The Handmaidens are not mere courtiers and attendants, but warriors whose duty is to serve and protect the life of their mistress. Only those among the High Elves with great natural gifts are chosen to be Handmaidens. They are the most talented singers and musicians, the most beautiful, the fleetest and most graceful, but above all the most loyal.
It is an incomparable honour for the people of Ulthuan to serve the Everqueen and those bound to her side will remain there for seven years, during which time they forswear all other companionship and even the company of their families.[1a]
To serve as a Handmaiden is a great honour. It is most commonly bestowed only upon those Sisters of Avelorn who have proven their swiftness with blade, their precision with the bow and, above all, an unswerving loyalty to the Everqueen many times over.
On rare occasion, however, the Everqueen will elevate a member of her court directly into the ranks of the Handmaidens. Such appointments are seldom explained, but require the aspirant to forswear allegiance to all others for a period of seven years -- at the conclusion of which, she is free to remain a Handmaiden or return to her former life.[1a]
Tradition dictates that the Handmaidens always number one hundred warrior-maids, but seldom are more than a handful seen at any one time. They normally serve as heralds and messengers for the Everqueen, acting as her eyes and ears outside Avelorn.
Should a Handmaiden grace a battlefield with her presence, she is treated with reverence by the High Elves who fight at her side. Even the haughtiest of High Elf Princes rejoices to have such a warrior fighting in his cause, for the presence of a Handmaiden is a clear sign of the Everqueen's favour, and moreover a portent of ultimate victory.
Should the prince find his forces buttressed by the full complement of one hundred Handmaidens, he will know that the Everqueen herself has joined the fight, and there can be no surer sign that dire times are close at hand.[1a]
- Banner of Avelorn - Woven from living leaves and the hair of the Handmaidens of the Everqueen, this banner is a stunningly beautiful creation of the Elves of Avelorn.[1a]
- Horn of Isha - The Horn of Isha is made out of single pearl-white seashell, and its sound summons the favour of Isha.[1a]
- In "Sons of Ellyrion", the chief handmaiden, Lirazel was able to channel the Everqueen, speaking with her voice when Alarielle was near-mortally wounded by an assassin. It is unclear if she channeled Alarielle or the collective that calls itself the Everqueen, only that "something awesome" shimmered beneath Lirazel's skin, "a fragment of a presence incalculably ancient and merciless.[2a]
- 1 Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
- 1a pg. 49
- 2: Sons of Ellyrion (novel) by Graham McNeill
- 2a: Chapter 3