Prince Niccolo Velenosa
Any great noble should comport himself with dignity. Not a generation has gone by without great men and women having bled for the honor of our house and we have a solemn obligation to them and all they have achieved to act accordingly. No noble, however great, is greater than their house.
Description: A true stateman, Duke Niccolo has set the standard for Velenosa men for years. While his jet black hair has started to show streaks of silver to match his salt and pepper beard, its silver inspires many men to have streaks of their own, to simply try and emulate the great man. Strength, commanding presence, and intense charisma is ageless, they say. Strong jawed, with dark, intense eyes, Niccolo commands a room, simply by walking into it, his sheer arrival doing more to inspire and attract than any other. His build is that of a man half his age, and many women's hearts flutter if graced by his boyish smile, as rare as they come. Often he can be seen staring off into the distance, his thoughts carefully guarded, his emotions perfectly schooled, making one wonder if he's planning a battlefield maneuver, or recalling fond memories of his lost love.
Personality: Few nobles in the current days of Arx can comprehend the true gravitas of the old nobility. Niccolo seems a figure out of time, with this emotions schooled under a serious expression, never hinting at what may lay beneath. The grief of his lost wife, the anger at the circumstances behind it, all of it has been transformed into the serious and commanding nature of a truly traditional lord. Niccolo leaves the games and manipulations of charms and wit to the young, remaining perfectly courtly, refined, and utterly noble in every word and expression. Politeness comes as easily as breathing to the man, ever gentlemanly, even when another would be in the throes of violent rage. A rock that would be unruffled as arrows fall around him on the field of battle, Niccolo manages the far more reserved battlefield of courtly intrigue with seemingly trivial ease.
Background: As the firstborn son of the Duke of Setarco, Niccolo was groomed from birth with the expectation that he would eventually rule the powerful Lycene city-state famed as the home of the silk trade. House Pravus possessed a reputation for producing strong, ruthlessly effective rulers and Niccolo appeared that he would be no exception- he eschewed the pampered lifestyle that would have been easily available as the firstborn of one of the highest nobles of the Lyceum, instead training relentlessly with the house soldiers or learning all he could from his family about the dangerous intrigues of Lycene politics and how to be maneuver its treacherous waters. As a young man, he repeatedly led the city-state of Setarco's military forces into battle against against the Sea Reavers, a powerful clan of the Abandoned which have been foes of the Lyceum for the past thousand years. With a calmly astute leadership style and formidable mental discipline, Niccolo won reknown for prowess as a battlefield commander and looked to be all the people of Setarco could ask for in the next duke.
And then he met Princess Carlotta, the heir apparent of the Archduke of Lenosia, and future Grand Duchess of the Lyceum. Immediate attraction quickly became something undeniably deeper, and both immediately made their wishes known. Unfortunately like most nobles, however celebrated great love stories might be in the commons, neither the current Archduke of Lenosia or the Duke of Setarco benefited much from the match and immediately dismissed the idea. Carlotta's father pointed out that the ties with Setarco were already strong and attempting to strengthen the bonds with another marriage when they had other city-states to bring to heel was foolish. Niccolo's father was even more horrified- as House Pravus was ostensibly a vassal of the Grand Duke of the Lyceum but quite nearly a peer to the Velenosa ruler, Niccolo would be forced to marry into the Velenosa family and pass his claim as the next duke of Setarco on to his brother, and everyone rightly saw Niccolo as a fantastic future duke. Both rulers encouraged their respective children to forget the follies of youth and be prepared to properly marry as befits their obligation to their houses, but Niccolo was in no way dissuaded. At the next great Tournament of Roses, the festival in honor of the god of love, Niccolo managed to emerge as the champion of the tests of the body. By long tradition, each of the victors at the Tournament of Roses can request a boon from the Compact, with the Crown speaking for the realm in recognizing the worthiness of the boon. As with no few star-crossed lovers, Niccolo asked in front of most of the assembled peers of the realm and thousands of commoners for King Alaric the Elder to grant his marriage to Princess Carlotta Velenosa. The king agreed, and it is a very rare house that would refuse their liege under those conditions.
The next two decades oversaw the restoration of House Velenosa prestige and power under the new Grand Duchess of the Lyceum, Carlotta Velenosa, heavily assisted by her talented husband Duke Niccolo. Niccolo was almost immediately appointed a Voice of House Velenosa, speaking with the full authority of the Duchess, and the two together ruled with all the deft agility and ruthless dispatch that any house in the Lyceum would envy. Niccolo was responsible for smashing most of clans of the Abandoned near Velenosa lands, creating far more stability around the city-state of Lenosia than it has known throughout its history. Tragically, the demands of leadership kept the married pair apart for sometimes years at a time, with Duke Niccolo remaining in Lenosia and making certain the vassal city-states of the Lyceum stayed firmly under control while Carlotta resided in Arx to manipulate the politics of Arx repeatedly in House Velenosa's favor.
When Niccolo heard of his beloved wife's death in Arx, it is known that he stayed uncharacteristically out of contact with nearly everyone for a month while in mourning, seeing only his daughter Esera at her coronation as the new Archduchess of Lenosia and Grand Duchess of the Lyceum. Tragedy followed not long after with his daughter Esera's death by being pushed from Sovereign Bridge by the Dominus Fawkuhl, with the elder statesman very reluctantly assuming the position of Grand Duke of the Lyceum for a time, a position that weighed on him and his grief, though he found brief happiness with a marriage to Princess Deva Redrain. Even that brief happiness was not to last with Deva's mysterious disappearance, causing many in the Lyceum to believe the poor man was cursed.
The respected Lycene nobleman abdicated the position of high lord to allow his niece, Princess Eleyna Velenosa to ascend and allow her the chance to rule, with him stepping into a more comfortable role as voice and trusted advisor.