"Steel bends, Honor holds."
Knights can be found among nearly every noble house throughout the entire continent of Arvum, but perhaps no house is as dedicated to the code of chivalry as the great western house that founded it- House Valardin. Staunch and disciplined on and off the field, with a outward piety in their worship of the Pantheon that few houses have any desire whatsoever to match, the great house is widely respected for its honor and reknowned martial prowess in battle. It is also likewise politely tolerated and then ignored in any social situation where pragmatic and morally flexible nobles are forced to listen to endless homilies on the proper ethical approach to any current crisis, and even their close allies among the Compact might ever so innocently forget to inform the famously inflexible Valardin of inconvenient details.
Not that every noble of House Valardin fits the stereotype of a painfully pious and honorably stuffy knight- in fact, several hundred years ago one High Lord that led the great house was the infamous Princess Dulceali Valardin, a noted libertine of a scandalous reputation, who nevertheless won over her vassals by the counterbalancing virtues of immensely competent rule coupled with political pragmatism. Critical scholars, no few in House Valardin itself, note however that Princess Dulceali was not of Valardin by birth, and married into the family to cement a peace agreement following a vicious war with the Lyceum city states. The fact that the crown appointed the princess acting regent of the house following her husband's suspicious death, and the same appointment did not lead to open revolt among the house and its vassals, says a great deal about both the acumen of the figures at the time and the nature of the western houses to respect the authority of the crown even in the most difficult of decisions. Indeed, House Valardin is unique among the great houses in that throughout the thousand years since the founding of the Compact, it is the only house that has never raised arms against the crown (excluding the debatable periods of civil war when the a member of House Thrax wore the crown after deposing a Grayson king).
With how personally tiresome many nobles might find House Valardin's honorable rigidity, it is perhaps easy for Peers of the Realm to forget just how popular the great house truly is with the common people. Beloved not only among their own subjects but throughout the Compact, few knights at the lists ever get the roars of approval as those that wear the sigil of the White Dragon of Valardin on their blue shields. Many knights recite the code of chivalry, but very few are so relentlessly drilled to be unfailingly courteous, charitable and gallant as the men and women of House Valardin and truly live that code. The admiration of the commons is reflected in the popular (perhaps naive) saying, if a commoner should be accosted, "Best pray for a dragon." They mean not a beast, of course, but a knight of House Valardin- who the commons believe will honor their vow 'to protect the innocent'... or die in the attempt.
"Oh, don't fret about House Valardin. Let them talk, nod sympathetically, and then we'll just do what we planned to anyway." - Duchess Esera Velenosa