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The (fraudulent) Marchioness of Berrym
by Michael Berry
“GO AWAY!! Can’t you read the signs?? No soliciting!!! We don’t want any!!! ”
Narda has not been seen publically in over 40 years. The few that remember her from her days at the Great School or from her years spent at the Spokesmen’s Guild would remember her as a plain looking woman of small stature with brown hair and eyes. Today Narda would not be recognized as the years spent in hiding out of the public eye have taken their toll on her. Narda has put on substantial weight and unlike many wizards she has not bothered to appear to look younger than she actually is. Her once luxurious brown hair has gone white and her once perfect complexion is no more as she now has prominent varicose veins and liver spots. Since Narda is not seen by anyone but a select few keeping up her appearance is not a concern of hers at all.
II. Personality & Quirks
Possessing a very keen intellect and highly intelligent Narda is very proud of her magical abilities. As the years have gone by and she was denied a proper outlet for displaying her abilities and being recognized as a great wizard her frustration mounted and grew into a deep bitterness. Narda is bitterness personified and has been the primary motivation for her in her adult life. As a naturalized Glantrian, originally from Darokin she has felt the slight of not fitting in with any of the ethnic groups of Glantri and being seen as an outsider has driven her to rash actions which have done little to quell her bitterness but have just fuelled even more bitterness.
Though bitterness and frustration have guided her actions she has never been rash in her actions. She remains to this day very intelligent and coldly calculating. She knows it is impossible to extricate herself from the position she finds herself in, but has decided to make the best of it she can, and remain in that position for as long as she can. She knows discovery or old age will catch up to her someday but after 40 plus years impersonating a Glantrian noble part of her would welcome the release. Until then continuing the charade is seen by her as a grand game with the final result being her death, or loss of everything thus she devotes all her intellect into continuing the game for as long as she can.
III. History & Background
Narda Shelyn was born in Darokin City in AC 927. Her father was a low level mage and diplomat in the DDC. When Narda was 7 her family moved to Glantri City after her father was assigned to the Darokinean Embassy there. Young Narda immediately fell in love with the exotic and magical capital of Glantri. After being tested for magical ability she was found to have a high degree of natural ability and was sent to the Great School of Magic by her father. Narda loved her years spent at the Great School, she found the curriculum challenging and fell in love with magic and its uses. As one of the few foreigners at the school she found herself quite popular and she met and befriended many of her fellow students.
Graduating the Great School at age 16 Narda decided to stay in Glantri; her family had since been given a new assignment elsewhere, and become a citizen herself. She immediately set her sights on becoming a noble and took a job with the Glantrian government as was assigned to the Nyra Free Province as a Revenue controller in charge of a section of tax collectors. While in Nyra she would often head to Glantri City to attend major social functions and continue to cultivate contacts. In AC 944 the Baron of Egorn came open to an Awards Festival and Narda decided to declare herself for the now open Barony. To her chagrin though she found her social contacts meant little to nothing for as she received encouragement and niceties from various the noble houses she received no votes and her bid was rejected. Believing herself perhaps too young she doubled her effort to make friends and contacts with the nobility. She got her chance again five years later when the Barony of Uigmuir came open. Again Narda campaigned hard and received encouragement, niceties but again received zero votes and was rejected again. Unlike the first time Narda felt a strong sense of disappointment. Her disappointment eventually grew to bitterness as she came to suspect the reason she was drawing no support was she was not native to Glantri and not ethnically affiliated with one of the great Houses of Glantri. In AC 951 the Barony of Adlerturm came open and Narda tried to align herself with the Ethengarians as they did not have a candidate running for the open Barony. While she did get the support of Prince Jherek III she fell far short of even being considered by Parliament for the Barony. Narda took this third failure very hard and poured her frustration out in magical research. She was also frustrated by her lack of movement with the Glantrian Bureaucracy and was considering leaving Glantri altogether when she had a fateful meeting which would change the course of her life irrevocably.
Several months after the failed attempt to win the Awards Festival for Adlerturm Nard was in Glantri City enjoying a dinner at her favorite inn when she was intruded upon by a stranger who asked to join her. Though she did not recognize the man himself she immediately recognized by the diamond implant in his forehead that he was a member of the Spokesmen’s Guild. They proceeded to talk for hours and she learned he was not just a member of the Guild, but he was the head of the Guild himself, Ranniger Budulug. That night they began a relationship that lasted for several months. During which Narda shared her frustrations and bitterness with Ranniger. Ranniger offered her another solution, to join the guild as he did and be the power behind the title. He told her she was highly intelligent, somewhat well connected and would likely be one of the most valued (and expensive) members of the Guild if she joined. Seeing how her life really wasn’t going anywhere and she was no closer to her goal now than she was when she was 16 year gold Great School graduate, Narda accepted the offer and poured her saving into her training and went through the conditioning process and became a member of the Spokesmen’s Guild in AC 953.
Though she was no longer romantically involved with Ranniger the two remained close friends as Narda was assigned to various prominent nobles over the next several years. Narda was most often handling their fiancés or even managing their dominions for short times while they were away and found the work interesting and financially rewarding even if she received little else in terms of personal respect for her competency and expertise in such matters. It was expected of her but still her frustration and bitterness continued to grow that her talents were not appreciated by the nobles she served. In AC 960 she received an assignment to serve the Marchioness of Berrym, Mariana Terlagand, who needed someone to replace her recently deceased castellan and help her manage her dominions rule and finances.
While her previous appointments had left her bitter they had actually been relatively easy assignments but it was not so with Lady Mariana. The Marchioness took a dislike to Narda and continually complained about the (so-called) shoddiness of her work and lack of attention to detail that her previous castellan always exhibited. She would often threaten to have her replaced, which would have been a real mark of shame for Narda. Narda shared her feeling with Ranniger about it and he promised he would deal with the situation if Mariana ever did follow through with her threats. She never did though but the relationship never did improve though strangely enough Lady Mariana never did hire a permanent replacement to be her castellan. The difficult working relationship continued for a year until one day when Narda went to Mariana’s personal quarters one afternoon and found the Marchioness dead, the apparent victim of a heart attack. Immediately informing the guards that no one, but her, was to disturb the Marchioness and enter her quarters she then teleported back to the Guild headquarters and informed Ranniger of Mariana’s death as she is bound to do as part of a Spokesman’s conditioning since Marina had no family and no heirs.
Ranniger however had other ideas than informing the Council of Princes as he normally would. He asked if Narda still wanted to run her own dominion. It would not be the same as being an acknowledged noble but perhaps better than being the workhorse of one. Ranniger told Narda that he knew of a way to bypass the conditioning and free her of her loyalty to the Marchioness. She would instead owe her loyalty and effects of violating that loyalty (death) to the Spokesman of the Guild. She agreed and they spent the evening planning how to pull off the charade. The next morning Narda teleported back to Marina’s tower and immediately fired (on orders of Marina) the entire tower staff and let go all of the guards on the premise that the Marchioness had been poisoned, and though recovering in a safe place, wanted anyone who could have done such a heinous act immediately replaced. Once anyone who could recognize the Marchioness was out of the tower she slowly hired a bare minimum of tower staff and new guards whom, like most everyone in Berrym had never met or would remember what the Marchioness looked like. Mariana Terlagand had never been a public figure and outside of a few Hattian nobles few outside of her tower staff had seen her, and those that had had seen her very infrequently or not in many years. Once established with a new tower staff and making good convenient excuse of the penchant for privacy the people of Berrym have she disappeared completely from public view. Narda took care of all direct affairs of state from her tower and her representative at the Parliament continued on as he always had, voting with House Ritterburg on all matters before the Parliament.
For the last 40 years Narda and Ranniger have managed to continue this charade. All visitors to see ‘Marina’ are turned away. Unimportant ones are sent to various dominion officials, or simply turned away with no explanation. The few important ones are seen by her representative, Narda, who explains Marina is away on business and will not be back for some time. As most Glantrians, especially wizards and nobles are often away and on personal business or research, the explanations raised no alarms or red flags to anyone in Glantri. Soon Mariana was simply forgotten about for all intents and purposes. Narda used the solitude to rule ‘her’ dominion and make the decisions and reap the profits of her abilities as a ruler. As Berrym is a very rural, peaceful and uneventful dominion very little attention was needed to rule the dominion. Narda used the free time she had to continue to grow in power as a wizard expand her knowledge as a wizard. After 40 years she has grown even more bitter than this is the best her life is ever going to be, but she takes comfort in having been part of what would be (if ever known) one of the great scams in Glantrian history and so she takes what pride she can in that in lieu of being the acknowledge and powerful noble she always thought she should have been.
IV. Web of Intrigue
Over the last 40 years Narda has lost touch and been forgotten by the few she considered friends as she really had no close friends and only acquaintances in Glantri. The only person she has regular contact with is with Ranniger who takes a cut of the profits of Berrym and keeps Narda informed of the goings on in Glantri and the larger world. Mariana never attended a Parlimentary session prior to her death so her absence there has not raised any eyebrows or suspicions and her long time representative continues to vote per House Ritterburg as he always has without any directives from the Marchioness herself. Since Mariana/Narda has remained outside the Glantrian political process and are seen as nothing more than Ritterburg cronies with no political agenda of their own they have no specific political friends or foes.
V. Statistics & Style of Magic
Statistics: 18th level Wizard; Str 13, Int 17, Wis 12, Dex 12, Con 13, Chr 13; AL - Neutral
Languages: Thyatian (Darokinean dialect), Thyatian (Hattian Dialect), Flaemish
Weapon Proficiencies: Daggar (basic), Staff (basic)
Skills: Alchemy (I) , Alternative Magics (I),Mathematics (I), Engineering (I), Mathematics (I), Accounting (I), Glantrian Politics (I), Glantrian Society and Nobility (I), Acting (Chr), Deception (Chr)
Narda is an accomplished if inexperienced wizard. She has a strong knowledge of magic and a well rounded spellbook and knows nearly all her level equivalent spells common spells. While quite a accomplished wizard Narda has never adventured nor seen any kind of action or combat. Against a non magical foe Narda would be very dangerous, against an experienced combat or adventurer wizard Narda could find her inexeperience a fatal flaw in an encounter. She own numerous common magical items that she has crafted herself funded by the profits and income of Berrym. She has an excape plan in place if she does get advance warning that her game is up and that she is a fraud. She plans on escaping and retired to Ierendi hopefully far away from the wizards, and justice of the nobles of Glantri if her scam is unveiled.
"No I’ve never met Mariana but there are lots of nobles I’ve never met, that keep to themselves"
(Genevieve de Sephora)