Count Philippe Blanchard
I mistrust laughter. It is said that we sometimes need fools to speak truth behind sly words, but I reject that. If one cannot hear harsh truths and rule accordingly, they lack the steel to be a true leader.
Description: With blue-grey eyes that rarely reveal the slightest trace of good humor and a grim and weathered countenance that seems set in a perpetual frown, Count Philippe of House Blanchard possesses a dignity so austere and a manner so severe that even the most dedicated mummer is likely to surrender all hope upon seeing the man. His precisely trimmed salt and pepper beard is maintained with a meticulous care mirrored by the rest of his disciplined, fastidious appearance that surprises not a single poor soul that had the misfortune of being forced to speak to the dour lord. With an athletic build despite his advanced years and hard, wrinkled line face that clearly spends much time in the sun, it's obvious the noble embraces discipline in all aspects of his daily routine.
Personality: A comically humorless man, Count Philippe will never be loved by his vassals, a love he neither expects nor requires. His reputation as grim, unyielding, merciless, completely indifferent to frivolity, and callous are well deserved, but the the old warhorse has the respect of his vassals for his meticulous diligence, relentless devotion to fair (if harsh) rule, unflinching honor and unwavering sense of duty to his subjects as well as his liege. Among family it is said he shows a different, carefully hidden warmer side, with a caring devotion as a loving father. Completely untrue, though. The rumor just started because no one wants to believe someone is -always- like that.
Background: Philippe's father, Count Vardon Blanchard, the Count of Chevalle, was among the most beloved nobles in the Oathlands. He was unfailingly generous, said to be willing to give the shirt off his back to a commoner in need. He was forgiving of any slight, who so badly wished to be loved he would join into the laughter of any joke made at his own expense. He was merciful, refusing to make war upon any of the Abandoned that came increasingly close to Chevalle's borders. He was very much loved, Philippe saw in his father a man that who so badly desired the approval of others that he agonized over ever decision and was happy to give away Chevalle's lands to quarreling baron vassals just to settle a dispute without acrimony.
Philippe loved his father. And he despised his weakness.
When Count Vardon Blanchard died, the county of Chevalle was so weak it was a peer to its barony vassals, it was nearly bankrupt, it was constantly threatened from emboldened shav forces that saw House Wyrmguard need to repeatedly to intervene to protect the domain, and any semblence of respect for House Blanchard was nearly gone with Blanchard's baron vassals often ignoring commands entirely. Count Philippe proved himself an entirely different kind of man. He immediately called to account every vassal who had outstanding loans, and brutally crushed one brief rebellion. He rallied his forces, and ruthlessly massacred one Abandoned tribe that had been occupying one of the county's forests. "The warhorses are riding again", was how one vassal in the Oathlands described it, and Philippe took that lesson to heart. An honorable man, but there is not a single element of softness to him, not even to family. For him, all that exists is duty, and the legacy and the name of the family.