Grand Duchess Esera Velenosa
Few men want hard truths. They wish to be comforted, reminded all is well, and that their inner beliefs were right all along. The world all but begs to be deceived and it is a simple matter to grant the wish.
Obituary: Excommunicated by the Dominus Fawkuhl for support of paying the Teind, an act of human sacrifice to save the Compact from the Bringers of Silence, now known to be real and a threat to the world. Met the Dominus upon the Sovereign Bridge in an act of pious contrition, to atone for her sins on October 17, 1005 AR. Pushed by the Dominus Fawkuhl from the bridge, a thousand foot fall to her presumed death. Her body was never found, lost in the Gray River. It was to be her wedding day to Duke Leo Fidante, Duke of Tor.
Description: Hers is a beauty at once sensual and striking, her face carved, seemingly, of living marble: she is startling to behold. Her hair is the black of shadows, her eyes scorching amber. Those eyes are riveting -- behind lashes thick and dark as smoke, they burn bright and dangerous as any flame. Her lips are lush and full, red as dragonweep; her smile, a smile of so many secrets, is mesmerizing. Tall, with long legs and tempting curves, she commands attention, and her voice, when she speaks, is arresting.
Personality: A naturally gifted actress, Esera has an intuitive grasp of what an audience expects from her and how to modify her approach to achieve her ends. For commoners expecting a leader of iron resolve, she is every inch the elegant and confident Grand Duchess of the Lyceum prepared to rule with a smile of steel and silk. For stiffly honorable nobles wishing to gravely discuss solutions to the Realm's woes, the duchess never falters in presenting a kind and stately diplomatic veneer. Privately, she might laugh at the notion that she is described as 'kind' or 'sweet' or any other like terms, when it is strictly business- she believes full well that doing small injuries and petty slights are among the quickest ways to gather enemies for no good purpose, and Esera does rather little without purpose. In private she is still every bit as charming if far more wicked, but even without her public mask on her games of manipulation do not cease. It's not that she's unaware she is doing it, and has become so accustomed to manipulation it's second nature- no, she legitimately enjoys the sport of it, and it's a private thrill to play the game, play it very well, and play to win.
Background: From her very earliest memories, Esera was being groomed to rule. For other great houses, such as the bores in House Valardin that drone endlessly on about honor and chivalric virtues, the grooming could have meant careful instruction on the proper morality and dignity expected of a just ruler. In the Lyceum and as the first child of the Archduchess of House Velenosa, that meant something rather else. Esera remembers childhood games based around guessing the motivations of other players, games of trickery and deceit. She remembers the pride of her mother when she managed even simple manipulation, and the lessons of her father that the other great houses respect strength and strength alone and remain vassals of House Velenosa only due to respect and fear. She remembers the lessons discussing other leaders that failed to heed those lessons, and how they brought ruin onto themselves and their families due to not being clever enough, not being strong enough, not being ruthless enough. Duchess Esera has never stopped learning such lessons.
House Velenosa possesses neither the strongest army nor the largest coffers. They are surrounded by enemies wearing the masks of friends. But Esera knows despite that, the Fox is still feared, and that is solely due to their well deserved reputation for mastery of devious intrigue and sheer cunning. Even at a young age, Esera feels worthy of that birthright. She has a positive talent for understanding the complicated motivations and intricate interactions between all the noble houses that comprises the political sphere of Arx and her keenly agile mind has an intuitive grasp for the most beneficial way to position her house to take advantage of nearly any conflict. And if she is talented at managing groups, she is an utter master at the manipulation of individuals. Everyone has some weakness that's exploitable, has something they want. She'll find it, she'll use it, and it will be without apology or regret. She has to, after all. House Velenosa cannot afford weakness, and if she falters, they likely all die. Though perhaps it would be rude to admit that she actually rather enjoys playing the game, because she is so damned good at it. So she'll play it, and play to win... for herself, for her family, for her city, and for Arvum, but certainly in that order.