Duke Gabriel Bisland
I don't belong at court, where nothing is simple and the rules are never explained. I have no patience for politics. Given the choice, I prefer the field of battle where everything is so simple. At least there it's clear why the simple things are so damned difficult to do right.
Description: From a first glance, one may decide that Duke Gabriel Bisland, third of his name, needs to be an ally, because woe be unto those that make the tall, imposing figure their enemy. Broad shouldered, with the bearing of a fierce warrior, restrained only by the elegance inherent in all nobility, he moves with power, even if he's simply crossing a room. He keeps his ink-black hair shorn close to his head, which only serves to accentuate the intensity of his coal eyes, and his neatly trimmed beard much the same, shot with threads of silver. His expression often reflects a stern, stoic, nearly brooding temperament, but those lucky enough to see his brilliant smile cannot help but be dazzled by it. Dark skinned and profoundly attractive, what likely keeps him away from the court is all the... attention he receives, despite being old enough to be most of the court's father.
(Gabriel appears to have missed a few nights sleep in the last week.)
Personality: Like many of the older generation, Gabriel tends to be a different person in public than in private, a habit he is staunchly unwilling to break. Commanding of presence and demeanor, he is a man of few words, and extremely decisive action, with a reputation as a gifted tactician and battlefield commander. However he disdains the intricacies of courtly politics, saying exactly what he thinks, and only when necessary. He has little patience for the meddlings of the youthful politics and makes it very clear he does not appreciate people involving him in such. Because of his history, and place previously at Alaric III's side, he often finds himself involved anyway. In private, with his friends, and beloved wife, he can sometimes relax, however, laughing with a rich laugh that resonates in the soul. He feels emotions intensely, but can control them impeccably, and keeps to the old traditions of etiquette whenever possible.
Background: House Bisland's proud lion banners have long been recognized as one of the most steadfast stalwarts of House Grayson, and none exemplar that as well as Duke Gabriel Bisland, the Crown's Lion. As a lifelong friend of the old king, King Alaric Grayson III, they were nearly inseparable in youth and the old king had told Gabriel on more than one occasion he was his brother in soul, if not in blood. A talented and famous knight, he was so trusted by Alaric III that he often led all of House Grayson's forces in battle and has spent the better part of two decades crushing the attempted incursions by Shav hordes trying to test the borders of the crownlands, and much of the stability of recent years was done by his tireless work on the king's behalf. More than once, Gabriel was the only vassal trusted enough to offer counsel to Alaric III, though he is as excruciatingly uncomfortable giving his opinion on the murky, shifting politics of the Compact as he is confident and dauntless when it comes to war.
Perhaps his largest regret then is not accompanying King Alaric III when his majesty traveled east to visit House Thrax and try to put an end to the bloody slaughter of the Tyde Rebellion. The arguments at the time made sense- the king wasn't traveling to battle after all, just to speak to warring subjects and bring them to heel, and Gabriel needed to deal with some shav clans striking out of the Gray Forest at fringe settlements on Bisland land. After Alaric III's ship was lost at sea, Gabriel even briefly stood as regent for the king's young son, Alaric IV, and ruled with the concurrence of the five high lords until Alaric IV came of age. Since Alaric IV assumed his responsibilities as king, Duke Gabriel has returned to leading House Bisland and helping his godchild the elder illegitimate daughter of Alaric III, Lady Dawn, rule House Grayson's holdings while Alaric IV saw to the Realm as a whole.