficus Spike, they could make it effectively "demon-proof". In an act of incredible hubris, the council moved back into Thorn's End and defied the demons to do anything about it. They now had a secret base to carry out their plans in a location completely safe from the attention of any other elven factions.
Dissent Within the CouncilOne of the council's members, the famous general Lasdolon Stormblade, proposed an audacious plan to destroy the drow by calling upon the same alghollthu magic that the council believed had caused Earthfall. Unfortunately, the plan would ensure the destruction of much of Nirmathas, Varisia, Cheliax, Druma, and Andoran, collateral damage that Lasdolon insisted could not be helped. The rest of the council refused to agree, and a fight broke out in which Lasdolon killed the council's leader, Auramesties. He then damaged the Spike to cover his escape. The weakening of Thorn's End's wards emboldened the demons and put the stronghold under permanent siege.
The council originally had six members.
- Lasdolon, now a renegade.
- Arlindil, oldest member and the most hard-line; liaises with the elven druids
- Auramesties, leader until killed by Lasdolon
- Hialin, the Council's expert on arcane magic
- Malindil commands Thorn's End's defenders and liaises with the Lantern Bearers. She is also Lasdolon's sister.
- Perelir, the Council's theologian.
The council believed it had the age, experience, and talents that made it both their right and responsibility to make hard decisions and guide the elves through hardship. They were not particularly concerned if a few innocents suffered in the process. In any conflict between tradition and progress, they always came down firmly on the side of tradition. This approach often brought them into conflict with Kyonin's more progressive ruler, Queen Telandia Edasseril, who was happy to see the council's demise. For a long time, the council was too secretive and influential for Queen to move openly against them. The council's main political concerns were keeping the drow's true nature secret and hiding that one of its members had become a renegade. After their reformation, the traditional views have taken more of a radical turn. They still operate secretly, with Sarnaris guiding the Akashic Brotherhood to act as the secret military force for the Winter Council.
The council was not always a secret society. It started off as an organization whose members advised the elven rulers and served as elven ambassadors to Azlant. However, even in those days they engaged in some secret intelligence gathering, and it was one such operation that allowed them to anticipate the oncoming Earthfall. They found out information which led them to believe that alghollthu masters had secretly aided the rise of the Azlanti and that the alghollthus were upset by the egotism of the Azlant and were planning to wipe them out. Most elves withdrew before Earthfall, and the subsequent Age of Darkness, and the Winter Council withdrew with them. The organization embraced more and more secrecy, and when the elves returned, they adopted the policy of operating completely through proxies—both elven nobles and later the Shin'Rakorath, or Lantern Bearers. The council itself faded into the background. The discovery of the drow, and the fact that elves could spontaneously transform into them through the Dark Fate, caused the council to create the Lantern Bearers to deal with them. However, after the betrayal of Lasdolon and the confrontation with the Guardians of Golarion, the Winter Council was forced to disband. But not for long. Lord Villastir subtly regained many of the Winter Council's assets and allies. He then reached out to Sarnaris and convinced the Akashic knight to help him bring their people back to prominence. With the Akashic Brotherhood at his disposal, Villastir hopes that one day he may overthrow Queen Telandia and make his people great once again. The Winter Council may one day rule not only Kyonin but Golarion.
The four remaining council members - Arlindil, Hialin, Malindil, and Perelir were confronted by the Guardians of Golarion. During that confrontation, Hialin denounced the council as weak fools and pulled the Spike from the wall, much as Lasdolon did. There, before everyone's eyes, Hialin succumbed to the Dark Fate and became a drow. The Guardians then slew him. Malindil returned to Iadara with the Guardians to speak to the Queen on behalf of the Winter Council. The council's base in Thorn's End was reclaimed. Malindil was arrested but would not reveal the other members of the council. Lasdolon and Hialin were deceased, and Perelir left the council and devoted herself to supporting the new Lantern Bearers. Arlindil returned to the forest, forsaking everyone entirely.